Tuesday, August 6, 2013

General William White

by Debie Cox, 
published on August 6, 2013 at 7:01 pm,
on the 180th anniversary of the death of General William White.

A few weeks ago, I ran across a folder of photo copies of deeds, court minutes and other records that I gathered several years ago while researching General William White for the book, North Edgefield Remembered.  I wrote a summary of what I had found for Professor Bill McKee of Cumberland University and he used that and material gathered by others to write a brief sketch of General White.  The General lived on a farm that is now divided by Lischey Avenue in Northeast Nashville.  His property ran from Meridian Street back to Jones Avenue and from Trinity Lane south to 1313 Lischey Ave., near Douglas Ave.  I have been writing about General White the past few days after conducting further research and studying the material in the folder.  I realized a couple of days ago that the date of General White's death was near.  I have hurried to write the story so that I could share it. Today, August 6, 2013 is the 180th anniversary of his death.  It is more a draft than a finished story.  I will edit over the coming days, but today I am remembering General White and his family.

William C. White, son of William and Catherine Chapman White, was born October 09, 1783 in Louisa Co., Virginia.  His father was a Captain in the Virginia Militia during the Revolution. 

William White came to Tennessee as a young man and settled in Sumner County.  He was an attorney in Gallatin and became a well-regarded citizen.   William White served as adjutant general under General Jackson. He fought in the Creek Wars and he was at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.  General White was married to his first wife about 1810.  Little is known of her.  No date or place of marriage has been located.  Her name may have been Jane Russell or Jane Scott.  The death of Jane S. White, wife of Major William White, of Davidson County, Tennessee was reported on March 16, 1816, in the Nashville Whig.  I have not been able to determine if this was the wife of our subject.  Three children were born to White and his first wife; Catherine Louise, Arthur C. and William R. White.  General White, a resident of Davidson County, married his second wife, Eliza Caroline Wharton in Davidson County in 1817.  They were married by Thomas B. Craighead of the Spring Hill meeting house.  Eliza was born in 1798 in Virginia. 

Jo Conn Guild recalled in "Old Times in Tennessee," that General White was living on White's Creek in Davidson County in 1818, when he made a visit to the General's home.  In December of 1822, General White purchased 200 acres of land in Davidson County, the western section of pioneer settler Zachariah Stull's preemption grant.  White built a two story brick home on his land, near the Dickerson Road, about two miles from Nashville. William and Eliza White, and their children moved into the new home, called White Hall after General White's father's home in Virginia.  
General White continued the practice of law when he moved to Davidson County and was found most days in Nashville.  Judge Guild wrote, "He [White] was one of the most gallant men I ever knew, and was the very soul of honor. He never gave or submitted to an insult."  In 1826, White became entangled in a disagreement between Sam Houston and John Erwin.  Houston, representing Tennessee in Congress at the time, had made disparaging remarks toward Erwin who had recently been named postmaster in Tennessee.   Erwin sent an intermediary, in the form of John T. Smith, a professional duelist from Missouri, to present a challenge to Houston. Houston rejected Smith, who was accompanied by General William White.  Words of disagreement passed between Houston and White.  White thought they had parted on equal ground and expected nothing further to come from the meeting.  What happened next is described in the words of General White, through a letter written, on December 21, 1826, to a friend:
"…Erwin then advertised Houston as a coward and calumniator. Houston, in the next paper, denounced Erwin as a rogue, and procured a certificate from Erwin's rival candidates to prove that he had taken a newspaper belonging to another person before Erwin became Postmaster. To this publication Houston attached the certificates of two persons, in which the altercation betwixt him and myself was very much misrepresented, thereby placing himself in a defensive, and me in an offensive attitude. Houston, who was somewhat popular, hoped, in this manner, to escape public censure himself and at my expense, and that, too, without subjecting himself to the necessity of a combat with anyone, for he was fully aware of the inequality of our situations. Knowing that, according to the tone of public sentiment here, a coward cannot live except in disgrace and obscurity, I did not hesitate as to my course, nor shall I have cause ever to regret it, for I find that, although I fell in the combat, I conquered even in my fall. Yes, I conquered the prejudices and extorted the admiration of my foes themselves, whilst I am established in the esteem and approbation of my friends. And now it affords me pleasure to add further that, although I was very severely wounded, I have entirely recovered from it."
The duel took place early on the morning of September 22, 1826, at Linkumpinch, just across the Tennessee line in Kentucky.  White was known to be a poor shot and was not expected to fare well.  The two faced one another at 15 paces and fired.  White fell, wounded in the groin, and Houston walked away unharmed.  White was taken to his home in near Nashville, where he soon recovered. 

Following his recovery, General White continued to live at White Hall with his family, and commuted the two miles to Nashville by horseback and by carriage.  His health was good.  He carried on his law practice and took care of his family and his farm.  In 1831 the youngest child of General White was born at White Hall.  He had fathered eleven children, three with his first wife and eight with Eliza.  On Friday, August 2, 1833, he felt out of sorts, enough so that those around him noticed.  He left town for home.  On Saturday his doctor paid a visit and treated White for a bilious attack which has symptoms of severe headache and stomach pain.  On Sunday General White was feeling better but on Monday his illness returned and worsened.  On Tuesday, August 6, about seven o'clock in the evening General William C. White, took his last breath and passed from this earth.  He was buried at his home place.   

Eliza and the children lived at White Hall and carried on as usual.  Her step-daughter Catherine's husband, William F. White, took over the role of man of the house.  He helped Eliza with the place and was named guardian for some of the children. 

In 1836, Eliza filed for letters of administration on the estate of William C. White in the Davidson County Court. William F. White, husband of sister, Catherine, gave bond to the court, as he was appointed guardian for the General's oldest sons, Arthur C. and William R. White, a lunatic.  These two were the sons of William White from his first marriage, and they were nearing the age of maturity.  The court ordered one year support set aside for the widow, Eliza C. White, and her family.  It was also ordered that the estate be divided among the heirs, but that the younger children's share to be reserved until they came of age.  On January 2, 1838, William F. White gave report to the court on his ward William R. White, indicating that William R. had died since the last report in May 1837.  On the same day letters of administration were granted to Arthur C. White on the estate of his deceased brother William R. White. 

On January 23, 1838, Eliza C. White, widow of the General, was married to John W. Ogden, a minister in the Presbyterian Church.  A few months later Ogden was appointed guardian for the minor children of Eliza and General White: George W. White, Jane Eliza White, Alfred Harris White, Mary Ann White, Charles Henry White, Aaron Chapman White, Lucy Caroline White and Washington Lafayette White. 

Eliza lived at White Hall until her death in 1872.  She is buried near her home in the family cemetery, along with both of her husbands.  Now called the Ogden-White cemetery, the burial ground is all that remains of the William White homeplace.  The old house and surrounding property on the east side of Lischey Avenue, including the cemetery, in all about 90 acres, was purchased in 1882 by the Thomas Joy family.  The Joy family renovated the old house and added an addition to the front, changing the look of the old house.  It became known as the Joy-White house.  Additional houses were constructed by the Joy's in the 1880's and 1890's on the property.   The Joy family operated a floral business on their property and some of the family lived on Lischey Avenue into the early 1970's.  The old White home fell into disrepair in later years and in 1992 it was demolished.  The photo below shows the front section of the house, built by the Joy family in the 1890's.

The Tennessean, Apr 24 1992

Following is a listing of those buried in the Ogden-White cemetery. The connections between the White and Ogden family are confusing.  Buried in the cemetery are children of William White and his first wife Jane as well as some of the children by his second wife Eliza Wharton. Eliza's second husband, Reverend Ogden is buried in the cemetery along with several of children from his first marriage.  Gen. White's family and the Rev. Ogden family were also connected through the marriage of Gen. White’s son Arthur C. White to Mary Ann Ogden daughter of Rev. Ogden.

Names of person interred in the cemetery of General William White and their relationship to General White.

1. General William White, born October 9, 1783, died August 6, 1833, son of William and Catherine White of Louisa County, Virginia.  

2. Arthur C. White, born December 31, 1815, died March 4, 1877, son of General William White and his first wife Jane Scott.

3. Mary Ann Ogden White, wife of Arthur C. White, born 1823, died 1887.  She was the daughter of Rev. John Ogden who was also buried in the cemetery.

4. Arthur C. White, born 1848, died 1849, son of Arthur C. White and Mary Ogden White.

5. Catherine Louise White, born about 1812, died 1846, daughter of General William White and his first wife Jane Scott.  Her husband’s name was also William White.  He was Colonel William F. White who died in Montgomery Co., KY in 1854.

6. Eliza Caroline Wharton White Ogden, born 1798, died 1872.  She was the second wife of General William White and after his death she became the second wife of Rev. John Ogden. 

7. Lucy Carolina Bowman, born 1823, died 1856, daughter of General William White and his second wife Eliza Caroline Wharton, wife of Dr. Joseph A. Bowman.

8. Joseph A. Bowman, born 1812, died 1875, husband of Lucy Carolina White Bowman.

9. Laura White Bowman, infant daughter of Jos. A. and Lucy C. Bowman, born 1853, died 1855.

10. Dr. W. L. White, born 1827, died 1867.  His full name was Washington Lafayette White and he was a son of General William White and his second wife Eliza Caroline Wharton.

11. B. W. Ogden, born 1828, died 1854, son of Rev. John Ogden and his first wife whose name is unknown.

12. Eliza Hall Ogden, born 1835, died 1850, daughter of Rev. John Ogden and his first wife whose name is unknown.

13. Rev. John W. Ogden, born 1794, died 1879.  He was the 2nd husband of Eliza Caroline Wharton White.

14. America W. Bowman, born 1829, died 1869. [I do not know the connection to the family]

source notes:

North Edgefield Remembered
C. William McKee

Tennessee Records: Tombstone Inscriptions and Manuscripts
Jeanette T. Acklen

Old Times In Tennessee:
Jo. C. Guild, 1878 Rep. 

Sam Houston fights a duel, Sept. 22, 1826

Sam Houston
James L. Haley 

Gallatin, The County Seat
Walter T. Durham, From Old Sumner, 1805-1861
Sumner County  Tennessee Genealogy website
Davidson County Tennessee Court, Minute Book B, 1836-1838.

Davidson County Tennessee Register of Deeds

Marriage Record Book I, 1789 -1837, Davidson County Tennessee, Silas E. Lucas, Jr.

Davidson Co. TN Marriage Records, 1838 - 1863, Byron Sistler and Associates.

DAR Application of Miss Caroline Catherine Hollins #23026

Nashville Republican, August 9, 1833


  1. I enjoyed your article as I have been curious about General White for some time. I have done much research on John Patton Erwin and his six interesting daughters. JPE's wife, Fannie Lanier Williams, was the sister of Col. and Senator John Williams, a hero of Horseshoe Bend and a later political enemy of Jackson. Another brother was my wife's g-g-g-grand. Yet another brother, Thomas Lanier, a famous judge and politico, is buried in Nashville City Cemetery near JPE. He is the namesake of the playwright better known as Tennessee Williams.

  2. What a beautifully written and well-researched article on Gen. White! As a direct descendant of Gen. White and his second wife, Eliza Caroline Wharton, I have a lot of information gathered/researched years ago by my mother and aunt. According to our records, Gen. White's first wife was Jane Russell of Gallatin, TN. I have old photographs of the Cooper portraits of Eliza Caroline and of her father, George Wharton of Nashville. I am curious as to the whereabouts of those two portraits.

  3. Thank you for writing this. I too, am a direct descendant of Gen. White (I represent his father in the Society of the Cincinnati), and own a sword that Gen. White took from a British officer at the Battle of New Orleans.

  4. Restoration of the gravestones is to be done in the fall of 2014. More work is needed. Please email alleenc@bellsouth.net for photos and info. Help will be deeply appreciated. Stay tuned for info on dedication of new marker.

  5. Very interesting article! Were you aware that General White's son, Aaron Chapman White built in 1844 a beautiful home in Spring Hill, TN, also known as White Hall. The home has quite a bit of Civil War history. Here is a link to a photograph of it: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/12/White_Hall.JPG

    1. Hi, unknown,
      Are you a descendant of Dr. Aaron White? I would love to know the particular Civil War history of White Hall. I am a descendant of his brother, Dr. George Wharton White, who lived around the corner, in a two-story home on Hwy 31, across from the Episcopal Church. That home is now divided up into several retail spaces. I know that George's youngest daughter died of dypththeria in Nov. 1861 at Aaron's home, and that another daughter was married there in 1867 (my great-grandmother). Please tell me what else you know about Aaron's home, including its current status. Last time I saw it, it looked terrible. I have never been inside. Thanks so much.

  6. Hi, I'm Devon. I live in the current standing Joy Mansion at 1431 Lischey avenue and have spent the last 6 years repairing it. I would love to meet any descendants of White, as I believe he built the kitchen foundation almost 200 years ago that still stands today. Please contact me with any questions.

    508 397 7907

  7. Hello Devon, thanks for reading my blog. Gen. William White's home was at 1435 Lischey and was demolished in 1992. The house at 1431 was built for General White's son (the back section). In the 1890's the Joy family remodeled and added to both houses. If you are on facebook, message me and I will send you an image of the other house. I don't know which son the house at 1431 was built for but suspect it was Arthur who married in 1839. Arthur and his wife are buried in the cemetery there.


Comments are welcome and will be moderated.