Miami County, Ohio Genealogical Researchers -- Sponsored by the Computerized Heritage Association


    Throughout his entire life, Mr. Widney has resided in Miami County and well may be proud of the fact that he is a native son of the locality whose material interests and substantial improvement have been largely promoted through his efforts. He was born in Washington Township, November 11, 1840. His father, Stephen Widney, was a native of Franklin County, Pennsylvania, his birth occurring in 1806. The ancestry, however, can be traced back to the Emerald Isle, of which the grandfather, John Widney, was a native. In 1784, he determined to seek a home across the Atlantic and sailed for the new world, reaching an American harbor after a voyage of forty-five days. He was accompanied by three sisters and two brothers, their parents having died in Ireland. This family purchased a farm in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, on which the grandfather remained until 1810. In the meantime, he was married, the lady of his choice being Miss Mary Johnson, a sister of John Johnson, who was appointed an Indian agent in Ohio. John Widney removed from Pennsylvania to Ohio in 1810, making his way from Pittsburg to Cincinnati by flat-boat and thence across the country to Miami County by team. He located in Washington Township, where he entered a large tract of land of over six hundred and forty acres-the property now owned by John Patterson. He erected a log cabin and then began the development of the farm, for the land was covered with heavy timber. He cut away the trees, grubbed up the stumps and in course of time, the tract was transformed into fields of waving grain. Upon the homestead, which he there developed, he resided until his death, which occurred in 1836, when he had attained the age of seventy-six years. He was an associate judge of the court for seven years and was a very prominent and influential citizen of the community, greatly respected for his sterling worth.

    In early life, Stephen Widney accompanied his parents on their removal to Ohio, where he was reared to manhood. He wedded Elanor Hunter, our subject being the only child of that marriage. The mother died in 1842 and the father afterward married Eliza J. Williams, by whom he had six children, namely: Margaret, deceased wife of Thomas Wall; Samuel W.; Stephen J. and Hester, both deceased; Eliza J., who is living in Shelby County; and Mary, wife of John P. Brown of Shelby County. The father of this family followed farming and stock dealing throughout his entire business career. He both bred and purchased stock and successfully carried on that business until 1865, when he retired to private life and removed to Piqua, where he died March 28, 1886. He was an active and consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and a leading representative of the Masonic fraternity, in which organization he took deep interest. The parents and their children were charter members and aided in the organization of the First Methodist Episcopal Church in Piqua.

    John Widney, who name introduces this review, was reared in Washington Township and in 1862 went to Morris, Illinois. While there he enlisted in Company I, Sixty-ninth Illinois Infantry for three months, and was on duty at Camp Douglas at Chicago, Illinois, guarding prisoners. On the expiration of that period, he returned to Ohio, locating in Spring Creek Township, where he turned his attention to farming. In the meantime, he joined the Ohio National Guards, and in May, 1864, he enlisted as a member of Company C, One Hundred and Forty-seventh Ohio Volunteer Infantry. With his command, he was sent to Washington, D.C., to aid in defending the capital city against any attack of the advancing Confederate forces. On the 30th of August, 1865, he received an honorable discharge and returned at once to Miami County.

    Mr. Widney located in Spring Creek Township, where he has since been engaged in farming. In 1866 he took up his abode on his present farm, where he has since made his home. Here he owns one hundred and fifteen acres of rich and arable land, devoted to the uses of general farming, in which work he has been very successful. He was married, April 21, 1864, to Miss Mary A. Brown, whose birth occurred in Shelby County. Their union has been blessed with six children: John Parker, who died Dec. 23, 1894, was a graduate of the Piqua High School and of the Ohio Wesleyan University, and his medical education was acquired in the celebrated University of New York, of which he was also a dissecting room during his three years in college, and which terminated his life soon after his graduation. Stephen died in childhood. Willie W. died at the age of seven months. Maria H. and Mary B., the younger members of the family, are still with their parents.

    Mr. Widney is an esteemed member of Alexander Post, G.A.R. of Piqua. In politics, he is a Republican and from December 1885 until January 1889, he served as county commissioner, being the first president of the board after its headquarters were removed to the new courthouse. Mr. Widney was a member of the school board in Spring Creek Township for twenty-one years, being its president for eighteen years. Modern education found in him a warm friend and he earnestly labored until he succeeded in grading the schools and having an eight-year course adopted by the township, it being the first township in the state to have an eight years graded course. Being graduated from this course, his certificate of graduation would admit him into any high school of the state without examination. The system has now been adopted uniformly over the state and the citizens of Spring Creek Township feel proud in giving Mr. Widney credit for his advanced ideas in education and his untiring efforts in promoting them. He was a respected and trustworthy official, and at all times and under all circumstances, he has been loyal to truth, honor and right. Those who knew him esteem him highly for his sterling worth and it is with pleasure that we present the record of his life to our readers.

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