COUNTY GOVERMENT AND LEGISLATORS (CONT'D).
FRANKLIN H. WHITNEY.
In 1862 R. C. Gordon was elected chairman of the Board of Supervisors, and Franklin H. Whitney, of Union township, became one of its members. By common consent Mr. Whitney has been pronounced the most enterprising and able man of affairs who ever resided in Cass county, and the verdict of time has been that he accomplished more for the material advancement of the county than any one of its citizens. Hundreds of the older class of residents would even enthusiastically subscribe to the following, written about a quarter of a century ago: "Franklin H. Whitney was decidedly the most prominent and enterprising of Cass county's citizens. He has done more than any ten men in its development; is the father of more towns and enterprising projects for the upbuilding of his resident county than any other citizen within its borders, and was also one of its pioneers braving the hardships attendant upon the early times.
It was in 1862 that Mr. Whitney first came into decided prominence. He was then a vigorous, well educated man of thirty, and being a surveyor by profession when he came from his native New York to Iowa, in 1856, had at once become interested in the platting of lands. In 1857 he had laid out the town of Whitneyville in the southeastern part of the county, and began farming and raising stock on a tract of 240 acres. This enterprise, with his surveying, did not so absorb his apparently boundless energy but that he was soon identified with the political and governmental affairs of the county. He was also an enthusiastic and firm supporter of the Union cause in Cass county, and when he entered the Board of Supervisors, in 1862, was the recognized leader in the organization of relief movements. In September of that year it was he who made the motion that "the members of the board resolve themselves into a committee of relief for the benefit of the families of all persons in the service of the United States, as soldiers, in their several townships, who may need aid; that the clerk be and is hereby authorized to issue warrants on the order of each member of the board; and further that it is understood that the board make no charge for the same, or for their services."
Mr. Whitney served on the board until he moved out of Union township in Lewis, in the following year, from which time, for two years, he was county surveyor. For eight months after locating in Lewis he also published the "Cass County Gazette." He continued to do much work as a private surveyor, operated two hotels within the next five years and then opened a land office in Lewis, whose specialty was the handling of property of non-residents. In the meantime, with B. F. Allen, John P. Cook and others, he had become interested in the property which now forms the site of Atlantic, and in October, 1868, removed to that locality, surveying and naming the town. He also assisted in the survey of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad, which was then being constructed through the county, and was mainly instrumental in having the station located at Atlantic--which settled the county seat competition and established the place as a flourishing community. He soon engaged in the real estate business, and became the general manager of the Atlantic Town Company, in which he had an interest, and within fifteen years his landed property in Cass and adjoining counties was valued at $300,000. In 1869 he commenced a small banking business, and after the absconding of Loring & Bennett in 1871, with Isaac Dickerson and others, he organized the First National Bank. He was soon in control of the institution, which he converted into the Bank of Atlantic, his son, James G. Whitney, being afterward admitted as a partner in the business. At the time of his death Mr. Whitney was interested in Omaha, Kansas City and Birmingham real estate. Although eccentric in many ways, the deceased was honest, brave and a tireless worker, and remarkable as an executive and a forecaster of land values. In addition, his generosity and charity were widespread and constant, although often secretly and silently bestowed.
Thomas Meredith, an Englishman and one of the pioneers of Brighton township, was one of the early and prominent members of the Board of Supervisors, serving in 1861, 1862 and 1865. In 1855 he had settled at Eight-Mile Grove, first breaking about sixty acres of land on section 32. He resigned his position on the board in June, 1865.
"Compendium and History of Cass County, Iowa." Chicago: Henry and Taylor & Co., 1906, pg. 70-72.
Transcribed by Cheryl Siebrass, August, 2018.