JAMES M. WHITE, labor contractor in El Paso, is a native of Wilkinson county, Mississippi, his birthplace being near the historic tavern of Cold Springs, while his natal day was October 16, 1864. He is a son of William D. and Rebecca (Ross) White. The father was born at Cold Springs, June 15, 1811, and reached the age of seventy-eight years, passing away on the 12th of December, 1889. The White homestead was located near the old Spanish trail leading from New Orleans to St. Louis. The father was a man of exceptionally fine character and of marked influence in his community and left the impress of his individuality for good upon the public life of Wilkinson county.
Mr. White of this review enjoys the distinction of being the grandson of a Revolutionary soldier, Andrew White, who was born in Wales in 1760, and when four years of age was brought by his parents to America, settling in Delaware. In 1777, then a youth of seventeen years, he joined the Continental army and was twice wounded during the war for independence, sustaining one would at Saratoga. He served under General Gates and General Morgan and after the war became of one of the pioneer settlers of Kentucky and Tennessee, contributing in substantial measure to the development and progress of those states. In 1800 he located at Natchez, Mississippi, and again figured in connection with a movement of liberty, assisting in subjugating the Spaniards there. He was a gunsmith and blacksmith by trade and built and conducted a shop at Natchez, where he remained in business until 1808, when he settled in Wilkinson county, Mississippi, near Cold Springs. There he established the home in which his son and grandson were born. In 1800 he married Miss Mary Dorman, and to them were born fourteen children, of whom William D. White was the third son and fifth child. Again Andrew White rendered military aid, becoming a member of Jackson’s famous Silver Grays, with which he participated in the battle of New Orleans in 1815. Two of his sons served in the Texas war for Independence in 1836 and three of his grandsons were soldiers of the Confederate army in the Civil war, so that the family has made a splendid record for bravery upon the field of battle. Andrew White carried twenty-one cars, some of which were received on the battle-field, while others were caused by the attacks of wild beasts, for he was a great hunter in his day. He was a man of commanding presence, being over six feet in height, and was a notable figure in the history of several states, while his life record if written in detail would furnish many a thrilling chapter showing that “truth is stranger than fiction.” The mother of our subject was born in Scotland and died at the old home in Mississippi in 1870.
James M. White, one of a family of twelve children, acquired the greater part of his learning while sitting on the floor reading by the light of pine-torch. At the age of thirteen years he entered the printing office of his brother-in-law at Woodville and learned the printer’s grade. In 1884 he came to the west and until recent years has been engaged in journalistic work, having been a newspaper publisher in the Indian Territory, Texas, Arizona, California and New Mexico. Most of this time he has been on the frontier and he has had many of the exciting adventures which have attended newspaper publication in a new country. For a time he was in the federal service in the Indian Territory, being posseman to a United States deputy marshal in the Choctaw Nation. It was Mr. White who made the famous capture of the noted “witch killer,” Solomon Hotena. It was also Mr. White who served the famous write of habeas corpus just previous to the execution of the murderer, Goings, at Alickchi in the Choctaw Nation, July 13, 1899. Goings being the last man to be executed under the Choctaw Indian law. His condemnation whereby he was to be executed by the Choctaw Indian court was held to be illegal by the federal court at Antlers and the habeas corpus issued by the federal court and directed to the Indian sheriff of Eagle county was served by Mr. White, but without effect, as the prisoner was shot according to the rulings of the Indian tribunal.
About three years ago Mr. White returned to El Paso to locate permanently. He had previously spent several years here, during which time he was connected with the El Paso Times. During his residence in Texas he also worked for the old Dallas Herald and at one time was one of the proprietors of the Mexia Ledger. He did a beneficent piece of journalistic work while publisher of a paper at Caddo, Indian Territory, for through the agency of the paper he broke up and ran out of town a very undesirable hoodlum population that was largely controlling affairs there in 1897. Mr. White is now engaged as employment agent in El Paso and has other interests here. The days of chivalry and knighthood in Europe cannot furnish more interesting or romantic tales than our town western history. Into the wild mountain fastnesses and upon the great plains of the unexplored west went brave men whose courage was often called forth in encounters with the hostile Indians. The land was rich in all natural resources and awaited the demands of the write race to yield up its treasurers, but there were many difficulties to be met, far from the confines of civilization, and the Indians also resented the encroachment of the pale faces upon their hunting grounds. The establishment of homes in the beautiful southwest region therefore meant hardships and oftentimes death, but brave men undertook the task of reclaiming the district for the purposes of civilization and today Western Texas has become a thickly settled district and enterprises known to older sections of the country. No story of fiction contains more exciting chapters than may be found in the life record of Mr. White but space forbids an extended account here.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 393-394.