Sunday, May 22, 2016

Manliff Jarrell Wrenn (1858-1934)

Portrait from the History of North Carolina: North Carolina Biography, 1919.

   Very likely the only "Manliff" ever to to be elected to public office in the United States, Manliff Jarrell Wrenn was for many years a leading figure in the business and political life of High Point, North Carolina. A wealthy furniture manufacturer, banker and telephone company executive, Wrenn served four years as Mayor of High Point and in 1928 was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention held in Houston, Texas.
   The son of Merritt and Nancy Jarrell Wrenn, Manliff Jarrell Wrenn was born in Randolph County, North Carolina on August 25, 1858.  A descendant of a family long prominent in the history of Randolph County, Manliff J. Wrenn's unusual first name also has a variation in spelling, being recorded as "Manleff" in addition to the spelling given here. 
  Left fatherless at a young age, Wrenn removed with his mother and siblings to High Point, North Carolina in 1865 and until the age of twenty-one resided with his maternal uncle and namesake, Manliff Jarrell. Wrenn would attend school in that city and as a youth worked in his uncle's hotel. He would later leave that employ to take work as clerk in a grocery store and for two years continued in that profession, eventually accumulating enough money to go into business for himself.
   Wrenn's grocery business later saw his brother Thomas join as a partner, and this partnership continued on for nearly a decade. Thomas Wrenn would later turn his attention to establishing a furniture store in High Point, a business venture that greatly interested Manliff, who would join his brother in the High Point Furniture Company, a business noted for being the first of its kind in the city. After become "financially interested" in that company, Manliff Wrenn bought out the shares of the business's other partners and saw the company expand significantly, seeing the original buildings replaced by "modern brick structures" outfitted with then state of the art machinery. Wrenn would also serve the company as it's nightwatchman during its formative years.
   By 1900 Manliff Wrenn had become the sole owner of the High Point Furniture Company and in the succeeding years had mad his name known in other commercial areas of High Point, including service as a director for the Atlantic Bank and Trust Company, the owner of the Union Brokerage Co. and was a half owner of the Wrenn-Columbia Furniture Company, established in the early 1900s.
  While a leading figure in High Point business circles, Manliff Wrenn also made substantial headway in that city's political life. He would serve as a member of the city's Board of Aldermen for several years and in 1904 was elected to the first of two terms as Mayor of High Point; his four years in office being noted as ones of "substantial municipal progress" for the city. 
   In the years following his time as Mayor Manliff Wrenn continued with his earlier business pursuits and married on June 11, 1918 to Elise Louise Clinard (1880-1948). In 1921 he took on the position of President of the North State Telephone Company, continuing in that office until his death. Around this same time Wrenn became active in the construction of the Southern Furniture Exposition Building, being both a stock-holder and vice president (holding the latter until his death.) In the 1928 election year Wrenn served as part of North Carolina's delegation to the Democratic National Convention that nominated former New York Governor Alfred E. Smith for the Presidency.
   After many years of prominence in High Point, Manliff Jarrell Wrenn died in Florida on February 18, 1934. He was survived by his wife Louise, who succeeded him as head of the High Point Furniture Company.  In 1937 Louise donated funds to establish the M.J. Wrenn Memorial Library, located on the campus of High Point College. Following her death in 1948 Louise Wrenn was interred alongside her husband at the Oakwood Cemetery in High Point. 

Manliff J. Wrenn, from the High Point Enterprise, Sept. 4, 1938.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

San Francisco (1881-1939)

Portrait from the 1909 Kansas Legislative composite.

   I can always county on Kansas to "deliver the goods" when it comes to new name discoveries. Over the past few years a number of oddly named Kansas political figures have been profiled here, Ortho O. Wolfe, DeLanson A.N. Chase, Wentzle A. Stewart and Peru Italian Blackerby Ping being among them. That list of intriguingly named Kansans is joined today by a man who sports one of the most unlikely names you'll ever read about......San Francisco!!
  Before anyone accuses me of making up a name to post here, I can assure you that Mr. Francisco was an actual person, and while he shares his name with the famed California city, isn't believed to have had any connection with that area (despite the latter portion of his life being spent in the neighboring city of San Diego.) A one term member of the Kansas State House of Representatives, little could be found on Mr. Francisco, hence why his article here will be on the short side!
   Born in Adair County, Missouri on April 15, 1881, San Francisco was a son of James Detroit and Mary Ellen Hilton Francisco. Research has shown that by 1900 San Francisco was a resident of Ingalls in Gray County, Kansas and married there in December 1902 to Enid Studebaker, with whom he would have one daughter, Enid Elaine (1915-1996). 
  Sometime following his marriage San Francisco removed to the neighboring town of Cimarron, and was still a resident of that town when he became the Democratic nominee for the Kansas State House of Representatives. Remarked as being one of the youngest candidates ever to run for representative, the 1908 Topeka Journal (article below) notes that Francisco's name would be of aid during the upcoming campaign!
  San Francisco would win election to the Kansas legislature in late 1908 and served during the 1909-11 session. During this term Francisco held seats on the committees on Irrigation, Horticulture and Forestry and Banks and Baking. Around this same time he became affiliated with the Capricorn Mining Company in California, of which he would serve as President. 

From the Topeka State Journal, April 22, 1908.

   Following his time in state government San Francisco served as a Vice President and director of the Gray County State Bank at Cimarron. San Francisco later removed to San Diego, California, where he died in 1939. He was later interred at the Greenwood Memorial Park in that city and was survived by his wife Enid, who died in 1945.

You Can Help!

 I am currently searching for further information on San Francisco (the man, not the city) and need your assistance!! If there are any readers or possible relatives that have further information on Mr. Francisco to share, please don't hesitate to contact me here or via the Strangest Names In American Political History Facebook page!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Orvus Burke Wyman (1847-1900)

Portrait from the Proceedings of the State Bar Association of Wisconsin, 1902.

    There were few men more prominent in turn-of-the 19th century Vernon County, Wisconsin than Judge Orvus Burke Wyman. A former Vernon County District Attorney and County Judge, Wyman also served as Village President of Viroqua, Wisconsin (the Vernon County seat) and was the first mayor of that city following its classification as a city. Wyman's public career reached its apex in 1894 when he was elected to the first of two terms as Circuit Court Judge for Wisconsin's Sixth judicial circuit, dying in office in 1900.
   A native of Vermont, Orvus Burke Wyman was born on July 7, 1847 in Windsor County, being the son of Asahel Bundy and Roxanna Perkins Wyman. Wyman's unusual first name has a slight variation in spelling floating around online, being listed by some sources as "Orvis". However, both the State Bar Association of Wisconsin and Wyman's headstone spell it as "Orvus", and it is that spelling that is believed to be the correct one. 
   The Wyman family resided in Vermont until Orvus was seven years of age, whereafter they removed to Dane County, Wisconsin. Their stay in Dane County proved to be short, as they relocated to the neighboring county of Vernon in 1856. Settling in the village of Hillsborough, Orvus Wyman would attend local schools and was later a student at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He began a career as a school teacher around this same time, teaching in several schools throughout the Vernon County area. 
   In 1874 Orvus Wyman was named as Vernon County Superintendent of Schools, an office he would continue to hold until 1880. He married on December 28, 1875 to Hillsborough native Emma Hammer (1855-1935), to whom he was wed for a nearly a quarter century. The couple would have two sons, Bernard (1880-1896) and Fantus (1885-1902). 
  Following his marriage Orvus Wyman turned his attention to law in the late 1870s and after a period of study was admitted to the Wisconsin bar in 1878.  Establishing his law practice in the village of Viroqua, Wyman would form the firm of Rusk and Wyman in January 1880, taking as a partner one Lycurgus James Rusk, a future Wisconsin state assemblyman and the son of Jeremiah M. Rusk, noted Wisconsin Governor and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Their firm would continue until 1883, being dissolved when Lycurgus Rusk removed to Wisconsin's state capitol. 
  In 1881 Orvus Wyman began the first of two terms as Vernon County District Attorney, holding that office until 1885. During his time as District Attorney Wyman also occupied the office of Viroqua Village President, being elected to that post in 1882. Notice is given as to Wyman being the "first mayor of the city of Viroqua" after it had been classified as a city, but no available source mentions his dates of service. 
  Wyman continued his rise in Vernon County politics in 1890, when he was elected as County Judge. He was returned to the bench for a second term in 1892 and continued to serve until his elevation to Wisconsin's Sixth Judicial Circuit Court. Elected for a six year term in 1894, Wyman would win a second term just a few months prior to his death from cancer in Buffalo, New York on December 3, 1900. Newspaper reports denote that he had been ill and under treatment for some time prior to his passing, and following his death was returned to Wisconsin for burial at the Viroqua Cemetery in Viroqua, Wisconsin

From the Rock Island Argus, December 3, 1900.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Helmus Wells Thompson (1867-1918)

Portrait from the March 4, 1908 Oregon Morning Post.

   From the city of Yakima and Reidar Dare Rovig we journey to Washington's neighbor to the south to profile Helmus Wells Thompson, who made his name (politically speaking) in Oregon. Removing to Oregon from Wisconsin in the late 1890s, Thompson practiced law in Eugene for many years and was later appointed as Judge of Lane County, Oregon. Born in New York City on December 14, 1867 (or 1868, depending on the source), Helmus Wells Thompson was the second of five children born to Col. Clark W. and Rebecca Wells Thompson.
  A former member of both the Minnesota and Wisconsin legislatures, Clark W. Thompson moved his family to La Crosse, Wisconsin around 1870 and it was in that city that his son Helmus would attend school. He graduated from the La Crosse High School and in the mid 1880s entered upon the study of law at the University of Minnesota, graduating with his B.A. degree in 1888. Following his graduation Thompson continued study in the St. Paul based law of office of Clark, Ellar and Howe and later enrolled at the Harvard Law School, from which he would graduate in 1892.
   Helmus W. Thompson returned to La Crosse after leaving Harvard and for several years practiced law in that city. During his Wisconsin residency Thompson became a primary organizer of the Waukon Electric Light Company located in Waukon, Iowa. He was joined in that venture by his brothers Clark and Mackay and following the construction of this municipal lighting comoany served as its Secretary.
   In 1897 Helmus Thompson removed to Eugene, Oregon, being admitted to practice law in that state in that same year. Soon after his arrival he joined Charles Hardy in the law firm of Thompson and Hardy, a partnership that would extend seventeen years. In the years following his resettlement in Eugene, Thompson's name grew to be one of the most prominent in the vacinity, being both a "leader in patriotic and public movements" as well as a distinguished club-man. Thompson held memberships in a number of local fraternal groups, including the Knights Templar, the Elks, the Knights of Pythias and the University Club of Portland.

Portrait from the Bench and Bar of Oregon, 1911.

  In 1909 Helmus Thompson received the appointment as Judge of Lane County, Oregon. He later won a four year term on the bench and during his five years of service saw "the first macadam roads" built in the county. Thompson left the bench in 1914 and towards the end of his life took part in the ongoing war effort by serving as chairman of a Red Cross civilian relief committee for Lane County.
   Ill health marred Thompson's last year of life, and a trip to the South Sea Islands in the months before his death did little to improve his condition. Thompson died in Eugene on August 10, 1918 at age 50. A lifelong bachelor, he was survived by two brothers and was interred at the Masonic Cemetery in Eugene.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Reidar Dare Rovig Sr. (1877-1943)

Portrait from The Rotarian, February 1943.

    Norwegian native Reidar Dare Rovig is yet another in a bevy of new strange name discoveries, and despite attaining high political office (that of Mayor of Yakima, Washington), little information could be located on him! 
  Born on November 26, 1877 in Namsos, Norway, Reidar Dare Rovig was the son of Olaf and Petra Rovig. Little is known of Rovig's early life or education, as well as the date of his immigration to the United States. Beginning in 1892 he began a lengthy connection with the Chicago, Milwaukee, Saint Paul and Pacific Railroad, being employed as a telegraph operator. He would continue to be affiliated with that railroad until 1910, last being a "northwestern passenger agent" based in Bismarck, North Dakota. Rovig married in 1905 in Minnesota to Jane M. Matthews (1883-1964) and later had four sons: Walter Dare (1906-1973), John Forsyth (1909-1993), George Virtue (1912-1919) and Reidar Dare Jr. (1913-1945).
  Upon leaving railway work Reidar Rovig migrated to Washington to make a name for himself in the retail lumber business. Settling in North Yakima, Rovig would establish the Rovig Lumber Co., which in 1916 could boast of having "$100,000 capital". He held the post of manager of that company and around this same time became affiliated with the Superior Lumber Company, of which he would serve as vice-president.
  After gaining a firm foothold in the Yakima business community, Reidar Rovig turned to politics, announcing his candidacy for Mayor of Yakima in 1920. Running under the slogan of the "business man's candidate", Rovig won the election on December 6th of that year, defeating Earle J. Barnes by a vote of 2,327 to 2,073. Rovig would serve one term of three years and was defeated for reelection in the November 1923 primary by William B. Dudley, who would go on to win the general election that December.
   Following his time as mayor Rovig continued to be active in the business and commercial life of Yakima, serving as the secretary of that city's Rotary Club. He would hold that post for over twenty years and in the late 1930s also served as a member of the Yakima County Advisory Welfare Board. Reidar D. Rovig died at age 66 in Yakima on March 27, 1943. He was survived by three of his sons and his wife Jane, who would later remarry to Milford Roy Knauft. Both Rovig and his wife were interred at the Terrace Heights Memorial Park in Yakima.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Celestino Moreno Jones (1865-1938)

Portrait from the Bench and Bar of Florida, 1935.

   A figure of distinction in Pensacola, Florida for over four decades, Celestino Moreno Jones was a native Texan who would hold a number of political offices in Florida, including service as assistant U.S. attorney, state representative and Mayor of the city of Pensacola. In 1917 he would be elected as Judge of the Escambia County Court of Record and would serve in that capacity until his death two decades later.
  Born in San Antonio. Texas on June 26, 1865, C. Moreno Jones (as most sources refer to him) was the son of Joseph Pickett (1833-1895) and Victoria Moreno Jones. A prominent figure in his own right, Joseph Pickett Jones was a Confederate veteran and lawyer who would serve as Mayor of Pensacola from 1875-76. C. Moreno Jones removed to Pensacola with his family while still a child and attended the public schools of that city. He would begin the study of law under the tutelage of his father and was admitted to the Florida bar in 1886. Jones began the practice of his profession in Pensacola soon after receiving his law degree He married in Pensacola on June 15, 1898 to Rose May McHenry (1874-1968), with whom he would have three sons, Joseph Pickett (1899-1950), Lou Epler  (died in infancy in 1902) and J. McHenry (1903-1996). 
  Described as a "staunch Democrat", C. Moreno Jones first entered Florida political life in the mid 1890s when he began service as assistant U.S. District Attorney for Florida. In 1900 he was elected as one of Escambia County's representatives in the Florida legislature. Jones' term extended from 1901-1903 and during this term pulled political "double duty" as it were, as he had taken office as Mayor of Pensacola in 1901! Jones served one two year term as mayor and in 1907 was boosted for a second term, even being the subject of a petition "urging him to run."  Jones would decline to be a candidate however, citing attention to his law practice.

                                                       Portrait from the Pensacola Journal, February 19, 1912.

   C. Moreno Jones returned to political life in 1912 when he announced his candidacy for State Attorney for Florida's 1st judicial circuit. Jones would lose that election to fellow Pensacola native John P. Stokes and continued to practice law in Pensacola until 1917, when he won election as Judge of the Escambia County Court of Record, a court responsible for hearing "civil, chancery and criminal cases." 
  Jones would serve on the bench until his death on July 5, 1938, shortly after his 73rd birthday. Acknowledged as a lawyer of "admirable record and achievement", he was survived by his two sons and wife Rose, who died in 1968 at the age of 93. Both Jones and his wife were interred at the St. Michael's Cemetery in Pensacola.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Stealie Monroe Preacher (1891-1971)

Portrait from the 1935 Bench and Bar of Florida.

   We continue our stay in Florida for a look at the life of Stealie Monroe Preacher, a representative in the Florida legislature from Walton County. Nearly two decades following his time as a representative Preacher was returned to public office, being elected to two terms as the Mayor of his home city of DeFuniak Springs, Florida. Born in Darlington, Florida on July 17, 1891, Preacher's unusual first name "Stealie" is the first such instance of that name that I've seen, and after first finding it I was under the assumption that it was a nickname! As it turns out, a nickname it is not, and this is reinforced by Preacher himself writing it in full on his 1917 draft registration.
   Little is known of Preacher's early life or education. He was a veteran of WWI, serving with the 31st Division of the American Expeditionary Forces and is recorded by the 1935 Bench and Bar of Florida as having attended the Blackstone Institute in Pennsylvania. Preacher first entered Florida political life in 1925 when he began a seven year stint as Tax Assessor of Walton County, Florida. He was admitted to the Florida bar around 1930 and in 1931 established his law practice in DeFuniak Springs.
   Stealie M. Preacher married in 1934 to Ella Brannon (1902-1994). The couple are believed to have remained childless through the entirety of their marriage. In the same year as his marriage Preacher was elected as one of Walton County's representatives to the Florida State House of Representatives and served during the 1935-37 session. During that session Preacher and fellow representative D. Stuart Gillis worked for the passage of an act:
"Creating the Walton County bridge authority, providing for it's powers and duties authorizing it to construct a bridge or bridges and approaches thereto, across the Choctowatchee Bay or Choctowatchee River, connecting State Road Number 10 and State Road Number 115."
   Following his time in the Florida legislature Preacher was elected as the Mayor of DeFuniak Springs in the early 1950s and won a second term as mayor in July 1954. Preacher would continue to be active in Walton County political life well into his seventh decade, and in January 1959 began a four year term as Prosecuting Attorney of Walton County, Florida. Stealie M. Preacher died in DeFuniak Springs on August 12, 1971, just a few weeks following his 80th birthday. He was survived by his wife Ella and a burial location for both Preacher and his wife remains unknown at this time.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Cheever Lewis Shine (1872-1960)

Portrait from the 1935 Bench and Bar of Florida.

    A prominent attorney based in Escambia County, Florida, Cheever Lewis Shine earns a place here on the Strangest Names In American Political History due to his 1905 candidacy for Mayor of Pensacola, Florida. Born in Tallahassee, Florida on October 24, 1872, Cheever L, Shine was the son of Richard Alexander and Laura Shine. Cheever Shine would attend the University of Virginia and in 1895 graduated with his Bachelor of Laws degree. Prior to his graduation Shine had worked on the staff of then Florida Governor Henry Laurens, under whom he served as "official court reporter."
  In the same year as his graduation Shine was admitted to the bar and established a law practice in Tallahassee. He removed to Pensacola around 1899 and would continue in the practice of law, while also entering into the political life of that city in the early 1900s. Shine would serve as referee in bankruptcy and in 1905 is recorded as serving as Pensacola City Clerk. In that same year he received the nomination of the Citizens Good Government League as Mayor of Pensacola, being one of four candidates vying for that office. Shine's opponent in that year's contest was Charles Henry Bliss, a publisher running on the "White Democratic" platform that strongly advocated white supremacy in municipal affairs. 
   Shine's campaign platform (highlighted in his campaign notice below) advocated "Good and Progressive Municipal Government", as well as a "Continuation and Extension of Public Improvement". On election day, June 6, 1905, it was Charles Bliss who won election as Mayor, besting Shine by over 400 votes (1, 229 to 801.) Bliss would subsequently win a second term in 1907 and died two months into his new term.
   In the year following his loss for mayor Cheever L. Shine was again a candidate for public office, this time running for justice of the peace for Escambia County's second district. He would later "retire" from that race and in 1907 received the honor of being named as President of the Pensacola Bar Association. In October 1922 Cheever Shine married to Pensacola native Lillian Fannie Taylor (1861-1945). The couple would remain childless through the entirety of their marriage.

A Shine campaign notice from the Pensacola Journal, May 17, 1905.

  Four years following his marriage Shine entered the business life of Pensacola when he became the district manager of the Gulf Power Company, his length of service in that post  being unknown at this time. Widowed in 1945, Cheever L. Shine died in Pensacola on October 15, 1960, just a few days shy of his 88th birthday. He was later interred at the St. John's Cemetery in Pensacola, the same resting place as that of his wife.