Whitener: North Carolina

By Craig Wood

I’ve been reading some of the Whitener information and I figured now would be a good time to post some information that might help people locate more information.

The following information was obtained from the Patrick Beaver Library in Hickory North Carolina, Formally located and called “Elbert Ivy Memorial Library.” The Document is entitled “A Brief History of the Family of The Rev. Pinkney Alexander Whitener and Dicey Mariah Brendle Whitener their Ancestors and Descendants” Copyright 1962 by Russell Pinkney Whitener, Sr. Reference Number for the Old Elbert Ivy Library is CR 929.2 WHITENER (Library of Congress catalog card no. 63-12952)

It’s not possible for me to type all of this document since I only have a few of the pages still intact from the people I got them from, however, I would like to get at least the first 7 pages up so that if it’s something you see that might help you can get this document from the library of congress or the hickory library system to aid your genealogical search on the Whitener(s)/Weidner(s) of Hickory, North Carolina and the surrounding areas.

I’d like to make apologies for any typo’s in this before hand Including the ones that are in the documentation…so if there’s something that doesn’t look quite right…please feel free to correct it, since this is a massively speed typed job on my part! :} Also anything that is within []’s are added by me to help the reader with some of the information that might be confusing.

This brief history is prepared principally for the grandchildren, and their descendants, of the Rev. Pinkney Alexander Whitener, and Dicey Mariah Brendle Whitener, with the request, or hope, that this history will be amplified, and extended, to cover all branches of the family throughout coming generations.

Most families do not have any written account of their history, and many people do not even know who their grandparents were, and far greater numbers are completely lost when they look as far back as their great grandparents. It was the search for the names of my great grandparents’ parents that led Mary Lee and myself to make a trip to Hickory, N. Carolina, in June 1962, to pursue the search. We were very fortunate in finding Thomas Whitener’s history of his family which was the result of years of research and it covered the history up to my great grandfather, and which he was so gracious in giving me permission to use in the preparation of a history of my family.

This record is believed to be substantially accurate. Most of it was obtained from authentic records and documents, much of which we personally searched by either, or both, Thomas A. Whitener, or by my wife and me.

It had always been the belief and understanding of my family that we were, and are, the descendants of one of two pioneer Dutchmen, henry and Jacob Whitener and that the Whiteners who were in and around Hickory, North Carolina, were the Descendants of Michael Whitener, all of whom Migrated from Holland or Germany to Pennsylvania, and then to North Carolina, sometime during the past years in search of a suitable place to settle.

During World War I, my Wife and I moved to Washington, D. C., arriving here on March 5, 1918.Shortly after the singing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918 I had a deep desire to compile a history of the Whitener Family, but due to the time and effort required to establishing a home in a new and strange place, and raising and educating the children, and taking care of our church obligations the matter of writing a family history had to be postponed, which resulted in a delay of some forty years.

Of course, during that forty-year period, many of the older folks passed away, particularly those who could have furnished valuable information about our ancestors, which included my grandfather, grandmother, uncles and aunts. This long delay, therefore, made it more difficult to get first-hand information.

However, upon my retirement from the United States Treasury Department on June 30, 1959, after serving my Government for more than thirty years, I began again to study, and get together available information, hoping to be able to get the necessary facts and figures for at least a brief history of the family.

Still believing that my family descended from Henry Whitener, Mary and I made extensive search of the Archives Records in the United States Archives Building located at 7th and Constitution Avenue, N. W., Washington, D. C., and of the Genealogical Records of the Congressional Library, pursuing this line.

The records show that there were three pioneers in Pennsylvania, henry and his brother Jacob, and Michael, Whitener, who, as land in that province became less plentiful, begun to press westward and southward in search of new and fertile fields, always keeping east of the Great Appalachian Mountains. And they found their “Dream Land” in the fertile valley west of the Great Catawba River in Western North Carolina, The section of this state which is known as Catawba County.

In the common use of the term “Dutch” these men would appear to be Dutchmen but the records show that our ancestors were not from Holland, but that they were from Germany. The correct term for the Germans who settled in Pennsylvania is Deutsch (pronounced “Doytch”).This accounts for the confused usage of these terms by many people.I recall that my grandfather said his father was Dutch and spoke Dutch fluently, and that he could speak some Dutch.

There appears to be two important factors that contributed to the heavy influx of Germans to the Pennsylvania Colony during the first 75 years of the eighteenth century. One was the religious persecution in Germany at that time, and the other was the policy set-forth by William Penn, which offered religious freedom and economic opportunity to those who would settle in his province. It was from areas along the Rhine River that probably contributed the heaviest migration to this country. Records in the form of ship lists show that more than 30,000 Germans arrived at the port of Philadelphia during the period from 1725 to 1775.Their pattern of travel was down the Rhine River to Rotterdam, at which point they would transfer to English ships for the long trip across the Atlantic Ocean. Prior to crossing, however, these ships usually made a stop at an English port, frequently at Deal, for the purpose of making these Germans English Subjects. Pennsylvania Law required that three separate lists of these immigrants be made before entry into this country – one for the Master of the ship, one pleading their loyalty to the Crown of England, and one renouncing allegiance to the Pope and/or Germany. It is believed that our forbearer followed this pattern, and that he probably came from the Palatinate, a district in Germany west of the Rhine River, with Speyer as its capital.

We traced our family back to my Great Grandfather, Ephraim Whitener, who was born about 1801, and to my Great Grandmother, Delila Whitener, who was born in 1805.The United States Census records of Lincoln County, North Carolina for the year 1840, Volume 6, page 78, now housed in the Archives Building in Washington, D. C., lists the following:

(The Family)       (ages Between)       (Born Between)
Ephraim Whitener, as head       30 to 40       1800 to 1810
1 Female (Wife)       30 to 40       1800 to 1810
1 Male (Alvin B.)       15 to 20       1820 to 1825
1 Male (Lafayette)       10 to 15       1825 to 1830
1 Female (Mary Ann)       10 to 15       1825 to 1830
1 Male (Pinkney A.)       5 to 10       1830 to 1835
1 Male (Sidney)       0 to 05       1835 to 1840

The Census Records for the year 1850 for Catawba County, which was cut off of Lincoln County in 1842, lists the following on Page 682, Volume 3:

(The Family)       [Age]       (Born In)
Delila Whitener, As head       Age 45       1805
Mary Ann Whitener       Age 21       1829
Lafayette Whitener       Age 21       1829
Pinkney A. Whitener       Age 17       1833
Sidney Whitener       Age 14       1836

This record would indicate that Ephraim Whitener died sometime during the preceding ten-year period, and that Alvin Whitener, the oldest son, had gotten married, or at least he was not at home when the census was taken.

We also had in our possession at that time a copy of a history of Henry Whitener and his descendants, compiled by Mrs. Herbert (Edna) Whitener of Hickory, North Carolina. However, we were unable to find a connection between these two families as one continuous lineage.

So, armed with these two records, we made a trip to North Carolina in June of 1962, hoping to be able to bridge the gap from the records of Burke County, Catawba and/or Lincoln County. However, to our great surprise, we discovered that all of these records prior to 1865 had been destroyed by fire when the court houses in Morganton [Burke County], Newton [Catawba County] and Lincolnton [Lincoln County], where burned in the year 1865.

We were, however, very fortunate when we visited the Elbert Ivy Memorial Library [Library has since moved to a new location and name changed to Patrick Beaver Library phone number available from information should it be needed] in Hickory. Here we found, among other pertinent documents and material, a Family Record compiled by a double second cousin of mine, Thomas A. Whitener of Daytona Beach, Florida, whose grandfather was a brother of my grandfather, with whom we had had very little contact, and had about lost track of after he married and moved to Georgia.

Thomas, like myself, started out compiling a history of his family believing that his family was of the Henry Whitener line, but being unable to connect the two family lines, he made a closer study of the Memorial Service held on may 30, 1894 in memory of Henry Whitener, and the statement made therein that “Henry Whitener and Michael Whitener were kin no way, differing in complexion, manners, customs, religion and politics”, led Thomas, as we had been led to turn to Michael Whitener. This study and research revealed a clear lineage from Michael Whitener down through the years to both our families.

We are very grateful to Thomas Whitener, whom we have never met, for leaving a copy of his work for us with my cousin William A. Whitener of Hickory just two days before our visit in his home on Jun 15, 1962.

It is believed that in view of the foregoing, a brief account of henry Whitener and his family, should be given at this point before going on with the account or history of Michael Whitener and his descendants, especially since the two families were, and are so closely associated, and in many instances became related through intermarriages, and as they married into other families. So far, it has not been established whether or not Henry and Michael Whitener were themselves related. Some say they were cousins, and there is a good reason to think so, since both migrated from Germany to Pennsylvania, and then to North Carolina and settled in the same general area, and had friendly business relations with each other.

Henry Whitener, and
Mary Catherine Mull
Were married in 1748

The records show that Henry Whitener arrived in the port of Philadelphia on the ship “Molly” on October 17, 1741.The various spellings of his name are, Heinrich Weydner, Heinrich Weidner, Heinrich Weidener, Henrich Widener, Henry Weitner, etc., and finally became Henry Whitener, all meaning hunter.

Many German names were anglicized in those early days, and through usage over the years, our name came out in its present form, “Whitener”. The name in its numerous forms of spelling is prevalent in many parts of Pennsylvania today. The records of the Geological [actual misspelling] Section of the Library of Congress gives the names of the heads of a number of families by the name of Weidner, Weidener, etc., in Pennsylvania.

The records also show that Henry Whitener made his first trip to North Carolina [Actual Misspelling] on horseback sometime during the year 1742, and that he hunted for furbearing animals in what is now known as the Catawba County, and westward. He is said to be the first white man to settle in that part of the state he hunted and explored the valley of the great Catawba River westward to the Blue Ridge Mountains, trading and making friends with the Cherokee Indians. It is said that the Indians were afraid of henry’s six-foot barrelled “thunder” gun which he had made before he left Philadelphia. The United States Records of 1790 lists Henry Whitener as a Trader.

Apparently Henry was greatly impressed with the opportunities which the section of the country premised, and desiring to make his home there he returned to Pennsylvania in 1748, which is believed to be his third trip back to Pennsylvania. On this trip Henry married Mary Catherine Mull, age 16, and he returned to North Carolina with his bride in 1749.Henry was 32 years old at that time. The Henry River was named for Henry Whitener and the Jacob river was named for Jacob Whitener. These rivers originate many miles west in Burke County [actual misspelling] and come together just south of Hickory near where Henry Whitener build his first house.

The Colonial Records in the Register’s Office, Charlotte, North Carolina, show that Henry Whitener obtained a land grant from the King of England in 1749, the year he returned to North Carolina. It was established that the record of the Memorial Service held in his honor on May 30, 1894, that Henry still owned some 10,000 acres of land at the time of his death, even after having sold many tracts of several hundred acres to other German settlers of the area including 133 acres which he had sold to Michael Whitener by Deed dated December 3, 1762, for 75 pounds sterling, or about $2.74 per acre. This deed was signed “Henry Whitener”, the first “e” being missing. A copy of this deed is in possession of Thomas A. Whitener, referred to previously.

The Archives in Washington, D.C., and other records, show that in 1777, the year following our Declaration of Independence from England, Burke County was established. It included most of the western part of the state, the area now comprising 13 present-day counties, which are listed below along with the date each was established:

Burke       1777
Lincoln       1778
Buncomb       1791
Haywood       1808
Yancey       1833
Caldwell       1841
Catawba       1842
McDowell       1842
Alexander       1847
Watauga       1849
Madison       1851
Mitchell       1861
Swain       1871

The records also show that Henry Whitener, and Mary Catherine Whitener, had eight children, three sons and five daughters, as follows:

Daniel Whitener
Henry Whitener, Jr.
Abram Whitener
Barbara Whitener
Mary Whitener
Mollie Whitener
Catherine Whitener
Elizabeth Whitener

Daniel, the oldest son, married Mary Wilfong, after he returned from the revolutionary war, and they had ten children: Daniel, Henry, John, George and David, Sally Rachel, May Betsy and Catherine. It was this Catherine who married Zachriah Stacy, who was blessed with 11 children: Mary, Pauline, Osborne, Miles, Daniel, Oliver, Emily, Lucinda, Betty, Verdie, and James. It was their son Oliver Stacy, who married Sarah Brendle and moved to Whitfield County, Georgia. This Sarah Brendle was a sister of Elizabeth (Betsy) Brendle who married Alvin B. Whitener. She was, also a sister of Dicey Mariah Brendle who married Pinkney Alexander Whitener, our grandfather.

Henry, Jr., the second son, married a Miss Shell and later moved to Missouri, but we have no further record of him or of any children.

Abram, the youngest son, was killed in the Revolutionary War, and we have no record of him having been married, or having any descendants.

Further information about the descendants of Henry and Mary Catherine Whitener may be found in the record of his memorial service held on May 30, 1894, which is on file in the Public Library in Hickory, North Carolina.

The Epitaph on Henry Whitener’s Tombstone, which is in German reads:

“Yensiel dem klienen straum auf den hueglein, ist, ein Graub und das Graub ist ge marked mit einen Haupstein, stehl is geschriseben: Heinric Weidner war gebohren in yahr 1717, and gestorben in dem yahr 1792, on neinten ob October, machten allen seiner tagen suf arden 75 yahren.Frieden sa seinen ashen.”

Translated: Beyond this little stream on yonder hillock is a grave, and that grave is marked by a headstone and on that stone it is written or engraved: Henry Widener was born in the year 1717, on the 9th of October and died in the year 1792, on the 31st of July, making all his days here upon the earth seventy-five years. Peace be unto his ashes.

The records show on this tombstone that henry Whitener was born October 9th 1717, and that he died on July 31, 1792, at the age of 75 years, and that he was buried in the Whitener Cemetery just south of Hickory, North Carolina.

The records also show that Mary Catherine Whitener, his wife, was born May 24, 1733, and that she died on August 20, 1804, surviving her husband some twelve years. It is presumed that she was also buried in the Whitener Cemetery South of Hickory.

Now lets turn our attention to the other pioneer, Michael Whitener, who also migrated to Pennsylvania from Germany, and then later made his way, along with his wife and four children, to the fertile valley of the Catawba River in Catawba County, North Carolina.