Friday, September 21, 2018

Gaines Webster Marquis Tatum (1852-1930)

From the Atlanta Constitution, November 1, 1898.

   Featured on the Strangest Names in American Political History's Facebook page back on August 4th, Dade County, Georgia resident Gaines Webster Marquis Tatum represented his home county in the Georgia House of Representatives for four terms and served two terms in the state senate. Despite his long service in his state's legislature, little information could be located on him, excepting a few brief biographical lines in a July 19, 1891 edition of the Atlanta Constitution. Born in Dade County on November 25, 1852, Gaines W.M. Tatum was the son of Col. Robert Haley and Louise (Sulton) Tatum.
   A student in the common schools of Dade, Tatum had earned a modest fortune by the time he reached twenty years of age, having done contracting work with the Rising Town Iron Manufacturing Company. In the mid 1870s he married to Louise Gray (1857-1936), and the couple's lengthy union saw the births of several children, including Willie (1876-1892), Russell Fleming (1878-1958), Thomas Dabney (born 1879), Webster (1884-1958), Allen (died in infancy in 1895), Edward Turner (1895-1955) and Marion Shook (1897-1900). 
   Following his marriage, Tatum farmed, raised livestock, and is recorded as having had substantial mining interests in the Walker County area. In 1885 he made his first run for the Georgia legislature but was defeated by incumbent representative Shadrach Hale. Two years later Tatum made another run for the legislature and was this time successful, and during the 1889-90 session introduced a bill to "amend an act to prohibit the working of convicts of this state at night, and for other purposes." He would win a second term in 1889 and during the 1890-91 session chaired the committee on Manufactories and served on the committees on Banks, Wild Lands, the Penitentiary and Special Judiciary. 
  Gaines W. M. Tatum would serve two more terms in the Georgia state house from 1892-94 and 1898-1900. From 1894-1896 and 1900-1902 he represented Georgia's 44th senatorial district in the state senate, where during the former session he chaired the Mines and Mining committee and was a member of the committee on the Academy of the Deaf and Dumb, Immigration and Labor, Privileges and Elections, Public Schools, and Railroads.
  Tatum' s life following his final Senate term remains largely a mystery, excepting a 1918 notice detailing his discovering large seams of coal on Lookout Mountain in Georgia. Gaines W.M Tatum died in Trenton, Georgia on June 15, 1930, aged 77. He was survived by his wife Louise, and both were interred at Trenton's Baptist Cemetery.
  
From the July 19, 1891 Atlanta Constitution.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Allatia Coley Westbrook (1842-1910)

From Georgia's General Assembly of 1880-81.

  Lifelong Georgia resident Allatia Coley Westbrook rose to become one of Dougherty County's distinguished political figures, being at various times Mayor of Albany, Georgia, a two-term state representative, and one term state senator. One of ten children born to Richard N. and Josephine (Coley) Westbrook, Allatia Coley Westbrook's birth occurred in Houston County, Georgia on March 19, 1842. His early education was attained in the common schools of Houston County and during his youth left Georgia to reside with a cousin, Henry Battle, then head of a high school in Chunnenuggee, Alabama. 
  Westbrook would continue his schooling in Chunnenuggee and worked as a mechanic until the outbreak of Civil War. While he remained opposed to the destruction of the Union, Westbrook cast his lot with the Confederacy, returning to Georgia to enlist as a private in Co. C., First Georgia Volunteer Infantry. His duration with that unit extended a year and saw action at the battles of Laurel Mountain and Cheat Mountain. Westbrook would be wounded in action at the battle of Greenbriar, and, after the expiration of his first tour of duty, he reenlisted, forming a cavalry company with his brother that was later part of the Eighth Georgia Cavalry. He continued service with that regiment until early 1865 when he was promoted to Captain and dispatched to Albany, Georgia, where he remained until the close of the war.
   As the son of a slave owner, Allatia Westbrook is recorded by period sources as "having imbibed an early prejudice against the institution of slavery", and after receiving a number of slaves from his father in the early 1860s resolved to see them freed. Applying for a furlough from military duty to achieve this purpose, Westbrook's request was given the ok by General Robert E. Lee, and after returning home, Westbrook gave each of his slaves "the liberty of selecting his own home." Following the conclusion of the war, Westbrook saw his former slaves "comfortably well settled and doing well", many of whom "constantly manifested gratitude to him" for his actions.
   Embarking upon a mercantile career in Albany after the war, Westbrook's business met with success and in 1868 was elected to his first political office, that of Dougherty County treasurer. Westbrook would decline this post, however, and in 1870 was elected as a member of the Albany city council. This post was followed by his election as Albany's mayor in 1872, serving a one year term. In November 1874 he was elected as Dougherty County's representative to the Georgia State Assembly and during the 1875-77 session sat on the committees on Finance and Internal Improvements. In 1877 he won a second term in the state house (serving in the 1878-80 session) and during this term was a member of a special committee that investigated financial irregularities on the part of state comptroller Washington L. Goldsmith, who was later removed from office.
   Allatia C. Westbrook reached his highest degree of political prominence when he won election to the state senate in 1879. His service during the 1880-82 session saw him introduce a bill "to provide for the correct assessment of the property of this state for the purpose of taxation", an action that was reported on favorably by newspapers of the timeAt the conclusion of his term Westbrook returned home to Albany, and in the 1880s and 90s held large farmland holdings in both Dougherty and Baldwin counties. He would subsequently hold the post of a claims adjuster for the Central Railroad and Banking Co. of Georgia and, after several months of ill health, died in Albany on November 28, 1910, aged 68. A lifelong bachelor, he was later interred at the Oakview Cemetery in Albany.


From the Milledgeville Union Recorder, November 29, 1910.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Meriwether Flournoy Adams (1882-1947)

Portrait courtesy of Find-a-Grave.

   A leading figure in the political and judicial life of Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia, Meriwether Flournoy Adams served Eatonton as both its city attorney and mayor and in 1929 began a lengthy stint as Putnam County judge. The son of John William and Ella Carlton Adams, Meriwether Flournoy Adams was born in Eatonton on September 22, 1882. A student at the Eatonton High School, Adams graduated in the class of 1899 and soon after decided on a career in law, enrolling in the Mercer University law department. He earned his bachelor of laws degree in 1901 and in June of that year was admitted to the Georgia bar.
  Soon after his admittance to the bar, Adams partnered with Joseph Sydney Turner (1859-1909), a former Putnam County judge, to form the law firm of Turner and Adams. Their partnership would continue until Turner's death and in September 1905 was elected as Mayor of Eatonton. Assuming that post at the age of just 23, Adams was remarked as being the "youngest mayor in the state" and served three years in office, being succeeded in September 1908 by W.H. Hern.
   Adams returned to his law practice at the conclusion of his term and in November 1911 married to Sarah Edward Irvine (1889-1979) and later had five children, Meriwether Flournoy Jr. (1912-1993), Sarah Irvine (1914-1925), Edna Kathryn (1915-2001), Ann Robert (1917-2002) and Edward Irvine (1925-2008).
   In the years preceding his time as county judge Meriwether F. Adams would serve Eaton in other political capacities, being at various times city attorney and a member of the board of city aldermen. Beginning in 1923, Adams was named as a member of the Eatonton Male and Female Academy's Board of Trustees, where he served for four years. In November 1928 he won election as Judge of Putnam County and entered into his duties in January of the new year. He served a term of four years and was succeeded as judge in January 1933 by former state senator and longtime Eatonton lawyer Sidney Terrell Wingfield. In a strange quirk of fate, Wingfield died less than a year into his term, and his death occasioned a special election to fill his seat.

From the Eatonton Messenger, November 1, 1934.

    As a recent county judge, Adams was quickly boosted as the logical candidate to fill the vacancy, being acknowledged as the "senior member of the Eatonton Bar" and "one of the best civil lawyers in all Georgia. Competing against Adams in this contest was Dallas D. Veal (1903-1981), then the acting Putnam County judge. On November 6, 1933, it was Adams who was elected, garnering 349 votes to Veal's 171. He would win another term in 1941 and in 1945 won his fourth term as judge. Adams died in office on September 2, 1947, having been in ill health for several months prior to his death. He was survived by his children and second wife, Jewel Bailey Adams. He was later buried at the Pine Grove Cemetery in Eatonton.


                                              Meriwether Adams as he appeared early in his political career.

From the Eatonton Messenger, September 4, 1947.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Edmondson Ware White (1906-1958)

From the 1953-54 Georgia Official Register.

   A city attorney, municipal judge and one-term state representative, Edmondson Ware White lived to the age of just fifty-two but still managed to carve out an impressive career in the political life of Gwinnett County, Georgia. The son of Clarence and Rintie (Edmondson) White, Edmondson Ware White was born in  Buford, Georgia on February 19, 1906. A student in the public schools of Buford, White would graduate from the Georgia Military College in the class of 1926 and, after deciding upon a career in law, enrolled at the University of Georgia. Following his graduation with his bachelor of laws degree in 1929, White entered into practice in Buford, Georgia. In 1934 he won election to his first political office, that of city solicitor for Buford, and after serving four years in that post returned to private practice. 
  After several years away from politics, White was elected as judge of the city court of Buford in 1951 for a four-year term, and beginning in November 1952 pulled political "double-duty", as it were, due to his election as Gwinnett County's representative to the Georgia State Assembly. Taking his seat at the start of the 1953-54 session, White sat on the committees on Amendments to the Constitution No. 1; Appropriations; Banks and Banking; Conservation; General Agriculture No. 2; Hygiene and Sanitation; Invalid Pensions and the Soldiers Home; Privileges and Elections; Public Highways No. 2; and Public Property. 
  Following his legislative term White again served as Buford city court judge beginning in June 1956 and later was reelected to that office for a term ending in 1963. Sadly, White died in office on November 19, 1958, being just 52 years old. A lifelong bachelor, he was later interred at the Hillcrest Cemetery in Buford.

Edmondson W. White, from the 1929 Pandora Yearbook.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Cosmo Richardson Davis (1845-1904)

Portrait from the Atlanta Constitution, July 19, 1891.

   We continue our trek through Georgia to spotlight the life and political doings of a man named Cosmo--Cosmo Richardson Davis of Bulloch County! A Confederate veteran and farmer, this obscure man represented his home county in the Georgia State Assembly for one term and held no other political offices other than his service as a state representative. Born in Savannah, Georgia on March 10, 1845, Cosmo Richardson Davis spent the majority of his early life in the city of his birth and during the Civil War served with both the 47th and 57th Georgia Infantries.
   Following his removal to Bulloch County, Georgia, Davis resided in Statesboro and briefly practiced law before concentrating his efforts on farming. He would serve as president of the Bulloch County Alliance (an agricultural organization) and in the early 1880s married to Sarah Catherine Porter (1858-1926), with whom he had three children, Cosmo Patrick (1885-1946), Porter (1888-1890) and Emma (1890-1975).
   Elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1890, Davis served during the 1890-92 session and was named to the committees on Enrollment, Special Agriculture and Temperance. Little else could be found on Davis' life after leaving the legislature, excepting notice of his attending a Confederate veterans reunion and parade in Statesboro in August 1902. Cosmo R. Davis died shortly after his 59th birthday on March 24, 1904, and was survived by his wife Sarah, who, following her death in 1926, was interred alongside her husband at the Macedonia Baptist Church Cemetery in Statesboro.


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Tugalo Harvie Risner (1884-1954)

Portrait from the Georgia Official and Statistical Register.

   One of the truly unusual names to be found on a roster of past Georgia state senators, Tugalo Harvie Risner had served three terms in the Georgia House of Representatives from Hartwell prior to his Senate election in 1953. Risner's term in the Senate proved to be short, as he died a year into his term in June 1954. The son of Robert and Martha (Suit) Risner, Tugalo Harvie Risner was born on November 28, 1884, in Hart County, Georgia. The origins behind Risner's unusual name remain unknown but may have a connection to the Tugaloo River, a waterway that flows near a once existing Cherokee Indian town, also called Tugaloo. Several sources give the spelling of Risner's first name as "Tugaloo" (including a bridge named in his honor), and he himself spells his name as "Tugalo Harvie Risner" on his 1917 draft card. It is that name spelling that is given here.
  A student in the Reed Creek schools at Hartwell, Risner married on November 15, 1908, to Clara Mackey (1891-1963), to whom he was wed for nearly fifty years. The couple would have seven children, Lowell Garrett (1910-1982), Herndon Eldridge (1911-1991), Leon Tugalo (1914-1991), Marene Martha (1916-1997), Catherine (died in infancy in 1921), Yona (1924-1986) and Burt Cleveland (1930-2007). 
   Following the completion of his schooling, Risner was employed as a barber for a time (listing that as his occupation on his 1917 draft card) and during the 1920s and 30s was engaged as a wildlife ranger in the Georgia Game and Fish Department, serving under commissioners Peter Twitty and Zach Cravey. Prior to his government service, Risner also worked as a traveling salesman, a vocation that is briefly mentioned in his Georgia Official Register biography.

From the 1952-53 Georgia State Register.

  Elected as Hart County's representative to the Georgia Assembly in 1946, Risner proved to be busy as a first-term legislator, and during the 1946-48 session was named to the following committees: Auditing; Conservation; Corporations; Enrollment; Excuse of Members Absent Without Leave; Game and Fish; General Agriculture, No. 1; Georgia School for the Deaf;the Georgia State Sanitarium, Insurance; Invalid Pensions and the Soldiers Home; Mines and Mining, and Public Property.
  Risner won two further terms in the house in 1948 and 1950, and in 1952 was elected to the state senate. Taking his seat at the start of the 1953-54 session, Risner sat on the committees on Highways and Public Roads, Insurance, Motor Vehicles, Penal Institutions, State of the Republic, Temperance. Sadly, Risner's term in the Senate was brief, as he died at his Hartwell home of a "heart ailment" on June 20, 1954, a year into his term. He was survived by his wife Clara, who, following her death in 1963 was interred alongside her husband at the Reed Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in Reed Creek Georgia. Three years following his death, the "Tugaloo H. Risner" Memorial Bridge was dedicated in his honor, which still exists today.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Argin Artemas Boggus Sr. (1896-1955)

Portrait from the Georgia Official and Statistical Register, 1951-52.

   Georgia state assemblyman Argin Artemas "Double A" Boggus Sr. was for many years a leading figure in the civic and business life of Ben Hill County, being an auto supply store owner, chamber of commerce director and church leader. Elected to a third term in 1954, Boggus would die in office the following year of a heart attack, being just 58 years old. The son of Robert Lee and Lolah Anna (Bass) Boggus, Argin Artemas Boggus was born in Franklin, Georgia on October 26, 1896. He would attend schools local to the area of his birth and graduated from the Glenn High School in Heard County.
  Boggus married in October 1916 to Avie Lee Allen (1892-1982), and later adopted her two children from a previous marriage, Homer Cleveland (1911-1998) and Judson T. (born 1912). Boggus and his wife would also have five children of their own, Lola Belle (1918-2011), Myrtle Lee (1919-2015), Sarah Evelyn (1926-2018), Argin Artemas Jr. (1928-1999) and Everette Delano (1933-2012).
   Following his marriage, Argin Boggus removed with his family to Fitzgerald, Georgia, and later resided in Savannah, Georgia in the early 1930s, where he is recorded as working with the ACL Railroad and as a dairy farmer. In 1936 he and his family removed back to Fitzgerald, and after his return Boggus owned and operated the Western Auto Associate Store, dealing in auto accessories, tires, bicycles, fishing tackle, and other pieces of merchandise. 
  Through the succeeding years, Boggus achieved success in a number of other endeavors in the city, including being a director of the Fitzgerald Chamber of Commerce, vice president of the Fitzgerald Civic Corporation, president of the Fitzgerald Business Men's Club, and was president of the Fitzgerald Baseball Club. A longstanding member and deacon in the Zion's Rest Primitive Baptist Church, Boggus was also a Mason and Lions Club member active in drives for the Boy Scouts and the Red Cross.

From the 1953-54 Georgia Register. 

  Argin A. Boggus made his first move into local politics with his service as a member of the Fitzgerald city council and would serve as mayor pro-tem of Fitzgerald for a time. In 1950 he was elected as Ben Hill County's representative to the Georgia State Assembly and would serve a total of three consecutive terms, last being elected in November 1954. Boggus' last year in the legislature saw him come out as a firm foe against the raising of taxes, and in the spring of 1955 took to the floor of the assembly with a pair of wool-clipping shears and a skinning knife. Having gained the right to speak on the floor, Boggus remarked that "I want to teach you something...If you can clip a sheep this year, you can clip him again next year." His colorful actions warranted write-ups in several Georgia newspapers, and just a few weeks after making the above speech, died on July 8, 1955, succumbing to a heart attack he'd suffered at his store in Fitzgerald.
  Boggus' funeral was attended by an honorary escort of his fellow representatives and he was survived by his wife Avie and all of his children. A burial location for him remains unknown at this time and is belived to be in the Fitzgerald area.

Boggus' obituary from the July 9, 1955 Atlanta Constitution.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Broadus Brown Zellars (1898-1961)

Portrait from the 1917 Cauldron Yearbook.

  The Strangest Names in American Political History begins a monthlong stay in Georgia with a peek at the life of Broadus Brown Zellars, a native of Hart County who served terms in his state's house of representatives and senate. Elected to the former office at the age of just 25, Zellars continued prominence in state government in the late 1930s when he was appointed as assistant attorney general for the state. The son of Albert L. and Texie (Brown) Zellars, Broadus Brown Zellars was born in Bowman, Georgia on January 27, 1898.
  A student in the public schools of Hartwell, Georgia, Zellars graduated from that city's high school and would go on to attend Mercer University, where he edited the law portion of the Cauldron yearbook and took part in university debates. He received his bachelor of laws degree in 1917 at age 19, being remarked as the youngest member of that class.
  In June 1917 Zellars established his law practice in Hartwell, and although still in his teens, success at the bar came quickly to the young man, with Howell's History of Georgia noting that:
"He is well qualified to handle important litigation and has been accorded a liberal clientele. He possesses keen analytical powers and wins a large percentage of his cases, convincing by his concise statement of the law and the facts, rather than by word painting."
  Broadus B. Zellars married in March 1920 to Ora Lake Gaines (1898-1991), and the couple's four-decade marriage saw the births of three children, Mary Kate (1922-2011) and John Broadus (1924-2002), and Martha (1928-2007). Four years following his marriage Zellars entered into the race for the Georgia State Assembly, and in November 1924 won the election. As Hart County's representative in the legislature, Zellars held seats on the committees on Agriculture, Appropriations, Education, the Judiciary, and Public Highways. 
  In 1926 Zellars began his second term in the house and in 1928 was elected to the state Senate from Georgia's  30th senatorial district. During the 1929-31 session he chaired the committee on Education and Public Schools and was also named to the committees on Amendments to the Constitution; Banks and Banking; Commerce and Labor; Finance; Game and Fish; General Judiciary No. 1; Highways; Hygiene and Sanitation; Public Library; Public Printing; and Rules. 
  After several years away from government service, Broadus Zellars returned to public life in 1938 when he was appointed as assistant attorney general for Georgia, an office he served in until taking on the post of attorney for the War Labor Board and War Assets Administration in the mid-1940s. In 1947 Zellars became assistant solicitor for the Fulton County Criminal Court and remained in office until his death from a heart attack on January 19, 1961, shortly before his 63rd birthday. He was later interred at the Westview Cemetery in Atlanta.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Elogious Clay Gibbs (1847-1926)

Portrait from the Villisca Review, March 25, 1904.

  Uniquely named Iowan Elogious Clay Gibbs was a Pennsylvania native, who, after attaining maturity, left his birth state for life in the midwest. Following his permanent settlement in Villisca, Iowa in 1878 he entered into a nearly five-decade career as one of that area's leading lawyers and public men. A former township clerk, justice of the peace and city attorney, Gibbs had, by the time of his passing in 1926, served Villisca as its mayor more times than any other man (over twelve years in total.) Nearly a century into the grave, Gibbs' reputation as one of Villisca's leading citizens has been consigned to history's dustbin for a good majority of time, and now, with the aid of several archived issues of the Villisca Review, his life is highlighted for a new generation of readers to evaluate.
  Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 4, 1847, Elogious Clay Gibbs was one of ten children born to shoemaker Elogious B. Gibbs (1821-1873) and his wife, the former Anna Myers. Little is known of his schooling or early life in Philadelphia, and on July 8, 1864, he signed on for service in Co. A., 192nd Pennsylvania Infantry. His term of enlistment extended 100 days and was mustered out with his company on November 11th of that year. After his return from service Gibbs continued residence in Philadelphia and in 1869 married to Adelle (also spelled Adelia) Hallowell, about whom little is known. The couple would have at least two children, including Anna (died in infancy), and George (born ca. 1874).
   In 1870 E.C. Gibbs left his Pennsylvania home for a brief residence in Iowa, and in March 1870 settled in the small town of Villisca, which had been incorporated just a few years prior. His first stay in Villisca proved to be brief, and by the end of 1870 had returned to Philadelphia. However, Gibbs' first view of this Iowa town proved to have had a lasting effect on him, and in January 1878 he permanently resettled there. Within a short period, he began plotting his future and, deciding upon a career in law, began study in the Villisca office of Greenlee and Ross. He was admitted to the Iowa bar in 1879 and later formed a partnership with the man he studied under, future Villisca mayor Francis Pearce Greenlee (1847-1932).
  The partnership of Greenlee and Gibbs extended until 1882, whereafter Gibbs continued to practice alone until his retirement in 1921. In 1880 Gibbs made his first foray into the political life of Villisca, winning election as township clerk. He remained in that post until 1890, and from 1882-1890 also served Villisca as its city attorney. In addition to these posts, Gibbs would also be engaged as a justice of the peace for over three decades. 
   In October 1883 E.C. Gibbs remarried to Evaline "Eva" Hunter (1867-1902) in Plattsmouth, Nebraska. Just sixteen years of age at the time of her marriage, Eva Gibbs later gave birth to one son, Francis Whitney (1884-1941). Following his marriage to Hunter, E.C. Gibbs entered into Villisca business life when he helped to incorporate the Villisca Mutual Building and Loan Association. During his near four-decade-long connection to that organization, Gibbs served as its secretary (1886-1924), vice-president and president, holding the latter post the year before his death. 

                                                     From the 1908 Villisca Review Illustrated Supplement.

  In early 1890 Gibbs threw his hat into the ring for mayor of Villisca and in March of that year won the election, defeating incumbent mayor Peter R. Bates by a vote of 199 to 111. Gibbs' first term as mayor extended two years, having won reelection in 1891. He was defeated in his bid for reelection in March 1892 by C.J. West, and during that year not only saw Villisca chartered as a city of the second class but also the mayoral term increased from one year to two. By a quirk of fate, Mayor C.J. West resigned from office that July and moved out of the area, whereafter he was briefly succeeded by Mason M. Stoddard. At a special election held in October 1892, it was E.C. Gibbs who was selected as mayor, with his third term extending until April 1894.
  
Frome the Villisca Review, March 9, 1911.

   After several years away from city politics, Gibbs was nominated for a fourth term as mayor in March 1900 as a candidate on the Citizen's Ticket. He went on to defeat People's candidate Aaron Paulus by a vote of 354 to 73 and was elected to a fifth term in 1902, and a sixth in 1904. Early in his 1902 term Gibbs was beset by tragedy when his wife of nearly twenty years, Eva, died aged 35 in December, having undergone several surgeries for tumors during the year. Four years following her death Gibbs remarried to Jessie Wiseman (born 1878), later to be a published author and poet. The couple was wed until Gibbs' death in 1926, whereafter Jessie relocated to Tennessee.
   E.C. Gibbs was defeated for reelection in 1906 by James Sellman Jackson, who, later having declined renomination, saw Gibbs earn a seventh term as mayor in 1908. As his seventh term as mayor began in April 1908, Gibbs could reflect on establishing a record--having held the post of Villisca mayor more times than any other man up to that time. With ten years as mayor behind him, Gibbs began to tire of the office, remarking before the 1908 election that he believed "some other man ought to be given the office". He continued this line of thinking in the days following his election, relating to the Villisca Review that:
"While the office was unsought by me, and while I refused, again and again, to allow my name to be used, yet having entered to the race and won out, I thank one and all who supported me for your work and votes in my behalf, and I can assure you that my endeavor will be to fufill the oath of office which I will take "''to see that the ordinances of the city are enforced, and, impartially, to the best of my ability, discharge all the duties of the office.""
  With proven popularity amongst the Villisca citizenry, Gibbs was renominated for an eighth term as mayor in 1910 and in April of that year began his final term in office. In March 1911 he announced that he'd be resigning at the end of that month, citing the:
"Burden of the office, the cares, the worries, the ensuing loss of sleep, had so effected his health as to make his continuence in the mayor's chair a matter of serious import to him. He does not wish to pose as an invalid, and is not much, but is was necessary for him to make some sacrifice and the mayorship was to be let go of with greater ease than any of his numerous personal affairs which demand the greater part of his time and attention."
A caricature of E.C. Gibbs, from the Villisca Review, November 25, 1921.

  Gibbs' resignation from the mayor's office came one year before unprecedented tragedy struck Villisca. On the night of June 9-10, 1912, prominent local merchant Josiah Moore, his wife Sarah, and the couple's four children were murdered in their beds by an axe-wielding intruder. Also killed in the attack were two neighbor children, Lena and Ina Stillinger, friends of the Moore's daughter Katherine who had been spending the night with the family. This gruesome crime made headlines through Montgomery County, Iowa and elsewhere in the United States, and the Moore family slayings remain officially unsolved, with no perpetrator being convicted of the crime, now over a century old. It remains unknown as to E.C. Gibbs' role in the criminal proceedings following the murders. As a justice of the peace and prominent city figure at the time of the slayings, Gibbs likely had a frontline view of the inner workings of the investigation surrounding the crimes, an investigation that later centered on a number of different suspects
  In April 1921 E.C. Gibbs retired from the practice of law, selling the contents of his law office and library to fellow attorney R.J. Swanson of Red Oak, who took over his practice. While he may have retired, Gibbs remained active in his community well into his late seventies, being affiliated with the Villisca Mutual Building and Loan Association. He was chosen as president of that organization in 1925 and in the year of his death was returned to that post for another term. After nearly five decades of service to the political and civic life of Villisca, Elogious Clay Gibbs died at his home of a stroke on July 2, 1926, aged 79. He had been in failing health for several weeks prior to his death and following funeral arrangements was interred at the Villisca Cemetery, the resting place not only of the aforementioned Moore family but also several Villisca mayors.

From the Clarinda Journal, July 22, 1926.

Further Reading

 While information on Gibbs' life remains scant and no full biography of him was published during his lifetime, the above article hopes to fill that void. For further reading on Mr. Gibbs, the following issues of the Villisca Review proved invaluable when it came to completing this article.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Clemmon Leander Granger (1850-1900)

Portrait from the History of Fort Dodge and Webster County, Vol. I.

  Although he lacked length of years (he died aged 50 in 1900), Clemmon Leander Granger rose to become a leading name in business and politics in Fort Dodge, Iowa, where he not only founded a successful farm implement company but was also elected to multiple terms as that city's mayor. Born in Mt. Clemens, Michigan on February 11, 1850 (or 1851, according to some sources), Clemmon Leander Granger was the son of Sylvester and Mary (Vernie) Granger. Early in his life, he removed to Crown Point, Indiana with his family, where his primary education occurred
  His father being a farmer, Clemmon Granger became interested in the development and sale of farming machinery and during his youth spent time on the Crown Point farm of George Willey, the man who would become his father-in-law in 1874. Granger first entered into the farm implement business in Effingham, Indiana and later was affiliated with the McCormick Manufacturing Co., which positioned him as its local representative in Belleville, Illinois. This post was followed by his transfer to the position of company general manager for Illinois, and in the late 1870s would serve as McCormick's general manager for Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware.
  Clemmon L. Granger married in Crown Point in October 1874 to Alice Willey (1854-1935). The couple were wed until Granger's death in 1900 and would remain childless. Desiring to make a name for himself in the farm implement field, Granger left the McCormick Co. in 1879 and soon resettled in Fort Dodge, Iowa, where he opened a seed and farm implement store. In 1880 he partnered with George Weisz to found the dealership of Granger and Weisz, which continued until 1883 when Weisz sold his interest in the business to Granger, who in that year took P.M. Mitchell as a partner. Their partnership extended until 1898, when Mitchell retired from the company, whereafter Granger continued operations with Charles Brown under the firm name C.L. Granger and Co.


  Following his partnership with Brown, Clemmon Granger began preparations for the construction of a four-story building in downtown Fort Dodge to house his business. In an extensive write-up on the building's construction, the Fort Dodge Semi-Weekly Chronicle detailed that:
"The first floor will be used for the storing of heavy implements and hardware, as in the present structure. The offices and main sales rooms will be found on the second story, where the carriage repository will also be located. The third and forth story will be used for warerooms for the immense quantity of farm implements that are constantly kept on hand for the wholesale trade, which at present is one of the most important deparments of the firm's business. The shipping rooms will also be located on these floors."
 In addition to his business successes, Granger was an active participant in a variety of Fort Dodge and Webster County affairs, including service as secretary of the Webster County Agricultural Society and was a distinguished club-man, being a Mason, Knight Templar and member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen. In the fall of 1884, Granger was elected to his first term as Mayor of Fort Dodge and entered into office at the start of 1885. He would serve a second term the following year, and in 1892 was returned to the mayor's office, serving consecutive terms from 1893-96. His multiple terms as mayor were later lauded in his Fort Dodge Evening Messenger obituary, which notes:
"It was during the years of Mr. Granger's incumbency in the mayor's chair that Fort Dodge began its impetus towards a metropolis. His energy and public spirit proved contagious, and many of the city's improvements can be traced to his enterprise and acumen."
  In the year prior to his death Granger's health began to fail, and after undergoing three operations at various times throughout 1899 and 1900, he died at the Passavant Hospital in Chicago on April 6, 1900, just a few months after his 50th birthday. Alice Willey Granger survived her husband by over thirty-five years, and following her death in December 1935 was interred with Clemmon in the Granger plot at the Oakland Cemetery in Fort Dodge.


Granger's obituary from the Fort Dodge Messenger, April 10, 1900.