Matthew VanPETTEN is the owner of a beautiful home in Washburn, together with fine farming property situated on the boundary line between Woodford and Marshall counties. For many years he was actively associated with general agricultural pursuits, but now, leaving the work of the farm to others, is living retired, surrounded by many of the comforts and luxuries that go to make life worth living. His birth occurred in Cayuga county, New York, August 5, 1846. His father, Peter VanPETTEN, was also a native of the Empire state and was a cabinet-maker and contractor. Thinking to enjoy better business opportunities in the middle west, he came to Illinois and in 1850 settled at Lawn Ridge, purchasing land in Marshall county. He was for some years thereafter actively engaged in agricultural pursuits but at length retired from active life and removed to Kansas, spending his last days with his son Solomon in Peabody, that state. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Naomi Rosette VanPETTEN, died when her son Matthew was only six months old. The father afterward wedded Martha VanAUKEN, who died in Marshall county, Illinois. There were eight children by the second marriage, five sons and three daughters, namely: Solomon, Veder, Robert, Seward, Floyd, Eleanor, Naomi and Ruby.
Matthew VanPETTEN acquired his preliminary education in the district schools and was afterward a student in the high schools of Toulon and Lacon. He devoted twenty years of his life to teaching and became widely recognized as a most capable and successful educator, doing much to promote the interests of public instruction in this part of the state. He taught in Peoria, Stark, Marshall and La Salle counties and also in Kansas, imparting with clearness and readiness to others the knowledge that he had acquired and stimulating his pupils to put forth strong and effective effort in mastering those branches of learning which constitute a most excellent preparation for life's practical and responsible duties. In 1876 he settled upon a farm in La Prairie township, but has spent most of his life in Belle Plain township. In 1880 he purchased an excellent tract of land in the latter township and continued to engage' actively in farming thereon until March, 1905, when he retired to his beautiful home in Washburn, Illinois. He still owns two excellent farms, comprising two hundred and sixty-five acres of land in Belle Plain township, lying on the boundary line between Woodford and Marshall counties. He employs a man to take charge of and operate these farms and he derives therefrom a good income.
Mr. VanPETTEN was married on the 22d of June, 1876, to Miss Lucy REMLEY, of Marshall county, Illinois. They were married in Woodford county, however, and they now occupy a most beautiful residence in Washburn. It is the center of a cultured society circle, as well as being one of the most attractive homes of this part of the county. Washburn is a most beautiful little town of one thousand inhabitants, celebrated for its lovely homes and its air of culture, and Mr. and Mrs. VanPETTEN are accorded a leading social position here.
Mr. VanPETTEN belongs to the Masonic fraternity, having been initiated into the lodge at Rutland, while he now affiliates with Washburn lodge. His political allegiance is given to the republican party and he keeps well informed on the great questions which divide the two leading political organizations. He has served as road commissioner and assessor of Belle Plain township and is now assessor of Richland township. He was elected to this office on the republican ticket, although the democracy is the stronger party in this locality. This fact is certainly indicative of his personal popularity and the confidence reposed in him by his fellow townsmen. A gentleman of strong mentality and broad general information, he stands as a representative of a high type of American manhood, continually broadening his knowledge through reading and investigation and looking at life from a humanitarian standpoint, which tolerates not the sordidness of wealth and yet delights in the culture and refining influences which a competence may secure. Nature and learning have vied in making him a genial, cultured gentleman, who has a host of warm friends.
Extracted June 2011 by Norma Hass from
Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties