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JOHN WHITE, SR.
BIOGRAPHY and GENEALOGY
Lawrence, Talladega Counties, Alabama
John White, Sr., was born in Jefferson County, Virginia in 1778. He was a nephew of the Hon. Alexander White, who served Virginia in the first and second Congresses. After reading law he removed to Franklin, Tennessee.
John White was a lawyer in the town of Franklin, Tennessee where he had a good, regular practice. “He was rather under the average stature, and had an aquiline nose and an expressive face and had the reputation of being a sound lawyer, although not an eloquent man. He was a man of sober, steady habits, and enjoyed the confidence of that community.” John was a Captain in the war of 1812 under General Jackson. He married a Miss Dickenson of Nashville, Tennessee, who was of “medium size and had very fine black eyes. She was noted for her intellect but she was consumptive so the family moved to Courtland with the hope that a milder climate would cure her but she died after a few years.” They built the house that was later occupied by E. P. Shackelford, Esq.
After John White arrived in Courtland, he formed a successful partnership with John J. Ormond, Esq., White & Ormond. In 1824, he was elected a member of the House of Representatives and Dec. 27, 1825, became a judge of the 4th circuit and served in this capacity until January 14, 1832.
At this time the supreme court was composed of the circuit judges of the State and Judge White thereby became a member of that court, performing the duties of both offices until 1832, when his term of office expired. As circuit judge, he presided at the first courts which were held in several counties of the State. His opinions as judge of the supreme court are published in Minor, Stewart’s and the first volume of Stewart and Porter’s reports. In 1833 he removed to Talladega, where he resumed the practice of law, a part of the time being in partnership with Hon. Wm. P. Chilton.
His children by his first wife were
- Alexander White
- Robert White
- John White,
- Kate White married Samuel H. Dickson, of Autauga County.
- Sidney White was the wife of Joseph G. Baldwin, author of “Flush Times of Alabama and Mississippi,” and “Party Leaders.” He afterward removed to California, where he became a judge of the supreme court.
By his second wife, he had two daughters,
- Juliat White married Hon. John Garber, of San Francisco, who was also a judge of the supreme court of that State and was one of its most distinguished lawyers
- Alabella White
Hon. John White, Sr. was a member of the Presbyterian Church and was punctual in attendance. His second wife was Miss Southwrayed, a Northern teacher. They had two children. Hon. John White, died in Talladega, Alabama May 11, 1842, at the age of 57.
Additional information on his children follows:
Robert White became a Doctor and married Miss Spyker of Franklin County, Tennessee.
Alexander White and John White were for many years members of the bar of Alabama and Robert White was a practicing physician at Waco, Tex., where he died. Alexander White moved to Texas and died a distinguished member of the bar at Dallas. John White, Jr., was a member of the bar in 1921 and practiced his profession at Birmingham, Alabama.
Alexander White (b. Oct. 16, 1818) moved with his parents to Courtland, Alabama in 1821. He pursued an academic course and attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He served in the Seminole War in 1836 and later moved to Talladega after the settlement of that part of the State, studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1838. Alexander was distinguished for his legal attainments as a powerful speaker and debater. He soon became one of the most brilliant orators of Alabama. He was elected to Congress in 1851 as a Whig and was a warm supporter of General Scott for the presidency. He moved to Selma, Alabama in 1856 and continued to practice law. Alexander served only one term in Congress before the Civil War.
In 1860, he supported Mr. Bell for President. Alexander was opposed to secession but acted with the State when the ordinance was passed and the struggle ensued. He was a member of a battalion organized for home defense for a time. Alexander was a member of the Convention of 1865 and took a leading part such as his “eminent abilities and stirring eloquence rendered proper.
His devotion to the State, his devotion to the South, was expressed in language and with emotions which consecrated him anew as a patriot. He had loved his country, he had loved the land of his birth, his native Alabama (for he was born in Lawrence) before her disasters, before she was stricken down by armed battalions; but now that she was in misfortunes and desolation, now that she was in chains, he loved her more than ever.
“I will quote in full the paragraph which contained this noble sentiment as a sample of his magnificent style: “Mr. President: The Bonnie Blue Flag no longer reflects the light of the morning sunbeam, or kisses with its silken folds the genial breezes of our Southern clime. The hands that waved it along the crest of a hundred battle-fields, and the hearts that, for the love they bore it, no longer rally around it. Another banner waves in triumph over its closed and prostrate folds; but proud memories and glorious recollections cluster around it. Sir, I will refrain. The South needs no eulogy. The faithful record of her achievements will encircle her brow with glory bright and enduring as the diadem that crowns the night of her cloudless skies. The fields of Marathon and Platas have been re-enacted in the New World, without the beneficent results which flowed from those battle-fields of freedom, and our country lies prostrate at the feet of the conqueror. But dearer to me is she in this hour of her humiliation than she was in the day and hour of her pride and her power. Each blood-stained battle-field, each desolated home, each new-made grave of her sons fallen in her defense, each mutilated form of the Confederate soldier, her widow’s tears, her orphan’s cry, are but so many cords which bind me to her in her desolation, and draw my affections closer around my stricken country. When I raise my voice or lift my hand against her, may the thunders rive me where I stand. Though I will be false to all else, I will be true to her. Though all others may prove faithless, I will be faithful still. And when, in obedience to the great summons, ‘Dust to dust,’ my heart shall return to that earth from which it sprung it shall sink into her bosom with the proud consciousness that it never knew one beat not in unison with the honor, the interests, the glory of my country.”
After the war he advocated with zeal the reconstruction policy of President Johnson and was a leading member of the Convention which assembled at Selma in June 1866, to send delegates to the National Union Convention appointed to be held in Philadelphia on the 4th of July. In the Selma council, he submitted resolutions which he had prepared. He asked permission to read; and, leave granted, he gave them all the power and charm of his effective elocution. They were bold and defiant, and amongst other things declared that “Alabama had hung her banner on the outer wall, and would defend it to the last.” The reading of these resolutions by their eloquent author came near firing the Convention, and their lofty tone, under a consciousness of right, reminded one of the former days when the process of “firing the Southern heart” was going on; but they were not passed. (The substance of the foregoing is from Garrett’s” Public Men of Alabama.”)” Alexander White supported Seymour for the Presidency in 1868. However, in 1869, though strongly censured by his friends, he changed his party relations and became a member of the Radical party. In 1872, he was placed on the Radical ticket for Congress at large and declared elected. He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1874 and was appointed a justice of the United States Court for the Territory of Utah in 1875. He served only a few months then moved to Dallas, Texas in 1876 where he resumed the practice of law. He died in Dallas, Texas Dec. 13, 1893 and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.
Sidney White was the eldest daughter of Judge John White. She married Joseph Glover Baldwin, a lawyer, legislator, author, and judge. Sidney was beautiful, discreet, highly educated and accomplished.
Ann Catherine White, Judge White’s youngest daughter was thought by some to be more beautiful than Sidney. She married William Dixon. He was a merchant in Talladega County, Alabama.
Captain John White, born April 17, 1829, Courtland, Lawrence County, Alabama; married (1) S. A. Nelson; married (2) Mary Jane Finley.
- EARLY SETTLERS OF ALABAMA NOTES AND GENEALOGIES by COL. JAMES EDMONDS SAUNDERS LAWRENCE COUNTY, ALA VOL I by his granddaughter ELIZABETH SAUNDERS BLAIR STUBBS NEW ORLEANS: L Graham & Son Ltd., Printers, 207-211 Bayonne St. 1899 Reprinted by Will Publishing Company Tuscaloosa, Alabama 1961
- Brewers Alabama History
- DEATH NOTICES FROM THE WESTERN WEEKLY REVIEW, FRANKLIN, TENNESSEE 1841-1851
- Notable Men of Alabama: Personal and Genealogical, Volume 2 edited by Joel Campbell DuBose
- Find A Grave Memorial # 7196926
This biography is included in the book Biographies of Notable and Not-so-Notable Alabama Pioneers Volume I