Andrew Judson White: Capitalist

Andrew Judson White was born in Connecticut, the son of an Episcopal clergyman. He received his M.D. from Yale University in 1846, completing his dissertation on varicose veins. Two years later, he was a 24 year-old doctor in Palmer when he married Hannah Maria Brown, a native of that town. He journeyed to California aboard the steamship Empire City on July 17, 1849. Maria was living at her parents’ farm in Palmer for the census in 1850. It is unknown when Andrew returned east or how successful he might have been.

Maria died in 1871 at age 43 and one week later Andrew married Eleanor Verplanck of Scarborough, NJ. With Eleanor, he had one son, Raymond, born at Poughkeepsie, NY in 1874.

Andrew Judson White may have begun his career as a medical doctor in Palmer, but he soon turned to other interests. He entered the wholesale drug (ie. patent medicines) business and lived primarily in New York City. In 1875, White negotiated a deal with the Shaker society of Mt. Lebanon, NY , in which he agreed to buy all his botanical ingredients from the Mt. Lebanon community in exchange for a loan to recapitalize his business. White was then able to exploit the Shaker reputation for purity and quality and so distance his products from some of the shadier aspects of the “patent” medicine business. One of his earlier products, Mother Seigel’s Curative Syrup, was renamed Shaker Extract of Roots and became one of the company’s most popular medicines. Shaker Digestive Cordial [show] was introduced at the end of the 19th Century. A. J. White’s company survived until 1957, when it was bought by Smith, Kline & French Laboratories who sold off the proprietary rights to Mother Seigel’s Syrup.

White also invested in, and became president of, the Yost Writing Machine Co., which evolved into the Union Typewriter Co. In 1894, he made a major gift to his alma mater, for which Yale University gave him an honorary degree and named White Hall dormitory in his honor. At the time of his death in 1898, he was known primarily as a capitalist. None of his obituaries mentioned his first marriage to Maria Brown or his adventures in California.

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