Clitherall Minnesota
Genealogy Letter Whiting Chairs
Whiting Reunions Robert Whiting


 Many of the Whitings were chair makers.  Although The Old Clitherall Storybook states that Isaac Whiting was the first chair maker in Clitherall, Minnesota it was his uncle, Almon Whiting, who became renowned as a chairmaker. Isaac preferred making larger items, such as wagons.   Almon and the other Whiting brothers learned the art of chair making from their father, Elisha Whiting Jr. who was a wheelwright, chairmaker and farmer and from Nelson Talcott, the husband of Catherine Louisa Whiting.  Nelson had a chair factory in Ohio, first in Nelson, Portage County and then in Garretville, also in Portage County.

My mother bought two Whiting chairs in Clitherall around 1973.  She went with my great grand aunt Amy (Mrs. Julian) Whiting who authenticated the chairs. I have one and my younger sister has the other.  Once I became interested in these chairs, I could see that my chair seemed more primitive than the chairs that Almon made in Minnesota.  I then began a quest to find and buy an "Almon Whiting" chair.

The Whitings lived for awhile in the Morley Settlement not far from Nauvoo, Illinois, then moved to Nauvoo after the settlement was burned by a mob.  While attending at conference at Nauvoo, I checked through various antique stores.  I found a number of primitive chairs, but none like the chairs my mother bought at Clitherall.  However, the following year my older sister and I took a trip and decided to visit Nauvoo.  To my surprise, in the same antique store that I had checked before without success, I found a duplicate of the little Whiting rocker that I had at home.  My sister was skeptical, but she decided to buy it. When we got home, we measured the dimensions of the two chairs and they matched up perfectly. Unfortunately, the paint had been totally stripped so we have no idea what its original color was.

As you can see, the Almon Whiting chair on the bottom right is less primitive than the other ones. It has the characteristic turnings of the Whiting chairs, as well as the spindle back. I bought it at an estate sale in the Clitherall area that advertised "primitive chairs." I was told that the former owner's wife was a Kimber, a family which is related to the Whitings.  I then decided to check out the auction, took the day off from work and drove up to Otter Tail County. Only one of the chairs at the auction was a Whiting chair (although it was not identified as such).  I participated in some lively bidding but, in the end, I won the chair.  This chair was originally black. The owners had stripped off most of the paint, but the reddish undercoating and some of the black paint still remain. My younger sister's chair on the bottom left, most likely made by Almon Whiting, was at some point converted into a rocking chair. It was originally painted green.

For more information on Whiting chairs, please check out "Almon Whiting: Rural Chairmaker" by Scott Stevens, written for the Otter Tail Record Summer 1987 (vol. 8, no. 2).  The best place to see Whiting chairs is in the Otter Tail County Historical Society in Fergus Falls.  The museum owns many examples of the Whiting chairs and some are always on exhibit.

Almon Whiting, chair maker

almon whiting

Click here to see a chair that might possibly be a Whiting chair

My first Whiting chair from Clitherall  The chair my older sister bought in Nauvoo
whiting chair
vickys whiting chair
liz's whiting chair almon whiting chair
My younger sister's chair from Clitherall
My Whiting chair I bought at auction


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