Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Whittlesey, Elisha
WHITTLESEY, Elisha, lawyer, b. in Washington, Conn., 19 Oct., 1783; d. in Washington, D. C., 7 Jan., 1863. He was brought up on a farm, received an academical education, studied law, and on his admission to the bar began practice in Canfield, Ohio, in 1806. He served as an aide-de-camp during the war of 1812-'15, was for sixteen years prosecuting attorney of his district, a member of the Ohio state house of representatives in 1820-'1, and served in congress from Ohio by successive elections from 1 Dec., 1823, till 9 July, 1838, when he resigned. He was one of the founders of the Whig party, was appointed by President Harrison in 1841 auditor of the post-office department, and by President Taylor in 1849 first comptroller of the treasury, from which post he was removed by President Buchanan in 1857, but he was reappointed by President Lincoln in 1861, and held office till his death. In 1845 he was appointed general agent and director of the Washington national monument association, and contributed greatly to the success of that enterprise. —
His nephew, Charles, geologist, b. in Southington, Conn., 4 Oct., 1808; d. in Cleveland, Ohio, 18 Oct., 1886, was graduated at the U. S. military academy in 1831, and assigned to the 5th infantry. In 1832 he was stationed at Fort Howard, Wis., and, after serving in the Black Hawk war, he resigned on 30 Sept. of the same year. After studying law he followed that profession in Cleveland, and in 1836-'7 he was editorially connected with the Cleveland “Herald.” In 1837 he was appointed assistant geologist of Ohio, under William W. Mather, and given charge of the topographical and mathematical parts of that survey, which disclosed the rich coal and iron deposits of eastern Ohio that are the foundation of its manufacturing industries. At this time he carefully examined and measured several of the works of the mound-builders, and his plans and notes of twenty of these remains were embodied in Davis and Squier's “American Monuments of the Mississippi Valley” (Washington, 1848). From 1847 till 1851 he was engaged by the U. S. government in making a mineralogical and geological survey of the region about Lake Superior and the upper Mississippi. Subsequently he was professionally engaged as a mining engineer in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and in 1858 became associated in the geological work of the survey of Wisconsin. In February, 1861, he was enrolled in a company that tendered its services to Gen. Winfield Scott to escort the president-elect, Abraham Lincoln, to Washington. He was made assistant quartermaster-general on the staff of the governor of Ohio on 17 April, 1861, and during the western Virginia campaign acted as chief engineer of the Ohio troops. At the expiration of his three-months' service he was appointed, on 15 Aug., 1861, colonel of the 20th Ohio infantry, and detailed as chief engineer of the Department of Ohio, with charge of planning and constructing the defences of Cincinnati. He was present at Fort Donelson, where he led his regiment, and after the surrender was sent to the north in charge of over 10000 prisoners. At the battle of Shiloh he commanded the 3d brigade of Gen. Lewis Wallace's division, but failing health compelled his retirement from active service, and he resigned on 19 April, 1862. He then resumed the geological exploration in the Lake Superior and upper Mississippi basin, and continued his literary labors. In 1867 he was active in the founding of the Western Reserve and northern Ohio historical society, of which he was president until his death. His bibliography included about 200 titles, and, in addition to his reports for the geological surveys, he published in the “Smithsonian Contributions” “Descriptions of Ancient Works in Ohio” (Washington, 1851); “On Fluctuations of Level in the North American Lakes” (1860); “Ancient Mining on the Shores of Lake Superior” (1863); and “On the Fresh-Water Glacial Drift in the Northwestern States” (1866). He is also the author of “Life of John Fitch,” in Sparks's “American Biography” (Boston, 1845); and “Early History of Cleveland and Vicinity” (Cleveland, 1867).