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Honoring Whitestown Namesake

~ Albert S. White


 


To: Boone County INGenWeb

October 2, 2006

Dear Friends -

My family wants to do something special to honor Whitestown, IN, which was named after our Great-Great Grandfather, U.S. Senator and Federal Judge appointed by Abraham Lincoln, Albert S. White of LaFayette, IN. Our thought is a ceremony with a special framed photo, including three dedicatory plaques: one to be placed in the town hall and the other two on the North and South edges of Whitestown, if you think this is a good idea.

We will pay for and arrange for the photo and the plaques. We would like your help on setting up an appropriate ceremony and time of year, if the Whitestown officials and citizens deem the idea a good one.

Several years ago when my 90-year old mother, Eleanor White Mintener of Minneapolis and I from Canton, NY were doing family history research in Indianapolis and Lafayette, on my two Great-Great grandfathers from Indiana, Senator/Federal Judge Albert S. White of Lafayette and Indiana pioneer painter Jacob Cox of Indianapolis, we stopped in at the Town Clerk's office in Whitestown, IN on our way to Lafayette, curious about the history of the town.

My first question was how and after whom was the town, Whitestown, named? The answer was uncertain, with a couple of possibilities mentioned. I then wondered if the town was named after my G-G Grandfather, who started the railroad which went through town on the way to LaFayette. I said I would do some research, and I did and I discovered from the Indiana Book on Place Names that the town was named after Albert S. White who was a Whig U.S. Congressman from Tippecanoe County from 1837-39, then ran for the U.S. Senate and won for a 6-year term until 1846, when he decided to retire from politics and return to law practice, start a utopian community with John Purdue and others in Stockwell, IN and work on bridges, railroads and the end of the Erie Canal.

Then, one day in 1860, when nextdoor neighbor Abraham Lincoln was passing through LaFayette on a campaign tour, he stopped in to see Albert S. White to urge him to step out of retirement and run as a Republican for the U.S. Congress again. Grandfather White said: "Yes, on one condition (according to the renowned Civil War author Carl Sanburg in his third volume). That you name my friend postmaster of LaFayette when you become President." Lincoln promised to do so. Both White and Lincoln were elected respectively to President and Congress.

A year or so later, Congressman Albert S. White and my Great-Great Grandmother Harriot Randoplh White (one of Mary Todd Lincoln's four best social friends during and after her White House years...that's another interesting story.... about the Whites' marriage in Richmond, VA and her connection to Tuckahoe plantation on the James River and to Thomas Jefferson learning to read and write with her father in the one-room school house still standing at Tuckahoe) was at a social function at the White House and when he was greeted by President Lincoln. White said to Lincoln that he had not kept his promise about his friend and that Lincoln appointed someone else, at which point, Lincoln turns his backside to White, lifts up his frockcoat and, in a way of apology, says to White to "kick him right here on my backside, if you will." There are many other stories, which I am trying to put in a book and a pre-article for the Indiana and Boone County Historical magazines.

I would like to be in touch with all of you on what we can do together to recognize Whitestown's namesake.

Best Regards,

Bradshaw (Brad) Mintener
P.O. Box 423
77 Main Street
Canton, NY 13617

e-mail: bmintene@twcny.rr.com
phone: 315/386-2585 or 315/386-8621 (days)