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Memorial Record of Western Kentucky, Volume I and Volume II, Lewis Publishing Company, 1904, pp. 138-140. Franklin Co.
HON. JAMES DEMPSEY WHITE Hon. James Dempsey White, ex-judge of the court of appeals of Kentucky, was formerly a resident of Bardwell, but now makes his home in Frankfort. This state has always been distinguished for the high rank of her bench and bar, and prominent among the able lawyers of the present generation who have won honor and fame, and at the same time have honored the state to which they belong, is Judge White. A native of Hickman county, Kentucky, he was born in 1831, a son of the Rev. Willis White, who was a native of North Carolina, and on coming to Kentucky located in Caldwell county. Subsequently he made his home in Hickman county, and still later in Ballard county, settling in Clinton, the county seat, where he served as superintendent of schools. He was for many years a prominent minister of the Baptist church, and was no less active and distinguished in the cause of education, thus leaving the impress of his individuality upon the intellectual and moral progress of the communities in which his lot was cast. He was the founder of the Baptist college at Clinton, known as Clinton College, and it became a power for good as a means of Christian education in this part of the state. Rev. White spent his last days in Clinton, where his memory is yet honored and cherished, remaining as a blessed benediction to those who knew him. His wife was a most estimable lady, and was no less ardent as a follower of the Baptist church than he. It will thus be seen that it was amid the refining influences of a cultured Christian home that Judge White was reared. His parents desired that he should be well fitted for the duties of life, and it was the son's privilege to gain a good literary education in his youth. He then turned his attention to the study of law, and after sufficiently mastering the principles of jurisprudence was admitted to the bar, locating, just prior to the Civil war, at Blandville, Kentucky, where he entered upon his profeessional career, which has been one of pleasing success. In 1870 he was elected to fill out an unexpired term as common pleas judge, and in 1873 he was regularly elected to the office for a full term. On the expiration of that term, in 1879, he resumed the private practice of law in Blandville, where he continued to reside until 1891, when he changed his place of residence to Bardwell, the county seat of the then recently organized county of Carlisle. In politics Judge White has ever been an ardent Democrat, and in 1880 was chosen a presidential elector, voting for Hancock and English. Throughout the entire period of his manhood he has been active in politics, regarding it the duty as well as the privlege of the citizen to express his preference on political matters, and thus advance what he believes to be the welfare of county, state and nation. In 1896 Mr. White became the choice of his party for the candidacy for judge of the court of appeals from the first appellate district, and was elected in the fall of that year to fill out an expired term. He served for six years and one month in the office, and since his retirement from the bench has made his home in Frankfort, where he now has a large private practice. Few lawyers have made a more lasting impression upon the bar of the state, both for legal ability of a high order and for the individuality of a personal character which impresses itself upon a community. Judge White has been twice married. He first wedded Mary Ellen Coil, a native of Virginia, who died in 1875. For his second wife he chose Mrs. Mary A. Utterback, nee Juett. There are no children by the second marriage, while of the first union four were born: William T., a lawyer of Wickliffe, Kentucky; Willis J., a lawyer and manufacturer of Bardwell; Florence, the wife of W.A. Stephens, a merchant of Bardwell; and Samuel Jacob, also of the same city. Judge White is a Knight Templar Mason and also a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and his life exemplifies the principles of these noble fraternities. His career has been one of activity, of success, and above all, beyond reproach. He is a man of excellent traits of character, brave and manly, sincere and outspoken, gentle in manner, yet firm in the discharge of his duty. He has gained a high place in the profession by hard work and by evidencing his ability to fill the positions with which the people have entrusted him.