Profiles from the Archives: Joseph M. White Sr.

Matthew M. Peek, Military Collection Archivist

Joseph Moore White Sr. was born on November 13, 1887, in the community of Archdale in Guilford County, N.C., to Parker Wilson and Elizabeth M. Baker White. By 1900, the White family was living the city of Thomasville in Davidson County, N.C., where Parker White worked as a carpenter. By 1910, Joseph White had been working as a carpenter like his father in Thomasville [likely in the furniture industry in the city]. Joseph White enlisted in the North Carolina National Guard in Company L, 3rd North Carolina Infantry, out of Thomasville by 1913. He participated in the National Rifle Match of the National Rifle Association in 1913 at Camp Perry, Ohio, with his North Carolina National Guard rifle unit.

After his enlistment ended, White re-enlisted in the North Carolina National Guard on September 1, 1915, in Thomasville. Still serving in Company L, 3rd North Carolina Infantry, he continued to compete in rifle competitions at Camp Perry, Ohio, and in Jacksonville, Florida, as well as the National Rifle Association matches, in 1915 and 1916. When the North Carolina National Guard was called to the Mexican border on June 19, 1916, as part of U.S. Army General John J. Pershing’s Punitive Expedition against Pancho Villa, White’s unit was assigned to Camp Stewart in El Paso, Texas, by November 1916 for border patrol. Joseph White was serving with the rank of Sergeant at that time in Company L.

When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, the North Carolina National Guard was called into federal service, with White and his unit ordered to report to their home unit stations by July 25, 1917, and activated under the U.S. Army on August 4, 1917. White’s unit was assigned in the U.S. Army as Company L, 120th Infantry, 30th Division. White’s unit was sent to Camp Sevier, S.C., for basic training. On August 30, 1917, the 120th Infantry moved to Camp Merritt, New Jersey. Shortly after this time, White was transferred to Company C, 105th Supply Train—a truck unit—with the Army’s Quartermaster Corps, in which unit he remained until his discharge from service. He would be transferred to Camp Merritt, New Jersey, in the spring of 1918, then to Boston, Massachusetts, in order to take a troop transport ship to Europe.

Joseph White left from the United States by troop transport ship on June 11, 1918, and served in Europe through March 1919. After arriving in Calais, France, White’s unit traveled to the front lines in Belgium, where he served in the Fifth Battle of Ypres in 1918 and along the Hindenburg Line. He remained in Europe on occupation duty with the U.S. Army of Occupation until March 27, 1919, when he boarded the U.S. troop transport ship USS Powhatan. The ship left France on March 28, 1919. White arrived in Charleston, S.C., on April 11, 1919. After being transported by train to Camp Jackson, S.C., Joseph White was honorably discharged on April 14, 1919, from active military service. He arrived back home in Thomasville, N.C., by train on April 15, 1919.

After the war, White married Mamie Taylor on June 19, 1920, in Rutherford County, N.C. Little is known of White until 1930, when the White family was living in Raleigh, N.C. At that time, Joseph White owned and operated his own automobile garage, had three children, and had a family housekeeper. White continued operating his own garage through the 1940s.

Joseph M. White Sr. died on July 25, 1985, in Raleigh, N.C., and was buried in Montlawn Memorial Park in the same city.

This blog post is part of the State Archives of North Carolina’s World War I Social Media Project, an effort to bring original WWI archival materials to the public through the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources’ (NCDNCR) various social media platforms, in order to increase access to the items during the WWI centennial celebration by the state of North Carolina.

Between February 2017 and June 2019, the State Archives of North Carolina will be posting blog articles, Facebook posts, and Twitter posts, featuring WWI archival materials which are posted on the exact 100th anniversary of their creation during the war. Blog posts will feature interpretations of the content of WWI documents, photographs, diary entries, posters, and other records, including scans of the original archival materials, held by the State Archives of North Carolina, and will be featured in NCDNCR’s WWI centennial blog. You can follow the posts online through the official State of North Carolina WWI hashtag #NCWW1.