A History of the Whitmans of Scranton, Pennsylvania

By Roy Whitman

In his "History of the Descendants of John Whitman of Weymouth, Mass.," Charles Farnam mentions the early Whitmans in this country. John Whitman of Weymouth, Mass. accounts for a large part of the Whitmans in America, including the nineteenth-century missionary, Marcus Whitman, as well as notable political figures, such as Congressmen Lemuel Whitman (1780-1841) and Ezekiel Whitman (1776-1866) as well as Gov. Charles Seymour Whitman of New York. (1868-1947). In addition to John Whitman of Weymouth, Mass., Farnam also points to Joseph Whitman of Huntington, Long Island from whom Walt Whitman , the poet, is descended, as well as are the Long Island Whitmans, some of whom settled in Central New York and Canada. He states that it is not known whether the Pennsylvania Whitmans came from this Joseph or from an early German emigration to Maryland. He also mentions a large number of Whitman families as being descended from German emigrants coming after 1700, who settled in Massachusetts.

For the purposes of the Whitmans of Scranton, Pennsylvania, I wish to draw attention to the Wightman brothers of Rhode Island, five Baptists who traveled from England to Rhode Island during the seventeenth century. It is supposed that these five brothers are namely Valentine Wightman, George Wightman, and Daniel Wightman, as well as presumably John Whitman and Robert Whiteman. Valentine settled in Providence much in the employ as an Indian interpreter, George settled in Quidnessett after working as a tailor, and Daniel settled in Newport becoming a deacon in the Second Baptist Church. These brothers of Rhode Island are, according to legend and some notable genealogists such as James Pierce Root, the grandsons of Edward Wightman of Burton-upon-Trent, Stafford, England who has the distinction of being the last martyr burned at the stake on English soil. Edward Wightman was convicted on December 14, 1611 before the Bishop of Litchfield and, after being delivered to the secular powers, was burned at Litchfield on April 11th, 1612. In his "Lives of the Puritans," Benjamin Brook mentions the some sixteen distinct heresies Edward Wightman was convicted of perpetrating, some of which are those of the Ebionites, Arians, Cerinthians, and Anabaptists.

The Scranton Whitmans are descended from Stephen Whitman (1799-1866), a farmer, who traveled from his native Warwick, Rhode Island to Bailey Hollow (present-day Dalton), Abington Twp, Pennsylvania sometime after 1810 with his widowed mother, Roby Colvin, her father Peter Colvin, and two brothers, George (1802) and David (1806). Stephen's father, Thomas Whitman of Warwick, R.I., a sea captain, had died at sea at the early age of 30 in August 1808. Adding further to the family tragedy was the death after only two months of life for Stephen's little sister, Eliza just four years earlier..

In the summer of 1819, Stephen married Priscilla Wight, daughter of American Revolutionary War hero, Aaron Wight of Scituate, R.I. Priscilla died in 1826 at the age of only 23, but she had given Stephen two sons, Owen and William Harrison Whitman. Stephen's second wife was Polly Carpenter, daughter of Benjamin Carpenter of Factoryville, Pa. Polly bore another son, Benjamin, and two daughters, Priscilla and Olive. William Harrison later married Susan A. Gardner and had five children, James, Violet, Ranaldo Eugene, Kenneth, and Etta. William Harrison was a carpenter and inventor and received a patent for a cow milking device from The Department of the Interior in 1856. William Harrison was born 29 February 1824 and died 3 November 1905. William Harrison's brother, Owen Whitman had married a Miss Champlain and was later killed by a train after his return to Rhode Island.

Ranaldo Eugene, William Harrison's second son, was born 18 July 1855 and married Elizabeth Samantha Carey. They had seven children, Lulu May, Ernest, Ethel, Ida, Elry, Morris, and Richard. Ranaldo Eugene was a carpenter and died 24 March 1926. Morris Whitman, the third son of Ranaldo Eugene, married Clara Barton of Centremoreland and had six children, Ruth, Edward, Dorothy, Morris Raymond, Paul, and William. Morris and Clara resided in the Tripp's Park section of Scranton, named after its founder Isaac Tripp. Morris was born 15 May 1891 and worked as a coal and ice dealer. He died 22 June 1974. Morris' eldest son, Edward, was born 18 June 1917 and died 16 December 1998. Edward met his wife, Barbro Whitman, in Rattvik, Sweden during his World War Two Air Force service. Their three children are Robert Whitman, Roy Whitman, and Gail Whitman Rohland.

Published Sources:

Edward Josiah Colvin, A Genealogy of the Descendants of John Colvin (1940).
Mary Ross Whitman, George Wightman of Quidnessett, R.I. and Descendants (1939).
William Ward Wight, The Wights (1890).
Wade C. Wightman, The Wightman Ancestry (1994).

Unpublished sources:

Benjamin Carpenter of Factoryville, Pa. and Descendants (loose-leaf photocopy at Lackawanna Historical Society, Scranton, Pa.)

The Family Bible of Ranaldo Eugene and Elizabeth Samantha Whitman. (In the possession of William Thomas Whitman, youngest son of Morris and Clara Whitman.)

U.S. Censuses

Personal Note:

I am greatly indebted to the diligent work of Mrs. Nancy Dickey (DAR) of Moscow, Pa. who has done most of the research into my Whitman family and related lines. Other genealogists with whom I have had the pleasure of working with over the years include Mrs. Beasle Champagne (Pa.), Mrs. Christine Lamar (RI), Mrs. Sally Small (RI), and Mr. Wade C. Wightman (MI). I should also like to mention the Rhode Island Historical Society Library and its staff, including Meredith Sorozan and Andrew Boisvert, for their wonderful work in verifying much of the information I have collected over the years

Copyright 2000 Roy Whitman; All Rights Reserved

Contributed to "WHITMANIA!" by Roy Whitman of Scranton, PA.
Roy's web site "My Brother's Tree" is now offline. The web site details the Whitman family along the lines of Valentine Whitman. He has graciously donated his information and transferred it to Whitmania! for safekeeping so that the Whitman data will be located in one place.
Thank you Roy!

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