Family:Whitney, William O. (b1775-1826)

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Capt. William O. Whitney, parentage unknown, born before 1775, killed, 23 October 1826, Shelbyville, Bedford Co., TN.[1]

He married, probably between 1803 and 1805, Franklin Co., GA, Ruth/Ruthy Payne, daughter of Thomas Payne and Yanake/Annica Ayers.[2] She was born circa 1777, Halifax Co., VA, and died May 1860, Shelbyville, Bedford Co., TN.[3] She was buried Willow Mount Cemetery, Shelbyville, Bedford Co., TN.[4]

William O. Whitney is probably the same man who appears as "W. O. Whitney" and "Olney Whitney" in early Georgia Tax Records. "William O. Whitney" appeared on the 1802 tax list in Franklin Co., GA. "Olney Whitney" appeared on the 1803 tax list in Franklin Co., GA.[5]

Some of the following land records were provided by Mr. Bill Wisner, descendant of William O. Whitney and Ruth Payne. The original source information for these detailed records was not available at this time. These particular records are noted as 'unsourced', for the time being, and presented as additional valuable information to facilitate further research and documentation:

7 December 1793 William O. Whitney purchased at tax auction 287 1/2 acres located in Elbert Co. Georgia for 4 pounds and 1 shilling. (unsourced record).

11 December 1801 William O. Whitney purchased land at auction in Franklin Co. Georgia for $2.25 (unsourced record).

7 August 1802 William O. Whitney purchased 400 acres of land in Franklin Co. GA for $60.00 (unsourced record).

2 December 1803 William O. Whitney sold 350 acres in Franklin Co. GA for $200.00(unsourced record).

In 1805, "William O. Whitney" appeared on the Georgia Land Lottery as a person entitled to a draw.[6]

4 October 1806 William O. and Ruth Whitney sold 400 acres in Franklin Co. GA to Thomas Payne, Sr. for $500.00 (unsourced record).

5 April 1810 Power of Attorney, rec. 9 April 1810, from William O. Whitney of Franklin Co. to his trusty friend, Zebediah Payne of aforesaid. To sell and make title to land he owns in Franklin Co. and to sell all his moveable property, to pay debts and collect money owed to him. /S/ William O. Whitney Wit. Poyndexter Payne. [7]

24 March 1810, Deed Franklin Co. rec. 13 April 1810, from William O. Whitney and wife Ruth of aforesaid. to John Payne of same. In cons. of $500, conveys 158 ac. in Franklin Co. on Middle Fork Broad River, being part of 700 ac. granted to Thomas Payne, adj. said John Payne. /S/ William O. Whitney, Ruth Whitney." Wit. Poyndexter Payne, Thomas Payne. Sworn to by Thomas Payne before W. F. Bagwell, J.P. 23 March 1810. [8]

6 March 1812 William O. and Ruth Whitney sold 430 acres in Franklin Co. GA to William Moulder for $350.00 (unsourced record).

Among the Acts of the General Assembly of the State of Georgia passed in November and December 1815 was an Act that "exonerated and discharged" William O. Whitney and Nathaniel Payne from their $500 bond that had been conditioned on the prosecution of an indictment against Farley Thompson. William O. Whitney was the principal, and Nathaniel Payne was his security. The bond was given on 29 May 1808 and was forfeited when the case ended with a "nolle prosequi" notice. The Act notes that the defendant entered a plea of not guilty when arraigned at the term of court in April 1809, but doesn't say when the prosecution ended. Since Whitney was the principal on the bond, it is evident that he was the prosecutor in the case. (The Act is on pages 83-84 of Volume 1). [9]

William O. Whitney probably purchased land in Bedford Co. Tennessee, sometime around 1810, and moved his family from Georgia. He built The Whitney Tavern, on Holland Street, in Shelbyville, and also owned a livery stable and store. The Whitney Tavern was sold to a member of the Holland Family and it ultimately became the Historical landmark, Holland Hotel in Shelbyville.

"Upon the formation of Bedford County, in 1807, ... the other early settlers were ..., Whitneys, ..."[10]

"Shelbyville, the capital of Bedford County, ... was incorporated October 7, 1819, and has continued as an incorporated town up to the present. At the first municipal election, held on the first Monday in November, 1819, Thomas Davis, David McKissack, James A. McClure, Giles Burdett. William O. Whitney, John H. Anderson and Jacob Morton were elected aldermen, and by them Thomas Davis was chosen mayor and James Brittain recorder."[11]

"General Andrew Jackson was invited by special invitation to come to Shelbyville for a 4th of July Celebration. He was unable to make that date but did come on July 8, 1826. Accounts record that he was a tall, slender man with reddish hair and very polite as he rode into Shelbyville on horseback that day. He stayed as a guest in the home of his old friend, Gen. Robert Cannon which was located on the site of the Fly Building. A banquet and ball were given in his honor at the Whitney Tavern on Holland Street. The ball was led by Mrs. Ruth P. Whitney, her daughter Harriet P. Scudder, and by General Andrew Jackson himself." [12]

The following notice appeared in the Knoxville Register newspaper of 8 November 1826:

"Monday morning, 23rd October, 1826, a personal recontre took place on the public square in Shelbyville between Major Philip J. Scudder and Captain William O. Whitney, in which the latter was killed."

Children of William O. and Ruth (Payne) Whitney, based on a census reconstruction, probably incomplete (some of the earlier "children" may not actually have been children):

i. (son) Whitney, b. 1776-1794.
ii. (son) Whitney, b. 1776-1794.
iii. (son) Whitney, b. 1776-1794.
iv. (son) Whitney, b. 1795-1804.
v. (son) Whitney, b. 1795-1804.
vi. Joseph Alexander Grant Whitney, b. 1803, VA.[13]
vii. (son) Whitney, b. 1805-1810.
viii. Harriet Payne Whitney, b. ca. 1808, d. 1868, m. (1) Philip Johnston Scudder,[14] m. (2) Daniel W. Crenshaw, m. (3) William H. Wisener.
ix. Thomas P. Whitney, b. 1810-1815.[15]; d. aft Nov 1834 [16]
x. James G. Whitney, b. 10 Sep 1812, d. 26 Mar 1905, Emory Gap, Harriman, Roane Co., TN.[17]


Were two of the young men listed in the 1830 census with Ruth Whitney the William Whitney and John Whitney, both born in Tennessee, who resided next to each other in Washington Twp, Independence Co., AR in 1850?

For more on this family, see this page as well as related pages.


  • 1820, Bedford Co., TN: William O. Whitney, 1 male over 45, 3 males 26-44, 3 males 16-25, 2 males 10-15, 1 female over 45, 1 female 26-45, 2 people in agriculture, 1 person in commerce, 2 male slaves 14-25, 1 female slave 26-44, 1 female slave under 14.
  • 1830, Bedford Co., TN: Ruth Whitney, 3 males 20-30, 1 male 5-9, 1 female under 5, 1 female 15-20, 1 female 20-30, 1 female 40-50, 1 male slave 24-35, 1 male slave under 10, 1 female slave 36-54, 1 female slave 24-35, 1 female slave 10-23, 13 people total.
  • 1840: not found.
  • 1850, Bedford Co., TN:

1 1 William H. Widener 38 M - Attorney at law 4900 Tennessee Harriet P. " 42 M - Georgia William M. " 10 M - Tennessee Attended school Mary F. W. " 7 F - " Attended school James L. Scudder 26 M - Lawyer " Jane G. Whitney 20 F - " Mrs. Ruthy Whitney 70 F - Georgia

Name Location Age etc. Birth Month Occupation Cause Days Ill Whitney, Ruth Bedford Co. 83


  • Census records

1. ^  GenForum discussion forum post titled "Re: William O. Whitney, Bedford County, TN".

2. ^  Descendants of John and Millicent Payne/Paine researched by Mr. Bob Meadows descendants of John and Millicent payne/paine

3. ^  Federal Census of Bedford County, Tennessee, 1860, page 5, line 6 of the Mortality Schedule.

The mortality schedule lists people who died in the 12 months preceding 1 Jun 1860. The mortality schedule's information was supposed to come from someone in the household where the deceased had usually lived. Ruth was listed as a widow who died in May at age 83, having been born in Virginia.

4. ^ Marsh, Tim and Helen, "Cemetery Records of Bedford County, Tennessee"

5. ^  Jackson, Ron V., Accelerated Indexing Systems, comp. Georgia Census, 1790-1890 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 1999. Original data: Compiled and digitized by Mr. Jackson and AIS from microfilmed schedules of the U.S. Federal Decennial Census, territorial/state censuses, and/or census substitutes, as found on

6. ^  Letter W - 1805 Georgia Land Lottery Persons Entitled to Draws.

7. ^  Deeds of Franklin County, Georgia 1784-1826 Abstracted and Compiled by Martha Walters Acker DEED BOOK T, Page 39.

8. ^  Ibid. Pages 41,42.

9. ^  Descendants of John and Millicent Payne/Paine researched by Mr. Bob Meadows

10. ^ BEDFORD COUNTY, HISTORY OF TENNESSEE ILLUSTRATED, Nashville, The Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1887.

11. ^ BEDFORD COUNTY, HISTORY OF TENNESSEE ILLUSTRATED, Nashville, The Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1887.

12. ^

13. ^ Reports of cases argued and determined in the Supreme Court of ..., Volume 4, By Tennessee. Supreme Court, George Shall Yerger.

14. ^  "Miss Harriet Whitney married on the 11th at Shelbyville to Mr. Philip I. Scudder, Esquire, of Nashville. (Nashville Whig 26 Feb. 1823.)", Tennessee Genealogical Society, Memphis Genealogical Society, Ansearchin' news, Volumes 19-20, p. 121 and GenForum discussion forum post titled "Whitney, William O., died 1823".

15. ^  GenForum discussion forum post titled "Whitney, William O., died 1823"

16. ^  Franklin County, Tennessee County Court Minutes, Volume 2, 1832-1837, pg. 70. W. P. A. Records.

17. ^  GenForum discussion forum post titled "Whitney, William O., died 1823"

Copyright © 2009-2010, Tim Doyle and the Whitney Research Group