History of Edwin Whiting

(Compiled by Jennie Bird Hill, daughter of Abby Ann Whiting, daughter of Edwin and Hannah Whiting- 1919)


About the year 1800, in the little town of Lee, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, near the border of New York, lived the family of Elisha and Sally Hulett Whiting. Elisha Whiting's father was a sea captain and lived in Connecticut. He died when Elisha was very young. His mother, not knowing what else to do, bound him to an old Quaker, who was very cruel to him, and after a few years, he ran away to Massachusetts and worked on a farm with a wheelwright. Here he was married to Sally Hulett. They were highly respected, honest, generous and firm in their convictions.

Elisha Whiting followed the trade of wagon and chair maker and did his work well. His wife was very gifted in making prose and poetry, a characteristic that has been bequeathed to many of the Whiting descendants. To Elisha and Sally Whiting, twelve children were born, eight sons and four daughters as follows:

  1. Charles,
  2. William,
  3. Edwin,
  4. Charles,
  5. Katherine Louisa,
  6. Harriet,
  7. Sally Emeline,
  8. Chauncey,
  9. Almond,
  10. Jane,
  11. Sylvester,
  12. Lewis.

Edwin Whiting was born September 9, 1809, the third child of this family. When he was six years old, his parents moved to Nelson, Portage County, Ohio. At that time, it was the western frontier of the U.S.A. but probably the very place his father wished to be to get a suitable timber for his trade and for support of his large family.

Edwin Whiting's chance for education was very limited, but they were all taught the "3 R's", Readin', Ritin', and Rithmetic, and he wrote a legible hand, an extraordinary feat for his time. At an early age, he wrote credible verse.

His early life in the forest, no doubt, accounts for his love of the out-of-doors, the beauties of nature, the trees, the flowers, the mountains and the desire to hunt.

One Sunday morning, when but a small boy, he decided to go hunting. He knew this was contrary to his parent's teachings, so he tried to draw his gun through the cracks between the logs of his bedroom and go unmolested. His gun caught and was discharged, inflicting a serious wound in his left arm. This, he said, was a lesson to observe the Sabbath Day and to obey his parents.

He learned the chair making trade from his father and his workmanship was considered very good.

In 1833, when Edwin was twenty-four years old, he married Elizabeth Partridge Tillotson, an Ohio girl of French descent. She was a highly educated school teacher, quite an accomplishment for those days.

In 1837, the Gospel was brought to the Whiting family. Edwin and his wife, his father and mother and some of his brothers and sisters joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They were baptized by Thomas Marsh in 1838. Here, as in the time of Christ and His Apostles, the humble, hard-working class of people were the ones to listen and accept the Gospel of truth.

They were among the early members of our church and soon joined the saints in Kirtland, Ohio. It was here that their trials, hardships and persecutions began and it took true manhood, womanhood, and faith in God to endure.

They were forced to leave their new comfortable home, complete with furniture, orchards and land in Kirtland, Ohio and took only their clothing and a few valued relics and went to Far West, Missouri. By this time, Edwin and Elizabeth had four children: William, Helen Amelia, Sarah Elizabeth and Emily Jane. They were only in Far West a short time and had just built a new home, when the mob, several thousand strong, ordered them out. During the battle of the Crooked River, just before they were ordered to leave Missouri, his brother Charles was killed.

They were compelled to flee again so they joined the saints at Lima in father Isaac Morley's branch, where Edwin Whiting acted as counselor to brother Morley. For Several years, the saints were happily building up the city of Nauvoo and their temple, while living at Morley's branch (Yelrome), near Lima. Here they worshipped God without so much persecution as they had experienced in Missouri. Edwin was appointed Colonel in the Nauvoo Legion and was an active worker at all times for the up-building of His Church.

In 1844 he was called on a mission to Pennsylvania and was there at the time of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph and Hyrum Smith. He soon returned home and took up arms with his bretheren to protect his property and the lives of his family.

Through the advice of those in authority, and for a righteous purpose, he entered the law of plural marriage. On January 3rd 1845, he married Almira Meacham. The following year, January 27, 1846, he married Mary Elizabeth Cox.

In the fall of 1845 the mobs began threatening them, and attacking them. Every house in the village was burned except father Elisha Whiting's, which was spared because he was so sick they could not move him. We remember of hearing aunt Elizabeth tell how she sat on the pile of bedding far into the night with little daughter Jane in her arms. Little Jane died soon after from exposure and lack of proper food. Sarah clapped her hands at the big bonfire the mob had made with their fences and the select wood from her father's chair shop. [Note: When Jennie Hill wrote this sketch, she mixed up some places. The burning was not in Missouri, but in Yelrome, in August 1845, as I have changed it to read. C T Cox]

The families moved into Nauvoo for protection, and to get ready to go west. While there, Edwin and his wives were sealed together in the Nauvoo temple.

Still a greater test awaited him, his brothers, Almond, Sylvester, Chauncey and Lewis and his sister, Louisa did not feel that Brigham Young should be the leader of the Church so they followed a Mr. Cutler and called themselves "Cutlerites" and moved up into Clitheral, Minnesota. To this day they hold tenaciously to the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. They still correspond with the children of Edwin Whiting, and have given us, for temple work, an extensive genealogy of the Whiting family.

Edwin Whiting, his families, his father and mother stayed with the saints, who were compelled to move west as far as Mt. Pisgah, (now known as Talmadge) Iowa. There they stayed to prepare for the journey across the plains.

The dreaded disease, cholera, took the father and mother of Edwin, his little brother and little daughter, Emily Jane. Their names are on the monument lately erected at that place in memory of those who died there. So many of his family were sick at one time, that there was no one well enough to get the sick ones a drink, but even in those trying times, they still had faith and rejoiced in the Gospel, for the Lord was with them. Emeline, a sister of Edwin, married Fredrick Walter Cox and the two families were as one big family for years.

They established a chair factory and hauled the chairs to Quincy, Illinois where they were sold. From this and their crops, they prepared to come west. Aunt Mary taught school two terms and helped the family some. While at Mt. Pisgah, three children were born. Albert Milton was born to Mary. Oscar Newell was born to Elizabeth, and Catherine Emeline was born to Almira.

In April, 1849, Edwin and Emeline, the only children of Elisha and Sally Whiting who stayed true to the Church, started westward in brother Morley's company.

Volumes have been written of the westward journey of the saints, and as Congressman Leatherstood has said, "It is the greatest emigration trail that was ever blazed and our pioneers will some day stand out in history as the greatest pioneers of the world."

They fought Indians, had their cattle stampeded, suffered for lack of proper food, and even though tired from that long and tedious trek, still they went on. After reaching the Black Hills, a heavy snow storm came and for three days they were shut in. Many of their cattle died and perhaps they would have died had not the teams and provisions sent by President Brigham Young come to their aid. On October 28, 1849, they reached Salt Lake City, which looked like a haven of rest to that travel-worn company. Aunt Mary said, "I have never beheld a sight so good and so beautiful as Salt Lake City. We were so thankful our journey was at an end." But their rest was of short duration, for in a few days, Edwin Whiting, the Morley's and the Cox's were called to settle the San Pitch River, now known as Manti. Again they journeyed on. It took three weeks to go from Salt Lake City, because they had to build their own roads.

Provo was then a village of about six homes. As they passed Hobble Creek, afterwards known as Springville, Edwin Whiting remarked, "This is a fertile spot. I would like to stop here."