Remembrances of Whitings



Nathan and Harriet (unknown) Whiting came to Michigan from New York about 1850.

They first settled in Calhoun County Michigan and by 1860 had moved to Van Buren County Michigan where they stayed for the next decade. Nathan was a farmer Harriet was a homemaker.


Their son Anson Lionel Whiting was born in Van Buren County Michigan in 1856 he had 2 brothers and 3 sisters.  He was farmer most of his life.


Anson’s son Clarence left the home at a very young age shortly after his mother Isabelle's death in 1893. It seems all the kids we scattered to other homes. Perhaps Anson could not manage them all alone and felt they would better off in a house hold that could offer more.


Recollections from Charles Anson

As for the Ansons and the Whitings and how Grandma Mary Wilson met Grandpa Clarence: It was after Mary Wilson’s first husband Eldridge Vincent Anson died when a gas tank exploded. They were not married very long. He died about 1903. His father was George W. Anson. Grandma Whiting (Mary Wilson) said that his father was a very harsh man.  She must have gotten this from my grandfather Anson's brother's and sister's.  Huck, kept track of the Anson's but my Dad (Hildrith Anson) really didn't.  G Grandfather Clarence Whiting, was his idol.  Actually he was the only father Dad knew.  He was about 9 months old when his natural father died. What kind of a person my Grandfather Eldridge was, comes over as something of a blank.  What little I know about him, he seems to have been well thought of by his brother and sister's, but I have little to go on there also.  Huck and Hilda, stayed with their Grandmother Anson, after Eldridge V.'s death, for several years, so he was much closer to that family than my
Dad was.  Grandma Whiting (Mary Wilson Anson) took Dad with her when she went to work in the Lumber Camps as a Cook, she met Clarence Whiting there.


Mary Wilson , Eldridge V. Anson,  his mother Hulda Anson shortly before their marriage about 1900.





    Neither the Whiting’s nor the Anson's, were on the surface a very close family, Grandpa and Grandma Whiting (Clarence and Mary [Wilson] Whiting) would come to our house, maybe three times a year.  I only new of Jim Vern Whiting coming to see us once, until my mother died, and he came to the wake.  The next time was when my Dad died, and he came to the wake.  Jim and Katherine came to my house in Dublin just once after Dad died.  Then they didn't get out of the Car, and didn't stay more than five minutes.  I only knew of Dad visiting any of his brother's and sister's, once or twice.  We went to Grandma’s and Grandpa's often, and I used to go down to Alpine and stay with them a couple of times a year.  I used to see Kate and sometimes Jim during these visits, because Kate did Grandma's laundry, and Huck was usually there.  Except when he was in the Army.  Dad always said that they didn't get together because every time they did, they got into a big argument.  I don't think that there was any question about their caring for each other.  But getting together was something else again.


    I remember one time, Dad made a special trip over to Shelby to see your Grandpa (Anson Vernon Whiting), and that was because, your grandpa had gotten a motor rail car hit by a train, and he was on disciplinary layoff.  No pay!!.  Dad went over to see if Colonel, (Anson Vernon) needed any help.  He didn't and Dad came home.  There may have been one other time, but I'm not sure.  I guess that we have to remember that, Grandpa Clarence, Uncle Jim, and Uncle Colonel and my Dad all worked for the same company, and got all the news about each other, every morning, when they got “line up's” over the telephone, they would talk to each other, while they waited for the Dispatcher to get their information on the days Trains.


    During that time, people who worked for the railroad had a different kind of a relationship, than families have during the last 60 or 70 years.  I remember that when I visited Grandpa and Grandma (Clarence and Mary), every night about 9:00PM, Grandpa would get a telephone call from the Track Supervisor, Grandpa's, end of the conversation was always the same, "Yup"  "Yup"  "Yup", for ten or fifteen minutes, and then he would say Goodbye.  We didn't have a telephone in Dublin, so such conversations would always have taken place during the line up call, which they made each morning on the Company Telephone.  Or a note would be thrown off to Dad when the Train would pass wherever he and his crew were working.  It wasn't that there wasn't a relationship, but it was different, than most families had.


   In later years Dad used to visit Grandpa Clarence three or four times a week, just to check on him.  He would drive from White Cloud to Comstock Park, about 120 miles round trip just to make sure that Grandpa was all right and didn't need anything.  Colonel, (AV) lived in Shelby, and Huck lived in Muskegon, Jim was out on the road somewhere, so there was really no one else to do that.









   Just about everyone in this family worked for the railroad. Grandpa Clarence Whiting was the foreman at Alpine, Dad a section foreman at Dublin and then White Cloud, and your Grand dad Vernon was the section foreman first at Shelby, and then at Muskegon Yards.  The Rail Road Bed was divided into sections, in my memory they consisted of about 10 miles of grade and trackage.  There was a crew assigned to each of these sections.  Their jobs were to make sure the grade was safe, repair broken parts, rail, Switches, crossings, and so forth.  It was a hard tough job physically as well as mentally.



    Each morning, the foreman would have access to a telephone, which was really like a big party line, and all of the foreman along the line, would be on at about the same time.  So they could then talk to one another.  The Dispatcher would give out a time table for trains on the Division, and each foreman would take the information that pertained to his section of track, and plan his day accordingly.  The "line-up" would place a train at some point along the right of way, and a particular time.  This would let the foreman know when he could take his "motor-car" onto the mainline, and when he had to stay off. 


   I don't know exactly how your Grand Dad got his motorcar hit, but probably he was trying to get some place along his section, and was running pretty close.  There was a miscalculation, and the car got knocked off the track, that was a no no!!  Dad had a couple of them knocked off the track, and was on disciplinary layoff a couple of times that I can remember.  I don't think there was a foreman along the line that didn't have that happen. 





Gas Driven Handcar




   I only worked on the RR a short time. I spent about three years all told, working as a "Gandy Dancer".  My responsibility was to set on the back of the car, and watch for smoke.  That's when Steam was the primary source of locomotion.  And I can also remember the first time we had a close call, and I do mean close. We saw the smoke and ran to the next take off, and by the time we got the car off the track and in the clear, the engine went by.  I think the engineer's had fun with this kind of thing.  Believe me it was anything but fun.  I had to jump a couple of times.  Or at least I thought I did, but the foreman who always stayed with the car until the very last moment was able to out run the train.


   The work consisted of changing rails, replacing crossties, and a thousand other little things that were needed to keep the track useable.  I didn't last very long; I decided that there had to be an easier way to make a living.  My brother Clarence worked for the RR 22 years, about five of them on the Section and then as an Agent Operator.  Your grand dad Vernon and my Dad both spent their entire lives working for the RR, Grandpa Whiting spent 50 years, and Jim Wilson also spent his life on the RR.  Your grand dad's brother, Jim, also worked for the RR, but he spent most of his time as a welder. All of these people started as "Trackman".  The toughest kind of work you could find to do.


Grandpa had a little white goatee, at the end, and he was very frail.  But you know he never complained, and I know he didn't feel very good.  I stopped by to see him about a year before he died.  He was sitting in the living room surrounded by little piles of money.  He had been in the process of taking an inventory, when I got there.  We usually talked in the kitchen, and I don't know why, but I walked into the living room, and so the money laying around, and I turned and asked him if he really wanted to leave all that money laying around.  "NO" he said and he hoped up from his chair like a kid, and went in a picked it up, that took him a little while.  When he was finished, he turned to me and grinned. " I was seein how much I had left, and when you came I forgot all about it.” The night he died, he called my Dad on the telephone, and asked him to come down, he wanted Dad to take him up where "Ma" was.  My Dad called Huck and they met at Grandpa's, he told Dad, "My money's just about gone, there's enough left to bury Ma and I."  He must have been in a pretty bad way, although he was still going on his own.  Anyway the Nursing home were Grandma was, said they would take care of him, so Dad and Huck left him there after he went and saw Grandma.  When Dad got home to White Cloud, there was word that the old man had died, shortly after they had left. I'm telling you this because you have to know what a wonderful old man he really was.  Grandpa didn't trust banks, he always kept his money in cash, and where he could lay his hands on it.  When I get to the point of giving up the ghost, I couldn't do better than he did.  He really loved Grandma.  It hurt him terribly when she referred to him as that dirty old man.  If she had been in her right mind, she never would have said that.  But she wasn't and she Did.  But you know he never stopped loving her.


   He was a very good person.  I might say a very great person.  My Dad idolized him.  He was the only Dad my Dad ever knew, and I must add the only Grandpa I ever knew.  Your Granddad Vernon, looks a lot like his father.



I really don't know much about Anson Lionel Whiting.  I do know that he kicked Grandfather Clarence out, when Clarence was 12 years old.  And from that time onward, Grandpa Clarence took care of himself, first as a stable hand in the lumber woods, and then as a teamster, and then with the railroad.  I also know that Grandpa Clarence left school after the 2nd grade, at least that’s what my Dad said.  I don't recall ever seeing him read a newspaper, although I know he could read.  I don't think I ever heard anything about his brother's and sister's, other than that there was a large family.  I remember seeing Mark Whiting Grandpa's brother and I remember seeing Great Grandpa Anson L. Whiting, once or twice when we visited Grandpa Clarence and Grandma Mary.


- Charles Anson




Other census information:

The 1900 fed census for Michigan, Tuscola County, Roll 745 Book 1, Page 331a

Shows Clarence Whiting in Tuscola County Michigan Vassar Township.  He is a border living with the family of William Southerland, which had two daughters and two sons. Clarence is also listed as a “son” He is listed as a “Farm Laborer” and is 18 years old lists his birthday as December 1882. He lists both his mother and father as being born in Michigan.



1910 Fed Census Missaukee County

Anson L. Whiting in Aetna Twp. listed as head of household age 52
widowed  living alone born in Michigan parents both from New York was a farmer owned his farm no mortgage.

George Whiting boarding with a family last name Murray worked at Keeleana
Mill in Aetna. Twp. 19 years old Single was a Sawyer in a Shingle Mill.