William H. Jennings, deceased, stands prominent among those citizens of Johnson County who have passed from their field of labor. He died in the prime of manhood, before his natural powers of body or mind were abated, but his life was well spent, his work well done, and he left indelible traces behind him of duties faithfully discharged. He was a native of Mercer County, Ky., and of English extraction on his father’s side. In an early day, his father and mother, William and Mary Jennings, were united, and led a happy and successful life. They raised a large family, William H. among the rest, his birth taking place June 27, 1819. In 1832, his father fell a victim to the devastation of cholera, and, in 1835, his mother left their home in Kentucky and removed with her family to this county, whither two of her sons had preceded her. They settled in White River Township, on Section 25. Here William H. grew to manhood, taking charge in the main, of his mother’s farm. He had an early desire to obtain a good education, and, by earnest effort, obtained a fair share for one who lived in those days, working through the day on the farm and prosecuting his studies nights, with hickory bark for a candle. At the age of twenty-eight, he went to Greencastle and obtained a position as clerk in a store, where he remained about one year; then he returned to Franklin and employed with one Dr. Peggs, then in trade there; he remained with him not to exceed two years. In August, 1849, he was elected sheriff of Johnson County on the democratic ticket, and re-elected in 1851, serving his two terms with honor and ability. In 1853, he was elected county treasurer, and was also elected to a second term in this responsible position. In the meantime, on August 6, 1850, he was married to Margaret J., daughter of Robert R. and Jane Lyons, of Scotch and Irish extraction. Her parents came from Mercer County, Ky., to this state. To this union the following children were born: William B., Laura E., Robert D. (deceased), Harry B. and Emil H. The year after his marriage, in the fall of 1851, his mother died, having fulfilled her life’s work, and leaving those whom she had reared to manhood and womanhood to mourn her loss. To this mother, the subject of this sketch was ever the same kind and affectionate son, and his nature was of that considerate kind that sought to relieve and assist his mother, wife, family and friends, and he was ever the happiest when doing some kind action. Immediately after Mr. Jennings’ successful career in county politics, he received the nomination and election for state senator for Morgan and Johnson counties, and to fill the vacancy occasioned by Capt. John Slater’s abandonment of that office, and he served in the senatorial capacity at the special legislative session held in 1858, and again at the regular session held in 1859 and 1860. He was somewhat wearied with political strife, and, after the expiration of his senatorial term, felt like taking a rest. He consequently devoted himself to private business, and, being the possessor of two farms, gave the most of his attention to them for a while, and afterward went into the mercantile business, changing to the agricultural implement trade, and dealing in real estate more or less. In fact, he was a man who succeeded at almost all kinds of business, and took an active interest in public improvements, such as building pikes, etc. During the war, he engaged in buying horses and mules for the government agents; also shipped to Atlanta and other points on his own account, always accompanying his consignments to the destination. At the close of the war, he again returned to the more quiet duties of private life for awhile. In the spring of 1870, he was nominated and elected mayor of Franklin; he was re-elected in 1872. The fact that the city was decidedly republican, and he was a democrat, showed plainly his strong hold upon the people. It was during his second term as mayor that his death occurred. He was stricken down in his fifty-third year, leaving a family when they most needed his advice and sympathy, and deeply regretted by the community of which he had made himself so prominent a factor. The cortege that followed him to his last resting place bore witness to the esteem in which he was held by the citizens of his county. His wife is still living; she is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and has done her part well in rearing her family and finishing what her husband left to her care.

Transcribed by Cheryl Zufall Parker

Banta, D. D. History of Johnson County, Indiana. Chicago, IL: Brant & Fuller, 1888, page 618.