Message Boards > Localities > North America > United States > States > Kentucky > Sandi Gorin's Kentucky Biographies
Subject: WHITE 1762 Wright Bigger Landes Grace Coil Utterback Jewett, Ballard Co.
Author: Sandi Gorin
Date: Saturday, August 29, 1998
Lawyers and Lawmakers of Kentucky, by H. Levin, editor, 1897. Published by Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago. Reprinted by Southern Historical Press. p. 60. Ballard County.
JAMES DEMPSEY WHITE, associate judge of the court of appeals, was born in Hickman county, Kentucky, about 1833. His father, Rev. Willis White, was a native of Halifax county, North Carolina, and with his parents removed to this state about 1810. His life was devoted to the work of the ministry and he was identified with the Baptist denomination. His wife, Mrs. Mary White, was a daughter of Colonel Enoch Wright, of east Tennessee. Judge White obtained his elementary education in Ballard county and
further pursued his studies in Clinton Seminary, of Hickman County. He studied law under the direction of J. M. Bigger, of Blandville, Ballard county, was admitted to the bar at that place in 1853, and at once began practice. His success came soon, because his equipment was good, he
having been a close and earnest student of the fundamental principles of the science of jurisprudence. Along with those qualities indispensable to the lawyer--a keen, rapid, logical mind, plus the business sense, and a ready capacity for earnest labor--he brought to the starting point of
his legal career certain rare gifts,--eloquence of language and a strong personality. In 1858 he was elected county attorney of Ballard county, serving two years. in 1870 he was elevated to the bench of the common-pleas division of the first judicial district and filled that office for nine
consecutive years, rendering decisions that won the admiration of the bar on account of their clearness and correct application and the approval of the public by reason of their strict justice. Few men have shown less
bias on the bench, and he left the office as he had entered it with the good will and confidence of the public and the profession. In 1880 he was the Democratic nominee for elector on the Hancock ticket and in the electoral college cast his ballot for the chosen standard-bearer of the
Democracy. In November, 1896, he was the nominee of his party for judge of the court of appeals for the first appellate district. His opponent was Judge Joseph I. Landes, of Hopkinsville, who was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Judge John R. Grace. The elections showed that he was the choice of the people for the office, and on the 1st of December he took his seat upon the bench. An excellent presence, an earnest manner, marked strength of character, a thorough grasp of the law, and the ability to accurately supply principles, made him an
effective and successful advocate and will insure him equal rank with the other distinguished members of the court of appeals. The Judge has been twice married. In 1860 he wedded Miss Mary E. Coil, daughter of Adam Coil, of Ballard county. She died in 1875 and the Judge afterward married Mrs. Mary A. Utterback, daughter of Thomas J. Jewett, of Carlisle county. She is a member of the Baptist church,
and the Judge also is a firm believer in its doctrines. The family includes W. T. and W. J. White, the former a lawyer of Wickliffe, and the other of Bardwell, Kentucky; a married daughter; and a son who has not yet attained his majority. Mr. White is a Mason of the Knight Templar degree, holding membership in Paducah Commandery. He also
belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights and Ladies of Honor, and is a member of the Order of United Workmen. His nature is kindly, his temperament jovial and genial, and his manner courteous. He is a most companionable gentleman; but when on the bench his attitude at once indicates the studious, earnest and scholarly judge, whose course fully upholds the majesty of the law.