Egbert Lewis Whitney, manager and wire chief of the telegraph department of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway Company, at Topeka, was born at Winchester, Scott county, Illinois, Oct. 11, 1861. His father was Benjamin Franklin Whitney, a merchant and banker, and his mother was Miss Sarah Elizabeth Tucker. Both parents are dead, the father's death having occurred in 1905, and that of the mother in 1909.
The parents of Egbert L. Whitney removed to the Pacific coast when he was but one year old and became residents of California, and later of Oregon. There he was reared and educated, receiving his college education at Willamette University, at Salem, Ore. Mr. Whitney was but eighteen years of age at the time of his graduation, and in connection with his college course, he had in the meantime included a course in telegraphy, mastered the art in five months, and was an instructor of telegraphy in the college at the time he graduated. After leaving the University he drove a stage coach between different cities in Oregon and California for nearly two years, during which time he met with many thrilling experiences. Since that date, with the exception of four years spent in the electrical supply business, he has been continuously identified with telegraphy, either as an operator, train dispatcher or manager at various points in the United States, Canada and Alaska. His services cover a period of over thirty years, and during that time a few of his principal assignments were: Chief dispatcher for the Oregon & Washington railroad, at Ray's Landing, Ore., in 1884; train dispatcher for the Oregon Railway & Navigation Company, at Umatilla, Ore., in 1886; division operator and wire chief for the Northern Pacific railroad, at Heron, Mont., in 1887. He spent the winter of 1892-3 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and in the spring of the latter year he engaged with the Bell Telephone Company, at St. Paul, Minn., as material agent and assistant general foreman of construction. From 1893 to 1897 he owned and was the general manager of an electrical supply house in Minneapolis, Minn., and was meeting with great success; when his entire business was destroyed by fire on Nov. 12, 1897. Mr. Whitney was then compelled to return to the "Key" and became an operator for the Southern Pacific railroad in Texas until 1899, when he accepted the position of train dispatcher for the International railway in Mexico. Later he returned to the Southern Pacific railroad, and was made its train dispatcher at San Antonio, Tex., where he remained until he accepted a similar position with the Missouri, Kansas & Texas railroad, with headquarters at Denison, Tex. Since Nov. 21, 1902, he has been with the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway Company, and in 1906 he was made manager of the relay office at Herington, Kan., where he remained nearly four years, or until Jan. 26, 1910, when he was transferred to Topeka, as manager of the telegraph department of the Rock Island lines.
Mr. Whitney married Mrs. Lela Owens Bailey, and they have six children: Sanford W.; Minnie, who married J. N. Yoder and resides in Mangum, Okla.; Curtis O.; Margaret L., a graduate of the high school at Herington, Kan., and at present (1912) taking the Domestic Science course in the Kansas State Agricultural College at Manhattan; Roberta B., and Egbert Ward. Politically, Mr. Whitney is a Democrat on national issues, but in local affairs he believes in supporting the best man for office, regardless of party. While a resident of Herington he served as secretary of the city school board, and was also secretary of the Herington Commercial Club. Fraternally he is a member of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in which order he has filled all of the official chairs in his lodge; the Knights of Pythias, in which he is a past chancellor commander; the Ancient Order of Druids, and the Improved Order of Red Men, of which he is a past deputy grand sachem of the State of Texas. Mr. Whitney is also a permanent member of the Trans-Mississippi Commercial Congress and represented Kansas as a delegate to its twenty-second annual session at Kansas City, Mo., on Nov. 17 to 24, 1911.Pages 740-741 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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