William H. DeWitt is now living retired in Montclair, enjoying the rest which is the fitting crown of many years of useful labor. His life, though impretentious and quiet, is an object lesson of real value to the observing and thoughtful. It brings out prominently the characteristics that win, offers encouragement to young men who are willing to work with their minds and hands, and affords another proof of the familiar adage that there is no royal road to wealth or distinction in this republic. The achievement depends upon the man. Earnest, persistent labor, unflagging perseverance and honorable dealing have brought to him a comfortable competence and numbered him among the substantial citizens of Montclair.
Mr. DeWitt was born in Orange county, New York, near Port Jervis, December 24, 1849, and is a son of James and Mary (Carr) DeWitt. His parents were natives of Deckertown, Sussex county, New Jersey, in which locality the ancestors of the DeWitt family, emigrating from Holland, located at a very early day. The grandfather, Peter DeWitt, was numbered among the first settlers of the county, and took an active part in its development. The maternal grandfather of our subject was Robert Carr. Both Mr. and Mrs. James DeWitt, now deceased, passed their lives upon a farm, and by their upright lives won the respect of all who knew them.
William H. DeWitt acquired the greater part of his education in Deckertown, New Jersey, but afterward attended school at Port Jervis, New York. His mother died when he was about twelve years of age and he was early thrown upon his own resources, so that he has become a self-made man, his success being the outcome of his own efforts. At the age of sixteen he entered upon an apprenticeship at the carpenter’s trade under Darius Rhodes, of Port Jervis, and after completing his term worked with that man until twenty years of age, when he began business on his own account, as a contractor and builder. He followed that vocation for a quarter of a century, during which time he never took a vacation, but with unremitting zeal and energy applied himself to his work and made steady advancement. He erected many of the finest residences in Montclair, together with many substantial business blocks, churches, school-houses and club-houses, which stand as monuments to his handiwork and his business ability. His fidelity to the terms of a contract, his promptness and honorable dealing, secured to him a very liberal patronage and brought to him good, substantial returns. For the past ten years he has dealt considerably in real estate, building houses, both for sale and rent, and still has considerable desirable realty. The rental from his houses yields to him a good income and enables him to lay aside the more arduous duties of business life.
In 1870 Mr. DeWitt was united in marriage to Miss Mary Hornbeck, of Port Jervis, New York, a daughter of Lewis and Lydia (Stanton) Hornbeck. She was born in the city where her marriage was celebrated, but was principally reared and educated in Orange, New York. Her mother was a native of Sullivan county, of the Empire state. Three children grace the union of our subject and his wife: Sarah A., Charles I., who is now a student in Amherst College, and Wilham H., Jr.
Mr. DeWitt votes the Republican ticket on state and national questions, but at local elections where no national issue is involved, takes into consideration the qualifications of the candidates and casts his ballot accordingly. Pinehurst, his fine home, is a beautiful and commodious modern residence, standing in the midst of a beautiful lawn, ornamented with native forest trees and pines. Their warm-hearted hospitality places the many guests at their ease and has made Pinehurst the center of a cultured society circle.
Source: Biographical and Genealogical History of the City of Newark and Essex County, New Jersey. 1898. Lewis Publishing Company: New York, NY.