Saturday, April 25, 2015

Fenn Hesden Cooney (1889-1961)

  Portrait from the January 31, 1944 Caroll Times Herald.

   Iowa yields another oddly named judicial figure in the person of Fenn Hesden Cooney, a long-time Carroll County resident who would serve several years as Carroll County Attorney, later being appointed as a District Court Judge for Iowa's Sixteenth judicial district. A lifelong resident of Iowa, Fenn Hesden Cooney was the son of Merrill Mathews and Adella Miller Cooney, his birth occurring in Coon Rapids, Iowa on January 31, 1889. 
  A graduate of the Coon Rapids High School in the class of 1906, Cooney later attended the University of Iowa at Ames, graduating from there in 1910 with a degree in civil engineering. He eventually decided upon a career in law and in the early 1910s enrolled at the University of Ann Arbor in Michigan, earning his degree in 1915. He was admitted to the Iowa bar shortly after his graduation and returned to Carroll County to begin practice. Notice is also given as to Cooney's service in the First World War, being a veteran of the Army. He married in Carroll County in June of 1920 to Clara Bell Culbertson (1887-1955) and the couple would remain childless through the entirety of their marriage.
   Following his return to Carroll County Cooney was brought aboard the law firm of Salinger, Reynolds and Meyers, later having his own name added to the firm's title. He would be affiliated with that firm until 1925, whereafter he left to operate a solo law practice out of the "Room 203 Masonic Temple" in Carroll, Iowa. He would continue to operate this practice until 1926, when he won election as Prosecuting Attorney of Carroll County. Cooney held this post until 1932 and went on to serve two further years in that office in 1935-1936.
   After leaving office Cooney continued to operate a law practice until January 1944, when then Governor Bourke B. Hickenlooper appointed him as District Judge for Iowa's Sixteenth district, filling a vacancy occasioned by the death of Judge Peter J. Klinker, who had died a few days previously. Cooney would serve on the bench until his death seventeen years later on  June 16, 1961 at St. Anthony's Hospital in Carroll. A longstanding member of the Iowa State Bar Association, Cooney was also a past commander of the American Legion Post at Carroll and was also viewed as a scholar on Abraham Lincoln, having put together "an exhaustive collection of books" on the 16th President.
   The seventy-two year old Judge had been preceded in death by his wife Clara, who had died at age 68 in 1955. Both were interred at the Carroll City Cemetery in Carroll, Iowa

  Fenn H. Cooney, from the 1915 Michiganensian Yearbook.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Latelle McKee LaFollette (1858-1950), Latelle McKee LaFollette Jr. (1902-1981)

L.M. Lafollette, from the Charleston Daily Mail, Aug. 1, 1950.

   Longtime West Virginia public servant Latelle McKee "L.M." Lafollette made great strides in a number of different vocations during a life that extended over ninety years. A practicing attorney for over half a century, LaFollette served eight years as prosecuting attorney for Taylor County, West Virginia and in 1896 entered upon duties as West Virginia State Auditor. Despite having little in the way of information available on his life, an obituary for LaFollette (featured in the Charleston Daily Mail a few days following his death in 1950) came as a welcome surprise and fielded a good majority of the following article. The rare portrait of him above was also featured in that obituary.
    A lifelong resident of the "Mountain State", Latelle M. Lafollette's birth occurred on August 13, 1858 in Cacapon Springs, Hampshire County, Virginia, being the son of Henry William and Amy Caroline McKee Lafollette. Several years following his birth, Latelle and his family removed to Flemington in Taylor County, West Virginia where he would attend public school, and he would continue his schooling at the West Virginia College, a now defunct college once located near Flemington.
  During his youth LaFollette taught school for a time in Barbour County and would later take work as a "civil engineer, and in this occupation he spent two years in the far west." Following his return to West Virginia LaFollette became employed as a deputy tax collector in the cities of Wheeling and Grafton. He began reading law during this time and after being admitted to the bar in  1885 joined the firm of the attorney he had studied under, Samuel P. McCormick. 
   Based in Grafton, the firm of McCormick and LaFollette continued until LaFollette was named as deputy prosecuting attorney of Taylor County. In 1888 he took office as Prosecuting Attorney, continuing in that post until 1896, and in November of that year won election as State Auditor of West Virginia. He would hold that post from 1897-1901 and after leaving office remained in the state capitol of Charleston to continue with his law practice. During his term LaFollette had married on December 20, 1899 to Clara Meldrum DeArmond (1875-1912), with whom he would have four children: Latelle McKee (1902-1981), Robert Brille (1905-1976), James Alexander (1907-1958) and an infant son who died in 1901
   In the succeeding years LaFollette would become a prominent fixture in West Virginia's capitol city, being one of the charter members of the West Virginia Bar Association. A founding organizer of the Capital City Bank of Charleston, LaFollette continued his banking interests with both the Wood County Bank in Parkersburg and the Grafton Bank. During the early 20th century he would begin a lengthy connection with "coal, oil timber and gas" businesses and is recorded in his Daily Mail obituary as having had "wide holdings in these fields."
  Latelle M. LaFollette celebrated his 90th birthday in 1948 and was two weeks short of his 92nd birthday when he died on July 31, 1950. He was survived by three sons and was later interred alongside his wife at the Sunset Memorial Park in South Charleston, West Virginia. 


LaFollette's obituary form the Aug. 1, 1950 Charleston Daily Mail.


Latelle M. LaFollette, from the June 6, 1940 Sportsmen's Review.

     Public service continued in the LaFollete family in the person of Latelle McKee LaFollette Jr, the son of the preceding gentleman.  A member of the West Virginia House of Delegates for one term in the mid 1940s, LaFollette was later an unsuccessful aspirant for the West Virginia State Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.
    Born on July 6, 1902, Latelle LaFollette followed in his father's stead and practiced law for many years. He would marry Thelma Hatfield (1902-1987) in 1928 and during the succeeding years gained press not only in politics but also as a trapshooter, winning the "singles state championship of West Virginia" in September 1947. Elected to represent Kanawha County in the House of Delegates in November 1942, LaFollette served during the 1943-45 session and was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection to that body in 1948
   In 1952 he became the Republican nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives for the Sixth Congressional district of West Virginia and in that year's contest faced off against future U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd (1917-2009), later to gain distinction as the longest serving Senator in American history. On election day it was Byrd who coasted to victory, besting LaFollette by nearly 10,000 votes, 23, 222 to 13, 465
   Following his defeat in 1952 LaFollette would run two further candidacies, one for the state senate in 1958 and another for Congress in 1960. In the 1960 congressional race in West Virginia's 5th district LaFollette was defeated by incumbent representative Elizabeth Kee (1895-1975) by a wide margin, 77,524 votes to 34,052In May 1981 Latelle LaFollette Jr. died at age 78. Both he and his wife were interred in the LaFollette family plot at the Sunset Memorial Park in South Charleston.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Melchert Zearing Stannard (1856-1919)

Portrait from the "Men of Progress: Indiana", published 1899.

    After highlighting several oddly named Hoosier politicians back in October of last year, today's write-up marks a return to Indiana and a man who had fleeting involvement in Hoosier politics, one Melchert Zearing Stannard of Clark County. A practicing attorney for four decades, Stannard's inclusion here on the site rests on his unsuccessful candidacy for Associate Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court in 1898 from the state's 2nd judicial district. 
  A resident of the Hoosier state for his entire life, Melchert Zearing Stannard's birth occurred in the Lawrence County town of Springville on June 30, 1856. The son of Edward Mather and Mary Jane Helmer Stannard, young Melchert inherited his unusual first name courtesy of his maternal grandfather, Melchert Helmer (1802-1876), a delegate to the Indiana Constitutional Convention of 1850 as well as a two term state representative
   Left fatherless at a young age, Melchart Stannard acquired his early education at the Mitchell Normal School and at age sixteen began teaching school as a means of income. At age twenty he relocated to Jeffersonville, Indiana and shortly after his removal began the study of law in the offices of Howard and Read. Stannard was admitted to the Indiana bar in 1877. He continued the study of law at the University of Louisville (Kentucky) and after graduating in 1879 returned to Jeffersonville to join the firm of Howard and Read. Stannard married on January 27, 1885 to Flora Childs Read (1860-1918). The couple were wed for over thirty years and had two children, Lila Read (1888-1975) and Edward M. (born 1898) who died in infancy.
   After the dissolution of the firm of Howard, Read and Stannard in 1888 Stannard operated a solo law practice and his reputation as a "sound and capable" attorney continued to gain him praise throughout Indiana law circles. The 1899 "Men of Progress, Indiana" edition gives high praise to his legal expertise, noting:
"His superb knowledge of the law, keen discernment and logical and forcible way of presenting a question to a court or jury, has won for him the reputation of a dangerous adversary which has extended far beyond the lines of his own locality."
    Stannard was retained as counsel for several important businesses, including the American Can and Foundry Company, the Ohio Falls Car Manufacturing Company and  the Jeffersonville Water Supply Company. In addition to the preceding his services were also retained by two railroad companies, those being the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway Co. and the Pittsburg Cincinnati Chicago and St. Louis Railway Co.
    Described as an "ardent Democrat", Stannard was induced to enter political life just once, this occurring in 1898. In that year he received the nomination for Associate Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court from the Second judicial district, squaring off against Republican nominee Alexander Dowling (1836-1917), a former attorney for the city of New Albany. On election day it was Dowling who emerged victorious in the vote count, besting Stannard by nearly 20,00 votes. Despite his loss Stannard's candidacy for supreme judge was remembered favorably in the 1899 "Men of Progress",  which noted that he had "ran ahead of the state and local ticket in his own county and carried his judicial district by from three thousand to four thousand majority."

A electoral result of the Stannard-Dowling contest.

   In the years following his one attempt at public office Stannard continued in his practice, and in 1907 began a partnership with the Jonas Howard, a son of his old law partner. In 1918 Stannard's wife of thirty-three years, Flora, died at age 58. He would survive her by slightly over a year, dying in November 1919 at age 63. Both were interred at the Walnut Ridge Cemetery in Jeffersonville following their deaths.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Chaucer Gory Lee (1869-1957)

Portrait courtesy of the Ames Public Library webpage.

     Lifelong Iowa resident Chaucer Gory Lee was for many years an active participant in the public affairs of  Story County, being a leading citizen in the city of Ames (located in the aforementioned county.) For several years he would serve Ames as its city attorney and in 1907 entered upon duties as District Court Judge for Iowa's 11th district. Lee would attain his highest degree of political prominence in 1914 when he was a candidate in the Republican primary for Governor of Iowa.
   Born and raised in the Jasper County, Iowa, Chaucer Gory "C.G." Lee was born on August 8, 1869, being the son of James and Sarah Whitcomb Lee. The origins of his unusual first name "Chaucer" are unknown at this time, but may have a connection to Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400), the famed English poet and author of "The Canterbury Tales". Early in his life he relocated to Ames, Iowa to enroll at the Iowa Agricultural College, graduating in the class of 1894. Following his graduation he began studying law at the Drake Law School in Des Moines, and was admitted to the Iowa bar in 1895.
   Soon after his admittance Lee entered the Ames, Iowa based law office of Daniel McCarthy. In 1897 Lee married to Daniel's daughter Emma, to whom he was wed for fifty-two years. It is unknown at this time if the couple had any children born to them. A year prior to his marriage Lee made his first steps into Ames political life when he won election as city attorney, being the occupant of that office for six years. Five years after the conclusion of his term as city attorney Lee was elected as District Court Judge for Iowa's 11th district and served on the bench until his resignation in 1914, being succeeded by John M. Kamrar.

An election notice for Judge Lee, from the Iowa State Bystander, May 29, 1914.

   In the final year of his term as District Judge in April 1914 Lee announced that he would be seeking the Republican nomination for Governor of Iowa, the Republican primary election being held on June 1st. As one of three candidates vying for the nomination (the others being then Governor George W. Clarke and John W. Rowley), Lee's candidacy was boomed in several Iowa newspapers, including the Iowa State Bystander (notice shown above.) Other notices and endorsements made light of Lee's standing as a "clear sighted"  and "just" judge during his time on the bench. One of these notices, a glowing endorsement in the Ottumwa Tri-Weekly Courier from state senator Daniel Cady Chase, made it known that:
"Those in this district who have seen Judge Lee on the bench have been impressed with the fact that in the first place he is clear sighted mentally and in the second place he has what is exceedingly rare in any public man,  the courage of his convictions......Judge Lee is the type of man who has the ability to brush away all sophistries and look at a question in its elemental aspects and more than that, he has has the courage to accept responsibility for a decision along those lines. He is of that type of man which is very rare; intellectually honest and brave enough to go wherever his honest judgement leads him."
    After voters went to the polls on June 1st it was incumbent Governor George W. Clarke who was renominated. While newspaper's reported Clarke's winning total as being between "90,000-100,000" votes, Lee placed second in the vote count, garnering a respectable 65.000. Following his gubernatorial loss Lee returned to practicing law in Ames and proved to be an influential booster in further development to Ames's infrastructure, being "responsible for 15 additions and subdivisions" to the city.
   In 1949 Emma McCarthy Lee, C.G. Lee's wife of over fifty years, died at age 85. Following her passing Lee honored his late wife by presenting the city with several acres of land which would become a park named in her honor. After many years of public service to Ames Chaucer Gory "C.G." Lee died on January 4, 1957 at age 87. He was later interred alongside his wife at the Ames Municipal Cemetery.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Heverington Eugene Wassell (1884-1979)

Portrait courtesy of the Texas Legislative Reference Library.

    Today marks a return to the Lonestar State and yet another oddly named member of the Texas General Assembly, Heverington Eugene Wassell of Navarro County. A one term legislator from 1927-29, little exists online in regards to this obscure man, and his date of birth is also under scrutiny, occurring on January 28th of 1882, 1884 or 1892. Of these dates, 1884 appears to be the correct one, as Wassell himself records this date on both his World War I and World War II Draft Registration cards.
   A native son of Illinois, Wassell's place of birth is given as New Hartford (as per his draft registration card), located in Pike County. His family is mentioned as having been "prominent in business and social circles" in that area and Wassell himself would begin his schooling in the public schools of that county. He would embark upon a career as a school teacher at age seventeen and would begin attending Brown's Business College (located in Jacksonville, Illinois) shortly thereafter.  Stints as an accountant, clerk and book-keeper followed, and he continued his higher education at both the Eureka and Gem City Business Colleges.
   In the early 1900s Wassell began teaching at the Drake Business College located in Newark, New Jersey, remaining there until late 1906, whereafter he took work on the Panama Canal. Little is known of his work in this area, but the Texas Bar Journal (which published an obituary for Wassell in 1979) lists him as having been awarded a "Roosevelt Medal for his three years work" on the project. 

The Blue Book: Containing Photographs and Sketches of a Few Commercial Teachers, 1907.

    After returning to Illinois Wassell began employment as a Junior clerk in the offices of the Interstate Commerce Commission. He would later decide to study law and earned his degree from Georgetown University. Around 1911 he married to Lila Aurora McClellan (1887-1984), daughter of a prominent Novarro County, Texas attorney John Jacob McClellan (1856-1920). The couple would later become parents to three children, James McClellan (1911-1997), John W. (1914-2003) and Patricia Wassell Kirby (born ca. 1917).
   Following their marriage the Wassells' relocated to California and in the late 1910s removed to Texas, where in 1920 he was admitted to the state bar. Wassell and his father-in law would operate the law practice of McClellan and Wassell until the latter death in July 1920, and in that  year became a candidate for City Attorney of Corsicana, Texas. After an unsuccessful candidacy for the state legislature in 1924, Wassell was elected to represent Navarro County in the Texas State House of Representatives in November 1926. Taking his seat at the start of the 1927-29 term, Wassell was named to the house committees on Common Carriers, Constitutional Amendments, Federal Relations and Privileges, Suffrage and Elections. 
    H. Eugene Wassell's one term in the state house concluded in January 1929. Despite his long life after leaving office little else could be found on him, excepting his death notice in the Texas Bar Journal, which notes that he served as Judge of Winkler County, Texas for a time, as well as being a "project manager of Camp Swift at Bastrop".  Prior to his retirement from public life Wassell was affiliated with the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation
   After many years of public service Heverington Eugene Wassell died on September 2, 1979, being aged either 87, 95 or 97 at the time of his passing. He had remarried sometime prior to death to Mary Naomi Jackson (1912-1996) who survived him. Both Wassell and his second wife were subsequently interred at the Texas State Cemetery  at Austin.

H. Eugene Wassell, from the December 1979 Texas Bar Journal.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Forsythe Charles Clowdsley (1895-1940)

From a February 1929 press photo.

   Despite his lack of years (he died aged 45 in 1940) Stockton, California resident Forsythe Charles "Tod" Clowdsley was a four term representative to the California State Assembly, as well as serving as San Joaquin County's District Attorney, holding that post until his death. The son of William Forsythe (1846-1917) and Virginia Olive Clowdsley (1852-1948), Forsythe C. Clowdsley was born in Stockton on February 6, 1895 and would attend the public schools of that city. 
   As a young man Clowdsley entered into work on the staff of the Stockton Mail newspaper and continued in this employ until the dawn of American involvement in WWI. The American Legislative Leaders of the West denotes that Clowdsley "underwent two major surgeries to pass the physical examination" and after doing so was deployed to France as a Sergeant of Battery C, 143rd Field Artillery. He would remain here from 1917-1919 and following his return to Stockton resumed work with the Stockton Mail.
  Clowdsley married to his first wife Helene Harpillard (a native of France) in 1920. Helene died in 1922 during childbirth and in 1933 Clowdsley remarried to Salina, Kansas native Suzanne Marie Humbarger, who would survive him upon his death in 1940. 
  Clowdsley first entered public life in San Joaquin County in 1921 when he was appointed as Assistant District Attorney. He would serve in that post for several years and in 1926 was elected as one of San Joaquin County's representatives to the California State Assembly. He would be elected to three further terms in the assembly and in the 1933-34 session served as Speaker Pro tem of the House, being noted as "the first Democratic speaker in California in 40 years."
  In November 1934 Clowdsley was elected as San Joaquin County District Attorney and was still the incumbent in that office when he died on September 25, 1940 of a heart attack. Just 45 years of age at the time of his passing, Clowdsley's burial location is unknown at this time, but is presumed to be at the Stockton Rural Cemetery in Stockton, California. This cemetery is the resting place of both his first wife Helene (1900-1922) and his son, Forsythe Charles Jr. (1922-1929).

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Oliphant Lockwood Hubbard (1880-1968)

Portrait courtesy of the Houston Area Digital Archives website.

  This dapper looking gent is one Oliphant Lockwood Hubbard, who, during a long life that extended nearly nine decades, rose to become a leading public figure in Independence Heights, Texas, a city which can justly lay claim to being the "first African American municipality in Texas." A principal and teacher at the Independence Heights School, Hubbard was elected as the second mayor of that city in 1919 and would serve two terms in that post.
   Born on June 3, 1880 in Walker County, Texas, Oliphant L. Hubbard was one of fourteen children born to Lewis and Victoria Smith Hubbard. Following the completion of his high school education Hubbard enrolled at the Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College, graduating in the class of 1909. Having attained his "teacher's certificate in primary education" Hubbard married to Ms. Ella Kyle shortly after his graduation, and the couple would have four children, including Garland F. (1914-1988) and Vivian Hubbard Seals (1917-2008). 
   The early 1910s saw both Hubbard and his wife teaching in a number of rural communities in East Texas. Due to "depressed conditions and low pay" the  couple left that area and by 1911 had settled in Independence Heights, then a young satellite community of Houston that consisted of predominantly African-American families. In that year Hubbard took on the position of "first teacher and principal" of the Independence Heights School, and in January 1915 saw Independence Heights become an incorporated city of several hundred residents.
   Four years after the city's incorporation Hubbard ran for and was elected as Mayor of Independence Heights, becoming the second man to occupy that post. After taking the oath as Mayor on June 19th, 1919 he gave a brief address which was highlighted in the Houston Informer several days afterward. In this address Hubbard made note that:
"I have, with the majority of our citizenship, undergone some very unpleasant hardships to dislodge those who had taken charge of our city's affairs by willfully breaking the statutes of Texas, and usurpation, but as I take office I realize I am as much their servant as I am my staunchest supporters.... So let us all try and build up a city that every person who lives here or may come will feel proud of it."
    Hubbard would serve two terms in office (1919-1923) and during his tenure a number of civic improvements were made to the burgeoning city, including  wood planked side walks, "water and sewage service", "limited public transportation" electric lighting and phone service and "shelled streets." Despite these various advances Hubbard's time as mayor didn't always go smoothly. The Houston Ku Klux Klan would make their presence known in Independence Heights on more than one occasion and even threatened Hubbard and his family. Due to these threats Hubbard would sometimes utilize a loaded 30-30 shotgun to persuade unwanted visitors to think otherwise when it came to intimidation!
   While his service as Mayor remains an important part of Hubbard's life story, his life after leaving office is also of note. He would deal in real estate and insurance beginning in the early 1920s and later removed with his family to Tyler, Texas, where he aided other black families in proving " they had clear title to land so that they could sell oil leases." O.L. Hubbard would remove back to Houston sometime in the early 1960s, dying there on February 12, 1968, a few months before his 88th birthday. He was later interred at the Golden Gate Cemetery in Houston.