William Henry White.The first half century of Kansas' statehood concludes an epoch in her history wherein were developed men who, from the standpoint of constructive, initiative and executive talent, rank with the most forceful in the annals of her sister commonwealths. Among those who have realized a large and substantial success, one who has been closely identified with numerous enterprises necessary to the growth and development of Morris county, and who became a resident in 1857a member of the second family to locate within her bordersis numbered the man whose name introduces this article.
William Henry White, banker, farmer and stock breeder, is a native of Kentucky, and was born in Nicholasville, Jessamine county, on Aug. 27, 1847, a son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Earthinhouse) White, who were also natives of the Blue Grass State. Thomas White was a farmer and surveyor, who removed with his family, in 1848, to Andrew county, Missouri, and, in 1857, to Kansas, locating on land two miles north of Council Grove. He was the second man to bring a family to the county. He assisted in the United States government survey, was the first county surveyor, and in that capacity laid out the city of Council Grove. He was the first worshipful master of Council Grove Lodge, No. 36, Free and Accepted Masons, and was an active and influential factor in the early life of the town. He was a member of the Christian church and did much to aid that organization in establishing its first congregation in the county. His activities were ended in manhood's prime, his death occurring Aug. 3, 1864. In 1844 Mr. White married in Nicholasville, Ky., Miss Elizabeth Earthinhouse, who died in Andrew county, Missouri, in 1855, leaving three children, viz.: James, who died in his nineteenth year; Mary, the wife of M. L. Zimmerman, a well known citizen of Troy, Kan.; and Henry W. of Council Grove. In 1856 he married Elizabeth Pollard. They were the parents of three children, of whom only one is living: Sarah Frances, the wife of Robert M. Wright, a resident of Palmer, Cal.
William Henry White acquired his education in the public schools of Morris county, and when eighteen years of age engaged in his first business enterprise, that of freighting across the plains, driving a six-yoke ox team over the Santa Fe trail to Fort Lyon, Col. One trip sufficed to cure him of his love of adventure, the large number of Indians frequenting the way proving conclusively to him that this road to wealth was much too hazardous. From 1865 to 1868 he was employed as clerk in a general store at Council Grove, and from 1868 to 1874 he was engaged in the cattle business, buying in Kansas and driving his purchases to St. Louis for his selling market. In 1881 he established a general mercantile business in Council Grove, which under his management proved successful and in which he was interested until 1881, when he disposed of the property, his duties as county treasurer, to which office he had been elected, in 1878, preventing his supervision of the enterprise. In 1882 he promoted the organization of the Farmers' & Drovers' Bank and was elected its president. The history of this institution is the history of Mr. White's identification with the banking life of Kansas. Starting business with a capital of $50,000 it has had a sound and continuous growth. It has at present a capital of $80,000, surplus and profit of $60,000, deposits of $400,000, and its dividends have been eminently satisfactory to its stockholders. In the development of this institution Mr. White has always been the dominant executive, and to his untiring energy, progressiveness and resourcefulness is due in great measure the high reputation of the organization, viz.: one of the strongest and best managed banks in the State of Kansas. Mr. White's early life gave him an intimate and thorough knowledge of farming and stock raising. In 1874 he purchased from the other heirs their interest in the home farm of 320 acres, on which his father located in 1857. By subsequent purchase he has added 2,030 acres, giving him a total of 2,350 acres, about equally divided between tilled and pasture land. To this interest he has given the same close attention to detail and broad progressive management that has characterized his banking career, his farm property representing in all respects modern agricultural methods in the highest state of development. In 1896 he began the breeding of registered Hereford cattle, the herd now numbering 100 head. He has been a frequent and successful exhibitor at numerous fairs and his stock is well and favorably known to the breeders of Kansas. In his farming and stock enterprises he has, as interested principals, his sons, Clarence H. and W. H. White, Jr., operating as White & Son and W. H. White & Son. In the development of Council Grove Mr. White has played a conspicuous part. His interests in improved business property are large. He has erected numerous buildings and he is also identified in a financial way with its public service corporations. He is justly entitled to be called progressive, and is and has been at all times ready and willing to assist with time and money any commendable enterprise which will aid in the growth and development of the city. Essentially a business man he has found time to serve his county and state in a public capacity. He was treasurer of Morris county for three successive terms, being elected on an independent ticket, in 1878, and reëlected in 1880. In 1883 he was elected a member of the lower house in the state legislature and served on several important committees. His record in public office was such as to confer upon him honor and distinction. He is a member of Council Grove Chapter, No. 60, Royal Arch Masons, and Council Grove Commandery, No. 32, Knights Templars, his son also having membership in these bodies.
Mr. White married Miss Sarah J. Hammond, a daughter of Jonathan Hammond, a pioneer of Morris county, who settled there in 1858. To them have been born four children. Bertha, born Jan. 4, 1875, was graduated from Emporia College, a young lady of culture, amiable disposition and deservedly popular. She had reached the years of perfect womanhood when she was cut off by the hand of death on Feb. 7, 1898. A lasting monument to her many good qualities is found in the "Bertha White Book Fund" of $500, given to the Council Grove Library Association, in 1898. Their second child died aged three years and six months. Clarence H., the third child, was educated in the schools of Council Grove and Kansas University at Lawrence. He is a member of the firm of White & Son, farmer and stockman, a director in and assistant cashier of the Farmers' & Drovers' Bank. In 1905 he married Carrie, a daughter of Clarence Ormsby of Kansas City, Mo., an old-time resident of Morris county. They have one son, Clarence Hale, born May 3, 1908. William Henry White, Jr., the youngest child, is a member of the firm of W. H. White & Son, farmers and breeders of registered Hereford cattle. He is also a director in the Farmers' & Drovers' Bank. He is married. His common school education was followed by courses in the Kansas State Agricultural College at Manhattan, the University of Pennsylvania and Kansas University at Lawrence. Mr. and Mrs. White are members of the First Congregational Church of Council Grove, of which he has been a trustee for many years. In the church and its work they have taken an active part and contributed generously to its support.Pages 1417-1419 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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