Whitesville visit

Hailey and John White are shown at the historical marker in Whitesville, the site where John’s ancestor, Samuel S. White, built a hotel and house.

A descendant of the founder of a village in our Southern Tier area took time from watching his son play baseball in Buffalo to explore his family history.

On May 18, John and Hailey White visited the Town of Independence Historical Society building on Main Street in Whitesville. John is the great-great-great-grandson of Samuel S. White.

Shallee Lauzze, president of the IHS, explains that John and his wife traveled from their home in San Jose, California, to Buffalo to watch their son Mitchell play for the Buffalo Bisons at Sahlen Field. Mitchell is a pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays and had been rehabbing a shoulder injury with the minor league organization in Buffalo. He has since returned to Toronto to continue playing for the MLB team there.

While visiting their son in Buffalo, John and Hailey decided it was the perfect opportunity to travel two hours south to the village of Whitesville. It was there that John’s ancestor Samuel arrived from Hopkinton, Rhode Island, in 1819.

Samuel married Nancy Teater and settled on Lot #50, located on what is now Main Street and is presently the home of the Laurie Wahl family. The man for whom the town is named arrived with just an axe and $2.50 in cash, which would be approximately $60 in today’s dollars.

Members of the IHS met with John and Hailey, providing them with additional information related to local history along with genealogical documents from the historical society’s collection. In exchange, John shared family history from his lineage.

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His father, Clifton George White, served as a captain in the U.S. Army during World War II, receiving the Bronze Star for valor in combat against the Japanese. Clifton met his wife Jane while she was working as a nurse in a military hospital. They initially settled in North Dakota until shortly after John David White was born. John has two older siblings, Wendy White Durkee and James Douglas White.

John’s sister and brother have done extensive genealogical research and have traced the White family’s arrival in North America to the Mayflower. With the encouragement of family members, John and Hailey prioritized their trip to visit Whitesville and IHS members are glad they did.

Lauzze says the community of Whitesville has a long history of pride in Samuel White’s story and his decision to settle there.

She said John and Hailey ended with a visit to the cemetery where John’s ancestors are buried and then traveled to the west end of the village to take a photograph next to the sign commemorating Samuel White.

“It was a day this group of historical society members enjoyed and will long remember,” Lauzze says.

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