This appeared in 2 parts in the September 6 & 13, 1940 issues of the Petersburg Observer

Reads History of Life of John White, Veteran

Several direct descendants were present Sunday at ceremonies in White Cemetery sponsored by Pierre Menard Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution when a bronze plaque was placed on the grave of John White, a soldier of the War of the Revolution. Interesting and interested guests included the following all great-great grandchildren of the man whose memory was being honored: C. H. Bell of Rochester, Mrs. Hattie White Gould of Greenview; J. H. West and Mrs. P. P. Andree and daughter Miss Fern Andree of Petersburg; Mrs. Homer Primm of Centralia, Mo., Mrs. C. G. Spears, Mrs. Phillip Klein and Hayes Reding of Tallula.

An interesting part of Sunday’s program was the following history of John White’s life, compiled and read by Mrs. Homer Primm:

John White, to whom we pay tribute, is my maternal ancestor, my great-great grandfather. He was born in the state of Massachusettes, in 1739. In 1770, he married Miss Elizabeth Gordon, who was ten years his junior. John White lived to be 96 years of age. He died, March 23, 1835, just eight days following the death of his wife. Their early home was at Canonsburg, Washington County, Pennsylvania, where some, if not all, of their children were born.

So far as I have been able to ascertain, their children were six in number, three sons and three daughters. The eldest son, John White, married Margaret Embry. James White, my own great-grandfather, born Oct. 9, 1777, in Canonsburg, Pa., married in 1804 in state of Kentucky, Hannah, daughter of George and Mary (Neely) Spears. Hannah Spears’ father and her grandfather, George Spears Sr. were soldiers of the American Revolution. Robert White, the youngest son, was born October 14, 1779. He married Miss Esther McNabb in 1806 in Kentucky.

The daughters were, Nancy White, who married Jeremiah Nicholas, Jane White, who married a Mr. Spears, Martha White, youngest of the family born Sept. 16, 1797, married Abraham Lanterman.

John White enlisted for service in the American Revolution, serving as a private of the First Class in Captain William Fife’s Company of the 2nd Batallion of Washington County, Pennsylvania militia. His record of service is to be found in Volume II, Pennsylvania Archives, 6th series.

Following the close of the war, John White, with his family, removed to Bowling Green, Green Co., Kentucky. In 1819 he came to Illinois, accompanied by his family, with the exception of the eldest son John White. He remained in Kentucky.

With is family, John White settled at what is knows as Clary’s Grove, which is to say, this very spot, and here the Whites built their home, a substantial, roomy house, they made their own brick for this house and the house was furnished of white walnut. As children we have been in this house many times, it stood just a little south-east of this spot and only one-half mile from our own home.

John White was in his 81st year when he came to this place, and as yet, I have not learned whether he secured land here in his own name, or, whether the land was taken up by his sons. However, I do know that the son James, owned 1280 acres of land here, including this spot and for many miles about us. James White had a large family, seven sons and five daughters, two sons died young, leaving ten children with whom he shared his land.

John White’s other son, Robert, owned land in the east part of the county, in what is now known as the Lebanon Community. He was the first white settler in that community.

One of my great uncles, the Rev. John Guthrie White, once said, “The Whites could be traced across country from Pennsylvania through Kentucky and Illinois, by the churches and schools which they established.

Robert White gave the land whereon was built the Lebanon Presbyterian church. The first church was a frame building and was erected in 1827. In 1867, a new church was built and was dedicated by Rev. John Guthrie White, a son of James White, the brother of Robert White. Robert White also gave the land for Lebanon Cemetery where the Whites are buried. The same is true of James White who settled here. He gave the land for this spot, where today sleep six generations of this lineage.

Soon after coming here James White built a school house and hired a Mr. Dutton of Vermont State for teacher, the school house stood a little south-west of the home dwelling. James White represented his district in the state legislature, he set in motion the first Sunday School in the county and the Presbyterian church in Tallula stands as a monument to the untiring efforts and generosity of this White family – and all because, when John White came to this community, he brought with him Christian citizenship, and Grandmother White brought with her the manners and grace of Christian culture and refinement and maintained them.

Only God and eternity can measure the influence of John and Elizabeth (Gordon) White.

Down through the generations their children and grandchildren have been Godly, useful citizens, not a few of them have served in the Christian ministry, James and Hannah (Spears) White gave two sons to that high calling, Rev. John Guthrie White served the Presbyterian church at Tallula as its first pastor, continuing in the work until his death in 1899. The other son, Rev. James White will be remembered by many as serving the Cumberland Presbyterian church in Greenview for many years. His grandson, Dr. A. G. Bergen, served many prominent churches of his denomination throughout the state and we of this lineage greatly revere our grand sire, enjoying as we do the liberties of our great American civilization for which he fought, we rise up and call him blessed.

And to you, Daughters of the American Revolution, in behalf of the descendants of John White, I thank you for this beautiful gesture.

Contributed by Matthew Ferricks

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