Archive:The Descendants of John Whitney, page 342

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The Descendants of John Whitney, Who Came from London, England, to Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1635, by Frederick Clifton Pierce (Chicago: 1895)

Transcribed by the Whitney Research Group, 1999.

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sparsely populated and exhibited on all sides native forests with the poorest roads. Northwestern Pennsylvania was well settled and thrifty, while Ashtabula county, OH, through which his journey also lay, was uninviting and pleased him less. He drove on to Cleveland and south to Medina, Wooster, Sunbury, Columbus, Springfield, and thence north to Urbana. At this latter place he found an academy and engaged to teach. He was zealous and enthusiastic in the midst of an illiterate population, and as a reward received the appointment of county commissioner. Saving the profits of his office, he bought a handsome site in town, which he afterward sold at a considerable advance, and resigning his office went down to Cincinnati to study the- ology. He arrived there during the cholera scourge, when the inhabitants were flee- ing the city, and put up at the hotel corner of Main and Fifth streets, and thence went out to Lane seminary on Walnut Hill, and engaged his services as professor in Latin, at the same time undertaking the study of theology. The institution at this time was but imperfectly organized, and to secure his executive abilities the directors also made him professor at large. In this capacity he kept the institution in order until Dr. Lyman BEECHER, the appointed principal, arrived from Boston. Although his relations with this eminent divine lasted only a few months, they were such as to have a powerful effect over his future life. Relig- ious and anti-slavery discussion became rife in Cincinnati, and Dr WHITNEY was often asked to take part in them, and as a member of the seminary faculty creditably did his share. He was soon, however, offered the professorship of mathematics in a college in Missouri, which he accepted, and resigned from Lane. His new appoint- ment proved a failure, for just as he was about to set out on his journey news reached him that the college faculty had become embroiled in the prevailing ant-slavery dis- cussion, and had sacrificed their social support, money, and probably their building. He returned to the East to enter his profession, and soon married, in 1833, in Spencertown, NY, Miss Cornelia L. PRATT, the daughter of a retired merchant, and a very talented lady. He was licensed to preach Apr 21, 1835, by the Columbia presbytery, and was ordained in 1837 by the presbytery of Chenango, NY. The places which mainly enjoyed his ministerial services as pastor were Guilford and Coventryville, NY, New Brunswick, NJ, Sherman, Conn, and Providence, RI. He also lectured to large audiences on moral reforms, the proper observance of the Sabbath, and temperance, in western New York, central Ohio, New York City and many other places. He was a close student of Dwight's theology, and his orthodoxy was according to the teachings of that work. He believed that the doctrines of relig- ion were reasonable and his whole theology was curative, and tended to raise his fellow-men from the abnormal to the normal and healthful condition, full of satisfac- tion with and enjoyment of the gifts of God. He had confidence in himself and inspired confidence in others. He had a very fine presence, well-proportioned frame, large oval clear cut face, backed with great depth of head; broad, high forehead and fine black glossy hair. His style of oratory was easy, flowing, graceful and thor- oughly classical, and his arguments excellent. His voice was remarkable for clear- ness in enunciation and silvery tone. For about seventeen years he served the church, preaching and expounding the moral government of God exerted by motive, and not by force. Dr WHITNEY lost his admirable first wife in Sherman, Conn. All his children were born of this union, and the loss to him was especially severe and one he never fully recovered from. Her long illness revealed to him the incompetency of the medical practice of those days, occasioned a study of theories and ushered into his observing mind reforms in medicine of which humanity stood sadly in need. Quitting the scene of his sorrow, he journeyed to Providence, RI, and after a few years married for a second wife Miss Wealthy BRYANT, a lady of that city. There he became a druggist, and studied his materia medica so thoroughly that he may be said to have learned it by heart. He obtained his first degree as Doctor of Medicine from the Syracuse medical college, and in 1852 removed to New York and became a regular practitioner. He at once took rank among the reformers as one of their superior men, and held it through a long career. His classical ability made him the most important and learned member of the eclectic school of medicine in New York City, and he was chosen their first president. He was also twice offered a professor- ship in Penn Medical college, Philadelphia, but declined in deference to private practice. His accomplishments in medicine were shown chiefly in the management of chronic diseases, and for some time in this specialty he was in partnership with the late Livingston VAN DOVEN, MD, a gentleman and educator of large learning and most excellent family. They lectured frequently, and were very successful in the reform practice.

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