Hiram C. Whitley, a veteran of the Civil war and chief of the United States secret service during the administrations of President Grant, was born in Maine, Aug. 6, 1832, the son of William and Hannah D. (Combs) Whitley. His father was born in Scotland and brought to America when a boy by his father, also named William Whitley, who was a soldier in the English army before coming to this country. The father of Hiram C. Whitley served in the war of 1812 when but a youth. He studied medicine and in 1839 removed to Ohio where he practiced that profession for many years and reared his son, Hiram C., who obtained a fair common school education, supplemented by a course in the Western Reserve Teachers' Seminary at Kirkland, Ohio. He left home and school without permission, accompanied a drover with a drove of cattle over the mountains to Philadelphia, making several like trips, and then went to Boston to visit maternal relatives. At Gloucester, Mass., he visited an uncle, owner of a sea vessel engaged in the fishing industry, with whom he went to sea for about two years. He then spent a portion of time in Boston, later (about 1858) becoming one of "the Pike's Peakers." On his trip to Pike's Peak he first visited Kansas. He drifted to New Orleans and for two years just prior to the breaking out of the Civil war he was engaged in steamboating on the Red river, with headquarters at New Orleans. When General Butler entered that city Mr. Whitley tendered his services to the secret service department of the Federal army. Gen. W. H. Emory, commander of the defenses of New Orleans, urged him to accept a captaincy in the Fifth Louisiana regiment, then being formed for the defense of New Orleans. This offer Mr. Whitley respectfully declined, but he was commissioned major and assigned to the Seventh Louisiana regiment. His labors were confined to the secret service of the army and was fraught with much danger. In 1864 he appeared before an army board and successfully passed an examination for the rank of lieutenant-colonel, to which he was provisionally promoted, but was not mustered in as such. Just before the close of the war he was sent on the special mission for disposing of an accumulation of stores on the Rio Grande river, which he accomplished by auction. When the war closed Colonel Whitley went to Boston, and soon afterward secured an appointment in the internal revenue department of the government. He was sent to Kansas on duty, but later called to Washington by President Grant, and then ordered to Columbus, Ga., to apprehend the murderers of George W. Ashburn, whose death came, it is said, at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan. Later he participated in a raid against illicit distillers of whiskies in Virginia. His record in the internal revenue department was such as to gain for him an appointment to the position of chief of the United States secret service bureau, in which capacity he served with distinction during the administrations of President Grant, after which he came to Kansas. He first located on a farm near Emporia, into which city he removed a short time later. There he became the builder and owner of the Whitley hotel and opera house. He has generously contributed to the growth and development of the city, being the prime mover and first manager of the Emporia street railway. In the business world he has achieved gratifying success and has accumulated a good estate. He is a Knight Templar Mason, a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Colonel Whitley has written many interesting and well received stories of his experiences and observation in life.
In 1856 he married Miss Katie Bates of Cambridge, Mass., and he has two daughtersKatie B. and Sabra E., the latter is the wife of Jason Austin, present proprietor of the Hotel Whitley. Colonel Whitley has passed the seventy-ninth milestone of an eventful life, and has forged his own way to success. His greatest distinction is that won as chief of the secret service of the nation.Pages 1388-1389 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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