WILLIAM BRADFORD WHITAKER
--By W. Ross Berry--
William B. Whitaker, father of Marcianna Whitaker Evans, had been born in Halifax County, NC on April 11, 1811, the son of James Whitaker (1773-1825) and Sarah Pullen Bradford (1776-1819). The William Bradford Whitaker family along with several other relatives and friends, crossed the Smoky Mountains in 1844 from Halifax Co., NC, and traveled to Wayne County, TN to settle there. In 1856 many of the relatives moved again to settle in northeastern Arkansas, in what was then Greene County.
His ancestry has been traced all the way back to 1431, to Thomas Whitaker of the Holme, Lancashire, England. (The name Whitaker means "white acre" or "field of ripe wheat"). One of Thomas Whitakers descendants was Captain Jabez Whitaker who married Mary Bourchier. She was of royalty, her ancestry going all the way back to William the Conqueror (1028-1087). (He was the Norman duke who conquered England in 1066 and, among other things, built the Tower of London). Another interesting thing about that line is that Jabez Whitaker had a brother named Alexander Whitaker (1587-1617)who went to Virginia in 1611 and became a notable minister. He performed the baptism of Pocahontas, and officiated at her marriage to John Rolfe. A painting of the baptism ceremony hangs in the rotunda of the Capitol building in Washington.
The book, "The Whitaker Family - A Goodly Heritage", pub. in 1973 by Mrs. Hubert H. Hunt, Jr. of Salem, AR tells about the Whitakers and their migration from NC to Wayne County, TN in 1844: "the six brothers - Eli Benton [Whitaker], John [Whitaker], James Cary [Whitaker], Richard [Whitaker], William Bradford Whitaker - and their sister Elizabeth Smith, and families came by covered wagon train from Halifax County, North Carolina, to Wayne County, Tennessee in 1844. With them were a Dr. Carter, who was also a preacher; a mulatto (free) named Joe Price, who was a blacksmith; and perhaps others. All their families and servants must have made quite a procession. Tradition was that they did not travel on Sundays in order that their animals, as well as their people, might have a day of rest. They settled on land grants around the Buffalo River, in the area of present Flatwoods, Tennessee. In the 1860 census the Whitakers were enumerated at Whitakers Bluff, Tennessee. Later this came to be known as Popes Chapel."
The 1860 Slave Schedule of Greene County, AR lists W. B. Whitaker with seven slaves. Only two other people in the county had more slaves, so it appears that he was a man of some wealth. In that census he was listed as being 49 years old and born in North Carolina. The book, "History and Traditions of Clay County, Arkansas", by Robert T. Webb states that " the first still-and-grist mill in Clay County was operated by William Whitaker on the St. Francis River. It was started ten years before either Seitz or Dalton had a ferry at Chalk Bluff."
The same book tells about the town of Scatterville (in Clay County). It says, "It came by its name because one man put a store at the foot of a hill, another put one at the peak, still another put one at the foot on the other side. The few stores and cabins were scattered about over the hills in a careless way. Settled close around were the McNeils, Allens, Copelands, Mobleys, Snowdens, Waddells, Nortens, Mitchells, Golbys, Whites, Bradshaws, Deans, Rayburns, Whitakers, and Simmons. These people were good farmers. Cotton was raised only for home use in making clothing. Raising it for the market did not begin until after the Civil War."
William Bradford Whitaker and Elizabeth Simmons Whitaker had these children: Marcianna "Shannie" Whitaker (md. Asa Delosier Evans); Eliza Ann "Pet" Whitaker (md. Thomas Hill); Yates Reese Whitaker (md. Martha Eudora Harris, and lived at Lafe, Greene County, AR); Sarah Weiss Whitaker; _______ Whitaker (a son); Emma Alexander Whitaker (md. William Hill and William E. Waddle); Florence Cary Whitaker (md. John Hill). [Note: These three Hill men were brothers].
A few months after his death, in 1870, a lengthy obituary appeared in the Little Rock, AR newspaper, "The Arkansas Gazette" expressing condolences over the loss of William Bradford Whitaker of Greene County. It mentioned that he was a man of prominence in the community, and was a member of the Mason fraternity, among other things.
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