New Hampshire’s First Lady, Artist, Author, Trustee: Rachel Leona (White) Adams (1905-1979)

A 1958 photograph of Sherman Adams and his wife Leona (White) Adams.

A 1958 photograph of Sherman Adams and his wife Leona (White) Adams., as they arrive for a congressional hearing.

Rachel Leona White was born in 1905 in Mount Holly, Rutland Co. VT. Her father was a house painter and decorator (her grandfather was a carriage painter) in a rural area of Vermont. She had a great interest in the arts. She was a refined, talented, and always loyal woman, much admired by her family, friends, and citizens of New Hampshire.

As Rachel (White) Adams, she was an artist and author, publishing an autobiography, “On the Other Hand” in 1963. While living in Washington D.C. from 1953 to 1958, she had helped organize an international group of wives of diplomats and White House staff members, to promote friendship and understanding among women. She was a member of the New Hampshire Commission on the Arts from 1965-1971, and she served as a trustee of the New Hampshire Youth Orchestra.

Old postcard showing a scene in Mount Holly Vermont, Rachel White's birthplace.

Old postcard showing a scene in Mount Holly Vermont, Rachel White’s birthplace.

She met her future husband, Llewellyn Sherman Adams, while he was working as a forester in the mountains of Mount Holly VT, and they married in July of 1923. He had been a Marine veteran of World War 1, graduating from Dartmouth College in 1920. As his wife, she would have many additional roles–that of mother of his children (three daughters and a son), of first lady of New Hampshire (when he was governor from 1949-1953), and as supporter, hostess and organizer (while he was Chief White House assistant to President Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953 through 1958).

1952 Mrs. Sherman Adams newspaper article

Photograph from a 1952 newspaper article, Mrs. Sherman (Rachel) Adams.

A 1952 the Klamath Herald and News newspaper (Klamath Falls, Oregon) reported, “She [Rachel (White) Adams] organized the American Legion Auxiliary in Lincoln [NH], belongs to a Garden Club and has been a Girl Scout leader for 18 years.”

A 1958 Boston Herald newspaper article reported, ” The marriage [of Rachel and Sherman] is described by friends as one of rare and deep devotion. Mrs. Adams known for her charm and good looks is called “the perfect foil for Sherm.” A Concord [NH] friend says, “Rachel is probably the only woman in the world who could or would put up with Sherm. She has a marvelous disposition, and when he is difficult she just ignores him completely. Adams once became irritated because his wife went driving off every morning to visit with friends over coffee. To stop what he thought was a waste of time and gasoline, he locked the car in the garage. Mrs. Adams simply entered through a side door and rocked the car against the doors until they came off at the hinges. Adams never tried it again.”

In 1959, She received one of 19 “Ben Thompson” citations from the University of New Hampshire, given to New Hampshire citizens and out of state alumni. A newspaper article of the time stated: “In both her public and private life, Mrs. Rachel White Adams is a striking symbol of the devoted wife and mother. In this way she has been and continues to be a course of inspiration to countless residents of New Hampshire. We salute her as one of our most prized citizens.”

News clipping of Rachel (Adams) White's obituary

News clipping of Rachel (Adams) White’s obituary in 1979.

Rachel (White) Adams died in 1979 at her home in Lincoln, New Hampshire. A year after her death (in 1980) New England College announced that her family and friends had established a scholarship fund in her name. Rachel (White) Adams had been a longtime friend of the Henniker NH College, and had received an honorary degree, Doctor of Letters, from New Hampshire College in 1973. The Rachel White Adams Scholarship is awarded each year to a “student showing exceptional promise in the visual or performing arts from within the state of New Hampshire.”  Her partial genealogy follows.


Thomas-1 White (1599-1679) & — [?Ann Workman] (of Weymouth MA)

Joseph-2 White (c163/40-1706) & Lydia Rogers (Weymouth & Mendon MA)

John-3 White (1668-?) & Sarah

—–Next Generation—-

Ezekiel White, son of John & Sarah (?) White, b. 11 Aug 1707 Mendon MA d abt 1726 Mendon MA; Hem. abt 1729-30 Amity Harris[?]. He lived in Uxbridge and Douglas MA. [The Hartford TImes genealogical queries shows Amity — ” (an Indian).”]
Children of John & Amity (?) White:
1. +Ezekiel White, b. 30 Dec 1730 Uxbridge, Worcester Co. MA
2. Ruth White, b. 1731/32; m. Abner Smith
3. David White, b. 1734-37
4. Jonah b 1738
5. ?John] White, b. August 1742, d. 4 May 1824; m1) Abigail Albee; m2) Elizabeth Paine [John and Elisabeth Pane of Gloucester, R.I., int. Dec. 24, 1777, from Vital Records of Uxbridge Massachusetts to the year 1850]. Children.
6. Asa White, b. 1743; married 1770 Mary Jeperson. Children, Asa White, Nancy White.
7. Nathan White b. 1746
8. Douglas White, b. 1743; m. Ruth Allen. Children.

—–Next Generation—-

Ezekiel White, son of Ezekiel & Amity (?) White, b. 30 Dec 1730 Uxbridge, Worcester Co. MA, d. 22 April 1790 in Fitzwilliam NH; came from Douglas, MA, quite early, probably about 1782. He married Ruth Cree of Douglas MA. She was b abt 1732 and d. 12 April 1790 [See Historical Sketch of the Town of Troy NH, by Melvin T. Stone, page 548. He is buried in Benson Cemetery, Richmond, Cheshire Co. NH
Children of Ezekiel & Ruth (Cree) Douglas:
1. Sarah White, b. abt 1759 Douglas MA; married and died in Keene NH
2. Stephen White, b. abt 1760, d. 12 June 1841 Fitzwilliam NH aged 80 years; m. Molly –.
3. David White, b. abt 1763, d. 1844; m. Esther Bruce and settled in Troy NH on the Porter White place, later buying the Reuben Nurse farm. After his wife died he moved to Vermont.
4. Ezekiel White, b abt 1764, d. 1833; m. 28 Sep 1791 Alice Ormsby, prob dau of Oliver Ormsby of Richmond NH. They removed to Vermont
5. Lydia White, b abt 1767 Douglas MA; m. 14 June 1791 Samuel Stickney; removed to Vermont
6. +Daniel White, b abt 1769, d. 1851; m. 23 April 1795 Patty Crane; removed to Vermont
7. +Hosea White, b abt 1776 Douglas MA, d. 1794; left Troy NH about 1794; resided in Belmont, Wallingford and Mount Holly VT
8. Hannah White, b. abt 1772 Douglas MA, d. Burlington VT; m. — Tobey.

—–Next Generation—-

Hosea White,  son of Ezekiel & Ruth (Cree) White, b abt 1776 [NH] prob Douglas MA, d 1794; m. 24 Dec 1793 in Keene NH to Susana Thompson of Keene NH. She b. — d —
[son Joel says b 1750 NH, d 1840 VT; revolutionary soldier]
Children of Hosea & Susana (Thompson) White:
1. David White, b. 15 Feb 1793 Mt Holly VT
2. +John White, b. 14 Aug 1795 Mt. Holly, Rutland VT.  [On Danby VT] John C. White, son of Hosea White, from Mt. Holly, m. 10 July 1817 in Danby VT to Cynthia, dau of Nathan Lapham, and settled where Henry Griffin now lives–was selectman 3, lister 2, and magistrate 5 years. Was a captain of the State militia, and died about the year 1840 leaving but one son, John J. who settled in Buffalo NY. [The Vermont Historical Gazetteer, Vol 3, by A M Hemenway, page. 652.]
3. Hosea White, b. 29 Aug 1797 Mt Holly VT, d. 27 June 1873, aged 75 in Collins NY; m. 12 March 1825 in Erie Co. NY to Anna Keese. She d. 3 June 1871, aged 64 in Collins NY. He purchased of Hadwin Arnold the land on lot 34, township 6, range 8 where his son, John H. White later lived. He at one time kept a hotel at the mouth of Cattaraugus Creek (2 years). Children: Eliza Jane White who m. Ransom Moss; Oliver H. White who m. Nancy Bartlett, resided Michigan; John H. White; Hannah Maud White who m. Silas Taft; Pauline White who died young; Phebe A. White who m. Albert Southwick; Cynthia E. White who m. Byron Kimball. [SEE History of the Original Town of Concord, Collins, N. Collins and Sardinia, Erie County, New York.]
4. Lydia White, b. 9 Sep 1799 Mt Holly VT; m. Peter Cook of Danby VT, one of the first settlers of Collins NY.
5. Asahel White, b. 14 Jan 1802 Mt Holly VT
6. Joel White, b. 11 January 1808 Rutland VT; d. 10 Oct 1896; book seller [see History of Alabama and dictionary of Alabama Biography, by T M Owen, page 1865
7. Horis T. White, b. 10 July 1810 Mt Holly VT
8. Arvilla White, b. 27 Oct 1812 Mt Holly VT
9. Hannah Melissa White, b 29 June 1814 Mt Holly VT

Daniel White, son of Ezekiel & Ruth (Cree) White, b abt 1769, d. 1851; m. 23 April 1795 Patty/Martha Crane/Craine, daughter of William & Keziah Crane.  Her father was from Stoughton MA, moving to Fitzwilliam NH and after his 2nd marriage to Greensboro VT.  Both Daniel and Patty were of Fitzwilliam NH, at the time of their marriage.
Children of Daniel & Martha “Patty” (Crane) White: [not in order of birth]
1. Sally (White) Newton 1797 Fitzwilliam NH, d. 11 Dec 1873 Mt Holly
2. ?John D. White 1798-d. 31 July 1837 Mt Holly, age 39 buried Mechanicsville
[parents not noted, death cert on Ancestry]
3. Sophia (White) Dickerman b 1799 Mt Holly, d. 23 July 1878 VT
4. Betsey White, b. abt 1802 of Mt. Holly, Rutland VT; m. 28 Aug 1823 to Homer Earle. He was b. 3 Aug 1800 Mt Holly VT
4. Luther White, b. 1804
5. Alvah
6. Emeline
7. Nathan
8. Calvin
9. Maria
10. William

—–Next Generation—-

*********PROVEN BELOW***************

John White, 2nd. b. [abt 1789-98] Mt Holly VT, d. 6 January 1852 [or 31 July 1837] in Mount Holly VT, aged 63, buried Packer Cemetery ; He m. 23 Sep 1828 in Weathersfield VT to Polly/Clarissa Farwell, daughter of Benjamin & Lydia (?) Farwell. She b 1806-7 in Weathersfield VT, d 3 May 1883 in Mt Holly VT, aged 74. She m. 2d) by 1843 to William C. Knight. He b. 1817, d. 10 March 1896 in Plymouth VT. In 1850 Daniel & Martha White are living next door. There is a question about the parents of this John White.  Some say his father was the above Daniel, other Hosea, who happen to be brothers.  I found a John C. White who possibly is Hosea’s son, which would leave Daniel as his father.  The problem is this John White’s records seem to show his father’s name was John, and I cannot find primary birth info that includes parents names.  With the conflicting births and deaths I’ve included both sets here.  [his death cert 1852 Packer Cem] [Packer: John White Esq. no dates, but attributed as Cephas White’s father]  (FINDAGRAVE, JOHN D. WHITE, died July 31, 1837, aged 39 years]
1850 US Census > VT > Rutland > Mount Holly
William C. Knight M 33 VT
Clarissa Knight F 43 VT
Charles Knight M 8 VT
Adelia Knight F 4 VT
Everet White M 20 VT
Lydia White F 18 VT
William White M 17 VT
Ellen White F 15 VT
Susan White F 13 VT
–living next door–
Daniel White 80 M Mass
Martha White 73 F Mass
Children of John & Polly/Clarissa (Farwell) White:
1. Cephas Crawford White, b. abt 1824; d. 16 Dec 1847 Mt. Holly, VT. Buried Packer Cemetery.
2. A. Malvina/Melvina White, b. 11 Feb 1829 in Mount Holly Vermont, d. 28 Dec 1878 in Newton MA, buried Pleasant View Cemetery, Ludlow, Windsor Co. VT; m. 23 Mary 1847 in Mount Holly VT to Milton H. Edson. He was b. abt 1818, son of Albertus & Sarah (Caldwell) Edson, and d. 29 December 1893. He m2d) 28 Dec 1884 in VT to Ellen M. Bryant, dau of Proctor & Esther (?) Bryant.
3. +John Everett White, b. 6 June 1830 Mt Holly, Rutland Co. VT
4. Lydia Mariah White, b. 23 February 1832 Mt. Holly VT; d. 18 Aug 1919 in Mt Holly VT; m. 27 Aug 1860 in Boston MA to Asa B. Fenn, son of Asa & Mary Fenn [marr rec says her father George not John]
5. William White, b. 20 April 1834 in Mt. Holly VT; d. 21 June 1878 in Boston MA
6. Ellen White, b 10 May 1836 in Mount Holly VT
7. Susan White, b. 10 Dec 1837 Mount Holly VT; in 1850 living in MT Holly with parents. In 1865 living in Boston with her sister Lydia [Fenn] and husband.
Children of William C. & Clarissa (Farwell) Knight:
1. Charles H. Knight, b. abt 1843 VT; m. 15 May 1878 in VT to Anna J. Howe
2. Adelia “Delia” Knight, b. abt 1847 Vermont, living with parents in 1880 Census


—–Next Generation—-

John Everett White, son of John & Clarissa (Farwell) White, b. 6 June 1830 Mt. Holly, VT, d 11 Nov 1902 Mt. Holly, Rutland Co. VT of tuberculosis; m. Esther Almina “Elmina” Sawyer, daughter of Amos & Nancy Maria (Hooper) Sawyer. She b. 27 Feb 1840 Mt Holly VT, d 12 June 1908 Mount Holly VT. Carriage painter, and mechanic. In 1863 Civil War registration shows him living in Mt. Holly, married, a carpenter. They are buried in New Mechanicsville Cemetery, Belmont VT
1860 US Census > VT > Rutland > Mt Holly
John E. White M 30 Farmer 500 VT
Almina White F 21 VT
Edward White M 0 VT
1880 US Census > VT > Rutland > Mount Holly
John E. White 49
Esther E. White 40
Edward E. White 20
Ella G. White 18
Willie H. White 16
Jennie B. White 12
Milton C. White 10
Children of John E. & Elwina (Sawyer) White:
1. +Edward Everett White, b. 6 Feb 1860 Mt. Holly VT
2. Ella Jane White, b 29 Dec 1861 Mt Holly VT, d. 9 Oct 1934 in Mt. Holly VT; she m. John S. Lyon.
3. William Hebert “Willie” White, b. 1864, d. 1931; m. 24 Feb 1886 to Ada E. Holden. He was a blacksmith.
4. Jennie Bell White, b. 5 Sep 1867 Mt Holly VT; m. 18 July 1888 in Mt. Holly VT to Frank Patch
5. Milton Clifford White, b 7 April 1870 in Mt Holly VT; m. 18 Sep 1897 in Mt Holly VT to Clara L. Graves. Occupation, painter.
6. Leslie B. White, [son] b. 10 March 1874 Mount Holly VT, d. 1879 VT [findagrave]


—–Next Generation—-

Edward Everett White, son of John E. & Esther Almina (Sawyer) White, b. 6 February 1860 Mt. Holly, Rutland Co., VT; d 7 October 1931 in Mount Holly, Rutland Co. VT; m. 12 Sep 1888 Mt Holly VT to Mary Louise Sheehan/Shehan, daughter of Jeremiah & Mary (O’Connell) Sheehan. She b. 14 Feb 1864 Cavendish, VT; d 4 Feb 1955. Occupation painter. Buried New Mechanicsville Cemetery, Belmont, Rutland Co. VT. He was a house painter and decorator.
1900 US Census > Vermont > Rutland > Mount Holly
White, Mary, Head W F Feb 1864 36 married 11 yrs 4 ch 3 living VT Ire VT
White, Harrold P. son W M Aug 1891 8 single VT VT VT
White, Edna M daughter W F Apr 1894 6 single VT
White, Catherlina L. daughter W F Jan 1896 4 single VT
Shehan, Jennie sister W F Oct 1882 17 single 0 ch 0 living VT Ire VT servant
1900 US Census > Vermont > Rutland > Mount Holly
Stewart, Carroll L. Head W M July 1857 42
Stewart, Cora P. wife WF Feb 1871 29
White, Edward E. Boarder W M Feb 1860 40 M 10 yrs VT VT VT Salesman, Paints
1910 US Census > Vermont > Rutland > Mount Holly
Edward E. White M 50 VT Painter
Mary S. White F 46 VT
Harold P. White son M 19 VT
Edna M. White dau F 15 VT
Kathleen L. White dau F 14 VT
Rachel L. White dau F 9 VT
1915 Rutlant Vermont Directory
-Paints and Paperhangers-
WHITE, EDWARD E., 37 Strongs av.
White, Edward E., painter George E. Trask bds 37 Strongs av
1920 US Census > Vermont > Rutland > Mount Holly
Edward E. White 59 Decorator, House
Mary L. White 55
Rachel L. White 14
Children of Edward E. & Mary L. (Sheehan) White:
1. Percibal “Harold P.” White, b. 25 August 1890 Shrewsbury VT
2. Edward Everett White, b. 22 January 1892, d. 27 Nov 1893 VT
3. Edna May White, b 19 April 1894 Shrewsbury, Rutland Co. VT
4. Kathleen Louise White, b. 3 January 1896 Wallingsford, VT; m. 25 Oct 1916 in Rutland VT to Henry Irving Laumann
5. Laura Marie White, b. abt 11 June 1903, d. 21 June 1903 Mt. Holly VT, 10 days old, intestinal obstruction
6. +Rachel Leona White, b. 17 June 1905 Mount Holly, Rutland Co. VT


—–Next Generation—-

Rachel Leona White, [this story is about her, see photographs and biography at top of page] daughter of Edward Everett & Mary Louise (Sheehan) White, b 17 June 1905 [SSDI says 18 June] Mount Holly, Rutland Co., VT d 16 December 1979 in Lincoln NH; m. 28 July 1923 in Mount Holly VT to Llewelyn Sherman Adams, son of Clyde & Winnie (Sherman) Adams. L. Sherman Adams was born Jan. 8, 1899, in East Dover, VT. His father, a grocer, soon moved the family to Providence, R.I., where Sherman grew up. He attended Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H., left to enlist in the Marine Corps in World War I, then returned to Dartmouth, where he studied economics and received a bachelor’s degree in 1920. He d. 27 October 1986, aged 87 at Mary Hitchcock Hospital. At his death there were 11 grandchildren and 2 great-grand children. She is buried in Riverside Cemetery, Lincoln NH. He was former Governor of NH, and Chief White House assistant to President Eisenhower from 1953 to September 1958.
1930 US Census > NH > Grafton > Lincoln
Sherman L. Adams 31 VT, Manager Timberlands
Rachel L. Adams 24 VT
Marion R. Adams 6 NH
Jeane Adams 4-11/12 NH
Sarah L. Adams 2-3/12 NH
18 December 1979 (Tuesday) The Chillicothe-Tribune, Chillicothe, Michigan, page 7
LINCOLN, N.H. (AP) — Rachel White Adams, 74, wife of former New Hampshire Gov. Sherman Adams, died Sunday. She was the first lady of New Hampshire (from 1949 through 1953).
Children of L. Sherman & Leona (White) Adams:
1. Rachel Marian Adams, b. 27 March 1924 Lincoln NH; m. 10 July 1948 in NH to William Sweet Freese of Pitsfield NH, son of George Edward & Elizabeth Judith (Sweet) Freese
2. Jean Judith Adams, b. 17 May 1925 Lincoln NH, died 29 Dec 2007 in Lincoln NH; m. 30 Sep 1950 in NH to William Martin Hallager, son of Sigurd & Ida (Jensen) Hallager; resided Pleasantville NY. William died in 2014. Children: William, Karin, Christina, and Anne.
3. Sarah Louise Adams, b 4 January 1928 Lincoln NH; res. Wellesley Hills MA; d. 15 June 2009 in Needham, Norfolk Co. MA; Graduated from Lesley College in 1953, and Boston University in 1967; teacher in Natick MA for 38 years.  [obituary at find-a-grave]
4. Samuel Sherman Adams, b 26 January 1936 Lincoln NH, d. 5 May 2006; of Boulder CO. He married Nancy Adams. Children: Melinda, Katrina, Jonathan.

*SOURCES for some White Family Genealogy*

Ancestral Chronological Records of the William White Family

Descendants of John White

White Family from A Genealogy Record by Nathaniel Kingsbury


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4 Responses to New Hampshire’s First Lady, Artist, Author, Trustee: Rachel Leona (White) Adams (1905-1979)

  1. Pingback: March 2016: Celebrating Women’s History Month in New Hampshire | Cow Hampshire

  2. Amy says:

    I remain impressed by the fact that you do such an incredible amount of research into the genealogy of non-family members. That’s quite a genealogy there!

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