JOHN E. WHITE, now living in Athens precinct, opened his eyes to the light of day on the old homestead farm in a log cabin, his birth occurring October 15, 1851. Although the farm was then largely unimproved it is now a well developed tract of land, the fields being rich and arable and returning to the owner a golden tribute for the care and labor he bestows upon them.
The parents of Mr. White were R. F. and Rachel E. (Roach) White, the former born February 27, 1819, in Laclede county, near St Louis, Missouri. With his father, Robert White, he came from his native state to Illinois about 1823, the family home being established at Kickapoo, near Lincoln, where Robert White secured a tract of wild land and carried on farming for a short time. He afterward removed to within a quarter of a mile of the home farm of John E. White and there he carried on general agricultural pursuits and stock-raising until his death, being one of the early prominent settlers of this section of the state. As a pioneer he took helpful part in laying the foundation for present progress and prosperity, assisting materially in reclaiming the wild land for the purposes of civilization. R. F. White was reared on the old family homestead and assisted in the farm work, so that he gained practical knowledge of the labor incident to the improvement of the fields. He was also active in many public affairs, contributing to general progress, being one of the first trustees of the Indian Point school, his associate being Mr. Canby, a well known and highly honored old settler of Menard county. As a companion and helpmate for life's journey R. F. White married Miss Rachel E. Roach, who was born near Nashville, Tennessee, on the 28th of February, 1824. They traveled life's journey together for many years, sharing with each other its joys and sorrows, adversity and prosperity and upon the old homestead farm now occupied by their son John E. they reared their family. The death of R. F. White occurred December 7, 1893, when he was seventy-five years of age, and his wife passed away on the 19th of February, 1894, at the age of seventy years. The county thus lost two of its well know pioneer residents, people whose worth was widely acknowledged.
John E. White pursued his education in the Indian Point school, then and now known as the North Sangamon Academy. Later he attended Lincoln University and when he had acquired a good education he put aside his textbooks and returned to the home farm, where he has continuously carried on agricultural pursuits with the exception of one year, when he farmed near Irish Grove. He has been very practical as well as progressive in his methods. The field devoted one year to a certain kind of crop has the next year been used for the raising of a different cereal and thus the land has been kept in rich condition. The latest improved machinery has been used in carrying on the work of the farm and all modern equipments and accessories are found upon the White homestead.
Mr. White married Miss Emma Jane Derry, a daughter of James and Martha (Pollock) Derry, both of whom are now residents of Petersburg. This marriage has been blessed with three children: Letta E., who was born February 20, 1886, and died August 25, 1888; Edith E., who was born July 8, 1889; and Robert F., born November 4, 1897. The two younger children are yet at home.
Mr. White is a trustee of the Lebanon cemetery and is an elder of the Lebanon Cumberland Presbyterian church, to which his wife also belongs. He affiliates with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows at Athens and he gives his political support to the Democratic party, as have his ancestors. He has never sought or desired office, leading a quiet life in this respect, but in business he has always been found energetic and diligent laboring earnestly to secure a comfortable competence that will enable him to provide his family with all of the necessities and many of the luxuries of life.