Mar 17 2016

Meet the Previous Owners and Inhabitants of ‘The Farm’ in Kingwood


Before its preservation, the church property in Kingwood was owned by journalist William Lindsay White and later by the United Reformed Church in Somerville. Below is a little more information about them.

To read about our preservation of the church property, please go here.

William Lindsay White -- courtesy kansas memory

Courtesy: kansasmemory.org, Kansas State Historical Society. Copy and reuse restrictions apply.

Journalist William Lindsay White was born on June 17, 1900 in Emporia, Kansas.

He was the son of journalist William Allen White, who first attracted national attention in 1896 as editor of the Emporia Gazette with a piece titled “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” The editorial was a scathing attack on Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan. William Allen White wrote a number of books, including biographies on Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge, and helped Theodore Roosevelt form the Progressive (Bull Moose) Party in 1912.

William Allen groomed his son to take over the Emporia Gazette. He took W.L. to France to witness the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, which formally ended World War I. W.L. White (or Bill) was an associate publisher of the Gazette, and worked for the Washington Post and Fortune Magazine before becoming a war correspondent for CBS and a consortium of 40 newspapers. White was also a radio correspondent for CBS News, sometimes filling in for Edward R. Murrow. In 1940, he covered the London blitzkrieg and broadcasted an emotional editorial in 1940 from Finland.  For most of his later career, William Lindsay White was Roving Editor for Reader’s Digest and published numerous articles in that magazine.

While covering the Battle of Britain, he adopted his daughter, Barbara, and brought her to the United States, detailing his experiences in his book Journey for Margaret. The book was made into a movie starring Robert Young in 1942. (You can see the original theatrical trailer here.) W. L. White wrote 13 other books including They Were Expendable, Lost Boundaries (both of which were made into movies), and Report on the Russians. White’s volumes on Korea were said to have heavily influenced the 1970s TV program M*A*S*H.

When William Allen White died in 1944, his son finished his father’s autobiography, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1947. He also began running the Emporia Gazette.

W. L. White died of cancer on July 26, 1973 in Newman Memorial County Hospital in Emporia. Following his passing, a memorial fund was established in his name to plant more trees in Emporia. By 2000, more than 300 trees had been planted with money from this fund.

Kathrine Klinkenberg White was born July 9, 1903 in Cawker City, Kansas. She attended the University of Kansas and transferred to the University of Wisconsin.

Kathrine was hired by Time magazine as an office assistant and later was promoted to research in the editorial department and also filled in as sports editor at Time. W.L. White used to talk about how Henry Luce shed tears when Kathrine departed the magazine in 1931. She once had the opportunity to fly over New York City with Amelia Earhart as pilot.

Interestingly, she is the sole name listed in the deed to acquire the Kingwood property in the late 1930s. The family lived in New York, making the trip out to the country farm when possible.

The Whites left New York in the early 1970s, and returned to Emporia. Kathrine took over the reins of the Gazette upon her husband’s death, and was known for her intelligence, high professional standards and critical editorial eye. Kathrine noted that the Whites were longtime friends with former President Herbert Hoover and acquaintances with Richard and Pat Nixon.

Kathrine Klinkenberg White passed away Aug. 17, 1988.

Barbara White Walker -- courtesy kansas memory

Courtesy: kansasmemory.org, Kansas State Historical Society.

Barbara White Walker is the daughter of W. L. and Kathrine Klinkenberg White. She was born in London, became an orphan during the Battle of Britain and wound up in a facility run by Anna Freud, daughter of Sigmund Freud. The Whites were able to secure air passage for their daughter from war-torn England to Portugal, provided W. L. left his luggage behind and the girl sat in his lap during the trip. From Portugal, they traveled by ship to the U.S.

Barbara grew up in New York City and the family’s farm off Horseshoe Bend Road. In 1941, Life Magazine visited the farm for a profile on Margaret and her day there was captured by renowned photographer Ralph Morse. Those images show a smiling little girl sitting on the front porch with a toy drum and the 2-lb. magnesium bomb case she brought with her from London, playing on a back yard swing set and eating supper in front of the fireplace with a friend. (Getty Images owns the rights to these photos.)

Barbara attended Stanford University and married a classmate, David Walker, in 1957. Life Magazine returned to cover the wedding. The Walkers settled in Emporia in 1972. When Kathrine passed away in 1988, Barbara took over responsibilities as editor, and David became publisher.

The family continues to operate the Emporia Gazette after more than 120 years. Chris and Ashley Knecht Walker, son and daughter-in-law of Barbara and David, purchased the newspaper. You can watch Barbara White Walker talk about her family newspaper’s history in this 1995 CSPAN interview.

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Photos courtesy of the United Reformed Church in Somerville.

11033879_1049358998414715_8403907802298032146_n The United Reformed Church of Somerville was known as The First Reformed Church of Somerville when it purchased the farm in Feb. 1964. Various church groups were traveling to Kirkridge in Bangor, Pa. for several years as a retreat center, but church members were excited with the idea of having their own place.

In the spring of 1963, interested members gathered to discuss the idea, and a committee was formed that “traveled and looked at every farm for sale in Hunterdon County,” according to a church history of “The Farm.”

In late Oct. 1963, the committee toured the farm, and “the search was over,” the history notes.

The first retreat was held in mid-March 1964 with a formal dedication two months later. The Farm was considered nondenominational and was used for picnics, pot lucks, and retreats for youth and women’s groups. Eagle Scout candidates built benches for outdoor worship services or marked hiking trails. Families rented the home to host Thanksgiving dinners or for vacations. Young couples married there.

In Sept. 1974, The Farm became part of United Reformed Church when The First Reformed Church and Second Reformed Church in Somerville merged.

“It was our passion to keep this property used in a similar way to how e used it, so one of our members reached out to the Hunterdon Land Trust because they had been involved in preserving other land on Horseshoe Bend Road,” said John Lane, who is on the church’s Board of Elders.

The preservation of the church property also helps forward the goals of the National Park Service’s Lower Delaware Wild & Scenic Program, which aims to protect the remarkable natural, historic and recreational resources that earned this stretch of the river the Wild and Scenic designation.

 


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