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From Tennessee, North Carolina Came the White Families

A Sesquicentennial History of New Prospect Cemetery

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Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2013 9:30 am | Updated: 9:33 am, Thu Jul 25, 2013.

Eighth in a series

If there is one surname in Wayne County that has been erroneously researched throughout the years it is that of the White surname. Two particular families of White were reported to have been related to one another for many years. They being the families of Luke White (1785-1864) and Moses White (1810-1882). Today, with in-depth and unlimited genealogy research, their relation has been disproved. These two patriarchs of the White families helped populate, literally, most of Wayne County. Luke White settled the area known today as “White Hollow” at Clubb in 1850. He arrived from Guilford County, North Carolina. Luke and wife Nancy White helped organize the Mt. Pisgah General Baptist Church in 1857. Moses White settled on Bounds Creek in 1856. He arrived from Lawrence County, Tennessee. Moses and wife Catherine White became New Prospect Church members. Moses was a licensed minister of the congregation for many years. 

To help with the confusion with these two families is the fact that they intermarried on many occasions. The most memorial of these cases was Murphy White (1833-1887), a son of Luke & Nancy (Bland) White, who married Casander Jane “Cassie” White (1840-1931), a daughter of Moses & Catherine (Hardy) White. Murphy and Cassie White were the parents of eleven children, most of which are well remembered residents and many were members of New Prospect Church at one time or another. They were; Andrew “Jackson” White, James Madison “Buddy” White, Mary Alice “Sis” (White) Heath, William Alexander “Major” White, Nancy Catherine (White) Heath, Amanda Arminta (White) Sullivan, twins, Joseph Wilson “Joe” White and Lydia Jane (White) League-Davis, Sarah Elizabeth “Lizbeth” (White) Allen-Leach, Rowena “Adalee” (White) Sullivan and Henry Franklin “Frank” White. One of these children, Elizabeth Allen-Leach, is interred at New Prospect. Two daughters-in-law of the couple, Mary Tamar (Twidwell) White and Sarah Frances Jane (Allen) White, wife’s of Jackson and Major, are also interred at New Prospect. Murphy White was ordained a deacon of New Prospect Baptist Church in September 1868 and he and his wife remained members until September 1880 when they helped organize Bear Creek Baptist Church on their property at White Hollow. The church was built next to the White family cemetery that had been established in the 1860’s and is believed to be the burial place of Luke and Nancy White. Murphy and Cassie White are interred in this cemetery as well. Bear Creek Creek Baptist Church had dissolved by the early 1940’s. In 1952 a congregation was organized in the old building and took the name White Hollow General Baptist Church. This congregation had new members and a new doctrine. It exists today in a new building just west of the old 1880 location. 

Well known grandsons of Luke White buried at New Prospect include; William Pinkney White, James Romulus White, George Murphy White and Alson Gray White; and a granddaughter Nancy “Jane” (White) Ownbey.  William Pinkney White (1845-1930), son of John L. & Martha Ann “Patsy” (Twidwell) White, was a time honored Wayne County resident. He has been the subject of a prior article in this series. His brother, Alson Gray “Alt” White (1851-1898), named in honor of his Uncle Rev. A.G. Twidwell, is buried in an unmarked grave in the cemetery. A.G. “Alt” White was included on the 1895 building committee of New Prospect Baptist Church that led the effort in erecting the present church building. He was married two times; First to Sophronia Alice Barrett and second to Mary Susan Mason. A.G. White, being a member of the Masonic fraternity, was called upon by his brother William Pinkney White, to lay the northeast cornerstone in what is today his historic Frazier’s Creek home. A sister to the two brothers, Nancy “Jane” (White) Ownbey (1842-1898), was a wife of former New Prospect deacon Andrew L. Ownbey. The Ownbey family were one of the several members that united with the Mt. Pisgah General Baptist Church and lost membership at New Prospect.

First cousins to W.P. White, A.G. White and Jane Ownbey were; James “Romulus” White (1845-1922) and his brother George Murphy “Murph” White (1862-1913). They were the children of James M. & Elizabeth (Ellington) White. These brothers were well established Bounds Creek farmers and blacksmiths. They were partners in business and historic records and tax books referrers to them as “The White Brothers Co.”. Romulus White was married to Eliza Jane (Epley) White (1846-1932) and they had three children; James “William” Henry White (1871-1942), who married Martha “Julia” Heath; Mary Catherine (White) Heath (1873-1937), who married Andrew F. “Andy” Heath; and Sarah Elizabeth “Betty” (White) Heath (1875-1935), who married Levi H. Heath. Grandchildren of the couple included well remembered Wayne County residents, Asa White, Ira White , Alva White, Mrs. Nellie Collins, Mrs. Minnie Randall and Mrs. Jennie Clark;  George Murphy White was married to India Amy Everlyn “Ever” (Atnip) White (1864-1937). The home of this couple is described as the first home place on the left just past the Bounds Creek school house location. The home today is gone. They were the parents of eight children. All of which, that lived to adulthood, made their homes near Parma, MO.  The families of Romulus and Murph White were constituted members of the New Hope General Baptist Church at Silva. In a 2001 interview with the late Betty (Randall) May, a great-granddaughter of Romulus White, she stated that this line of the White family was firm believers in the doctrine of foot washing as a church ordinance and preferred that congregation to New Prospect. A half-brother of Romulus and Murph White was Valentine White (1835-1924), a long time resident of the Patterson community late in his life.  As a young man, Valentine White owned a Bounds Creek farm near his half-brothers. He was a very active member of New Prospect Baptist Church, serving as clerk for many years. Valentine White was one of the several members given letters of good standing to organize the Little Lake Baptist Church at Patterson in 1878. He was married to Columbia Oregon (Farmer) White (1845-1920), a daughter of New Prospect deacon Jesse Farmer (1811-1867) and wife Nancy Catherine (McGuire) Farmer (1816-1867). Grandsons of Valentine White included well remembered Fenton C. White (1896-1971) of Patterson and Henry A. White (1905-1976) of Piedmont, a well remembered longtime educator. A great-granddaughter is Shirley (White) Shearrer the present author of the Piedmont/Patterson news for the Wayne County Journal Banner. Valentine White is interred at Patterson.

Of the children of Moses and Catherine White, two are interred at New Prospect. The youngest, William Harrison White (1850-1893) was a New Prospect Church member. His great-grandson, Clay White of Danton, Ohio, graciously marked the graves of Moses and Catherine White with a large Missouri red granite headstone in recent years. An older brother of William Harrison White, was James Jonathan White (1831-1913), the oldest child of Moses White. James J. White was a veteran of the Civil War, having served in CO A 47th MO Infantry. He was married to Eleanor (Franklin) White (1834-1909). The families of James Jonathan and Eleanor White are well represented throughout the cemetery. Three of their six children were sons, David Harrison White (1861-1901), Wilson White (1864-1944) and William Elias “Bill” White (1865-1954) and are interred at New Prospect. David Harrison White was married to Martha Jane (Huff) White (1874-1968) and was a New Prospect Church member. Martha White was a daughter of Joseph Huff (1838-1886) and Margaret Jane (Phipps) Huff-Melton (1846-1944). David and Martha White were the parents of six adult children; Grover Cleveland White (1892-1953), David “Pearl” White (1895-1989),  John Henry White (1898-1971), Margaret (White) Payton (1896-1970), and twin girls, Rushie (White) Thompson (1901-1990) and Ruthie (White) Marler (1901-1991). Living descendants of the couple today, include well known Greenville minister, Rev. Louie Robinson and longtime Silva resident Charlene (White) Allen. After the death of David H. White, his widow Martha, married his brother William E. “Bill” White. They had two children of their own, longtime Lodi resident, William “Elwood” White (1905-1984) and well loved Shook resident Clara E. (White) Hicks (1911-1999). The descendants of the late Clara Hicks and husband Ben Hicks are very faithful to the annual New Prospect Cemetery gathering each year in August. Those descendants include Greenville businesswomen, Gail Golden.  Prior to being married to Martha (Huff) White, William E. “Bill” White had previously been married twice before to (first) Sarah (Sparks) White (1870-1892) and (second) Izzrilda “Rilda” (Robinson) White (1864-1940). Rilda White was a longtime faithful member of New Prospect Baptist Church. She and Bill White were the parents of three children, Jacob Benjamin “Jake” White (1900-1968), a longtime Greenville resident, Martha White (1897-1902) and the late Lillie Catherine White (1895-1961) of Silva. Children of his first marriage were David Lemuel “Lem” White (1889-1909), George Luther White (1892-1958) and George Edward “Ed” White, who was later George Edward “Ed” Hughes (1890-1963), after being adopted by a Lodi family following the death of his mother. William E. “Bill” White and his families were well remembered residents of the Lost Creek township at Shook for many years.

The third son of James J. White, Wilson White, was married to Rutha Ann (Wakefield) White (1869-1942). She was a daughter of former New Prospect members, Charles Brant “Doc” Wakefield (1832-1903) and Mariah Louisa (Johnson) Wakefield (1842-1884). Siblings of Rutha White  who lived to adulthood were, Jasper Newton Wakefield (1862-1922), Sarah Catherine (Wakefield) Croney (1863-1901), John Brant Wakefield (1866-1943), Charles “Marshall” Wakefield (1872-1934) and James Pinkney “Pink” Wakefield (1873-1950). All the Wakefield children were members of New Prospect Church at one time or another. Wilson and Rutha White united with New Prospect Baptist Church by baptism in October 1916. They had twelve children. Two of them included longtime Silva resident Leonard William White (1895-1960) and well remembered Greenville resident Jennie Louvina (White) Rainwater (1904-1960). A grandson of the couple is lifelong Greenville resident Howard Rainwater. 

Of the over 900 interments at New Prospect Cemetery nearly half of them are descendants of either Luke White or Moses White. Many of the interred descendants carry a different surname other than White. With such a great number of White descendants at New Prospect it would be impossible to list all of them in this short article. The goal of this article was to focus on the main branches and give an insight into of a few of the community leaders throughout the last 150 years. As the cemetery honors its sesquicentennial this summer, may the White descendants throughout Wayne County today look back at their time honored heritage with pride. Most of that heritage revolves around that little white church house on Bounds Creek.

Next week: Preachers, singers and shouters; The family of Rev. James H. Barker

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