HENRY L WHITAKER
Henry L. Whitaker, respected and honored as one of the sterling early settlers of Atchison county, now makes his home in the thriving town of Lancaster, where he has identified himself with all of its enterprises. Great changes have taken place in this section of the west since he first beheld it and as the years have rolled away he has energetically sought to perform his duty as a citizen and patriot.
The birth of H. L. Whitaker took place in Massachusetts July 24, 1838. His grandfather was a soldier in the war of 1812 and his father, Lyman Whitaker, a successful merchant, died in 1852, aged forty years. He left Mrs. Emeline Whitaker and three children, -- Henry L., B. F. and Fred. Subsequently the mother went to Illinois with her sons, whom she reared with loving care and wisdom. For a number of years she taught school and, being a woman of good education and genuine business ability, made a success of the undertaking. Being the eldest son much of the responsibility of the family fell to our subject in his youth. His brothers both enlisted as orderly sergeants in the Union army during the Civil war, -- B. F. in the Tenth Kansas Infantry, who was subsequently promoted to a captaincy, and is a resident of Washington at the present time; and Fred also lives in the west.
After completing his education in the common schools Henry L. Whitaker obtained a position in a machine shop with Foster & Merriam. The western fever, which had such a strong hold over the public during the '50s, took possession of the young, ambitious man, and when an opportunity presented itself whereby he might remove with his own team with Rev. Pardee Butler to this state he gladly accepted it. Accordingly he made the long, tedious journey from Mount Sterling, Illinois, across the state of Missouri, arriving here in December, 1856. Later he returned to Illinois and in 1857 again came to Kansas, in order to secure a claim of hand for his widowed mother. He had some trouble in doing this, as "claim-jumpers" were numerous and everything here was in an extremely unsettled condition. The so-called "border ruffians" were rampant, and for several years the feeling between the slavery supporters and the abolitionists was intense. Locating in Atchison county as a permanent resident, Mr. Whitaker began the improvement of his land and for about a quarter of a century gave his exclusive attention to agriculture. As the result of his labors he now owns four hundred acres of valuable land, improved with well-built house and barns and other needful accessories of a model country place of the period.
In 1881 Mr. Whitaker resolved to enter the mercantile field of enterprise and for the ensuing nine years he was successfully engaged in running a hardware store in Atchison. In 1890 he removed his stock to Lancaster and, in partnership with his son, Harry, opened a hardware store there, where he is yet a resident and business man. In his political views he is a Republican, actively interested and fully posted in the great issues of the day. He has served as a justice of the peace for twelve years and for a number of terms held the office of township trustee. Socially he belongs to Lancaster Lodge, No. 355, I. O. O. F. Denver and Laramie City were small mining camps when he first visited them and the progress which the entire west has made within a few decades appears marvelous to him, as to every one who has so closely watched its development.
The marriage of Mr. Whitaker and Harriet Merriam, a daughter of Salmon Merriam, occurred in Warren county, Illinois, in 1857. She was born in Meriden, Connecticut. and is the mother of nine children, namely: Lyman, of Grand Junction, Colorado; Frank, of Nortonville, Kansas; Emma, the wife of Charles Tate, of Pardee, Kansas; May, the wife of H. Berry, of Lancaster, Kansas; Joseph, who is managing the homestead; Harry, a partner in the hardware business; Hattie, the wife of Frank Hursh, of Blackwell, Oklahoma; John Todd, who carries on a farm in Center township; and Salmon Arthur, also a member of the hardware firm. Mrs. Whitaker, like her husband, is highly esteemed by all who know her and is a member of the Methodist church.