George Heart White

McClain County, Oklahoma
Historical & Genealogical Society

203 West Washington
     Purcell, Oklahoma 73080


The first sheriff of McClain County after statehood was George Heart White. He was born March 28, 1841/1843 (*) in Jefferson County, Missouri. He died November 7, 1920, Purcell, OK and is buried in Purcell Hillside Cemetery. He served over 3 years in this office at the beginning of statehood.

George served in the 6th Texas Confederate Cavalry for 4 years and fought in many battles, among them was the "Battle of the Wilderness" near Richmond. He also was an organizer and commander for many years of the Sul Ross camp of Confederate Veterans at Purcell.

George and Mary Elizabeth DeSpain (January 22, 1844 - August 23, 1923) were married in 1868 at Howe, TX. Her father was a pioneer Christian minister of eastern Texas. After their marriage they lived at various points in Texas until their removal to Indian Territory in 1886/89 (*) following the cattle business. Mrs. White's obituary mentioned that her husband had taken the first cattle into Greer County when it had been a part of Texas. Their four children, Maud, Lillion, Burnes/Bernard and Tanie were all born in Texas.

In the 1880 Texas census, the family was listed in Cooke County. By the time of the 1890 census in Purcell, G.H. was listed as a butcher in Purcell, and only son B.O. and Fanny/Tanie were with them, so evidently the older girls must have married and remained in Texas. Bernard was listed as an apprentice at the Gibbons Harness Shop in an 1890 newspaper article. The 1900 census, which gave George's occupation as a stock buyer, states that Mrs. White had 4 living children, but by the time of the deaths of their parents in 1920 and 1923, only two were living, Tanie, and Mrs. W.D. Truelove, of Corpus Christi, Texas.

Tanie served as her father's office clerk and rated "Deputy" status. Evidently her brother also served as a deputy since he was shown and listed on the official portrait of the staff, published in Book 1 of McCLAIN CO. HISTORY AND HERITAGE, which enumerated Harve Hayes, F. Kemp, Miss Taney White, Henry Freeny, Joe Allen, George Dennis, Ed Franks and B. Rice in the rear row and Cal Baird, Bernard O. White (Son?), George Heart White, Alex Sacra, Charley Featherston and George Morris. Some of the deputies were stationed in different towns of the county. Joe Allen was reported in Washington.

Of the three men nominated for Sheriff, John H. Criswell - Republican, G.H. White - Democrat, and Frank P. Banta - Socialist, the majority of the 810 voters in McClain County elected George H. White Sheriff in the September 17, 1907 election. The November 18, 1907 issue of the Purcell Register reported that he recommended and appointed Henry Freeny and Alex Sacra as his first deputies to the County Commissioners.

Researched and assembled by Joyce A. Rex

* means various dates have been given, and none definitely proven.

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