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Whitney, J. Louis


Posted By: Pat Ryan White (email)
Date: 1/13/2012 at 07:29:02

J. LOUIS WHITNEY, of the firm of Whitney & Bergdahl, leading building contractors, of Mount Pleasant, was born in this city, January 12, 1870, a son of William and Nancy [Lambert] Whitney. The father was a native of Shelby county, Ohio, and in early manhood came to Mount Pleasant, where he followed the business of contracting and building, erecting many of the substantial structures of this city, including residences, business blocks and churches. His labors also extended to other towns and he was regarded as a leading contractor of his day in this part of the state. Here he married Miss Nancy Lambert, who came to Iowa from Illinois with her father, Isaac Lambert, and his family, who cast in their lot with the early settlers of Henry county, making the journey thither with teams before the era of railroad building. The father and mother are still living, and he is engaged in business at Ottumwa, where they have resided since 1900. They are consistent members of the Christian church.

In the public schools J. Louis Whitney acquired his education and then learned the carpenter's trade under the direction of his father, with whom he was associated from his early youth. He continued with him until twenty-one years of age, when he began contracting on his own account. He afterward spent five years and ten months at the hospital, in the employ of the state working at his trade, when he resumed building operations and soon became recognized as a leading builder of this city, giving employment to three or four men. In 1900 he formed a partnership with K. A. Bergdahl, also a practical carpenter and mill man, under the firm style of Whitney & Bergdahl. They have erected a number of the best houses of Mount Pleasant, and also did the carpenter work on the buildings of Parsons College, at Fairfield. They furnished employment to twenty-two men and are most successful contractors, with a business that has constantly grown in volume and importance. In the spring of 1905 they took the contract for erecting the Young Men's Christian Association building, known as the Seeley Memorial building, the finest structure in Mount Pleasant, built at a cost of eighty thousand dollars, and the work is being carried rapidly forward and will be completed on the 1st of May, 1906. On this and their other building operations, which are also extensive, they give employment to between forty and fifty men. They are today the leading contractors in this section, and not only do they erect buildings for others, but are also speculative builders, buying unimproved property on which they erect buildings for sale.

Mr. Whitney was married on the 1st of June, 1891, to Miss Anna Thompson, a daughter of Richard Thompson, of Jefferson county, Iowa. She was born in Pennsylvania but was reared in Jefferson county, and by her marriage has become the mother of two sons and a daughter: Carl D., Alice Lucile and Richard H. Mrs. Whitney is a member of the Congregational church and Mr. Whitney attends its services and contributes to its support. They have a fine home on South White street, which he erected and it is not only attractive architecturally, but it is also celebrated for its warm-hearted and generous hospitality. Mr. Whitney belongs to Henry Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in which he has been noble grand, and he has also taken the encampment degree. He likewise affiliates with the Modern Woodmen of America. In politics he is a republican, but has never been an aspirant for office, preferring to give his undivided attention to his business affairs. That the building interests of Mount Pleasant have some most competent representative men who have attained high proficiency in this line of industrial art, is evidenced throughout this beautiful city in its fine residences, substantial business blocks and modern public buildings. The firm of Whitney & Bergdahl, of which J. Louis Whitney is the senior partner, are receiving a liberal share of the public patronage in this line because of an ability and business integrity that have won for them an enviable position in industrial circles. Moreover, Mr. Whitney is well known socially and in the city of his birth, which has also always been the city of his residence, he has a wide circle of warm friends.

[Biographical Review of Henry County, Iowa. Chicago: Hobart Publishing Company, 1906., page 175]


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