Putnam County

HENRY L. WHITE

a farmer in good standing in Hennepin, Putnam county, successful as a tiller of the soil, and one who has been prominently identified with local affairs, is proprietor of a good farm on sections 10 and 11, which comprises one hundred and sixty-five acres of well improved land. He was born at Norton, Bristol county, Massachusetts, March 17, 1826, a son of Hiram P. and Mary (Carpenter) White, and it is said that the ancestry is traced back to Peregrine White, the first white child born in America.

The father belonged to a family which was devoted to the foundry business, which he also followed in the east, and besides engaged in comb making. When a boy of seventeen years he had a friend, a Mr. Wiswall, who came to Illinois, and it was his desire to come with him, but his father would not allow it. He then had no chance to come to this state until after his marriage, when he brought his family in 1833. He shipped his goods from Providence, Rhode Island, via New Orleans to Jacksonville, Illinois, where his friend was then living, but they did not arrive for a year and a half, having been detained at St. Louis, Missouri, from which place they were forwarded to Hennepin.

Mr. Wiswall advised Mr. White to come to Putnam county, where he had a friend, Mr. Leeper, living, so after a short stay in Jacksonville he came to this county and visited Mr. Leeper, who was residing near Hennepin, two miles from where our subject now lives. The village at that time contained only two frame houses. A week previous to Mr. White's arrival William Fairfield had come to Putnam county from Massachusetts, and as his wife was sick he sent for Mr. White and his family. The two gentlemen took up claims together, buying land of old Mr. Patterson, whose home stood on the present site of our subject's residence. There had been four or five acres broken on the place, which was said to be the first plowing done in the county. They erected a log cabin, which had no floor during the entire winter of 1833-4, and as his household goods had not yet arrived they were not very comfortably fixed. Prairie chickens were their principal meat, and they dried the breasts for summer use, while their bread was made of corn, for during the first year they only had one hundred pounds of flour. On reaching the county Mr. White had but twelve dollars remaining and during the first year the family endured many privations, but the following year a crop was raised.

He experienced all the trials and difficulties of frontier life in order to make a home for his family, and at length success rewarded his labors. His death occurred April i, 1870, on the anniversary of his birth, as he was born on the 1st of April, 1800, and his faithful wife survived him for about five years. For over fifty years they had traveled life's journey together, sharing all its joys and sorrows, its adversity and prosperity.

They left two sons, the brother of our subject being Hiram W. White, who is three years his senior, and now resides at Streator, Illinois.

The father was an active worker and consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal church and formed a class at his cabin in 1834, which consisted of but five members — himself and wife. Dr. Richey and wife, who lived at Florid, and Miss Betsy Carpenter, a half sister of Mrs. White, who lived with her, and later became the wife of John P. Hays. For about two years services were held at the White cabin, at the end of which time a church was erected at Hennepin, to which Mr. White was a liberal contributor, and during his entire life continued to serve as class leader and steward. In early life he was a whig, and on its organization joined the republican party, and was called upon to serve as school commissioner and coroner. He was well versed in, the use of roots and herbs as medicine, and in the fall would gather a great supply. He was quite successful in his treatment of special diseases and practiced medicine to some extent.

Henry L. White, whose name introduces this sketch, remained upon the home farm, while his brother owned land in Granville township, but for twenty years they carried on operations in partnership. In connection with general farming they also engaged in threshing and reaping, owning one of the first reapers brought to the county. Later the brother sold out and removed to Putnam, but for the past fifteen years has made his home at Streator.

Mr. White has added eighty acres to the old home farm, so that he now has a valuable tract of one hundred and sixty-five acres, under a high state of cultivation, and well improved with good and substantial buildings. There he still makes his home, devoting his time and attention to general farming, but for the past fifteen years has been connected with George C. Reed, as a member of the firm of White & Reed, lumber dealers at Hennepin. The business, however, is personally managed by Mr. Reed.

When about thirty years of age Mr. White was united in marriage with Miss Fanny A. White, a cousin, also a native of Norton, Massachusetts, who came to Putnam county in 1849. Two daughters were born to them, Cora and Carrie, but both died in childhood. Mrs. White died June 15, 1896. She was a member of the Congregational church and was quite active in church work. Her death was sincerely mourned not alone by her husband, with whom she so long traveled life's journey, but by her associates in the church and the community where she had made her home for many years. The political support of Mr. White is given the republican party; he takes an active interest in the success of his party and attends its conventions. For eight years he acceptably served as coroner, and for three years was supervisor. He belongs to the Congregational church at Hennepin, in which for twenty years he has served as treasurer and has gained the respect and confidence of the entire community where he has so long made his home.

Source: The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois  published in 1896, page 186.


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