Archive:The Descendants of John Whitney, page 535

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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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Thomas, Thomas, John), b. Aug. 5, 1864; m. Feb., 1893, Louise THOMPSON, dau. of Col. R. S. THOMPSON, of Chicago; res. Glassboro, N. J. 5118. REV. LEONARD WHITNEY (Otis, Aaron, Nathan, Nathan, Thomas, Thomas, John), b. in Williston, Vt., Oct. 23, 1812; m. in Bennington, Vt., Sept. 18, 1842, Ann Jennett HARWOOD; b. Jan. 12, 1825. Leonard WHITNEY was born in Williston, Vt., the son of Otis and Sarah WHITNEY. With such a parentage he received vigor of body and mind. In such a home his native qualities developed healthfully. He grew to an active boy, and became leader of all the sports and mischief in the neighborhood. He was strong, quick, im-

Rev. Leonard Whitney, Pierce, p. 535.jpg


pulsive, wayward, generous. He was by no means distres- singly "good" in the Sunday-school-library-book style. His parents and his teachers found him difficult to manage. But he was the friend of the weak. He responded readily to what was generous, just and kind. The district school and the academy gave him his early education, which his father urged the restless boy to continue by going to col- lege. But he had dreams of adventures amid strange scenes, fostered, perhaps, by the seatales of his grandfather, Joseph EDMUNDS, the old privateersman. When sixteen years old he went to Boston, and shipped for a voyage. But before the vessel sailed he had seen enough of the charms of sea- life to change his mind. He succeeded in getting free from the engagement, and never after had a return of the longing for the sea. The experiences of his Boston trip, acting on a mind singularly receptive, turned his attention to the sober purposes of life. He worked with interest on his father's farm. He attended school at Hinesburg, Vt., and made good progress in his studies. He choose the profession of law as his work for life, and for several years gave himself to its study. In August, 1835, he was admitted to practice at the Chittenden county court, Burlington, Vt., "by the unanimous consent of the bar." He spent several years in the practice of law at Ann Arbor, Mich., and at Auburn, N. Y. He was not by nature fitted in mind and morals to succeed in any but the higher fields of law practice, and circumstances never allowed him to enter those fields. Work, study, anxiety brought him poor health, and he went to Saratoga Springs to rest. While there he visited not infrequently at the home of an old family friend, who was settled near by as the pastor of the Baptist church in Union Village--the Rev. William ARTHUR, father of the late President ARTHUR. His old friend had a strong influence over the young lawyer. During the summer he united with Mr. ARTHUR'S church, decided to give up law, and to become a Baptist minister. That fall he began his ministerial work as pastor of the Baptist church at Bennington, in D. C., and at Canandaigua, N. Y., later at Peoria, Ill., and finally at Keokuk, Ia. He accepted the latter call, and became its minister in October, 1853. He had been only a short time in Keokuk when he had an invitation to the pastorate of the Unitarian church in Rochester, N. Y., which he declined. His society in Keokuk erected a building which was dedicated in 1856, and Mr. WHITNEY entered upon his years of valuable service. His geniality as a man, his generosity as a friend, his eloquence as a preacher, his power as a thinker, and the genuine religiousness of his nature called into his church a company of men and women of remarkable ability. He sought and obtained the appointment of chaplain to the Eleventh Illinois Cavalry, of which R. G. INGERSOLL was colonel. He gave up his parish and joined his regiment with enthusiasm. For this work he was peculiarly fitted. He was genial in spirit; he met all men in a happy way. He had an appreciation of man; he could detect the divine-human through the lowliest and most sinful guise. He was unselfish; he gave gladly his last crust to the suffering. He was entirely without sanctimonious pre- tense; he went among the men as a brother, a friend, a sympathetic helper. The officers and men were drawn to him at once. The relations between him and them were cordial and brotherly. He was their minister in the true sense-their helper, their leader in the best things. Of the appreciation in which he was held in the regiment the following letter from his honored colonel gives generous testimony: New York, January 6, 1888. Rev. O. CLUTE.-My Dear Sir:-It gives me great pleasure to write a few words in reference to the Rev. Leonard WHITNEY. He was one of the best, one of

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