Albion Interactive History / People / Henry White

Albion Interactive History

Albion Interactive History / People

Henry Kirke White, Sr., 1839

Detroiter Henry Kirke White, Sr. took over leadership of the Gale Manufacturing Company which he continued to lead until his death in 1916. When Kirke bought Gale Manufacturing, he was also an investor and executive officer in several Detroit businesses including the Acme White Lead & Color (Paint) Works, the Dexter M. Ferry Seed Company, vice-president of Grace Hospital, and on the board of several banks.

Shortly after becoming president of Gale Manufacturing, Kirke Sr. held Albionites feet to the fire, threatening to move the factory to another city if he was not given land to build a new factory building on. After a series of public meetings a $30,000 bond issue was passed, giving Kirke and the Gale a large plot of land several blocks to the west where Albion and Cass Street intersect. Kirke oversaw construction of several buildings, upgrading of equipment, increasing employment, and expanding output of the factory.

His brother Albert E.F. White lived in Detroit but maintained an Albion address during the 1890s. Albert served as vice-president of Gale from 1892-1897. He was also an original investor in Henry Ford’s Detroit Automotive Company and owned considerable stock in the Cadillac Motor Company.

Two of Kirke’s sons were involved with the Gale Company as well. H. Kirke White, Jr. came to the company in July 1892, was appointed secretary in 1895, and served until 1902. Louis E. White worked in the office in the early 1890s, became auditor in 1896, and later served as vice-president and secretary of the company in the early 20th century.

The Whites all lived next door to each other on the south side of Irwin Avenue in elegant Victorian homes. The 1894-95 City Directory lists Louis E. White at 105 Irwin, uncle Albert E.F. White at 109 Irwin, and H. Kirke White at 113 Irwin.

When Kirke Sr. died in Detroit in 1916 after being Gale president for 29 years, his immediate family inherited sizable portions of the Gale Company stock.

New leadership following Kirke’s death was a factor in a the second major institutional transformation to occur. In 1918, owing to war conditions and sharp competition in the industry, it was decided to discontinue and liquidate the implement business. This was done successfully and all of the rights and machinery for manufacturing implements were sold.

Source: Isaac Kremer, December 2003

WHITE, Henry Kirke, vice-president D. M. Ferry & Co.; born, Unadilla, N.Y., May 26, 1839; son of Joseph and Mary (Miller) White; educated at Gilbertsville Academy, N.Y; married at Monroe, Mich., Nov. 19, 1863, Cholistique Amanda Fortier; 4 children: Henry Kirke, Jr., Louis Eugene, George Theodore, Mary Josephine (wife of Capt. George L. Morrison, U.S.A.). Removed to Illinois when 18 years of age and taught school 1 year; came to Detroit, 1859, and entered employ of M.T. Gardner & Co., now D.M. Ferry & Co., seedsmen; admitted to the firm as a parter, 1865, was elected treasurer of the company upon incoporation, 1879, and has been vice-president since 1905. Also president Gale Manufacturing Co., Albion, Mich., agricultural implements; vice-president Acme White Lead and Color Works, 1886-1913 (retired, but still holds interests in company). Director First National Bank, Wayne County Savings Bank, Michigan Fire and Marine Insurance Co.; officer and director in many other corporations. Vice-president and trustee Grace Hospital; vice-president board of directors of Liggett School. Republican. Presbyterian. Member Masonic order, Chapter, Commandery, Shrine. Office: D.M. Ferry & Co., Detroit. Residences: 37 High St. E., Detroit, and Albion, Michigan.

WHITE, Henry Kirke, Jr., securities; born, Detroit, Oct. 17, 1867; son of Henry Kirke and Christine (Fortier) White; educated in public and private schools of Detroit up to 1884; in France and Switzerland, 1884-86; at Dummer Academy, Mass., 1886-88; Williams College, 1888-92, graduating, degree of A.B., 1892; married at Toledo, O., June 11, 1901, Florence Hoag; 3 daughters: Helen, Josephine, Catherine. Began active career as secretary of the Gale Manufacturing Co., Albion, Mich., 1892, continuing until 1902; president Kemiweld Can Co., Feb., 1902-10; now in security business on own account. Republican. Member Chi Psi, Detroit Commandery No. 1, Knights Templar, Moslem Temple, Mystic Shrine. Clubs: Detroit, University, Detroit Boat, Detroit Golf, Detroit Automobile, Detroit Athletic, Country, Alliance Francaise, University (Chicago), Williams College (New York). Recreations: golf, automobiling. Office: 1737 Dime Savings Bank Bldg. Residence: 1807 Woodward Ave.

Source: Marquis, Albert Nelson. The Book of Detroiters: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men of the City of Detroit. 2nd Edition, revised. Chicago: A.N. Marquis & Co. 1914.

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