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James Whitaker, Sr
Birth: Apr. 3, 1779
Rowan County
North Carolina, USA
Death: Nov. 2, 1871
Cherokee County
North Carolina, USA

James Whitaker 1779 - 1871

The youngest child of Joshua and Mary Whitaker. He was forced to quit school when he was 10 due to his father's failing health. When his father died in 1798 there were only James and his younger sister, Mary, left on the farm with their mother.

At the age of 13, James became severely depressed. He "viewed the setting sun with intense anxiety, believing it might be the last time [he] should see that intense luminary!" Finally, James made a "most solemn promise" to God "that if the Lord would spare me until [he] should marry and become settled, that then [he] would become religious in a proper sense of the word and serve God with a full purpose of heart." After making this promise, his depression disappeared.

Shortly after his marriage to Mary Walker he and his wife moved to Fairview in Buncombe Co. NC where most of his relatives had already moved. The first recorded deed in Buncombe Co. of James Whitaker is found in Book 7, page 113, dated April 23, 1802 when he acquired 100 acres of land from Richard Hill on Woods Creek (now Garren Creek) in Fairview. They settled down on this farm and started a family.

One day in 1803 while plowing, James recalled the promise he had made to God when he was 13 years old. This upset him greatly, and he spent several years trying to decide what to do. His wife Polly joined the French Broad Baptist Church in October 1803 but James did not join until May 1806. One week later, on May 10, 1806, the Cane Creek (now Fairview) Baptist Church was formed and James and his wife became charter members. He was appointed its first deacon and clerk-treasurer. Humphrey Posey and James Whitaker wrote the articles of faith for the church.

In March, 1807, James Whitaker moved his family over the mountain to Swannanoa, but although his new home was 10 mile away from Cane Creek Baptist, he continued to be one of its most active members. In 1812 he became the Clerk of the French Broad Association (Baptist). That year he wrote his first circular letter for the Baptist Church, one of at least 15 that were to come from his pen. It was entitled "The Duty of Church Members, One to the Other."

In community affairs, he served as Justice of the Peace from 1809-1817. He was appointed Postmaster of Swannanoa, was elected to the county Board of Commissioners, Captain of the Militia and Treasurer of the Board of Wardens. He was elected to represent Buncombe Co. in the lower House of the NC General Assembly in 1818, 1819, 1820, and 1823.

In March of 1825 James Whitaker and 12 of his 13 children moved to a place near Franklin in what is now Macon Co., NC. On April 12, 1825 he and his wife were received by letter into the Franklin Baptist Church where he served as a deacon and a clerk until 1834.

When Macon County was formed in 1828 or 1829, James was on the first county Board of Commissioners. He represented the county in the General Assembl y from 1828 to 1833. He became involved in road surveying, as well.

Also during this period, he was active with the Rev. Humphrey Posey in establishing new Baptist churches and bringing the word of God to the Cherokees. In 1830 James was appointed Clerk and Treasurer of the Tuskaseege Baptist Association.

In a book by Jonathan Worth entitled , A Biography of a Southern Unionist, James Whitaker is mentioned for his contributions toward equal representation in the General Assembly. In 1831 Whitaker called for the legislature to meet every two years instead of yearly, and that seats in the House of Commons be based on the Federal Census population. In 1835 the NC Constitution was amended to make these changes.

In March, 1835, James Whitaker moved into what is now Cherokee Co. For several years the settlement was called Jamesville after him, but was later changed to Valleytown, and then to Andrews. James and Polly joined the Valley River Baptist Church that year, which had a mixed white and Indian congregation. The Valley River Baptist Association was formed in 1839 and James was the clerk of the Association until 1845.

In 1838 and 1839 James lobbied for the creation of Cherokee, Co. He carried the resolution to the General Assembly, and when it was formed, James became the county's first Clerk of Court and Recorder and Register of Deeds. The last term that he served in the General Assembly as the Macon-Cherokee Co. Representative was in 1842.

On August 13, 1849, Mary "Polly" Whitaker died, becoming the first person to be buried in Valley River Church Cemetery in Andrews. James donated the land for the cemetery.

James married a second time to Mary McBrayer on May 15, 1853.

On August 14, 1865, at the age of 86 years, James was appointed a Justice of the Peace. On September 4, 1865, he was appointed to take the amnesty oaths from Civil War soldiers for Valley River.

In 1867 James had a fall and dislocated his hip. He was never able to walk again without crutches, and his health began to decline. On October 31, 1871 he was confined to his bed. A few hours before his death he clasped his hands together and shouted, "Glory! Glory! Glory!!!" He said he saw his home in heaven and tried to describe it. Someone asked him if he was happy and he shouted "Oh, yes, happy! happy!" At 4:50 pm, November 3, 1871 James Whitaker died. He and both wives are buried in the Valley River Cemetery, Andrews, NC.

James was described as being a man "of great intellect, high character, and unsullied reputation." He is said to have done as much for the Baptist denomination as any man in the state.

In Memory of James Whitaker
Died Nov 2, 1871 age 92 yrs , 7 mo
A member and Deacon of the United Baptist
Church 65 years and clerk of the different
Associations which he belonged, 55 years

Source-"History of North Carolina"
Family links: 
  Joshua Whitaker (1735 - 1798)
  Mary Reed (Reid) Whitaker (1748 - 1832)
  Mary Whitaker Whitaker (1779 - 1872)
  Mary Walker Whitaker (1779 - 1849)*
  Sarah Sally Whitaker Mann (1801 - 1838)*
  William Whitaker (1803 - 1862)*
  James Whitaker (1804 - 1899)*
  Elizabeth Whitaker Shearer (1806 - 1852)*
  Jesse Whitaker (1808 - 1891)*
  Joshua Whitaker (1809 - 1886)*
  Mary Polly Whitaker Jarvis (1812 - 1902)*
  Stephen Decatur Whitaker (1814 - 1900)*
  Lettice Whitaker Taylor (1816 - 1892)*
  John Whitaker (1818 - 1885)*
  Silas Whitaker (1820 - 1902)*
  Adeline Whitaker Dunkin (1822 - 1907)*
  Caroline Whitaker Kimsey (1825 - 1905)*
  John Whitaker (1765 - 1841)*
  Sarah Whitaker Lanning (1767 - 1848)*
  Joshua Whitaker (1768 - 1856)*
  William Whitaker (1772 - 1860)*
  James Whitaker (1779 - 1871)
*Calculated relationship
Valley River Cemetery
Cherokee County
North Carolina, USA
Maintained by: Our Whitaker Families
Originally Created by: rachel
Record added: Oct 09, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 16084622
James Whitaker, Sr
Added by: Our Whitaker Families
James Whitaker, Sr
Added by: Chuck Garland
James Whitaker, Sr
Added by: Chuck Garland
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- Deborah Barber
 Added: Aug. 11, 2016

- Sheila Voyles Clayton
 Added: Jul. 6, 2016

- Rachel Gillooly
 Added: Jan. 18, 2016
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