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Doc White


Fiddler and self-taught physician James Franklin ‘‘Doc’’ White (February 5, 1889-June 13, 1974) was born near Ivydale, Clay County. White was a self-made man who taught himself a variety of trades through the years. He was probably best known as a fiddle player.

Doc White served the community as a doctor, dentist, and midwife, without the benefit of formal medical training. He honed his skills by apprenticing under local doctors and dentists and by reading every medical book he could get his hands on. It was estimated that White delivered more than 1,800 babies throughout the hollows of Clay County, and he routinely made house calls to residents too ill to visit his office. In addition, White served as a justice of the peace in Clay County for more than 30 years.

He was one of a long line of accomplished traditional musicians in Clay County, including Jenes Cottrell, Wilson Douglas, Ira Mullins, Sylvia O’Brien, Minerva White, Lee Triplett, French Carpenter, and others. He was proud of his musical ability and traveled to many fairs and festivals around the state to demonstrate his talents. After his death in 1974, Doc White left behind his wife, Locie, four children, and six grandchildren.

Written by Brad Martin


  1. Clay County History Book Committee. History of Clay County, 1989. Salem: Don Mills Inc., 1989.

  2. Clay County History Book Committee. History of Clay County, Vol. II. Salem: Don Mills, Inc., 1994.

  3. Heyer, Bob. Ivydale: The Morris Family Old-Time Music Festivals. Goldenseal, Summer 1998.