Albert Blakeslee White

The Sentinel (Parkersburg)
July 3, 1941

Former Gov. A. B. White Called By Death Today

Distinguished Citizen Succumbs This Afternoon at Age of 85

Served as Governor of West Virginia From 1901 to 1905

The Hon. Albert Blakeslee White, former governor of West Virginia, former newspaper publisher, and one of Parkersburg's most distinguished citizens, died this afternoon about 2:30 o'clock after a lengthy illness. He had been in failing health for about three years.

Governor White, who served as state executive from 1901 to 1905, and was 85 years old. For the past number of years he had been living quietly at his home at 1040 Murdoch avenue.

A varied experience in journalism, public service, politics, banking and business rounded out a life of usefulness for Albert Blakeslee White of Parkersburg. From an early career as a newspaper publisher he entered the field of business and politics. He was identified with many enterprises in Parkersburg and vicinity. He served his state as governor from 1901 until 1905 and was for three terms Internal Revenue Collector for the District of West Virginia. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination for United States Senator in 1916.

For nearly fifty years, White was active in politics and his advice was eagerly sought by other party leaders in shaping the policies of the Republican party in West Virginia. He was an exceptional political speaker and each biennial campaign in that period found him on the stump urging the election of his party's nominees. White attended all but one of the past thirteen quadrennial Republican National Convention[s] and was delegate from West Virginia to two-thirds of them.

White had a background of educational envionement [sic]. He was born at Cleveland, Ohio, September 22, 1856, son of Dr. Emerson Elbridge and Mary Ann (Sabin) White. His father, an educator of national reputation, was for seven years president of Purdue university at LaFayette, Ind., and the author of three pedagogical text-books as well as his series of arithmetics and higher mathematical text books. White's first experience in journalism began at the age of fourteen years while he was private secretary to his father, who was then publisher of the Ohio Educational Monthly and the National Teacher.

Graduating from Marietta College, Ohio, in 1878, valedictorian of his class, White returned to his father's home at LaFayette, Ind., and became a third owner of the Daily Journal of that city. For three years he was managing editor of that paper and then in 1881 he went to Parkersburg, W. Va., where he purchased from Ex-Gove[r]nor William E. Stevenson, its owner, the State Journal, then a weekly printed paper on a hand press. Two years later with S. B. Baker as a partner he entered the daily field with the State Journal, publishing it successfully fo[r] eighteen years, when he sold his interest. When he retired from newspaper work he had been actively engaged in Indiana and West Virginia for twenty- one years as an editor and publisher. He was president for several years of the West Virginia Editorial Association and in 1888 presided, as president, at the San Antonio Convention of the National Editorial Association.

The influence White wielded with his newspaper soon found recognition among leaders of the Republican party and in 1889 he was named Internal Revenue Collector for the District of West Virginia by President Harrison, serving four years, resigning after Cleveland became president. He was appointed for the same office in 1897 by President McKinley, serving four and a half years when he resigned, having been elected governor, and was named by President Harding in 1921 for a third term, serving four years.

The unanimous choice of the Republican state convention for governor in 1900, White was elected to that office the following November by a huge majority, serving from 1901 until 1905. An outstanding accomplishment of his administration was the revision of the state tax laws. The first steps in reform in taxation legislation was made by the legislature creating a tax commission in 1901, and was followed in 1904 by the enactment of a system of tax laws and the creation of the office of state tax commissioner. Two years after leaving the office of governor, White became state tax commissioner and served for 18 months, carrying out the provisions of the law he sponsored as the state's chief executive.

With America's entrance into the World war, White in 1918 was accepted as a Y. M. C. A. worker overseas. He sailed for France in 1918 and remained six months, supervising the construction of a large rest area at Annecy, he held the position of division secretary.

White was prominent in banking, business and manufacturing in Parkersburg for many years. After his retirement from the governor's office he was a leading figure in the organization of the Southern States Mutual Life Insurance Company, of Charleston, now the George Washington Life Insurance company, and was vice-president and agency director for a period, retaining the vice-presidency after resigning as agency director in 1907.

Following his resignation as state tax commissioner in 1908, White was elected president and cashier of the Parkersburg Banking and Trust company, now known as the Commercial Banking and Trust company, of Parkersburg. He resigned the presidency in 1914 to give his entire attention to his personal business. He was identified with many business and manufacturing concerns in Parkersburg.

From 1909 to 1911 he was president of the Parkersburg Board of Commerce and gave much of his time to the work. During that period the Baldwin Tool Works, the Porcelain plant, the Glass Bottle Works at Parmaco, and four or five other substantial industries were located in Parkersburg.

He also advocated and brought about the paving of the four highways in Parkersburg district to the district lines. In association with Henry C. Jackson, he helped secure the building of thirty-one miles of the Little Kanawha railroad.

He took an active part in securing a favorable vote in Parkersburg district to subscribe $175,000 to a new highway bridge over the Ohio river at Parkersburg, and conducted successfully the placing of $250,000 of bonds, with a Pittsburgh trust company necessary to insure the building of the bridge.

In the period from 1909 to 1912 he was designated as "Parkersburg's most useful citizen."

West Virginia university in 1919 conferred upon Mr. White, "for distinguished services to the state" the degree of L. L. D.

In 1926 White was elected state senator, a term of four years from the Third senatorial district of West Virginia, composed of Pleasants, Ritchie, Wirt and Wood counties.

Prominent in Masonry, White in 1912 was one of the organizers of the Nemesis Temple of the Mystic Shrine of Parkersburg, and was the third potentate of that temple. In attendance at the Imperial Council for many years, annually in 1921 at Des Moines, he was elected a life member of the council.

In addition to Masonic affiliations he held memberships in the Sons of the Revolution, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Rotary, Country club and several collegiate societies, including Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Sigma Phi. He was national president of the latter for two years.

He was a member of the First Presbyterian church at Parkersburg, and for years was active as a church officer and as the teacher for many years of the Men's Brotherhood Bible class.

Mr. White married Agnes Ward at Marietta, Ohio, October 2, 1879.

Surviving are his wife and the following children: Miss Grace Rolston White, of the home; Katherine Vaughan, wife of Attorney William H. Wolfe; Ethel Sabin, wife of Attorney Harry O. Hiteshew, and Ward E. White, all of Parkersburg.

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