Biography of Jesse White

A widely known and universally esteemed citizen of Riley County, a retired farmer living in great comfort in the pleasant Town of Riley, is Jesse White, an honored veteran of the Civil war. For almost sixty years his home had been in the Sunflower State and he had done his part in aiding in its agricultural, religious and educational progrees. He was born July 10, 1844, in Jackson County, Indiana. His parents were Jesse and Naney (Kinlon) White.

From their native state, North Carolina, the parents of Jesse White removed to Indiaua in 1842, and thence to Kansas, arriving at Manhattan, May 14, 1857. They settled on Mill Creek, fifteen miles northwest of Manhattan, and on the farm then chosen spent the remainder of their days, the father dying in 1861, when aged sixty years, and the mother passing away in 1864, at the age of fifty-three years. Farming was the father’s occupation. He was an anti-slavery man but was a Jacksonian democrat. Both he and wife were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. They were good, virtuous, worthy people; none better ever came to Riley County. To them were born children as follows: David R., who is deceased; Richard F., who died in Indiana; Ellen E. and Sarah A. are both deceased; Nehemiah, who died while a soldier in the Union army, a member of Company G, Eleventh Kansas Cavalry; Martha Jane, who died in childhood; Jesse; John C. and Martha Ann, both deceased; and Thomas, who is a farmer in Riley County.

Jesse White was thirteen years of age when be accompanied his parents to Kansas, and with them and afterward went through pioneer trials and privations. Back in Indiana he had seenred a few months of schooling, but after coming to Kansas he had no educational opportunities of any kind. He was well trained, however, to meet cmergencies on the farm and in the cultivation of land and handling of stock, and despite its discouragements for a long time in Riley County, he preferred farm life to every other and kept active as a farmer and stock raiser until he was nearly sixty years old. For a few years, however, while but a youth, after roming to Kansas, Mr. White followed freighting between Leavenworth and Manhattan, and between the latter city and Atchison transported goods by ox-team.

When the Civil war came on he soon began preparations for a military life, his patriotism being shown in deeds rather than words when, in August, 1862, he enlisted as a private in Company G, Eleventh Kansas Infantry. One year later this regiment was mounted, becoming the Eleventh Kansas Cavalry. He shared the fortunes of this regiment until the close of the war, participating in battles and enduring exposure, receiving his honorable discharge on May 23, 1865, at Camp Babcock. Mr. White had an original and unique drawing of his own drafting, showing Camp Babcock in detail, a very interesting memento.

When the war closed Mr. White returned to Riley County and ontered upon an agricultural life, beginning on rented land. One year later he bought a tract of eighty acres, situated on Mill Creek, in Grant Township, Riley County, and there established his home. With characteristic industry and energy he applied himself to the developing of his farm. During his travels he had observed the methods used in many sections of the country by different farmers and could see, in numerous cases, why they had but indifferent success. On his own land he was thorough and practical, and through his care and good judgment prospered exceedingly. Purchasing other tracts as suited his convenience, Mr. White acquired 417 acres in his home farm and resided on it until 1901, when he retired and purchased his present residence in the Town of Riley. In 1913 he sold the home farm but still owned two quarter sections in Wild Oat Township. Mr. White had always believed in improving property and on his own he erected fine buildings and in every way made it one of the best, as it was one of the largest stock farms in Riley County. He gave much attention to raising cattle, but all kinds of stock were bred.

Mr. White was married August 17, 1863, to Miss Emma Jane Blodgett, who had been a devoted wife and invaluable helpmate to him. Mrs. White was born in Wisconsin, November 1, 1845, and is a daughter of William and Hannah (Sebring) Blodgett. Her father was a native of Vermont, her mother of Pennsylvania, and they were married in Ohio. They moved to Wisconsin at an early day, and in the fall of 1857 they came to Kansas and located in Wild Cat Township, Riley County, where they subsequently lived and there died. They had five children, namely: William Walter, who died while serving in the Civil war as a member of Company G, Eleventh Kansas Infantry; John Alpheus, who resided on the old Blodgett homestead; Collister, who is deceased; Emma Jane (Mrs. White); and Hannah Ellen. The father of Mrs. White lived to be eighty-eight years of age and the mother was aged eighty-four years at time of death.

Mr. and Mrs. White became the parents of the following children: Oscar A., William E., Charles U., George W., Hettie L., Ida B. John W., Minnie A., Carrie E., deceased, and Jeese Bert, who lives 2 1/2 miles east of Riley.

It is quite usual to find that sons follow their father’s opinion in political matters, but when Jesse White came to identifying himself with one of the great parties he found times had changed from the old days and that his own principles were fully in accord with the republican party and he had been firm in his adherence to it. He had never sought political office, but had served his township trustworthily on several occasions. Both he and wife have long been members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. For twenty-five years he had belonged to the Odd Fellows, and both he and wife are members of the auxiliary order of Rebckab, and Mr. White belongs also to the Grand Army of the Republic.


Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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