Home » Family History » Third Great-Uncle Milton K. White, aka James M. White

Third Great-Uncle Milton K. White, aka James M. White

According to his naturalization papers, Milton K. White was born on March 30, 1849 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. This is a very crucial fact, as we shall see later. Milton was the fourth son and fifth child of Job R. and Elizabeth Phoebe White.

As far as I can tell, Milton immigrated to the United States with his parents on 1869. Like his father, He worked as a carpenter for many years. By 1876, Milton decided to become a US citizen. He is the only member of his family for whom I’ve found any naturalization paperwork. It was from this paperwork that I learned his birthday. At this time he was living in Chelsea, Massachusetts, not too far from his family in Lynn.

Two years later on August 28, Milton married Amelia Martin by Methodist minister George Sutherland. The Chelsea marriage register notes that this was Amelia’s second marriage, but I cannot tell whether Martin was her maiden or married name. As far as I can tell, Milton and Amelia did not have any children.

City directories show Milton living in Boston and working as a screenmaker then an upholsterer until 1892. For a long time, I thought Milton just dropped off the face of the planet.

Meanwhile, I found an entry in a Boston death register for a married son of Job and Elizabeth White named James M. (or N.) White. This James was a phrenologist living on Boston who died of cardiac and renal disease on January 9, 1900. I had assumed that James was just another son of Job and Elizabeth until I tried matching up tick marks with people under Job White in the 1861 Nova Scotia Census. There seemed to be one too many sons! I assumed that perhaps James may have been John David White, but I didn’t know for sure. I tried doing more research on James, then I carefully examined what I knew about each of Job’s sons.

Extract of James White entry in 1900 Boston Death Register from familysearch.org

Extract of James White entry in 1900 Boston Death Register from familysearch.org

When I looked over the death register once more, I noticed it gave James’ exact age to the day: 50 years, 9 months and 10 days. Calculating backwards, this made James’ birthday March 30, 1849, the same birthday Milton gave on his naturalization paperwork! James was Milton and Milton was James! There was no “extra son”.

I figure that Milton must have changed his name sometime after 1892. It’s a mystery to me why he would do this, and why in the world a former carpenter/upholsterer would become a phrenologist. According to Wikipedia, phrenology is “a process that involves observing and/or feeling the skull to determine an individual’s psychological attributes”. Was this a field that Milton/James was always fascinated with?

Milton/James was laid to rest somewhere in nearby Malden, Massachusetts. So far, I have been unable to find his wife Amelia on the 1900 US Census or in a potential remarriage. Perhaps new records in the future will help me figure out the mystery of Milton.

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