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John Patterson White

Born: September 23, 1819 -- Died July 24, 1894

 
Photo of John Patterson White

Red Bank Register

Wednesday, July 25, 1894

Obituary Capt. John P. White Dead

HE PASSED AWAY AT HIS HOME YESTERDAY HE WAS ONE OF THE OLDEST SEA CAPTAINS IN THE COUNTRY. A SKETCH OF HIS LIFE. THE FUNERAL WILL BE HELD TOMORROW AFTERNOON.

Capt. John Patterson White died yesterday at noon at his house on Washington Street, Red Bank. On the second of next September he would have been 75 years old. During the big blizzard in March of 1888, Capt. White shoveled considerable snow in clearing the walks about his house and ever since that time his health has been poor. His sickness took a more serious turn three months ago and part of the time since his mind has been more or less affected. He had no appetite and took very little food and it was only his remarkably strong constitution and iron will that kept him alive so long. His death was caused by catarrhal consumption, the end coming peacefully without pain or suffering.

Captain White was born in Manasquan, his parents being Mary and Elisha White. He was one of ten children, only four of whom are now living. The surviving children are Barzilla of Freehold, Lyttleton of Eatontown and Misses Mary and Jane White of Red Bank. When a boy, he manifested a fondness for the water and before he reached manhood he engaged in the coasting trade. He started in the forecastle and at the end of two years was in the command of the vessel.

There were a few three masted schooners in the coasting trade, most of the schooners having but two masts. Capt. White sailed between New York and Virginia ports buying and selling his own cargoes which then consisted primarily of pine wood. The schooners he commanded while engaged in this traffic were the Joseph Moreau and William E. Bird of which he was the principal owner. The next schooner he was in charge of was the Willet S. Robbins, which he ran as a cotton trader from North Carolina. He afterwards built the Elizah Sheddon for the same purpose. He continued in the cotton trade and engaged in the naval store trade carrying turpentine, tar etc. from Georgetown to New York.

Capt. White was in South Carolina when the war broke out. The vessel was moored at Wilmington, North Carolina when the Confederacy captured the Northern Boats. The Sheddon was released when the interchange of vessels between the North and the South was effected. After the schooner's release, Capt. White was idle for about four months, then a report reached the North that

Schooner photo
 

loyalists in the south were starving. The people of New York generously contributed a cargo of food and Capt. White secured the charter to take the food south. EL.K. Dow [sic], the son of a Wall St. Broker sailed on the Shedden as super cargo [sic] to distribute the food among the sufferers. The vessel took the cargo to Hatteras Inlet from which point the goods were distributed throughout the country roundabout.

While there the government took the Shedden as a store ship and she was used in that capacity until after the capture of New Bern and Roanoke. The boat, however, continued in the Government service as a transport in North Carolina waters until 1864 when Capt. White retired from the coasting business. John H White, one of Capt. White's sons was with his father for many years. He has in his possession three or four log books kept by his father. One of the entries made on April 30, 1864 was very interesting. On that day Little Washington, North Carolina was evacuated and there was hot fighting in the neighborhood. The entry follows:

The day came in with moderate breeze from northwest. At 1 AM let go anchor at Hill's Point, Pamlico River. At 8 AM took steam and towed to Little Washington. Troops about leaving town. At 10 AM towed into stream and took aboard all contraband. Towed to Hills Point Battery. Took aboard four cannons, quantity of ammunition and more contraband.

Capt. Peter Voris of the Highland Beach, the passenger steamer now plying between Red Bank and the Highlands, was in the government service and a passenger on Capt. White's schooner at the time.

A few years after he retired from the Coasting Trade Capt. White was made inspector of the dredging of the Shrewsbury River. This engagement occupied his time for almost four years. He owned the Yacht Idel, which he sailed on the Shrewsbury for pleasure for a number of years. He sold the yacht a few years ago.

Capt. White was married twice. His first wife was Hannah Allen from Manasquan and by her he had six children - Gordon, John H. and Frank White and Annie, wife of John H Worthley, of Red Bank; Clarence of Asbury Park, and Evelyn, the last named child being dead. His second wife was Phebe Newman, also of Manasquan, and three children were born to them - Idel, wife of Albert Doremeus and Carrie, wife of Newton Doremus of Red Bank, and Nelthia. Nelthia died several years ago.

Capt. White was a good upright citizen, and while in the coasting trade was considered one of the best sailing masters in the country. Although firm in his ways, he was patient and always fair and square.

His funeral will be held from the house tomorrow afternoo at 2 o'clock and Rev. F. R. Hareaugh will conduct the service. The burial will take place at Shrewsbury.

Just what constitutes "catarrhal consumption" is not clear although it was not an uncommon diagnosis on death certificates at the time. Catarrhal implies the production of mucous, usually in the form of a productive cough or a cough with lots of purulent phlem. Consumption was a frequent term for tuberculosis but was also applied to any disease that caused marked weight loss. It is very likely that the cause of death was simply pneumonia.