Rollin Henry White

Is your surname White?

Research the White family

Rollin Henry White's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Rollin Henry White

Birthdate: (90)
Birthplace: Ohio, United States
Death: September 10, 1962 (90)
Place of Burial: Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas H. White and Almira Louisa White
Husband of Katherine Elizabeth White
Father of Katherine E White
Brother of Mabel Almira Harris; Alice Maud Hammer; Windsor T. White; Clarence Greenleaf White; Walter Charles White and 1 other

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Rollin Henry White

Rollin Henry, born July 11, 1872, invented the steam car in 1899, became first vice president of the White Company in 1906 and created the first White internal combustion truck in 1910. After illness and recuperation, he left the White Company in 1914 and worked on the invention of a crawler tractor. He formed the Cleveland Motor Plow Company in 1916, which was incorporated as Cleveland Tractor Company in 1917 and took the trade name Cletrac in 1918. From 1922 to1925 he designed and manufactured a smaller, less expensive car called the Rollin and incorporated the Rollin Motor Company, but it was not a commercial success. He married Katharine Elizabeth King in 1896, had three children and died in Florida in 1962.


Rollin H. White was selected for induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2011.

WHITE, ROLLIN HENRY (11 July 1872-10 Sept. 1962), a founder of WHITE MOTOR CORP. and Cleveland Tractor Co., was born in Cleveland to Almira Greenleaf White and Thomas H. White. He graduated from Cornell University in 1894 and worked in Cleveland for his father's White Sewing Machine Co. during the 1890s when the company added roller skates, kerosene lamps, bicycles, automatic lathes, and screw machines to its production.

Thomas left the automobile-manufacturing to his sons, Windsor, Walter, and Rollin. In 1899, Rollin invented a flash boiler that could safely be used on steam automobiles. Rollin White developed a form of water tube steam generator which consisted of a series of stacked coils with two novel features: the first, and most fundamental, was that the coils were all joined at the top of the unit, which allowed water to flow through only when pumped, allowing control of the steam generation; the second was pulling steam from the lowest coil, closest to the fire, which allowed for the control of steam temperature. This second point was critical because the White steamer operated with superheated steam to take advantage of steam's unique properties at higher temperatures.

In 1900, the Stanhope model, the first White Steamers, was introduced. To demonstrate White automobiles were safe, Rollin raced them; in 1901 he set a world's land speed record for steam carriages. In 1906, White became vice-president of the newly formed White Co., continuing production of White Steamers until 1909. In 1910, the first gasoline White trucks were produced. In 1914.

Rollin left White Co. and in 1916 organized Cleveland Motor Plow Co. to produce tractors. In 1917, the company became Cleveland Tractor Co., or CLETRAC, INC., with White as its president. From 1921-23, Cletrac produced the Rollin, an automobile. In 1930, White became the company's chairman of the board; his son, W. King White, became president. White retired in 1944 when Cletrac merged with Oliver Farm Equipment Co. 

He married Katharine King in 1896 and had 3 children, Rollin Henry, Jr., Wm. King, and Elizabeth King. White died in Hobe Sound, Fla. and was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.


view all

Rollin Henry White's Timeline

July 11, 1872
Ohio, United States
August 1897
Age 25
OH, United States
September 10, 1962
Age 90
Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio, United States