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Amos Whiting family

First Superintendent of Schools in Kingsbury County, Dakota Territory, 1880-1882.

Amos Whiting, superintendent of schools, was in town on Saturday. – Lake Preston Times, October 1882

Amos Whiting was born about 1825 in Vermont. He settled in Trempealeau County Wisconsin, where he farmed and taught school. Amos and Alzina Whiting had five children: Louis, Wilton, Ida (she died young), Herbert, and Rollin.

The Whitings relocated to Kingsbury County, Dakota Territory in 1879. Amos and his three oldest sons all filed on homesteads in Kingsbury County during the summer of 1879, and they spent the hard winter of 1880-1881 on their claims. Amos Whiting’s homestead was located just east of the Frank Cooley homestead (mentioned in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s On the Way Home), north of the railroad tracks east of De Smet.

During the Hard Winter, many families depended on the Whitings. Mr. Whiting and his sons had harvested 500 bushels of wheat in 1880 and had brought in a railroad carload of vegetables and other provisions prior to the blockade. On fair days, hungry settlers pulled sleds and sledges to the Whiting farm, as the snow wasn’t able to hold the weight of a team. They would haul seed wheat back to town to be ground into flour in coffee grinders, like the “mill” set up in the hotel to grind the seed into flour to be sold.

On March 9, 1880, a meeting was held to organize the county government; it was held at Amos Whiting’s homestead, the SE 20-111-55. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about this meeting in Little Town on the Prairie (Chapter 3, “The Necessary Cat”). Amos Whiting was appointed the first Superintendent of Schools in Kingsbury County, a position he held until January 1883. Wilton Whiting was the first Clerk of Courts and Herbert Whiting was the first Coroner. Both Louis and Herbert Whiting were early teachers in Kingsbury County.

Amos Whiting died in June 1895 in De Smet. In 1914, the Whiting house shown at left, burned. Mrs. Whiting moved in with son Louis; she died the following year. Both Mr. and Mrs. Whiting are buried in the De Smet cemetery.

Louis Whiting married Elsie Sherwood, daughter of De Smet carpenter Andrew Sherwood and his wife Nancy. Louis died in March 1925. Laura Ingalls Wilder mentions the Andrew Sherwood residence in the De Smet Little House books.


Whiting family (FB 12, 28)
     Amos (LTP 3)
     Alzina (LTP 3)
     Whiting’s homestead claim (LTP 3)
     De Smet Cemetery file for WHITING