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J.B. Whitaker collection

Call Number: RH MS 1126


The J.B. Whitaker collection contains primarily 19th century property deeds, Civil War pension claims, and related correspondence of James Barnes Whitaker, a surveyor and early settler in Kansas Territory and a pioneer in the early development of Shawnee County and the city of Topeka. Included are papers from his partnership in the 1860s with Alfred L. Winans in the Topeka law firm of Winans & Whitaker. The collection also includes the first three volumes of a memoir by Whitaker's father, Edgar Kimball Whitaker of Massachusetts.


  • Creation: 1857-1894, 1953


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of J. B. Whitaker

J.B. (James Barnes) Whitaker was born February 21, 1832 at Boston, Massachusetts to Edgar Kimball Whitaker and Catharine Cravath (Holland) Whitaker. By 1857, J.B. Whitaker had emigrated to Kansas Territory, where he was a surveyor and pioneered in the development of Shawnee County and the city of Topeka, serving at various times as county surveyor, sheriff, deputy U.S. marshal, councilman, city engineer, and street commissioner. As a Topeka attorney, partnering with Alfred L. Winans in Winans & Whitaker during the 1860s, Whitaker processed real estate transactions, probated estates, and was a claims agent for Civil War veterans and war widows seeking military bounties and pensions. In the 1870s, he also operated Whitaker's Tea and Spice Store in downtown Topeka. In 1858, Whitaker married Jane (Jennie) Close. He died on April 24, 1899 at Topeka.


.5 Linear Feet (1 document case)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The J.B. Whitaker collection consists primarily of Whitaker's incoming letters and legal papers from his Topeka, Kansas law practice. The business papers, which date from 1857 to 1894, include Civil War pension claims and Shawnee County and city of Topeka property deeds, together with related correspondence. Included are papers of Whitaker's business partner Alfred L. Winans, and letters addressed to Winans & Whitaker. The collection also contains the first three volumes of a memoir by Whitaker's father, Edgar Kimball Whitaker (1806-1880). Edgar Whitaker, whose father was Unitarian minister Jonathan Whitaker, recounts his childhood and family life in Sharon and New Bedford, Massachusetts, his early years of employment in Boston, and a journey to South Carolina with his bride in 1830 to visit his parents and siblings. A brief anecdote describes Reverend Jonathan Whitaker's aid to Massachusetts' fortifications in the War of 1812 and his invited address on the Sharon Common when peace was declared.

Physical Location

RH MS 1126

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Betty Alderson

Guide to the J.B. Whitaker Collection
J.B. Whitaker collection
Finding aid prepared by mh, 2008; Finding aid encoded by mh, 2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Whitaker, J.B. (James Barnes), 1832-1899, J.B. Whitaker collection, Kansas Collection, RH MS 1126, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States