Biography of Mrs. May C. Whitaker
Cuyahoga County, OH Biographies

MRS. MAY C. WHITAKER. As a writer for newspapers, magazines and clubs, as a leader in civic and philanthropic activities, Mrs. May Tarbell Cannon Whitaker is one of the best known women of Cleveland. She is a member of the Western Reserve Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, and has done much conscientious work in proving up her ancestry.

She was born at Bedford, Ohio, October 15, 1858, daughter of Leverett and Mary Helen (Tinker) Tarbell. The Tarbells were pioneers of the Ohio Western Reserve. One of her ancestors in the paternal line was William Tarbell, who served as a soldier in thç American Revolution. William Tarbell married Ann Chapman. Mrs. Whitaker's grandfather, Col. Abner Chapman Tarbell, of the Ohio and Connecticut Militia, married Lucy Parke Jones, daughter of Asa Jones, another Revolutionary veteran. The wife of Asa Jones was Lucy Parke, daughter of Nehemiah Parke. another soldier of the American Revolution. Col. Abner Chapman Tarbell, grandfather of Mrs. Whitaker, was born at Coichester, Connecticut, August 24, 1791, a son of William and Ann (Chapman) Tarbell. He founded his family on a farm in Wickliffe, Ohio, in 1817, where they lived until very recently, when a part of the Tarbell farm became the estate of Frank Rockefeller, Esq. Col. A. C. Tarbell died January 6, 1869. Leverett Tarbell was born November 17, 1819, in what is now Willoughby (Wicklife), Lake County, but was then Chagrin, Cuyahoga County. In early life he was a school teacher. In 1849 he engaged in merchandising at Bedford and was a merchant there for a quarter of a century. He also handled real estate and served as postmaster and justice of the peace. He died in 1903, his wife having passed away in 1902.

Mary Helen Tinker, who became the wife of Leverett Tarbell and the mother of Mrs. Whitaker, was born in Columbus, New York, May 22, 1829. When she was five years old her parents, John and Marilla (Holt) Tinker, moved to Ohio and located in Cleveland. John Tinker was born in Guilford, Vermont, son of Almarin Tinker, of Windham, Connecticut, and grandson of Nehemiah Tinker, a Revolutionary soldier. Almarin Tinker married Leafa Stowell, of Vermont. Nehemiah Tinker married Mary Huntington, of Connecticut. ManIla Holt, wife of John Tinker, was the daughter of Elijah and Anna (Dickey) Molt, of Wilton, New Hampshire. Elijah Holt was a son of Jeremiah Holt. Referring again to the paternal line of Mrs. Whitaker, her ancestor Nehemiah Parke married Sybil Douglas, whose ancestors include for three generations the notable Deacon William Douglas of New England.

The first husband of Miss May Tarbell was Grove Gordon Cannon, born at Warrensville, Cuyahoga County, son of Alonzo S. and Delia R. (Hawkins) Cannon. Alonzo Samuel Cannon, born in Aurora, Portage County, was the son of Victor M. Cannon and Caroline (Baldwin) Cannon. Caroline was the daughter of Samuel Smith Baldwin, the first sheriff of Cuyahoga County. Delia R. Hawkins was a daughter of Jesse Gould Hawkins of Streetsboro Corners. Portage County, Ohio. Grove G. Cannon, who died February 5, 1888, at the age of thirty three, was a traveling salesman, representing the old wholesale grocery house of Babcock, Hurd & Company. By her first marriage Mrs. Whitaker had three children.

Tom Tarbell Cannon, her oldest son, was born at Marion, Ohio, August 8, 1881. He was educated in the Bedford graded schools, the City High School of Cleveland, Case School of Applied Science, and is now a member of the Cleveland Stock Exchange. He married Dell Fulton, daughter of H. F. and Elizabeth (Boyd) Fulton, and they had one daughter, Elizabeth May, who died in 1920 at the age of eight years. Mr. and Mrs. T. T. Cannon now reside in Pasadena, California.

Herbert Grove Cannon, the second son, was born April 10, 1883, was educated in the School of Mines of Columbia University, receiving the Mining Engineer degree, and is a mining engineer of Cleveland, identified with interests in this city, in New York and California. He married Clarion Buell, a daughter of Dr. A. C. and Ada (Wait) Buell, of Cleveland, and they have one son, Herbert Grove, Jr., born May 2, 1911.

Dana Alonzo Cannon, the third and youngest son, was born May 26, 1885. He was educated in the public schools of Cleveland, and is now head of Cannon & Company, manufacturers of brick and tile at Sacramento, California. He married Claire Lavenson, daughter of Gus Lavenson, a shoe merchant of Sacramento. They have one daughter, Patricia, born March 4, 1917.

On October 15, 1894, Mrs. Cannon became the wife of Alfred Whitaker. Mr. Whitaker was born August 3, 1851, and was killed at a railroad crossing, February 8, 1896. His parents were Andrew M. and Mary Jane (Smith) Whitaker. His father, born in Muffin Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, May 6, 1823, was a son of Abraham and Mary (McClure) Whitaker. Abraham Whitaker spent his life in Pennsylvania and for over a quarter of a century served as justice of the peace. Mary McClure, the wife of Abraham Whitaker, was a daughter' of Andrew McClure, a native of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, who married Margaret Barnett. Andrew McClure Whitaker, father of Alfred Whitaker, came with his mother to Ohio in 1847, but a year later returned to his old home in Pennsylvania. In 1849 he married Mary Jane, daughter of Joseph and Phoebe Smith, of W. Brownville, Pennsylvania, and in 1850 they came to Ohio, residing in Bedford, Cuyahoga County until this aged father entered the great beyond, one month after the tragic death of his son.

Alfred Whitaker was a well known business man of Cleveland. He was the founder of the Brooks Oil Company of this city and was owner of the same at the time of his death. He was a leader in democratic politics. The family home was in Bedford, but following her husband's death in 1896 Mrs. Whitaker brought her little family to Cleveland for better educational facilities.

By her second marriage Mrs. Whitaker has one son, Alfred Andrew Whitaker, born September 23, 1895. He was educated at Dartmouth College and Western Reserve University, graduating from the latter in 1917. Immediately he entered the First Officers' Training Camp at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. He was commissioned a lieutenant and assigned to Camp Sherman. He went overseas with the Eighty third (Ohio) Division and was on duty in France for eight months. He is now associated with Cannon & Company at Sacramento, California.

Mrs. Whitaker spent her girlhood in her native town of Bedford, where she attended high school. It was her steadfast ambition to get a liberal education, something that young women of that time seldom achieved. By teaching school she paid her expenses while in college and university, attended Willoughby College and subsequently graduated Bachelor of Literature from Ohio Wesleyan University with the class of 1879. In 1905, in recognition of her work in philanthropy, Ohio Wesleyan University conferred upon her the honorary degree Master of Arts. Soon after graduating she was married and went to live with Mr. Cannon at Marion, Ohio, which was a convenient residence for him as a traveling salesman. Later they returned to Bedford, Ohio. Mrs. Whitaker many years ago became prominent in the non partisan Woman's Christian Temperance Union, conducting in Cleveland Central Friendly Inn, Mary E. Ingersoll Working Girls Club, Training Home for Friendless Girls, Lakeside vacation cottages for working girls and Rainey Memorial Institute. She served several years as city and state president of that organization.

Throughout her residence in Cleveland Mrs. Whitaker has been prominent in democratic politics. In 1901 she entered the democratic primaries for nomination for member of the Cleveland School Council, campaigning with Tom L. Johnson. She was nominated and during the campaign that followed she addressed meetings in every precinct. She was elected by a substantial majority, and served four years. While a member of the council she was responsible for the founding of the special schools for defectives and served as chairman of the committee on revision of rules and chairman of the committee on old buildings.

It was about 1904 that Mrs. Whitaker took np writing as a serious vocation. Her first paid article was "A Canvas Cottage," published in the magazine, Suburban Life. This article describes her three summers' experience of living in a tent cottage at Bedford. Subsequently she contributed to various magazines and newspapers and was admitted to the Cleveland Women's Press Club, now the Cleveland Writers' Club, of which she has been three times elected president. For a number of years she was on the staff of the Cleveland Press, writing at space rates. In 1915 she entered the Press office as associated editor of the woman's department, writing the column called "Mrs. Maxwell's." When the World war came on this department, as an information bureau, gave special attention to the location and welfare of the boys from Cuyahoga County, thereby giving much comfort to distressed parents. On all war questions Mrs. Whitaker's department became an authority, second only to the Red Cross, and news pertaining to units was, by order of the editor, submitted to Mrs. Whitaker before publication.

Mrs. Whitaker is a member of the executive board of the women's department of the Cleveland Centennial Commission. This was organized for the centennial of 1896, and is a self perpetuating commission designed to preserve the early history of the city and to provide material for the celebration of the next centennial of the city. Mrs. Whitaker is a member of the committee having in charge the publishing of "The Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve," recently completed in five volumes. She is a member of the Epworth Euclid Methodist Episcopal Church. She is a member of the Democratic Executive Committee of Cuyahoga County and the state. As this brief sketch indicates, Mrs. Whitaker is a woman of most versatile talents. Much business passed through her hands because of being twice left a widow. She opened and sold several allotments and incorporated The Brooks Oil Company and acted as its president for three years. One of Mrs. Whitaker's most cherished memories is the statement of the probate judge in commending most highly her work as guardian of the persons and estates of her four children.

A History of Cuyahoga County
and the City of Cleveland
By: William R. Coates
The American Historical Society
Chicago and New York, 1924

Privacy Policy for OnlineBiographies


Cuyahoga County, Ohio Biographies

Names A to G
Names H to P
Names Q to Z



New York



For all your genealogy needs visit Linkpendium

Family Tree Maker 2012