Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick

Walter Whitten, by “Old Timer”

I found an article written by my great-grandmother, Mrs. Aaron Ratcliffe of Douds, who wrote for the Keosauqua paper under the name of “Old Timer.”

She was describing Walter Whitten, when she said that he was one of the first pioneer settlers in this part of the territory, coming during the 1830s. He staked and entered a claim on the farm now (at the time the article was written) owned by Howard Baird. He improved and lived on it for years. There is still one apple tree bearing fruit there, which he planted. Later, he sold the farm and moved to the town of Business Corners, where they kept a country store and lived the rest of their days. Walter Whitten and Reuben Sperry are among the first settlers of Business Corners, Iowa.

Elizabeth was the oldest daughter. There were John, Samuel and Cy (Josiah), all of whom enlisted as Union soldiers; Sam was a surgeon, John and Cy were members of the 5th Infantry. The latter two were taken prisoners and sent to Andersonville, where Cy died. John was there 17 months, or to the end of the war. He was company color sergeant, and when captured, refused to give up the flag, which was torn from his hand. The piece left in his hand was a bit of blue with three stars. This bit he folded and placed it inside a small pocket testament, which his mother gave him the morning he left home, and which was the only article not taken from him when he was placed in the prison pen. He carried it in the breast pocket of the tattered rags of his army suit and brought it home.

Mrs. Ratcliffe went on to say that she had seen the book and the faded bit of flag. One of the stars he gave to the Historical Society in Des Moines.

Note: Walter Whitten was my great-great-great grandfather; Reuben Sperry was a great-great grandfather and Old Timer, Mrs. Aaron Ratcliffe was one of my great-grandmothers. (Walter Whitten’s daughter Elizabeth married Reuben Sperry and they are the parents of Lovenia Sperry, who married William M.V.B. Fellows, father of Theo Fellows, whose daughter Charlotte was my mother.)

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Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick