William and Elizabeth White

William White (born, c.1683, died, c.1768/80) appears to have been somewhat of an enigma to those researching the lineage of the Cadman-White-Handy House until nearly the middle of the twentieth century. This may partly be attributed to the number of William Whites found in eighteenth century Massachusetts archives and genealogies, and to his relatively unexplained appearance in Dartmouth in the early years of the 1700s.

George Cadman’s parcel  and Thomas Coleman’s parcel to the south identified as William White (blue). Detail from map of Westport based on the transcriptions of Benjamin Crane’s field notes. Delineator and date unknown. Courtesy of the New Bedford Free Public Library.

George Cadman’s parcel and Thomas Coleman’s parcel to the south identified as William White (blue). Detail from map of Westport based on the transcriptions of Benjamin Crane’s field notes. Delineator and date unknown. Courtesy of the New Bedford Free Public Library.

Perhaps the most informative document on William White is noted genealogist George Andrews Mori­arty, Jr.’s piece titled The Parentage of William White of Dartmouth, Massachusetts.44 In it, Mori­arty makes the connection between Thomas Coleman of Situate, Massachusetts and William White’s presence in Dartmouth. It is Moriarty’s hypothesis that William White of Scituate, Massachusetts or the immediate area surrounding it, was left fatherless at a very young age (approximately 5 years old), and was raised by either his mother’s second husband or another family. As a young man, William was sent to look after the land of Thomas Coleman in Dartmouth. Further substantiating this is a number of entries in Benjamin Crane’s field book with references to William and Thomas Coleman’s property:

“June ye 19 1713 Land Laid out for Thom Coleman by ye desire of willm white beginning at a whit oak tree marked one side…”45

One piece of Coleman’s land, a sizable parcel, was located immediately south of land owned by George Cadman. Not only does this detail establish the connection between William White and Elizabeth Cadman, but, furthermore, George Cadman’s land north of Thomas Coleman’s is the plot on which the Cadman-White-Handy house was constructed.

William White and Elizabeth Cadman are believed to have married about 1707.46 This would have made William approximately 24 years old and Elizabeth 22 years old. William was a blacksmith by trade and his will lists a number of blacksmithing tools valued at a significant sum of money (see discussion of his will below). William and Elizabeth are known to have eleven children that survived past infancy, seven boys, and four girls.47 They were:

  • William (b. About 1708, d. Before October 3, 1780)
  • George (b. About 1710, d. Before March 29, 1764)
  • Sarah (b. About 1711, d. October 1795)
  • Hannah (b. About 1712, d. June 9, 1792)
  • Roger (b. About 1713, d. Before June 17, 1802)
  • Christopher (b. About 1715, d. Before October 9, 1795)
  • Susannah (b. About 1717, d. After October 3, 1780)
  • Elizabeth (b. About 1719, d. Before February 13, 1749)
  • Oliver (b. About 1723, d. April 19, 1791)
  • Abner (b. April 24, 1725, d. Before November 14, 1774)
  • Thomas (b. About 1730, d. Unknown)48

 

No documents have been located that state a date for the building of the Handy house or exactly who built it (either the owner or the joiner responsible for its construction). Dendrochronology performed on timbers corresponding to the frame of the Period I house indicate a period of construction no later than 1712.49

The earliest references located identifying people living on this parcel are found in Dartmouth town records for the laying out of town roads. These entries describe the routes, which the “ways” were laid out, detailing the markers, distances, and individuals properties they passed through. In one such entry dated December 14, 1717, the record notes:

“… from William Potter’s House thence on the same course 64 Rods to a small walnut tree marked E thence… to a Red Oak Tree the south westerly corner bound of George Cadman’s Lot whereon William White now dwells [italics added by author] and is a bound of the way that goes to the ferry of Acoakset River…”

The subsequent entry details the road as it leads towards the river:

“No 12 The way that turns out East down to the Bridge. December 14, 1717 Laid out an open way of 4 Rods wide from the way that comes up from Paquachuck to the ferry over Acoakset River begun at a Red Oak tree the southwesterly corner bound of George Cadman’s Lot whereon William White dwells [italics added by author] being also a Bound of the way that comes from Paquachuck and measured due East in the line of said Lot of Cadman’s 220 Rods to a heap of stones thence East 6 ½º southerly 28 Rods to a heap of stones thence Southerly 28 Rods to a heap of stones thence South 43º Easterly 15 ¾ Rods to a heap of stones thence 6º Easterly 7 Rods to a heap of stones thence East 25 ½º southerly 5 Rods to a heap of stones for a bound of the Landing Place and on the same course 25 Rods to a heap of stones by the River. These Bounds and Ranges are all on the northerly side of the way there laid out a Landing Place begun at the above said heap of stones made for a Bound of the Landing Place and measured due north 6 rods to a heap of stones and from thence northeast to the water and from thence Round by the water till it comes to the bound of the way by the River above said laid out by our order.”50

The exact date of William’s death is not known. He is believed to have died sometime between January 6, 1768 (the date of his will) and October 3, 1780 (the date his will was probated). In the writing of his will, he describes himself as, “very aged.” By the time of his death, William’s family had grown to include his wife, eleven children and eighteen grandchildren. In his will, William made the following bequests:

“Imprimis I Give and bequeath unto my Well beloved Son William White my Gun Which he hath now In his possession & Improvement”

To “my teen Well beloved Granchildren namely Israel Peleg William Silvenus Obed Ruth Sarah Hannah Mary & Unice all Children to my Son George White Deceased the Sum of one Spanish Silver mill’d Doller to be paid unto them by my Executors hereinafter Named and to be Equally Divided to & amongst them my sd ten Granchildren.”

To “my Well beloved Daughter Sarah Brown my Bead that Standeth in the South east Corner of my Great Chamber together with all the furnature belonging to it”

To “my Well beloved Daughter Hannah Taber …. twelve Spanish Silver mill’d Dollers to be paid unto her …. Within one year after my Deceas”

To “my son Roger White all my Wareing apparel …. and my Gun which I now have in my house & also my Case of Reazers & my hone”

To “son Christopher White …. five Spanish silver mill’d Dollers”

To “my son Thomas White my silver Tankard”

To “my three Well beloved Sons namely Roger White Christopher White & Thomas White that note of hand which is now Due unto me from Henry Soule of Newport” dated 9 September 1765, with “all the principal & Intrest Due unto me upon sd note of hand In the old tenner . & to be Devided to & amongst them …. as followeth Roger is to have” 200 pounds “old tenner out of sd note and Christopher is to have” 200 pounds “old tenner …. And Thomas to have all the Rest …. of the sd old tenner money Which is Due unto me upon the sd note of hand both principal & Intrest It is to be understood If they my three sd sons Can Recover the Sd note or at Least the old tenner money Due upon the sd note then it shall be Divided to & amongst them as above set forth but if other Wise by any ways or means Means that note of hand Should fail and they …. Could not Recover or get the sd money thereon due that then the Gifts to them in this parragraf shall be null & void & not be paid or Discharged with any other part of my Estate”

“I give … four Spanish Silver Mill’d Dollers to be Equally Divided amongst all my servi Granchildren that are Children to my Daughter Elizabeth Slowcum Deceased”

To “son Oliver White … the bed & bedding And the Smithing tools he hath already In his possession”

To “Son Abner White my Gun Which he now hath in his Possession”

Last will and testament of William White

Last will and testament of William White

Last will and testament of William White

Last will and testament of William White

To “Grandaughter Phebe Smith …. Nine Spanish silver mill’d Dollers”

To “Daughter Susannah White all the Rest & Residue of my Estate … She my Said Daughter pro­viding procuring & Decently maintaining … my … wife In her aged week & Low Condition … During the term of the Natural Life of my Said wife Elizabeth White her mother and with ye use & Improvement of the farm & houseing together with the profits thereof Whereon I now Live to maintain her sd mother with all sorts of nessasaries of Life Decently During the term of my sd Wifes Natural Life If my sd Daughter Lives So Long but if she my sd Daughter should not Live so Long as her mother then so much of that Estate which I have herein given her my said Daughter to Enable her to maintain her mother shall Return and pay all the Charges that shall a rise for Looking after my sd wife after the Death of my sd Daughter Susannah”

“I do hereby order my sd Daughter Susannah White to pay all my Just Debts funeral Charges And I do Likewise nominate my sd Daughter Susannah White & my well beloved Granson Peleg White Son to my son George White Deceased … to be Joynt Executors.”

Elizabeth died in 1768. It is believed she was about eighty-three years old.51 No records documenting her death are known.


Footnotes

44 Moriarty, Jr., George Andrews. The Parentage of William White of Dartmouth, Massachusetts. The American Genealogist. Vol. 17, No. 4. April 1941. pp. 193-206.

45 The Field Notes of Benjamin Crane, Benjamin Hammond, and Samuel Smith. p. 291.

46 Coughlin, p. 2. Also, Family Group Sheet, William White-Elizabeth Cadman, prepared by Randall J. Sever. July 31, 2011. Archives of the Westport Historical Society.

47 Coughlin, pp. 14-19.

48 These dates are based on information from Family Group Sheet, William White and Elizabeth Cadman, prepared by Randall J. Sever. July 31, 2011. Archives of the Westport Historical Society.

49 Flynt, William, A Dendrochronology Study of Select Timbers from the Cadman-White-Handy House, Westport, Massachusetts. December 2013. Westport Historical Society archives, Westport, Massachusetts. pp. 4-5.

50 TOWN ROADS 1756-1896. Microsoft Word file. Created October 31, 2005. Westport Historical Society archives. Westport, Massachusetts. pp. 6-7.


Eric Gradoia, Architectural History and Conservation. Copyright 2014