Judge Thomas White Stephenson IV

  • Judge Thomas White was born in Battle Abbey, Hastings, England to an aristocratic Roman Catholic family in 1799. He came to the United States with his parents and studied law in Philadelphia. He took a position caring for the legal concerns of absentee landlords in Indiana County in 1820 and was known as the "best land lawyer in Pennsylvania." He joined the Episcopal Church to marry his wife, Catherine McConnell White in 1824. They had four children: Richard (1826), Alexander (1828), Juliet (1830) and Henry Lloyd ("Harry") (1833). Judge White was elected to the Indiana Borough Council in 1823, 1824-7, 1830, 1840 and 1854.

    White Stone HouseIn 1836, Thomas was appointed a trustee of the Indiana Female Seminary and Judge of the 10th Judicial District by Anti-Masonic Governor Ritner. In 1843, White Township was organized and named in White's honor. In 1845, White freed fugitive slave Anthony Hollingsworth, setting a precedent followed on the floor of Congress. White's stone gatehouse (at right) was said to be a refuge for fugitive slaves and White was said to have brought Samuel Williams, a well-known local—and fugitive slave—to Indiana County via Armagh.

    White was involved in bringing the railroad to Indiana County from 1846-1852. In 1854 he entered into a law partnership with his nephew Titian Coffey. Coffey later became acting Attorney General under Abraham Lincoln, and was probably co-author of the Emancipation Proclamation.

    From 1853-1854, White was President of the Indiana Academy Trustees. In 1854, he also became involved in the organization of the Episcopal Church. The following year, White became a member of the new a Republican Party and also became involved in the Indiana County Agricultural Association. White had business interests in the Conemaugh Furnace, the Loop Furnace and the Indiana County Strawboard Mill.

    In 1853, White's only daughter Juliet died at the age of 23. She was found to have secretly married a stone mason named Coulter. In 1861 White was appointed to the national Peace Convention, an attempt to prevent the Civil War. When the war started he was a Lincoln man, and gave patriotic speeches and became involved in Soldiers' Relief. In 1862, he became President of the Indiana Mutual Fire Insurance Company and in 1864 Director of the First National Bank of Indiana.

    In 1865, White's eldest son, Colonel Richard White, died of pulmonary arthritis. A year later, Thomas White died of "paralysis" (most likely a stroke) at the age of 67.

    Below is a timeline of Judge White's life: 

  • 1799  Judge Thomas White is born in Battle Abbey, Hastings, England to an artistocratic Roman Catholic family. He will convert to Protestantism to marry his wife. His ancestral estate is Croylands, near Dublin, which he will attempt to replicate in Indiana County
    1816 White studies law with William Rawle of Philadelphia.
    1820 White is admitted to the bar. Intending to practice in New Orleans he leaves Philadelphia but stopped in Huntington County where he met Catherine McConnell and fell in love. Decides to take a position in Indiana County for the legal concerns of absentee landowners. He was said to be "the best land lawyer in Pennsylvania."
    1820–21 White begins the practice of law in Indiana. Continues to court Catherine.
    1821 and 1831
    Manager and Secretary of Indiana and Ebensburg Turnpike Road Company-to build a bridge over the Conemaugh River.
    1822 White elected to Indiana Borough Council, serving as clerk in 1823. He would serve in that capacity in 1824-7, 1830, 1840, and 1854.
    1824 Thomas marries Catherine McConnell. Their first home is on the corner of Philadelphia and 7th Street.
    1826 Eldest son Richard White born. Will later start newspapers in Cambria County and command the 55th Pennsylvania Volunteers during the Civil War. He will die in 1865 after imprisonment and illness in rebel prisons.
    1828 Alexander is born. He will be an industrialist and government contractor during the war.
    1830 White is involved in an anti-Masonic case and also served on an "Anti-Masonic Committee of Correspondence."
    Juliet, White's only daughter, is born.
    1832 Declined to run as an Anti-Masonic Party Candidate.
    1834 Youngest son, Henry Lloyd "Harry" White is born.
    1836 Thomas is named a trustee of the Indiana Female Seminary and appointed Judge of the 10th Judicial District by Anti-Masonic Governor Ritner.    
    1843 White Township is organized and named in White's honor.
    1845 White tries the Flannigan boys for murder. They are convicted and he sentences them to death. New trial is overruled. White frees fugitive slave Anthony Hollingsworth setting a precedent followed on the floor of Congress. White's stone gatehouse was said to be a refuge for fugitive slaves.
    1846-52 White is involved in bringing the Railroad to Indiana County.
    1846 Daughter Juliet falls in love with a stonemason, William Coulter and secretly marries. She dies in 1853.
    1846-47 White serves as President Judge of Indiana County.
    1847 Thomas, Mrs. White, Juliet and Harry travel for health reasons.
    1848 Ad appears for law firm of Thomas White and Titian Coffey. Coffey will later be acting Attorney General under Abraham Lincoln and was probably co-author of the Emancipation Proclamation.
    1853-54 President of the Indiana Academy Trustees.
    1854-55 White becomes involved in the development of the Episcopal Church.
    1855 White becomes a Republican. (Party formed in 1854.) Becomes involved in Indiana County Agricultural Association. White has a business interest in the Conemaugh Furnace., the Loop Furnace and the Indiana County Strawboard Mill; White is named poorhouse commissioner but the poorhouse does not materialize.
    1861 White is appointed to the Peace Convention, an attempt to prevent the Civil War.
    1861-65 White is a Pro-Union Republican, a Lincoln man. He will be involved in patriotic speeches and events and Soldiers' Relief.
    1862 White is President of the Indiana Mutual Fire Insurance Company
    1864 White is a Director of the First National Bank of Indiana.
    1865 Richard returns home to his family and dies from lung fever he contracted in Confederate prison.
    1866 Thomas White dies of "paralysis" at the age of 67.