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David V. Whiting

Born: 4-1-1827 - Died: 12-20-1888

By Rick Hendricks

David Virdin Whiting was born in Caracas, Venezuela, on 1 April 1827 to Joseph P. Whiting and Sarah C. Virdin. Joseph P. Whiting was the first and one of the most important, foreign cabinet makers to arrive in Venezuela.[ii] He is best known for having introduced the art of gold stenciling on furniture in Venezuela; numerous examples of his work still exist. Joseph was born in Maryland around 1800. In 1819 he moved with his mothers and brothers to Baltimore. He appeared in the city directory in 1822 as an ornamental painter. He went to Caracas in 1824 and the following year placed an announcement in the newspaper El Colombiano indicating that he had decided to remain and exercise the crafts of cabinet making and ornamental painting.[iii] He established his business, Joseph P. Whiting and Company, in the heart of Caracas, and although he relocated it several times, the business remained in the center of the city.

Joseph returned to Baltimore, departing Venezuela in April 1826.[iv] He married on 31 May only two weeks after his arrival. Five months after the wedding, Joseph and Sarah went to Caracas, possibly in the company of his brother, William B. Whiting, who was a baker. In 1828 he opened a bakery and candy shop. Whiting and his family departed for Baltimore in 1833 but returned shortly with his brothers, Samuel and John.[v]  Joseph drew on his friendship with the Dallet brothers of Philadelphia for financial support for his activities in Venezuela. [vi] Venezuela entered an economic crisis in the late 1830s, and by 1841 the furniture business was in steep decline Whiting’s other ventures could not support him. By 1845 he sold out and returned to Baltimore. He journeyed to Panama where his brother, John, had established a bakery. He died there of cholera on 15 August 1849.

David was educated at the military academy in Caracas until 1844 when he moved to Baltimore.[vii] He was appointed secretary to the Venezuelan legation in Washington, D. C., soon after his arrival in the United States. He was also associated with a large mercantile house in Philadelphia, probably Dallet & Brothers.[viii] He was listed as a soliciting agent for the Episcopalian publication The Church Review and Ecclesiastical Register for 1848 and 1849.[ix] In 1849 when the Venezuelan minister returned home, Whiting was left in charge of the legation.[x] In that year he was sent to New Mexico to settle the estate of a junior member of the Philadelphia firm who had been slain near Wagon Mound on the Cimarron Route of the Santa Fe Trail. This implies that James M. White, a Santa Fe trader operating out of Independence, Missouri, and Whiting were connected to the same firm.

Whiting was back in Philadelphia on 15 August when the 1850 United States Federal Census was enumerated in the North Mulberry Ward of the city. In addition to his wife, Anna Teresa Daly, a native of Venezuela whom he married in 1847, and his two children, Harry, age three, and Joseph, less than a year old. Whiting’s household included five natives of England ranging in age from fourteen to sixty. [xi]

Whiting was in Santa Fe by early October 1850 when he penned a letter that was actually intended to be a circular to Manuel Álvarez announcing his intention to open a school.[xii] The letter is presented herein exactly as he wrote so that the reader can get an appreciation for Whiting’s grasp of the Spanish language. An English translation follows.

El infraescrito, acabado de llegar de los Estados Unidos, tiene el honor de informar al público Mejicano que ha resuelto abrir una escuela para la enseñanza de la juventud. Siendo hijo de un pais Español tiene la ventaja de hablar el Yngles i el Castellano con la mayor facilidad i se lisonjea que puede desempeñar las deberes que piensa asignarse con satisfaccion.

Es su intencion instruir á la juventud Mejicana en los rudimentos de su propia lengua, i al mismo tiempo enseñarles la lengua Ynglesa, pues están tan unidas los intereses de las dos naciones que un conocimiento perfecto de ambas lenguas les será indispensable.

Para mayor informes tengo el honor de referir á Usted á los Señores Conelly i Skinner en Peralto, i Collins Giddings Beck i Brent Elllis Larragoite i Ortiz i Delgado en esta villa.[xiii]

Soi de Usted

            atento Servidor

            Que Besa Su Mano

            David V. Whiting

Santa Fé

Octubre 4 de 1850

Al Señor Don Manuel Álvarez


The undersigned, having just arrived from the United States, has the honor of informing the Mexican public that he has decided to open a school for the instruction of youth. Being a native of a Spanish country he has the advantage of speaking English and Spanish with the greatest facility and flatters himself that he can undertake satisfactorily the duties he plans to assign to himself.

It is his intention to teach Mexican youth the rudiments of their own language and at the same time teach them the English language, for the interests of the two nations are so united that a perfect understanding of both languages with be indispensable for them. For more information I have the honor of referring you to Misters Conelly and Skinner in Peralta, and Collins, Giddings, Beck and Brent, Elllis, Larragoite, and Ortiz y Delgado in this villa.

I am your attentive servant who kisses your hand

            David V. Whiting

Santa Fe

October 4, 1850

To don Manuel Álvarez


On 16 December 1850, the census enumerator found Whiting living in Santa Fe without his family.[xiv] He found employ as a clerk for Joseph D. Ellis, a merchant from England who was actually a year younger than Whiting.[xv] Whiting also found work as interpreter, translator, and secretary to James S. Calhoun, who served in New Mexico and Indian Agent and Governor. [xvi] He continued as to work, as the official state interpreter and translator following Calhoun's death. In all he held thesposition he held from 8 March 1851 to 21 September 1852.[xvii]

 In May 1852 Whiting accompanied Calhoun as his personal secretary on a trip to Washington, D. C. The purpose of the trip was to escort a delegation of five men from the Pueblo of Tesuque to meet with President Millard Fillmore. The Tesuque delegation, consisting of José María Vigil, Carlos Vigil, Juan Antonio Vigil, José Domingo Herrera, and José Abeyta, departed eight days later and soon overtook Governor Calhoun’s party. [xviii] Calhoun was in failing health before he departed Santa Fe and was dead by the time the delegation arrived in Independence, Missouri, on 2 July 1852. Whiting left the part and went on ahead to St. Louis where the others soon joined him for the remainder of the trip to the nation’s capital where they arrived on 31 July having journeyed some 2,670 miles from Santa Fe.[xix]

The delegation spent six weeks in the Washington area based at Maher’s Hotel. They visited the Navy Yard and Arsenal, the Smithsonian Institution, and the United States Patent Office. On 5 August they met with President Fillmore and Secretary of the Interior Alexander Stuart with Whiting interpreting.[xx] They also met with Indian Commissioner Luke Lea on 6 September.[xxi]

Whiting carried with him a Tewa word list described as a “Pueblo of Tusuque vocabulary”

that was presented to Henry Rowe Schoolcraft and subsequently published in his multivolume work on Indian tribes of the United States.[xxii] Having concluded their business, the Tesuque delegation left Washington on 9 September 1852, but Whiting went to Philadelphia, presumably to get his family. He rejoined the delegation in Westport, Missouri, during the third week of October. Whiting, his family, and the delegation arrived in Santa Fe on 7 December 1852.[xxiii]

On 4 March 1854, Whiting became postmaster of Santa Fe.[xxiv] When the Office of the Surveyor General was created in 1854, Whiting became the official translator and chief clerk in charge of the archives, positions he held until his resignation in 1860.[xxv] When the Fifth Legislative Assembly of the Territory of New Mexico convened in December 1855, Whiting was the chief clerk of the House.[xxvi] When the Historical Society of New Mexico was founded in December 1859, Whiting acted as recording secretary. He was one of twenty-five charter members of the organization. He served as an officer through 1860 and was last mentioned as member in 1861.[xxvii]

The First Session of the Fourteenth Congress convened on 30 January 1861. HR 377, An Act for the Relief of David V. Whiting, was introduced. In the first week of March 1861, Postmaster Whiting was in Independence, Missouri, in the company of Colonel Loring who was to take command of the Department of New Mexico.[xxviii] They were preparing to depart for Santa Fe with the mail.

Leaving New Mexico in 1862, Whiting lived for a time in the Kansas City, Missouri, area. In Westport Landing he and Miguel Otero ran a diversified operation that included banking, outfitting, wholesaling  and retailing, as well as forwarding and commission business. [xxix] Otero moved to Lawrence, Kansas, and joined another firm. Whiting advertized in March 1863 that he was operating under his own name as a commission and forwarding merchant, general steamboat agent, and collector as successor to McCarty and Barkley.[xxx] His business was located at the West Levee, Kansas City. Whiting’s advertisement copy highlighted “New Mexican wool received and sold at the highest market price.”

After two years in Kansas City, Whiting moved to Matamoros, Mexico, where he became the Spanish editor of the newspaper, El Ranchero. Whiting's residence in Mexico coincided with the ill-starred reign of Emperor Maximilian I. When imperial troops withdrew from the frontier, Whiting accompanied them to Mexico City where he carried out several commissions for the government. Whiting was in Galveston from 1867 to 1871. There he continued in the forwarding and commission business with Major J. M. White.[xxxi] In 1871Whiting relocated to San Antonio. In 1874 he was in charge of the Spanish department of the General Land Office of Texas in Austin. Whiting relocated to Chicago in 1878.

In Chicago in the fall of 1878, Whiting and George S. Bowen organized the American Industrial Deputation to Mexico. At the time, Whiting, who was officially listed as the manager of the deputation, was described as "one of the most interesting men imaginable." The deputation consisted of eighty men and women representing various industries from numerous states. Their aim was to open commercial relations with Mexico. In pursuance of their goal they traveled to Mexico City where they met with President Porfirio Díaz.[xxxii]

Whiting furnished the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey with a chart of the southwestern part of the Gulf of Mexico in March 1880.[xxxiii] When the census was enumerated in late June 1880, he was still living in Chicago with his wife and eight children. Another child, Henry, who was born in Pennsylvania about 1848, is known to have died in 1863 while attending school in St. Louis.[xxxiv] The birthplaces of the Whiting children, assuming they are correct, gives an indication of the peripatetic live the family lived: Cora, twenty-seven, was born in Mexico; William Clement, twenty-one, was born in New Mexico; Emilio Páez, eighteen, was born in Missouri; Stella Regina, sixteen, was born in New York; Lola, thirteen, was born in Mexico; Álvaro Maximilian, eleven, was born in Texas; Alonzo Aguilar, nine, was born in Texas; and  Ruy Diaz, seven, was born in Texas.[xxxv] Mrs. Whiting was identified here as Anna, and her place of birth was given as South America. Her father was born in Ireland, and her mother was born in England. Also living in the Whiting household in Chicago were David Whiting’s brother-in-law, David Harvey, a broker and bookkeeper, who had been born in Ireland to parents who were born in South America, and Jane Harvey, a native of Peru and the sister of Anna Whiting. David Whiting’s occupation was given as “Steam Ship Line.” It seems likely that he was working for the Cunard Ocean Steamship Line, for which Fred G. Whiting was general agent. [xxxvi] This individual was an Englishman but may have been related to David Whiting.

In the summer Whiting was again in Mexico. He arrived in New Orleans from Veracruz on the City of Mexico on 3 August 1880.[xxxvii] His activities might have been related to his work as a patent attorney. In 1882 Whiting was functioning as an attorney and solicitor of Mexican patents out of his office at 102 Washington Street in Chicago.[xxxviii] President, Antonio Guzmán Blanco (1829-1899), named Whiting Venezuelan Consul in Chicago on November 10, 1882.[xxxix] In addition to his consular activities, Whiting founded La Voz de Chicago, a monthly publication for Spanish-speaking Americans and people from Mexico, Central and South America, and the West Indies living in the United States.[xl]

Whiting’s wife, Anna, died in 1885. The New York Times reported that Col. David V. Whiting died at his residence in Chicago on Thursday, 20 December 1888 from paralysis.[xli]

Joseph and Sarah wed in Baltimore on 31 May 1826. Jordan, Dodd, Liahona Research, comp., Maryland Marriages, 1655-1850 [database on-line,] (accessed 12 July 2010); and Alfred Theodore Andreas, History of Chicago, The Mid-American Frontier (1885; repr. ,New York: Arno Press, 1975), 2: 396.

[ii] Carlos F. Durate (text) and Mariano U. de Aldaca (photographs), “El Mobiliario de la Época Republicana en Venezuela,” Armitano Arte 1 (Diciembre 1982): 23.

[iii] Ibid., 24.

[iv] Ibid., 36; Whiting arrived in Philadelphia from La Guaira on the Columbian on 16 May 1826. Philadelphia, 1800-1850 Passenger and Immigration Lists, [database on-line,] (accessed 12 July 2010).

[v] Whiting arrived in Philadelphia from La Guaira on the brig Montgomerty on 5 September 1833. Philadelphia, 1800-1850 Passenger and Immigration Lists, [database on-line,] (accessed 12 July 2010).

[vi] Ibid., 37.

[vii] Andreas, History of Chicago, 396.

[viii] The New York Times, 22 December 1888.

[ix] The Church Review and Ecclesiastical Register (New Haven: Published by Bassett & Bradley, [1849]), back cover.

[x] Andreas, History of Chicago, 396.

[xi] Here Anna's place of birth was incorrectly given as Pennsylvania. United States Federal Census, North Mulberry Ward, Philadelphia, 1850.

[xii] David V. Whiting to Manuel Álvarez, Santa Fe, 4 October 1840, NMSRCA, Benjamin Reed Collection, 313a.

[xiii] These individuals were probably Henry Connelly and  William C. Skinner in Peralta and James L. Collins, James M. Giddings, Preston Beck, Jr., Robert T. Brent, Joseph D. Elllis, Benito Larragoite, and Francisco Ortiz y Delgado in Santa Fe.

[xiv] United States Federal Census, Santa Fe, Territory of New Mexico, 1850.

[xv] Ibid.

[xvi] Jane Lenz Elder and David J. Weber, eds., Trading in Santa Fe: John M. Kingsbury’s Correspondence with James Josiah Webb, 1853-1861 (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press/De Goyler Library, 1996), 111 n41.

[xvii] Henry Putney Beers, Spanish and Mexican Records of the American Southwest: A Bibliographical Guide to Archive and Manuscript Sources (Tucson: University of Arizona Press/The Tucson Corral of the Westerners, 1979), 10.

[xviii] Peter M. Whiteley, “Reconnoitering ‘Pueblo’ Ethnicity: The 1852 Tesuque Delegation to Washington,” Journal of the Southwest 45:3 (Autumn 2003): 457.

[xix] Ibid., 461-63.

[xx] Ibid., 463-64.

[xxi] Ibid., 468.

[xxii] The vocabulary was published in “New Vocabularies West of the Mississippi,”which listed equivalents in “English, Mandan, Arapahoes, Cheyennes, and Pueblo (of Tusuque)” in Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Collected and Prepared under the Direction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs per act of Congress of March 3rd, 1847, illustrated by S. Eastman (Philadelphia : Lippincott, Grambo, 1853), 3:446-59.

[xxiii] Whiteley, “Reconnoitering ‘Pueblo’ Ethnicity,” 470-72.

[xxiv] By July 1860 when the 1860 census was enumerated in Santa Fe, Whiting was still postmaster.Santa Fe and Los Alamos County Post Office History,” (accessed 15 July 2010; and United States Federal Census, Santa Fe, Territory of New Mexico, 1860.

[xxv] Beers, Spanish and Mexican Records, 47.

[xxvi] Territory of New Mexico, Report of the Secretary of the Territory, 1909-1910 and Legislative Manual, 1911 (Santa Fe: New Mexican Printing Company, 187.

[xxvii] Lansing B. Bloom, ed., "Historical Society Minutes, 1859-1863," New Mexico Historical Society, 18:3 (July 1943): 252, 259.

[xxviii] “The New Mexican Mail,” New York Times, 7 March 1861.

[xxix] Miguel Antonio Otero, My Life on the Frontier: Facsimile of Original 1935 Edition (Santa Fe, N. Mex.: Sunstone Press, 2007), 1-2.

[xxx] The American Exchange and Review (March 1863).

[xxxi] Galveston Daily News, 8 May 1868.

[xxxii] John F. Finerty and Wilbert H. Timmons, ed. John F. Finerty Reports Porfirian Mexico, 1879 (El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1974), 68-71.

[xxxiii] Report of the Superintendent of the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey showing the Progress of the Work during the Fiscal Year Ending with June, 1880 (Washington, D. C., Government Printing Office, 1882), 71.

[xxxiv] Elder and Weber, eds., Trading in Santa Fe, 117 n60.

[xxxv] There were The 1870 census indicated that Cora was born in New Mexico, which appears more likely. United States Federal Census, Galveston Ward 1, Texas; and United States Federal Census, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, 1880; and Andreas, History of Chicago, 83.

[xxxvi] Andreas, History of Chicago, 83.

[xxxvii] New Orleans Passenger Lists, 1820-1945, [database on-line,] (accessed 9 July 2010).

[xxxviii] Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, Border States of Mexico: Sonora, Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Durango; with a General Sketch of the Republic of Mexico, and Lower California, Coahuila, New Leon and Tamaulipas. A Complete Description of the Best Regions for the Settler, Miner and the Advance Guard of American Civilization (New York: [s.n.], 1883), 224-25.

[xxxix] Register of the Department of State, Corrected to October 1, 1884 (Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1884), 53.

[xl] Andreas, History of Chicago, 396.

[xli] The New York Times, 22 December 1888.