The Whitney Portraits

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These portraits portray Captain Aaron Whitney, his wife Susannah, and their sons, who lived at 165 Littleton County Road. You can view them in our Meetinghouse.

165 Old Littleton Road
Captain Aaron Whitney

Captain Aaron Whitney was a grandson of Jonas and Margaret and a captain in the Lancaster Militia.  His first wife, Sally Flagg, whom he married in 1807, gave birth to five children, and died in 1814, one month after giving birth to twin girls.  

In 1816 he married Susannah Hartwell Fletcher, the widow of Samuel Fletcher of Littleton.  The marriage of Susannah and Aaron produced six children, three boys and three girls.  Their sons were  Daniel Hartwell Whitney, aged 16 in the portrait, Samuel Fletcher Whitney, aged 19, and Abel Whitney, who died at the age of 10 as a result of injuries suffered after a fall from a ladder. His painting was completed after his death, with advice from the members of the family.

Legend in the Whitney family has it that the itinerant artist, William Thompson, spent the winter of 1841 with the Whitneys and painted their portraits then.  Little is known of William Thompson who had a studio in Worcester in 1837 but is said to have preferred a wandering life.

The Whitney family had forty-five first generation children born in Harvard in the early 1700s. In the 18th and 19th centuries a large percentage of homes in Harvard were owned by Whitneys and their descendants.  A review of Holman’s 1831 map shows sixteen Whitney families scattered throughout the town.Their many descendants were active in all town affairs.

The portraits were given to the Harvard Historical Society by Winnifred Sturdy and were restored by the Harvard Historical Society.

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Captain Aaron Whitney
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Susan Hartwell Fletcher Whitney
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Abel Whitney
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Samuel Fletcher Whitney
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Daniel Hartwell Whitney

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