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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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WHITNEY, ROBERT PARKER (1826-1902)

WHITNEY, ROBERT PARKER, lumberman, boom manager, and farmer; b. Whitneyville, 15 Aug 1826, s/o Ebenezer Whitney and Charlotte Parker; m. 1853, Zilpha Rogers, d/o Anthony Rogers and h/w Hannah, of North Esk parish; d. Whitneyville 11 Dec 1902.

Robert ("R. P.") Whitney was a grandson of Ebenezer Whitney Sr, a lumberman of New England ancestry who settled on William Davidson's grant in the 1780s. Whitneyville derived its name from his place of settlement, and the hundreds of persons of Miramichi origin who bear the Whitney surname are among his many descendants.

"Physically and intellectually," Robert P. Whitney was "a man who would attract attention almost anywhere." On the original Whitney property he conducted one of the largest dairy and grain farms on the Miramichi on a scientific and experimental basis. He was a director of the Northumberland Agricultural Society as early as 1852 and did his share to help improve farming and dairying practices throughout the county. He had a general store and was for many years the leading lumberman on the Northwest branch of the river. He was an incorporator of the North West Boom Co. when it was formed in 1862, and he managed the boom for twenty-five years. In 1882 he had the paddle-wheel steamer Loyalist built for use in his business. The vessel was designed by Joseph M. Ruddock and was constructed, hull, boiler, and engines, at the Miramichi Foundry.

Whitney had numerous other commercial and investment interests. Around 1859 he began manufacturing mechanical stump-pullers from a patented design and acted as sales agent for them in northeastern New Brunswick. He was a pioneer exporter of bass from the Miramichi. In 1882 he was an incorporator of the World Publishing Co. He was a director of the Northern and Western Railway Co. in 1883.

Whitney was among the original county councillors for North Esk parish in 1876 and served a total of two years. He was a Conservative in politics and a Baptist in religion, being treasurer for many years of the Whitneyville Baptist Church. In the 1880s he began construction of a new church on his own land for the congregation. He still had work to do on it at the time of his death, but soon afterwards it was finished by volunteer labor. It was dedicated at a service conducted on 15 November 1903. Both the church, which is still in use, and the land on which it stands were a gift of his widow, Zilpha Rogers. They had no children.

Sources

[b] census [m] Gleaner 14 Feb 1853 [d] Advocate 17 Dec 1902 / Advance 18 Dec 1902; Advocate 28 Jun 1876; Arbuckle; Gleaner 16 Feb 1852, 8 Jun 1861 (ad); Hamilton (NE); World 22 Mar 1882, 28 Jun 1882, 4 Aug 1883


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