Detrich, John E.

Born: 1820-06-07 Pennsylvania

Died: 1899-01-31 Randolph County, Illinois

Flourished: Sparta, Illinois

John E. Detrich was a printer, newspaper publisher, merchant, state legislator, army officer, and federal government official. Born in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, Detrich became an orphan at a young age. Raised by a maternal uncle, he received a common school education. Upon completion of his academic studies, he became an apprentice in a printing shop. Upon gaining proficiency as a printer, Detrich moved to Columbus, Ohio, where he found work at the Ohio Statesman. In 1839, he moved to Columbus, later known as Sparta, Illinois to assist James and Samuel Morrow in the publication of the Columbus Herald. In January 1840, Dietrich became editor of the Columbus Herald, shortening the name to the Herald and transforming it into a Democratic Party organ. In May 1840, Dietrich purchased the newspaper office and became the publisher. Dietrich remained publisher until June 1840, when he relinquished control of the paper, which the new owners renamed the Democrat. Dietrich remained editor until 1843. In July 1842, he married Elizabeth Jane Shannon. Elizabeth died in 1849. Detrich spent the winter following her death in Alabama and Mississippi. Returning to Sparta, he was engaged in the printing trade in 1850, and owned real property valued at $500. Randolph County voters elected Detrich to the Illinois House of Representatives, where he served from January 1851 to June 1852. In November 1852, Randolph County voters sent him to the Illinois Senate. Detrich represented Randolph County in the Senate until February 1855. In 1858, Detrich again won election to the Illinois House of Representatives. In 1860, he was engaged in the mercantile trade in Sparta and owned real property valued at $5,000 and had a personal estate of $5,000. Upon commencement of the Civil War, Detrich volunteered for military service, becoming captain of a company in the Twenty-Second Illinois Regiment. Poor health forced him to resign his commission, and in May 1863, Detrich received appointment as commissioner of the Board of Enrollment for the Illinois Twelfth Congressional District, holding that position until his resignation in December 1864.

Combined History of Randolph, Monroe and Perry Counties, Illinois (Philadelphia: J. L. McDonough, 1883), 390; Franklin William Scott, Newspapers and Periodicals of Illinois, 1814-1879, vol. 6 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1910), 319; Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, Randolph County, 3 July 1842, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Randolph County, IL, 16; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Sparta, Randolph County, IL, 222; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 217, 218, 220, 222; Gravestone, Evergreen Cemetery, Chester, IL.