Biography of Aaron White
Aaron White died at Quinebaug, in the town of Thompson, April 15th, 1886, aged 87 years and six months. He was born in Boylston, Mass., October 8th, 1798, and was the eldest of ten children, seven sons and three daughters, of Aaron and Mary White.
His ancestry were of the early puritan settlers of Eastern Massachusetts, and among them on the side of his mother, were the Adams’ of Boston, her grandmother being a sister of Governor Samuel Adams, a distinguished patriot of the revolution. His father kept a country store, cultivated an adjoining farm, was a leading man in town affairs, town clerk for twenty-two years, many years a member of the board of selectmen, and repeatedly a representative to the legislature.
The father having determined to give his son, Aaron, Jr., the advantages of a liberal education, sent him to the academies in New Salem and Leicester, and in his fourteenth year the boy entered Harvard, graduating in the class of 1817.
Having concluded to establish himself in the practice of law in Rhode Island, Mr. White after a brief period of study in the offices of General George L. Barnes, of Woonsocket, in Smithfield, and of the late judge Thomas Burgess, of Providence, was admitted to the bar of Rhode Island, at Providence, at the September term of the supreme court, 1820 a little under twenty-two years of age, and opened his office at Cumberland Hill, in the town of Cumberland.
A mail route was laid out over Cumberland Hill, and the office of postmaster there was held by him until he removed to Woonsocket Falls in 1829.
As he had the reputation of being a careful bank manager, he was invited in 1829 to take charge of a new bank at Woonsocket Falls, as cashier and one of the directors. Without relinquishing his law practice he accepted the appointment, and continued in charge of the bank for a few years.
Esquire White became an ardent adherent of Governor Dorr, personally and politically, and chief adviser in all matters touching political subjects and the personal affairs of his friend the governor, therefore he was compelled to leave Rhode Island in 1842 and he came to New Boston.
Mr. White at first took up his abode in this obscure village, in a brick building, which at that time was the village store, and the grandest building in the vicinity. He removed not long afterward to Barnes’ tavern, on the old Boston and Hartford turnpike. Here he made the acquaintance of a daughter of Mr. Alfred Barnes, and a mutual attachment was formed, resulting in their marriage in 1843. To this event was due his change of abode from Rhode Island to Connecticut, his wife dying when his son was born. The son now lives on a farm in Grafton, Mass. He is unmarried.
Mr. White in the latter years of his life took up the subject of numismatics, the collection and study of coins. The United States government in 1857 discontinued the coinage of copper cents, substituting at first the nickel cent, and a few years afterward, the bronze one and two cent pieces as at present used. This furnished Mr. White a rare opportunity for augmenting his collections, especially of the cheaper coins, and he improved it to a greater extent, probably, than any other person in the United States. In his legal practice he spared no effort to have his clients’ business done in the best and most thorough manner, yet his charges for services rendered were extremely moderate. A teetotaler in principle and practice, he would not tolerate the use of alcoholic drink as a beverage by any one in his employment.
Mr. White was possessed of considerable real estate in this vicinity, and although reported rich, the actual value of his whole estate, real and personal, is not known, and was probably much exaggerated in popular opinions. After Mr. White’s death, his brother shipped from the station at Quinebaug 4 1/2 tons of pennies, the value of which would be about $8,000.
Mr. White after graduating from college, spent a year and upward as a school teacher, first in Roxbury, now Boston Highlands, and afterward in the city of Vergennes, Vt. He then commenced the study of law in Middlebury, Vt., in the office of Horatio Seymour, afterward governor and senator in congress from Vermont.
In his will Mr. White gave directions for his burial on a knoll on the northerly side of the railroad, just over the boundary line of Massachusetts, in the town of Dudley. The knoll is shaded with pines, transplanted when small seedlings by Mr. White about forty years ago. After giving minute instructions for a monument to be erected at his grave, he directs the following epitaph written by him January 1st, 1844, to be engraved on the stone
To the memory of Aaron White, Son of Aaron and Mary White, born October 8th, 1798, died
IN EXILIO PROFUGUS,
HUMANUM GENTES JUS DEFENDENS
ET HOSPITIUM ET AMOREM,
ET DOMUM ET SEPULCHRUM
DRIVEN INTO EXILE.
WHILE DEFENDING THE RIGHTS OF MAN,
HOSPITALITY AND LOVE,
A HOME AND A SEPULCHRE.