The diary and account book of B. B. White 1869-1870

Benijah Bennet White was born in Somerset, Niagara county Ny.  His father Perry White was born in Vermont and died when B B was about 3.  His mother Priscilla Lawrence White Requa was born in Yonkers New York.  B B enlisted in the 49th Ny Infantry with 89 other men from his county.  16 of them died before the end of the Civil War.  His uncle Isaac Lawrence (l826) had moved to Clinton, Iowa by l86l and his brother Wm White by l862 when they enlisted. I think quite a few people from Niagara and Orleans county New York had gone before them. .

The first mention we find of B B White in Clinton is his marriage in the Clinton Herald Aug 25, l866 “the parties have proven themselves ‘white’ by nature as well as name, in the greenback accompaniment of the above notice, we wish them all the joy imaginable and more too.  He had married Mary J Took Aug l9, marriage performed by OD White minister of the gospel. She was an orphan who was born l837 on the Rock River.  In l846 her mother Rebecca Took, a Quaker died.  By l840 they had moved to Clinton but likely kept a farm near Albany on the other side of the river. In l846, the famous year in which ‘there was no summer’ with ice an inch thick found in July and August, her father Jacob Took died.  Jacob was a Catholic born in France, had fought in the military there,  and likely emigrated through Canada.  In l85l her brother John Took drowned while swimming in the Mississippi, probably near Comanche.

Our book is an l869 journal which was used to record collections for P.G. Farnsworth of Clinton who was a physician and surgeon, office south side of Fifth avenue with J.H. Flint between lst and 2nd steet in Clinton.  J.H. Flint was an attorney at law.  Farnsworth had served as a military doctor to the Union army, born Westfield Vt, educated at the University of Vermont, Columbia of Physicians and Surgeons New York. He lived Lyons l862, Clinton l865, married Elizabeth D. Eaton a native of Maine. 

 It appears that B.B. collected rents and court bills, and maybe medical bills.  (Possibly he was working for Farnsworth and Flint.)   This is the first set of entries.  When BB takes a group of men from Clinton to Mississippi as carpetbaggers in l870 he wrote his brief diary over the top of the ledger entries.  It made for a hopelessly confusing puzzle until we realized that it covered two years and had double entries.  It begins Jan l, l869 and ends August 2, l870 with B.B’s last entry before his death, the death of his wife, and their infant daughter.  Only the son BB jr age 2 remained.  He was put in an orphanage, then at age 5 farmed out to a difficult family.  As a teenager he eventually made his way back to Clinton and in his possession were tintypes of his father and mother, and the diary. In addition to it being an account book and diary, it also served as an early penmanship practice as we find B.B jr’s writing.

We share it with you in the hope that it might provide some details of early people and times of Clinton.  Should anyone be able to shed light on any of the people mentioned, we would love to hear from you at Steve and Lu Behr, 4l3 Lebanon, San Antonio Tx 78223 or   There were l8 people in B.B’s party when he headed out of Clinton to Mississippi and we would love to hear of any connection anyone has.

Diary - 1869

Diary - 1870






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