Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Stealie Monroe Preacher (1891-1971)

Portrait from the 1935 Bench and Bar of Florida.

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

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Cheever Lewis Shine (1872-1960)

Portrait from the 1935 Bench and Bar of Florida.

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

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

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

Friday, April 22, 2016

Vaughnam Adolphus Sims (1891-1950)

From the 1935 Bench and Bar of Florida.

  A fairly recent discovery as far as strange names are concerned, Polk County, Florida resident Vaughnam Adolphus Sims was a veteran of WWI who would later become a prominent figure in Lake Wales, Florida. An attorney based in both Georgia and Florida, Sims served as City Attorney for Lake Wales for a number of years and would also be elected as that city's mayor.
   Born in Gwinnett County, Georgia on May 3, 1891, Vaughnam Adolphus Sims was the son of Alfed and Neoma Sims. Vaughnam Sims would attend the University of Georgia, graduating in the class of 1917 with his Bachelor of Laws degree. He would begin the practice of law in Winder, Georgia and later moved his practice to Greensboro, Georgia, remaining here from 1919-1923. 
   A veteran of the First World War, Sims would serve with the 82nd American Expeditionary Forces. He married in the early 1920s to Ruth Jackson (1897-1989), with whom he would have three children: Neil B. (1925-2014), Barbara and Thalia. Neil B. Sims would go on to prominence in his own right, being a Major in the U.S. Army Reserve, a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a past President of the Alabama Psychological Association.

Vaughnam Adolphus Sims, from the 1917 Pandora yearbook.

   In 1923 Vaughnam Sims removed to Lake Wales, Florida, where he would reside for the remainder of his life. In the year of his removal he took office as Lake Wales City Attorney, an office he would continue to hold well into the 1930s. From 1926 to 1929 Sims served as the Mayor of Lake Wales and in 1933 is recorded as secretary of a Lake Wales School District Board of Trustees.
   A member of the Masons and the Knights of Pythias lodges, Sims was also active in the American Legion, serving as chaplain of the Lake Wales American Legion Post 71 in the early 1940s. Vaughnam A. Sims died in Lake Wales on July 19, 1950 at age 59. He was survived by his wife and three children and was later interred at the Lake Wales Cemetery.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Sedgwick Rusling Leap (1886-1979)

Portrait from the Bench and Bar of New Jersey,1942.

   Hailing from the same New Jersey county that produced the esteemed A.M.P.V.H. Dickeson, Salem County resident Sedgwick Rusling Leap was a practicing lawyer for many years and also made a name for himself on the New Jersey political scene, serving as a state assemblyman, state senator and common pleas judge. Born in the borough of Penns Grove on July 16, 1886, Sedgwick R. Leap was the son of John and Julia Ware Leap
   Young Sedgwick attended schools local to Penns Grove and went on to study at the West Jersey Academy at Bridgeton. He would further his education at the Wharton School in Philadelphia and graduated with his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1910. Following his graduation Leap spent one further year of study in the law office of Judge Maja Leon Berry (profiled here in October 2014) and in 1911 was admitted to the New Jersey bar.
  From 1911 to 1913 Leap practiced law in Camden with a partner, William Darnell. Leap would later leave that firm and operate a solo practice for three years, and in 1916 joined the firm of Leap, Sharpless and Way as a senior partner. Leap was also a veteran of the First World War, serving in the U.S. Army. In January 1921 he married to Bridgeton, New Jersey native Mary Dennis, with whom he would have one daughter, Mary Jane (born 1923).
  Active in Republican Party circles in Salem County, Sedgwick Leap represented that county in the New Jersey State Assembly from 1927-1929 and in 1930 began a six year stint in the New Jersey State Senate, during which time he gave:
"His aid and support to many measures which he has deemed vital to the upbuilding of the state and has just as earnestly opposed those which he believed to be inimical to the welfare of the Commonwealth."
   In his last year in the state senate Sedgwick Leap became Judge of the Salem County Court of Common Pleas, serving on the bench until 1941. In May of the following year he was reappointed as judge, an office he would continue to hold well into the 1950s.  A member of the Salem County, New Jersey State and American Bar Associations, Sedgwick Leap was a longstanding parishioner in the Methodist Church and for a time served as a member of the board of managers of the Vineland, New Jersey Soldiers Home. 
   Little else could be found on the life of S. Rusling Leap, excepting notice of his death in New Jersey in November 1979 at age 93. A burial location for both Leap and his family remains unknown at the time of this writing.


S. Rusling Leap, 1886-1979.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Hurlburt Lloyd Phillips (1856-1903)

Portrait from the Centennial History of Chautauqua County, 1902.

   Once in a great while I receive the pleasant surprise of discovering an oddly named political figure with connections to my home county, and that is precisely the case with Hurlburt Lloyd Phillips, a businessman and "active Republican" in Jamestown, New York. While not an office holder per se, Mr. Phillips earns inclusion here on the site due to his being a two time delegate to the Republican National Convention from New York. 
   Although a resident of Chautauqua County, New York for a majority of his forty-six years, Phillips was a native of Ohio, being born in the town of Geneva on December 7, 1856.  One of seven children born to Robert and Augusta Bartholomew Phillips, Hurlburt removed with his family to Northfield, Minnesota while still a child and attended school in that city.  In 1872 Phillips removed to Jamestown, New York and completed his education at the Jamestown High School
   Following his graduation Phillips entered the business life of Jamestown, joining local farmer Austin Heath in the buying and selling of cattle. In 1883 he entered the employ of a prominent local furniture manufacturer, J.M. Beman, in the firm of Beman, Breed and Phillips, a business which underwent a name change in 1886 to Phillips, Maddox and Company. Their company, located at 22 Steele Street in Jamestown, is notable for being amongst the first "to develop and manufacture the polished wood top table for the parlor and library" and was also acknowledged as having been:
" A pioneer in the 10 or 12 table factories of the present day, which have made Jamestown famous as the most important market in the country for goods of this character."
   In 1887 Hurlburt L. Phillips sold off his interest in the aforementioned company and for a time "went west to engage in business." He returned to Jamestown early in 1888 and in that year joined the Jamestown Lounge Company. This company continued as a co-partnership for one year, and in December 1889 incorporated, with Phillips being made the company's president. Earlier, in February 1888, Phillips had married to Nellie Buchanan (1856-1895). The couple would be married for only seven years, with Nellie dying at age 39 in 1895. Two children would be born to their union, Parmelee (a daughter who died aged 4 in 1894) and an infant child who died in 1889.
  Under Phillips' stewardship the Jamestown Lounge Company became a producer of high quality upholstered furniture, specializing in hardwood frame lounges, couches, sofa/davenports and "library and living room furniture." The company would experience rapid growth and following Phillips' death in 1903 continued to expand, and was profiled in the 1918 Furniture Manufacturer and Artisan as being:
"Rated with the largest and most important manufacturers of upholstered furniture in the United States, and there are only two or three factories in the country with a larger output; perhaps none specializing strictly on living room and library furniture."
Portrait from the Jamestown Evening Journal Trade edition, 1895.

   Active in a number of other business ventures both local to and outside the Jamestown area, Hurlburt Phillips served as a director of the Union Trust Company and was also affiliated with the Interstate Consolidated Mining Company of Canada, serving as its director. Phillips would also maintain a longstanding connection to both the Jamestown Hose Company and the Jamestown Fire Department, serving as both a foreman and acting chief. 
  Acknowledged as an "active Republican" in Jamestown, Phillips refused to be a candidate for elected office, but this aversion to any potential candidacies didn't stop him from representing New York's 34th district as a delegate to both the 1892 and 1900 Republican National Conventions. During the 1892 convention proceedings Phillips served as an alternate delegate and in 1900 journeyed with the rest of the New York delegation to Philadelphia, where William McKinley was renominated for a second term as President. In addition to his time as a delegate, Phillips was also a member of the Jamestown Board of Education, his dates of service being unknown at this time.
  Phillips continued to actively involved in the business and civic life of Jamestown until shortly before his death. A few weeks prior to passing he had contracted pneumonia, which was later compounded with "articular rheumatism".  Phillips visited New York City in the spring of 1903 and in early May became very ill at the Hotel Victoria. Despite having only days to live, Phillips' married on his deathbed to Mary Lamberton, to whom he was engaged to be married the following month. Two days following his marriage Hurlburt Phillips died at the Hotel Victoria. Just 46 years old at the time of his death, Phillips' passing was acknowledged as a "distinct loss" to the Jamestown community, and he was later interred beneath a modest headstone at Lakeview Cemetery.
  As Mr. Phillips is buried locally, his gravestone wasn't that difficult to locate when it came time to search for it! Also interred in the Phillips family plot are Nellie Phillips and the couple's two children.  



The graves of Hurlburt and Nellie Phillips.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Anning Smith Prall (1870-1937)

Portrait courtesy of the Library of Congress.

  Six term U.S. Representative Anning Smith Prall received brief mention in April 8th's profile on Esli Lyle Sutton, the man whom Prall defeated for a seat in Congress in 1926. A lifelong New Yorker, Prall was a past member of the New York City Board of Education and city tax commissioner prior to his years in Congress. Further politic honors came his way following his leaving the house, as he was appointed by then President Franklin Roosevelt to the Federal Communications Commission.
  The son of William and Josephine Rebecca Prall, Anning S. Prall was born at Port Richmond, Staten Island on September 17, 1870. His early education occurred in Staten Island and in the early 1890s enrolled at New York University. He would later enter into the employ of the New York World newspaper, where he worked as a reporter. In 1896 he left that paper and entered the Richmond County clerk's office, where he served as chief clerk for several years. Prall married in January 1892 to Jane Beaver and had two sons, Anning Mortimer and Bryan.
   In 1907 Anning Prall  began a decade long affiliation with the Staten Island Savings Bank's Mortgage and Loan Department, being the director of its real estate division. Twelve years later he was elected as President of the New York City Board of Education, defeating incumbent president Arthur S. Somers. Despite having no previous experience in state educational matters, Prall took to the job with vigor, outlining an extensive plan to increase teacher's salaries and hire only "aggressively loyal Americans" to teach in New York City schools. Promising to try and curb the influence of radicalism in the city schools, Prall remarked that:
"We should not retain in our classrooms for one moment minds so corrupted by radical doctrines that they cannot be aggressively loyal Americans, who are reverent and sympathetic expounders of a democracy which is the most effective government the world has ever devised to ensure all men life, liberty and pursuit of happiness."
Anning Prall as he appeared in the New York Tribune, May 14, 1919.

   Prall's tenure as school board president extended until 1921, when he resigned to join the City Board of Taxes and Assessment. Regarded as "a real estate expert" during his time on the board, Prall served there until 1923,  and in that year entered into national politics for the first time, due to the death of ten term Congressman Daniel Riordan (1870-1953). 
   A representative from Long Island since 1905, Riordan died in office on April 23, 1923 and following his death a special election was held to fill his vacant seat in Congress. As the Democratic nominee to fill the vacancy, Prall's opponent in that election was Republican Guy O. Walser, a lawyer based in Staten Island. On election day that year it was Prall who won by a wide margin, besting Walser by a vote of 28,215 to 9,972. Taking his seat at the start of the January 1924 session, Prall won a second term in November 1924 and two years later triumphed over Richmond County lawyer Esli L. Sutton to win a third term. 
  Prall would serve a further three terms in Congress and would serve on the committee on Banking and Currency during his twelve years in the house. Towards the end of time in Congress Prall was involved in a serious automobile accident that also injured U.S. Senator Robert F. Wagner. In a Schenectady Gazette write-up on the incident, Prall and Wagner had been on their way to Canada on a fishing trip when Wagner swerved his car to avoid hitting an oncoming truck. Their vehicle ended up driving over a twenty foot embankment before finally coming to rest "on its side in an Adirondack mountain brook". Both politicians were injured in the accident, with Prall himself sustaining a "compound fracture of one leg."

Prall taking the oath of office shortly before his FCC service.

   Following a hospital stay recuperating from his injuries, Prall resumed work in Congress. During his years on Capitol Hill Prall had gained a firm friend in President Franklin Roosevelt, who in January 1935 appointed him to the Federal Communications Commission. Prall would advance to the post of Chairman of that commission and during his two year tenure was acknowledged as a staunch defender of "freedom of speech over the airwaves." Utilizing his previous service on the NYC Board of Education, Prall also saw radio as a powerful educational tool, one that if used wisely could spread positive "democratic propaganda" throughout the country, if not the world. As Prall himself stated at a FCC conference in 1936, radio could:
"Spread the ideas and ideals of America, can 'sell' America to Americans, and thus forge a weapon of national unity that no other agency can create."
 Anning Smith Prall died while still chairman of the FCC on July 23, 1937, having succumbed to a heart attack at his summer home in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. He was survived by his wife and two sons and was later interred in the Prall family plot at the Moravian Cemetery at New Dorp, Staten Island. 


From the Ogdensburgh Journal, July 23, 1937.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Esli Lyle Sutton (1875-1945)

From the Staten Island Leader, October 31, 1924.

   A "lawyer of criminal and corporate reputation", as well as a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from New York, Richmond County resident Esli Lyle Sutton had previously been a two time candidate for Richmond County District Attorney. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 16, 1875, Esli L. Sutton was the son of Charles Albert and Martha Wirt Sutton.  He was a graduate of the University of Minnesota in the class of 1897 and married in Wisconsin in June of that year to Leilah Pearl Gowdy (1880-1965). The couple would later have two daughters, Ila Neva (born 1899) and Janice Lyle (born 1901).
  Esli Sutton began the practice of law in St. Paul, Minnesota and in 1904 was recorded as being a resident of Minot in that state. Further information relates that he was also retained as an attorney for the Great Northern Railway. By 1915 Sutton had relocated to New York City  and during World War I served as a Major of Infantry. Following that war's conclusion he continued in the practice of law and for a time was head of the Admiralty Law Department of the U.S. Shipping Board in New York City.
   In the early 1920s Esli Sutton began service as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. In late 1924 Sutton announced that he would be seeking the Republican nomination for District Attorney for Richmond County, New York. Running against Democrat Albert Cole Fach (1882-1972), Sutton was touted by the Staten Island Leader as being a strong presence in local civic affairs, as well as having"a host of friends throughout the Borough." 
  On election day 1924 it was Fachs who triumphed at the polls, besting Sutton by a vote of 22, 436 to 13,060. In the year following that loss Sutton was again a candidate for District Attorney. As the Staten Island Leader reported in its October 9, 1925 edition, Sutton would be making "automobile tours to all corners of the island", as well as speaking tours with other Republican candidates running that year. In November Sutton was dealt another loss to Albert Fach, who would continue to serve as District Attorney until 1931.

From the Staten Island Leader.

   With two unsuccessful candidacies behind him, Esli Sutton set his sights on higher office in 1926, announcing his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives from New York's 11th Congressional district. Sutton's opponent that year was another oddly named man, two term incumbent Anning Smith Prall (1870-1937), a former New York City Commissioner of Taxes and Assessment. When the votes were tallied on November 2, 1926 it was Anning S. Prall who coasted to a third term in Congress, besting Sutton by a wide margin, 34, 265 votes to 12, 929.
   Following his loss for Congress Sutton returned to practicing law and some time later removed to Bergen County, New Jersey. In 1942 he authored and edited a history of the family entitled "Genealogical notes of the Sutton Family of New Jersey". Three years following the publication of that work Esli Lyle Sutton died in Englewood on April 17, 1945. A burial location for Sutton and his family remains unknown at this time.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Carrollton Arthur Roberts (1903-1979)

Portrait from the Fairport Herald Mail.

    A recent discovery as far as unusual names are concerned, Judge Carrollton Arthur Roberts of Ontario County, New York is very likely the only man named "Carrollton" ever to be elected to public office in New York state. A veteran of the First World War, Roberts was a former District Attorney for Ontario County and in 1943 began a quarter century tenure as Ontario County Judge. In the twilight of his life further honors were accorded to him when he won election to the New York State Supreme Court, being elected at the ripe old age of sixty-four.
  The son of Milton and Mary Roberts, Carrollton A. Roberts was born on January 30, 1903 and spent his early years in Geneva, New York. He would attend a boarding school in Dayton, Ohio during his adolescence and at the dawn of American involvement in World War I enlisted in the Army, joining the 29th Engineers. His time with that unit saw him deployed to both Germany and France, and in the latter country "served in the four American engagements, Soisons, Chateau Thierry, St. Mihiel and the Argonne Forest." 
  Following his return stateside Carrollton Roberts entered into law studies at Cornell University, attending that school from 1925-1928. He would continue his studies at the University of North Carolina's Law School and was admitted to the New York bar in the early 1930s. Soon after his admittance Roberts entered into a clerkship at the Geneva based law firm of Lapham, McGreevy and Ryan, with whom he would be affiliated for several years. During this time he made his first foray into local politics, being elected to the Geneva Common Council
   In 1935 Carrollton Roberts won election as Geneva City Treasurer, holding that post until his election as District Attorney of Ontario County two years later. Roberts would serve six years as District Attorney and in 1943 succeeded to the post of Ontario County Judge. His tenure on the bench extended twenty-five years, and during that time also served in the capacity of family and surrogate court judge. Judge Roberts married in 1950 to Flint, Michigan native Alice Marie Light and later had two children, Marianne and Gregory.
  Three years after taking the reins as county judge Carrollton A. Roberts announced that he would be seeking the Republican nomination for Congress from New York's 38th district. Hoping to wrest the nomination from thirteen-term incumbent John Taber (1880-1965), Roberts faced an uphill battle. The Newark Courier Gazette reported on that year's primary election, relating that Roberts:
"Is expected only to reap the harvest of the longstanding Townsend opposition to Taber because of his refusal to vote on the Old Age Revolving Pension Plan of Dr. Townsend."
From the Newark Herald Courier Gazette, August 15, 1946.

   When the primary votes were cast in late August 1946 it was John Taber who claimed victory. He would continue to serve in Congress until 1963, retiring after a total of 41 years of service.  Despite this loss, Roberts would continue as Ontario County Judge, and after a quarter century on the bench set his sights on a higher judicial position, that of Supreme Court Justice for New York's 7th Judicial District. Several New York newspapers in that district touted Roberts' judicial experience during the 1967 election year and in November Roberts won election to that court.
   Elected as a justice at the age of 64, Roberts would serve only four years on the Supreme Court, announcing his retirement on February 1, 1972. Little is known of Roberts' life following his retirement, excepting notice of his death in Broward County, Florida on June 6, 1979. A burial location for Roberts remains unknown at this time, but is presumed to be somewhere in the Ontario County area.

From the Fairport Herald Mail, Nov. 1, 1967.