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Mary Lewis

Born 1799 -- Died 1891


Mary Lewis White was born in 1799 in Claypit Creek, New Jersey. This is now the Locust area of Middletown. Her husband, Elisha White, was born while George Washington was president. He fought in the War of 1812 against the British.

During her lifetime, she watched her young nation become a world power. She watched the tiny village of Red Bank grow to become a small city.

Mary White's obituary, as it appeared in the Red Bank Register in 1891, follows below.


1799 Mary Lewis is born. John Adams is the second president of the United States.

1803 President Thomas Jefferson vastly increases the size of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase.

1810 Population of U.S. is 7,239,881.

1861 - 1865 Civil War

1869 Trans-continental railroad is completed.

Portrait of Mary Lewis White

Obituary Page

Red Bank Register

May 6, 1891


Mrs. Mary White dies at the age of 92 years.

When she was married in 1816, there were only four houses in Red Bank -- seventy one living descendents.

Last Thursday night Mrs. Mary White, widow of Elisha White, died at the homestead on Broad Street at the age of 92 years. She was the oldest resident of Red Bank, and the history of her life would be a history of the town.

Her maiden name was Lewis, her father being David Lewis. She was born at Claypit Creek in the last century. She was named after Miss Mary Patterson, who was then known as Aunt Polly Patterson. This branch of the Patterson family were tories in the Revolutionary War and after the war they moved to Nova Scotia. Early in the present century Miss Patterson paid a visit to Nova Scoita, and when she came back she brought a number of silver buckles, which she gave to the little girl who had been named after her. These silver buckles were made-up into spoons and stamped with the initials, "M.L." These spoons have been inuse ever since, and were used by Mrs. White up to the time of her death. The spoons are still in good condition and the letters are still legible.

Mrs. White was married to Elisha White in 1816. She was married in a small house which stood on the steamboat bank. There is still a hole past the edge of the steamboat bank, on the green in front of the Globe Hotel, where the house stood. At that time, there were but four houses in Red Bank. One of them was the house where Mrs. White was married. Another was known as the "Bank Tavern," and stood just below where Atkins's Hotel now stands. The third was a very small house which stood in the rear of where Degenring's Hotel now is and the fourth was the Lawrence Earle homestead. At that time the Earle house was on Broad Street, but some years ago it was moved to Monmouth Street and it is now owned and occupied by Mrs. Dolly Venable.

The bridesmaid at Mrs. White's wedding was a Miss Trafford who afterward became the first wife of the late Dr. James H. Paterson's father. The groomsman was the late Edmund West of Oceanport. Elisha White, Mrs. White's husband, was a soldier in the War of 1812, and they were married shortly after the war was over. Mrs. White often said that during the War of 1812 she used to go to the top of Beach's Hill where she could see the British vessels and hear the thunder of their cannons. Mr. White died twenty-three years ago.

Shortly after his death, the government gave a pension to all soldiers and widows of soldiers who served in the War of 1812 but Mrs. White did not secure the pension because she had not married her husband until after the war was over.

Mrs. White has no brothers living and has but one sister. This sister is Eliza, the widow of Wm. G. Wood, who died many years ago. She lives on the Scuffletown Road and is 89 years old. The family is long-lived. Another sister, Mrs. Jane Tilton, formerly of Colt's Neck, died five years ago at Onondaga at the age of 92 years.

Thirteen children were born to Mr. and Mrs. White. Two of them died in infancy but the others all grew up to manhood or womanhood. The children who are living are Capt. John P. White, who lives on Washington Street; Capt. Foreman White, who lives on Wallace Street; Freeholder Littleton White, of Eatontown; and Miss Mary White and Miss Jane White, two unmarried daughters, who live in the old homestead. The oldest child, Redding L. White, died at Long Branch some years ago. He was married three times, leaving a child by his first and third wives. One of his children is Alonzo White of Freehold. Gordon D. White, another son, died at Matawan in 1875. He amassed a fortune of $200,000 and was a prominent man in the county.

Three daughters also died: Ann Eliza, Catharine and Caroline. None of the daughters was married.

Mrs. White was a remarkably beautiful girl, and she retained traces of her beauty up to her death. When Red Bank was a small village, she was almost invariably called in in cases of sickness, and her skill was such that many persons preferred her aid to that of a regular physician.

Most of her sons got along well in the world and have become reasonably rich men. All of the sons had a number of children. Mrs. White's living descendants being six children, twenty-two grandchildren, thirty eight great grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren.

The funeral was held on Monday at the Red Bank Episcopal Church. A large number of persons were in attendance and the service was conducted by Rev. J.F. Jowitt. The pall bearers were Theodore Sickles, Forman Morris, Daniel S. Borden and John S. Hubbard. The remains were interred in the Shrewsbury Episcopal churchyard, where many of her kindred for generations back are sleeping.