Dr. Thomas Joiner White was born around 1827 in Petersburg, Virginia. His father Rev. Sampson White was a Baptist minister. Dr. White’s family moved to New York in 1840. Dr. White studied medicine at Bowdoin Medical College in Maine, under Dr. W. C. Roberts. He graduated M.D. in 1849 and he practiced medicine in New York City. Dr. White was an activist who served as Secretary of the Legal Rights Association and the Committee of Thirteen, a black anticolonizationist and vigilance organization.
Dr. White married Emma Glouchester in 1856. Mrs. White was born in 1837, the eldest child of James and Elizabeth Gloucester. Dr. and Mrs. White moved to Hamilton, Ontario shortly after there marriage. They moved to Chatham, Ontario in 1859. In the 1861 Census, Dr. and Mrs. White are listed as living in the Town of Chatham and they had an infant daughter Elizabeth.
Dr. T. Joiner White appears in the 1861-1862 Great Western Railway Directory and Gazetteer as practicing in Chatham on King Street.
In the summer of 1863, Dr. White was still living in Chatham and he was preparing to return to the United States, when he died of Cholera on the 09th of August.
A letter was found in Dr. White’s coat pocket upon his death. It read as follows:
“A few days ago I seemed to be in the full enjoyment of health and life-but, alas, how changed now, for Saturday last I was attacked with “Cholera Morbus,” and just as I supposed I was about well of that erysipelas of the face, claims me as a victim. This last disease will most likely terminate my earthily career. O Lord, if thou hast ordered it so to be, Thy will be done-One favor I would ask and that is, that you, my little child, may always enjoy Thy especial care; early may she learn to love Thee and always walk in Thy paths. Lord bless my dear Mother, my Wife and my beloved Father. Oh, God! Bless the cause of human liberty-may colored men prove themselves worthy of the trust committed to their hands, viz: the emancipation of their race from slavery-Strike the oppressor wherever you find him. Freedom now or never. I was just endeavoring to consummate arrangements with the Secretary of War whereby I should have returned to my native land and joined some of the “colored troops of the U.S.” But my Lord and Master, it seems intends taking me to himself-glory be to His holy name. Chatham, July 10th, A.D. 1863. I should like to be buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn.”
Reference: The Black Abolitionist Papers, Volumn II, Canada 1830-1865, published in 1986.
*Special Thanks to Bryan Prince for his research assistance.