WHITE, WILLIAM J. (7 Oct. 1850-16 Feb. 1923), chewing-gum manufacturer, was born in Rice Lake, Ontario, moved to Cleveland with his parents, John and Laura (Brooks) White, at age 6. He entered business operating a candy store and in 1884 mistakenly bought a barrel of Yucatan chicle. White, after discovering it could be softened and made chewable, added mint, and sold the product as "Yucatan." In 1890, he established and became president of AMERICAN CHICLE CO. White put Dr. EDWIN E. BEEMAN's pepsin into his gum to create Beeman's Pepsin Gum. By 1893, the company had sold over 150 million sticks of gum.
White moved to W. Cleveland and was elected its mayor in 1889. In 1892, he was elected as a Republican to the U.S. House of Representatives. White's personal tastes were extravagant. In 1889 he purchased 455 acres for a stock farm and racetrack. Thornwood, his 52-room mansion, showcased paintings, tapestries, Oriental rugs, and antique furnishings. White divorced his first wife, Ellen, in 1906, the next day marrying divorcee Helen Sheldon. They moved to New York. Probably in 1916, White became penniless after business difficulties and was removed as president of American Chicle. Four years later, White was running Wm. J. White Chicle Co. in Niagara Falls. He lost this fortune because of litigation with his original company. He returned to Cleveland in 1922, penniless, but built a new factory. In Jan. 1923 White slipped on a sidewalk and died a few weeks later.
White, buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY, had seven children: Miles A., Harry W., Pearl M., Arthur M., Ada M., Ralph, and Brook.