THOMAS HOWARD WHITE
Thomas Howard White, manufacturer, was born at Phillipston, Mass., Apr. 26, 1836, son of Windsor and Elizabeth (Pierce) White and a descendant of Thomas White, the date of whose settlement in the colonies is unknown. From Thomas and his wife, Margaret, the line is through John and Elizabeth (Goble) White; Daniel and Mary White; Joseph and Mary (Whitmore Weber) White; Thomas and Prudence (Hayward) White; and Simeon Howard and Electa (Warner) White, the grandparents of Thomas Howard White. He was taught the machinist's trade in his father's chair factory at Phillipston and later, when he went to work for another manufacturer at Templeton, Mass., at a salary of twenty dollars a month and board, he saved $400, out of which he paid his father $200 for his time, in accordance with the custom of that day. The remaining $200 was the capital with which he began business. Being mechanically skillful and naturally ambitious, he devoted every moment he could find to experimenting with strange machines. It was the age of inventions and one of the most fascinating devices that had been brought out was a machine for sewing. Thomas White experimented patiently with this promising device and in 1857 invented a small hand-power sewing machine of his own, on which he obtained patents in 1859. He began to manufacture his machine in 1858 in a factory at Templeton, with a capital of $350 and with William L. Grout (founder of the New Home Sewing Machine Company in Orange, Massachusetts), who acted as salesman, as a partner. "The New England" was the name of this machine, the retail price of which was ten dollars and although the partnership with Grout lasted only a year, the business prospered and in 1863 the demand had grown to such an extent that White moved to a larger factory at Orange, Mass., where he manufactured for three years. Seeking larger fields and greater manufacturing facilities, he removed to Cleveland, O., in 1866, taking with him a few of his best mechanics and there founded the White Manufacturing Company. For ten years the new factory built sewing machine heads for W. G. Wilson, until that company purchased the existing patterns, templets and special equipment and established an independent plant in Chicago, 111. A new model had been perfected in the meantime by George Wells Baker and D'Arcy Porter of the White organization and its manufacture was commenced at once, the company having been reorganized under the name of the White Sewing Machine Company. The business grew from an original production of twenty-five machines a month to no fewer than 2.000 a week in 1882; an extensive organization of branch dealers was established in the United States and following the opening of a London office in 1880, the company's foreign trade grew rapidly. At the time of the death of its founder in 1914, the company's capitalization had grown to $1.235.000, its main plant at Cleveland occupied more than 275.000 feet of floor space and it employed close to 1.000 persons. Production had grown enormously and the White sewing machine was sold in every civilized country. From the first Mr. White devoted most of his time to problems of finance and production, engaging others of greater inventive genius and mechanical skill to improve the machine itself. In order to reduce production costs he engaged the best mechanical engineering talent to devise manufacturing economies and in his factory the full automatic lathe, the multiple spindle drill and the screw machine were brought to a high degree of perfection. The success of his methods is indicated by the fact that under his leadership the White Sewing Machine Co. (now a subsidiary of the White Sewing Machine Corporation) developed into the second largest manufacturer of sewing machines in the world. From time to time he enlarged the range of the business by adding new products, such as roller skates, bicycles, phonographs and automobiles. During 1894-98 the company produced White bicycles at the rate of 10.000 a year and in the same period it produced 450.000 bicycle pedals for other bicycle manufacturers. In 1900 the company entered the automobile manufacturing field and this department of the business, which was developed largely by the sons of the founder under the stimulus of his encouragement and guidance, grew so rapidly that it was established as a separate organization, the White Company, in 1906. Mr. White also founded and became president of the Cleveland Machine Screw Co. (later the Cleveland Automatic Machinery Co.), which manufactured screw-making machinery. He continued as president of the White Sewing Machine Co. until his death. He was actively interested in public, educational and religious affairs. He served in the Cleveland city council in 1875-76 and was a member of the Masonic order and the Unitarian church. Mr. White was endowed with extraordinary business sagacity as well as great stability of character, a quality which he succeeded to a marked degree in building into the products of the house which he founded and whose destinies he guided for more than half a century. He observed the highest standards of business conduct and required all others connected with his organization to do likewise. He was a man of great energy and industry, was modest, conservative and of few words and was an almost unerring judge of character. He was known and highly esteemed in Cleveland as a generous, patriotic and public spirited citizen and attained a noteworthy place in its industrial, social and intellectual life. In his will he provided that, after a certain period, his entire estate should be devoted to the causes of education, science and charity in Cleveland. He was married at Orange, Massachusetts, Nov. 2, 1858, to Almira L., daughter of Charles W. Greenleaf of Boston, Mass. There were eight children: Alice Elizabeth, who died in infancy; Mabel Alice, who was the wife of James A. Harris, died in 1888; Alice Maud, who married William J. Hammer and died in 1906; Windsor Thomas: Clarence Greenleaf; Rollin Henry: Walter Charles and Ella Almira, wife of Horatio Ford. Mr. White died in Cleveland, O., June 22, 1914.