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Biographies W-Z

Whitney, Charles S.

Charles S. Whitney, local entrepreneur, was born on February 12, 1824 in Gallipolis, Ohio.  After participating in the gold rush in California in 1849, he came to Belmont where he courted Clara Parker, daughter of Alvan Parker.  Alvan had started the first store in Philipsburgh (Belmont) in 1830 or 1831.  This was located in the upper story of a carding mill on the site of a gristmill at the bridge crossing on Schuyler Street.  After marrying Clara, Charles helped in her father’s store, later buying-out his interest.  In 1852, the couple had a son who they named Henry Parker Whitney.

Charles’ interests became diversified.  He served as postmaster for six years under Abraham Lincoln.  He also contracted to build the new Allegany County buildings which were to be erected on Table Knoll.  In 1859 and 1860, for a total sum of $20,000 he built the brick courthouse, surrogate’s court and jail.  The row of brick buildings on the north side of Schuyler Street as well as The Belmont are also a credit to his abilities.  In 1865 he became interested in the oil business in the Bradford, Pa. area, although he maintained his residence in Belmont.  He was associated with a bank in Bradford which ultimately failed—however, it eventually paid all of its liabilities with interest.

In 1870 records show that the Whitney’s built a spectacular brick home on South Street.  It was an Italian-style villa with many outstanding features:  six fireplaces, eight-foot mirrors, parquet floors, a greenhouse, etc.  Clara died in 1872, shortly after giving birth to a daughter, Florence.  There followed a period of turbulent marital troubles: a second wife died of consumption; a third wife became embroiled in a scandal which led to a much-publicized divorce case tried by Judge Hamilton Ward in 1889.  Apparently he married Bridget Toomey following this episode and adopted her daughter Katherine.

In 1890-1892, Charles served as Supervisor of Amity.  He died on April 1, 1900.  His family occupied the home until about 1918, when it stood empty and desolate, a landmark of earlier times.  Children referred to it as “haunted” and loved to poke about the premise.

(The following biography was published in the “Sesquicentennial – a Collected History of a Town & Its People – Town of Amity 1830-1980”  published by Amity Sesquicentennial, Inc.; Printed by The Amity Press, Belmont NY-1980.)

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