Friday, June 12, 2009

The Life of Clifford Claude Whitney

This is my husband's paternal great grandfather. The following is a story from Ershel R. Whitney, Cliff's brother.

"Clifford was born January 30, 1888. He and I (Ershel) grew up together and became very close. We played together, fished, hunted, trapped, fought for each other and became inseparable. Clifford remained on the farm for several years after I went to work in Kansas City. After he and his girlfriend had an argument of some kind, he sold his stock, came to Kansas City, and went to work in the car repair department for the Milwaukee Railroad.

After Cliff had worked on the "Rip Track" for a few months, the foreman told him the company was going to send some men to the main office in Milwaukee to take examinations for Firemen. He wondered if Cliff would like to go? Like most youngsters, Cliff thought it was the fulfillment of a boyhood dream. However, for some reason, he quit the "Firing" job after a few months. He and a friend went to work for a farmer near Nortonville, Kansas, a short distance north of Kansas City.

He had been there only a short time when a country doctor from that community called me by telephone and informed me that Cliff had appendicitis. He asked me to come and see him. I caught the first train. After talking a few minutes with the doctor, we decided that I should bring him to Kansas City with me. Our M.D. did not agree with the diagnosis and gave him an enema. In a few days, he went home with dad, Ernest Leroy Whitney, who had come to the city to be with him. In a short time, he had recovered completely. (Sounds like he had an appendicital stone which Brian just went through.)

Cliff later fell in love with a young girl, Mae Rogers. He married her and went to work on the section for the Santa Fe Railroad at Lyndon, Kansas. They later moved to the farm adjoining the Old Home Place where they reared a family of three girls: Hazel, Frances (grandma), and Freda.

After feeding cattle for several years, Cliff decided to go into the dairy business and bought a herd of Guernsey cows. For this purpose, he borrowed money from the Melvern State Bank. He gave them a mortgage on the herd for security. During the depression, the bank took bankruptcy and he lost the herd. He continued to work the farm for several years.

Cliff was the kind of guy who would neglect his own welfare to help someone who needed assistance. During the last illness of uncle Judd, his mother's brother, who was about 90 years old, he left his job and went to help Mitta take care of him. Mitta was uncle Judd's only child. He didn't leave until after the funeral.

When WWII broke out, I (Ershel) was having trouble keeping clerks in the store. I wrote him and suggested that if he could come and help me out, I would put him on the payroll. He came and stayed with me until I retired in 1956.

Some time later, Cliff decided to go to the Kansas Masonic Home in Wichita where he was very happy. He stayed until his death on January 6, 1963. He was 74 just shy of 75."

I have more stories from great uncle Ert. I'll be posting them soon.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

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