John Mills Whitaker was born in Centerville, Utah. His parents were Thomas William and Elizabeth Mills Whitaker. At an early age he studied the Isaac Pitman system of shorthand. While going to school at the University of Deseret he began working for Franklin Dewey Richards (1821-1899). In 1886 Whitaker married Ida Oakley Taylor, the daughter of John Taylor (1808-1877). Whitaker helped establish the first public library in Utah, was secretary to John Willard Young (1844-1924) while he owned the Salt Lake and Fort Douglas Railway and assisted him in establishing the Utah Western Railway Company, was secretary for the Deseret Sunday School Union, took part in the Easter States Mission, and was involved in the prohibition movement. He also found the time to serve as bishop of the Sugar House ward and to transcribe his yearly journals.
Scope and Content
This collection consists of the typed transcripts of the journals kept by John Mills Whitaker (1863-1960) and a typed transcript of the funeral service held for him. The journals cover the majority of Whitaker's life and discuss both his personal as well as professional life. Several journals deal with his functions as secretary to Franklin Dewey Richards (1821-1899), and Whitaker discusses the political oppression of the Mormons by the United States government, the public and political opposition to the practice of polygamy, and the persecution of the Mormons. Some of the people covered in these journals include George Quayle Cannon (1827-1901), Grover Cleveland (1837-1908), Erastus Fairbanks Snow (1818-1888), Lorenzo Snow (1814-1901), and Wilford Woodruff (1807-1898). Other journals deal with Whitaker's functions as secretary to John Willard Young (1844-1924), and he discusses in detail the financial aspects of the railroads being built in Utah, public education, and the statehood of Utah. In later journals Whitaker discusses Brigham Henry Roberts (1857-1933) and Reed Smoot (1862-1941) and their problems in dealing with the U.S. Congress.