By Marjory J. Sente
For Christmas in 1908 Minnie White received a Christmas-themed penny post card from a W. Johnson. This attractive card, manufactured by Dennson’s, featured a snowy scene with people going to church. At that time, no messages were allowed on the address side of the post card. However, Johnson snuck his or her first initial and name in the upper left corner along with Minnie’s name and address. Mailed in Prescott on December 21, the card reached Harrington, where Miss White lived, two days later. Harrington was a mining town nestled in the Bradshaw Mountains south of Prescott. It was named for George P. Harrington, a mine operator and owner who established the Oro Belle mine and operated the Tiger Mine.
In 1908 Minnie, age 24 and unmarried, likely was working in Harrington. With a population of 150, the mining town had a saloon and a restaurant. The Harrington family lived there; perhaps Minnie worked for them or cooked for the restaurant.
Who was Minnie White?
The second daughter and third child of Fergus John and Mary Ellen (Dwyer) White, she was born in 1884 in Minnehaha where her parents owned a 160-acre ranch. Minnehaha, located near Harrington and Crown King, was part of the Tiger Mining District.
Although named Mary Ellen after her mother, the nickname Minnie stuck for her entire life. She was 11 when her father died, leaving his wife and seven children, ages 6 through 13, to operate the ranch. Frequently they sold beef to the miners in the area. In the 1900 Federal Census, Minnie’s mother listed her occupation as stockman.
One of four sisters attending St. Joseph’s Academy in Prescott, Minnie was an outstanding student. According to an article in the January 17, 1906 Weekly Arizona Journal-Miner, she had perfect attendance in December, excellent scholarship and satisfactory deportment, earning her a place on the honor roll. Her sisters Grace, Stella and Blanche, who were in the preparatory department, were also on the honor roll. Their brother James had been shot and killed in October of 1905 at a mining camp near Tucson.
Roscoe Willson recalled in the article “Humbugged at an Old Time Dance” from “Echos of the Past”, Vol. 2 that four of the White girls -Kit, Minnie, Grace and Stella – attended a dance at Three Links, the home of Mary and Mike Campbell near Walnut Grove, in the fall of 1906. The girls were mentioned as “outsiders”, along with the Genungs and others attending the dance from Peeples and Kirkland Valleys.
In September 1909, Lena Johnson sold her share of the Johnson House, a boarding house located at 146 N. Marina in Prescott, to Minnie’s mother. According to the 1910 census, Minnie ran the boarding house, and with the aid of sisters Stella and Blanche, took care of four boarders. Minnie cooked while her sisters gardened and cleaned. According to the same census, their mother Mary and brother Nicholas continued living on the ranch in Minnehaha.
Minnie married Arthur R. Webster in 1916. They lived in the Tolleson-Phoenix area, had five daughters and owned and operated a dairy. Arthur was also a Justice of the Peace, and Minnie was active in the Women’s Club of Tolleson as well as St. Mary’s and St. Matthew’s Catholic churches.
Arthur died in 1964 and Minnie a year later, leaving a legacy of 24 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. They are both buried in the St. Francis Cemetery in Phoenix. However, Minnie’s story, and that of her mother Mary Ellen (Dwyer) White and sister Blanche Julia White, live on as part of the Sharlot Hall Museum’s Territorial Rose Garden.
“Days Past” is a collaborative project of the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Prescott Corral of Westerners International (www.prescottcorral.org). This and other Days Past articles are also available at archives.sharlothallmuseum.org/articles/days-past-articles/1. The public is encouraged to submit proposed articles and inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please contact SHM Research Center reference desk at 928-445-3122 Ext. 2, or via email at email@example.com for information or assistance with photo requests.