Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site

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[from a typescript: "Descendants of Hugh Alexander & Sarah (Harkness) White, Early Settlers of Linn County, Kansas and their Ancestors" 1978 by Barbara Rose (Gillenwater) Brown (Gertrude, Alice, Hugh, Alexander)] --submitted by John Hutchins


The New York State Census, taken 21 June 1855, tells us Hugh and Sarah owned one-hundred fifty acres of land and lived in a frame house. Hugh raised wheat, oats, buckwheat, corn, potatoes and had an apple orchard. They had eleven cattle, eight of which they milked, two oxen, three horses, and one young pig. The day the census was taken they had on hand, fifty bushels of apples, one hundred pounds of maple sugar and eight hundred pounds of butter. John Harkness was living with them and WORKING for them.

Hugh probably went to Kansas first in 1856, to look over the land. In the spring of 1858, his wife, Sarah, and the three sons, Robert, James, and William, came to Kansas. It has been said Alice Jane was the first white child born in Linn County, Kansas but, in reality, was only the first White child born there to this White family.

Hugh filed for his "pre-exemption declaration" #17285, on the 4th of April 1860, for the North-West quarter of Section 21, in Township 22, of Range 24, containing one hundred sixty acres. He "proved up" this land and made actual settlement on the 28th day of July 1863.

With the help of his family and other settlers, Hugh built a house one and a half stories high, twenty-four feet long and eighteen feet wide, with a shingle roof. There were two doors, eight windows, and a plank floor; "a comfortable house to live in." Before he signed the "Proof Required for the Homestead Act," he fenced the whole tract. Also he had cultivated about 75 acres, dug a well, built a stable, and planted an orchard of 200 fruit trees. This house is believed to have later been destroyed in a cyclone.

On the 28th of July 1863, Hugh paid $12, being the amount of fee, and one-half the Compensation of Register and Receiver for the entry of the land. On the 28th of June 1870, he paid two dollars, being the second half and balance of payment required by law for the entry of the land. Hugh then received the "Homestead Certificate."

Some time later, Hugh evidently mortgaged this land to buy more land near Prescott, Kansas. He also made several trips out of state with his sons. The money he sent back to pay the mortgage was not received and the land was sold at a Sheriff's Sale in February 1890.

Hugh suffered from arthritis and, at times, had to be tied to his chair in the wagon when he went for supplies. This chair was purchased for him by his ten children and is owned (1878) by a great-granddaughter, Addie Josephine Riley. He did have several accidents this way; once he nearly drowned when the river was up and the horses broke loose.

Bertha (White) Wilson, a granddaughter of Hugh and Sarah, tells this story that a sheep herder told her. This man had worked for Hugh a long time. He said he would work until after dark and each Saturday, would go into the house to get his pay, then would go out and kill a lamb, throw it over his shoulder, and walk to his home in Mound City. This one Saturday night he thought several times he was being followed but could never see or hear anyone. When he reached the edge of town, Hugh rode up on his horse and made him carry the lamb back to the farm and butcher it. The man said he thought he'd never make it; the lamb was heavy and Hugh wouldn't let him stop to rest. After he'd butchered the lamb, he said, Hugh just said, "Be back to work Monday morning."

Hugh Alexander White died 14 April 1896 and his wife, Sarah (Harkness) White died 20 November 1917. They both are laid to rest in Battlefield Cemetery in Linn County, Kansas.

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