Our Roots

Anderson and Loney White
Ruby White
Floyd and Bernice White
Floyd and Bernice White

Parents of Harvey White and Georgia Gardner

Both Harvey White and Georgia Gardner’s parents would have been born during slavery. Finding information about black ancestors who lived during this time is difficult and commonly referred to as “The African American Brick Wall,” because of the scant documentation of African Americans before emancipation. This is because most African Americans were enslaved and considered to be the property of white slave owners. That’s how they were treated in wills, deeds, account and probate records, as well as census enumerations. As legal property, they were rarely listed by name. Even free people of color were often neglected in public records before emancipation, making them difficult to trace. However, we do know that Harvey White’s father was born in South Carolina and his mother in Mississippi. We also know that Georgia Gardner’s parents were both born in Georgia.

Harvey White

Harvey White was born in Mississippi in 1848, the same year that the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) opened, although it would be more than one hundred years later until the institution admitted its first African American student. Harvey’s wife, Georgia Gardner was born in Georgia in 1864, during the height of the Civil War. Not much is known about either Harvey or Georgia’s early life, however we know they married around the year 1879. They welcomed their first child Edward in 1878, followed by Craft in 1879, Hetty in 1883, Clare in 1886, Anderson in 1888, Blanche in 1890, and John in 1893. The three oldest were born in Arkansas, and the four youngest in Oklahoma.

By 1890, the White family was living in Oklahoma’s Indian Territory. It is believed, that the family moved to Oklahoma to take advantage of The Land Run of 1889, which opened “free” land to non-Indian settlements. During this time period, African Americans from the Old South rushed to claim land. In Oklahoma, African Americans created more than fifty towns and settlements, some of short duration and some still existing at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Nowhere else, did so many African American men and women come together to create, occupy, and govern their own communities. All-Black settlements offered the advantage of being free from the discrimination faced in integrated towns.

By the year 1900, Harvey and Georgia had purchased a farm and were living in South Creek Township, Oklahoma. Unfortunately, the family’s good fortune didn’t last and by 1905, Harvey White was dead at the age of 50, leaving Georgia a widow. With her older children out of the house, Georgia, and 18-year-old Blanche, and 14-year-old John moved to a rooming house in Tulsa where they lived with two other families. Craft married his wife Emma, and by 1910 owned his own farm in Depew Township, Oklahoma. (Depew, started as a small settlement named Hall in 1898, when St. Louis and Oklahoma City built a line between Sapulpa, Oklahoma and Oklahoma City). At age 22, Anderson lived with his brother and helped on the farm.

Anderson White

At 23 years old, Anderson married Loney McAlister in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. The couple eventually moved to Sunny Slope Township with their three children Paul born in 1913, Ruby in 1917 and Bernice in 1919 where they rented a farm. Later, three more children were born including Floyd in 1920, Tyree in 1922 and Thelma in 1925.

In 1923 the family moved to California’s Imperial Valley and then Anderson, Loney and their children moved to the Central Valley where they settled into a home located at 708 Lake Street in Madera. Like many African American families in the 1920s, the White family was swept from Oklahoma by The Great Migration that saw major populations of the Black South move both to the northern cities such as Chicago and New York and out west to California. From the 1910s and 1920s, through the 1960s black laborers were recruited to agricultural jobs in the Central Valley from Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. After World War II, over thirty thousand Black Okies arrived in the San Joaquin Valley to participate in the production of cotton.

Anderson was a successful cotton farmer, winning the premium bale of cotton award in 1927 and 1929. During the depression the family moved to Stockton. In 1933, they returned back to the Central Valley to farm in Chowchilla and in 1941, he gave up farming and moved back to Madera where he worked in labor contracting until his retirement. Anderson and Loney White were members of the Ebenezzer Apostolic Church.

Anderson White passed away on April 14, 1965 and was laid to rest at Arbor Vitae Cemetery in Madera, CA.

Loney White (McAlister) was born on August 4, 1889 in Kentucky. She passed away in September of 1973 and was laid to rest at Arbor Vitae Cemetery in Madera, Ca with her husband of 54 years.