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James E. Whidden

By Spessard Stone

James E. Whidden, a pioneer settler of Joshua Creek, Florida, was a Union soldier and farmer.

James E. Whidden was born on October 15, 1845 in Hillsborough County, Florida and moved with his parents, Willoughby and Eliza (Pennington) Whidden, to Fort Hartsuff, Manatee (now Hardee) County, Florida in 1854.

During the Civil War, he enlisted as a private March 18, 1864 at Fort Myers, Fla. in Company B, Second Florida Cavalry, U. S. Army. He was furloughed on September 28, 1865 and mustered out on November 29, 1865 at Tallahassee. Muster rolls described him as: 5"7", with blue eyes, light hair and fair skin, occupation of farmer.

In Manatee County, Florida on January 17, 1864, James married Martha Jane Carlton, born February 3, 1847 in Hillsborough County, daughter of Daniel Wilson Carlton and Sallie Ann (Murphy) Carlton. The 1880 Manatee County census listed the family in the Joshua Creek area, while the 1900 DeSoto County census recorded them at Arcadia precinct. Both listed James' occupation as a farmer.

James died on April 4, 1903, Arcadia, Florida and was buried in Joshua Creek Cemetery.

James and Martha Jane were members of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, Joshua Creek, Arcadia, Florida. James had been baptized by the Rev. J. M. Hayman on November 22, 1863 at Fort Hartsuff. Martha Jane was baptized by the Rev. Hayman on March 13, 1864.

A committee of Mt. Moriah Church eulogized James:

“Until prostrated by his last sickness [he] was prominent in all phases of church work. Always in his place doing cheerfully what his hands found to do that advanced the Master's cause. He was a charter member of Mt. Moriah church, and by his consistent life won the confidence and esteem of its entire membership. His home was indeed the home for the Gospel minister, who always received a warm welcome to his hospitality. By his earnest, consecrated life he was loved and honored not only by his brethren, but by all with whom he was associated. He was generous to a fault, always placing the most favorable construction possible upon the actions of others."

Martha Carlton Whidden died of influenza on January 5, 1933 at 117 North Hernando Avenue, Arcadia, DeSoto County, Florida and was buried in Joshua Creek Cemetery.

Martha Jane was remembered for her numerous acts of kindness and help she rendered in the pioneer days. Her obituary stated: "Without any special training but with a knack at 'doin' for sick people, she rode over the country ministering to the sick, and attended at the birth of many of the citizens now living here. Despite the fact that she reared a large family of her own, she always seemed to find time to help others who were in need."

Issue of James E. and Martha Jane (Carlton) Whidden:

1. Jeremia Alderman Whidden, born Oct. 13, 1866; died Nov. 24, 1940, Jacksonville, Fla.; married on Dec. 21, 1885 Mary Melissa Bethea.
2. Priscilla Victoria Whidden, born 1868 ; married on Sept. 18, 1889 in DeSoto Co., Fla. Tom B. Watkins.
3. Sallie Ann Whidden, born Jan. 30, 1870; died June 2, 1958; married on Nov. 25, 1886 in Manatee Co., Fla. Willis Benjamin Conner.
4. Jessie Alma Whidden, born Dec. 26, 1871; died May 21, 1943; married on Dec. 19, 1901 in DeSoto Co., Allen Bruce Robertson.
5. Lydia Elizabeth Whidden, born Sept. 3, 1873, died Oct. 13, 1944; married (1) on April 9, 1893 in DeSoto Co., Werner Lunquist; (2) Josh Arnold.
6. Ollie A. Whidden, born 1875; died Nov. 18, 1942; married on July 7, 1895 in DeSoto Co., Werner Higgenbotham.
7. Agnes E. Whidden, born Dec. 26, 1876; died Dec. 4, 1881; buried Joshua Creek Cemetery.
8. Willoughby Daniel Whidden, born June 14, 1878; died Oct. 26, 1946; buried Joshua Creek Cemetery; married on July 22, 1900 in DeSoto Co., Minnie Morgan.
9. Virginia Whidden, born Dec. 1879.
10. James O. Whidden, born Aug. 17, 1881, died Nov. 21, 1965; married on Nov. 19, 1899 Irene Wingate.
11. William Lace Whidden, Oct. 19, 1884; died Sept. 19, 1949; buried Joshua Creek Cemetery; married Emma Shepherd Cross (1895-1972).
12. Edna Martha Whidden, born Aug. 1886; died in 1938; married on May 25, 1902 in DeSoto Co., Willie O. Alderman.
13. Lubie Donella Whidden, born Jan. 21, 1890; died April 4, 1934; married on Aug. 15, 1907 in DeSoto Co., Robert Burroughs.
14. Florence Whidden, born 1892.

This profile is adapted from the author’s Lineage of John Carlton, 1998.

February 15, 2001 & links = October 16, 2001