Archive:Biographical Record of Linn County, Iowa

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The Biographical Record of Linn County, Iowa (Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1901), pp. 776-781.


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Joseph Whitney, who is the largest land owner in the northeastern part of Linn county and one of its honored early settlers, is now living a retired life on the old homestead farm on section 29, Bowlder township. He has made good use of his opportunities in life, has prospered from year to year, and has conducted all business matters carefully and successfully, and in all his acts displays an aptitude for successful management.

Mr. Whitney was born in Warren county, Ohio, December 14, 1825, a son of Ephraim and Mary (Livingston) Whitney, natives of Maine and Ohio, respectively. From the Pine Tree state the father removed to Warren county, Ohio, at an early day, and there engaged in farming until 1844, when he went to Lee county, Illinois, and located near the village of Amboy, where he continued to follow the same pursuit until his death in 1882. His wife died at the same place in 1885. They were the parents of six children, of whom our subject is the eldest; David, the second in or-

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der of birth, is now deceased; Caroline is the wife of P. Bartlett, a resident of Bureau county, Illinois; Phoebe Ann is the wife of William Brown, a farmer of Tennessee; Silas is deceased; and Rebecca is the wife of Edwin Shaw, a resident of Colorado.

The early educational advantages of our subject were such as the common schools of his native county afforded during his boyhood. At the age of nineteen he accompanied his parents on their removal to Lee county, Illinois, where he began farming for himself. There he was married in 1852 to Miss Dorothea A. Peterson, a native of New York state and a daughter of Jonathan Peterson, who was one of the early settlers of Lee county, Illinois, where he engaged in farming until his death. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Whitney were born six children, namely: Warren, who married Effie Fields and resides on a farm near his father; George, who married Celestie Coquilette, now deceased, and resides on a farm on section 19, Bowlder township; Lelia, wife of Adolphus Atkins, a farmer of Spring Grove township, this county; Inez, wife of Wesley Wagner, a farmer of Sioux county, Iowa; Carrie, wife of Daniel Coquilette, a farmer of Spring Grove township, Linn county; and Elmo, who is at home with his parents.

Mr. and Mrs. Whitney began their domestic life on a farm in Lee county, Illinois, where they remained for a few years, and in 1855 came to Linn county, Iowa, settling on section 23, Bowlder township, where he entered a half section of land. He immediately turned his attention to the improvement of this property, but a year later removed to his present farm on section 29, the same township, which borders on Buffalo creek. He erected a gristmill, which he operated for some time in connection with farming, and then sold. Since then he has devoted his entire time and attention to farming and stock raising. He has also speculated quite extensively in land, buying and selling farms in Bowlder township, and is still the owner of over one thousand acres in the vicinity of his home farm, most of which is in Bowlder township. Although he still continues to reside on the old homestead, he is now practically living retired, having rented most of his land, but still continues to look after his farming interests.

On August 13, 1862, Mr. Whitney enlisted in the Twenty-fourth Regiment of Iowa Volunteer Infantry, for three years' service or during the war. This regiment saw considerable active service, being engaged in the famous charge of Champion Hill, conceded to be one of the hottest engagements of the war, in which during a twenty minutes engagement one-half of the regiment was either killed or wounded. They were also engaged in a number of important battles, such as the battle of Port Gibson and siege of Vicksburg. Mr. Whitney was taken ill after the battle of Champion Hill, and was transferred to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. He was honorably discharged July 20, 1865, at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, and is now a member of G. A. R. post located at Monticello, Iowa. Was promoted sergeant at the Battle of Port Gibson.

In religious Faith Mr. and Mrs. Whitney are Baptists, and are active members of the church at Prairieburg, and in his social relations he is a member of Prairieburg Lodge, No. 421, A. F. & A. M. He cast his first presidential vote for General

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Scott, the Whig candidate, and has been a stanch supporter of the Republican party since its organization. He has taken a very prominent and influential part in county and township affairs, and for several years most creditably and acceptably filled the office of county supervisor. He has also served in a number of township offices, such as trustee and school director, and as a citizen is ever ready to discharge any duty devolving upon him.


Few if any of the residents of the state of Iowa can trace their ancestry back to as remote a date as can the subject of this sketch.

Eustis De Whitney, of Flemish descent, was the founder of the present family of Whitney. Thomas Whitney, having taken up his residence in England, was the first to omit the prefix "De" from the name. His son, John, born in London in the year 1592, was the first of the family to take up his abode in the wilds of America. Having reached its shores in the year 1635, he settled near Watertown, New York, with his wife, Eleanore, and their five children.

F. W. Whitney, the subject of this sketch, is a native of Wisconsin, being born in Walworth county, near the town of Troy, April 17, 1835. He is the son of William M. and Augusta H. (Marsh) Whitney. Mrs. Whitney traces her ancestry back to the time of the Revolutionary war, in which her grandfather fought under the standard of George Washington. This gentleman was Enos Marsh, who married a New England lady of high culture, and together they passed many years of wedded life, both reaching the advanced age of ninety years. They died at Montague, Massachusetts.

Isaac Whitney, father of Mr. Whitney, was a well-known farmer in Wisconsin, where he died in 1850. He was born in Delaware county, New York, where upon reaching manhood he took up a tract of land, barren and wild, and cleared and successfully cultivated it for seven years. In the year 1818 he married Laura Montague, also a native of New York. The family of Montague dates back to the sixteenth century, when in the year 1645 Richard, the founder of the family, settled in Hadley, Massachusetts.

Our subject's mother was born April 24, 1826, being the daughter of Enos and Rebecca (Hawley) Marsh, her father being the son of the Revolutionary hero above mentioned Enos Marsh, Jr., as he was known, was possessed of a very fine education and taught school for many years. He passed away at Granby, Oswego county, New York, in May, 1831, just as he was preparing himself to enter the ranks of the Baptist ministry. Mrs. Marsh was a resident of Port Huron, Michigan, at the time of her death, August 4, 1853. To the marriage of William M. and Augusta H. Whitney were born four children, only two of whom are now living: Harriet L. is the wife of Wilford H. De Berard and resides in Fairfax, Iowa; and the subject of this sketch.

Mr. Whitney received his early education in Fairfax township, and then attended the normal school located at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. December 31, 1877, having finished his education and returned home, he married Florence L. Cleveland, the sketch of whose father, E. D. Cleveland, appears

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on another page of this work. They became the parents of five children: Isaac Raymond, born May 11, 1869, died August 27, 1881; Oscar P. F. was born January 2, 1881; Montague E. was born April 14, 1884; Carroll L., born October 30, 1890; and Ruth LaBelle, born August 2, 1892.

About the time of his marriage Mr. Whitney bought from his father a farm of about one hundred acres, and shortly afterward added to it sixty-seven acres, and now possesses one of the finest farms in the state of Iowa, it being in a high state of cultivation and containing all modern improvements.

At the age of seventeen years Mr. Whitney joined the Congregational church, since which time he has been a member of the highest standing. He is also a member of the Iowa Legion of Honor and Modern Brotherhood of America.

A stanch Republican in politics, our subject held the office of township clerk for three years, and was also township trustee for the same length of time. However, although Mr. Whitney is a firm supporter of the Republican party in national affairs, in township and county elections his vote is always cast for the man whom he deems best fitted to fill the office.

Copyright © 2014, Robert L. Ward and the Whitney Research Group.

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