W. THOMAS WHITE, after forty years of service in the ranks of the employes of the Wabash, Chester & Western Railway Company, has retired from his position as station agent at Cutler, which he has held for the past thirty-four years, and since April 14, 1911, has been living a life of comparative inactivity, as contrasted with his long term of active service for that company. Few men can show a record of faithful service with one concern covering so long a period of years, but the life and works of W. Thomas White have been an open book, and his every act tinctured by a loyalty and allegiance to his company that had won him high praise from his employers and from the people of his community as well.
A native of Perry county, Illinois, Mr. White was born on January 14, 1853. His father was a native of Washington county, born in 1830, and died in Perry county in 1863. Reverend Thomas White, the grandfather of the subject, settled in Washington county as one of its pioneer settlers from South Carolina. He was a Methodist minister, and he died in Texas in 1840. He, with his wife, Jane Pate, were the parents of four children: Julia, who became the wife of William Lemons and passed her life in Washington county, Illinois; David, who died in Washington county in 1865; Elizabeth, who married Jackson Lemons and died in the same county; and Orson, the father of W. Thomas, the subject.
The father of Orson White passed away when he was yet at a very tender age, and the frontier schools alone prepared him and his brother and sisters for the serious business of life. Orson White was a staunch defender of the Union and a supporter of Republican policies, and at the outbreak of the Civil war he was the one man of the faith in his section of Perry county. The spirit of the community was in strong opposition to the Government, and when some of the Democrats were drafted for the service efforts were made to resist enlistment. Upon one occasion, following a draft, a Federal soldier made his appearance in the community and applied to Mr. White for lodging. During the night a small posse of citizens, many of them neighbors, called Mr. White outside and inquired into the presence of the "blue coat" in his house. Upon his explanation that the man was under the protection of the White roof and should not be molested, the representatives of the Knights of the Golden Circle, as they called themselves, informed Mr. White that they would give him one hour to start the "blue coat" on his way out of the country, under penalty of violence to his person. It was judged by the soldier that ``discretion was the better part of valor, and as a result he and his protector took horses and rode to the home of another Republican several miles away. By early morning Mr. White was back under his own roof and he had the satisfaction of seeing the shirking men captured and forced into service in defense of the flag. In early life Mr. White married Martha McCurdy Hix, the widow of Joseph Hix, by whom she was the mother of one daughter, Caroline, who married and died in St. Francis, Arkansas. Mr. and Mrs. White were the parents of four children: W. Thomas, of Cutler, Illinois; Nathan B, who died in Perry county in 1910, after passing the greater
part of his life in Tamaroa as a carpenter; Minnie, who died unmarried; Della, who married Coleman Smith and died in Perry county. Mrs. White passed away in August, 1909, as the widow of Burrell Smith, now deceased, Orson White having died as a young man during the Civil war.
W. Thomas White passed his boyhood upon the farm around Tamaroa, falling into the hands of that systematic farmer and altogether admirable citizen, Lysias Heap. He was a cultured, educated gentleman and Thomas White was the third boy he had taken under his paternal care. He was well versed in boy-lore and he well knew the way to the best that was in the heart and mind of a boy, and how best to develop his better nature. During the winter young White was sent to school the same as if he had been a son of his benefactor, and the boy improved his opportunities in a more than usual manner. No arduous labors were demanded of him as a return for his schooling privileges, but he did the choring and other light work about the premises and in this way came to young manhood. He made his home with Mr. Heap until he was past twenty, at which age he began teaching school, continuing thus for eight years. At that time the Wabash, Chester & Western Railroad Company was building its line through the county and Mr. White became interested in it. He became a brakeman and served in that capacity until he lost a leg as the result of an unfortunate railroad accident in 1873, and following his recovery he was made station agent at Cutler, which position he filled with a high degree of satisfaction to all concerned until his retirement in April, 1911, after thirty-four years of service at one station. During many years of that time Mr. White had carried on farming to a greater or less extent upon the farm, a portion of which was his wife's property, coming to her from her father, the Reverend M. Harshaw. Upon this farm she was born, reared, married and has thus far passed her married life. The marriage of Mr. White with Miss Sarah Harshaw took place August 4, 1881. She was born October 3, 1853, and was educated in the home, in the public school and in a private academy at Coulterville. Reverend Michael Harshaw, her father, came to the Cutler neighborhood in 1842, coming from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and settling in the dense woods on the now prosperous farm conducted by his daughter's husband. He was a native of county Armagh, Ireland, born there in 1818, and in Bakerstown, Pennsylvania, December 27, 1842, he married Margaret McCloskey, a native of county Antrim, Ireland, who came to the United States in 1824. They were the parents of seven children: Eliza, the wife of Rev. S. B. Moore, of Tarkio, Missouri; Rev. Andrew Harshaw, of Junction City, Kansas; Mrs. White; and Rev. William Harshaw, of Minneapolis, Minnesota; all of whom are living, and three are deceased. The wife and mother passed away October 4, 1910, at the advanced age of ninety-three years, while the father died August 11, 1874. Rev. Michael Harshaw was an important factor in the work of the United Presbyterian church in this section of Illinois. His education, received in Washington and Jefferson College, and later at a Presbyterian seminary, was ample to prepare him for the work he was engaged in for so many years of his life, and, indeed, up to the last week of his life. He blazed the trail for much of the later work that has been done in Southern Illinois by the United Presbyterian church, and was faithful to the last in the performance of his duties as a minister of the gospel. A man of high character and fearless in his convictions, he was a formidable enemy to all that smacked of vice in its myriad forms, and he was loved and respected by all who came within the circle of his acquaintance.
Mr. and Mrs. White are members of the United Presbyterian church. Mr. White has been a notary public for many years, is a justice of the peace and is a Prohibition Democrat. He has been secretary of the Farmers' Institute for many years and takes a hearty interest in all matters of agricultural import. One son has been born to Mr. and Mrs. White: Howard, a resident of Cutler, born December 4, 1887, and married to Theresa Meyer on April 20, 1911.