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          POST-WAR YEARS

In the aftermath of the War Between the States, southerners everywhere, including Elijah White, faced the monumental task of picking up the pieces from their shattered lives of the last four years. There were shortages of food, clothing, labor, and tools along with overgrown fields and buildings in various stages of disrepair. White’s property in Loudoun County may have fared even worse than his neighbors’ properties, though, due to the strategic location of his property near the Potomac River causing thousands of troops from both armies to march across White’s fields to get to the fordable portion of the river. In recent news, the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority plans to purchase 275 acres of this land to create White’s Ford Regional Park. The park will include picnic and camping ground and interpretive signs about its history. The Whites also suffered from additional heartbreak during the war, the deaths of their two sons, Stephen and Melvin.

Probably realizing that his devastated farm
would not be able to provide for his family, Elijah White decided to enter the business world and on July 7, 1865, he placed an advertisement in the local Leesburg newspaper stating that he was opening a fancy goods store on King Street. This venture afforded White enough success that he was able to purchase several other properties in the county. He also sold his farm at White’s Ford in July 1868 and moved to a new home near Leesburg with his wife and four children: Mary Elizabeth (1861), Elijah Brockenborough (1862), Benjamin Veirs (1865), and Inez (1868). Despite his successful business, the 1870 Census still listed White’s occupation as a farmer and it also showed there were 16 blacks living at his household; a few were domestic servants but the rest were most likely farm laborers. Also, White was elected the sheriff of Loudoun County in November of 1865. Although it was a position that he did not seek, White served from 1866 to 1870. Afterwards, he refused to hold any other public office despite his natural leadership abilities and the pleadings of Democratic leaders.

The 1870's brought three more children into the White household, Richard (1870), Ada (1871), and John Gott (1872), and the purchase of a 174-acre farm named "Montresor" in December 1873. The property was in close proximity to the Potomac River and allowed Elijah to develop his next business venture. Utilizing his experience as a farmer, White sold fertilizer, grain, salt, flour, bacon, fish, hardware, Cumberland coal, and lump plaster to the farmers of Loudoun and Montgomery Counties and provided these farmers with the means to transport their products to market by acquiring the former Conrad’s Ferry (now called White’s Ferry) and stating in a newspaper advertisement that his boat would go anywhere on the Potomac River or the C & O Canal for freight. White’s Ferry is still in operation between the two counties today, but only takes car traffic across the river on the ferryboat Jubal A. Early. Through the next few years as business and profits increased, White was able to purchase or build storehouses and warehouses on both sides of the river. In 1878, White partnered with Edward Wootton the son of Dr. Turnor Wootton who was the former surgeon for the 35th Battalion. The partners continued to prosper, but in 1886 White decided to concentrate his business activities to the Leesburg Feed and Grain Company and sold all of his other interests and warehouses to his partner. The 1870's weren’t all cheerful and prosperous for the Whites, though, because it was during this period that they lost two more children, Mary and Richard.

Also during this time, Elijah became more active in the Baptist church near Lucketts in Loudoun County and, in August 1877, became a church elder. Not only was he the pastor of several churches in the county, but he also preached and officiated marriage ceremonies and funerals for his friends and family in Montgomery County. Naturally, Colonel White was very active with Confederate veterans groups, as well as the Sons and Daughters organizations. He spoke at Confederate Memorial Day ceremonies, Lee-Jackson birthday celebrations, and veteran reunions. White was even elected the first commander of the Clinton Hatcher Camp of Confederate Veterans when it formed in Loudoun County in 1888. After the Lee-Jackson celebration on January 22, 1901, the Hatcher Camp, along with the local Sons and Daughters chapters, discussed the possibility of erecting a monument honoring all the Confederate soldiers from Loudoun County. The Daughters and Sons raised money from 1901 - 1906 for this purpose. To help with the fund-raising, Colonel White wrote the history of the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, had 500 copies of the booklet printed and allowed the Daughters chapter to sell them. Unfortunately, the Colonel was not alive to see the monument dedicated on May 28, 1908. However, Rev. Elijah B. White, III, great-grandson of the Colonel, spoke at the rededication of the monument on May 31, 2008, sponsored by the Lee Chapter 1842, UDC of Purcellville, Virginia.

In 1888, Elijah White assisted in establishing the Peoples National Bank of Leesburg on King Street, which remained in operation until December 31, 1983 when it merged with First American Bank of Virginia. From 1997 to 1999, the bank building was fully restored and is now Lightfoot Restaurant. White was elected to the first Board of Directors and was named the bank’s president in 1892. The following year, Elijah’s wife Elizabeth became ill and she passed away on March 23, 1893, at the age of 57. Then, on November 28, 1894, White married Margaret Bittings Baines in Philadelphia, at the home of her brother. The following year, the Whites moved from "Montresor" to a large Queen Anne style house on the corner of Cornwall and Wirt Streets in Leesburg, which was only a short distance from the bank. Colonel White was still the bank president when he passed away unexpectedly at his home on January 11, 1907. His funeral was well-attended by the citizens of Loudoun County, friends from New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC, and many of the surviving members of White’s Battalion. His casket was draped with the Confederate flag and he was buried in nearby Union Cemetery, next to his first wife, Elizabeth, and their four children that preceded them in death. The inscription on Colonel White’s monument states: "He was a good soldier of Jesus Christ; he took unto himself the whole armour of God; he endured hardness and fought a good fight; he has given the crown of righteousness laid up for him in glory."
Lt. Col. E.V. White
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