William Jefferson Orendorff

M, #10012, b. 14 January 1829, d. 18 October 1897
Father*John Sylvester Orendorff b. 28 Apr 1796, d. 28 Jan 1876
Mother*Margaret Sale b. 21 Oct 1801, d. 19 Jul 1867
ChartsPedigree - Helen Bernice Orendorff
Desc. Chart - (__________) Orendorf
Reference1G Grf, J12
Birth*14 January 1829 William Jefferson Orendorff was born on 14 January 1829 at Orion Twnshp, Fulton Co., Illinois, Birth date & place from History of Fulton Co pg 563 and 1908 History of Fulton Co pg 1024. 
Census1850*1 June 1850 He appeared on the 1850 census as the head of household, Orion Twnshp, Fulton Co., Illinois pg 288 (Evd 310) age 21 w/parents. 
Occupation*1852 He was Started P & O Plow Company in 1852 in 1852. 
Marriage*28 September 1856 He married Mary Ellen Rohrer, daughter of Henry Rohrer and Mary Doner, on 28 September 1856 at Canton, Fulton Co., Illinois.1 
Census18601 June 1860 William Jefferson Orendorff appeared on the 1860 census as the head of household, pg 355 #25-24, Canton, Fulton Co., Illinois Orndoff, William 29 b.IL $1500 no occupation shown. 
Census18701 June 1870 He appeared on the 1870 census as the head of household, pg 415 #119-125, Canton 4th Ward, Fulton Co., Illinois Orendorff, William 41 b.IL $10,000-$50,000 plow manufacturer. 
Census1880*1 June 1880 He appeared on the 1880 census as the head of household, ED 35 pg 102b #286-310, Canton, Fulton Co., Illinois Orendorff, William J. 51 b.IL occupation not given. Father b.VA, Mother b.NC. 
Residence He lived at 229 N 3rd, Canton, Fulton Co., Illinois: There is a picture and description of his home, which is now the Catholic Rectory.2 
Death*18 October 1897 He died on 18 October 1897 at Canton, Fulton Co., Illinois, at age 68 Died when thrown from a runaway carriage (his death is not recorded in county.) 
Obituary19 October 1897 His obituary was on 19 October 1897 at Canton, Fulton Co., Illinois,           W.J. Orendorff Dead
     Fatally Injured in a Runaway Monday Evening
     Taken Home Unconscious - Died From Internal Injuries at 11 O'Clock Monday Night - Intense Sorrow In the Orendorff family - Funeral Thursday 2:30 P.M.
     Hon. William J. Orendorff, in a runaway Monday evening about 4:45 o'clock, was thrown from his road wagon at the L.B. Farnsworth residence, against a fence, receiving fatal injuries. He was picked up unconscious, taken to his home, and at 11 o'clock he died, consciousness never fully returning to him.
     The announcement of his death came as would a clap of thunder out of a clear sky to the Canton cummunity. It could hardly be realized that that stalwart man, in the prime of his life, well preserved with apparently many years before him, had been stricken down in such a tragic and distressing manner.
     Mr. Orendorff, with his son, U.G., had been out riding in a road wagon to which was hitched the team of spirited bays which had never been hard to manage. About the middle of the afternoon U.G. left his father, the latter driving to his home for Mrs. Orendorff, who me desired to have join him for a continued ride. Being busy at the time she could not comply with his requet. Mr. Orendorff then droveaway, and after driving around town for awhile started home. When passing the Darius Roberts residence about onehalf block south of the Orendorff residence on North Third avenue, then about 4:45 o'clock, two boys riding bicycles passed the team and in doing so frightened the horses, which soon got beyond Mr. Orendorff's control. He, however, managed to keep them in the middle of the road. M.K. Tyson and Grafton Mose, carpenters, who were working on Harry Manahan's new house, heard the team coming, and running to the street saw the frightened horses coming two blocks south from where they stood. It was soon made apparent that Mr. Orendorff was making an effort to run them into the gate or fence in from of L.B. Farnsworth's house, but as they neared the sidewalk they made a sharp turn to the left which threw Mr. Orendorff out of the wagon headforemost into the picket fence. Going with great force his head struck the heavy pickets about two feet above the sidewalk. The horses passed in between the hydrant and fence, the left hind wheel striking the farmer with such force that the right horse was thrown down against the fence. Regaining its feet both horses stood quiet. The horrified spectators, Moss and Tyson, ran to the prostrate form of Mr. Orendorff. He was lying on the brick walk in a doubled up condition and seemingly dead. His coat was over his head and when pulled down his head was found resting in a pool of blood which issued from a four inch scalp wound above his right temple. Moss and Tyson thought his neck had been broken, the position of his head leading them to this conclusion. In a very short time a crowd of people had gathered. Dr. J.E. Sutton who had been making a professional call in the neighborhood, hurried to the scene. A hasty examination revealed the fact that the injuries were dangerous. Moss and Tyson, placing Mr. Orendorff on an improvised litter, removed him to his home two bloks south of where the accident occurred.
     Drs. Nelles, Coleman, Shallenberger and Ames were summoned, and after a close examination found that no bones had been broken and that the skull had not been fractured but that a concussion of the brain had been created and other internal injuries inflicted. Mr. orendorff never fully recovered consciousness. Everything known to medical science was applied but to no avail.
     At 11 'oclock his life went out, he having been at no time from the moment he left the wagon in such violent force that he was suffciently conscience to recognize any of his friends, not even his beloved wife or son U.G. he being the only son at home, Arthur L. and William H. and their wives being absent at Kelly Lake, Wisconsin. They will return home Tuesday evening at 6:30.
     Without warning a home has been convulsed with deepest sorrow, and many other homes in this city and elsewhere are today feeling its force. There cannot help but be a felling of intense seriousness in comtemplating such a death. The circumstances indcident thereto bring a sadness that does not come when one's race is fun in the fullness of time and through natural causes. Mr. Orendorff lived a successful and conspicuous life, and following in the footsteps of his father before him, became a prominent member of the Methodist church in which society he has for years been a factor. Contributing largely to the building of the new church and furnishing the same with a splendid pipe organ, his memory will be cherished in fitting remembrance. He will be missed in Canton and fulton county where, native to the soil, he grew to a well rounded and distinguished manhood.
     William J. Orendorff was born in Orion township, this county, January 14, 1829, and lacked but a few months of being 69 years of age when his life in such a sad and tragic manner went out. He was the son of John and Margaret Sayle Orendorff, the former of Wilkes county, Ga., and the latter of Wilkes county North Carolina. The elder Orendorff and family came to Orion township in April, 1825, being among the advance forces of Wester civilization. One of the founders of the Methodist church, and for years connected with the business interests of Canto, he stood forth as a man of exalted character, drawing to himself a full meansure of affectionate regard. In the centennial year, in the midst of a jubilation over American development, the progress of which he had witnessed, he passed to his reward.
     William J., whose life was closed Monday night in such a sad and distressing manner, was educated in the Orion and Canton public schools. He began his business career, which was crowned with great success, in 1852. September 28, 1856, he was united in marriage to Miss Mary Rohrer, daughter of Henry Rohrer, a native of Lancaster county, Pa., who, in his lifetime was an honored resident of Canton. As a result of this union four children were born: Arthur L., William H., U.G. and John W., the latter losing his life by drowning a number of years ago.
     Mrs. William H. Parlin is his eldest sister. His brother, Washington S. lives at the old homestead in Orion township, and the other brother surviving is Henry H., senior member of the H.H. Orendorff company. John W. died a number of years ago. His youngest sister is Mrs. Sarah Riley of near Steel City, Neb.
     In 1884 William J. Orendorff was elected by the Republicans of the senatorial district, of which Fulton was a part, as a representative in the 35th general assembly and during the session of the winter of 1885 was one fth famous 103 who stood by Gen. johan A Logan in the memorable senatorial contest of that year which attracted national attention, and brought that company of men to conspicuous notice. Since that time they have aheld a number of reunions which Mr. Orendorff generally attended.
     As a member and as president of the Parlin & Orendorff Plow Manufacturing company, Mr. Orendorff became widely known in Illinois and the great West. He became a member thereof in 1852, the plant being founded in 1848 by the late William Parlin.
     The funeral will take place from the residence at 2:30 o'clock Thursday afternoon, the Rev. A. Smith, his pastor, officiating, assisted probably by some of the former pastors of the Methodist church.
     The employees in the plow shops will meet at 1 o'clock Thursday at the shops and will attend the funeral in a body.
     A petition is being circulated among the business men by Mayor Ellis this evening asking them to close their houses from 1:30 to 4 o'clock Thursday afternoon as a mark of respect to the memory of the honored dead.3 
Probate* His estate was probated; Betty Gibboney of Fulton Co His Gen Soc looked for probate record (Feb 2000) but found none. I wonder where the letter to his children is located? 
Story* (Slight changes in formatting for readability):
     Orendorff, William J (deceased), who was for many years, prominently identified with the industrial interests of Canton, Fulton County IL, in connection with the Mammonth Plow Works ... was born in Orion Township, fulton Co, 11 Jan 1829, a son of John and Margaret (Sayle) Orendorff, the former a native of Wilkes county GA and the latter in Wilkes Co NC. John Orendorff and his wife moved to Illinois in 1825 and settled in Orion Twnshp, Fulton County. There, the mother of William J departed this life on the homestead farm 19 Jul 1867, his father surviving her until 28 Jan 1876, when he too, passed away.
     In early youth, the subject of this sketch enjoyed such advantages as were aforded by the district schools of Orion Township and the public schools of Orion Township and the public school of Canton. In 1852, he became connected with the Parlin Plow Maufactory, and in 1857 was admitted to partnership in that enterprise. A description of the inception and the development of this colossal establishment, to the upbuilding and prosperity of which Mr Orendorff devoted so many years of his time and energy, is contained in a memoir of the life of William Parlin, which forms an interesting chapter of this volume. The memories of these two men, as alert, keen-minded, sagacious and untiring co-workers in a stupendous undertaking are indissolubly linked in the commercial annals of Canton and Fulton County. From the beginning of his connection with the concern, Mr Orendorff supplemented the endeavors of his worthy associate in a most able and efficient manner, and much of the marvelous growth of this enterprise is attributable to his diligent and faithful co-operation.
     On28 Sep 1856, Mr Orendorff was united in marriage with Mary Rohrer, daughter of Henry Rohrer, a native of Lancaster County PA, and formerly a prominent and highly respected citizen of Canton. Mr and Mrs Orendorff became the parents of four children, as follows: Arthur L, William H, Ulysses G, and John W, all of whom are reputable and useful members of society in their respective spheres of activity.
     In politics Mr Orendorff was an adherent of the Republican party, and was influential in its local councils. He represented his district in the 34th General Assembly of IL (1884-86). He was a man of strong character, sound judgment, thorough practical information and unswerving integrity. In public affairs he took earnest and unselfish interest, and whatever movements were likely to promote the general welfare received his unhesitating and hearty support. He was a useful member of the community and was greatly respected hy a wide circle of acquaintance. The death of Mr Orendorff occured 18 Oct 1897.4 
Story There is a photo of, and long article about, the Parlin & Orendorff Plow Factory.5 
Newspaper*7 May 1919 He was in the newspaper on 7 May 1919 at Canton Daily Ledger, Canton, Fulton Co., Illinois.
     On the front page of the issue is the story "P & O Plant Changes Hands" when International Harvester purchased P & O. 
Burial Greenwood Cemetery, Canton, Fulton Co., Illinois Orendorff monument (took photo)
Wm J
John W
Arthur & wife
Wm H. 


Mary Ellen Rohrer b. 30 Jun 1836, d. 11 Jun 1911
Marriage*28 September 1856 He married Mary Ellen Rohrer, daughter of Henry Rohrer and Mary Doner, on 28 September 1856 at Canton, Fulton Co., Illinois.1 
Last Edited2 Jul 2006


  1. [S395] Marriage Certificate #222 for William J Orendorff & Mary Rohrer Evd #395.
  2. [S381] Historic Fulton County; Sites and Scenes - Past and Present, Fulton Co Historical Society Evd #381, pg 46+.
  3. [S402] Canton Daily Register 19 Oct 1897 page 8 Evd #402.
  4. [S380] Historical Encyclopedia of IL and History of Fulton county Evd #380, pg 1024.
  5. [S381] Historic Fulton County; Sites and Scenes - Past and Present, Fulton Co Historical Society Evd #381, pg 32+.