1912: Charles H. Whitney, founder of Marshall, dies | News, Sports, Jobs


Editor’s Note: The following article, published in the December 27, 1912 issue of the News Messenger, reviews the life of Charles H. Whitney, a founder of Marshall, after his death in Tennessee. Part of this article will appear in the new book: “The 200th Anniversary: ​​Cultivating 150 Years of History in Marshall and Lyon County.” Books can be ordered for $44.95 by calling The Independent or filling out the form contained in an ad in today’s newspaper.

(December 27) – Charles H. Whitney died on Christmas Day at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Fred White, in Cookville, Tennessee, after several years of suffering and poor health. His death marks the death of one of Marshall’s founders, who first came to Lyon County in June 1869. Mr. Whitney moved to Tennessee in 1887 for health reasons, where he has lived ever since. Last summer he visited his daughter, Mrs. John Schneider, and his family in Marshall, renewed old acquaintances, and was of great help to the authors of the History of Lyon County by providing many interesting objects and records.

He is survived by his four daughters, Mrs. John H. Schneider of Marshall, Mrs. Fred White of Cookeville, Mrs. James T. Snodgrass of McMinnville, Tennessee, and Gertrude, who accompanied him through his illness.

Charles H. Whitney was born on January 16, 1838 in Bridgeton, Cumberland County, Maine. With his father, George W. Whitney, a volunteer Baptist minister, he visited various towns in Maine and New Hampshire until he was 11, when he began earning his own living. He found his first job in a wool spinning mill after several years of working in the weaving mill of today’s WL Douglas shoe factory, where at the age of 18 he became a foreman in one of the departments.

In 1856 he graduated from the Baptist Academy in North Parsonsfield, Maine, after earning a living from his labor savings. After graduating he decided to go west and arrived in Waupun, Wisconsin on March 25, 1857 to work for his brother JW Whitney, a building contractor. During his six years there, his experience later helped him settle Marshall.

On October 28, 1860, Mr. Whitney was married to Mary A. Wirt. Mrs. Whitney was born on June 22, 1843 in Willoughby, Ohio and died on February 11, 1911 in Cookeville, Tennessee. As a result of this union, five children were born, all living except George C., who died in 1862 at the age of one.

Mr. Whitney and his family moved to Minnesota in 1863 and settled in Oronoco, Olmsted County. There he served as town clerk and had overall responsibility for fulfilling the troop contingent during the war; After the war he worked as a building contractor, ran a furniture factory and bought a farm. In May 1869, Mr. Whitney left Oronoco with a party of 10 men in covered wagons on a prospecting trip to find a suitable site in southwest Minnesota for new homes. They traveled three weeks, visiting St. Cloud, Benson and Hutchinson, but not liking the country turned south and passed St. Peter.

The party met there “Uncle Abner” Tibbits, US Land Office register, which advised them to visit the portion of Redwood County that is now Lyon County. Via Redwood Falls they reached the small settlement of Lynd on June 9th. The entire group was enthusiastic about this land and all who were on it, with Mr. Whitney choosing as his claim the southwest neighborhood of Section 4, Lake Marshall Township, on which part of the village of Marshall was later built.

After breaking up part of the land, the group returned to their homes and Mr. Whitney spent the following winter in Wisconsin, where he interested others in this new land and returned in 1870 with a number of new settlers and established a grass hut. The first dwelling built in Section 4 of the Marshall compound. It was about 20 poles east of the Third Street Bridge on the Quarter Section line. In the fall of 1870 Mr. Whitney secured the establishment of a post office and became the first postmaster. He was engaged in agriculture and the prosperity of the country, locating four-fifths of all settlers who arrived before 1872, in partnership with others, he covered the village of Marshall and it was largely through his influence that the Marshall Station of the then new Winona & St .Peter Railroad was located where it is preferred to a point at the junction of Three-Mile Creek. Before the railroad reached Marshall in 1872, Mr. Whitney erected a hotel building, one of the first buildings in town, and hauled the lumber from the end of the completed line. At the opening of the hotel, 250 people were fed. The building was on the site of today’s Atlantic Hotel.

The first brick kiln in Marshall was built by Mr. Whitney. For several years he was a field agent and general agent for the Railroad Company and was involved in many real estate sales. In 1877 he founded the Homeseeker’s Guide to the West, a monthly emigration newspaper with a circulation of 5,000. He was responsible for the first county exhibit made from produce at the State Fair in 1876 when the first premiums were secured for all exhibits. In 1886 Mr. Whitney secured the Railroad Company right of way for the Willmar & Sioux Falls Railroad, now Great Northern, from Marshall to the northern line of the county, that same year he went to St. Paul and took charge of the circulation of the “Farmer,” an agricultural newspaper, and in six months he increased the circulation to 30,000. A year of this work had a significant impact on his health and he moved to Cookeville, Tennessee, where he has lived ever since.

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