Samuel White Jr. was born on October 1, 1829, in Ontario, Canada, the son of Samuel Sr. (1781-1873) and Lydia (Morgan, 1793-1875).
New York natives Samuel Sr. and Lydia were married in 1812 in Preble, NewYork, where they lived for some years. By 1818 they were in Palmyra, New York but by at least 1823 were living in Nissouri, Ontario, Canada. They remained in Canada for a numbere of years. Samuel Sr. moved his family from on to the Grand Rapids area in December of 1836, “with a team of six yoke oxen, and spent New Year’s Day at Gull Prairie, and in the spring of 1837 settled in Walker, where [his father] took up 160 acres on sec. 23 [what is now the Greenwood and Mt. Calvary cemeteries on west Leonard Street], and continued to buy land until he owned about 400 acres.” Samuel Sr. “cut the first road and drove the first team into the wilderness of Walker,” and was described as “a practical miller, and his sons acquired a knowledge of the business that proved useful in a new country.
Local Grand Rapids historian Charles Tuttle wrote in 1874 that upon arriving in the Walker area “Mr. White built the first frame barn west of the Grand River, and soon after erected a saw mill on Indian creek,” and as a young boy Samuel Jr. was reputed proficient in the language of the local native Americans. By 1850 Samuel Jr. was living with his family in Walker.
Samuel Jr. married his first wife, New York native Amy Eliza Root (b. 1835) on March 8, 1851, probably in Kent County, and according to one source they had at least three children: Isadora Monetta (b. 1853), Frederick Emmett (b. 1857) and May Amarilla (b. 1867). They divorced sometime before 1877.
By 1859-60 Samuel Jr. was living with his family on the Muskegon road (present-day west Leonard Street), near the corporation line, and in 1860 he was a farmer living with his family in Walker, Kent County, where his father owned a substantial farm and property. (Dayton Peck, who would also enlist in Company B, worked for Samuel Sr.) On July 10, 1860, Samuel joined the Grand Rapids Artillery, commanded by Captain Baker Borden. (The GRA would serve as the nucleus for Company B, also commanded by Borden, of the Third Michigan Infantry.)
Samuel Jr. stood 5’8” with blue eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion and was 31 years old and probably living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted as either First Corporal or Sergeant in Company B on May 13, 1861. By late June of 1862 was sick in a hospital in Bottom’s Bridge, Virginia, suffering from debility. He may have been reduced tot he ranks sometime in the summer of 1862 since he was reported as a Private and absent sick in the Regimental hospital from August of 1862 through December.
By January of 1863 he was sick at a hospital in Maryland, and he remained hospitalized, probably in Cumberland, Maryland until he was discharged on April 1, 1863, at Cumberland for a varicose ulcer of the left leg. According to the discharging physician, White also suffered from “scrofula and cutaneous eruption. He had been disabled for duty since June 1862. Protracted and severe marches are the supposed causes of the enlarged veins and consequent ulcer.”
Samuel returned to his home in Walker where he reentered the service as Commissary Sergeant of Company D, Tenth Michigan cavalry on September 16, 1863, for 3 years, crediting Walker, and was mustered on October 2 at Grand Rapids where the regiment was organized between September 18 and November 18, 1863, when it was mustered into service. It left Michigan for Lexington, Kentucky on December 1, 1863, and participated in numerous operations, mostly in Kentucky and Tennessee throughout the winter of 1863-64. Most of its primary area of operations would eventually be in the vicinity of Strawberry Plains, Tennessee. He was reported in the commissary department in February of 1864, and promoted to Second Lieutenant on January 31, 1865, at Knoxville, Tennessee, commissioned November 5, 1864, and soon afterwards returned home for a short visit.
He was on recruiting duty in Michigan from March of 1865 through May, and in June of 1865 he was Second Lieutenant of Company C, replacing Lieutenant Hinman. He resigned on August 26, 1865. According to one postwar report White “suffered the loss of an eye and part of the right shin bone from Confederate fire,” however the circumstances are unknown.
Samuel again returned to his home in Walker where for many years after the war he farmed on 80 acres of his own land as well as 35 acres of his father’s property, which he continued to improve. By 1870 he was working as a farmer (he owned $7000 worth of real estate) and living with his wife and children in Walker; also living with them was Samuel’s parents. Samuel Jr. married his second wife Mrs. Mary Jane Mercer Schill (b. 1838 in Canada, d. 1922) in 1877.
By 1880 he was working as a farmer and living with his wife and children in Walker. Samuel operated a steam cider-mill in Walker in the early 1880s, and was living in Grand Rapids by 1882; indeed, he lived the remainder of his life in the Grand Rapids area. In 1879 (?) he applied for and received a pension (no. 271192).
Samuel was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, and for many years served as commander of Grand Army of the Republic Champlin Post No. 29. The Eagle wrote on October 2, 1884, that “Samuel White, Commander of Champlin Post G.A.R., having attained his 55th year yesterday was agreeably surprised last evening by about 40 couples of his old comrades and friends attired in sheets and pillow cases. The commander was somewhat surprised and at first thought a graveyard had broken loose upon him, but after becoming acquainted with the situation joined the party and all enjoyed themselves until midnight when they left for home all wishing the commander many more anniversaries.” He remained with the Champlin Post until the membership dwindled to such a level that the few survivors were incorporated into the Custer Post No. 5.
In 1885 Samuel was living in Grand Rapids, in Walker in 1890, in Grand Rapids, Third Ward in 1894, in Comstock Park, Kent County in 1908, and at 315 Walker Street (subsequently changed to 1269 South Fifth Avenue) in Grand Rapids from 1909-11. “He was known,” wrote the Grand Rapids News in 1920, “as one of the best fishermen in the County and until he was 85 shot his allowance of deer each year.”
Samuel died of senility on Monday, July 12, 1920, at his home at 865 Franklin Street in Grand Rapids, and the funeral services were held at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday at the residence. He was buried in Greenwood cemetery: section K lot 35.
In August of that same year his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 900481).