Ollie J. White
Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee
Henderson, Henderson County, Kentucky
Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky
The contributions of Ollie White to the Saddlebred horse industry were introduced by Reverend Leslie Whitlock during his oral history interview May 18, 2019.
Birth and Family in Tennessee
Ollie J. White began life in Lynnville, Tennessee in 1917. His parents, Elberta and Ora Martin White, raised their family of eight children on a farm on Campbellsville Road.1
At the age of twenty-one, White married John Ella Mayfield. When White married his second wife, Mattie Adeline Whitlock, he became stepfather to her children from a previous marriage.2
Beginning His Career
White began his career on the Milky Way Farm of Franklin C. and Ethel V. Mars in Pulaski, Tennessee. A photo shows seventeen-year-old White mounted on a Saddlebred of the farm.3
White worked there during a time when their Saddlebreds, Hackney Ponies and Roasters were gaining prominence. Summer Rain, Supreme, Blue Heaven, Denmark King and Park Lane were among the Saddlebreds under training. In the early 1930s, they won Horse Show and State Fair events at Chicago, Kentucky, and Missouri.
In 1934, Mars died. Ethel Mars, his wife, made the decision to develop Thoroughbred breeding and racing at the farm. 4
White left Pulaski and moved to Nashville, Tennessee. In 1940, at the age of twenty-three, T.M. Strider employed him as a horse trainer at Westmeade Farm.5 L. (Lewis) Richard “Dick” Duncan was superintendent.6
White moved again, this time to Henderson, Kentucky where he worked for a year at the Barker Farm. In 1960, his last move was to Bowling Green. He reconnected with L. Richard “Dick” Duncan who had been at Westmeade Farm in Tennessee. Duncan had returned to Kentucky to establish Woodburn Farm in the mid-1940s. He had become a show horse trainer and judge of Saddlebreds.
White groomed, trained and traveled with Duncan’s horses to shows in Chicago, Kentucky and New York.
White owned My Golden Laralie, a five-gaited Saddlebred. He won first place at the Southern Kentucky Fair in Bowling Green.7
The horse breed was developed in the United States. They are noted for their even temperament and gentle stride. Five-gaited Saddlebreds are trained to walk, trot, canter, slow gait and rack. Their long flowing tails and mane add to their elegance and grace in performance. Three-gaited are trained to walk, trot and canter. Their manes are cropped to show their graceful necks.
Accolades and Legacy
Ollie J. White died in 1984 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. His grave marker at Fairview Cemetery was inscribed with “No One Knew Him But To Love Him.”8
Reverend Leslie Whitlock said of his stepfather. “He was a humble man. He never met a stranger. He was not self-centered. He was generous. He was a friend to everyone.”9
White devoted his life to caring for Saddlebreds. He sought employment in places where he could be associated with them. He passed his love, knowledge, and skills to another generation.
His stepson, Leslie Whitlock, became a groom, trainer, and owner. He began a program - New Day Ministries- which employs young people referred by Juvenile Court. Whitlock teaches them to care for and work with horses. At the same time, they learn responsibility and develop pride in work they do. These are the same work ethics that Ollie White instilled in a young Leslie Whitlock.
Whitlock, Leslie W., 2019. Maharrey. Chronicle of African Americans in the Horse Industry Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History. University of Kentucky Libraries. https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt71720sj4ztw
Saddle & Bridle (magazine). 1931. “Milky Way Farm Erecting Palatial Quarters for Their Splendid String.” 15,64,65. December 1931
Saddle & Bridle (magazine). 1977. “Retrospect: Milky Way Farm.” 144, 145. June 1977. Reprint from October 1932.
Phelps, Johnny. 1991. Milky Way Farms. Giles Free Press. Pulaski, Tennessee
Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. Washington, D.C.:National Archives and Records Administration.1920
Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.1940
World War II Draft Cards for Tennessee, 10/16/1940 - 03/31/1947. Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975. Box:312. Record Group 147. National Archives and Records Administration, St. Louis, Missouri. Ollie J. White, October 16, 1940
“Death Certificate: Ollie J. White.” April 10, 1984. Warren County, Kentucky. #10153
“Ollie J. White (1917-1984) Grave Memorial.” n.d. Accessed February 1, 2021
When citing this article as a source in Chicago Manual of Style use this format: Last name, first name of Author. Chronicle of African Americans in the Horse Industry. n.d. “Title of Article or Story.” International Museum of the Horse. Accessed date. URL of page cited.
- 1Fourteenth Census of the United States,1920. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.1920.
- 2Whitlock, Rev. Leslie. 2019. Chronicle of African Americans in the Horse Industry Oral History Project
- 3Phelps, Johnny. 1991. Milky Way Farms. Giles Free Press. Pulaski, Tennessee
- 5World War II Draft Cards for Tennessee, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947. Records of Selective Service System, 1926-1975.
- 6Sixteenth Census of the United States,1940. Washington, D.C.:National Archives and Records Administration. 1940.
- 7Whitlock, Rev. Leslie. 2019. Chronicle of African Americans in the Horse Industry Oral History Project
- 8“Ollie J. White (1917-1984) Grave Memorial”