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Submitted by Richard S. White, Great-Great-Grandson of Van Buren White; Vetted and edited by Cheri Todd Molter


Van Buren White, son of John “Jackey” White and Frances Hoggard White, was born in 1840 in White’s District on Pine Ridge Road in Bertie County, North Carolina. Van Buren had three siblings: Mariah, born 1832; David, born 1836; and Elizabeth, born 1839. Their parents were farmers, and Jackey White owned 485 acres when he died at 52 years old in 1857.

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 Mizelle 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.

Van Buren enlisted in the Confederate army on September 20, 1862, serving in Company H of the NC 1st Local Defense Infantry. At some point, his company/regiment was renamed, becoming part of the 67th North Carolina Infantry, and Van Buren continued to serve as a private in Company H.

On December 17, 1863, Van Buren was captured near Greenville, North Carolina, and sent to Fort Norfolk, Virginia. On December 29, 1863, he was confined at Point Lookout. On January 1, 1865, he was hospitalized for chronic diarrhea at the prison camp’s hospital. About a month and a half later, he died and was buried in the mass grave at Point Lookout Confederate Cemetery. His name is inscribed on the monument there.

From the onset of the Civil War, Bertie County’s population was fairly equally divided between those who supported the Confederacy and those who were Unionists. Van Buren, as mentioned, supported the Confederacy; however, one member of his extended family—his sister’s husband—remained loyal to the Union: Elizabeth White married Bertie County native Frazier Hoggard on January 13, 1858, and on January 11, 1864, Frazier enlisted in the Union Army, serving in Company E of the 2nd North Carolina Union Volunteer Regiment. At that time, Frazier was described as a thirty-six-year-old farmer with black hair, black eyes, and a dark complexion. He was captured by Confederate forces at Plymouth, NC, on April 25th and imprisoned in Richmond, Virginia. He fell ill and was hospitalized at General Hospital 21 at Richmond in January of 1865. He died there a few days after being admitted, on January 25th.

Consistent with the Confederate-Union alignment of Bertie County, the White family lost a (Confederate) son and a (Unionist) son-in-law, a brother and a brother-in-law, and Priscilla White and Elizabeth White Hoggard both lost their respective husbands and their children each lost their father.

Van Buren was not in Bertie County when his youngest daughter, Elizabeth ‘Bettie” Van Buren White, 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 White. 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: Sallie was taken in by Van Buren’s sister, Mariah, and her second husband, Thomas Boswell; Bettie was taken in by Johnathan and Mary Mizelle, Priscilla’s parents. No exact whereabouts have been determined for Frank White after his mother’s death in 1872. As an adult, Frank married Sophia Louise “Lula” Phelps in 1889. Frank became a successful farmer in Bertie County and owned 788 acres of land.


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