Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Jutten Allen Longmoore (1892-1963)

From the Burlington Free Press, April 29, 1963.

  The Strangest Names in American Political History makes its first stop in Vermont in 2019 to highlight the life of Jutten Allen Longmoore, a curiously named resident of St. Johnsbury who, in addition to practicing law for over forty years, was State's Attorney for Caledonia County for a two-year term. In addition to that post, Longmoore later served a brief term in the Vermont State Assembly, being appointed to fill a vacancy. Born on December 17, 1892, in South Ryegate, Vermont, Jutten Allen Longmoore was the son of Thomas and Louise (McDonald) Longmoore, both natives of Quebec, Canada.
  A student in schools local to the Newbury, Vermont area, Longmoore also studied at the South Ryegate Academy and the University of Southern California. Deciding upon a career in law, Longmoore read law in the office of Albro Franklin Nichols (1850-1930), a former state's attorney for Essex County. Admitted to the Vermont bar in 1917, Longmoore would put his career on hold to serve in the U.S. Army during WWI. His time overseas also saw him attain additional study at the University of Dijon in France, and by 1919 had returned to St. Johnsbury.
  After his return stateside, Longmoore joined the law firm of Foster, Witters and Longmoore, with which he would be affiliated through the remainder of his life. This firm would later take on additional partners, and by the time of Longmoore's passing in 1963 had undergone a name change to Witters, Longmoore, Akeley, and Brown. Their firm would be retained as counsel for a number of New England banks and businesses, including the Caledonia National Bank at Danville, Vermont; the Citizens Savings Bank and Trust Co.; the Cary Maple Sugar Co.; the St. Johnsbury Aqueduct Co.; the Woodstock Lumber Co. of Boston, Massachusetts; the Parker Young Co. of Lisbon, New Hampshire; and the Black River Lumber Co. of Healdsville, Vermont.

Portrait from the University of Southern California's El Rodeo Yearbook, 1917.

  Longmoore made his first attempt at political office in 1923 when he began service as State's Attorney for Caledonia County. He served a two-year term and married in April 1925 to Elizabeth Ellen Bassett (1890-1972), to whom he was wed until his death. The couple would be childless. Active in the civic affairs of his native town and county, Longmoore was a past commander of his American Legion Lodge, a member of the Vermont National Guard, an exalted ruler of the local Elks Lodge, a Mason, and for several years was a member of the board of managers of the Vermont State Bar Association. 
  Jutten Longmoore was returned to public office in April 1947 when he was appointed to fill a vacancy in the Vermont House of Representatives, this vacancy having been occasioned by the resignation of St. Johnsbury representative Fred Warren Knowlton. Taking his seat on April 1, 1947, Longmoore served through the remainder of the 1947-49 house session and was named to the committee on Highways and Bridges. He was not a candidate for reelection in 1948. 
  After leaving the legislature in 1949 Longmoore continued with his law practice and was also the chairman of the board of directors of the Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury. Longmoore died at the Brightlook Hospital in that city on April 25, 1963, aged 70, and was survived by his wife Elizabeth. Both were later interred at the  Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in St. Johnsbury.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Mons Brynell Peterson (1859-1960)

Portrait from the South Dakota Legislative Manual, 1915-16.

  Featured on the Strangest Names in American Political History's Facebook page back in July 2018, Mons Brynell Peterson was Norwegian native, who, following resettlement in South Dakota in the 1880s, began a long career as a farmer in the Day and Clark County areas. Elected to two terms in the South Dakota House of Representatives (these terms being spaced twenty-two years apart), Peterson is only the second political figure profiled here who attained centenarian status, dying several months after his 100th birthday in 1960. 
 Born on November 15, 1859, near Bergen, Norway, Mons Brynell Peterson's early schooling was obtained in the country of his birth and at age seven removed to the United States with his family. Settling in Mower County, Minnesota, Peterson would later attend the State Normal School in the neighboring county of Winona. In 1885 Peterson traveled to Highland Township, Minnesota, and, after purchasing a land claim, settled into establishing a homestead. In April of that year, he married Elena (Olena) Dahl (1863-1956), to whom he was wed for nearly seventy-two years. The couple's seven-decade union saw the births of eight children, Inga (1886-1966), Melvin (1889-1986), Arthur (1891-1968), Henry (1892-1974), Mayble Georgine (1895-1957), Edward (1898-1985), Clarence (1900-1977), and William (1903-1935).
  Following their resettlement in South Dakota in 1887, Peterson and his family resided in Day County on a farm and in 1892 he was elected to his first term in the South Dakota state legislature. Serving during the 1893-95 session, Peterson sat on the committees on Insurance and Rules. After two decades of residence in Day County, the Peterson family resettled in Clark County, and in 1914 was elected his second legislative term. Serving during the 1915-17 session, Peterson also held the post of president of the Wallace Farmer's Telephone Company during his term. At the conclusion of this legislative session Peterson returned to farming and from 1919-1926 was a cattle buyer "for shipping associations." 
   A resident of Wallace, South Dakota beginning in 1919, Peterson continued to reside in that town until 1953, when he and his wife entered a retirement home in Madison, Minnesota. The couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in April 1955 and less than a year later Peterson suffered the death of his wife at age 92. Mons Brynell Peterson celebrated his 100th birthday in November 1959 and died several months later on May 18, 1960, at the retirement home where he resided. He and his wife were interred at the Webster Cemetery in Webster, South Dakota following their deaths.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Altis Skiles Hopkins (1872-1954)

Portrait from the Sandusky, Ohio Register, April 21, 1927.

   A leading Kansas oil executive during the first half of the 20th century, Altis Skiles Hopkins was a longtime Neodesha resident who, after working his way up the corporate ladder, succeeded to the post of President of Standard Oil Co. of Kansas in 1927. Following his retirement from that office several years later, Hopkins made his lone foray into Kansas politics when he was elected as Mayor of his home city of Neodesha. Born on a farm in Neodesha on November 9, 1872, Altis Skiles Hopkins was the son of James Madison (1849-1917) and Ellen (Skiles) Hopkins (1842-1909).
  Little information could be found in regards to Hopkins' early life and education, excepting his being "reared on a farm" and his first entering the oil industry in 1897, gaining employment at the Standard Oil of Kansas' refinery at Neodesha. Altis S. Hopkins married in Neodesha to Helen Gilmore Blakeslee (1879-1943) on February 23, 1898. The couple were wed for over four decades and later had three children, Thomas Blakeslee Hopkins (1903-1965), Grace Ellen (born ca. 1908), and Helen Rosemary (born ca. 1914).
   Beginning his career in oil "digging ditches for ten cents an hour", Hopkins quietly climbed the corporate ladder by hard work and perseverance, and by 1913 had become the superintendent of the Neodesha refinery. In addition to his attaining that post, Hopkins was awarded two patents in 1916 for petroleum distilling apparatus. A decade after becoming superintendent Hopkins was promoted to general manager of the Neodesha refinery, and in that same year assumed the role of vice-president of Standard Oil Co. of Kansas.
  Altis Hopkins reached the apex of his business career in 1927 when he became president of Kansas Standard Oil, then remarked as being  "an $8,000,000 corporation." He served in that capacity until stepping down in 1932.


  After retiring from Standard Oil of Kansas Hopkins saw his former company sold to the Standard Oil Co. of Indiana. He later took on the presidency of the Ozark Pipe Line in the mid 1930s and entered politics for the first time in 1933 when he was elected as Mayor of Neodesha. Taking office in 1934, he served until 1937, with no information available as to the particulars of his term of office. Widowed in 1943, Altis S. Hopkins died of cancer in Neodesha on May 5, 1954, aged 81. He was survived by his son and daughters and was interred alongside his wife Helen at the Neodesha Cemetery.

From the Kansas City Times, 1954.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Harmannes Behrend Ihnen (1895-1975)

Portrait from "100 Golden Years: A Brief History of Golden, Illinois, 1863-1963".

  Lifelong Adams County, Illinois resident Harmannes Behrend "H.B." Ihnen rose to become one of that county's most honored sons, being elected to nine terms as its representative to the Illinois General Assembly between 1946 and 1966. A former township supervisor and member of the Adams County Board of Supervisors, Ihnen gained additional prominence in agricultural circles, being a longtime member of the Adams County Farm Bureau and was vice chairman of the State Board of Agricultural Advisors. 
  Born of German extraction in Camp Point, Illinois on July 19, 1895, Harmannes Behrend Ihnen was the son of Behrend Gerdes and Bertha (Kollman) Ihnen. Referred to by most sources by the initials "H.B.", Ihnen resided on a farm during his youth and would attend schools local to Camp Point and at La Prairie, Illinois. A graduate of the Camp Point High School, Ihnen married in 1917 to Ethel Keppner (1899-1995). The couple's near six-decade union saw the birth of one son, Ernel Dean Ihnen (1926-1992). 
   A farmer in Adams County for the majority of his life, H.B. Ihnen was for over two decades a member of the Adams County Farm Bureau, as well as an insurance agent. By the late 1940s he had firmly established his name in the civic affairs of his native county, being a charter member of the Golden, Illinois Lions Club; a member of the executive committee of the Adams County Chest and Welfare Association; board chairman of the Golden, Illinois Fire Protection District; a member of the Quincy, Illinois City Planning Commission; and was vice chair of the Golden Locker Co-op board of directors.
  Ihnen first entered state politics at the local level, serving as township supervisor of North East Township for over a decade, and for three years served as chairman of the Adams County Board of Supervisors. In 1946 he launched his candidacy for the Illinois House of Representatives from the 36th district (comprising Adams, Calhoun, Pike, and Scott County) and that November won out at the polls, garnering 8,053 votes. Ihnen's first term (1947-49) saw him named to the committees on Industry and Labor Relations; Municipalities; Personnel and Pensions; Public Aid, Health, Welfare and Safety; and Revenue.

From the 1947-48 Illinois Blue Book.

   In November 1948 Ihnen was defeated in his bid for reelection. Two years later he again became a candidate for the house of representatives and was successful, besting his two opponents by a substantial margin. The 1951-53 session saw Ihnen sit on the committees on Insurance; Municipalities; Public Utilities Railroads and Aviation; Revenue; and Roads and Bridges. From 1952 to 1962 Ihnen was continually reelected to the legislature and this uninterrupted ten-year span was later lauded in the Jacksonville Courier, which denoted his "100% attendance and past record". These five terms saw Ihnen named to several new house committees, including Agriculture; Education; Motor Vehicles and Traffic Regulation; and Waterways, Conservation, and Fish and Game.

From the Jacksonville Courier, November 6, 1960.

   H.B. Ihnen wasn't a candidate for reelection in November 1964 but returned to politics two years later when he was elected to his ninth legislative term in November 1966. The 1967-69 session saw Ihnen as a member of the Appropriations and Highway & Traffic Safety committees, as well as being chairman of the state Motor Vehicle Laws Commission. Ihnen retired from the legislature at the conclusion of his ninth term but continued to be active in government service, being appointed to the State Board of Agricultural Advisors in 1969. From 1971-74 Ihnen served on the Agricultural Export and Advisory Committee for the state agriculture department and in July 1975 celebrated his 80th birthday.
  After over four decades of service to his native county and state, Harmannes Behrend Ihnen died at Quincy, Illinois hospital on August 12, 1975. He was survived by his wife of fifty-eight years, Ethel, and son Ernel. Following her death at age 96 in 1995, Ethel Ihnen was interred alongside her husband and son at the Friedhof (Trinity) Cemetery in Golden, Illinois.

From the Alton Evening Telegraph, June 10, 1966.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Voyle Dixon Rector (1891-1964)

From the North Bend Eagle, August 6, 1942.

  The Strangest Names in American Political History makes a rare stop in Nebraska to examine the life of Voyle Dixon Rector, a WWI veteran and creamery manager who made his lone foray onto the political stage in 1942 when he entered into the Republican primary race for U.S. Senator from Nebraska. A native of Tobias, Nebraska, Voyle Dixon Rector was born in that town on December 28, 1891, the son of Edward Terwilliger and Tessie Belle (Dixon) Rector.  
   A student in the public schools of Omaha, Rector would graduate from the Central High School in 1911 as president of his class and shortly thereafter enrolled at Dartmouth College. His time here saw him acknowledged as playing "a star game at left tackle" on the school's football team, which also featured his younger brother Virgil, who played fullback. Rector graduated in 1915 with his degree and continued his studies at the Pomona College in California the following year. In September 1917 he married to Lillian Farnam Chapin (1892-1986), to who he was wed until his death. The couple would have two sons, Robert Chapin (1921-1978) and Irving Chapin Rector (1923-2002). 
   Rector would begin his business career in the mid-1910s, being a salesman for the Fairmount Creamery in Syracuse, New York. He was later briefly a resident of Buffalo, New York (being recorded as such in an October 1916 edition of the Daily Nebraskan), where he was a creamery superintendent. Following American entrance into the First World War, Voyle Rector enlisted for service and by early 1917 was stationed at Fort Snelling in Minnesota. Commissioned as a captain in August of that year, Rector was also stationed at Camp Dix and later was a battery commander in the 350th Field Artillery, serving overseas.  He would receive an honorable discharge in March 1919 at Camp Meade.

A youthful Voyle Rector, from the Omaha Daily Bee, November 12, 1911

   Within a few years of his return from military service, Voyle Rector had returned to the creamery business and in 1921 had been made manager at the Fairmont Creamery's branch in Detroit, Michigan. This post was followed by his being named as assistant general territory manager for the Fairmont Creamery in Omaha, continuing in that post well into the 1930s. 
   In 1942 Voyle Rector made his first move into state politics when he announced that he'd be seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator from Nebraska in that summer's primary election. As one of three GOP candidates vying for the nomination, Rector's campaign platform was featured in a number of Nebraska newspapers through the summer of 1942, detailing his "jobbing" Nebraska agricultural products in previous years, as well as his longstanding connection to creameries in the state. Amongst other tenets of his platform, Rector advocated for "protection of private business and property"; using Nebraska farm products in the manufacture of "industrial alcohol, rubber and explosives" to aid in the ongoing war effort; and pressed for the use of farm products for plastics and motor fuel manufacture after the war had concluded. 

From the North Bend Eagle, August 6, 1942.

  On primary election day in August 1942, Voyle Rector polled third with 10, 624 votes, 50,000 votes behind winning candidate Kenneth S. Wherry. Wherry, in turn, would go on to defeat five-term incumbent Senator George William Norris that November and would represent Nebraska in the Senate until his death in 1951. Little information could be located on Rector's life following his Senate loss. Some years prior to his death he and his wife relocated to California, and on December 28, 1964, his 73rd birthday, Voyle Rector died in Los Angeles. He was survived by his wife and sons and was later returned to Nebraska for burial at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, a cemetery that is also the resting place of Experience Estabrook, profiled here in July 2011.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Novatus Mapes Blish (1828-1905)

From the Hobart Independent, February 28, 1905.

  For many years a farmer in Delaware County, New York, Novatus Mapes Blish also held a few local political offices in his native county, serving as a justice of the peace and justice of the session. Possessing a truly unique first name (the first such instance of which this author has located), Blish earns a spot here on the site due to his service as a delegate to the 1880 Republican National Convention from New York. The son of Novatus (1795-1848) and Mary Mapes Barlow Blish (1804-1884), Novatus Mapes Blish was born in Roxbury, New York on July 16, 1828.
  The Blish family removed to the town of Stamford, New York while Novatus was still a child and here purchased a 150-acre farm, which would later be enlarged by an additional 100 acres. Young Novatus would attend the district school and later studied at the Hanford Academy in Hobart, New York. Left fatherless at age 19, Blish would take on the day to day management of his family's farm, as well as a small store that came with the original property. He married on September 22, 1851, to Marietta Cowan (1830-1893). The couple's four decades of marriage saw the births of four children, Charles Addison (born 1852), Helen Mary (1855-1878), John Cowan (born 1858) and Marietta Louise (born 1861).
   After selling the store on his property in 1861, Novatus Mapes Blish continued operations with his farm, which would eventually consist of 430 acres and a dairy. Blish's obituary in the Hobart Independent also denotes his involvement with a hardware store in Hobart, which he operated with two partners. A devout Presbyterian, Blish served as a deacon in the Hobart Presbyterian Church and for many years served as church treasurer. He undertook further religious work with the Delaware County Sunday School Association (being that organization's secretary) and was also connected with the New York State Sunday School Association.
  An active Republican in Delaware County, Blish held the office of justice of the peace for twelve years and from 1858-1859 served as a justice of sessions for the county. In 1880 he was selected as part of the New York delegation to that year's Republican National Convention in Chicago that nominated James A. Garfield for the Presidency. Blish also had some oddly named company at the convention, his fellow delegate being Cyrillo Southworth Lincoln (1830-1900), a former Ontario County state assemblyman featured on this site in August of 2012.
  Following his service as a delegate, Blish found prominence in the state grange, representing it before the state assembly in 1883-84 "in promotion of legislation for the benefit of agricultural interests. In 1892 he retired from farming, turning over ownership of the farm to his son John. Widowed in 1893, Novatus Blish made his home with his daughter Marietta Blish Griffin in his later years and died at home on February 19, 1905, aged 76. He was later interred at the Locust Hill Cemetery in Hobart.

From the Jefferson New York Courier, February 1905.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Taliaferro Hardtner Gaharan (1908-1969)

Portrait from the 1940 Louisiana State University "Gumbo" yearbook.

  After several days of highlighting oddly named political figures from Louisiana, we conclude our stay in the Bayou State with Taliaferro Hardtner "Bud" Gaharan, a longtime LaSalle Parish physician who also made a name for himself in the field of high school basketball, coaching the Jena, Louisiana high school team to a state championship. Gaharan earns a spot here on the site due to his serving a term in the Louisiana House of Representatives, as well as for his outstandingly different name! A lifelong Louisianan, "Bud" Gaharan was born in Tullos, LaSalle Parish on December 9, 1908, the son of Phillip Steele (1874-1951) and Lille Mae (Alexander) Gaharan (1878-1962).
  A student in the public schools of his native parish, Gaharan would go on to attend the Urania High School, where he was a standout basketball player. As the son of a doctor, Gaharan decided to follow in his father's profession and in the late 1920s enrolled at the Louisiana State University, where he joined the boxing team. Due to financial hardship, Gaharan would put his studies on hold to earn extra income, first finding work in road construction, and, later, as a teacher at the Jena High School beginning in 1928.
  In the year following his joining the staff of Jena High School, Gaharan succeeded Jay Pipes as coach of the school's basketball team, the Jena Giants. While only 20 years old at the time of his becoming coach, Bud Gaharan's youth proved to be a non-factor when he coached the team to a record 42-0 season in 1929-30, winning the Louisiana state basketball championship in the process. He would further take the team to that year's National Basketball Tournament held in Chicago, where the Giants would place second to Athens, Texas, losing in a close match, 22-16. Despite their loss on the national stage, Gaharan and the Giants were later feted with a banquet by their hometown and Gaharan himself was later acknowledged by the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate as "Louisiana's finest coach."
  Gaharan continued as coach for six more years retiring in 1936 with a record of 234 wins, 35 losses. He later returned to the study of medicine at Louisiana State University and graduated in 1940. After interning at a Shreveport hospital, Gaharan returned to his native parish to begin practice, and in addition to having "his own clinic" in Jena, developed a reputation for "exceptional diagnostic skills before diagnostic technology was available".  "Bud" Gaharan married in March 1940 to Avis Lanelle Richardson (1914-2001), to whom he was wed until his death. The couple would have two sons, James Phillip and George Hardtner.

From the 1940 Gumbo yearbook.

  A former member of the LaSalle Parish school board for one term, "Bud" Gaharan set his sights on higher political office in 1955, when he announced his candidacy for the Louisiana House of Representatives. Throughout the latter part of 1955 and into 1956 campaign notices touting Gaharan's candidacy were featured in the Jena Times, which noted his status as a former teacher, school board member, and his medical practice. Intoning that the office of state representative should never be an office of profit, the times further profiled Gaharan as knowing:
" The needs and problems of all our people, he has the sympathetic understanding, the intelligence and strength of character to meet and consider all issues that may arise in Legislature on the basis of the best interest of the people of the State of Louisiana as a whole and LaSalle Parish in particular without reward or fear of reprisal."
A Gaharan campaign notice from the Jena Times, December 15, 1955.

 After winning election to the legislature in early 1956 as a Democrat, Gaharan was named to the house committees on Conservation, Enrollment, and Public Health, Welfare and Charitable Institutions. This term (which extended from 1956-60) also saw Gaharan successfully guide a bill through the house that earmarked $500,000 for improvements to Catahoula Lake, including improved conditions for duck hunting, cattle grazing, recreational activities, and "maintaining more than 50 miles of excellent fishing streams."
  In 1959 "Bud" Gaharan launched his reelection bid for the house, announcing that 
"It will be my purpose to run a clean race, based wholely on my accomplishments during the four years that I have served the people of this parish as their representative in the state legislature in Baton Rouge."
  Running for reelection against three opponents, Gaharan would lose out in the vote count on election day, the victor being Democrat Chester Floyd. After leaving the legislature Gaharan continued to operate his clinic in Jena, and in the latter period of his life was beset by a lengthy illness, one that would eventually claim his life on February 11, 1969, at age 60. Taliaferro Hardtner Gaharan was survived by his wife and sons and was interred at the Jena Cemetery

From the Jena Times, February 13, 1969.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Duchamp Charles Labbe (1875-1924)

From the St. Martinsville Weekley Messenger, January 13, 1912.

  We continue our journey through Louisiana with a peek at the life of Duchamp Charles Labbe, a one-term state representative and state constitutional convention delegate who was featured on this site's Facebook page back in March 2016. On a shortlist of odd name political figures who were dentists by occupation, Labbe was a lifelong resident of St. Martin Parish, being born there on December 17, 1875, the son of Arthur and Stephanie Duchamp Labbe. In addition to our subject the Labbe family would also boast another odd name politician, Duchamp's younger brother Theobald Joseph Labbe (1867-1949), later to serve as mayor of St. Martinville and as a member of the Louisiana state senate.
  Duchamp Labbe's formative education was obtained at private academies in both St. Martin and St. Landry Parish, and in the early 1890s enrolled at the Springhill College in Mobile, Alabama. Following graduation, Labbe decided upon a career in dentistry, and in 1893 began study at Illinois Northwestern University's dental department. He graduated with his dental degree in 1896 and shortly thereafter returned to St. Martin where he began to practice. Labbe married in 1897 to Vida O. Martin (1876-1966), with whom he had four children, Harry James (1898-1941), Owen Arthur (1900-), Lucille (1902-) and Arthur J. (1904-1980).
  In 1900 Labbe gave up his dental practice to focus on a new business endeavor, that of the operation of his father in law's sugar refinery. After purchasing the Vida sugar refinery from his in-laws, Labbe continued with its operation for one year, when, on account of health concerns, left Louisiana for New Mexico, where he and his family resided for several years. During his New Mexico residency, Labbe grabbed headlines in November 1905 when he was refused a license to practice dentistry in the territory, this refusal coming about when members of the territorial dental board found that Labbe had been using a crib (a text used to prepare for a test or schoolwork), while taking his examination. Several days after being refused a license, Labbe encountered one of the board members, Dr. C.N. Lord, on the street. Words were exchanged between the two men, and after Labbe accused Lord of calling him a liar, proceeded to strike the doctor in the face
  While no charges were pressed against Labbe, the rest of his New Mexico stay proved to be quieter, with mention being given as to his connection with the Occidental Life Insurance Co. in 1907. By 1908 he had returned to St. Martinville Parish, where he would begin a new career as a real estate dealer. In 1912 Labbe entered into the race for state representative from St. Martin Parish as a candidate of the Good Government League and on election day proved successful, polling 847 votes. He served a four-year term (1912-16) and was a member of the committees on Public Health and Quarantine, and Registration and Election Laws.
  During his term, Labbe further aided his state politically when he served as a member of the Louisiana Constitutional Convention of 1913, where he was a member of the committee on the Affairs of the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, and New Provisions. Little is known of the remainder of his life, excepting notice of his death in El Paso, Texas on January 24, 1924, at age 49. He was survived by his wife and children and was later interred at the St. Michael's Catholic Cemetery in St. Martin Parish.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Minos Talbot Gordy Jr. (1865-1926)

Portrait from "The Convention of '98", 1898.

  Following on the heels of former Louisiana judge Wakeman Wakeman Edwards, another oddly named resident of Vermilion Parish is accorded a write-up, Minos Talbot Gordy Jr! A longtime attorney in that parish and a graduate of the Tulane Law School, Gordy served a decade as District Attorney for Louisiana's 17th judicial district and in 1898 was a member of the state constitutional convention. This post was followed by a stint as district court judge for the 17th district, which he filled for four years. The son of Vermilion Parish sheriff and Confederate veteran Minos T. Gordy Sr. (1830-1910) and the former Betty Ann Johnson, Minos Talbot Gordy Jr was born in St. Mary Parish, Lousiana on September 29, 1865
  A student in the Franklin, Louisiana schools, Gordy also attended the Rugby Academy in that parish and from 1880-83 studied at the University of Louisiana. Following graduation, he spent the next few years as a store clerk in Franklin and Abbeville before deciding upon a career in law, and in the mid-1880s began to study in a law office in Abbeville. In 1888 he enrolled at Tulane University, and after graduating the following year established his first law practice in Abbeville.
  Just one year after setting up his law practice politics beckoned to Minos Gordy, and in 1890 he was appointed by then-Governor Francis R.T. Nicholls as District Attorney for Louisiana's 17th judicial district, this appointment coming about due to the death of sitting attorney Robert Cade Smedes (1855-1890). Gordy would serve out the remainder of Smedes' term and in 1892 was elected to a term of his own in that post. He would win reelection to another four-year term in 1896 and left office in 1900. 
  Minos Talbot Gordy Jr. married on April 28, 1896, to Mississippi native Laura Cage Haynes (1877-1949). The couple were wed for thirty years and had four children, John Collins (1897-1960), Walter Haynes (1899-1970), Minos Thomas (1901-1961) and Oliver Bascom (1902-1905).
  In 1898 Minos Gordy added another political feather to his cap when he was elected as Vermilion Parish's delegate to that year's state Constitutional Convention held in Baton Rouge, and during the convention proceedings sat on the committees on Federal Relations, Parochial Corporations, and Suffrage and Elections. He continued to advance politically two years following his service as a delegate when he was elected as District Court Judge for the 17th district in 1900 and served a four-year term. This post also saw Gordy "by virtue of his office" serve as a judge on the state court of appeals, and for a time was a member of the Criminal Code Commission, a group of lawmakers appointed to codify then existing state criminal laws.
  At the conclusion of his judgeship in 1904 Gordy retired from politics but continued with his Abbeville based law practice. In 1908 he briefly returned to politics with his service as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention from Louisiana, being a member of the committee on Platform and Resolutions. He continued residence in Abbeville until his death at age 60 on August 8, 1926. He was survived by his wife and children and was interred at the Graceland Cemetery in Abbeville. Acknowledged as a man of "unusual strength of character", Gordy was further memorialized in his Abbeville Meridional obituary as having:
"Did much to check the condition of semi-anarchy that prevailed in this parish in the early '90s. He will be remembered here as a staunch and upright citizen--standing four square to the world--a terror to evil doers.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Wakeman Wakeman Edwards (1826-1921)

Portrait courtesy of geni.com.

  Louisiana yields yet another amusingly named public official in Wakeman Wakeman Edwards, whose first and middle names are the same! A one-term member of the Arkansas legislature prior to the Civil War, Edwards was a native of New York who, following residence in Indiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas, permanently resettled in Louisiana, where he practiced law. Named as a state district court judge in the late 1880s, Edwards continued with his practice until retirement and spent the remainder of his life as a local historian and elder member of the Vermilion Parish bar.
  The son of Henry and Elizabeth (Rogers) Edwards, Wakeman Wakeman Edwards was born in Charlton, Saratoga County, New York on September 13, 1826. For reasons known only to his parents, Edwards was bestowed the same first name and middle name, making him unique amongst the political figures profiled here. Edwards' formative education in New York was obtained "in the public schools of his native village" and later attended the Schenectady Lyceum. A young man with a keen interest in astronomy and mathematics, Edwards continued his schooling at the Union College (also in Schenectady), graduating third in his class with his A.B. degree in 1850
  Following his graduation, Wakeman Edwards sought his fortune out of state, and soon afterward removed to Indiana, where he took up the study of law in the office of Lovell Harrison Rousseau (1818-1869), later to attain prominence as a Union General in the Civil War and as a member of Congress from Indiana, 1865-67. By 1851 Edwards had moved south to Camden, Mississippi, where he would begin a teaching career at a "classical school" in that city. He remained here until at least 1855, whereafter he decamped to Sulphur Springs, Mississippi to escape an epidemic of yellow fever. While here, Edwards made the acquaintance of Mississippi supreme court justice Alexander Hamilton Handy (1809-1883), with whom he studied law, and in the latter portion of that year was admitted to the bar. 
  In 1856 Edwards left Mississippi for Arkansas, and for the next several years practiced law in that state. He married in 1857 to Martha Hollingsworth (1832-1908), to whom he was wed for over five decades. The couple later had three children, Dr. Clarence Jeptha (1858-1920), Sarah Elizabeth (1860-1943) and William Pierrepont (born 1867). In 1858 he began his political career by winning election to the Arkansas house of representatives from Conway County. He served in the session of 1858-59 and in the latter year resettled in Chicot County to continue his law practice. In the final 18 months of the Civil War Edwards' life and career were upset when he was conscripted into the Confederate Army, with which he served until war's conclusion.
  At the conclusion of his military service, Wakeman W. Edwards left Arkansas for good and removed to New Orleans, Louisiana, where he began another law practice. He continued along this route until 1875, when he permanently settled in Abbeville in Vermilion Parish, and in 1889 was appointed as District Court Judge for Louisiana's 25th judicial district in the wake of the resignation of Judge C. DeBaillon. Edwards' time on the bench extended until at least 1890 when he was succeeded by another oddly named man, Orther Charles Mouton.
  In addition to his law practice and brief judgeship, Edwards also held local public office, being president of the Vermilion Parish school board as well as U.S. Commissioner for Louisiana's western district. Retiring from his law practice in 1905, Edwards' remaining years saw him acknowledged as a leading local historian for Vermilion Parish, authoring a number of "historical sketches" that appeared in the Abbeville Meridional newspaper beginning in 1905. Widowed in 1908, Edwards continued to reside in Abbeville until his death at age 94 on March 10, 1921. He was later interred alongside his wife Martha at the Graceland Cemetery in Abbeville.

From the Abbeville Meridional, March 19, 1921.