Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Rhoda Elizabeth Waterman White


Among the women who were distinguished for their efforts for charity, for the poor and afflicted, and who wielded a wide influence through her domestic life and who commands the admiration of all as a wife, mother and friend, may be mentioned Mrs. White. Her mother was the daughter of General Whitney, a wealthy land owner. Her father was General Waterman, one of the earliest settlers of Binghamton, New York. Mrs. James W. White's name before her marriage was Rhoda Elizabeth Waterman, and when quite young she married James W. White a young lawyer of Irish descent and a nephew of General Griffin, author of The Collegians."

Mr. and Mrs. White took up their residence in the city of New York in 1834, and this home was known among her friends as "Castle Comfort." Mrs. White considered it her most sacred duty to God and her husband to deepen, purify and increase in her own heart and in his, the conjugal affection which bound them together and which she prized as Heaven's best gift. We regret that this idea and conception of married life is not more general today. In 1853 Mrs. White arranged a private concert in Niblo's salon in aid of charity, at which Madame Sontag sang; and this proved the great fashionable event of the season.

In 1956 Mrs. White was solicited by the Sisters of Charity to aid them in the rebuilding of their hospital, and a meeting of the ladies representing the different Catholic churches was called for the purpose of carrying out Mrs. White's plan for a fair to be held in the Crystal Palace. A storm of opposition greeted this proposal but this did not deter Mrs. White from proceeding with the plan and, though the ladies manifested their opposition to the very hour of the opening of the fair, this great ''Charity Fair" cleared thirty-four thousand dollars, a splendid memorial of the indomitable energy, practical wisdom and noble zeal of the ruling spirit of this enterprise. At the close of the fair the sisters urged upon Mrs. White the acceptance of a massive piece of silver as a mark of their gratitude, but she declined the gift and asked that it be disposed of for the benefit of the hospital.

In 1859, Mrs. White was president of an association which brought to a successful ending a large fair in aid of the Sisters of Mercy which was held in the Academy of Music. One of Mrs. White's contributions was a large volume, elegantly bound and valued at twenty-five hundred dollars, containing the rarest and most valuable autographs ever collected. The book was drawn in a lottery after a large sum had been raised by the sale of tickets and the fortunate winner presented it to the original donor.

Mrs. White carried on during her lifetime an extensive correspondence with the learned, gifted and distinguished persons of this country and Europe, and some have called her "the Sevigne of the United States." Among these correspondents may be mentioned President Lincoln.

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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