Grayson County TXGenWeb

William Richard White, Sr.
1867 - 1951
 
White Produce Company

William Richard White Sr., born July 4, 1867, had married twenty-year-old Mattie Platt of Fillmore, Bossier Parish, Louisiana, on June 22, 1892. They lived in Bonham, where their oldest daughter was a school chum of Sam Rayburn, later speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.



1908 Bonham Fire
W.R. White Poultry Department, center

At the turn of the century, the couple came to Denison from Bonham with their three children. These were Mavis White (later Clymer), born June 17, 1893; James Platt White, born December 6, 1895; and William Richard “Dick” White Jr., born November 3, 1897. The Whites had three more children after coming to Denison. They were Louisa White (later Ramsey), born April 7, 1902; Julius Been White, born November 18, 1904 (he died on April 30, 1916, at the age of eleven); and Martha White (later Parker), born March 27, 1908.

Coming to Denison from Bonham at the turn of the century, W. R. White, Sr. set up his White Produce Company at 607 West Main. Soon thereafter (certainly before 1906), he moved into the building at 100 West Chestnut Street at South Houston Avenue.

Mrs. W. R. White, Sr. always called her husband “Mr. White”.  Each morning she would rise early to prepare biscuits “from scratch” and a large breakfast. When Mr. White was ready to be served his breakfast, he would bang on the floor next to their bed with his cane. Then his wife would prepare the breakfast on a tray and take it in for him to eat in bed. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren called the couple “Mama and Papa White”.


DENISON
by Hunt & Bryant,
Arcadia) Publishing Co.

p84

Near the railroad tracks, along North Houston Avenue, arose a number of businesses based on the agricultural riches of the land around Denison.  At the corner of East Gansy Street stood White Produce Company, built in 1906 and operated until 1925 by William Richard White Sr. (1867 - 1951).  Then this structure hosted several overall manufacturers: Barrow-Johnson (1925), Cowden (1929), Patterson (1933), and memorably, Levi Strauss and Company (1949-1966) (MAB)

216 North Houston Avenue (1906)

This site on the southeast corner of East Gandy Street and North Houston Avenue, at 100 East Gandy Street or 216 North Houston Avenue, was the home of Michael and Maggie Hanna, who built a home there in 1873.

 In 1906, White purchased the Hanna home, demolished it, and erected the White Produce Company. After some nineteen years in business, in 1925 White closed the White Produce Company and went to live in Wichita Falls. He later returned, helping to found the Denison Poultry and Egg Company at 131 East Sears Street.

William White, also known as "Texas Turkey King" owned at one time 340 distributorships through White Produce Co. in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. He was known to have sent more live turkeys to New York by rail than had ever been shipped.  He lost one million dollars when his historic haul broke the turkey market.


W.R. & Mattie White
dressed for Denison's Jubilee Celebration 1947

Mr. White died on February 27, 1951 and is buried in Fairview Cemetery, Denison, Texas, alongside his wife.



His wife continued to live at 1011 West Bond Street, in their shingled bungalow-style home filled with Mission oak furniture and her hand-crocheted doilies, until her death on June 16, 1958.

  



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 Elaine Nall Bay
2013