Sunday, September 19, 2010

Henry Whiteman House


Henry Whiteman House
 Most of the time when I read a historical report, everything seems to make sense, and I have no reason to doubt its accuracy. Once in a while, though, I'll read something, maybe several times, and I just won't be able to get the facts as shown to jibe just right. Such was the case with this report about the Henry Whiteman House. In this instance, I'm not sure that it's necessarily wrong, so much as it's maybe just a bit unclear and misleading. In either case, I'll lay it all out and you can decide for yourself.

The Henry Whiteman House is a two story, stuccoed fieldstone home that sits off of Smith Mill Road, on the east side of Paper Mill Road. The property is a little over a mile north of Milford Crossroads, and right in the middle of an area dominated by the Whiteman family for most of the 19th century. The first of them to settle in the area was Jacob Whiteman, who in 1799 purchased a large tract of land from Thomas Rice. As for the rest of the history of the Whiteman houses, here is how the report (which is part of a larger report on several endangered properties) tells the story:
By 1804, Jacob constructed a log house and a frame barn on the 196-acre property. The 1816 tax assessment for the property lists the house as being constructed of stone. [...] Prior to his death in 1826, Jacob Whiteman sold 98 acres to his son Henry. According to the 1828 tax assessment, Henry Whiteman built a stone house and a frame barn on the property during his first two years of ownership. [...] When he died in 1855, Henry left the 98-acre farm to his son George. [...] At this time Henry had improved 82 of his 96 acres, increasing the value of the property to $8000.

George Whiteman occupied the farm for at least five years, but by 1864, the farm passed into the hands of George's brother, Henry. It was in this year that he in turn gave the farm to their brother Andrew Jackson Whiteman.

So the way I read it, by the fact that the author(s) seem to be tracing the history of the house from Jacob all the way to Andrew J., it makes it seem at first read as if there is one house, and by 1864 it belongs to Andrew J. However, if you read closely, there are actually two houses in question here, and I believe the report mixes them up partway through the history. And from what I can see, the house referred to here as the Henry Whiteman House is not the one owned by Andrew Jackson Whiteman after 1864.

The first house we have is the one built by Jacob, Sr, sometime between 1804 and 1816. Then, the report seems to jump to the house built by his son, Henry, Sr., sometime around 1825. It's this second house that ends up in the possession of Andrew Jackson Whiteman -- and that's exactly what the 1868 Beers map shows. If you look to the left side of the section of the Beers map below, you'll see a house listed as being owned by A.J. Whiteman. This is Andrew Jackson, and is not the house documented in the report. The A.J. Whiteman house, which I believe is still standing, is on the south side of Smith Mill Road to the west of Paper Mill. I think this is the house built by Henry Whiteman, Sr. about 1825. On the east side of Paper Mill Road, our house is shown as occupied by H. Whiteman, who is the 40 year old Henry, Jr.


Whiteman Family Area, 1868

After examining census documents from 1850, 1860, and 1870, here is what I think happened to the two houses during that time. In 1850, there are two Whitemans listed: Jacob, Jr. and Henry, Sr., both the children of Jacob Sr. I think Henry was living in his house to the west, and Jacob was in his father's house to the east. By 1860, both of the elder Whitemans had passed, and the houses were in the possession of Jacob III and Henry, Jr. Nowhere in the census records is there a George Whiteman. There is a Gilbert, but whoever else got Henry, Sr's farm (the one to the west), Henry, Jr. had it by census time in 1860. Jacob III owned "our" home to the east.

Next, I surmise that Israel Whiteman, son of Jacob, Jr., moved out and bought the property to the north, which he is shown in on the 1868 map. Then, in 1864, Jacob III was declared "insane" (as he is listed on the 1870 census, in his brother Israel's household), and Henry, Jr, his cousin and next oldest male, took over his house -- the original one built by Jacob, Sr. about 1815. Henry then gave his old house to his brother Andrew Jackson. So, by this reckoning, the "Henry" referred to in "The Henry Whiteman House" is not Henry, Sr, but Henry, Jr. by virtue of his owning it on the 1868 Beers map. In reality, this house is the original (well, after the first log house) home built by the first Jacob Whiteman, patriarch of the Whiteman family.

Since I have not viewed any deeds relating to these properties, I admit this is only conjecture based on four snapshots taken over twenty years, but I think it explains the evidence nicely. The one odd occurrence that I think confuses matters is Henry's moving from the house his father built, to the one his grandfather built. This was necessitated by the fact that Jacob III became unable to manage the farm by himself. If this is true (and the report never really says one way or the other), then the Henry Whiteman House could also be known as the Jacob Whiteman House, as this was the one raised by him sometime about 200 years ago.

7 comments:

  1. I am Henry Whiteman's great, great, great granddaughter. I hope to visit
    this house one day.
    Victoria

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  2. jimbarclay@bellsouth.netApril 30, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    Victoria! My wife is Carol Ann Whiteman,daughter of Amos Whiteman,son of Henry Paul Whiteman son of Andrew J Whiteman born in 1855.He was married in Old Swede's Church in Wilmington.I think I found a connection to your line.I am interested in your tree.

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  3. The Mill Creek Hundred History Blog -- Bringing families together since like a year or two ago.

    Seriously, though, thanks for commenting! If I or any of us can be of any help, just ask. It sounds like neither of you are in the area. It also sounds like you both have at least some info about your family, but if there's anything someone "on the ground" here can help with, let us know.

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  4. We are the Gaines family, currently residing at 210 Smith Mill road, and would like to see any photos of the house. Please let us know.

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    Replies
    1. I can't recall coming across any old pictures of the house. About the furthest back I've found is 1998, when the report mentioned in the post was done. Below is a link to the full report. The Whiteman House is the very last one detailed. Even though the pictures are only 15 years old, I have a feeling it looks a good bit different now. If I ever do find any older pics, I'll let you know.

      http://udspace.udel.edu/bitstream/handle/19716/4723/New%20Castle%20County.pdf?sequence=3

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    2. I have photos of both the Henry Whiteman house and the A J Whiteman house from about 1914, and I believe that Mrs Gaines may be the very kind person who allowed me to look inside her home in June. Is there some way we can connect by email?

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    3. Windy City and Gaines Family --
      If you'd like, I'd be happy to play middleman. Feel free to email me at mchhistory@verizon.net.

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