MRS. SARAH F. HITCHCOCK is one of the esteemed residents of Athens, where she has many friends. She was born in this place April 29, 1839, her parents being John W. and Mary (Loomis) Little. Her father was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, and was educated for the Presbyterian ministry in a theological seminary of that state. Her mother's birth occurred in Whately, Massachusetts, and she was educated at a female seminary at Amherst, Massachusetts. Mr. Little became one of the pioneer preachers of his denomination in the middle west. He made his way to Illinois by team and steamboat in 1837, reaching Menard county after a journey that covered six weeks. He then engaged in preaching here, having a fifty mile circuit and though his labor entailed many hardships he never faltered in his work of carrying the gospel message into the pioneer homes. More than once in the middle of winter after a long cold ride on horseback he found his congregation consisted of but one person. He died June 2, 1842, and his memory is yet enshrined by those who knew him, while his example has borne fruit in many upright lives. In early manhood he had married Mary Loomis, a daughter of J.C. Loomis, of Massachusetts, who was on his way to the United States when he met the lady who afterward became his wife. His business was that of a carpenter and contractor. The old home of Mrs. Hitchcock's great-grandparents is now occupied by her uncle, Calvin Loomis. Mrs. Little, who was born January 9, 1814, died December 25, 1895, in Nebraska, but her remains were brought back to Menard county, for interment. J.W. Little, a brother of Mrs. Hitchcock, is now a resident farmer of Madison, Nebraska. Her uncle, Thomas Little, was at one time a neighbor of Abraham Lincoln, residing on South Fifth street in Springfield, Illinois.
Mrs. Hitchcock was reared in Athens and pursued her education in the schools of this place and also at the North Sangamon Academy, and one year at a seminary in Whately, Massachusetts. After leaving that institution she engaged in teaching school in Athens, following that profession at a time when the primitive schoolhouse contained only slab seats and a slab desk resting on pegs driven into the wall. She taught for two years in Menard county. For many years she kept boarders and in this way she earned the money that enabled her to become the possessor of considerable valuable real estate. She is now the owner of two acres of land in Athens, on which are three houses which she rents but when the land came into her possession it was entirely unimproved.
Mrs. Hitchcock has been twice married. On the 21st of July, 1857, she gave her hand in marriage to Thomas C. Orr, and they became the parents of seven children: Mary E., who was born July 16, 1858, and died in December, 1901; John T., a resident farmer of Oklahoma; Cordelia, who was born August 5, 1862, and was successfully engaged in teaching in Menard county at the time of her death, September 7, 1881; Albert A., who was born October 16, 1864, and is now a minister of the Presbyterian church at Salida, Colorado; Nellie F., who engaged in teaching in the public schools of Nebraska for eighteen years and is now the wife of Benjamin Clark, a farmer of David City, that state; and Charles C., and Harry E., both of whom died in infancy. Mrs. Orr was again married July 16, 1888, her second union being with Isaac B. Hitchcock.
Mrs. Hitchcock is a member of the Presbyterian church and has led a consistent Christian life, doing good to all and exemplifying daily her religious belief. In 1888 she went to Salina, Indian Territory, where she taught for two years in the orphans' home and school, a Methodist institution, then under the superintendency of Rev. Thompson. She was forced to give up that work on account of failing health and then returned to Menard county. She has shown excellent business ability and through her capable management she has become the possessor of valuable and desirable property. She has in her possession as valued heirlooms a copy of the constitution of the state of Massachusetts and also of the United States which was published in 1805.