Archive:Civil War Pension File, William C. Whitney

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From the Civil War Pension File of William C. Whitney
Battery G, 2nd Illinois Lt. Artillery
Battery D, 1st Illinois Light Artillery
7th U.S.C. Artillery (Heavy)
Widow, Anna E. Whitney
Invalid’s Application #777386, Certificate #539051
Widow’s Application #872834, Certificate #632659
The National Archives Building,
Washington, D.C.

He is identified as William Clifford7 Whitney (John Godfrey6, Nathan5, Benjamin4, John3, Benjamin2, John1).

The following is a Memorandum of Military Service of William C. Whitney:

“Enlisted as a Private in Battery “G”, Second Regiment, Illinois Light Artillery, September 12, 1861. Commissioned Second Lieutenant, October 5, 1861, and First Lieutenant , January 15, 1862. Mustered out of the service, February 22, 1863, under General Orders from the War Department reducing the number of Officers in Light batteries.

Re-enlisted as Private in Battery “D” First Illinois Light Artillery, December 15, 1863. Commissioned First Lieutenant January 15, 1864. Appointed Captain in Seventh U.S.C. Artillery (Heavy) April 10, 1864. Appointed Colonel of Fourth Regiment Enrolled Militia, District of West Tennessee, December 15 1864, continuing to hold position of Captain in Seventh U.S.C. Artillery (Heavy). Regiment disbanded April 12, 1865. Appointed Colonel Second Regiment Freedmen Enrolled Militia, District of West Tennessee, April 20, 1865. Regiment disbanded July, 1865. Assigned to duty as Assistant Provost Marshall Freedman District of West Tennessee, July, 1865. Mustered out of service, January 12, 1866. The Seventh U.S.C. Artillery (Heavy) having been changed to the Eleventh U.S.C. Infantry, he was mustered out with that organization, having served nearly four years in six different Regiments, and three branches of the service, viz: Light and Heavy Artillery, and Infantry.”

On 3 May 1890 from Mitchell Co., Kansas, William C. Whitney signed a Declaration for an Original Invalid Pension. He was enrolled as a private on 12 September 1861 in Company G of the 2nd Regiment of Illinois Light Artillery. He was honorably discharged on 22 February 1863. He is 62 years old; height 6 feet, 2 inches; light complexion; gray hair; and blue eyes. While in the service and in the line of duty at Trenton, Tennessee, in August 1862 he contracted chronic diarrhea, and being much in the saddle, he contracted piles. He was never in the hospital and cannot give the name of the surgeon at that time. After his discharge he obtained some relief and soon re-enlisted. Soon after the piles grew worse and became a varying source of discomfort, in a great degree disabling him from manual labor. The idea of piles was so repulsive to him, and being in appearance strong and robust, he never complained, and very few knew that he had any issue. With advancing years and his great weight (varying from 280 to 300 pounds), he has a constant feeling of fullness and discomfort in the rectum. He describes varying symptoms attendant to his illness. Since leaving the service he has resided in the Town of New Milford, Illinois, where his occupation was farmer, until 1871, when he located in Cawker City, Kansas, keeping hotel until 1884. Since then he was the postmaster. He is greatly disabled and seeks to be placed on the pension roll. Witnessing the declaration are R. W. Lundy and R. M. Ferris.

On 19 September 1897 William answered an inquiry from the Bureau of Pensions. He is married to Ann Eliza Whitney, nee Holmes. They were married 5 January 1851 in East Boston, MA by Rev. Porter. He knows of no record of the marriage other than in the family record. They have no living children.

On 19 June 1907 from Mitchell Co., Kansas, Anna E. Whitney, age 81, signed a Declaration for Widow’s Pension. She is the widow of William C. Whitney who died 16 June 1907. She was married under the name Ann Eliza Holmes to said William C. Whitney on 5 January 1851 by Rev. James Porter at Boston, MA. Her post office address is Cawker City, Mitchell Co., Kansas.

Anna provided a certified copy of their marriage record from the Registry Department of the City of Boston. The marriage was recorded 10 January 1851. The Groom was William C. Whitney, a resident of Boston, MA. He was a 24 year old, white, Expressman, born in Dexter, Maine, the son of John G. Whitney. It is his first marriage. The Bride was Anna Eliza Holmes, a resident of Boston, MA. She was 25 years old, white, with no occupation. She was born in Barre, VT, the daughter of Fisher Holmes. It is her first marriage. They were married by Rev. James Porter on 5 January 1851 in Boston.

The Commissioner of Pensions was notified that Anna E. Whitney was last paid at $12.00 to 4 May 1916, and has been dropped from the rolls because of death on 8 May 1916.

The following is the obituary of Col. William C. Whitney from the newspaper Cawker City Public Record, Cawker City, Mitchell Co., Kansas, dated 20 June 1907. It was the front page, above the crease, main story that day.

Colonel William C. Whitney

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The Solomon Valley’s Pioneer Hotel Man Passes to the Great Beyond

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Past Commander of the Department of Kansas, Grand Army of the Republic

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Died - At his home in Cawker City June 16, 1907 William Clifford Whitney, aged 79 years, 5 months, and 12 days.

To write an obituary of Colonel Whitney would be almost making a chronological table, as scarcely a year is unmarked that he was not connected with some public event.

As a forerunner of his future, a letter written of his mother’s, written in 1831 by her brother William Allen (afterward President of Girard College) shows the inborn traits as a child. “If you are going to raise an army of boys (which appears highly probable) I beg you will give me the privilege of appointing for their General that unaccountable prodigy that fearless and ungovernable Clifford! He is a real Bonaparte in miniature!!! and I expect to see him some day, sword in hand, at the head of his thousands.

Born at Dexter, Me, Jan. 3, 1828, he received a good New England common school education, and wrought with his father as carpenter, clerking in Boston a number of years, where he was baptized in 1845, and united with the Baptist Church; and where he imbibed a love of military manoeuvres, joining the Boston Light Artillery. In 1851 he married Miss Anna Holmes, and in 1854 started westward, stopping in Illinois, as a farmer; but his country’s call was loudest and he enlisted Sept. 12, 1861 in Battery G, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery.

His Military Record

Enlisted as a private in Battery G, Second Regiment Illinois Light Artillery, September 12, 1861. Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, Oct. 5, 1861, and 1st Lieutenant, January 15, 1862. Mustered out of service, Feb. 22, 1863, under General Orders from the War Department reducing the number of Officers in the Light Batteries.

Re-enlisted as private in battery D, First Illinois Light Artillery, December 15, 1863. Commissioned 1st Lieutenant, January 15, 1864.

Appointed Captain in Seventh U.S.C. Artillery (Heavy) April 10, 1864.

Appointed Colonel of the Fourth Regiment Enrolled Militia, District of West Tennessee, December 15, 1864, continuing to hold position of Captain in 7th U.S.C. Artillery (Heavy). Regiment disbanded April 12, 1865.

Appointed Colonel Second Regiment Freedmen Enrolled Militia, District of West Tennessee, April 20, 1865. Regiment disbanded July, 1865.

Assigned to duty as Assistant Provost Marshal Freedmen District of West Tennessee, July 1865. Mustered out of service January 12, 1866.

The Seventh U.S.C. Artillery (Heavy) having been changed to the Eleventh U.S.C. Infantry, he was mustered out with that organization, having served nearly four years in six different Regiments and three branches of the service, viz: Light and Heavy Artillery, and Infantry.

In 1869 he came to Kansas, stopping at Waterville, and in 1871 to Waconda, where he built a hotel and had the misfortune to lose his barn and stock by lightning, and where the death angel claimed his only daughter, aged thirteen years. (It was the same spot his only son, Arthur, died in July 1886.)

In 1872 he left Waconda for Cawker and opened a hotel in the Hall (now the 2nd story of the Rothschild store) and in October was appointed Justice of the Peace by Governor Harvey. He was elected county commissioner in 1873, serving two terms, and June 1874, was one of three to lay out the state road, 60 feet wide, from Cawker to Stockton. Then ________________ times; an Aid Society was organized and Colonel Whitney and Dr. A. Patten were authorizer by the governor to be relief agents for Kansas. They visited Boston where concerts were given in Tremont Temple for their fund, also at Cleveland, Ohio.

With the good prospects of 18__ in May he began building the Whitney House, which was quoted as “the best hotel west of St. Louis and that never charged a newspaper man a cent”, an addition being built in 1878 which was opened with an oyster supper and a band of music. Being six feet three inches and weighing from 260 to 300 pounds, it was said: “he needed a ponderous corporosity as a suitable habitat for his big heart and if he had charged his friends for the many courtesies he could have lived at ease in his declining years.” In the new hotel the silver weeding bells rung out for them. He was elected mayor in 1878, and in 1879, when he welcomed the first train to Cawker, and again in 1880, and councilman in 1881, when he furnished supper for 200 to celebrate his 10th anniversary as landlord. In 1882 he invited all the children under 16, and while 154 marched in three rows deep, gave them chicken sandwiches, all kinds of cake, popcorn balls, apples, and candies. Apples meant something in those days.

In 1883 he rented the oak grove on Oak Creek, which he named Lincoln Park and planned it for an ideal spot for recreation. It is now known as Lincoln Park, Chautauqua Grounds. Jan. 1884 he was undersheriff, and July 1884 made Postmaster, when he sold the Whitney House and his successors have respected his wish to not change the name so long as he shall live. In 1888 he was again mayor, when he and the council procured our fire equipment that has done such efficient service. August 1889 again Postmaster until 1893 and Mayor the fifth time. In 1896 he was elected Department Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, wearing their diamond badge of honor.

Jan. 5, 1901 his friends rang the golden wedding bells; and though his health was on the wane, he served as census enumerator, police judge and justice of the peace; but the last five years has spent most of the time in his chair.

April 1 1907 he was taken to the polls in a carriage, but gangrene set in soon after, confining him to his bed.

He was a member of the I.O.O.F. and had filled all of the chairs up to the Worthy Chief Patriarch of the Encampment wearing the veteran jewel. The Brethren have been constant attendants for him the past two winters, but to his wife he turned to the last, as he said at the golden wedding: “Here through all has been my anchor, my stay and my comfort.”

When he ceased breathing at 8 o’clock Sunday morning, there was no confusion usually attendant upon preparatory services, but the written instructions to the minutest details, were handed to E. N. Woodbury as Marshal of the day, who assigned to each his part. The casket was brought forth which he himself made, fashioned as becoming his rank, using his silk flags for the draping which were presented to him as Colonel of his regiment by the ladies of the ’60’s, dressed in the habiliments worn when following the colors, they laid him in it, and for the cover was the state flag on which were placed his swords and accoutrements; at the head an anchor of flowers by the W.R.C., a wreath by the I.O.O.F. From 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock a continuous line of people passed to take the last look, and at 2 PM the procession formed as per diagram he had prepared. Ninety members of the I.O.O.F. in regalia; the hearse with double guard of honor, one of Brothers and one of Comrades; the widow’s carriage, the W.R.C. on foot, and Reynolds Post and Comrades, fifty in number, led by Past Department Commander P. H. Coney and two drummers, J. B. Searle and Ammon Rogers. A song and prayer at the house, and at the church all the ministers were in the pulpit. The choir sang “Someday we’ll understand.” Rev. Huckell , who has been very near to him in boyhood, manhood, and of late as spiritual friend read from John XIV. Rev. J. A. Bull, whose triple tie of Comrade, Brother, and Christian made strong the links, offered prayer. The choir rendered the anthem the Colonel has selected at the deaths of other members of his family “Prepare to meet thy God”. Justice Clark A. Smith, who had been his friend for 35 years, read his obituary according to promise exacted of him months ago, adding a few personal reminiscences. Rev. McNeel, his present pastor, preached the sermon, saying the text “Set thy house in order,” was so fitting on this occasion, but so also was “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” The procession again formed, the new Baptist bell he so much desired to hear, was used for the first time, to toll, 80 strokes, softly given; and at Prairie Grove Cemetery in which he always took so much interest, and where his last work was to prepare his vaulted tomb, the casket was placed; Commander Coney and reynolds Post performing the burial service for a Department officer. As they gave place, Rev. Bull who acted as chaplain, donned the regalia of the I.O.O.F. and continued to serve for them. The drummer boy beat “Taps”, the mortar was spread, the clouds which had shielded all from the heat of the sun slowly dropped their tears.

“Soldier rest thy warfare o’er
Sleep the sleep that knows no waking.
Dream the battle fields no more
Days of danger, nights of waking.”

The following notices accompanied the obituary:

Card of Thanks

Words cannot express the gratitude felt to those who so patiently and faithfully watched and served during the long weary months of pain and sickness of my dear husband. To Brothers, Comrades, friends, and neighbors, and to all who have ministered to us I wish to return sincere thanks.

Mrs. Anna E. Whitney

One sword and several other tokens was left to the grandson, William C. Whitney, another sword and the scrap books are to descend to a nephew, Bert Whitney.

An error in dates occurred in the obituary of Wm. C. Whitney. He was under sheriff Jan. 1884 and made postmaster July 1884. The dispatches in the dailies have placed his marriage after his discharge; but he was married in 1851 and his Colonel (Tom Jackson of Newton, KS) provided quarters for Mrs. Whitney and children Arthur and Addie. The family were also with him at Memphis and gave receptions at their house.

Bert Whitney, of the Randall News, who is a son of Llewelling (sic) Whitney, the Colonel’s oldest brother, came over Monday for the funeral.


Copyright © 2012, Kenneth L. Whitney and the Whitney Research Group.

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