William Allen White
William Allen White was born on February 10, 1868, in Emporia, KS. He was the son of Allen White, a country merchant and doctor, and Mary A. Hatten White, pioneer Kansas teacher. White grew up in El Dorado, attended the College of Emporia and later the University of Kansas. Though the future "Sage of Emporia" attended both colleges, he never earned a degree. In later years, White would receive honorary degrees from at least eight leading universities.
Though he never received a degree, White got a job in El Dorado where he learned the printing and newspaper business.
"Sheer luck put me into the newspaper business," he wrote in 1885. While a student in college, White sent three letters asking for a job - one to a grocer, one to a merchant and the third to the editor of the El Dorado paper. The grocer and merchant "knew my desultory ways and rejected me on suggestion. T.P. Fulton knew my father and took a chance."
White was later a reporter in Lawrence and in 1892 went to work for The Kansas City Star as an editorial writer. Then, on June 1, 1895, he borrowed $3,000 to purchase The Emporia Gazette, where he remained for the remainder of his life.
Around the Gazette office, everyone knew William Allen White affectionately as "The Boss." He, in turn, referred to his employees as "The Gazette family." White's office was located between the editorial and business departments. The employees tended to use the office as a short cut, which White encouraged. He did have a private office in the building but rarely used it, preferring instead to be closer to his employees.
White was a local figure in Emporia until 1896, when he wrote a sarcastic editorial, "What's the Matter with Kansas." The editorial was written after White engaged in a street corner debate with a local populist while waiting on a train bound for Colorado. The argument centered around the McKinley-Bryan campaign. The young editor took the Republican side and the Populist, reinforced by bystanders, the Bryan cause.
In the midst of the argument, White remembered he had some editorials to write before it was time to board the train. He dashed to the office and, still "boiling mad," sat down and wrote "What's the Matter with Kansas." It was a scathing piece, flaying the Democratic leaders.
White didn't publish the editorial, but it somehow made its way to Chicago and New York. "Boss" Mark Hanna, Republican national chairman, liked it and, had it reprinted and distributed throughout the country. When White returned home from his vacation in Colorado, he found himself famous. Many years later, White said that perhaps he had been too harsh in that editorial - when at another time he might have spoken more softly.
A national and world stage
After McKinley's election in 1896, White made many national contacts, which kept him in touch with leaders and current affairs. He was also called on to aid in drafting Republican national platforms. In 1936, White laid down his editorial pen and worked for the presidential nomination of Alf Landon, a fellow Kansan, who was defeated by Franklin D. Roosevelt. That year, White was also chairman of the Republican Party's resolutions committee.
Not only did White participate in national politics, he once sought public office in Kansas. In 1924, White ran independently for governor of Kansas because the Ku Klux Klan had endorsed two other candidates for that office. During the fight, he was branded un-American and cowardly and finished third in the race.
Not all business
White was not just a businessman, he was also a family man. On April 27, 1893, he was married to Miss Sallie Lindsay of Kansas City. The couple had two children, Mary and William Lindsay White.
Tragedy struck the family in 1921 when, at age 16, Mary was killed when she was brushed from a horse by a low-hanging limb of a tree. White later poured out his grief in an editorial in the Gazette. "A rift in the clouds in a gray day threw a shaft of sunlight upon her coffin as her nervous energetic little body sank to its last sleep. But the soul of her, the glowing, gorgeous, fervent soul of her, surely was flaming in eager joy upon some other dawn."
William L. White followed his father's footsteps as a writer. He was a war correspondent in Europe, wrote best-selling books such as a "A Journey for Margaret" and wrote Hollywood screenplays. Once when "Young Bill" was in Europe during the war, his picture appeared briefly in a newsreel in Emporia. His father and mother went every day to the theater, sometimes twice, just to catch a fleeting glimpse of him.
William Lindsay White
William Lindsay White was the son of William Allen and Sallie White. W.L. had a sister, Mary, who was killed in a horse-riding accident at the age of 16.
Generally, William Allen White was loved by most Emporians, but W.L. was not. Why? He attended Harvard, but while studying there he picked up an English accent. W.L. also wore a monocle and was one of the best-dressed men in the nation – quite a sight among farmers in bib overalls and bankers in off-the-rack suits.
His wife, Kathrine, was a New York sophisticate who had been a fact-checker for Time magazine and an original staff member for Life magazine. She seemed to have an air of aloofness and was not the type to attend a quilting bee or gossip around the bridge table. She occasionally showed her compassionate side to others, especially when one of The Emporia Gazette staff was sick or in trouble.
Not only were W.L. and his wife created from a different mold than most in Emporia, their living arrangements also did not sit well with some community members. Though the couple maintained a residence in Emporia, they also had a brownstone in New York City in which they lived for half of the year.
It wasn’t just the couple’s lifestyle that aggravated those in Emporia. W.L. stirred up many battles with the city. For example, when the old courthouse needed repairs, the city decided to build a new one instead. W.L. led a counterattack to repair the old courthouse and lost. The county ended up with its present building. W.L. later angered the local chamber of commerce by waging a bitter fight against tax breaks given to companies that relocated to Emporia.
The one issue that made W.L. more enemies than any other was his resistance to urban renewal. He thought urban renewal was for the poor and not meant to provide new buildings for merchants in downtown Emporia. This battle split Emporia and made enemies of former friends throughout the town.
During World War II, W.L. was a prominent war correspondent, winning the Overseas Press Club. He penned a book, "What People Said," about the Kansas bond scandal and also wrote three other books that were made into major Hollywood movies. W.L. was also a radio correspondent for CBS News and wrote articles for Reader’s Digest.
Eventually, William Allen White persuaded his son to return to Emporia. After his father’s death in 1944, W.L. took over The Emporia Gazette where he was a fiercely independent editor. He redesigned the paper and won first place in a national design contest.
W.L. was also actively involved in politics. He served in the Kansas Legislature and was also an active supporter for the presidential campaign of friend Richard Nixon. When Bob Dole first ran for the United States Senate, W.L. threw a dinner party at the Broadview Hotel and brought most of the Eastern Kansas Republican leaders. The dinner was pivotal to Dole's success in his first campaign.
W.L. died in 1973. Just before his death, the Emporia city commission honored him by renaming the old Civic Auditorium in his honor. After his death, a memorial fund was established in his name to plant more trees in Emporia. As of the year 2000, more than 300 trees had been planted with money from this fund. There is also a bronze bust and a sample of his writing in White Memorial Park at Sixth Avenue and Merchant Street in Emporia.
Katherine White, who was never called by her first name, took over The Emporia Gazette after William Lindsay White’s death in 1973. She did not maintain the high profile that her husband did, preferring to work behind the scenes.
Mrs. White was a stickler for detail in the newsroom. As a former fact-checker for Time magazine, she knew what to watch out for. She knew the value of local news and prodded editors to send their reporters into the streets to interact with townspeople. Mrs. White also emphasized the importance of small towns nearby, such as Olpe and Neosho Rapids.
She also cared about the business side of the Gazette – more than her late husband. Mrs. White cracked down on frivolous spending and tended to catch errors made by the accountants.
In the community, Mrs. White was very active. She cared about Emporia’s beauty and was a prime mover in the tree planting project. Mrs. White once paid to plant 30 crabapple trees around Peter Pan Park Lake and watered them herself. She was also the force behind the restoration of the Gazette building, insisting on quality materials.
Mrs. White died in 1988, whereupon the Gazette was passed on to the third generation of Whites.
William Allen White's Prose
Prolific writer William Allen White was a successful journalist in Kansas and on a national level. William Allen White published more than 100 editorials and several books during his lifetime. Click on the links below to learn more about White's prose.
Books by William Allen White
• Politics, the Citizens Business, 1924
• A Puritan in Babylon,1938
• Rhymes of Two Friends, 1893
• A Theory of Spiritual Progress, 1910
• Same Cycles of Cathay, 1925
• A Typical Kansas Community, 1897
• Some Secular Queries, 1893
• Autobiography of William Allen White, 1946
• Stratagems and Spoils: Stories of Love and Politics, 1901
• Boys Then and Now, 1926
• The Changing West, 1939
• Calvin Coolidge, the Man who is President, 1925
• The Court of Boyville, 1899
• Conflict in American Public Opinion, 1925
• The Martial Adventures of Henry and Me,1918
• Defense for America: The Views of Quincy Wright [and others], 1940
• The Old Order Changeth, 1910
• Emporia and New York, 1906
• The Real Issue and Other Stories, 1896
• God's Puppets, 1916
• Thoughts at 65, 1933
• In Our Town, 1906
• What It's all about, 1936
• In the Heart of a Fool, 1918
• William Allen White. 193-
• Masks in a Pageant, 1928
• Woodrow Wilson the Man, the Times, and His Task, 1924
• Sally Foreman Griffith, Home Town News: William Allen White and The Emporia Gazette,
Oxford University Press, 1989
• David Hinshaw, A Man from Kansas, the Story of William Allen White, Putnam, 1945
• Jay Jernigan, William Allen White, 1983
• Walter Johnson, William Allen White's America, Holt, 1947
• John DeWitt McKee, William Allen White: Maverick on Main Street, Greenwood, 1975
• Everett Rich, William Allen White, the Man from Emporia, Farrar & Rinehart, 1941
• Forty years on Main Street, Farrar & Reinhart, 1937
Editorials by William Allen White
Today the Kansas Department of Agriculture sent out a statement which indicates that Kansas has gained less than two thousand people in the past year. There are about two hundred and twenty-five thousand families in the state, and there were about ten thousand babies born in Kansas, and yet so many people have left the state that the natural increase is cut down to less than two thousand net.
This has been going on for eight years.
If there had been a high brick wall around the state eight years ago, and not a soul had been admitted or permitted to leave, Kansas would be a half million souls better off than she is today. And yet the nation has increased in population. In five years ten million people have been added to the national population, yet instead of gaining a share of this -- say, half a million -- Kansas has apparently been a plague spot and, in the very garden of the world, has lost population by ten-thousands every year.
Not only has she lost population, but she has lost money. Every moneyed man in the state who could get out without loss has gone. Every month in every community sees someone who has a little money pack up and leave the state. This has been going on for eight years. Money has been drained out all the time. In towns where ten years ago there were three or four or half a dozen money-lending concerns, stimulating industry by furnishing capital, there is now none, or one or two that are looking after the interests and principal already outstanding.
No one brings any money into Kansas any more. What community knows over one or two men who have moved in with more than $5,000 in the past three years? And what community cannot count half a score of men in that time who have left, taking all the money they could scrape together?
Yet the nation has grown rich; other states have increased in population and wealth -- other neighboring states. Missouri has gained over two million, while Kansas has been losing half a million. Nebraska has gained in wealth and population while Kansas has gone downhill. Colorado has gained every way, while Kansas has lost every way since 1888. What's the matter with Kansas?
There is no substantial city in the state. Every big town save one has lost in population. Yet Kansas City, Omaha, Lincoln, St. Louis, Denver, Colorado Springs, Sedalia, the cities of the Dakotas, St. Paul and Minneapolis, Des Moines -- all cities and towns in the West -- have steadily grown.
Take up the Government Blue Book and you will see Kansas is virtually off the map. Two or three little scrubby consular places in yellow-fever-stricken communities that do not aggregate ten thousand dollars a year is all the recognition that Kansas has. Nebraska draws about one hundred thousand dollars; little old North Dakota draws about fifty thousand dollars; Oklahoma doubles Kansas; Missouri leaves her a thousand miles behind; Colorado is almost seven times greater than Kansas -- the whole west is ahead of Kansas.
Take it by any standard you please, Kansas is not in it.
Go east and you hear them laugh at Kansas; go west and they sneer at her; go south and they "cuss" her; go north and they have forgotten her. Go into any crowd of intelligent people gathered anywhere on the globe, and you will find the Kansas man on the defensive. The newspaper columns and magazines once devoted to praise of her, to facts and startling figures concerning her resources, are now filled with cartoons, jibes and Pefferian speeches. Kansas just naturally isn't in it. She has traded with Arkansas and Timbuctoo.
What's the matter with Kansas?
We all know; yet here we are at it again. We have an old mossback Jacksonian who snorts and howls because there is a bathtub in the state house; we are running that old jay for Governor. We have another shabby, wild-eyed, rattle-brained fanatic who has said openly in a dozen speeches that "the rights of the user are paramount to the rights of the owner"; we are running him for Chief Justice, so that capital will come tumbling over itself to get into the state. We have raked the old ash heap of failure in the state and found an old human hoop-skirt who has failed as a businessman, who has failed as an editor, who has failed as a preacher, and we are going to run him for Congressman-at-Large. He will help the looks of the Kansas delegation at Washington. Then we have discovered a kid without a law practice and have decided to run him for Attorney General. Then, for fear some hint that the state had become respectable might percolate through the civilized portions of the nation, we have decided to send three or four harpies out lecturing, telling the people that Kansas is raising hell and letting the corn go to weeds.
Oh, this is a state to be proud of! We are a people who can hold up our heads! What we need is not more money, but less capital, fewer white shirts and brains, fewer men with business judgment, and more of those fellows who boast that they are "just ordinary clodhoppers but they know more in a minute about finance than John Sherman"; we need more men who are "posted," who can bellow about the crime of '73, who hate prosperity and who think, because a man believes in national honor, he is a tool of Wall Street. We have had a few of them, some hundred fifty thousand -- but we need more. We need several thousand gibbering idiots to scream about the "Great Red Dragon" of Lombard Street. We don't need population, we don't need wealth, we don't need well-dressed men on the streets, we don't need standing in the nation, we don't need cities on the fertile prairies; you bet we don't! What we are after is the money power. Because we have become poorer and ornerier all and meaner than a spavined, distempered mule, we, the people of Kansas, propose to kick; we don't care to build up, we wish to tear down.
"There are two ideas of government," said our noble Bryan at Chicago. "There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, this prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them." That's the stuff! Give the prosperous man the dickens! Legislate the thriftless man into ease, whack the stuffings out of the creditors and tell debtors who borrowed the money five years ago when money "per capita" was greater than it is now, that the contraction of currency gives him a right to repudiate.
Whoop it up for the ragged trousers; put the lazy, greasy fizzle, who can't pay his debts, on an altar, and bow down and worship him. Let the state ideal be high. What we need is not the respect of our fellow men, but the chance to get something for nothing.
Oh, yes, Kansas is a great state. Here are people fleeing from it by the score every day, capital going out of the state by the hundreds of dollars; and every industry but farming paralyzed, and that crippled, because its products have to go across the ocean before they can find a laboring man at work who can afford to buy them. Let's don't stop this year. Let's drive all the decent, self-respecting men out of the state. Let's keep the old clodhoppers who know it all. Let's encourage the man who is "posted." He can talk, and what we need is not mill hands to eat our meat, nor factory hands to eat our wheat, nor cities to oppress the farmer by consuming his butter and eggs and chickens and produce. What Kansas needs is men who can talk, who have large leisure to argue the currency question while their wives wait at home for that nickel's worth of bluing.
What's the matter with Kansas?
Nothing under the shining sun. She is losing wealth, population and standing. She has got her statesmen, and the money power is afraid of her. Kansas is all right. She has started in to raise hell, as Mrs. Lease advised, and she seems to have an over-production. But that doesn't matter. Kansas never did believe in diversified crops. Kansas is all right. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Kansas. "Every prospect pleases and only man is vile."
The Associated Press reports carrying the news of Mary White's death declared that it came as the result of a fall from a horse. How she would have hooted at that! She never fell from a horse in her life. Horses have fallen on her and with her - "I'm always trying to hold 'em in my lap," she used to say. But she was proud of few things, and one was that she could ride anything that had four legs and hair. Her death resulted not from a fall, but from a blow on the head, which fractured her skull, and the blow came from the limb of an overhanging tree on the parking.
The last hour of her life was typical of its happiness. She came home from a day's work at school, topped off by a hard grind with the copy on the High School Annual, and felt that a ride would refresh her. She climbed into her khakis, chattering to her mother about the work she was doing, and hurried to get her horse and be out on the dirt roads for the country air and the radiant green fields of the spring. As she rode through the town on an easy gallop she kept waving at passers-by. She knew everyone in town. For a decade the little figure with the long pigtail and the red hair ribbon has been familiar on the streets of Emporia, and she got in the way of speaking to those who nodded at her. She passed the Kerrs, walking the horse, in front of the Normal Library, and waved at them; passed another friend a few hundred feet further on, and waved at her.
The horse was walking and, as she turned into North Merchant Street she took off her cowboy hat, and the horse swung into a lope. She passed the Tripletts and waved her cowboy hat at them, still moving gaily north on Merchant Street. A Gazette carrier passed - a high school boy friend - and she waved at him, but with her bridle hand; the horse veered quickly, plunged into the parking where the low-hanging limb faced her, and, while she still looked back waving, the blow came.
But she did not fall from the horse; she slipped off, dazed a bit, staggered and fell in a faint. She never quite recovered consciousness. But she did not fall from the horse, neither was she riding fast. A year or so ago she used to go like the wind. But that habit was broken, and she used the horse to get into the open to get fresh, hard exercise and to work off a certain surplus energy that welled up in her and needed a physical outlet. That need has been in her heart for years. It was back of the impulse that kept the dauntless, little brown-clad figure on the streets and country roads of this community and built into a strong, muscular body what had been a frail and sickly frame during the first years of her life. But the riding gave her more than a body. It released a gay and hardy soul. She was the happiest thing in the world. And she was happy because she was enlarging her horizon. She came to know all sorts and conditions of men; Charley O'Brien, the traffic cop, was one of her best friends. W.L. Holtz, the Latin teacher, was another. Tom O'Connor, farmer-politician, and Rev. J.H.J. Rice, preacher and police judge, and Frank Beach, music master, were her special friends, and all the girls, black and white, above the track and below the track, in Pepville and Stringtown, were among her acquaintances. And she brought home riotous stories of her adventures. She loved to rollick; persiflage was her natural expression at home. Her humor was a continual bubble of joy. She seemed to think in hyperbole and metaphor. She was mischievous without malice, as full of faults as an old shoe. No angel was Mary White, but an easy girl to live with, for she never nursed a grouch five minutes in her life.
With all her eagerness for the out-of-doors she loved books. On her table when she left her room were a book by Conrad, one by Galsworthy, "Creative Chemistry" by E.E. Slosson, and a Kipling book. She read Mark Twain, Dickens and Kipling before she was ten - all of their writings. Wells and Arnold Bennett particularly amused and diverted her. She was entered as a student in Wellesley in 1922; was assistant editor of the High School Annual this year, and in line for election to the editorship of the Annual next year. She was a member of the executive committee of the High School Y.W.C.A.
Within the last two years she had begun to be moved by an ambition to draw. She began as most children do by scribbling in her schoolbooks, funny pictures. She bought cartoon magazines and took a course - rather casually, naturally, for she was, after all, a child with no strong purposes - and this year she tasted the first fruits of success by having her pictures accepted by the High School Annual. But the thrill of delight she got when Mr. Ecord, of the Normal Annual, asked her to do the cartooning for that book this spring, was too beautiful for words. She fell to her work with all her enthusiastic heart. Her drawings were accepted, and her pride - always repressed by a lively sense of the ridiculousness of the figure she was cutting - was a really gorgeous thing to see. No successful artist ever drank a deeper draught of satisfaction than she took from the little fame her work was getting among her school-fellows. In her glory, she almost forgot her horse - but never her car.
For she used the car as a jitney bus. It was her social life. She never had a "party" in all her nearly seventeen years - wouldn't have one; but she never drove a block in the car in her life that she didn't begin to fill the car with pickups! Everybody rode with Mary White - white and black, old and young, rich and poor, men and women. She liked nothing better than to fill the car full of long-legged High School boys and an occasional girl, and parade the town. She never had a "date," nor went to a dance, except once with her brother, Bill, and the "boy proposition" didn't interest her - yet. But young people - great spring-breaking, varnish-cracking, fender-bending, door-sagging carloads of "kids" gave her great pleasure. Her zests were keen. But the most fun she ever had in her life was acting as chairman of the committee that got up the big turkey dinner for the poor folks at the county home; scores of pies, gallons of slaw; jam, cakes, preserves, oranges and a wilderness of turkey were loaded in the car and taken to the county home. And, being of a practical turn of mind, she risked her own Christmas dinner by staying to see that the poor folks actually got it all. Not that she was a cynic; she just disliked to tempt folks. While there she found a blind colored uncle, very old, who could do nothing but make rag rugs, and she rustled up from her school friends rags enough to keep him busy for a season. The last engagement she tried to make was to take the guests at the county home out for a car ride. And the last endeavor of her life was to try to get a rest room for colored girls in the High School. She found one girl reading in the toilet, because there was no better place for a colored girl to loaf, and it inflamed her sense of injustice and she became a nagging harpie to those who, she thought, could remedy the evil. The poor she had always with her, and was glad of it. She hungered and thirsted for righteousness; and was the most impious creature in the world. She joined the Congregational Church without consulting her parents; not particularly for her soul's good. She never had a thrill of piety in her life; and would have hooted at a "testimony." But even as a little child she felt the church was an agency for helping people to more of life's abundance, and she wanted to help. She never wanted help for herself. Clothes meant little to her. It was a fight to get a new rig on her; but eventually a harder fight to get it off. She never wore a jewel and had no ring but her High School class ring, and never asked for anything but a wrist watch. She refused to have her hair up; though she was nearly seventeen. "Mother," she protested, "you don't know how much I get by with, in my braided pigtails, that I could not with my hair up." Above every other passion of her life was her passion not to grow up, to be a child. The tom-boy in her, which was big, seemed to loathe to be put away forever in skirts. She was a Peter Pan, who refused to grow up.
Her funeral yesterday at the Congregational Church was as she would have wished it; no singing, no flowers save the big bunch of red roses from her Brother Bill's Harvard classmen - Heavens, how proud that would have made her! And the red roses from the Gazette forces, in vases at her head and feet. A short prayer; Paul's beautiful essay on "Love" from the Thirteenth Chapter of First Corinthians; some remarks about her democratic spirit by her friend, John H.J. Rice, pastor and police judge, which she would have deprecated if she could; a prayer sent down for by her friend, Carl Nau; and opening the service the slow, poignant movement from Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, which she loved, and closing the service a cutting from the joyously melancholy first movement of Tschaikowski’s Pathetic Symphony, which she liked to hear in certain moods, on the phonograph; then the Lord's Prayer by her friends in the High School.
That was all.
For her pall-bearers only her friends were chosen: her Latin teacher, W.L. Holtz; her High School principal, Rice Brown; her doctor, Frank Foncannon; her friend, W.W. Finney; her pal at the Gazette office, Walter Hughes; and her brother Bill. It would have made her smile to know that her friend, Charley O'Brien, the traffic cop, had been transferred from Sixth and Commercial to the corner near the church to direct her friends who came to bid her good-by. A rift in the clouds in a gray day threw a shaft of sunlight upon her coffin as her nervous, energetic little body sank to its last sleep. But the soul of her, the glowing, gorgeous, fervent soul of her, surely was flaming in eager joy upon some other dawn.
You tell me that law is above freedom of utterance. And I reply that you can have no wise laws nor free entertainment of wise laws unless there is free expression of the wisdom of the people - and, alas, their folly with it. But if there is freedom, folly will die of its own poison, and the wisdom will survive. That is the history of the race. It is proof of man's kinship with God. You say that freedom of utterance is not for time of stress, and I reply with the sad truth that only in time of stress is freedom of utterance in danger. No one questions it in calm days, because it is not needed. And the reverse is true also; only when free utterance is suppressed is it needed, and when it is needed, it is most vital to justice.
Peace is good. But if you are interested in peace through force and without free discussion - that is to say, free utterance decently and in order-your interest in justice is slight. And peace without justice is tyranny, no matter how you may sugarcoat it with expedience. This state today is in more danger from suppression than from violence, because, in the end, suppression leads to violence. Violence, indeed, is the child of suppression. Whoever pleads for justice helps to keep the peace; and whoever tramples on the plea for justice temperately made in the name of peace only outrages peace and kills something fine in the heart of man which God put there when we got our manhood. When that is killed, brute meets brute on each side of the line.
So, dear friend, put fear out of your heart. This nation will survive, this state will prosper, the orderly business of life will go forward if only men can speak in whatever way given them to utter what their hearts hold - by voice, by posted card, by letter, or by press. Reason has never failed men. Only force and repression have made the wrecks in the world.
What Theodore Roosevelt has done for this country – the laws he has pushed through Congress, the policies of administration he has inaugurated, the righteousness he has made public morals – all these form a most unique career in our history. But they are not chiefly the most important part of our heritage that Theodore Roosevelt has given to the people. The chief thing he gave was himself. He went onto office a strong, virile, frank, honest, fearless man – full of youth, full of faith in man and God, full of ideas. And for seven years and a half he has lived and worked with people, and has come out – not a broken, jaded, worn-out, disillusioned man – but the same high, clean, unbending, youthful man that he went in.
One’s ideals are gauged by his conduct. The reason Roosevelt has faith is because he has kept faith himself. The pessimist is the man who has compromised with life, who has lowered his flag for expediency, who has surrendered. Theodore Roosevelt has made mistakes, but he has not surrendered. He has lived up to his ideals. He has played an honest hand, and he is leaving eight years of great service as he came – "unconquered and unbowed." This is a great achievement – perhaps his greatest achievement. For he has given an example of what a decent man may do. The example he has left probably is worth more to the nation than the laws he has forced through Congress and the polices he has promulgated.
And this is why today the nation is sad at this going, and the people feel instantly that he will come back again.
Several landmarks in the Emporia community — and further away in Lawrence, Kan. — have been dedicated in William Allen White's honor. Many of the sites are now recognized as national landmarks.
Wichita Eagle — "The world long has put the personality of Will White as an inseparable part of modern America and America has given Kansas an added identity in him. The thousand brilliant facets of his outstanding gifts have become as much a part of the life of the people of this commonwealth as in the sunshine of their prairies!"
Salina Journal — "Above all things the Emporia editor was a Kansan. When the state was attacked, he defended. When things went wrong, he preached encouragement and optimism. When evil flourished in political or social problems, he went on the war path. Born with the spirit of a crusader, crossed with kindly, friendly, sentimental tendencies, he never dared let his right hand know what his left was doing. In his passing the nation as well as his home state have lost a valiant fighter for all that is worthwhile. His place will not be filled."
Topeka State Journal — "There is something about William Allen White that to me seemed as elemental as Pike's Peak. His rugged soul had a way of enveloping all. It was boundless. There was no dissembling about Mr. White. He said what he was. Regardless of what he may have thought yesterday, if there was reason for changing his ideas because of having seen the problem from a new angle or new light, he changed his ideas by just that much. His genius will be a part of the annals of Kansas. He lies down to rest and his soul becomes to Kansas evermore as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."
Henry J. Haskell, editor of The Kansas City Star, speaking at White's funeral — "We are met here this afternoon as the friends of William Allen White to show our respect and affection. We are met in a chapel that seems empty without him. Yet in a larger sense this chapel is not empty. It is crowded with memories that are more than memories- with enduring achievements that live on in the generation that he touched and moved and influenced.
"When we met him in person or on the printed page, we came like Bunyan's Pilgrim to the Interpreter's house. For primarily he was a great interpreter of life- of the human comedy or tragedy that passed before him. Interpretation was his technique. He was a preacher of righteousness, of sane and wholesome and unselfish living. But he preached largely by revealing to us our own hearts and the hearts of others...
"Behind all his work was the personality of the man. He was a great human being- great in intellingence, in understanding, in courage, in zest. Life to him always was a glorious adventure. 'I never have been bored an hour in my life,' he wrote on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday. 'I get up every morning now wondering what new, strange, gorgeous thing is going to happen, and it always happens at fairly reasonable intervals. Lady Luck has been good to me. I fancy she is good to everyone, only some people are dour, and when she gives them the come hither with her eyes, they look down or turn away and lift an eyebrow. But me, I give her the wink and away we go!'"
President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a telegraph to Mrs. White — "My heart goes out to you and Bill in the loss of a beloved husband and father. The newspaper world loses one of its wisest and most beloved editors in the death of William Allen White.
"He made The Emporia Gazette a national institution. As a writer of truth, forcible and vigorous prose, he was unsurpassed. He ennobled the profession of journalism which he served with such unselfish devotion thru more than two score years. To me his passing brings a real sense of personal loss, for we had been the best of friends for years."
Kansas Senator Arthur Capper — "William Allen White, sincere citizen and great editor, chose to live most of his useful life near the scenes of his youth. Yet his deep sympathies knew no boundaries of space, religion, color or nationality.
"William Allen White's recognition of the civic responsibilities of the profession of newspaper editor has been in a large measure the means by which his chosen profession has attained the place of honor which it holds today in the eyes of his countrymen. He championed democracy. He was an advocate of the freedom of the press...
"The newspaper profession has lost an inspiring leader. His state and his nation have lost a Christian citizen. The world has lost a friend."
by Kelley Weiss, class of 2003
In the middle of the night distinct footsteps coming up the stairs echoed through the house and started down the hallway towards their bedroom. The dog came into the bedroom and lay down next to the bed. David Walker clearly remembers that night in Emporia when he stayed in William Allen White’s house for a night with his wife Barbara White Walker, William Allen White's granddaughter. The only problem is that when the dog came into the room Walker couldn’t see it and neither could his wife. Walker insists the dog was a ghost. This occurrence of extraterrestrial meetings was not the first in the house.
The house is now vacant as the Kansas Historical Society prepares it for the public, but the spirits are said to still roam the house. David Walker related the story of when the head appraiser for the historical society stayed in Emporia for a week working on cataloging the house. She stayed in the house for the first couple of nights working into the early morning. For several nights she said she felt the presence of someone else watching her from behind while she cataloged in the dining room . On one particular evening around 1 a.m. she felt a cold draft behind her in the dining room. After feeling the coldness and having the intense feeling of being watched, she decided to leave. She left that evening and stayed in a hotel for the rest of her stay in Emporia. When William Allen White and his family also reported spirits present, although the White's believed the ghosts were non-threatening. Some believe the spirits could be the ghosts of Almerin Gillette and his wife. Hist wife allegedly committed suicide in the home.
The house carries a rich history. Almerin Gillette, a cattleman and lawyer, built the house to impress his young wife, who moved from New York City to Emporia in 1885. The market crashed prior to the completion of the house and Gillette could not afford to finish building it. The Gillettes lived in the uncompleted home for 14 years. During that time, Mrs. Gillette, who was not happy living in a small town, was troubled by the couple's financial difficulties. Rumor has it that she eventually became depressed and committed suicide in the home, though the cause of death was never determined. It is rumored that her spirit roams the many rooms of the White home.
In 1899, William Allen White leased the house and then bought it in 1901. The Whites completed construction on the house, which included expanding the living room to hold the many guests for their famous parties. Sallie White, William Allen White’s wife, chose walnut wood to replace the flooring in the living room. She bought the wood from her brother who owned an orchard farm in Lyon County. Prior to the expansion, the living room area had four different rooms. All the walls were taken out and the space became one open area. The house is recognized for its architecture and contents. William Allen White traveled the world and collected several artifacts over the years that now are valuable antiques and collectibles.
Two years before William Allen White’s daughter died, she designed the plans for her dream bedroom. Fourteen-year-old Mary White, his daughter, didn't want any furniture in the room and chose a “minimalist” design. She didn't want a bed in her room. Instead, she designed a space outside of her room to house her sleeping quarters. This space was big enough to hold a small cot. Mary White put the cot on wheels so that she could wheel it in and out of the room. Unfortunately, White’s daughter died in a horse-riding accident prior to the completion of the renovations.
In the backyard a small rectangular pool sits empty today. Several rumors circulate about its purpose. White family members dispelled a rumor that a nude William Lindsay White floated in the pool day or night. He did enjoy floating in the pool, but wore swimming trunks. The rumor mill started because William Lindsay White had a robust belly--the only portion of his body visible while floating in the pool. The concrete pool originally served as a fish pond, then as a natural system to collect water from the roof to be used in the yard.
William Allen White lived in the house until his death in Jan. 29, 1944. His son, William Lindsay White, lived in the house after his father, but only for the spring and summer seasons. During the fall and winter, William Lindsay White and his wife, Kathrine White, lived in New York City, where his daughter, Barbara White Walker, went to school.
When Katherine White died in 1988, Barbara White Walker inherited the house. Since then, Walker heated and cooled the house, kept the electricity on and maintained the grounds. The Walker family gave the house to the Kansas State Historical Society in 2001. It is now operated as the William Allen White House State Historic Site.
927 Exchange St.
P.O. Box 426
Emporia, KS 66801
Lovingly called "Red Rocks," this house is a national landmark. William Allen White rented this house from 1899 until he purchased it in 1901. It was his home for 45 years. The two-and-a-half story house features rough-hewn red sandstone ashlar on the first floor exterior walls. Matching red brick stretchers stucco and simulated half-timbers make up the second and attic levels. The red sandstone exterior gives the house its name. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the main staircase. The house was taken over by the State of Kansas Historical Society in 2001. It is now operated as a state historic site.
517 Merchant St.
In 1895 William Allen White purchased The Emporia Gazette. The newspaper remains a White Corporation publication. The Gazette is operated by the fourth generation of the White family. The exterior of the building has been remodeled through the years, yet the character of the building and newspaper remain intact and White's presence is still found within. Visitors are invited inside the paper to a small museum of old newspaper equipment including a Linotype machine, hand-fed printing press, and samples of old comics. Tours are given by appointment and there is no admission charge.
Corner of 12th Ave. and Merchant St.
(620) 341-5034 or 1-877-613-7323
The William Allen White Library serves the informational needs of the students and faculty of Emporia State University. It also houses the School of Library and Information Management. The ground breaking for the library was in February 1950, and the building was formally dedicated in April of 1952. The four storied, red brick library now has space for over 600,000 volumes after a 1971 addition. Several unique and special collections are found in the library. The William Allen White Collection contains books, manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, and other materials about White and The Emporia Gazette, as well as a desk he used while editor. The Mary White Collection honors White's daughter who died at 16, and includes samples of her schoolwork, photographs, and personal belongings. The Mary White room in the library's basement houses the children's collection. Every year since 1952, the children of Kansas have chosen, by vote from a master list, a book to receive the William Allen White Children's Book Award. William Allen White Library has always been the home of the award, and all of the nominated and winning books are on display. Library tours are given by appointment, and there is no admission charge.
902 Exchange St.
William Allen White Elementary School sits directly across the street from White's house, the William Allen White House State Historic Site. The school was built in 1951 and displays White memorabilia. Written histories of White and his son, William Lindsay White, also adorn the hallways. Visitors are welcome to browse the halls to view memorabilia.
S.E. of the Peter Pan Lake at S. Rural St. and Randolph Ave.
The White family gave the 52-acre Peter Pan Park to the city of Emporia in memory of their daughter, Mary White. It was said that, like Peter Pan, Mary White did not want to grow up. On the southeast edge of Peter Pan Lake is a bronze bust of William Allen White looking out over the scenery. This memorial was dedicated on July 11, 1950, by former President Herbert Hoover. Each side of White's bust is flanked with bronze castings of the editorial entitled "Mary White" in remembrance of his daughter, who died at age 16 in a horse-riding accident.The park is open year round.
William Lindsay White Memorial Park
Next to The Emporia Gazette 517 Merchant St.
The midtown park commemorates the contributions of not only William Allen White but of his son, William Lindsay White. A bust of W.L. White (1900-1973), sculpted by Anne Darrow, is the main feature of the park. The park also includes sections of writings by the two men etched in bronze plates on the walls that border two sides of the park. The park features shade trees, old-fashioned park benches and street lamps. The park is open year-round.
The William Allen White School of Journalism
And Mass Communications
University of Kansas
1435 Jayhawk Blvd.
Lawrence, KS 66045-7575
Phone: (785) 864-4755