Amanzel Deforest WHITFORD (1846 - 1921)
Amanzel Deforest WHITFORD
born 23 Oct 1846
(Warren Co., PA)
died 28 Feb 1921
(Dewey Twp., Washburn Co., WI)
buried 06 Mar 1921
(Shell Lake Cemetery)
Mary Emily ALLEN
Farmer, Devoted Father
Veteran, Civil War
13th Michigan Vol. Infantry
Nebraska State Legislator

His Parents Were
Nathaniel WHITFORD
Rebecka/Rebecca BROWN

The third of Nathaniel and Rebecka [BROWN] WHITFORD's eleven children, Amanzel was born in rural Warren County, Pennsylvania. Shortly after his birth, the family relocated to Harmony, Chatauqua County, New York, where they were enumerated in the 1850 federal census. By 1854, the WHITFORDs had moved further west. They settled at Waverly, Van Buren County, Michigan [remaining here - by Amanzel's reckoning - until 1873].

Amanzel must have shouldered a large share of responsibility growing up on the family farm. But greater challenges lay ahead. Nearly two months after his 17th birthday, 20 Dec 1863, Amanzel enlisted in the Union Army. He joined the 13th Regiment of the Michigan Volunteer Infantry, and served as a private in Company "A." Various enlistment papers describe him as 5' 6" - 5' 8" tall, of light complexion, with hazel or grey eyes and black hair. Norton F. TOWNE was his commanding officer.

In September 1863, the 13th Michigan had lost nearly half of its 217 men [killed, wounded or missing] at Chickamauga. Its commanders ordered the weary survivors back to Kalamazoo, Michigan in January 1864 for thirty days "R&R." Kalamazoo, a few miles east of Waverly, was the town where the regiment had been raised two years earlier. It was also where Amanzel WHITFORD and a large host of new recruits probably joined the ranks. By April 20, the regiment was back in Tennessee - building military hospitals on Lookout Mountain. The exposure to sickness did Amanzel no good - he contracted both measles and mumps and was confined to bed for four months that spring with a severe swelling in his leg.

On the fourth day of September, 1864, Amanzel's father, Nathaniel WHITFORD, died. We do not know whether Amanzel was granted a furlough home, or even if his grieving family was able to contact him. Because the 13th Michigan was then pursuing Confederate General Nathan Bedford FORREST, it seems doubtful that any communications could have reached a soldier on the move.

In November 1864, the 13th Michigan was consolidated with General William Tecumseh SHERMAN's army, and took part in his infamous "March To The Sea." At Bentonville, North Carolina on 19 Mar 1865, the 13th Michigan suffered heavy casualties against General JOHNSTON's Confederate forces. After JOHNSTON's capitulation and LEE's surrender at Appomattox, Amanzel and his comrades took part in the Grand Review at Washington, D.C. From there they proceeded to Louisville, Kentucky, where on 25 July 1865 the infantrymen were mustered out of service. Two days later, at Jackson, Michigan, the 13th Michigan was disbanded. Amanzel and the others were paid their wages and sent home.

Amanzel Deforest WHITFORD
13th Michigan Vol Inf. Co. "A"

Dixon Co., Nebraska [circa 1901]
L-R: Amanzel, Eva at his shoulder,
baby Alice in front, Mary Emily
Ruby at her shoulder, Arthur sprawled
on ground in front, Faye standing
beside Mary (holding reins)

Amanzel Deforest WHITFORD
in later life, circa 1915-1920

In 1873, Rebecka [BROWN] WHITFORD moved her family to Dixon County, Nebraska, in that state's northeastern corner [the claim that there was an intermediary stay in Kansas cannot be documented]. The WHITFORDs were apparently associated here with Springbank church or a now-extinct community called Summerhill near the town of Allen [Springbank church and cemetery are found at Allen today, and there is also a Springbank Township in Dixon County].

On 11 October 1880, Amanzel wed Mary Emily ALLEN at Dixon County, Nebraska. Their vows were solemnized at "Summer Hill" by Reverend J. FOWLER [as per Amanzel's handwritten pension application; Mary Emily deposed after Amanzel's death that they were married at "Springbank"]. The bride was the daughter of Matthew ALLEN and Sarah POLLOCK. Amanzel and Mary Emily had twelve children:

18 September 1881 - bef 1975
A farmer, Mathew married Ruth Adalaide HILLER, daughter of Charles E. CHAFFEE and Janette ORUNDEL, on 27 April 1921 . [Source: Washburn County Marriage Records, Vol. 6, #181]. Ruth was previously married to Roy HILLER on 09 April 1913. She and Roy divorced on 05 April 1915. Ruth was born 1893/1894 at Riceville, Iowa (on the Howard/Mitchell county line). They had the following children:
Charles Deforest WHITFORD and Morris WHITFORD.

29 July 1883 - 1957
Ruth married Archie WARD. They had two sons: Frederick "Freddie" WARD, who died in 1907, and Gerald Allen WARD.

16 May 1885 - May 1977
Mary's husband was Andy COLBETH. The family resided at Arlington, Sibley County, Minnesota.

04 August 1886 - 06 September 1886

15 January 1888 - bef 1975
Eva wed Maclane FENTON, nicknamed "Mac". They had the following children: Kenneth (born 18 October 1902; died April 1954, wife's name Winnie. Birth and death dates obtained from U.S. Social Security Administration Death File Index Social Security #398-03-8200); Iris, Morris, Virginia, Howard, Hugh, Willard (died of a malignant leg tumor), Bernhard, Blanche.

28 December 1889 - 20 March 1890

12 February 1891 - 30 December 1975
See Separate Report Elsewhere In This Web Site

25 September 1892 - bef 1975
Faye's husband was Joe DIETRICH.

03 November 1894 - 16 March 1895

William McKinley WHITFORD
18 October 1896 - 19 March 1898

18 February 1898 - June 1985
Ruby married Harry WISNER, who died a few months after the birth of their youngest child. They had the following children: Irene, Rolland (born 12 October 1923, died January 1985 in Spooner, Wisconsin. Birth and death dates obtained from U.S. Social Security Administration Death File Index Social Security #396-14-0932; filed under "Roland WISNER"); Arthur, Gene, Mary Emily (nicknamed Dolly), Nina, Bob, Sylvia. Ruby died June 1985 in Spooner, Wisconsin. Birth and death dates confirmed from U.S. Social Security Administration
Death File Index Social Security #398-52-2888.

14 June 1900 - bef 1975
Alice married George LIVINGSTON. They had the following children: Gilbert, Stella, Valerie, Shirley and Dudley.

According to the Nebraska State Archives' "Blue Book", A.D. Whitford served in the Nebraska House of Representatives from 1889 to 1891. The record shows his place of residence as Wakefield, on Allen County's southern line. Amanzel first applied for a veteran's invalid pension 29 May 1891 [at age 44]. He noted several disabilities - including a stiff knee which had been hurt in a clover thresher and the fact that he had been "prostrated by heat [sunstroke] twelve years ago and cannot work in hot sun since." The pension application was granted [Certificate #877660].

In 1902/1903, Amanzel moved his family back east. Perhaps the deaths of four young children in the previous two decades - Sarah, Alma, John, and William - had something to do with this decision? The WHITFORDs settled at or near the village of Dewey in Washburn County, Wisconsin. Here Amanzel and Mary Emily lived out their final years. In March 1915, the U.S. Department Of The Interior's Bureau Of Pensions sent Amanzel a questionnaire at his mailing address: R.F.D. #1, Shell Lake. The old soldier's sly wit manifested itself in framing answers to the government's queries:

QUESTION Were you previously married?
If so, state the name of your former wife, date of marriage [etc...]
ANSWER "No, had all I could do to get one."
QUESTION Are you now living with your wife
or has their been a separation?
ANSWER "My wife and I are old fashioned,
we are still living together."

Suffering from pneumonia and congestive heart failure, Amanzel Deforest WHITFORD died about noon on 28 February 1921, aged 74 years, 4 months and 7 days. Pioneer, soldier, and statesman, his was a rich and varied life.

  1. U. S. Census, 1850, Harmony, Chautauqua County, New York
  2. Civil War Pension File Certificate #877660
    [Amanzel Deforest WHITFORD]
  3. Regimental History, 13th Michigan Volunteer Infantry [online]
  4. Archives of the Nebraska State Legislature
  5. Washburn County, Wisconsin Death Records - Volume 7; #388
    [Amanzel Deforest WHITFORD]
  7. Morris J. WHITFORD
  8. Michalene CARDELLA
  9. Craig RICE
    Family Tree Maker's Genealogy Site: User Home Page Genealogy Report:
    The Descendants of Pasco WHITFORD
  10. William WHITFORD's "History of the WHITFORD Family" (1861)
    (Walter John Coates' 1939 typed transcript is on file with the library of the
    Vermont Historical Society; original manuscript's whereabouts unknown)
    reprints available from:
    Don E. Schaefer
    1297 Deane St., Fayetteville, AR 72703
    (501) 521-1229


LAST UPDATE - 16 Feb 2007