A tombstone in the old burying ground at Rockingham, a few feet from the northwest corner of the Old Meeting house, bears a unique epitaph, the record contained being probably unequalled by any family in New England, if not in the United States. It shows a line of achievement of one of the very earliest settlers in the town, but it was not all he accomplished in life by any means.
The epitaph reads as follows: “JOSIAH WHITE
“In Memory of Mr. Josiah White, who died Sept. 1, 1806,
in the 96th year of his age.
” The descendants of Josiah White at his death. Children 15, Grandchildren 160, Great-Grandchildren 211. Children deceased 2, Grand-Children deceased 26, Great-grandchildren deceased 35″.
Mr. White was born at Lancaster, Mass., January 3, 1714, and he built the first mill in that part of Lancaster, which was later set off to Leominster. He later lived for a time at Charlestown, N. H., and probably removed to Rockingham about 1773, as he, in that year, purchased real estate in town and took the oath of allegiance to the new government in 1777. He was of the little band from Rockingham that marched to Manchester the same year. His name frequently appears upon the town records as taking an active part in public matters of his time. His home farm was in the north part of the town, the same recently owned and occupied by Chester B. Hadwin. A part of the original house is now used as a corn barn in the rear of the brick building that was erected by Mr. White’s son, Phineus.
Mr. White enjoys the distinction of being probably the progenitor of a greater number of people than any other man resident here during the history of this town, and an excellent genealogy of the “descendants of John White 1638-1900,” written by the late Miss Myra L. White of Haverhill, Mass., records his descendants to the number of 2,663 up to about 25 years ago. The number must have materially increased since. Her compilation of the descendants of the emigrant John, three generations further back, showed the unusually prolific qualities of the family to a grand total of 19,629 up to that date, and there has since been a third volume added.
Mr. White was prominent in the First Church of Rockingham, and one of his descendants, a few years ago, placed a beautiful tablet on the square “pigpen” pew, which was occupied many years by him and members of his family.
Based on: The Connecticut River Valley in southern Vermont and New Hampshire: historical sketches, Rutland, Vt.: Tuttle Co., Marble City Press, 1929.