According to Whitney Benefits, it was in 1885 that Edward Agustus Whitney arrived in Sheridan. It has been said that Whitney came to the Sheridan area for his health. His medical records indicate he suffered from chronic bronchiectasis, a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is believed that his condition may have caused Whitney to keep to himself, while seeking the dry western climate to offer him some relief.
Appearing on Sheridan Media’s Public Pulse program,Whitney Benefits Board President Roy Garber and Sam Western, author of “The History of Whitney Benefits,” and “Solace In Numbers: The Biography of Edward A. Whitney,” said Whitney was a private individual who was very conscious of what he would leave behind. The humble, quiet, isolated nature of Whitney presented challenges to Western during his investigations.
According to Garber, even Whitney Benefits had very little information on Whitney’s life. But a call from the YMCA helped to spark the search to find out more and preserve the information for future generations. For a time, Whitney Benefits had used some extra space in the local YMCA for board meetings and storage. Board members serve their time and are replaced, over time the board moved its meeting location, items had been accidently left behind. One of those items was a large trunk containing some of Whiteny’s personal items.
An author of many books, Western got to work. Acting as an investigator, searching through receipts, logs, manifests and anything he could to track a man who lived almost 160 years ago and who did not wish, even then, to be tracked. But Western knew where to look.
The result of Western’s extensive investigations and writing are the books, Solace In Numbers: The Biography of Edward A. Whitney, and The History of Whitney Benefits, preserving the history of a man whose generosity and vision has changed lives and the face of Sheridan, even over 100 years after his death.
Both books are available for purchase at many bookstores and available at Sheridan County’s local libraries.