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Mini Bios of People of Scots Descent
Biography of WILLIAM WHITE


This biography was submitted by Sandy Spradling, E-mail address: <SSpradling@aol.com>

History of Greenbrier County 
J. R. Cole 
Lewisburg, WV 1917 
p. 81-87

WILLIAM WHITE

The emigrant who established in Greenbrier county the family bearing the name White was William White (I), who came from Omagh, in the Province of Ulster, North Ireland, in the summer of 1817 and built a home in the Tuckahoe Draft. near the White Sulphur Springs.

William White (I.) was born about 1780, the only child of George White and his wife, Sarah CaIwell, who lived in a comfortable stone house near the town of Omagh, in Tyrone county, North Ireland. The house, and the land upon which it was located, were owned by George White and his wife and they gave to their home the name "Fourth Hill". Whether George White was of English or of Scottish descent is not certainly known. Most probably, however, he was a Scot, for he held title to a tract of land of considerable size in that part of the Province of Ulster which was settled during the reign of the Stuart sovereigns almost en-tirely by emigrants from the Lowlands of Scotland. Moreover. he was bound by the ties of blood and marriage in close relationship to the Scottish families of CaIwell. Gibson, Hunter and Orr, who lived near him in Ulster.

George White died when his son. William. was yet in early childhood. A year or two later. Sarah Calwell White became the wife of a landholder named Booth, and the child, William White, was received by adoption into the home of his uncle, Robert White. In that home he received an education that was somewhat exten-sive in the line of mathematical studies. Consequently, during a part of that period of his life which he spent in Ireland William White was engaged in the work of teaching, thus aiding his friends and relatives in Tyrone to maintain the intellectual and moral standards which they had brought with them from Scotland.

With reference to the little town of Omagb, county-seat of Tyrone, Macaulaytells us in his History of England (III., j60), that in 1689, when the Roman Catholic army of King James II. was advancing northward to subjugate the people of Ulster, the citizens of Cmagh "destroyed their own dwellings so utterly that no roof was left to shelter the enemy from the rain and wind." They then withdrew, in company with the other Scotch-Irish inhabitants of Ulster, behind the walls of the city of Londonderry, and there, as Macaulay declares, this "imperial race turned desperately to bay," and by courage and strenuous fighting, held the place against every assault made by the forces of James II., and thus saved Ireland for the Protestant cause. The leader of the Protestants at that time was the Prince of Orange, who, in consequence of the final overthrow of James II. in the battle of the Boyne River, was firmly established as the Presbyterian king of England, Scotland and Ireland. A century later, the men of Ulster, young and old alike, enrolled themselves in companies as Orangemen, so named in honor of their Protestant hero. In 1798, therefore, when William White was about eighteen years of age, he enlisted in a company of Orangemen at Cmagh. In that same year the British government organized the Orangemen as an armed force and used them in suppressing the insurrection which broke out among the Roman Catholic inhabitants of southern Ireland. In 1804, when Napoleon was making preparations to cross the English Channel and invade the British Isles, the government Organized some of the Orangemen who had seen active service in 1798 as regiments in the regular army. Consequently, when William White was about twenty-four years old he received a commission as captain in the Omagh Infantry, a regiment forming a part of that British army which took position behind its heavy guns along the various coasts to await the coming of the invading forces. One of the descendants of William White has now in possession the bronze buckle worn on his sword-belt and also the piece of bronze that formed the end of the sword-scabbard. The buckle bears the arms of Great Britain, with the inscription, "Omagh Infantry." William White remained some years as an officer in the British army, and in that capacity, among other attainments, acquired great skill in the use of the short sword as a weapon of offense and defense.

About 1807 William White married Rebekah Orr, whose mother's maiden name was Ritchie. From this union were born, in Ireland, two daughters, Anne and Elizabeth, and one son, Robert, named after his father's uncle. In 1817 William White sold his land and his house near Omagh to a relative named Robert Rowe Ryland White, and sailed from Belfast, with his family, on hoard the ship "Lord Nelson". He had sold also his commission as captain in the British army, in accordance with the custom of that day, and with the funds obtained from the disposal of land, house, and military commission, he expected to establish a comfortable home upon land which he had already obtained in Virginia.

In 1790, Beverley Randolph, Governor of Virginia, issued an executive warrant, conveying to William White, as assignee of John Dickison Littlepage, 427 acres of land in Tuckahoe Draft, on a branch of Howard's creek, in Greenbrier county. At the time when this tract of land was thus deeded to him, William White was only ten years of age. Some relative, most probably his uncle, Robert White, purchased for him this land, which seemed to people dwelling in Ireland to be an extensive estate. After holding it twenty-seven years, he decided to transfer his family to Virginia. In company with him, on board the ship, a number of his relatives and friends also sailed for the United States. Among these were his brothers-in-law, James Orr and William Orr; his half-brother, James Booth, with the latter's wife.

Rebekah Ager (Adger) Booth, and a number of members of the related families of Ager and Forbes. During the long voyage, another son, William White (II.), was born. Eleven weeks were spent in making the journey across the Atlantic, and then the good ship, "Lord Nelson", ran upon the rocks near Halifax, Nova Scotia. The passengers were all saved from the broken vessel and placed on board another ship, which brought them to the port of Baltimore. When William White and his family at length arrived in Greenbrier county their disappointment was very great. The large landed estate was there, but it was covered with a dense forest, and a part of it lay upon the steep mountain slopes. Fortunately, however, their financial resources enabled them to clear the land near the mountain stream, a branch of Howard's creek, and to build first a log house and afterwards a more comfortable dwelling, about two miles from the White Sulphur Springs. William White had brought with him his sword and his skill as a swordsman; he had also his books, a number of them dealing with subjects in the higher mathematics, and some were books of historv. Moreover, his memory was stored with the poems of Burns and of Scott. But he did not acquire much skill in that art which is of the highest value to a home builder in the heart of a forest-the art of wielding the ax. 

Three more sons were born in the home-James White,. George White, and Richard Whiteand these, with their older brothers, Robert and William (II.), were constrained to spend their early years in planting and in harvesting crops for the maintenance of the entire familv. Consequently, their education was limited almost entirely to the instruction which they received from the father and the mother at home. This training included, however, the reading of the volumes brought from Ireland, and the love for books thus implanted, remained as a permanent possession through life. James Orr, the brother-in-law, lived in the Tuckahoe Draft with his family for about twenty years. He then removed to Indiana, where his sons attained to large influence in both public and private life. The half-brother, James Booth, also made his home near William White until 1839. when he transerred his family to Illinois. There they have become prosperous. William White (I.) remained upon the estate near White Sulphur until his death in 1849. His last will reveals the fact that in accordance with the custom that then prevailed, he was a slaveholder. His wife outlived him many years and at length entered into rest in 1874, in the eighty-eighth year of her age.

William White (II.), in 1842, married Margaret Dickson, daughter of Richard Dickson, then the most extensive planter on Second creek in Monroe county. The maiden name of Margaret Dickson's mother was Hamilton. In the home which William White (II.) established in the Irish Corner District in Greenbrier county three children were born by his first wife, William Hamilton, James Dickson and Margaret Dickson. William Hamilton White, born February 5, 1844, in Monroe county, was a Confederate soldier and served in the Twenty-sixth Virginia Regiment from the fall of 1861until discharged at the close of the war, in 1866. He married Sarah Y. Gibson on March 2, 1870. She was a daughter of Thomas Gibson, who was a Confederate soldier, also. To this union were born (I) Lillian (Mrs. Oliver Humphries), (2) Rebecca (IMrs. James Vahn), (3) Nanny Bell (Mrs. Samuel R. Jackson), (4) Blanche, (Mrs. S. L. Wallace), (5) Samuel, who married Miss Myrtle Boone, (6) Thomas, who married Miss Bessie Lowance, (7) Alice (Mrs. Ira EakIe), (8) James Orr, who married Miss Jane Boone. James Dickson White married Elizabeth Sydenstricker and left three children: (I) Lula N. White, (2) William White, and (3) Catharine White (M. McDowell). Margaret Dickson White married James R. Crawford and left children in Missouri.

William White married, as his second wife, Mary Gibson Irwin, daughter of John Irwin, whose father, John Irwin, came from Augusta county to Greenbrier soon after the American Revolution. John Irwin, born in Greenbrier, rendered many public services in behalf of the people of his native county. For several years he served as one of the county supervisors. His wife was Jane McClure, daughter of John McClure, who came to Greenbrier from County Down, North Ireland.

Mary Gibson Irwin, daughter of John Irwin and Jane McClure, was a woman of great intelligence, of gracious tactfulness, and marked by strong religious faith. She was a devout member of the Scotch Covenanter Church, Lebanon, in Monroe county. She was the mother of two sons, Nelson White, so named in honor of the ship upon which his father was born, and Henry Alexander White. William White (II.) was six feet in height, robust in frame, and was possessed of strong mental powers. He inherited from his father a decided talent for mathematics and a taste for reading books of history. His memory was well stored with the poems of Burns and Scott. He fitted himself to become a land surveyor, and for many years held the official position of surveyor of Green-brier county. His skill in the use of the surveyor's compass and his retentive memory concerning old lines of division between landed estates enabled him to render a most efficient public service. 

The Irish Corner, which should properly be called the Scotch-Irish Corner, is that part of Greenbrier county lying for the most part between the Greenbrier river and Second creek. It was settled almost entirely by Scottish people who had dwelt for a time in North Ireland. The life of the people who lived in this corner between the river and the creek was almost an exact copy of the mode of living that prevails in a village of old Scotland. The center of life in the Scotch-Irish Corner was Salem, the Presbyterian church. Good public schools were always maintained, and a high standard of intelligence prevailed among the people. 

An academy under the Presbyterian pastor, Rev. George Tate Lyle, a Scotch-Irishman from Augusta county, made complete the local system of education. Prof. Edgar H. Marquess was Mr. Lyle's successor in this worthy and beneficent labor. The inhabitants of this agricultural community were energetic Scots and landholders and all toiled with their own hands to win a living from the soil. William White and Mary Irwin White continued to dwell in this quiet country community until death called them hence. The husband died in 1898 and the wife in i906. Their son, Nelson, was educated in the public schools of the community, and by his energy and enterprise has attained good success as a planter and stock-raiser. He married Susan Rodgers, daughter of Daniel Rodgers, of Greenbrier county. The son. Henry, attended the public schools and the local academy, where he was fitted for entrance into the regular classes in the Washington and Lee University. 

Henry Alexander White was graduated from the Washington and Lee University with the degrees of Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy. Afterwards, he was graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary, and was ordained as a Presbyterian min-ister by the Lexington Presbytery. From 1889 until 1902 he was professor of history in the Washington and Lee University. Since 1902 he has been professor of New Testament Greek in the Co-lumbia Theological Seminary, in South Carolina. His principal writings are the following: "Life of Robert E. Lee," published in New York and London; "Life of  Stonewall Jackson," published in Philadelphia; "History of the United States for High Schools," published in Boston; "Beginner's History of the United States," published in New York; "The Making of South Carolina," published in Boston; "The Pentateuch in the Light of the Ancient Monuments" (Richmond); "Southern Presbyterian Leaders" published in New York; address at the semi-centennial of the founding of the Southern Presbyterian Church (delivered at Louisville, Ky.). In addition, a number of other addresses have been printed. He has received the honorary degrees of Doctor of Divinity and Doctor of Laws; honorary member of the Phi Beta Kappa of William and Mary College, Virginia; member of the Victoria Institute, London; member of the Executive Committee of the Scotch-Irish Society of America. He married Frances B. Well ford.


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