Add White: on a collision course with destiny
If my ancestor had not been killed by another driver, then I probably would not be here today to write this great blog!
Add White, my great-grandfather, was born around 1901 in Morgan County, Alabama. He was the youngest child born to the union of Henry P. White (1867-1944) and Virginia Black White (1865-1902). His mother died shortly after his birth, and his father then married Hulday F. Gullion Whisenant. On one census, Add’s name is given as Adner White. He married Martha Ann Brown, and they had eight children. Working as a sharecropper, Add and his family spent several years in Louisiana before making their way to Jefferson County, Arkansas in the early 1940s.
On his way to a Sunday evening church service on November 1, 1942, Add White’s wagon was struck by a truck in Sherrill, Arkansas. He and two mules were killed, and three other persons were injured. I often joke that he was behind the times still driving a wagon when others were in trucks, but I imagine many poorer folks did not have automobiles in 1942 rural Arkansas. Oral tradition suggests the truck’s driver, Walter Coggins, was intoxicated although this has not been verified. (He would not be my only ancestor to be supposedly killed by a drunk driver. My great-great grandfather, Cassius M. Omans (1869-1924) was hit by a reportedly-intoxicated driver while building a road in New York. The driver was indicted for manslaughter, but the jury was not convinced.) I have also heard that Add reportedly threw his youngest son off the wagon to save his life. I suppose the rest of the family walked to church that evening. Add White is buried in an unknown grave at Mulberry Cemetery in England, Arkansas.
As so often it is with family history, the tragedy shaped future events in a way that otherwise would not have occurred. Left alone to care for the family, my great-grandmother married William Oliver Martin (1888-1980) and eventually the family moved to California. Once there, my grandmother met my grandfather, and this led to my father and ultimately to me. So if it were not for the unfortunate demise of Add White, I almost certainly would not exist.