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Mero L. (White) Tanner 1844 ~ 1904


Mero L. White was born at Jefferson, Schoharie County, September 13, 1844, the daughter of Alfred S. and Julia Snyder White. She was educated at the New York Conference Seminary at Charlotteville, New York. At the age of thirteen she passed an unusually brilliant examination and for several seasons thereafter was a very successful teacher of a district school. On November 17, 1866, she became the wife of James Tanner, and in 1869 they moved to the city of Brooklyn, where she continued to live until 1889, then removing to Washington upon the appointment of her husband as United States Commissioner of Pensions, resided there until her tragic death through an automobile accident on June 29, 1904, at Helena, Montana.

She left surviving her husband and four children, James Alfred, an attorney-at-law in Philadelphia, Earle White, a captain in the Eleventh Infantry, United States Army, and two daughters, Ada and Antoinette, who reside with their father who is the Register of Wills for the District of Columbia. The mental endowments of Mrs. Tanner were of a very superior order. She was a deep, careful and omnivorous reader of the best literature of her day. Her nature was very sympathetic and at the same time very practical. She possessed to a marked degree executive capacity and force. The misfortune and helplessness of others always appealed to her most strongly.

During her twenty years' life in the city of Brooklyn she was a most earnest and efficient worker on the board of directors of the Brooklyn Nursery, one of the most efficient and helpful institutions of its kind in the United States. She -was especially interested in the welfare of the old comrades of her husband who survived the Civil War and struck many a blow in their defense and for their help. Thousands of personal appeals made to her by or for those in distress met with instant and helpful action. During the time of the Spanish-American War her ability, resourcefulness, and executive capacity came into full play. She had been allied for years with the national body of the Red Cross and during that struggle she was a member of the executive committee. Her fellow members, recognizing her peculiar fitness, gave her a very free hand and her work was on large lines. Possessing for many years the personal acquaintance and friendship of President McKinley and Secretary of War Alger, she was particularly well situated to do effective work, and many a negligence and much wrong doing was corrected by a quiet word from her to the President or the Secretary, and thousands upon thousands of sick and wounded soldiers were the unknowing beneficiaries of her words and deeds. It would take no small volume to give in full a statement of her work at that time. Besides all this, she took a great interest in legislation putting the rights of womankind on a much more just basis than had hitherto existed. It is owing to her efforts and those of some of her intimates that a law was enacted by Congress which wiped out the hideous monstrosity of a father having power through his will to bequeath away from the control and care of the mother who bore it, a minor child.

On June 29, 1906, while accompanying her husband, who was then commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, on a tour over the United States, and while being escorted around the city of Helena in an automobile ride, there was an accident, resulting in the upsetting of the machine and the fatal injuring of Mrs. Tanner, who died on the spot forty minutes later.

By the personal direction of President Roosevelt and because of the great interest she had always taken in behalf of the veterans of the Civil War, a beautiful plot was assigned to her in the National Cemetery at Arlington alongside of the main thorough-fare, near the auditorium, where, on each recurring Memorial Day, the waves of oratory and music will roll above her last resting place. This seems all the more appropriate by reason of the fact that prior to her time, interment in the National Cemetery of wives or widows of private soldiers had been prohibited. Against this prohibition she had made strong protest, and had secured the kindly and favorable interest of General Robert Shaw Oliver, assistant Secretary of War. After her death General Oliver, while acting Secretary of War, issued the order which annulled the long time prohibition. There her remains were laid to rest on the 5th of July, 1906, and over them her husband's comrades erected a beautiful memorial. With large work, well done on a high plane, her place, as one of those women because of whose living the world is better, is secured for all time.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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