The subject of this review has been long and conspicuously identified with the history of the great west, and in varied official positions has proved a wise and discriminating factor in the public life. He is at the present time the incumbent of the important office of judge of probate of Elmore County, retaining his residence at Mountain Home, the flourishing and attractive little city which is the capital of said County.
Judge White is a native son of the old Empire state, and may look with satisfaction upon a lineage which traces back to the stanchest of old New England stock. He was born in Cortland County, New York, on the 10th of August, 1830, the son of John K. and Sally (Griffin) White, both of whom were born in Connecticut. The ancestry is traced back to Puritan representatives who founded the family in America, having come to the rugged but hospitable shores of Massachusetts on the Mayflower and landed at Plymouth Rock, famed in history and story. The original American ancestors are supposed to have been of Irish and Welsh extraction.
The parents of Judge White removed from their native state to Cortland County, New York, where for many years the father was engaged in contracting and building, having previously learned the trade of a mason. He was a man of vigorous intellectuality and sterling rectitude of character, and left the record of a long and useful life. He lived to attain the age of seventy years, and his wife was of about the same age at the time of her death, which occurred in Minnesota, at the home of her son, the subject of this review. Both were worthy and devoted members of the Methodist Episcopal church, exemplifying in their daily walk the faith which they professed and in that faith going forward to the eternal life which they felt was assured them. They became the parents of three sons and one daughter, of whom Judge White is the only survivor.
John S. White was reared to maturity in his native state, and there received an excellent educational discipline in the public schools. In 1855, at the age of twenty-five years, he determined to try his fortunes in the west, and accordingly removed to Minnesota, where he continued to reside for nearly a quarter of a century. He was there honored with official position, having served as deputy sheriff and deputy United States marshal. In 1879 he again turned his face westward, casting in his fortune with what was then the comparatively undeveloped territory of Idaho. The Judge maybe consistently classed among the pioneers of the commonwealth which is so appropriately christened the “Gem of the Mountains,” and that he has been a valuable citizen is evident from his tenure of offices of distinctive trust and responsibility, as accorded through the suffrage of the people. He first located in Boise, where he entered the employ of the United States marshal, E. S. Chase, and was given the position of warden of the territorial penitentiary. In 1884 he removed from the capital city of the territory to Shoshone, where he entered the employ of the railroad and stage company, also becoming a justice of the peace, in which office he served with signal ability, his rulings being so well taken as to gain to him the confidence and respect of the people. Here he entered claim to a tract of one hundred and sixty acres of excellent land, which he improved, erecting substantial buildings and making the place a valuable one. This property he still owns.
In 1898 he received the appointment of judge of probate of Elmore County, whither he came in the spring of 1897, and where he has since resided. His administration of the affairs of the office is careful and discriminating and gained to him the commendation of the public. Thus it was but natural that he should become a candidate for that office in November, 1898, his name having been placed on the silver Republican fusion ticket. The votes were a tie and by lot he won, the drawing being done by the County commissioner.
The marriage of Judge White was solemnized in Cortland County, New York, on the 7th of April, 1857, when he was united to Miss Laura E. Wheeler, who, like himself, is a native of that County. She is the daughter of Johnson Wheeler and is the only survivor of the family. Judge and Mrs. White have one daughter, Katie E., who became the wife of Harry C. Mollison. She was honored with the office of president of the Ladies’ Silver Club, of Mountain Home, and proved a most capable presiding officer, taking a deep interest in the work of the club.
In the concluding paragraphs of this sketch we must revert to another important and honorable chapter in the life history of Judge White. His patriotism and loyalty have ever been above question, and the heroic manifestation of these attributes came at the time when the integrity of the nation was threatened by armed rebellion. In March 1862, he enlisted as a private in the Second Minnesota Battery of Light Artillery, with which he served until the expiration of his term, covering a period of two years. The sanguinary struggle was not yet ended, and the sterling characteristics of the man prompted him to veteranize and to again enlist. Thereafter his military record of active service continued until victory crowned the Union arms and the greatest internecine war of history was terminated. The government which he had served so faith-fully in her hour of need granted him a discharge in September, 1865, and he returned to his home, once more to take up the pursuits of peace in a country whose integrity he had helped to preserve.
From the time of attaining his majority Judge White was a stalwart supporter of the Republican Party and its policies, but in 1896 believing that the party platform did not represent the best interests of the nation and that certain of its planks were calculated to work injury to that great section of the west with whose interests he is identified, he joined the silver wing of the party, with motives as purely in the interest of the country as those which animated him when he went forth to face her enemies on the field of battle. He has not wavered in his belief in the elemental principles of the Republican Party, but believes that the platform of 1896 stands as a blot on the ‘scutcheon of an organization whose record has theretofore been one of the brightest and wisest. Judge White keeps green the memory of the days passed on the tented battlefield and manifests his abiding interest in his old comrades in arms by retaining membership in the Grand Army of the Republic, whose ranks are rapidly being decimated by the ravages of time, the great and final promotion having come to the greater portion of the brave boys in blue. He holds membership in U. S. Grant Post, No. 8, at Shoshone, and has filled all of its offices, having served several terms as its commander. Judge White is uniformly honored and esteemed, and his record is one which reflects credit upon himself and does honor to the vital young commonwealth in whose progress and welfare he is so deeply concerned.