Archive:Biographical Review of Broome County, New York

From WRG
Jump to: navigation, search

Archives > Archive:Extracts > Biographical Review of Broome County, New York

Anonymous, Biographical review: this volume contains biographical sketches of the leading citizens of Broome County, New York (Boston: Biographical Review Pub. Co., 1894).

[p. 105]

LEONARD WHITNEY, the efficient Superintendent of the County Farm at Binghamton, N.Y., was born in Roxbury, Delaware County, N.Y., June 1, 1844. His father, Alfred Whitney, a native of Putnam County, New York, and a blacksmith by trade, was a soldier in the Mexican War and served through all the campaigns. Returning to Roxbury after the war, he went from there to Greene County, where he spent the remainder of his days. He married Miss Phoebe, daughter of Jonathan Howard, whose family were all originally from Roxbury, N.Y. Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Whitney reared eleven children; namely, Amasa S., Walter B., Edgar, Margaret, Leonard, Jonathan, Mertie, Hosea, Elizabeth, Ninian, and Ely.

[p. 106]

The father was sixty years of age when he died, in 1867; and the mother was seventy-six at her death, which occurred January 16, 1893.

At the youthful age of ten years Leonard Whitney started out to work on a farm, in which employment he continued until he enlisted on January 8, 1864, as a private, in the One Hundred and Twentieth New York Regiment, to serve in the Civil War, being then nearly six months less than twenty years of age. January 8, 1866, he was honorably discharged, after having passed through all the different battles in which his regiment took part, from Portsmouth to the final capture of Richmond, making in all eleven engagements, and never receiving a wound. His brother Jonathan enlisted about the same time that he did in the One Hundred and Eighty-eighth New York Regiment. Amasa, another brother, was in the One Hundred and Ningth New York Regiment, and was badly wounded in the knee. After the close of the war, Mr. Whitney stayed a year in Roxbury, N.Y., and then went to Greene County, where he bought a farm. In the winter of 1867 he married Miss Armitta C., daughter of Michael and Mary Bogart, of Olean, N.Y., and about two years later came with her to Broome County, and settled on a farm near Binghamton, where he followed gardening besides the trade of butcher. A few years ago he was appointed Keeper of the County Farm, which consists of about one hundred and thirty acres, upon which are kept twenty-seven cows, besides swine and poultry. This farm supports one hundred inmates, and requires the services of five hired men and one engineer.

Mr. and Mrs. Whitney are members of the Methodist Episcopal church of Binghamton. They have one daughter, Minnie B., wife of George Gaffney, of Binghamton, N.Y.; and one grandchild, Maud W., the offspring of Mr. and Mrs. Gaffney.

Mr. Whitney performs the duties of his responsible position with scrupulous fidelity, and has won the highest encomiums from the citizens of Binghamton for his strict attention to his work. he invariably votes the Republican party ticket.

His sunny, genial, and obliging disposition has gained for him many friends; and he is always looked upon as a whole-souled, jolly companion in any gathering, either social or political, where he is met. He is devoted to the interest of the veteran soldiers, and is an active member of Walton Dwight Post of Binghamton. The unfortunate comrade who through stress of poverty is forced to find his way to the County Farm for help is always received by the keeper with special regard, and treated with the tenderest care, and soon feels that it is not a "poor-house," but a home that he has gained. Mr. Whitney's charity is proverbial, and no better man could be found for the position he holds.


[p. 665]

GENERAL JOSHUA WHITNEY, the enterprising and efficient agent of Mr. William Bingham, to whom the city of Binghamton owes its origin, was born in the town of Hillsdale, Columbia County, N.Y., August 24, 1773, son of Judge Joshua and Hannah (Greene) Whitney, and grandson of Thomas Whitney, who died in 1776. The emigrant ancestors of the family were John and Eleanor Whitney, who came from England to Massachusetts in the early half of the seventeenth century. Judge Whitney was born November 27, 1748, and died September

[p. 666]

26, 1793. His wife Hannah was born September 14, 1748, and died August 17, 1793.

In 1787 Judge Joshua Whitney and his uncle, General William Whitney, with their families and their friend, Henry Green, located themselves on the west bank of the Chenango River, about two miles above its junction with the Susquehanna River, on what was afterward called Whitney's Flats. When they came from Hillsdale, the journey was made by wagons through a country where they found small settlements from three and four to thirty-five miles apart, and the roads only Indian trails, where they had to cut away the trees to allow their conveyances to pass. Where they settled, they were completely isolated, as their nearest neighbors were about forty miles distant, at Tioga Point.

In the year 1791 young Joshua was sent by his father to Philadelphia with a drove of cattle. The journey was mad almost through a pathless wilderness, the difficulties being increased by the straying away of his cattle from the places where they browsed at night. But he was fortunate in losing none; and after many weary weeks he reached his destination., and disposed of his stock. It was while in Philadelphia at this time that he became acquainted with Mr. Bingham, for whom he afterward became the agent of his large patent in Broome County. Two years later his father, on returning from Philadelphia, where he had been to purchase goods, was stricken with yellow fever in a public house at a place called Wind Gap. Word was immediately sent to Joshua, who arrived just in time to close the eyes of his dying father, although the landlord and family strongly importuned him to avoid the risk of infection. The contagious nature of the disease had frightened the inmates of the house to such an extent that the afflicted son was obliged to bury his father, with the aid of two negroes, at midnight of the same day. The children of Judge Whitney were as follows: Joshua; Sarah, Mrs. William Guthrie; Thomas, whose wife was Polly Gilbert; John, who married Polly Bortles; Hannah, Mrs. Samuel Stowe; Lucy, Mrs. Franklin Morse; Olive, Mrs. Christopher Eldridge; Eben, who married Sally Greene; and William, whose wife was Charlotte Park.

Prior to the year 1799 the village of Binghamton was not on the site where the city now stands. A small place called Chenango Village, about one mile above on the west side of the Chenango River, at the foot of Prospect Hill, had made some progress; but, when General whitney became in the year 1800 the agent for Mr. Bingham, who owned the Bingham Patent, he concluded that he location now occupied by the city of Binghamton was a more advantageous one than that. The place he chose was more desirable because it was situated at the confluence of the two rivers, Chenango and Susquehanna, and was on the line of the great Western road which was just then opened; and, moreover, this was included in the Bingham Patent, as the former was not. He therefore did everything possible to divert the attention of settlers toward what he called the "rising

[p. 667]

village"; and not only did he buy a number of buildings from the old village, but bore the expxense of their removal to the new location. This incipient village was called Chenango Point, but it time was corrupted into "Chenang P'int"; and even to this day the proud city of Binghamton is often jocularly referred to by that humble name. Under the direction of Mr. Bingham, General Whitney had the ground early laid out into streets and lots. In the year 1801 he cleared a lot and built a handsome residence on Water Street, which stood there for many year. In may be a matter of interest to insert here a letter bearing date of February 21, 1800, of Mr. William Bingham, the owner of the patent, to General Whitney: --

Sir, -- In consideration of the proposals you have made to me by which you engage to remove to the new town which I have laid out at the confluence of the rivers Chenango and Susquehanna, and in consideration of your exertions in extending the settlement of the town and your services in superintending and disposing of the land which belongs to me in the neighborhood, I readily accede to the proposition you made, and will convey to you the square on the plot of the town which you have preferred, and will dispose of two others to you on moderate terms for the purpose of immediate improvement. The Farm No. 37 in the vicinity of the town which you are desirous of Possessing I will sell you for the very low price of five dollars per acre, and I make this sacrifice as an additional incentive to benefit me by your service. I shall forward you a power of attorney to enable you to act for me, and request you to give every information that can lead me to form a proper opinion on the subject of the property. I shall at the same time fix the compensation that I shall be willing to allow you for your trouble in making the sales of these lands. You must take care to prevent all lumber from being cut that is of a valuable kind.
Wishing you success in all your operations, I am truly yours, etc.
WILLIAM BINGHAM
To MR. JOSHUA WHITNEY.

Another letter from Mr. Bingham to the same, dated August 20, 1800, and now in possession of General Whitney's great-granddaughter, Miss Eliza Cameron Smith, contains the following, showing the interest that Mr. Bingham took in the new village:--

"I am happy to find that you are making such progress in procuring settlers, and that you have made such a handsome addition for building a court-house. I much approve of the institution of a library in your projected town, not only as a rational resource to the mind and furnishing agreeable occupation, but as inducing an attention to literary information and instruction, which is usually attended with an attachment to good principles of government. I shall either subscribe to this library or make it a present of a number of suitable books."

For over forty years General Whitney was agent for the Bingham estate, and during all that time he discharged his duties with promptness and fidelity. In whatever position he was placed, he always proved himself adequate to the responsibility imposed upon him. It may safely be said that no other

[p. 668]

man in the county did so much for its settlement and the improvement of Binghamton as he did. He ws the first Postmaster, being appointed to that trust by Postmaster-General Habersham, of Georgia. He kept the office at his own dwelling at Whitney's Flats, and he had the contract of carrying the mail from Catskill to this place. He was for a great many years one of the leading politicians of the State, was a member of Assembly from this county, was one of a committee of three with the late Judge Van Ness and Mr. Emmett to whom was referred the subject of the dissolving of the Federal party. For many years his influence in this county was irresistible.

General Joshua Whitney was married twice. His first wife, Miss Rhoda Jewell, was born in 1774, and died January 21, 1823. To this marriage were born twelve children, namely: Pamela, born April 12, 1794; Virgil, February 5, 1797; Vincent, May 23, 1799; George, August 12, 1801; Washington and Franklin, twins, July 22, 1803; Joshua, Jr., December 17, 1806; Rhoda, April 14, 1808; William, September 28, 1810; Mary, October 2, 1812; Charles, April 1, 1815; and Robert, April 21, 1818. In the marriage of Pamela Whitney, the eldest daughter, to Thomas G. Waterman, the union of two of the most prominent families of the village took place. Mr. waterman was born in February of 1788, and died January 2, 1862. Eight children were born to this marriage, of whom Mrs. Rhoda E. White -- who was the wife of Judge White, their home being the handsome residence on South Front Street, where his sisters conducted a seminary for young ladies which was celebrated all over the United States -- is a writer of much celebrity, and now resides in New York City. He daughter, the late lamented Mrs. Jennie C. (White) Del Bal, who died in New Granada of yellow fever, falling a sacrifice to her humanity in caring for her servants stricken by the disease, was well known for her patriotic efforts in the cause of the Union. By request of President Lincoln, she wrote to him concerning the position of Americans in New Granada at that time; and it was through her efforts that the United States government did not withdraw their protection, as was threatened.

Virgil Whitney married in 1819 Miss Marcia Doty, a sister of the first wife of the Hon. John A. Collier. Four children were born to them, of whom Mrs. R. A. Ford is now the only survivor. For ninety-four years Virgil Whitney was a resident of Binghamton, and during that time, from 1823 to 1836, was Postmaster. He was highly respected, and was a lifelong Democrat. Vincent Whitney married Miss Susan Harper in 1823. George married Miss Sophia Evans in 1824. Washington married Miss Caroline Park in 1826. Franklin married Miss Eliza Cameron in 1826. His grand-daughter, Eliza Cameron Smith, who is the twenty-second of the Whitney family, resides in this city. Joshua Whitney, Jr., receiving from his father the land whereon Richfield Springs were discovered, made his home there, and

[p. 669]

managed the Spring House for twenty-five years. He died May 7, 1891, at the age of eighty-five years. His wife, who was Miss Zarah Evans, survives him, and resides at the family seat known as Whitney Place at Binghamton. Rhod died August 4, 1808.

William Whitney, having been in delicate health, visited the South, and while in Washington, D.C., met the famous Myra Clark, to whom he became engaged; and, in spite of her guardian's opposition, they were married, she having stolen away from her guardian's home, and, accompanied by her faithful servant, ridden forty miles to meet her lover. After his death she married General Gaines. the remarkable series of lawsuits to establish her claim to the city of New Orleans, commencing in 1826 and, ending in 1883, though which was woven a chain of the most romantic and thrilling circumstances, form a aprt of the civil history of America. For fifty- seven years she made her plucky fight; and it is said that over two thousand lawyers were actively engaged at one time or another in this celebrated case, many fortunes being made of which this was the foundation. She gained her suit, the city of New Orleans being declared her debtor to the amount of two million dollars, with five per cent. of interest until paid, with all costs. She died on January 9, 1885. Mary, the third daughter of General Whitney, lived and died unmarried. She resided with her brother, Professor Charles Whitney, the noted Shakspearean reader and elocutionist. He married Miss Emily Clark, an English lady; and their daughters, Mrs. Lawrence and Miss Jennie Whitney, survive them.

The second wife of General Joshua Whitney was Miss Julia Crooker, who was born in Catskill, N.Y., in the year 1790, and died in 1874. Although the extreme difference of twenty-three years existed between their ages, it was a most happy marriage. She was a beautiful woman, and was always the object of great admiration at Saratoga Springs, where she and her husband generally spent their summers. No children were born to this marriage. Nine of his children were living at the time of the General's death, with forty grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

General Whitney was a devoted Episcopalian. To his liberality Christ Church of Binghamton is indebted for the handsome lot on which it and the parish house adjoining are built, and for the added gift of six thousand dollars. The General was a man of large physical proportions, weighing in the latter part of his life nearly four hundred pounds, and at that time unable to go to church, as he could not conveniently occupy the family pew. Some of his friends were desirous of building for him a large, square pew, after the fashion of those in the churches of England and in a few Colonial churches still existing in America; but others were opposed to it, on the plea that the Whitneys should not run the church. The controversy, which promised to be quite exciting, was abruptly ended by the death of the General on April 13, 1845.

About the year 1825 Peter Lorillard, the

[p. 670]

wealthy tobacconist of New York City, visited General Whitney, coming in his own conveyance with his servants. Mr. Lorillard was also a very heavy man; and his private carriage, which was built expressly for him, was roomy and comfortable, and hung on very low springs. When Mr. Whitney's guest decided to return to New York, the spring freshet had overflowed the country, and it ws found necessary for Mr. Lorillard to avail himself of the plebeian stage-coach; and, not being able to transport his carriage, he sold it to Mr. Whitney, and it was ever known afterward in Binghamton as the "Lorillard chariot." A little estimate of the cost of travelling from New York City to Chanango Point is shown in a bill found among the family papers, dated January, 1827, showing the General paid thirty-seven dollars and twenty-five cents for a trip from that city to his home.

General Whitney lived to see the hamlet of a few scattered houses grow into an incorporated village in which there was not a public improvement toward which he had not contributed advice and pecuniary aid. His memory is still cherished in the city of Binghamton, the tradition of his career as a youthful pioneer in the beautiful valley of the Chenango being handed down from family to family. He was buried in the shadow of the Episcopal church of which he was such a benefactor, and the universal mourning was attested by the concourse of citizens who attended his funeral. His remains were afterward taken up and interred in the beautiful lot of the Whitney family in Spring Forest Cemetery.


[p. 688]

DOLPHUS S. WHITNEY, a farmer of the town of Triangle, has lived on his present place since 1873, and is among those who appreciate the advantages of farm life. He believes in a home of his own, and is therewith content, having no desire to roam a restless wanderer upon the face of the earth. He was born in this vicinity in 1833. His father, Dexter Whitney, was born in 1794, and died in 1867. His grandfather, Asa Whitney, a native of New England, married a Miss Jackson. They were among the very first settlers in this part of the country, where they owned two hundred acres of heavily timbered land. Asa Whitney died in Ohio at and advanced age, his wife having passed away about six years previously. They brought up four sons and three daughters, none of whom are now living. Dexter Whitney married Eliza Day, a daughter of Abram Day, of Massachusetts, who was also an early settler, coming here about 1800, and whose wife was Anna Brooks, of Massachusetts.

Dolphus S. Whitney is the sixth child and second son of twelve children born to his parents, six of whom are now living, and in

[p. 689]

this town of Triangle, namely: Aurelia, wife of Stephen Losee; Annette, wife of George P. Sibley; Dolphus S.; Joseph B.; Adelbert R.; and William D. The mother of these children died in 1891, in her eighty-fourth year, universally beloved and mourned by a large circle of friends. Dolphus was brought up on the farm, received a fair education, and was early accustomed to the habits of industry.

He was married when twenty-one years old to Luraney Crandall, who died October 3, 1868, in her thirty-first year, leaving two children: Walter D., a book-keeper in Binghamton, who is married, and has one daughter, Flora B.; and Birdella E., wife of Frank Ticknor, of Greene, having one son, Walter L. Mr. Whitney was again married to Corphelia E. Day, daughter of Seymour S. and Polly (McGilfrey) Day. Her father died April 1, 1894, his seventy-fifth year; and her mother, on June 2, 1894, at the same age. Their last years were spent at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Whitney. They had buried a daughter, Helen, who was the wife of James L. Talbert. The living children of this family are the following: Corphelia E., Mrs. Whitney; William, now in the Far West; Adella M., wife of C. M. Parker, a travelling man of Binghamton; and Frances, wife of Walter D. Whitney, of Binghamton.

Mr. and Mrs. Dolphus S. Whitney have four children, namely: Lilian L., wife of Rev. G. Frank Johnson, a Baptist minster of Norwich, N.Y., whose daughter, Evangel Mary, was born April 25, 1894; Arthur D., a student in Binghamton; Howard B., at home, now sixteen years old; and Nellie I., at home, eight years old. Mr. Whitney has one hundred and eleven acres in the home place, and one hundred and forty acres below the village tenanted. They keep a dairy on both places, having about thirty cows, and also have a fine flock of pure-bred Shropshire sheep. They have an interest in a mild factory which consumes the product of the dairy. Mr. Whitney built his nice house one-half mile north of Triangle in 1872, and enjoys a pleasant home.


[p. 728]

CHARLES WHITNEY, dramatic reader and author of wide celebrity, was born at Chenango Point, now Binghamton, N.Y., April 1, 1815, a son of General Joshua Whitney, of whom see the very interesting biographical sketch on another page. The Whitney family is one of the best known in the annals of this city.

The subject of this brief memoir, who died suddenly, April 17, 1885, at his home, No. 7 North Street, Binghamton, received a good education, attending some of the best institutions of learning in the State of New York at the time of his school-days in the early part of the century. He held first rank as a dramatic reader, and was especially versed in Shakespearean literature, to which he was so devoted that every room in his house had some appropriate quotation from the bard of Avon painted on the walls. He was a man of great ability as a writer, and was a correspondent for various New York papers for many years.

At the age of forty he married Miss Emily Clark, a most gifted and intelligent lady, who was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She died March 10, 1892, on the home farm in the town of Conklin, N.Y., where she and the family had lived since the death of her husband. They had a family of five children, of whom only two are now living, Mary E. and Jennie J. Mary E. was born in Boston, Mass., and is an artist of rare merit, and also a well-known author. She and her sister are graduated of St. Agnes Church School at Albany, N.Y., and are brilliantly educated

[p. 729]

young women. They managed the farm in the town of Conklin, where they reside, and which consists of one hundred and sixty acres of excellent and productive land. Miss Mary devoted herself principally to her paintings, for which she receives many valuable orders; and her literary work appears in the best magazines of the day.

Mr. and Mrs. Whitney were communicants of the Episcopal church, and in politics he vited with the Democratic party.


Copyright © 2012, Robert L. Ward and the Whitney Research Group.

Personal tools