Family:Whitney, Elijah (1798-1892)

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Dr. Elijah Whitney, Pierce, p. 341.jpg

Dr. Elijah Whitney

Elijah7 Whitney, A.B., M.D. (Elijah6, Thomas5, Thomas4, Eleazer3, Thomas2, John1), son of Elijah6and Mindwell (Hardy) Whitney, was born 26 Nov 1798, Westborough, MA, and died 3 Apr 1892 aged 93 years 4 months 10 days, New York, NY.

He married firstly, 30 Sep 1833, Spencertown, NY, Cornelia L. Pratt, of Spencertown, NY, daughter of Erastus and Lucy (Goodrich) Pratt. She was born 1 Nov 1804, and died 8 Mar 1844, Sherman, CT.

He married secondly, 9 Jan 1849, Providence, RI, Wealthy Bryant, of Providence, RI. She was born 28 Nov 1812, and died 16 Apr 1884.

He resided New York City.

Dr. Elijah Whitney was early trained to active labor, and worked for a while at a trade and on the paternal farm, but his precocious mind caused him to leave these occupations, and place himself under the care of Dr. John Golding in the study of higher mathematics, and soon afterward both teacher and pupil attended Prof. Silliman's lectures at Yale college, where the latter obtained his knowledge in chemistry after a course of seventy-two lectures. His conceptions were vivid, and the range of his desires so widened that he now entered upon a full academic course at Brown Hebrew under the late Dr. Eliphalet Nott. He graduated in the class of 1828, and was for some time before his death the oldest graduate living.

He immediately engaged in teaching, first in 1828, at the academy in Spencertown, NY, and the next year at Stockbridge, MA, where among many bright scholars he had as one of the brightest the late Cyrus W. Field. As an offset to this period of his life he had the misfortune to be prostrated with a dangerous malady, resulting in an abdominal abscess. With sound judgement, he commanded the needed surgical operation to be performed, and had the satisfaction of experiencing a slow but permanent recovery as a consequence.

To consolidate his health, he now determined on a trip to the West and purchased a "shay" and horse, hiring a man to accompany him. This was in Apr 1830. He traveled by short stages up the Mohawk valley, passing through the "villages" of Utica, Rome, Syracuse, Auburn, and Rochester; thence proceeding by the Ridge road to Niagara, and south to Buffalo and Cattaraugus County. The region was 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 theology. He arrived there during the cholera scourge, when the inhabitants were fleeing 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. Religious 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 appointment 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 anti-slavery discussion, 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 21 Apr 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, CT, 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 religion 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 satisfaction 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 thoroughly classical, and his arguments excellent. His voice was remarkable for clearness 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, CT. 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 professorship 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, M.D., a gentleman and educator of large learning and most excellent family. They lectured frequently, and were very successful in the reform practice.

He was one of the first users of electricty as a remedial agent in medical practice, adopting the electric baths as the best means. Dr. Whitney always retained the affection of his patients, and in several instances with great boldness he went a dangerous limit beyond ordinary medicine to save an important life and family for future good.

He was the author of an essay on yellow fever and a treatise on Asiatic cholera, besides miscellaneous papers on religious and medical subjects, given from time to time in the press.

In 1877 Dr. Whitney became one of the founders and senior elder of the Union Tabernacle church in New York City. He was faithful to all his obligations. By his unvarying courtesy, tenderness and love he endeared himself to all who knew him. By his kindly counsel and wisdom he was of great help to his pastor.

In October 1891, he paid a visit to his native town, Westborough, MA. It overtaxed his strength. He was prostrated, and after several rallies in the spring of 1892 he commenced slowly to sink, until the last pulsation had come, the scene had ended, and he closed his eyes in death on the morning of 3 Apr 1892, ninety-three years four months and ten days old.

Children of Elijah7 and Cornelia L. (Pratt) Whitney:

i. Horace P. Whitney, b. 18 Oct 1834, Spencertown, NY; m. Annie R. Taylor.
ii. Albert B. Whitney, b. 11 Dec 1837, Hudson, OH; m. Cordelia C. Hurd.
iii. Cornelia Jane Whitney, b. 29 Feb 1840, NJ; unmarried in 1880, living with brother Albert.
iv. Erastus P.8 Whitney, b. 15 Apr 1842, NY; unmarried; res 148 W. 77th St., New York City. As a boy he was educated in Spencertown, NY, Providence, RI, Brooklyn, NY, and New York, NY, passing all the way up through a collegiate education and has loved his mathematics and his languages and a large historical reading. His life has been checkered with accident and fatality. His longest occupation was as chief book-keeper for a large business firm. Of several small public positions the most important was as U. S. treasury clerk in Washington during the war.


823 1149 Elijah Whitney 48 M - Druggist Mass. Welthia " 48 F - R. Island Horace T. " 15 M - do Attended school Albert D. " 12 M - do Attended school Cornelia J. " 9 F - do Attended school Erastus " 8 M - do Attended school 1148 Nathan Weaver 40 M - Carpenter Mass. Melind Weaver 40 F - R. Island Henry Weaver 20 M - Engraver R. Island Ann " 9 F - do Attended school Charlotte " 6 F - do Attended school

391 Brownstone $11000 568 Elijah Whitney 55 M - - Connecticut 1 - 2m Physican 1 - - - - - - W. B. do 45 F - Wife Mass. 1 - 2m - - - - - - - - A. B. do 16 M - Son Ohio - - 2m - - - - - - - - C. Jane do 15 F - Dau New Jersey - - 2m - - - - - - - - E. P. do 13 M - Son New York - - 2m - - - - - - - - 569 Elemuel Flint 32 M - - Rensalaer Co. 1 - 8 Broker 1 - - - - 1 - Mary Ann do 29 F - Wife Scotland 1 - 8 - - - - - - - - Elizabeth do 9 F - Dau Albany Co. - - 8 - - - - - - - - William C. do 0 M - Son New York - - - - - - - - - - -

368 347 Whitney, Horace 35 M W Editor New York Illiterate, Male citizen over 21 -----, Elisha 72 M W Physician Mass. Illiterate, Male citizne over 21 -----, Wealthy B. 68 F W Keeping House " Illiterate Swain, Eliza 29 F W At Home New York Illiterate -----, Lution 4 M W " " Illiterate Whitney, Estelle 13 F W " " Attended school, Illiterate -----, Annie 6 F W " " Illiterate -----, Horace 3 M W " " Illiterate Reynolds, Catherine 35 F W Domestic Servant Ireland Parents foreign born, Illiterate Scarrel, Catherine 22 F W " " Parents foreign born

NOTE: The enumerator apparently marked the literacy columns for those who could read and write, instead of those who couldn't.

5th Ave. between 30th & 35th Sts. 287 -- Whitney, Horace 35 M - N.Y. Annie 31 F - " Estella 13 F - " Annie 6 F - " Horace 4 M - " Elijah 72 M - Doctor Mass. Augusta 69 F - " Swaine, Eliza 29 F - N.Y. Lucien 4 M - " Scairoll, Kate 22 F - Ireland Boyd, Ann 35 F - " Sanders, Frank 70 M - N.Y. ...

75 360 Morrison, James G. 29 M W Drug Clerk Scotland Parents foreign born 361 Whitney, Erastus P. 28 M W Bookkeeper $400 New York Male citizen over 21 -----, Albert B. 31 M W Doctor $1000 Ohio Male citizen over 21 362 Taylor, Levi B. 31 M W Laborer New York Male citizen over 21 ... 363 Lindars, William 52 M W Cook England Parents foreign born ... 364 Johnson, Valentine 42 M W Works in Planing Mill Hesse Darmstadt Parents foreign born, Male citizen over 21 ... 365 O'Sulleran, Patrick 48 M W Marble Polisher Ireland Parents foreign born, Male citizen over 21 ...

Horace P. WHITNEY 46 Self M M W NY Editor MA NY Annie R. WHITNEY 46 Wife F M W ME Housekeeping ME ME Annie WHITNEY 16 Dau F S W NY At School NY ME Horace WHITNEY 13 Son M S W NY At School NY ME Givan W. WHITNEY 9 Son M S W NY At School NY ME Elijah WHITNEY 81 Fath M M W MA Doctor MA MA Wealthy B. WHITNEY 78 Moth F M W MA Boarder MA MA

Albert B. WHITNEY 40 Self M M W OH Physician OH OH Cordelia WHITNEY 38 Wife F M W NY Keeping House NY NY Mary S. WHITNEY 4 Dau F S W NY OH NY Albert WHITNEY 1 Son M S W NY OH NY Harriett HURD 68 MotL F W W CT At Home CT CT Cornelia WHITNEY 32 Sis F S W NJ OH OH Maggie CASEY 18 Othe F S W SCOT Domestic Servant SCOT SCOT Nora CRONNIN 20 Othe F S W IRE Domestic Servant IRE IRE

Charles D. BAKER 30 Self M M W NY Editor NY NY Harriet H. BAKER 28 Wife F M W CT Keeping House CT CT Alice H. BAKER 6 Dau F S W NY NY CT Sidney S. BAKER 4 Son M S W NY NY CT Annie HARTIGAN 22 Othe F S W NY Domestic Servant IRELAND IRELAND Erastus WHITNEY 40 Othe M S W NY Cashier NY NY Annie SCHWARBE 64 Othe F W W HANOVER Keeping House HANOVER HANOVER


1.^  "Elijah [Whitney], s. Elijah and Mindwell, [born] Nov. 26, 1798," according to Franklin P. Rice, ed., Vital Records of Westborough, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849 (1903).

Copyright © 2006, 2008, 2010, 2016, Robert L. Ward and the Whitney Research Group.