Obituary of William Francis White

Obituary of William Francis White

Source: Watsonville Pajaronian May 15, 1890 3:5

Hon. Wm. F. White died at the home of his son, Senator Stephen M. White, in Los Angeles, Tuesday morning, and his remains will be buried in the Pajaro Valley church graveyard this afternoon — the funeral taking place upon the arrival of the noon train from San Francisco. The death of Mr. White was not unexpected to the members of his family, for he had failed rapidly for several days before his death. About the holidays he had a slight stroke of apoplexy which compelled his retirement from business. Last month, in company with Mrs. White, he went to Los Angeles. For a time his health improved and his complete recovery was expected; but on Thursday last, while walking across a room, he fell to the floor, and from that time his dissolution was rapid. His stomach refused to receive food and death came to his relief Tuesday morning. The deceased was seventy-four years of age. He was a native of Limerick, Ireland. He came to the United States at an early age, and lived in New York City. Upon the breaking out of the gold excitement in California he started for this coast with his wife, and after a long voyage landed in San Francisco. In company with Denis J. Oliver and John A. McGlynn (both of whom are dead) he engaged in business in that city, and the partnership continued until Mr. White became interested in lands in this valley, when he removed here with his family and built his home on the Santa Maria farm, now owned by Judge Bockius and occupied by G. M. Bockius, Jr. He came here in 1852, and he continuously resided in this valley for nearly thirty years. He moved from here to Santa Cruz in 1880, and soon after removed to Oakland, which has since been the family home.

Mr. White was one of the commissioners in fixing the lines of the Salsipuedes ranch, and in early days was one of the heavy land owners of this section. During the forty years of his life in California he occupied a prominent place in the political circles of the State, being considered one of the shrewdest leaders of the Democratic party. When the prime of his life he wielded great power in his party. In 1864 he was on the Democratic ticket as a Presidential Elector. Subsequently he ran from this district for State Senator. When the Workingman’s Party was organized in 1878, Mr. White identified himself with it and became one of its leaders. In that year he was elected a district delegate from Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties to the Constitutional Convention, and prior to the assembling of the Convention he prepared a complete Constitution, from which many thoughts were incorporated in the Constitution subsequently adopted. In 1879 he was the nominee of the Workingmen’s party for Governor, and though he was defeated in the triangular fight he polled 44,482 votes. Soon after the election he was appointed a Bank Commissioner by Gov. Irwin, and was re-appointed by Gov. Stoneman upon the expiration of the first term. He was the only member of the Commission to serve two terms. Upon his retirement from this position he engaged in the real estate business in San Francisco, in which he continued up to the time of his fatal illness.

Mr. White was a member of a family of thirteen children, and of which the sole survivor is a sister who is the Lady Superioress of a Catholic convent at Georgetown, D. C. His own family consists of his widow, two sons — Edward White, of this valley, and Senator S. M. White, of Los Angeles — and six daughters.

The remains of the deceased will be buried in the family lot at the valley church by the side of the lamented Miss Lucy White. They were the main movers in locating the valley church, and did much for its growth. Wm. F. White was a man of decided thought and action in political matters. He was an advocate or antagonist of every leading issue submitted to his party. He gained for himself a large circle of warm and devoted friends, and to them the news of his death came as a severe blow.

As a writer he was trenchant, and the memory of some of his satirical compositions will not be soon forgotten. He wrote, some years ago, a history of pioneer times in California, and the work met with a popular reception [Transcriber’s Note: this work was published under a pseudonym — A picture of pioneer times in California : illustrated with anecdotes and stores taken from real life /, by William Grey [pseud.] Author’s ed. San Francisco : Printed by W. M. Hinton & Co., 1881]

Mr. White was gifted with a remarkable memory, was full of humor, was a bright conversationalist and companion, and withal was a man who had much to do with making the history of our State. In his time he was truly a “prominent citizen,” and in his death the State has lost one of her leading sons. The family of the deceased have the sincere sympathy of our people in their great loss.