Jesse Frank White

Nowhere within the limits of Campbell Township, Greene County, Mo., can there be found a man who takes greater interest in its agricultural affairs than Jesse Frank White, or who strives more continually to promote and advance these interests.

Every life has a history of its own, and although in appearance it may possess little to distinguish it from others, yet the connection of Mr. White with the agricultural interests of this region has contributed to give him a wide and popular acquaintance with nearly every citizen of the county, if not personally, then by name. Mr. White springs from an old American family of English origin, the members of which were among the pioneer families of Tennessee.

Elisha White, the grandfather of our subject, was a wealthy planter and large slave-owner of Lynnville, Giles County, Tenn. He was the father of nineteen children, twelve sons and seven daughters, as follows: John, Allen, Harrison, William, Henderson, Thomas, Elisha, James, Coleman, and others whose names are not remembered. Two of the daughters, Mary and Catherine, lived to mature years.

Elisha White was a good business man, accumulated a handsome property and lived in a large brick mansion on a hill overlooked the town of Lynnville. William White, his son and the father of our subject, was born October 12, 1816, and gained a fair education for his day. While his father was a slave-owner he taught his sons to work and earn their own living and by this training the most of them became prosperous and wealthy men.

William White learned the trade of a tanner. On January 23, 1839, he was married to Miss Margaret Fry, who was born July 5, 1819, and who was the daughter of John and Margaret (Evans) Fry. After marriage William White and wife settled in Lawrence County, Tenn., and to them were born seven children: William H., Jesse F., Margaret J., Albert S. (died at the age of twenty-two), Mary O., John T. and Sallie M. In the fall of 1852 Mr. White moved with three ox teams and a buggy, to Missouri and settled on the land now occupied by his son-in-law, Campbell. He bought 440 acres in Campbell Township, and by industry and close attention to business, prospered and became a wealthy citizen. He owned slaves and carried on farming operations quite extensively.

For many years he was a member of the Christian Church and assisted in building the first Christian Church in Campbell Township. This was called Antioch and also the old Brick church, on Grand Prairie. Mr. White was an elder in the church and is yet remembered as a prominent member and a very devout man. In politics he was a strong advocate of Democracy. He was one of the jury who convicted Washam, the first and only man ever hung by law in Greene County, and whose wife on her death bed twenty years after, confessed that he was innocent, and that she herself, had committed the murder of her own child, a son. Mr. White was a dealer in cattle. He died at the age of forty-two years and is remembered to this day as an excellent citizen and a kind friend and neighbor. His children all married and settled in Greene County, except Mary G., who married W. F._____, and settled in Oklahoma. William C., was a soldier in the Confederate Army, in Dick Campbell's Company of "Partisan Rangers," of Prices' Army. He died of sickness resulting from exposure, at the residence of E. R. Fullbright, of Carroll County, Ark., July 17, 1862.

Margaret J., married Col. John E. Phelps, of Springfield, (see sketch); John T., married Miss Mary Jones, of Springfield, where he is now a practicing lawyer. Sallie M., married E. M. Campbell, the only living son of the first settler of Springfield, they reside on the White homestead. Jesse Frank White, son of the above, and our subject, was born December 16, 1843, on his father's farm in Giles County, Tenn. When about nine years of age he came with his parents to Greene County, Mo., and can well remember the journey. He received the rudiments of an education in the district schools, and later attended the college of Charles Carlton, Springfield.

Early in life he was taught to work on the farm and in the fall of 1861, when nineteen years of age, he enlisted in Col. Dick Campbell's Company, holding the rank of corporal. Later he was promoted to sergeant. His company, originally mounted, was dismounted after about nine month's service. It was again mounted after the battle of Vicksburg and served under the famous Gen. Shelby, in his mounted brigade, to the close of the war. He was in the battles of Pea Ridge, Iuka, Corinth, Grand Gulf, Baker's Creek, near Vicksburg, Big Black, Jackson, Boonville and a battle near Kansas City and one near Ft. Scott where Gen. Marmaduke was captured. He was also in the battle near Carthage, also in the East raid that Gen. Price made and in many skirmishes. Mr. White saw a great deal of fighting during the war and endured many hardships from exposure, etc. He was wounded at the battle of Corinth, near the left eye, and of the thirty-six men of his company three-fourths of them were either killed or wounded in that disastrous engagement. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant just before the last raid made by Gen. Price, and for some time was dispatch bearer.

After the war he again attended Carlton's college, which had been moved to Kentucky Town, Tex. After leaving school he was married at Bentonville, Ark., to Miss Margaret L. Roper, a native of Tennessee, born June 13, 1847, and the daughter of Wiley D. and Minerva (Fry) Roper. Mr. Roper is a retired farmer residing at Bentonville, Ark., and is now over seventy years of age. To himself and wife have been born ten children as follows: Margaret L., David R., John W., William F., George W., Wiley B., Lulu and two who died in early youth. Mr. Roper is a member of the Christian Church and socially he is a Mason. He is a man of integrity and uprightness and is universally respected. His ancestors were from old Colonial stock and came originally from Germany.

After marriage Mr. White settled on the farm where he now lives and to the forty acres inherited from his fathers estate he added sufficient to make 340 acres in one body. This fine farm, principally the result of his own industry and perseverance, is about four miles from the city of Springfield. He also owns twenty-four lots in "Massey's Addition " to Springfield. Both Mr. and Mrs. White are members of the Antioch church and Mr. White has been elder of the same for ten years. They assist liberally with their means to its support and to all other worthy enterprises. Four children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. White: William E., born March 8, 1871, and died when two and one-half years of age; Albert B., born February 8, 1875; Grace B., born March 30, 1877, and Frances B., born April 23, 1884. Albert B. is attending the preparatory department of Drury college and the other children are attending a select school. Mr. White is yet a comparatively young man and is one of the most substantial citizens of Greene County. A gallant and fearless soldier, who fought for his convictions, and who met with many stirring adventures, his record will be preserved with pride by his descendants. During the battle of Corinth Mr. White was taken prisoner, was well-treated and given his liberty within the Federal lines until he was paroled.

Submitted by: Janet Ferris
of Woodbridge, Va.
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