Near Cundiff, Jack county, and engaged with the cultivation of a Howard valley farm, and holding the peace of that orderly community in the hollow of his hand, is George P. Whitaker, the subject of this brief biographical notice. Having passed nearly a score of years in this fertile valley and in the locality adjacent to it, his industry, his integrity and his neighborly kindness have established him in the esteem and confidence of his fellows, and he is everywhere regarded as among the county’s sincere and solid citizens. Though beaten by the storms of adversity and tossed by waves of misfortune he has “weathered the gale” and yet has faith to chant the praises of his county and the courage to bring victory out of apparent defeat.
From 1886 to 1894, Mr. Whitaker was occupied with the cultivation and improvement of a farm near Newport but continued misfortune finally undermined his capital and reduced him to a dependent at just about “the break” of life. In the latter year he came to Howard valley to live, and to become the head of a new household and assume charge of his second wife’s farm. Here, encouraged by the smile of fortune and his life brightened by the presence and help of a second family, he has taken a new hold on life, is the center of a new power in his community and promises a cheerful and happy old age.
In Maury county, Tennessee, July 5, 1843, George Petillo Whitaker was born. The family was introduced into that locality by his grandfather, John Whitaker,who went there from North Carolina, settled a new farm and died about 1836. John Whitaker married a Love, and their children were: David, Mark, William, Josephus, Larkin, Polly, wife of Petillo Patton; Sallie who married Washington Hardy, of Waco, Texas, and Susan who died unmarried.
William Whitaker was born in Maury county, Tennessee, in 1821, passed his childhood and youth upon his father’s plantation and was married before he was of age to Susan, a daughter of Mr. Patton, a settler from North Carolina. Mrs. Whitaker was born in 1819 and died in 1899, while her husband passed away nine years before. Their children were: John, who was killed while on the picket line at Jonesboro, Georgia, in the Confederate army; George P., of this notice; Ophelia, who died young; Thomas, of Tennessee, likewise Samuel; Elizabeth, wife of Jesse Kennard, and Boone Whitaker, all of Maury county, Tennessee.
The country schools of his home county gave George P. Whitaker his education, and his father’s plantation was the scene of his boyhood and youthful activities. He entered the Confederate service in 1861, enlisting in Company H, First Tennessee Infantry, Colonel Manney, Cheatham’s Division and Corps. he served in the Army of Northern Virginia till the battle of Shiloh, when his regiment was transferred to the Tennessee army. Before his transfer he participated in the battles of Green Brair, Rich Mountain, Carrick’s Ford and Sewell Mountain, and under General Jackson fought the engagement at Hancock, Maryland. He was in the battles of Shiloh, Perryville, Murfreesboro—there becoming sick and being transferred, upon his request, to the cavalry and assigned to General Forrest’s command. He remained with this branch of the service till the end of the war, and surrendered with the famous leader at Gainesville, Alabama, in the spring of 1865, with only slight wound and two horses killed under him as his nearest casualty.
He resumed farming after the war and was drawn into the organization of negro regulators known as “Ku-Klux.” The entry of the black man into politics led to this extreme measure on the part of the southern people and, in the heat of passion and while carrying out some of the commands of the order, many casualties occurred in the ranks of the new voters, for which it seemed that somebody must eventually suffer. Too radical measures set in during the seventies which threatened to imperil the personal liberty of some of the “Ku-Kluxers” and Mr. Whitaker got the consent of his mind to take up his residence in Texas. He came hither, in 1877, and located in Tarrant county, six miles north of Fort Worth. Coming into his new location without means, Mr. Whitaker was compelled to make the best of an embarrassing situation, and he contracted for a black-land farm of General Knight, but after working it for a few years he decided to abandon the “waxy stuff” and undertake something in violent contrast to it, a sandyland farm in Jack county, and with what results we have noted above.
August, 1865, Mr. Whitaker married Susan, a daughter of John Nicholson, a Maury county farmer. She died near Newport, Texas, in 1892, having become the mother of: John and Elizabeth, of Jack county, the latter now Mrs. Marsh Board; George, of Clay county, whose present wife was Miss Irene Jordon; Thomas, deceased; Bulah, wife of Robert Dove; Earnest, who married Maggie Johnson, both reside in Jack county and complete the list. April, 1894, Mr. Whitaker married Mrs. Martha Jones, widow of Thomas Jones, and a daughter of William Martin who came to Jack county from Lincoln county, Tennessee. Mrs. Whitaker was born in Alabama, in the month of June 1861, and, by her first marriage, is the mother of: George, of Jack county, who married Eula Mayfield, and Veda and Almoa. She and Mr. Whitaker are the parents of: Bryan, Jo Bailey and Daniel Boone, three young and growing sons to provide for father and mother in age and extremity.
Mr. Whitaker became a Democrat with a vim when political conditions settled down after the war, and voted for Isham G. Harris for governor of Tennessee, when only eighteen years of age. He did not try to keep out of local politics when he came to Texas, and has been a delegate to every Democratic convention held in Jack county in the past twenty years. He has been justice of the peace of his precinct for sixteen years, and executes the duties of his office in the best interest of peace and harmony everywhere. He was made a Mason in his native state, and took the chapter and council degrees and, in church matters, his name is on the rolls of the Cumberland Presbyterians.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas, (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, pp. 655-657.