One of the largest families represented in early Etowah County is the Whitt family. The first of this name to come to the area was William Whitt, born in circa 1775, and his wife Feroba Middleton, born in 1786.
William’s father was Shadrack Whitt, born in 1741 and married to Mary Rogers. The couple lived in Virginia. Shadrack served with Gen. Washington’s Army at Valley Forge, where he is buried there in a mass grave.
William’s great-grandfather was the emigrant John Witt-Whitt from England to Virginia around 1666.
When the McClendon family held a reunion on Oct. 6, 2013, there was a dedication for the early Whitt families at the Ky-uka Cemetery in Duck Springs.
Several months prior to his death in August of 1850, William Whitt wrote the following letter to his eldest daughter, Nancy Whitt Camp. Nancy at that time lived with several of her children near Liberty Hill Post Office in La Fayette County, Miss.
“The State of Alabama DeKalb County April the 29th I850 – “Deer [sic] daughter Nancy. I now inbrace [sic] the present opportunity of writing you a few lines to inform you of my present health and condition at present. I am in a low state of health at present but I am yet so I can go about a little; yet a survivor of the grave but how long I shall remain on this earth I cannot tell. I want to see you and the children very bad but it is out of my power at present I hope that these few lines may reach your hands in safety and ﬁnd you and your children enjoying good health.
“As the rest of the connection can rite [sic] for themselves, I will just say the connection is in tolerable health at present and are doing tolerable well they all send there best love and respects to you all that we have not for gotten you all thaw we live so far apart our love and prosperity for you still remains the same. As this is the only way we have to converse with each other on this earth. I have nothing very interesting to write to you particular only we have a distressing time of water now and the people is worst behind with there crops I have ever see them in this country there fences and farms badly injured. Almost all Mills is broke and washed a way in the county.
“Nancy I have one request to make to your children and I want them all to here this letter read that and that is I want them to take good care of you in your old age and not for get you nor for sake you in your old age. Children this is my last request to you to take good care of your mother and not to let her suffer and now Nancy I have sent you a letter for you to look upon; that you may ﬁeld [sic] a fathers love when he is ded [sic] and gone; If you go on to serve the Lord as you have now begun; you shall walk safely all days until your life is done; God grant you so to end your days as he may think it best; that I shall meet you all in heaven where I do hope to Rest – fare well my Loving child fare well my letter — Ends Amend.
“I want you to keep this letter to remember me when I am Ded [sic] and Gone. Fare Well; William Whitt. Direct your letter to Gadsden Cherokee county Alabama Gadsden Post office ”
Could it be that the above letter is a reﬂection of William Whitt’s memory of his mother, Mary Rogers Whitt, who had been left alone as a single parent to raise two infant sons after her husband’s death at Valley Forge in 1778?
William Whitt died on the evening of Aug. 15, 1850, while visiting the home of his eldest son, Shadrack M. Whitt. On Aug. 29, 1850, Shadrack wrote the following letter to his sister, Nancy Whitt Camp, to inform her of their father’s death.
“State of Ala – DeKalb County August the 29”’ day 1850 “Deer [sic] Sister and children also. I now take my pen in hand to inform you that we are all in tolerable health at this time. Hoping these few lines shall reach your hands and ﬁnd you all enjoying the same like comforts of life.
“As I shall not take time in this letter to rite [sic] all the particulars of the county your children here are well. I have bad news to rite to you. Father is ded [sic]. I hant [sic] but a few minutes to rite [sic] in I will try to rite you a more satisfactory letter when you answer this one. The male [sic] is about to start. He was taken about dusk with a hard shake and it lasted about twenty-ﬁve minutes and then he took a high fever and the fever never ﬁnally cooled. I think it came mostly from his old consumption he was taken on Thursday the ﬁfteenth day of August in the evening and died a Tuesday evening 40 minutes after too oclock [sic] the 21 day of August.
“He was never herd [sic] to complain he died at my house. Him and Minervy broke up house keeping in summer and he come to my house the second day June. Lived with me till he died. He bore his sickness with all kind of Christian fortitude. I want you to rite [sic] to me as soon as you get this letter and send me a letter authorizing me to act for you if all of the heirs are willing for property to be sold without administering on it. Will save a half they will be a little coming to you, ten or twenty Dollars. Dr. White says he will put in his doctor bill against you but they will be a little left I believe it will be some time before it is collected John D. Cooke can tell you about how to per sede [sic].
“We dont Waunt [sic] no administer on the Estate if we can help it for it will nearly take it all. When you answer this letter I will Rite [sic] you a more satisfactory one. Direct your letter to Coxville Post office DeKalb County Alabama.
“I will get them Rite off. I have sent Middleton one and so nothing more at this time. “Farewell S. M. Whitt.”
Ferobe Whitt predeceased William in 1843. William and Ferobe Whitt were laid to rest in Kyuka Cemetery in Duck Springs. William Whitt’s headstone reads: “William Whitt Born 1781 Aug. 15, 1850.”
Ferobe Whitt’s headstone reads: “Ferobe Middleton Whitt Born 1783 Died 1843”
As presented previously, the year of birth on William Whitt’s headstone is questionable.
The date of 1781 is inconsistent with the dates for William Whitt’s year of birth that are identiﬁed in the 1800, 1820 and 1840 United States Census records.
The year of birth for Nancy Whitt Camp, William Whitt’s eldest daughter, places William’s year of birth at 1776 or earlier.