Madison G. Whitaker Family Papers
Manuscript Collection: MC108
Madison G. Whitaker, longtime resident of Nacogdoches, Texas, was born April 4, 1811, to John and Nancy Whitaker in Lincoln County, Tennessee. In 1835 he joined his half-brother William in Nacogdoches. Whitaker enlisted in Capt. Thomas J. Rusk's company in October 1835 and marched to San Antonio de Bexar. He refused a commission as second lieutenant in the revolutionary army November 28, 1835, and returned to Nacogdoches. In March 1836 he enlisted as a private in the Nacogdoches Volunteer Company and fought in the Battle of San Jacinto under Sidney Sherman. He was discharged June 6, 1836.
Whitaker probably fought in the Cherokee War of 1839 under General Kelsey H. Douglass. Whitaker served two terms as a senator in the Texas State Legislature (1853-1856). He was a lifelong member of the Masons, a charter member and officer in the Texas Veterans Association, and a trustee of Nacogdoches University.
Whitaker married Henrietta M. Fitts on August 25, 1842. They had 8 children including a daughter, Mattie Olivia Whitaker (1852-1929). He died January 23, 1893, and is buried in Old North Church Cemetery north of Nacogdoches.
Sam W. McKneely [McNeely] was born in 1813 in Louisiana. He came to Texas in 1835 and enlisted in the army at Bexar December 9, 1835. He fought at the Battle of San Jacinto and remained in the army until his discharge on December 19, 1836. McKneely was a member of the Masons and present at the first meeting of the Texas Veterans Association in 1873.
McKneely married three times. His first two wives were sisters, Thracian and Hannah Lavinia Dickson. Lavinia died September 1876. Mattie Olivia Whitaker, daughter of Madison G. Whitaker, became his third wife. It is likely that in 1882 McKneely and Mattie moved from Texarkana, Arkansas, to Louisiana where he died in Point Coupe parish in 1888.
Photographs (9), family documents (5), newspaper articles (13), a greeting card, poem, and autograph album document the lives of Madison G. Whitaker, Sam McKneely, Thracian and Lavinia Dickson, and Mattie Olivia Whitaker. Of the nine photographs only 2 people are identified, Madison G. Whitaker and Mattie Olivia Whitaker. The people in the seven cased photographs are not identified, although it is likely one may be a member of the Dickson family. Family documents include a note from Hannah's teacher written in 1839, a handwritten funeral notice announcing services for Mrs. S. W. McKneely (September 2, 1876), Sam W. McKneely's Masonic Demit signed September 4, 1882, Resolutions written on the death of Madison G. Whitaker by the representatives of Milam Lodge No. 2 A. F. and A. M. (1893), and a commercial letter written to the Whitaker family offering to provide a clipping service for any death notices appearing in United States papers (1893). Newspaper articles include published letters from Moses Austin Bryan and Reuben M. Potter (1884); accounts of Texas Veterans Association and Daughters of the Republic of Texas meetings (1886, 1887, 1892); and obituaries for Madison G. Whitaker (5) and Walter P. Lane (1). A poem written possibly by Thracian McKneely in 1845 and copied by Lavinia McKneely in 1867 reveals 19th century attitudes toward the death of children. Of particular interest is the Jenny Lind autograph album (1857-1863) belonging to Lavinia Dickson McKneely. Not only does the album record the feelings of friends concerning separation and friendship, it also contains a series of steel cut engravings of young idealized women. The album also includes clippings and the poem "Always Spring" by David M. Stone, which has been cut from a book.
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[Identification of Item], Madison G. Whitaker Family Papers, MC108, San Jacinto Museum of History, Houston, Texas.
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Bonham, May 20, 1952.
Processed by Sarah Canby Jackson, 2004.