Dan Whipple, Oldest Man in Michigan

Dan Whipple

Oldest Man in Michigan

The following appeared in the Detroit Journal on May 4, 1908. (Transcribed from a photocopy of the original newspaper article submitted to by Bill Jacobson the Whipple Website on October 20, 2003.) On November 18, 2003, a relative named Rob identified Dan as the son of Luther and Lois (Carr) Whipple.

Noted Indian Scout Is Dead

Dan Whipple has passed away; oldest man in Michigan
Became Indian Hater after sweetheart was tortured to death

Traverse City, Mich, May 4.--Special.--Daniel Whipple, aged 109, famous scout of the Indian wars, passed away suddenly and peacefully this morning, aged 109. He was believed to have been the oldest man in Michigan. The end came in the quiet way in which Whipple had often expressed a wish to die.

For nearly a hundred years Whipple helped make history. He became prominent during the most interesting days of the history of this country. He was born in 1800 and went to the western plains to seek his fortune long before the advent of railroads. He made the long trip out there in a "schooner." He took up the occupation of a hunter and trapper, but began the work of a scout when various trouble with the Indians broke out.

"Uncle Dan" was one of Gen. Fremont's guides when he made his memorable expedition across the Rocky mountains through a country that was infested by bloodthirsty redskins and outlaws.

Early in his western career Whipple fell in love with a young woman who had moved from the states with her family, and the wedding day was set. Shortly after a band of hostile Indians murdered the entire family, including the girl, and Whipple, almost crazy for revenge, entered the Indian hunt with more enthusiasm than ever. To his last day he was an Indian hater, the fact that his sweetheart was tortured to a terrible death adding fuel to the flames of his anger.

In the harrowing times that followed Whipple had many hairbreadth escapes, after fighting Indians single-handed and running risks that no other man in the western country would take. He was captured three times, but as often made his escape. Finally he made up his mind to die rather than be again captured. And though he sometimes took the most desperate risks, he never again fell into the hands of the red men.

Although he was 61 years of age when the Civil war broke out, Whipple appeared to be no older than 45 years, and found little difficulty in enlisting. He served with great honor throughout the conflict, being, in fact, sorry when it was over. After the war he came north, and for many years made his home near Traverse City.

His figure was a familiar one on the streets here. He walked with a long, swinging stride, which he learned decades ago on the plains. Uncle Daniel, as he was lovingly called by those who knew him best, took an active interest in latter-day affairs, and was an honored guest at the under-the-oaks celebration in Jackson.