SUBMITTED BY: Richard S. White, Great-Great-Grandson of Van Buren White
Van Buren White, son of John “Jackey” White and Frances Hoggard, was born in 1840 in White’s District on Pine Ridge Road, Bertie County, North Carolina. They were farmers, and John “Jackey” had 485 acres when he died at 52 years old in 1857. Van Buren had three siblings: Mariah, born 1832; David, born 1836; and Elizabeth, born 1839.
Van Buren was seventeen years old when his father died. Three years later, on April 11, 1860, he married Priscilla Mizelle. Priscilla was born in 1842 of Johnathan Mizelle and Mary Boswell of Bertie. Van Buren and Priscilla had three children: Sarah “Sally” Cherry White, born June 10, 1861; Oscar Franklin “Frank” White, born September 12, 1862; and Elizabeth “Bettie” Van Buren White, born January 9, 1864.
From the onset of the Civil War, Bertie County citizens were pretty equally divided between the Confederacy and Union. Van Buren enlisted in the Confederacy on September 20, 1862, as Captain 8th Regiment North Carolina Militia, and served in White’s District, Bertie County. He was transferred on September 23, 1863 as 2nd Lieutenant to Company F, 68th Regiment NC Troops. His name appears on muster rolls dated April 30 and June 30, 1864. Later he was transferred as a Private to Company H, 1st Battalion North Carolina Local Defense Troops.
He was captured near Greenville, North Carolina on December 17, 1863 and sent to Fort Norfolk, Virginia. On December 29, 1863, he was confined at Point Lookout. On January 18, 1864, he was absent in confinement, when transferred to Company H, 67th Regiment North Carolina Infantry Troops.
Van Buren died at Point Lookout on February 20, 1865 of chronic diarrhea as did many prisoners who died there. He was buried in the mass grave at Point Lookout Confederate Cemetery along with 3,383 fellow Confederate soldiers recognized by the federal government as having died there. His name is inscribed on the monument.
Elizabeth White, Van Buren’s sister, married Frazier Hoggard on January 13, 1858. Frazier enlisted in the Union Army, 2nd Regiment, North Carolina Union Volunteers. He was captured by Confederate Forces and imprisoned at Castle Thunder, Richmond, Virginia. He died there in January of 1865.
Consistent with the Confederate-Union alignment of the area, two families lost a son, brother, and husband on each side.
Van Buren was not in Bertie County when his youngest daughter, Elizabeth ‘Bettie” Van Buren, was born. She never saw her father, nor did he know her. Priscilla raised their three children alone, living next door to her mother-in-law Frances. On November 11, 1871, Priscilla married John “Wes” Miller. Priscilla died six months later, on May 15, 1872. Van Buren and Priscilla’s children were taken in by several family members: Sarah “Sallie” Cherry White was taken in by Van Buren’s sister, Mariah, and her second husband, Thomas Boswell; Elizabeth “Bettie” Van Buren White, was taken in by Johnathan and Mary Mizelle, Priscilla’s parents. No exact whereabouts have been determined for Oscar Franklin “Frank” White after his mother’s death in 1872 until later in his life. Oscar “Frank” married Sophia Louise “Lula” Phelps in 1889. Oscar “Frank” became a successful farmer in Bertie County and owned 788 acres of land.