Was born in the town of Leicester, county of Livingston, and state of New York, March 2, 1823. His father was quite an extensive farmer when Daniel was a small boy.
He was the oldest of his father's children. Mr. Whitmore remained with his parents, worked on the farm, and attended to his father's business, until he was about eighteen years of age, when he became afflicted with sciatic and inflammatory rheumatism, and, consequently, could do but little labor on the farm. Up to this time he had attended a common district school, only two or three months each winter, which was one and a half miles from his fathers residence. He could imperfectly read, write, and cipher a little, which was about the extent of his education. Being an invalid, and knowing, from the condition of his physical organization, that he would not likely ever be able to perform hard manual labor, and possessing an ambitious disposition to be, or do, something in the world, with the influence of his mother he obtained the consent of his stern father to let him go to a select school at Perry Center, three terms, in all nine months.
In the estimation of his father, nearly all professional men were, more or less, contaminated with one, or all, of the following vices: Intemperance, recklessness, and dishonesty, and the laziest man made the best fiddler, and the next laziest would come in as a country school-teacher. School-teaching he had chosen as his profession.
As a student, his full determination was to know the principles of his studies. All the time he attended the select school he did not lose an hour, sometimes studying until midnight. To be a good and successful school-teacher, was his aim.
To that end he spared neither pains nor expense. After the close of the last term of the select school, he returned home and attended a graded school taught by Professor Nuland, a graduate of the normal school at Albany, New York. In the autumn of 1845 he made application to Mr. Crosby, town superintendent, for a certificate to teach school, and draw public money for his services. He had no difficulty procuring a school, as he had a recommendation from the professor and superintendent. He taught a term of four months, and, at the close of the term, he received for the services he had rendered, sixty-four dollars. He never had so much money at one time before. He states that he would have been well recompensed if he had not received a dollar, for he had never passed a more agreeable winter. The following summer he attended the district school at home, three months, which was taught by a thorough and practical teacher, and studied the remainder of that summer at home. The winter following he engaged as assistant teacher in a graded normal school. The following summer, his health being poor, he visited the sulfur springs, at Avon, New York. In the month of September 1847, he came to Ashland, Ohio, on a visit: and a long one it has proven, for it has lasted thirty-three years.
He had not been thirty miles from home before. His first night in Ohio was passed in Oberlin. In the coach that carried him from Oberlin to Ashland, he met a tall elderly gentleman, who was very jovial and communicative. A couple of days after arriving at Ashland, he was informed that there was an interesting lawsuit in progress at the stone church, then used as a court-room, to decide whether Ashland village should remain the county seat of Ashland, county. There to his surprise, stood the tall, spare man, who came in the coach with him, pleading in the interest of Ashland village.
Upon inquiry, he found the interesting speaker to be Reuben Wood, the great expounder of law, from Cleveland. A few days after arriving in Ashland, he became acquainted with one of Ohio's most gifted and talented sons---one of the most energetic, generous, scholarly and self-sacrificing of men, and who did everything in his power for the advancement of the rising generation; that man was Lorin Andrews.
Being informed where Mr. Whitmore formerly resided, and that he had taught school, and that he was familiar with the methods employed in the common and graded schools in the state of New York, Mr. Andrews strongly urged him to remain in the county and teach school, and help him and other teachers in the cause of education.
He informed him that he had a district school in view, that wanted to engage a school-teacher, and was willing and able to pay the highest wages to a teacher who would teach them a good school and give general satisfaction; he was fully convinced it was a difficult school to govern. Mr. Whitmore took Professor Andrews' advice, and made application for the school referred to. After several interviews with Mr. James Anderson, one of the school directors, Mr. Whitmore engaged to teach school for fifteen dollars per month of twenty-four days, and to receive his board in the homes of his pupils.
He was admonished that the school would be a difficult one to manage. He believed that good order was the first and leading principle in successful school-teaching.
He commenced his school on the day agreed upon, and had a much larger number of pupils at the commencement then he expected. He distinctly recollects this, his first day of school-teaching in Ohio. The most of his pupils on this day were from five to fifteen years old, and in appearance robust and healthy, with sparkling eyes and anxious countenances, and in their behavior quiet and mannerly. The second day a few more came, and his school continued to so increase through the winter that his average daily attendance was over forty. His school-room was considered to be one of the best in the town-ship, and was of peculiar structure and greatly in contrast with what he had been accustomed to see and use in the east. It was constructed of logs, nearly twenty feet square, about seven feet high to the eaves, and roofed with oak shingles.
Yet it let in water and snow when the storms were violent. The chimney was built on the outside; the foundation was built of stone, brick and clay mortar. Mr. Whitmore found, after he had taught a few days that he had material for a good school, provided he could get the parents and householders to purchase there children suitable school books.
This he finally accomplished after much persistent effort. He persuaded Professor Andrews to visit his school and give the parents of the pupils a lecture on the subject, which had a wholesome effect. Mr. Whitmore offered to purchase school books for the pupils of such parents as could not afford to buy them then, and wait until they could repay him. An effort was made, just before holiday time, by some of the older pupils, lead on by young men not members of the school, to have Mr. Whitmore agree to treat the scholars, after the usual custom that then prevailed.
Then teacher refused to agree to anything of the kind, much to the chagrin of some of the pupils; but after the time had passed, and all hope of a treat had been given up, he surprised his school with a most liberal distribution of fruit and palatable delicacies.
Mr. Whitmore relates the following: In one school district, a teacher was barred out, because of his refusing to treat, and wanted possession of his school room.
His scholars were all in, and had the doors and windows well fastened. The teacher, expecting to be barred out, had prepared himself for the emergency. He got a ladder, and ascending to the top of the house, dropped sulpher down the flue into the stove, where there was a good fire. It ignited so quickly that the room soon became filled with a strong sulphurous odor, and the scholars were obliged to open the doors and windows to breathe, putting the teacher in victorious possession.
In another district the case was similar, but the scholars were more shrewd. After the teacher had ascended the ladder to the cone of the house, and was trying to smoke his scholars out, by covering the top of the chimney, one of the boys crawled out of a window, and took the ladder down, leaving the gentleman teacher on top of the house, with the cutting wind whistling around, to keep him cool and bring him to time.
He begged to have the ladder replaced, but the boys would not unless he would consent to treat. After a couple of hours of shivering meditation, he came to the conclusion that he had better treat then freeze, or kill himself by jumping down.
The contract was not considered binding unless it was in writing, so one of the boys took a long pole, and, tying the agreement to be signed and a pencil to the end of it, reached them up to him, when he signed the agreement and threw it down. The boys replaced the ladder, and he came down nearly frozen. So they compelled the teacher to treat, and had a jolly good time. It was not customary for the householders to take part in the treating business, but let the children and teacher fight it out.
One of the parties would generally back down or give up in a few days, or the school would be entirely closed for that term. Mr. Whitmore had marked success with his first school; and public funds being lacking, money was raised by subscription, and he was invited to teach a summer school in the same district, and was employed again for the winter session. His further experience as a teacher extended over a number of years, and it is to be regretted that sufficient space cannot be given to recount the many interesting facts and events connected with his school teaching days.
His contribution to education in the county of Ashland was very great. The text books then used were the elementary spelling-book, McGuffeuy's readers, Mitchell's geography, and atlas, Green's grammar and analysis, Adam's new arithmetic, and Colburn's mental arithmetic; and a good deal of writing was done. They had no steel or gold pens, and no writing-books with plated copies. After arriving at the school houses in the morning and making a fire and sweeping the room, Mr. Whitmore's next task was to write copies and make pens out of geese quills, and some times his pupils would bring turkey quills as a substitute when geese quills could not be conveniently had.
Their ink was mostly made by his pupils or their parents out of the water which maple or chestnut bark had been strongly boiled, then putting in coperas and boiling it with the liquid to its proper thickness, and then straining. It made a very good black ink.
The following principles were a guide to Mr. Whitmore in his educational labors, and he endeavored to have his pupils governed by them: Ist.That it is no disgrace to perform manual labor, but an honor, a credit and a benefit to themselves, to the community, and to their country. To be industrious, economical and saving should be the aim of all, and that physical and mental exercise are necessary to fulfill natures laws; and that they should not forget the old adage, that "idleness is said to be the mother of crime."
2d. The sure way to success was for them to depend upon them selves, and that self-reliance, with proper exertions, would enable them to accomplish whatever they might reasonably undertake, and that it is all within their own power to have or not to have the confidence and respect of their fellow-men, and a person without friends is a miserable being. Wirt says, and it is true, that every person is the architect of his own fortune.
3d. That they should be honest in all their business transactions, tell the truth on all occasions, and they would be well rewarded for their up-rightness and truthfulness; that they should never forget, but always follow, the precepts of that good old maxim:
"Honesty is the best policy." 4th. That they should at all time reverence and treat their parents with respect and kindness; be civil, quiet and mannerly, and not forget the golden rule, but practice it; Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
Much other good advice he gave to his pupils. Mr. Whitmore had determined to follow farming for a livelihood, but in the spring of 1857 he was elected town-ship treasurer, and the following spring moved back to Milton township, in this county, and in the autumn of 1858 was elected real estate appraiser for the township of Milton, and assessed the value of the realty the following summer.
In the spring of 1861 he was elected justice of the peace. At the expiration of three years he declined a re-election, but was elected again in the spring of 1866, and was re-elected again in the spring of 1869, and in the month of October, 1869 was elected probate judge for Ashland county, and three years there after re-elected probate judge for the second term, which expired in February, 1876; since that time he has employed himself in farming.