Family:Whitney, Stephen (1776-1860)

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Stephen5 Whitney (Henry4, Josiah3, John2, Henry1), son of Henry4 and Eunice (Clark) Whitney, was born 4 Sep 1776, Derby, CT, baptized 15 Sep 1776, Derby, CT, and died 16 Feb 1860, New York, NY.

He married, 4 Aug 1803, Newtown, NY, Harriet Suydam, daughter of Hendrick and Phoebe (Skidmore) Suydam. She was born 1 Sep 1782, Hallett's Cove, NY, and died 12 May 1860, New York, NY.

Phoenix says the following:

Stephen Whitney, b. at Derby, Conn., 4 Sept. 1776; bap. in the Congregational Church at Derby, 15 Sept. 1776; a merchant in New York City married on Thursday evening, 4 Aug. 1803, at Newtown, L. I., by Rev. Nathan Woodhull, pastor of the Presbyterian Church, to Harriet Suydam, sister of his brother Henry's wife, dau. of Hendrick and Phoebe (Skidmore) Suydam, of Hallett's Cove, L. I., where she was born 1 Sept. 1782. They settled in New York City, dwelling at 4 Stone Street, till 1811; at 25 Pearl Street (north east corner pf Whitehall and Pearl), till 1827; then moved to 7 Bowling Green, corner of State Street, where they died; he, 16 Feb. 1860; she, 12 May 1860. They were buried in the family vault on Ocean Hill, in Greenwood Cemetery--of which beautiful resting-place of the dead he was one of the original incorporators and, throughout his life, a director. The vault is now covered by a mortuary chapel, erected by his executors.
He came to New York City when he was about 18 or 20 years old, with no other advantages than those that always accompany industry, ability, and good conduct; and engaged himself, as a clerk, to the firm of Lawrence and Whitney, shippers, in which his brother Henry was a partner. Showing remarkable energy and intelligence, he was soon sent to the West Indies as supercargo, and, by some fortunate ventures during these voyages, acquired the means of going into business on his own account. In 1800 he formed a copartnership with John Currie, a Scotchman. They carried on a wholesale grocery trade at 15 Coenties Slip, under the name of Currie and Whitney, until 1809, when the partnership was dissolved, apparently by the death of Mr. Currie, leaving Mr. Whitney to continue the business alone, at 19 South St. He dealt principally in brandy and Malaga wine, of which he had almost the monopoly, many stores being filled with his importations of these articles. "At the breaking out of hostilities in 1812, large sums were due to him from commercial houses in the southern States, and, unfortunately, they were in no condition to pay. Cotton, indeed, they had in abundance; but of what use was cotton, when there were no longer any vessels to convey it over the ocean, nor any ports to which it could be sent? But Mr. Whitney thought that cotton, however cheap, was better than nothing. He sent agents to all his southern customers, with instructions to take cotton where they could not get cash; and the merchants of Georgia and Louisiana were, no doubt, delighted at being let off so easily. Having thus secured a very large amount of the almost worthless article, Mr. Whitney sent it to Amelia Island, then under Spanish sway; and from this place, it was shipped to Europe in neutral vessels. The returns were so satisfactory as to induce repeated investments in the commodity, all of which took the same course. Thus Mr. Whitney, who, at the beginning of that short contest, was almost a bankrupt, found himself wealthy at its close." During the attack on New Orleans by the British forces, under Sir John Packenham in 1815, he had immense quantities of cotton in the city--all or which depended upon the issue of the struggle, whether it should change hands, or continue his property. The result or the attack is known; the British troops were repulsed, and New Orleans saved.
A few years after the termination of the war, about 1818, he abandoned his former business, removed his office to 46 Front Street, and entered into the shipping trade, building many fine ships, and sending them, laden with cargoes or his own, to all parts of the world, especially to China and the Dutch and English possessions in the East Indies. He also owned a large interest in the Kermet line of packets plying between New York and Liverpool. He invested extensively in real estate, principally in the first and seventeenth wards of the city; and the rapid rise in values added considerably to his wealth. He was among the projectors and founders of the great lines of railways and canals, which have done so much to increase the prosperity of New York, being largely interested in the New Jersey Railroad Co., the Delaware and Hudson Canal Co., the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Co., and many others. He was a director in the Bank of Commerce, the Bank of America, and several other banks and monied institutions. The last thirty years of his life were devoted entirely to the care and improvement or his property, which, soon after his death, was appraised, by the executors of his will, at $4,419,422.
The following extract from an obituary notice, which appeared in the Journal of Commerce at the time of his death, contains a correct estimate of his character: "One quality, always apparent was the remarkable evenness of his temper, which shielded him alike from undue elevation with good fortune, or depression with bad fortune. This calm, unruffled temper, aided by the strictest integrity, enabled him to comprehend clearly any enterprise or investment and endowed him with remarkably correct foresight. As he rarely formed erroneous estimates of measures presented for his consideration, and carefully avoided all schemes merely speculative, he uniformly secured favorable results. His intelligent simplicity enabled him to view men and measures without gliding into impetuous conclusions; but rather, coolly and deliberately determining on his plans, he adhered to them with uncommon tenacity of purpose. His course was always frank and straightforward. Discountenancing all devious ways of obtaining desired results; especially abhorring all schemes and subsidies employed by designing men, and enjoining, almost with his last words, against all concession to terrorists or tempters he patiently awaited results from causes obviously proper. Hence, he always turned from projects which created large indebtedness, and spurned the devices too often employed by capitalists to delude parties and disguise the true condition of things. In accumulating his wealth, he co-operated in the great improvements of the day, and never sought to build up his own property by breaking down, or injuring, that of others.
"Though Mr. Whitney was not conspicuously liberal to objects wholly benevolent, yet he generouly contributed to the erection and support of the late Rev. Dr. Alexander's church, in which he worshipped, and of church for the soldiers on Governor's Island, erected by the efforts devotion of Rev. Mr. McVickar." His intimate friends know that he subscribed largely, though almost always anonymously, to many other religious and charitable institutions and objects. "His charities were dispensed with system and studiously without show; and the judicious provision he, for a long time, has made or several dependent relatives and friends, attests his thoughtful and affectionate regard for the wants and welfare of others.
"In his social and friendly relations, be was a pleasant and profitable companion. Those who have sat with him in a Board of Directors, cheerfully testify to his urbanity, and his intelligent and mature opinions on the subjects discussed, mingled with pleasant vivacity and humorous anecdotes, and the decided, though tolerant, opinions which he formed on every subject.
"Possessing an extensive knowledge of the transactions and actors of the present century, especially in the city or New York his biographical memories of the eminent men who have departed this life during the last fifty years, were copious and discriminating, and full of eventful interest. His narratives of this kind, and remarks on the progress of local improvements in the city of New York and the country at large, added much to the charm of his familiar conversation. These, with the amiability and cheerfulness which also characterized him, made him an agreeable, as well as most valuable, associate and friend; and when he formed his friendships, they were firm and truthful to the farthest extent. His memory will he cherished in sweet remembrance by those with whom he had such a free and confidential intercourse, for they found in him the useful citizen and the genial companion in the public and private walks of life. His name will occupy a lofty niche in the columns of the wealthy dead; but particularly in the circles in which he was most active, will his absence long be felt with melancholy regret; while their agreeable associations with him will ever animate the hearts of relatives and friends with most affectionate emotions."
Mr. Whitney was a short, spare man; remarkably vigorous in mind and body, down to the moment of his death, scrupulously neat and unpretending in his dress; courteous, urbane, and modest in his marnner; devotedly attached to church, home, and family; accurately informed in an matters connected with commercial enterprise in its larger sense, and therefore well acquainted with geographical discovery, and the development and political economy of new countries; passionately fond of natural scenery and the attractions of the country; and of the most unswerving integrity.

Children of Stephen5 and Harriet (Suydam) Whitney:

i. Samuel Suydam Whitney, b. 26 Nov 1804, New York, NY; d. 21 Dec 1858, New York, NY, and was buried in the family chapel, Greenwood Cemetery; unmarried.
ii. Emeline Whitney, b. 7 Jun 1806, New York, NY; m. 25 Jun 1828, New York, NY, by Rev. Thomas McAuly, D. D., pastor of the Rutgers Street (Presbyterian) Church, to John Dore, born at Shelburne, Nova Scotia, son of James and Sophia (Weiser) Dore, of Shelburne. They resided, in June 1877, at 127 Madison Avenue, New York, without children.
iii. John Currie Whitney, b. 5 Jun 1808, New York, NY; d. 28 Dec 1808, New York, NY, and was buried in the family chapel, Greenwood Cemetery; unmarried.
iv. Mary Whitney, b. 5 Apr 1810, New York, NY; m. Jonas Phillips Phoenix.
v. Henry Whitney, b. 23 Aug 1812, New York, NY; m.(1) Hannah Eugenia Lawrence; m.(2) Maria Lucy Fitch.
vi. Stephen Whitney, b. 11 Oct 1814, New York, NY; d. 21 Nov 1858, New York, NY, of consumption, and was buried in the family chapel, Greenwood Cemetery; unmarried.
vii. William Whitney, b. 6 Jul 1816, New York, NY; m. Mary Stuart McVickar.
viii. Edward Whitney, b. 29 Nov 1818, New York, NY; d. 7 Apr 1851, Flushing, NY, and was buried in the family chapel, Greenwood Cemetery; unmarried.
ix. Caroline Whitney, b. 11 Jun 1823, New York, NY; m.(1) Ferdinand Suydam; m.(2) John Jacob Crane.

Census

320 840 Stephen Whitney 65 M - None $300000 Conn. Harriet " 60 F - New York Samuel S. " 40 M - None " " Stephen " Jr. 32 M - " " " Edward " 30 M - " " " John Dore 44 M - " " " Emeline " 38 F - " " James Flood 45 M - Waiter Ireland Ellen Guines 30 F - " Harriet Childer 22 F - " Catharine Hanley 38 F - "

32 Brick $50000 149 Stephen Whitney 60 M - - Connecticut 1 - 40 Merchant 1 - - - - 1 - Harriet Whitney 60 M - Wife New York 1 - 40 - - - - - - - - Samuel Whitney 40 M - Chld " - - 40 - 1 - - - - - - Stephen Whitney 35 M - Chld " - - 35 - 1 - - - - - - John Dorn 30 M - - North America 1 - - Merchant - - 1 - - - - Emeline Dorn 30 F - Wife New York 1 - - - - - - - - - - Alexander Cambell 43 M - Help Ireland - 1 22 - - - 1 - - - - Mary Lee 22 F - " " - - 8 - - - 1 - - - - Margaret McNully 35 F - " " 1 - 20 - - - 1 - - - -

References

  • Census records.

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