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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Richmond Lane White

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 794-799 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

Contents | Portraits | Illustrations | Maps

Portrait of Richmond Lane White

Portrait: Richmond Lane White

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Richmond Lane White, general manager of the Barnet Leather Company of Little Falls, comes from a family that has been prominently identified with the leather industry in this country and Canada for three generations. His grandfather, William Henry White, was the first of the family to enter the business which attracted his interest before the Civil war and since then the grandfather, his sons and grandsons have devoted their considerable abilities to the development of this important industry. The present manager of the Barnet company may be fairly said to have grown up in the business for which he seems to have inherited an aptitude beyond that of the average manufacturer.

The history of the White family has been an interesting one since the very earliest Colonial days, for it was founded in New England by William White of the Mayflower who was the sixth signer of the famous "Mayflower Compact" drawn up in the cabin of the vessel for the self-government of the Colonists. He was probably the son of Bishop John White of England. He married in Leyden, Holland, in 1612, Anne, sister of Samuel Fuller, always called Susanna, and brought with him to America his wife and son, Resolved, born in 1615. He died in 1621, and his widow, Susanna, married Governor Edward Winslow. This Mr. White was the father of the first white child born in New England.

Resolved White came with his parents in the Mayflower in 1620 and settled in Scituate, Massachusetts. Later he moved to Marshfield, where he owned a farm on North river, which he sold in 1670 to John Rogers. He owned another farm on South River Brook, on which he is believed to have lived after leaving Scituate. In 1672 he exchanged this farm with Samuel Baker. Resolved White was married, in Scituate, April 8, 1640, to Judith Vassall, who died in Marshfield, April 3, 1670. She was the daughter of William Vassal of Italian ancestry, the English founders of the family settling in London during the reigns of King James and Charles I (this family probably came during the earlier Tudor period; James I did not die until 1625 and was succeeded by Charles I, who is contemporary with William Vassal), and there becoming possessed of great wealth and power. They owned estates in New England and the West Indies. William Vassal first came to New England with Governor Winthrop, in 1630, and returned to England the same year. In June, 1633, he returned, bringing with him his wife and family, arriving in the ship "Blessings". He is said to have been the wealthiest of all the Plymouth Colonists. Resolved and Judith White were the parents of William, John, Samuel, Resolved, Anna, Elizabeth and Josiah. The line continued through the third son, Samuel, born March 13, 1646. He resided in Marshfield with his parents but later moved to Rochester, Massachusetts. He married and was succeeded by his son, Samuel (II).

Samuel (II) White, born about 1670, married, and by his wife, Anne, had several children including a son, Ebenezer, the youngest. Ebenezer White was born March 4, 1710, and was a shipwright of Boston, owning a house in Battery Alley. He married Martha Burbeck of an early Woburn family. Their son, William, was born about 1740. He married Mary Bartlett, daughter of Roger Bartlett, who came from England and married Anne Beard about 1740. His son, Samuel Bartlett, was clerk of the courts and register of deeds in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from 1796 until 1819. Mary (Bartlett) White died February 23, 1826, leaving a son, Samuel White (III).

Samuel White (III) was born June 1, 1773, and married Penelope Cades, who was born February 9, 1778, and died July 12, 1807, leaving six children, including Samuel Bartlett White. Samuel White (III) was married a second and a third time and died January 13, 1854. Samuel Bartlett White was born in Boston, May 17, 1803, and died in Winchester, Massachusetts, in 1878. He was the first treasurer of the town of Winchester, was founder of the public library there, the first commander of the Woburn Military Phalanx, one of the organizers of the First Presbyterian church in Winchester and a man of wonderful energy, perseverance and public spirit. He married Sarah Richardson, an excellent type of New England womanhood and mother. Born in 1804, she died in 1880, was the daughter of Calvin Richardson and a direct descendant of Samuel Richardson, who founded the family in New England. Samuel Richardson was born in England in 1610 and came to New England in 1636. He joined the church in Charlestown, February 18, 1637-38, was admitted a freeman, May 2, 1638, and moved to Woburn in the spring of 1641, becoming one of the original settlers of the town. He was a selectman of Woburn for five terms and died there March 23, 1658.

William Henry White of the ninth generation of this branch of the White family in New England, son of Samuel Bartlett and Sarah (Richardson) White, was born in Woburn, Massachusetts, October 26, 1829, and died in Pittsfield, New Hampshire, November 12, 1903. He was educated in the public schools of Woburn and Winchester, Massachusetts, and then until he reached the age of sixteen was a student in Sheppard's Academy. At the age of sixteen he began learning the machinist's trade, to which he devoted four years of apprenticeship, during which he kept up his studies in geometry and draughting. In 1849 he entered the locomotive shops of the Boston & Lowell Railroad at East Cambridge, Massachusetts, and later was an engineer on that road, running between Boston and Lowell. From that road he went to the Erie line, first as assistant master mechanic at what is now Hornell, New York, then to Dunkirk, New York, on Lake Erie, the western terminus of the Erie at that time. He put in order and first occupied the works which later became the Brooks Locomotive Works. About this time he was offered a partnership in a fine lumber manufacturing enterprise, which he accepted, and until the destruction of the company's plant in Winchester a few years later was profitably engaged in sawing foreign hardwood for furniture, pianos and other purposes. After this disaster, Mr. White sold his interest in the lumber firm and turned to the leather business. In this connection he accepted a commission from a Boston firm to locate and erect a modern tannery in Canada and for five years he remained in that country putting up and operating a tannery in Montreal. In 1863 he returned to the States and located in Lowell, Massachusetts, where he began the manufacture of leather in a small way with one or two workmen to assist him. The business gradually increased as the superior quality of his product became known until finally the volume of business transacted became very large. In the next few years the financial organization of the business underwent a number of changes, but in 1887 Mr. White bought out the interests of his associates and took his three sons into partnership under the firm name of White Brothers & Company. The White leather earned a reputation in the market and they were pioneers in all the higher grades of shoe leather. With the era of consolidation and trusts the fine business of White Brothers & Company attracted the attention of ambitious corporations and eventually the company was merged with the American Hide & Leather Company. At that time William H. White retired from business to his fruit farm in New Hampshire, where he passed the rest of his life amid the most enjoyable of surroundings. He was a man of great public spirit as well as of unusual gifts for leadership and through his long residence in Lowell was an active factor in promoting the financial, civic and philanthropic interests of the city.

William H. White was married to Theresa Towie, who died leaving four children: The oldest child, Edward Lane White, was born in Winchester, Massachusetts, June 25, 1857, and died in Little Falls, November 18, 1922. As a young man he was associated with his father and two brothers in the conduct of the firm of White Brothers & Company of Lowell, and after the sale of this concern continued in the leather business. At the time of his death he was general manager of the Barnet Leather Company of Little Falls, one of the important concerns of its kind in the country. He married Miss Ida Vining Moseley, who was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, February 18, 1858, and is now living in Boston at the age of sixty-seven. Her father, Edward Van Horn Moseley, and his wife, Mary, both of whom are deceased, long made their home in Montreal, where he was connected with the leather business. At one time he was associated with William Henry White in Montreal as his partner in the tannery enterprise that took the latter to Canada so many years ago.

Richmond Lane White was born in Lowell, on the 26th of August, 1887. His first four years of schooling were obtained in the public schools of Lowell, following which he was sent to St. Paul's Boarding School in Concord, New Hampshire. After graduating from St. Paul's in 1906 the young man entered Williams College at Williamstown, Massachusetts, where he remained a year. But the attractions of the leather industry with which he was already familiar were greater than those of Greek and Latin, and Mr. White left the campus to enter the tannery of the American Hide & Leather Company at Lowell, which had once been his father's plant. Even as a lad of thirteen he had worked in the tannery during two months of his annual summer vacations, spending the third month, September, in the Maine woods in hunting and fishing, so it was not as a novice that he began work in the Lowell tannery. After three years of experience with the American Hide & Leather Company he left that concern to go to the Hunt-Rankin firm of Peabody, Massachusetts, where in the three and a half years he spent in its plant he learned much more about this complicated industry. After that he was foreman with the Roland Baker Company of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for a year. The ensuing three years he spent traveling in the United States and Canada, gaining all the information he could about the general manufacture of shoe leathers. About that time he decided that his knowledge of his field would not be complete if he did not master the art of manufacturing sheepskins, so he went to the A. C. Lawrence Leather Company of Peabody, Massachusetts, and started at the very bottom of the ladder at the princely sum of ten dollars a week. It took him three years and a half to learn that branch of the leather business. By this time the World war was in full swing in Europe and Mr. White was summoned to St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, to instruct the men of Duclos & Payan in the art of manufacturing army leather for the French government. A year later he returned to the States as manager of the E. C. Mills leather plant at Middleville, New York, and three years later, in 1919, left that firm to become superintendent of the Barnet Leather Company's factory at Little Falls. At that time Mr. White's father was general manager of the concern, and following the latter's death in 1922 he succeeded to the position, which he now holds. In addition to being general manager of the plant he is second vice president of the company and one of its directors. The plant of the Barnet Leather Company is the largest calfskin tannery in the world at the present time and has a daily capacity of ten thousand skins. Mr. White is known in the trade as one of the best informed men in the leather business in this country today, for he has the skill and efficiency born of long experience and the actual performance of the operations involved. Not content with studying conditions and processes from above, he has donned the workingman's clothes and by working side by side with the men in the plant has learned all that there is to be learned about the tanning of leather from the practical as well as the theoretical standpoint.

At Wiscasset, Maine, on December 21, 1915, Mr. White was united in marriage to Miss Edith Bellas, daughter of Thomas and Emma (Foot) Bellas of Chicago. Through her mother Mrs. White is descended from one of the old New England families, while her father came from the north of Ireland. Four children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. White: Richmond L., Jr., Helena Mary, Margaret Alexandria and Shirley.

Mr. and Mrs. White are Episcopalians and members of Emmanuel parish of Little Falls. They are identified with the Little Falls Country Club and Mr. White is also a member of Camp Outlet Hunting Club. He is a Mason, having taken degrees in the blue lodge, and politically ranks as a republican. One of his favorite indoor pastimes is woodworking and he spends many enjoyable hours in the shop he has fitted up for his own amusement.

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