Saturday, February 18, 2017

Tuthill Raymond McDowell (1895-1956)

Portrait from the three volume "Southeastern New York", published 1946.

   For many years a distinguished resident of Wawarsing and Ellenville in New York, Tuthill Raymond McDowell was former U.S. Postmaster at Ellenville as well as a township supervisor of Wawarsing. A real estate broker and banker in addition to his involvement in local politics, McDowell also was an alternate delegate to the 1952 Democratic National Convention from New York.
   The son of John and Margaret Stapleton McDowell, Tuthill Raymond McDowell was born in Woodridge, Sullivan County, New York on December 4, 1895. He would be a student in the schools of the aforementioned county and as during his time in high school was viewed as a standout athlete. McDowell would later become a coach at the Ellenville High School and is remarked as having guided that school's baseball and basketball teams to "several championships" during his time there. A veteran of the First World War, McDowell entered the U.S. Army and would serve with a cavalry unit, his total dates of service being unknown at this time.
   Tuthill McDowell married in Kerhonkson, New York in 1919 to Hilda Myers (1894-1991). The couple were wed for nearly forty years and are believed to have been childless. Following his military service McDowell entered into business with his father, joining him in the firm of John McDowell and Son. Their business centered on the breeding, raising a sale of horses, and in addition to that firm McDowell also worked as a real estate broker and was a director of the First National Bank and Trust Company of Ellenville.
   Active in the civic life of his community, Tuthill McDowell was for many years a prominent booster in the fight against polio, leading a number of collection drives in Wawarsing to raise money to combat the disease, and for a number of years served as the vice chairman of the Ulster County Chapter, National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.
Tuthill R. McDowell at a 1951 March of Dimes Rally, from the Kingston Daily Freeman.

    As a prominent  Democrat in Ulster County, Tuthill McDowell was often called to serve in various positions of the public trust. A former Democratic town chairman of Wawarsing, McDowell served that town as its supervisor from 1934-1939 and in 1940 began a ten year tenure as U.S. Postmaster at Ellenville, being named to that post by President Roosevelt. In 1952 he served as an alternate delegate from New York to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago that nominated Adlai Stevenson for the presidency.
   In addition to his political and business doings, Tuthill McDowell was a prominent club man in Ulster County, holding memberships in a number of fraternal groups. Among these were the Shawangunk Country Club, the Wawarsing Lodge No. 582 of Free and Accepted Masons, the Wawarsing Sportsmen's Association, the Noon Day Club and the Cooke-Taylor Post 111 of the American Legion. 
   Tuthill R. McDowell died at age 61 on December 27, 1956 at the Veterans Memorial Hospital at Ellenville, He was survived by his wife Hilda, who died in January 1991 at age 96. Both were interred in the McDowell family plot at the Fantinekill Cemetery in Ellenville.

Obituary from the Kingston Daily Freeman, December 28, 1956.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Gammey Mitchell Hill (1895-1974)

Portrait from the South Carolina Legislative Manual, 1945-46.

   Hailing from Spartanburg, South Carolina, Gammey Mitchell Hill was a restaurateur and one term member of that state's house of representatives. The first restaurant owner to warrant a profile here on the site, quite a bit of digging had to be done to find out Hill's first name, as nearly every available source mentioning him records him under the name "G. Mitchell Hill". Thankfully, a 1945 edition of the South Carolina Legislative Manual was located that solved that mystery, and one can only wonder the origins of the name "Gammey", the first such instance of the name I've discovered. 
   The son of Thomas and Mary Blackwell Hill, Gammey Mitchell Hill was born in Clifton, South Carolina on March 5, 1895. Little is known of his early life, excepting notice of his move from Clifton to Spartanburg in 1909. A veteran of World War I, Hill served with the 156th Depot Brigade and entered into service at Camp Jackson in  Columbia, South Carolina. 
   Following his military service G. Mitchell Hill was the owner and operator of Hill's Cafe in Spartanburg. He married in August 1937 to Ruth King (1907-2003), with whom he had one daughter, Ann. In 1944 he was elected to represent Spartanburg County in the South Carolina House of Representatives and during the 1945-46 session served on the committees on Accounts, Labor, Merchants and Mercantile Affairs, Railroads and Veterans Affairs.
   In addition to his business interests and political service Hill was a past commander of the local American Legion post and a past Noble Grand of the Odd Fellows Lodge No. 19.  Hill died shortly before his 79th birthday on February 25, 1974. He was survived by his wife Ruth, who, following her death in 2003, was interred alongside her husband at Greenlawn Memorial Gardens in Spartanburg.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Kirtland Irving Perky (1867-1939)

Portrait courtesy of the Library of Congress.

  After nearly six years and over six hundred profiles, the Strangest Names In American Political History can point to Idaho as being a state with a very meager amount of representation here on the site. With just Burpee L. Steeves (a former Lieutenant Governor) and Trowbridge C. Egleston (a former Mayor of Caldwell) keeping the flame alive for the Gem State, Idaho gains another profile here due to the political service of Kirtland Irving Perky, who for several months represented that state in the U.S. Senate due to a vacancy.
   A lawyer based in Nebraska prior to his removal to Idaho, Perky briefly served as a state district court judge prior to his short stint in the U.S. Senate. A native of the Buckeye State, Kirtland Irving Perky was born in Smithville, Wayne County, Ohio on February 8, 1867, being the son of Dr. John Firestone and Esther Martin Perky. Young Kirtland's early education took place in the state of his birth and at age thirteen removed with his family to Nebraska. Despite their move, Perky continued his higher education in Ohio. graduating from Ohio Northern University in 1888 with his Bachelor of Science degree. He married in April 1891 to Ella Hunter (1870-1921), with whom he would have one daughter, Esther (1892-1980).
  Returning to Nebraska following his graduation, Perky took up the study of law in Lincoln, first with the law firm of Bryan and Talbot (the Bryan being William Jennings Bryan.) Perky continued study with the firm of Cornish and Tibbetts and for one year studied law at the University of Iowa, being admitted to the bar in 1890. He established his first practice at Wahoo, Nebraska, where he remained until 1894. He shortly thereafter relocated to Albion, Idaho, and after several years in that location moved his practice to Mountain Home. It was in this city that Perky first entered politics, being appointed as a state district court judge in 1901, filling a vacancy. Perky would briefly serve in that post, declining to run for election in his own right.
   Around the same time as his service as judge, Kirtland Perky took on additional political duties when he was named as chairman of the Idaho democratic central committee, holding that office from 1900-1902. He would continue with his law practice for the next decade and in 1912 achieved national prominence when he was selected by then Governor James Hawley to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate. This vacancy had been occasioned by the death of two-term senator Weldon Brinton Heyburn, who had died shortly after collapsing on the floor of the U.S. Senate in October 1912. 

From the Boise Evening Capital News, November 17, 1912.

   Kirtland I. Perky officially took his seat in the U.S. Senate on November 18, 1912 and would serve in that capacity until the close of the senate term in February 1913. On February 5, 1913 former Idaho Governor James Henry Brady was  duly elected by the Idaho legislature as Heyburn's successor and Perky retired to Boise to resume the practice of law. Following his return Perky became a senior member of the law firm of Perky and Brinck and in 1916 was part of the Idaho delegation to the Democratic National Convention held in St. Louis. 
  In 1923 Kirtland Perky removed to Los Angeles, California, where he continued to practice law. In 1932 he reemerged on the political scene on behalf of his friend Ralph W. Eckhardt. who was then running for the California state assembly. As both men had known one another from their time in Idaho, Perky took to the stump for his friend, describing him as a "man of staunch loyalty and a democrat in the truest sense of the word."  
   Perky continued to reside in Los Angeles until his death on January 9, 1939 at age 71. He was preceded in death by his wife Ella, who died aged 51 in 1921 and was buried in Boise. Following his death Perky was interred at the famed Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, the resting place of such luminaries as L. Frank Baum, Wallace Beery, Humphrey Bogart, Jean Harlow, Aimee Semple McPherson and Michael Jackson.

Perky during his time in the U.S. Senate, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Olger Burton Burtness (1884-1960)

Portrait courtesy of the Library of Congress.

   A six term member of the U.S. House of Representatives from North Dakota, Olger Burton Burtness was a prominent figure in North Dakota politics for nearly fifty years. A county prosecuting attorney and state legislator prior to his election to Congress, Burtness would later serve as a city attorney and state district court judge after his last term in Congress concluded in 1933.
   Olger B. Burtness' birth occurred on March 14, 1884 in Grand Forks County, North Dakota, being the son of Ole and Mary Anderson Burtness. Raised on a farm in that county, Burtness received his education at a school in Mekinock and later enrolled at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. A member of that school's football team and debating society, Burtness also was head editor of the unversity yearbook, the Decorah. Earning his bachelor of arts degree in 1906, Burtness received his bachelor of laws degree the following year and in 1907 was admitted to practice law.
   Establishing his practice in Grand Forks, Burtness married in September 1909 to Zoe Ensign (1884-1962), to whom he was wed for over fifty years. The couple's union is believed to have been childless. In 1910 Burtness tested the political waters for the first time, successfully winning election as Prosecuting Attorney for Grand Forks County. Taking office at the start of the new year, Burtness held that post for six years and in 1916 served as part of the North Dakota delegation to that year's Republican National Convention in Chicago that nominated Charles E. Hughes for the presidency.

From the Grand Forks Evening Times, Oct. 31, 1910.

    Olger Burtness set his sights on higher office in June 1917 when he announced his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives from North Dakota's first congressional district. One of five aspirants to file for that office, this was a special election to fill the vacant seat of Henry Thomas Helgeson, who had died some weeks previously. After winning the endorsement of the republican district convention, Burtness hit the campaign trail, stumping at a number of locations throughout his district. Despite being touted in local newspapers as the son of a pioneer Grand Forks family, as well as a farmer and prominent citizen, Burtness lost out on election day that July, being defeated by Non- Partisan League candidate John M. Baer by a vote of 13, 211 to 8, 969

A Burtness campaign notice from the Grand Forks Herald, 1917.

  Returning to his law practice following his defeat, Burtness announced his candidacy for the North Dakota House of Representatives in 1918 and won election to that body in November of that year. Taking his seat at the start of the 1919-20 session, Burtness was once again a candidate for Congress in 1920 and in November of that year defeated John W. Baer by "an official majority of 11, 458."
  Burtness' first term as a representative saw him serve on the committees on Alcoholic Liquor Traffic, Indian Affairs and Public Lands. Reelected to Congress by wide margins in 1922, 1924, 1926, 1928 and 1930, Burtness would attempt to win election for a seventh term in 1932 but was not renominated, the nod instead going to North Dakota Attorney General William Lemke (1878-1950).
  After leaving Congress Olger Burtness returned to his Grand Forks law practice. He would continue to be politically active, serving as Grand Forks City Attorney in 1936-37 as well as being a delegate to the Republican National Conventions of 1936 and 1948. Burtness was called to public service once again in 1950 when then Governor Frederick Aandahl appointed him as judge for North Dakota's First Judicial District, succeeding retiring Judge Peter Swenson. Burtness would subsequently win reelection to the bench in 1952 and 1956 and served until his death four years later.
   In addition to the above Olger B. Burtness gained prominence in several non-political areas, including service as director of the Red River National Bank and as a member of the Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce. Further honors were accorded to Burtness in 1930 when President Herbert Hoover selected him as a member of the U.S. delegation to celebrate the centennial of the Icelandic parliament.
  Olger B. Burtness died in Grand Forks on January 20, 1960 at age 75 and was interred at the Memorial Park Cemetery in that city. Shortly after his death Zoe Burtness would donate $100,000 in her husband's memory to the University of North Dakota to establish the Burtness Theatre, which was dedicated in April 1963. 

Olger B. Burtness in old age.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Oak Oral McKenzie (1888-1952)

Portrait from the Texas Bar Journal, Volume 16, 1953.

  Continuing on our theme of oddly named Texas County attorneys and judges, the following write-up takes us to Brazos County and Oak Oral McKenzie, a transplant to Texas from Illinois. After removing to the Lonestar State in 1912 he embarked on a career in law that would extend until his death and earns a place here on the site due to his time as Brazos County Attorney in the early 1920s.
  Born on April 14, 1888 and raised in Beardstown, Illinois, Oak Oral McKenzie was the son of Eugene and Mary Agnes McKenzie. He would attend school in Beardstown and following his graduation from the local high school enrolled at Illinois Wesleyan University. Deciding upon a career in law, McKenzie earned his bachelor of laws degree from that institution in 1911.
  Shortly after being admitted to the Illinois bar, Oak McKenzie removed to Texas, settling in the city of Yoakum. Here he would engage in railroad work and auditing and in 1912 he married to Ruth Leora Baldwin (1891-1978). The couple were wed for four decades and had a total of five children, Oak Oral Jr. (1916-2003),, Mary Worth (1910-2006),  Warren Baldwin (1926-2013) and two other daughters. In 1917 McKenzie was admitted to practice law in Texas and would resettle in Bryan, Brazos County in the following year.
   After establishing himself in the Bryan community McKenzie ran for Brazos County Attorney, successfully winning election to that office. He would serve from 1922-1926 and afterwards he and his wife would operate the McKenzie-Baldwin Business College at Bryan, where McKenzie himself "taught classes in business law and business procedure."
  An active Mason of many years standing, Oak Oral McKenzie would also serve as president of the Bryan Chamber of Commerce and the local Rotary Club. He died in Bryan on October 30, 1952 at age 64 and was survived by his wife and children. McKenzie was later interred at the Bryan City Cemetery.

Oak McKenzie's senior portrait from the Illinois Wesleyan Yearbook, 1912.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Czerny Roberts Newland (1891-1973)

Portrait from the Texas Bar Journal, May 1973.

  The city of Linden, Texas received extensive mention in January 7th's write-up on Shields Ivans Cornett, a former Linden mayor and Cass County Judge. As it turns out, Linden lucked into the good fortune of electing two oddly named mayors, and the man that preceded Cornett in that office, Czerny Roberts Newland, is profiled today. Like Mr. Cornett, C.R. Newland (as most sources list him) was a long time Linden based attorney and in the early 1940s these two oddly named men operated a law firm together in that city. 
   Born on May 30, 1891 in Garland, Texas, Czerny Roberts Newland was the son of Neal Stone and Mary Alice (Roberts) Newland.  The origins behind Newland receiving the name "Czerny" have been lost to history, and one can only speculate as to why his parents would bestow this unusual name upon their son. Newland received his education at public and private schools in the Dallas County area, including the St. Matthew's School for Boys.
   Prior to practicing law Newland worked as a telegraph operator, and after a period of study was admitted to practice law in February 1917. Newland would briefly operate a firm with Judge M. L. Robertson in Dallas before removing to the city of Burkburnett in Wichita County. It was in that county that Newland took an interest in oil related litigation and leases, and remained there until resettling in Linden, Texas in the 1920s.  Newland had married in the mid 1910s to Hettie Emily Henderson (1893-1939), with whom he had several children, including sons Czerny II (born 1919), Roy Henderson (1923-1977), Charles Hardin (1926-1973) and daughters Frances, Mary Kate, Nannie and Alice Nell. The couple would separate in the early 1930s and in 1931 Newland remarried to Elizabeth McCary Scott (birthdate unknown), to whom he was wed until his death in 1973.
   Following his settlement in Linden Newland operated a joint law practice with G.E. Bartlett, and in the late 1920s was elected as the Mayor of Linden. He would serve twelve years in that office, but the exact dates of his terms (and whether they were consecutive or non-consecutive) remain a mystery. Several newspaper reports denote Newland first served as Linden's mayor in 1929 and was still serving in that post from 1934 to 1937, this according to numerous newspaper mentions of him in office during that time. 
   In 1937 C.R. Newland formed the law partnership of Newland, Cornett and Whitworth, taking as his partners future Linden Mayor Shields I. Cornett and attorney B.F. Whitworth. The last named man would leave this firm in 1940, whereafter Newland and Cornett would continue operations under the title Newland and Cornett.

From the Citizens Journal, January 25, 1940.

   After leaving the mayor's office C.R. Newland continued to be politically active, being a member of the Texas Democratic Committee for over a decade and in 1944 served as part of the Texas delegation to that year's Democratic National Convention being held in Chicago. Newland would also be affiliated with the Sells Petroleum Corp. in Gladwater, Texas, being the head of that company's legal and land departments.
   In the twilight of his life C.R. Newland traveled widely and is also recorded as having been an "avid hunter and fisherman" and member of the local Lions Club. He died in Marshall, Texas on January 4, 1973 and was later interred at the Linden Cemetery #1, the same location as that of his law partner Shields I. Cornett.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Shields Ivans Cornett (1893-1950)

Portrait from the Texas State Bar Journal, Vol. 6, 1950.

    Shields Ivans Cornett was for many years a leading citizen and attorney based in Linden, Cass County, Texas. In addition to practicing law he served Cass County as its County Judge and County Attorney, and in 1940 was elected as Linden's Mayor. Born on January 3, 1893 in Cornett, Texas, Shields Ivans Cornett was the son of George Thomas and Frances Holston Cornett. He would attend the public schools of Cornett and graduated from the local high school. In 1911 he married to Stella Vida Harrell (1895-1974), with whom he would have two children, Woodrow Wilson (1913-1994), and Frances (1918-2010).
   In the late 1910s Cornett began reading law in his spare time and also worked at farming. Admitted to the Texas bar in 1925, Cornett quickly rose to the top of his profession in Cass County, and just one year after being admitted to practice was elected as Cass County Attorney, an office he would hold until resigning in 1931. For the next two years he would practice law in Daingerfield, Texas and in 1932 was an unsuccessful candidate for Cass County Judge, being defeated by S.L. Henderson.
   Following his return to Linden in the early 1930s Shields I. Cornett continued with his practice and in the succeeding years established a reputation as one of that city's prominent public men, being a past president of the Linden Chamber of Commerce and a member of the board of stewards of the Linden Methodist Church. Returning to political life in the early 1940s, Cornett would serve as the chairman of the Cass County Democratic Committee for a decade and in 1940 won election as Mayor of Linden, serving until 1945
   During Cornett's tenure as Mayor of Linden he pulled double duty, chairing the county's selective service board during WWII. In 1945 Cornett became Cass County Judge, and served on the bench for two terms, leaving office in 1949. He returned to private practice after leaving that judgeship and continued until his death at age 57 on March 21, 1950. The Texas Bar Journal notes that Cornett had suffered a heart attack and was later transferred to a hospital in Texarkana, Texas, where he subsequently died. Cornett was survived by his wife and two children and was later interred at the Linden Cemetery.

From the Citizens Journal, March 23, 1950.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Elzo Francis Been (1883-1970)

From the Abilene Reporter News, Sept. 20, 1964.

   It's just a few days into the new year and the Lonestar State yields yet another interestingly named public official, Judge Elzo Francis Been of Eastland County. A practicing attorney for over fifty years, Been migrated to Texas at a young age and after being admitted to the state bar built up a substantial law practice in Eastland. A holder of several local offices in the 1910s and 20s, Been was elected as Judge for Texas' 88th Judicial district in 1924, and over two decades later briefly served as Eastland County Attorney.
   The son of Zachariah Huston and Julia Ann (Ownby) Been, Elzo Francis Been was born in Greenwood, Arkansas on November 9, 1883. Relocating to Texas at an early age, Been would attend school in the town of Gorman and began his college education at the Howard Payne College at Brownwood, Texas. Been earned his bachelor of laws degree from the Cumberland University Law School in the class of 1913 and in the following year married to Fannie Pearl Cannon (1888-1979). The couple were wed for fifty-five years and their union would see the births of two children, Truett Elzo (1915-2003) and Ruby Nell (1920-2011).
   Following his admittance to the Texas bar Elzo Been briefly practiced law in the town of Rising Sun, residing there from 1913-14. in 1915 he removed to Eastland County, where he would reside for the remainder of his life. After building up his law practice in that county he began to dabble in local politics, serving as a deputy tax collector and county clerk, holding the latter office from 1915-17. Been would later advance to the post of Eastland County Attorney, and from 1923 to 1924 was assistant county attorney. 
  In 1924 Elzo Been was elected as Judge for Texas' 88th Judicial district and served eight years on the bench. He retired from the bench in 1932, citing a distaste for the office, as well as noting that he "worried too much about other people's problems--whether or not I had made the right decision in a case." 
  After leaving the bench Been continued with his law practice and built up a large farm in Long Branch, where he would raise cattle. He returned to political life in 1950 when he agreed to serve as Eastland County Attorney for a term of one year, filling a vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Nathan E. Gresham. Been retired from that post in December 1951 and returned to private practice. He died in Elgin, Texas on September 24, 1970 at age 86 and was survived by his wife Fannie and two children. Following her death in 1979 Fannie Been was interred alongside her husband at the Murray Memorial Cemetery in Carbon, Texas.