Obee Family

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2. John Obee Sr. (William1) was born 21 Aug 1840 in Selby, Yorkshire, England and died 17 Apr 1920 at age 79.

General Notes: John Obee, the third son of William and Alice Foster Obee, was born in Selby, Yorkshire, England, on August 21, 1840. When he was thirteen, his formal education ended when the family migrated to America. Before leaving Selby, however, he had an experience long remembered when he narrowly escaped drowning in a mill pond no far from his home.
In the new world, he quickly adapted himself to the new conditions, helping not only on the home farm, but also working for others. For a time, he worked in a nursery near Springfield, Ohio, where he acquired a knowledge of fruits and of methods of their care. This was to play a large part in his later farming activities. At one time, he worked for Eber Bradley, a farmer near Whitehouse. On August 3, 1862, John became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
When President Lincoln issued a call for volunteers to help preserve the Union, John (age 22), with his brother Henry, enlisted for three years in the 100th Ohio Volunteer Infantry on September 1, 1862. The most sever fighting in which he participated was under Thomas' command in the Tennessee campaign. By this time, he was 5'7" tall. On at least one occasion, he felt a kind Providence spared his life. During the battle near Franklin, Tennessee, on November 30, 1864, he was slightly wounded in the left breast and as he turned to examine his wound, another bullet struck the knapsack on examine back. The slug passed through many thicknesses of canvas, thus spending it's force. For a few months, he served as company cook and from September to November, 1863, he guarded the Lick Creek Bridge on the ET&V Railroad. At the close of the war, he was honorably discharged at Greensboro, NC on June 20, 1865.
After his release from the army, John lost little time in getting back to Whitehouse, where he bought a farm, built a small house and stable with oak boards placed vertically, and on August 19th, 1965, married Margaret Billing. Margaret, daughter of Conrad and Margaret Billing, was born in Canton Zurich Switzerland on February 27, 1846. When she was three years of age, the family migrated to America. She first used the Swiss dialect of the German language which her parents preferred to use as long as they lived. Her opportunities for school work were quite limited. However, both by precept and example, her early religious training was carefully fostered. At a very early age, she learned to perform the various duties of a pioneer home. As a teenager, she not only worked at home, but was employed along with her sister Eliza by Eber Bradley. His son, A. J. Bradley, reports that the girls raked, turned and pitched hay to the wagon as well as helped with housework throughout the Civil War Period. John Obee was also employed on the farm. After their marriage, the couple lived one mile north of town, but they soon purchased sixty acres of land a half mile further west. Here, they established their permanent home and raised their six sons and four daughters. Through the purchase of 20 acres to the north, fourteen to the west, and forty acres to the east, the farm finally had one hundred and thirty-four acres. Seventy-four of these acres were up for sale in 1980 for $250,000. John was a progressive farmer; one season he raised 500 bushels of potatoes on a single acre of land. Although he took much of the produce to Toledo (12 miles away), he marketed some of the potatoes in Bowling Green (16 miles). The Toledo trip with a load of potatoes took about 17 hours. John started at three in the morning and usually took one of the boys with him. In Toledo, they saw such wonderful sights as mules slowly pulling the huge barges back and forth along the canals, the horse-drawn street cars, and the milkmen with their long-handled dippers loading the milk from their big cans into the containers of their customers.
Although John encouraged the children about securing an education, the boys usually found it necessary to help on the farm from early spring until late in the fall. The weekly program was planned so no regular farm work was done on Sunday. During the week, he regularly conducted family worship following breakfast. More than once, he represented his church in its annual conference and served upon its more important committees.
The garden for flowers as well as fruits and vegetables was one of Margaret's interests. Few products of the farm were more eagerly sought than the butter which her skilled hands prepared. Ministers and college agents were welcomed to the home. She held the "Blue Ribbon" badge of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union in high esteem and wore it proudly. Through most of her married life, in the home, she care for afflicted sister, "Aunt Libby".
John spent little time away from the farm. he and Margaret took one trip to Kansas to visit his brother Henry. They also went to Canada to visit relatives, and John Visited his boyhood home in England. On this trip, Providence seemed again interested in saving his life. John was delayed and missed the ship on which he planned to sail. With the loss of many lives, this ship burned before it sailed out of the harbor. His trip to England resulted in his reacquiring a bit of the Yorkshire accent, which he retained to his death.
After the ten children, Albert Henry, Christopher, John Conrad, Mary Annie, Ernest Isaac, Frederick William, Charles Walter, Esther Ellen, Margaret Alice, and Edith Grace, he reached maturity and had chosen their various callings, retirement to Whitehouse followed where Margaret's health soon failed. She died on July 10, 1909 and was buried in the Whitehouse Cemetery.
John was married a second time, this time to the widow Elizabeth Roach Ford (b. 12/2/1842) on April 14, 1914. She died five years later on September 8, 1919. John spent his later years caring for a good garden, keeping in touch with children and grand children and continuing his activities in the local church. His death occurred on April 17, 1920, with burial in the Whitehouse Cemetery.
A road, located a mile north of Whitehouse, on which was located the William Obee homestead, John's farm, and a third owned by John's son, John, was officially designated years ago as Obee Road.

John married Margaret Billing, daughter of Conrad Billing and Margaret, 18 Aug 1965 in Whitehouse, Lucas Co, Ohio, United States. Margaret was born 27 Feb 1846 in Canton, Zurich, Switzerland and died 10 Jul 1909 in Whitehouse, Lucas Co, Ohio, United States at age 63.

Children from this marriage are:

+ 3 M    i. Albert Henry Obee was born 3 Jun 1866 in Whitehouse, Lucas Co, Ohio, United States, died 21 Mar 1888 at age 21, and was buried in Sylvania, OH.

+ 4 M    ii. Christopher Obee was born 28 Feb 1868 in Whitehouse, Lucas Co, Ohio, United States, died 18 Nov 1923 at age 55, and was buried in Lewistown, Fergus Co, Montana, United States.

+ 5 M    iii. John Conrad Obee was born 22 May 1870 in Whitehouse, Lucas Co, Ohio, United States, died 14 Jul 1936 in Whitehouse, Lucas Co, Ohio, United States at age 66, and was buried in Whitehouse, Lucas Co, Ohio, United States.

+ 6 F    iv. Mary Annie Obee was born 19 Aug 1872 in Whitehouse, Lucas Co, Ohio, United States, died 9 Feb 1969 at age 96, and was buried in Hanover, , New Jersey, United States.

+ 7 M    v. Ernest Isaac Obee was born 15 Oct 1874 in Whitehouse, Lucas Co, Ohio, United States, died 30 Mar 1952 at age 77, and was buried in Whitehouse, Lucas Co, Ohio, United States.

+ 8 M    vi. Frederick William Obee was born 11 Nov 1876 in Whitehouse, Lucas Co, Ohio, United States, died 20 Apr 1964 at age 87, and was buried in Whitehouse, Lucas Co, Ohio, United States.

+ 9 M    vii. Charles Walter Obee was born 16 Jun 1879 in Whitehouse, Lucas Co, Ohio, United States, died 16 Jun 1967 at age 88, and was buried in Kansas City, KS.

+ 10 F    viii. Esther Ellen Obee was born 14 Jul 1882 in Whitehouse, Lucas Co, Ohio, United States, died 11 Mar 19682 at age 85, and was buried in Pueblo, , Colorado, United States.2

+ 11 F    ix. Margaret Alice Obee was born 22 Aug 1884 in Whitehouse, Lucas Co, Ohio, United States, died 15 Sep 1961 at age 77, and was buried in Chapel Hill, NC.

+ 12 F    x. Edith Grace Obee was born 29 Aug 1886 in Whitehouse, Lucas Co, Ohio, United States, died 20 Feb 1931 at age 44, and was buried in Whitehouse, Lucas Co, Ohio, United States.


1. A. J. Bradley, Early Whitehouse History (Whitehouse, OH: Phillips Printing Co, 1937).

2. Harold B. Obee, editor, The Family History of the Obee-Billing Association (Bowling Green, Ohio: Rapid Printing, 1980), 146.

Last updated April 2012

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