Family:Whitney, John H. (c1855-a1880)

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John H. Whitney (-----, [probably] Wade H., Joseph), son of ----- and possibly Nancy (-----) Whitney, was born circa 1855, TX, and died after 1895, perhaps TX or OK.

He married, before 1880, probably Franklin Co., TX, Amanda A. Spear, born circa 1857, Limestone Co., TX, died after 1895.

In 1900, the parents were both missing, and the children were distributed among several families, listed as nephews, boarders, or adopted children.

Children of John H. and Amanda A. (Spear) Whitney:

i. Walter Lee Whitney, b. 29 Dec 1883, TX, d. 15 Jan 1959, TX. m. Vera Smith
ii. Mary Whitney, b. Dec 1886, TX. - Is she T.? or Fera? Whitney that married Lon Henry Burton (L. B.) Keener?
iii. Rosie Whitney, b. 23 Nov 1888, TX, d. 23 Jan 1909, TX. She died shortly after the birth of her daughter. She m. John Marcus Tew.
Ch: Jewel Tew.
iv. Charles Glenn Whitney, b. 23 Nov 1890, TX, d. 31 Jul 1963, TX. m. Etta Lee Alexander.
v. John Brady Whitney, b. 15 Jun 1892, TX, d. 26 Oct 1970, TX. m. Minnie Mae Crabtree. They never had children, but did adopt a son about 1928. His name was Jack, and he went by Whitney.
vi. Era Kathren Whitney, b. 25 Mar 1895, TX, d. 7 Feb, 1972, OK. m. (1) James Albert Renfroe, m. (2) Jack Wellington. Era only had one child, a boy named James Whitney Renfroe from her first marriage. He died at 16 years old from pnuemonia.


He may be the John Whitney, age 6, listed in the household of Nancy Whitney, age 32, in Little River, Sevier Co., AR in 1860. If so, a son Wade Whitney was also listed, which may indicate a relationship to the family of Family:Whitney, John (c1814-a1850), who also had a son Wade Whitney and were from AR.

Any Titus county records of John, Amanda, and the birth records of their children were destroyed in the Titus Co., TX, courthouse fire on September 20, 1895. There are no known records of John, and Amanda in Franklin or Titus Co., TX, after this date.

Direct information from my grand-aunt Myron Fern Whitney, whom I visited, and spoke with, being of sound mind, did say the following.

The father's name was John Whitney. The mother's name was Mandie Speer.

She told me that John, and Mandie were in Oklahoma when they died at a church. In her very own words, "My mother's, mother's, husband brought daddy, his brothers, and sisters back when they died at a church."

Amanda's brother James Perry Speer brought all of the Whitney children back to Texas from Oklahoma. This took place prior to the year 1900. Census records reflect, and confirms this. James Perry Speer, and Nellie Burnett Alexander married in 1900.

My grand-aunt Fern's parents were Charles Glenn Whitney, and Etta Lee Alexander. Etta Lee was the daughter of Matthew H. Alexander, and Nellie Mae Burnett. Nellie Mae Burnett Alexander, would later marry James Perry Speer. James Perry Speer is a brother to Amanda Speer, who married John Whitney, and their son Charles Glenn Whitney, is my great-grandfather, and by Etta Lee Alexander, their son Milton Jordan Whitney, my grandfather.

She also did say that my great-grandfather, her father, was born in Wagoner, OK.

Finding out anything else about John, and Mandie would be nothing short of a miraculous blessing from GOD.

Who the wife of my great-great grandfather John Whitney is not!

Mary Amanda Speer (Phifer-Pettigrew) that died in Leon Co., TX in 1931 is not the right Amanda. Much frustration has evolved because of this for me personally. That particular Mary Amanda Speer, a daughter of James L. Speer, and Susan Rebecca Little, clearly was never married to a Whitney. She first married Alfred Ayers Phifer, and had eleven children by him, of which birthdates of Phifer, and Whitney children are in conflict, suggesting the woman had extroidinary birthing powers. All eleven children can be linked to her, and Alfred Ayers Phifer by record, if one will do the research. She would again marry after the death of Alfred Ayers Phifer to John Mitchell Pettigrew, and would bare him at least one daughter named Frieda.

Some have insisted that the Mary Amanda Speer Phifer Pettigrew who died in 1931 in Leon Co., TX, is the mother of the above Whitney children. They are apparently reinforced that this is the right one because she was, as per her death certificate, born in Titus Co., TX, in 1859. Titus is a neighboring county of Franklin.

Plainly, Mary Amanda Speer Phifer Pettigrew who died in 1931 in Leon Co., TX, is the wrong Amanda. The correct Amanda is listed in the 1880 Franklin Co., TX, census with her husband John H. Whitney (see the census record below). She is the daughter of Andrew J. Speer, and Catherine Taylor who were married in Jefferson Co., AL, in 1851. Nothing has ever surfaced as to why or how, yet even where Andrew died.

The sad thing is that none of my family ever asked any question of any kind regarding these things.


  • 1860 Sevier Co., AK: - John, his biological brother Wade Henry, and their mother Nancy.

11 1151 1127 Whitny Nancy 32 F Arkansas 12 1151 1127 Whitny Mrarget 13 F Arkansas Margaret Sickles 13 1151 1127 Whitny Kysah 9 F Arkansas Katy or Kitty Sickles 14 1151 1127 Whitny John 6 M Texas John Henderson 15 1151 1127 Whitny Wade 1 M Texas Wade Henry

A descendant of Margaret Sickles notes another daughter, Mary Ann Sickles.

  • 1860 Precinct 5, Limestone Co., TX: - John's future wife, Amanda, shown as M. A.

12 274 243 Spear Catherine 30 F Ala. <--- Catherine Taylor m. Andrew J. Speer 1851 Alabama. 13 274 243 Spear Jno. 6 M Ala. 14 274 243 Spear M. A. 4 F Tex. Mandie A. Speer 15 274 243 Spear Jas. P. 1 M Tex. James Perry Speer

  • 1870 Red River Co., TX: - John's biological brother Wade Henry, and another Whitney named Hamp. John is yet to be found in 1870.

315 315 Anderson Joseph 22 M W Farmer 250 Arkansas Anderson Margaret 21 F W Keeping house Arkansas Maiden name Sickles Anderson John 2 M W Texas Anderson William 6/12 M W Texas Whitney Henry 11 M W Laborer Texas Wade Henry Whitney Hampe 6 M W Arkansas Hamp Sickles Kittie 20 F W Arkansas

John H. WHITNEY 25 Self M M W TX Laborer MO AR Amanda A. WHITNEY 23 Wife F M W TX Keeping House MS AL Amanda "Mandie" A. Speer Samuel W. BOWDREY 28 Oth M S W GA Laborer --- --- Hiram GLASS 20 Oth M S W TX At School TN TN

  • 1900, Franklin Co., TX (various pages / families)
  • 1910, Franklin Co., TX (sons Charlie and Brady)
  • 1920, Franklin Co., TX (sons Charlie and W. L.)
  • 1930, Franklin Co., TX (son Charlie)


  • Census records.

Copyright © 2010, Tim Doyle, Grady L. Whitney, and the Whitney Research Group.

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