Robert White (West Virginia senator)

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Honorable
Robert White
Member of the West Virginia Senate
from the 15th district
In office
1930–1934
Prosecuting Attorney for Hampshire County
In office
1912–1928
Personal details
Born (1876-05-28)May 28, 1876
Romney, West Virginia, United States
Died August 15, 1935 (1935-08-16) (aged 59)
Romney, West Virginia, United States
Resting place Indian Mound Cemetery, Romney, West Virginia, United States
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s)
  • Mabel Glasscock Fitch
Relations
Children John Baker White
Mabel Glasgow White Cornwell
Elizabeth Steele White
Roberta Huston White McFarland
Robert White, Jr.
Residence Romney, West Virginia, United States
Alma mater Potomac Academy
West Virginia University College of Law (LL. B.)
Occupation
Religion Presbyterian

Robert White (May 28, 1876 – August 15, 1935) was an American lawyer and Democratic politician in the U.S. state of West Virginia. White served four consecutive terms as the Prosecuting Attorney for Hampshire County (1912–1928) and served one term in the West Virginia Senate (1930–1934) representing the state's Fifteenth Senatorial District in the 40th and 41st Sessions of the West Virginia Legislature. During the 1933 legislative year, White served as the floor leader for the Democratic Party members of the West Virginia Senate.

White was born in Romney, West Virginia in 1876 to Hampshire County Clerk of Court Christian Streit White (1839–1917) with his second wife Catharine Steele White (1837–1869) and was the grandson of Hampshire County Clerk of Court John Baker White (1794–1862). White received his education at Potomac Academy and began his career in public service at the age of 16 as Deputy Clerk of Court in the office of his father. He studied jurisprudence at the West Virginia University College of Law and graduated in 1899.

He began practicing law in Romney and was elected Prosecuting Attorney of Hampshire County in 1912. White was elected to the position four times, and served terms from 1912 to 1928. In addition, he served as the Commissioner of School Lands and as one of the Chancery Commissioners for Hampshire County. White was elected to represent the Fifteenth Senatorial District in the West Virginia Senate in 1930 and served in the senate until 1934. In 1933, White was chairman of the senate's Judiciary Committee and he was also appointed to two special committees: one on economy and efficiency to study state and municipal government spending and another to investigate the road commission's awarding of a contract for gasoline, oil, and grease to the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey over the Elk Refining Company. Following a prolonged illness, White died in Romney in 1935 at the age of 59.

Early life and education[edit]

Robert White was born on May 28, 1876 in Romney, West Virginia.[1][2][3] He was the second child of Hampshire County Clerk of Court Christian Streit White (1839–1917) with his second wife Catharine Steele White (1837–1869) and the third eldest of his father's five children.[1][3] White was a grandson of Hampshire County Clerk of Court John Baker White (1794–1862) and a great-grandson of the prominent Virginia judge Robert White (1759–1831).[3] His uncle Robert White (1833-1915) served as Attorney General of West Virginia and his brother John Baker White (1868–1944) was a military officer and later served as a Charleston city councilman and president of the West Virginia Board of Control.

White received his early education in the public schools of Romney, and attended Romney's Potomac Academy.[3] He commenced his career in public service at the age of 16 when he began serving as the Deputy Clerk of Court in the office of his father, Christian Streit White, who was then serving as Clerk of Court for Hampshire County.[3] In 1894, White graduated from Potomac Academy at the age of 18.[3][4] Two years later, he began his studying jurisprudence in the West Virginia University College of Law in Morgantown.[3][4] He graduated from the West Virginia University College of Law in 1899, earning a Bachelor of Laws degree.[3][4][5] White cast his first vote for Democratic Party presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan in the United States presidential election of 1900.[3]

Law career[edit]

From 1903 until 1912, White was associated with his father Christian Streit White (pictured) in a law practice in Romney, West Virginia.

Following his graduation in 1899 from West Virginia University, White returned to Romney and established a law practice.[3][5] In 1903, he became associated with his father Christian Streit White in a law practice, following the conclusion of his father's term as Hampshire County Clerk of Court.[3] White continued to practice law with his father until 1912, when he was elected to his first term as Prosecuting Attorney for Hampshire County.[3][4]

Political career[edit]

Before the age of 21, White represented Hampshire County as a delegate to a West Virginia Democratic Party state convention.[6]

In 1912, won election to serve as the Prosecuting Attorney for Hampshire County.[3][4] He was elected to the position four times, and served four four-year terms from 1912 to 1928.[3][4][6] While serving as the county's prosecuting attorney, White was a strong proponent of the Good Roads Movement and under his leadership, the first concrete bridge was constructed in Hampshire County by the County Court.[3]

Between 1917 and 1922, in addition to serving as the county's prosecuting attorney, White served as the Commissioner of School Lands and as one of the Chancery Commissioners for Hampshire County, along with Joshua Soule Zimmerman and James Sloan Kuykendall.[7][8][9][10]

West Virginia Senate[edit]

In 1930, White was elected to serve in the West Virginia Senate representing the state's Fifteenth Senatorial District.[6][11][12] He served in the 40th and 41st Sessions of the West Virginia Legislature and completed his term in 1934.[11][12][13] During the 1932 legislative year, the West Virginia Senate was led by the Republican Party majority.[14] The following legislative year in 1933, White served as the floor leader for the West Virginia Senate's Democratic Party members.[6] The West Virginia Senate's majority had shifted to the Democrats in 1933, and in January 1933, White was selected by A. G. Mathews, President of the West Virginia Senate, as chairman of the senate's Judiciary Committee.[15][16] As the chairman of the senate's Judiciary Committee, White introduced 12 bills in 1933 to correct errors and omissions in existing statutes.[17] Also in the 1933 legislative year, White served as a member on the Finance; Roads and Navigation; Counties, Municipal Corporations; Rules; Medicine and Sanitation; Education; Privileges and Elections; and Redistricting committees.[16]

In the 1933 legislative year, White was also appointed as a member on two special senate committees. On January 19, 1933, White sponsored a resolution for the creation of a special committee on economy and efficiency to study state and municipal government spending, charged with making investigations, developing recommendations, and drafting bills to empower its recommendations.[18][19] The committee was further permitted to summon witnesses, examine records, and to investigate all state and local government organizations to recommend further mechanisms to affect efficiency and economy.[18][19] White was appointed to the committee, which consisted of the Speaker of the House of Delegates, the President of the West Virginia Senate, and two members from each house.[18][19]

In February 1933, White was one of four senate Democrats appointed to serve on a special committee to investigate the road commission's awarding of a contract for gasoline, oil, and grease to the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey over the Elk Refining Company of Charleston.[20][21] The committee's creation and investigation was in response to the Elk Refining Company's protest of the state road commission's decision, and the company's advertisement in which it claimed that its contract bid was $10,387.50 lower than Standard Oil's bid.[20][21] The committee not only investigated the state road commission's decision, but also examined the Elk Refining Company's advertisement.[20][21] White questioned the advertisement's merit and commented that the committee was "entitled to know what the motive behind this advertisement was."[21] "If there isn't anything to investigate we shouldn't be here investigating," he concluded.[21]

On February 28, 1933, White was a member of a subcommittee which drafted a bill calling for a special state referendum upon the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.[22] Under the plan which was submitted by White, West Virginia would register its official stand upon the proposed Twenty-first Amendment which end Prohibition in the United States at the federal level.[22] The referendum was to choose a slate of 20 "wet" and 20 "dry" candidates for delegates to a state convention, which would present its final vote on the national repeal of Prohibition.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Gravestone marker for Robert White's interment site
Gravestone (pictured) at the interment site of Robert White at Indian Mound Cemetery in Romney, West Virginia.
Gravestone marker for Mabel Fitch White's interment site
Gravestone (pictured) at the interment site of White's wife, Mabel Glasscock Fitch White.

Marriage and issue[edit]

White married on January 7, 1903 in Washington, D.C. to Mabel Glasscock Fitch, the only child and daughter of E. H. Fitch and his wife Laura Glasscock Fitch.[3][5][23] Fitch was a native of Vanceburg, Kentucky and she attended Marshall College while her family resided in Huntington.[3] Fitch completed her education in Washington, D.C.[3] White and his wife Mabel had five children:[3]

  • John Baker White (born February 11, 1904)[24]
  • Mabel Glasgow White Cornwell (born February 18, 1906), married James Leighton Cornwell on August 25 1926 in Hampshire County[3][25][26]
  • Elizabeth Steele White (born April 23, 1908)[27]
  • Roberta Huston White McFarland (born June 18, 1912), married Dr. William Franklin McFarland on June 13, 1936 in New Cumberland[28][29][30]
  • Robert White, Jr.[3]

White's wife Mabel was an active member of the Presbyterian church.[3] While a passenger on a Baltimore and Ohio Railroad South Branch line train, Mabel took ill and died at the Wappocomo home of Garrett Williams Parsons on July 5, 1915.[31] She was interred at Indian Mound Cemetery in Romney.[32]

Later life and death[edit]

White never remarried following his wife's death in 1915.[2] In addition to White's church activities, he served as a master of the Masonic Lodge, and was affiliated with the Odd Fellows.[3] Beginning in 1934, White endured 18 months of illness, and on August 14, 1935, his physician Dr. R. W. Dailey reported to the Cumberland Evening Times that he was in critical condition and was unlikely to recover.[33] White succumbed to his illness and died at his residence in Romney on August 15, 1935 at the age of 59 due to arteriosclerosis and myocarditis.[2][6][34] White was interred with Masonic rites on Saturday afternoon, August 17, 1935 at Indian Mound Cemetery in Romney.[2][32][34] A number of state officials attended his funeral.[35]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Birth Record Detail: Robert White". West Virginia Vital Research Records. West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Death Record Detail: Robert White". West Virginia Vital Research Records. West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Callahan 1923, p. 635.
  4. ^ a b c d e f West Virginia Bar Association 1935, p. 193.
  5. ^ a b c West Virginia University Alumni Association 1903, p. 199.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Robert White: Former West Virginia State Senator Started Political Career Early". The New York Times (New York City). August 16, 1935. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  7. ^ West Virginia Legislature 1917, p. 45.
  8. ^ West Virginia Legislature 1918, p. 45.
  9. ^ West Virginia Legislature 1921, p. 58.
  10. ^ West Virginia Legislature 1922, pp. 813–814.
  11. ^ a b Munske & Kerns 2004, p. 180.
  12. ^ a b West Virginia Legislature 2011, p. 434.
  13. ^ West Virginia Legislature 2011, p. 423.
  14. ^ "Absence of Leadership Seen As Legislature Prepares to Meet: Legislature to Have New Faces". Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, West Virginia). July 10, 1932. p. 7. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Speedy Beginning of Work in Legislature is Predicted by Hiner: Both Houses to Resume Monday". Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, West Virginia). January 15, 1933. p. 7. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  16. ^ a b "Committees Of Senate Chosen: President Mathews Makes Announcement of List in Upper House". Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, West Virginia). January 18, 1933. p. 7. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Many Bills Are Given To Senate". Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, West Virginia). March 1, 1933. p. 1. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  18. ^ a b c "Tax Amendment Test Suit Filed". Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, West Virginia). January 19, 1933. p. 1. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  19. ^ a b c "Committee's Plan Awaited". Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, West Virginia). January 22, 1933. p. 1. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  20. ^ a b c "Senate Votes Contract Quiz". Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, West Virginia). January 30, 1933. p. 11. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  21. ^ a b c d e "Elk Officials Are Examined". Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, West Virginia). February 8, 1933. p. 1. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  22. ^ a b c "Special Election Plan Agreed Upon For Action on Prohibition Repeal". Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, West Virginia). February 28, 1933. p. 1. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Marriage Record Detail: Robert White". West Virginia Vital Research Records. West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  24. ^ "Birth Record Detail: John Baker White". West Virginia Vital Research Records. West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  25. ^ "Birth Record Detail: Mabel Glasgow White". West Virginia Vital Research Records. West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  26. ^ "Marriage Record Detail: Mabel Glasgow White". West Virginia Vital Research Records. West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  27. ^ "Birth Record Detail: Elizabeth Steele White". West Virginia Vital Research Records. West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  28. ^ "Birth Record Detail: Roberta Huston White". West Virginia Vital Research Records. West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  29. ^ "Marriage Record Detail: Roberta Huston White". West Virginia Vital Research Records. West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  30. ^ "Miss White's Wedding Is Made Public: Niece of John Baker White Married Keyser Doctor Last June". Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, West Virginia). December 28, 1936. p. 4. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  31. ^ "History from Times Files: Twenty Years Ago". Cumberland Evening Times (Cumberland, Maryland). July 6, 1935. p. 2. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  32. ^ a b "Indian Mound Cemetery: Hampshire County's Most Historic Cemetery - List of Interments". HistoricHampshire.org. HistoricHampshire.org, Charles C. Hall. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  33. ^ "Condition Reported Grave". Cumberland Evening Times (Cumberland, Maryland). August 14, 1935. p. 9. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  34. ^ a b "Death Record Detail: Robert White". West Virginia Vital Research Records. West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  35. ^ "White Is Buried". The Raleigh Register (Beckley, West Virginia). August 18, 1935. p. 1. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 

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