Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens
WILLIAM W. WHALEY. Upon the role of representative citizens of Springfield of a past generation and prominent and highly esteemed men of affairs of Greene county for over a quarter of a century consistently appears the name of the late William W. Whaley, merchant, banker, insurance and general man of affairs, and prior to his coming here a prominent citizen of Mt. Vernon, this state, to which locality the Whaley family moved from the South when the Ozark country was little developed and here the subject of this memoir and his worthy father did much toward the general development of the country in a material, civic and moral way, and gradually won their way into the affections of the people through their genial, obliging and helpful natures, as well as their unswerving honesty, in short, they both possessed those sterling qualities of character which command themselves to persons of intelligence and the highest morality. Such a family as this is deserving of conspicuous mention in any history purporting to set forth the record of the lives of the most enterprising and public-spirited citizens of the locality under consideration.
William W. Whaley was born in Dekalb county, Tennessee, not far from the city of Nashville, October 31, 1837, and was a son of Seth and Elizabeth (Bowen) Whaley, the father a native of Tennessee and the mother of Maryland, each scions of splendid old Southern families, long noted for their culture and enterprise. The parents of our subject received such educational advantages as the early days in the South afforded and there they were married on November 3, 1825, and this union was blessed by the birth of eight children, all now deceased, namely: Mary, Nancy, Thomas, Robert, Margaret, Elijah, William W. (our subject), and Henry. SethWhaley, father of the above named children was twice married, and to his second marriage three children were born. Seth Whaley devoted his earlier years to teaching school, later learned the trade of harness-maker, which he followed some time, and later engaged in farming. His death occurred in Lawrence county, Missouri, in the late seventies.
William W. Whaley received a good education in the public schools of Mt. Vernon, this state, where his parents located when he was about eight years of age. He remained on the farm until 1851, when he entered a general store in Mt. Vernon as a clerk, and having keen perceptive faculties, he soon mastered the ins and outs of merchandising. About this time he studied at the college at Fayetteville, Arkansas. In 1858 Mr. Whaley began working for his wife's father, Benjamin Stone, and after the death of the latter he continued to operate the store with the assistance of Mrs. Stone, and kept the trade up to its former high standard. Later Mr. Whaley engaged extensively in the banking business in Mt. Vernon, and was for years regarded as one of the most enterprising and substantial citizens of that city. Seeking a larger field for the exercise of his business talents, he removed to Springfield in 1883 and became president of the Commercial Bank, which he made most successful by his able and conservative management. Subsequently he became a general business man, finally devoting much attention to the insurance business, and toward the latter part of his life Whaley & Company became one of the most important insurance companies in Southwest Missouri and did a very large business.
Mr. Whaley was married on October 3, 1867, to Mary L. Stone a lady of many commendable characteristics, who proved to be a most faithful helpmeet in every respect. She was born near Sedalia, Missouri, on June 3, 1850, and she is a daughter of Benjamin and Nancy (Owsley) Stone, both these parents being natives of Tennessee, the birth of Mr. Stone having occurred in 1818, and he died on April 3, 1863, in the prime of life. The mother of Mrs. Whaley was born on August 20, 1829, and her death occurred in 1898, having outlived her husband thirty-six years. Mr. Stone was a successful merchant. His family consisted of six children.
To Mr. and Mrs. Whaley two children were born, namely: Estella, who became the wife of Dr, J. E. Dewey, of Springfield, is deceased; and Lena Stone Whaley, who has remained single, lives with her mother in the commodious family home on North Jefferson street.
Politically, Mr. Whaley was a Democrat, and, while he took much interest in public affairs, was never an aspirant for political honors. Fraternally he was a member of the Masonic Order, attaining the thirty-second degree, was a Knight Templar and a member of the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. He was a member of the Baptist church, and was known to all as a splendid Christian gentleman.
Springfield-Greene County Library