Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sharpless Morgan Dietz (1867-1931)

Portrait from the Danville Morning News, January 21, 1931

   A standout citizen in the history of Danville, Pennsylvania, Sharpless Morgan Dietz was a prominent businessman in this Montour County city for over thirty years, being the proprietor of two hotels as well as a leader in the local Moose lodge. A two term member of the Pennsylvania State Assembly from Montour County, Dietz's life ended tragically via a car accident near Liverpool, Pennsylvania in January 1931, an accident that also claimed the life of the man who had preceded him the legislature, Jesse Beaver Gearhart (1868-1931). 
   Born in Danville on November 15, 1867,  Sharpless M. Dietz was the son of John George and Mary Anna Dietz.  He attended schools local to the Danville area and first entered into the workforce in the mid 1880s as a rolling mill employee. In 1887 he traveled to Ft. Worth, Texas and for nine years was employed as a engineer and fireman for the Texas and Pacific railroad. He married sometime in the early 1890s to Ms. Rachel Crumb (1869-1911), with whom he had three children, Oscar William (1894-1969), George (died in infancy in 1908), and a daughter, listed as Mrs. Ralph Jenkins.
   Sharpless Dietz returned to Pennsylvania in the late 1890s and around 1899 entered into the hotel business, becoming the owner and operator of the "Glendower House". He operated that hotel for nine years and around 1907 took ownership of the Riverview Hotel, operating it until his death two decades later. Active in a number of civic organizations in Danville, Dietz was a longstanding member of the local Moose Lodge and was its past director. He also held members in the local Eagles and Elks lodges and for over three decades was a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotives Engineers and Firemen.
   Dietz first entered the political life of Danville in November 1920 when he became a candidate for the Pennsylvania General Assembly from Montour County. Dietz's opponent that year was Republican Jesse Beaver Gearheart , a veteran of both the Spanish American and First World Wars. On election day 1920 it was Gearhart who eked out a narrow win over Dietz, besting him by a margin of just 13 votes--2,134 to 2,121!
   Two years following his loss Dietz launched another campaign for the assembly and was this time successful, defeating J. Beaver Gearhart. Taking his seat at the start of the 1923 session, Dietz would serve two assembly terms and was defeated for reelection in November 1926. 
   After leaving the legislature Sharpless Dietz continued to be a citizen of prominent standing in Danville and died in tragic circumstances in January 1931 via an automobile accident. On January 19th of that year he, former representative J. Beaver Gearhart and Montour County Associate Judge Victor Olsen left the Riverview Hotel and began traveling to the state capitol to attend the inauguration of Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot. The trio made it as far as Liverpool, Pennsylvania and on January 20th the Buick coupe they were travelling in encountered icy pavement, which in turn sent the vehicle plunging into a culvert. The Danville Morning News reported on the particulars of the accident, stating that:
"The driver lost control of the car and it started to slide crossways in the road towards the abutment. The four passenger coupe struck the abutment in the center of the right side, demolishing every window and bending the frame into a half moon shape around the end of the abutment."
   The force of the crash caused Dietz to be thrown from the vehicle and he was later found in the creek bed near the abutment in an unconscious state. Judge Olsen (who had been thrown into the highway upon initial impact) sustained injured ribs and lacerations. Only J. Beaver Gearhart remained in the vehicle, pinned in the wreckage. The Danville Morning News reported that Dietz showed "no signs of life" following the crash while Gearhart expired a short while later. A coroner's report later stated that both men had suffered skull fractures caused by being "thrown against the framework of the interior of the machine with such violence that the tops of their skulls were crushed like eggshells." Only Judge Olsen survived the accident. 
   After news reports of the accident reached Danville the outpouring of grief was immediate, as two of the city's most prominent figures had died suddenly and violently. Following funeral arrangements Dietz's body was returned to Danville and was later interred at the Fairview Cemetery in that city. He had been preceded in death by his wife Rachel in 1911, and was also interred at the aforementioned cemetery.

From the Danville Morning News, January 21, 1931.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pennock Edwards Sharpless (1852-1935)

Pennock E. Sharpless, 1852-1935.

   A descendant of a family with roots in Delaware County extending back into the early 18th century, Pennock Edwards Sharpless was born in that county on May 15, 1852, the son of William and Sarah Ann (Yarnall) Sharpless. Young Pennock attended school in the county of his birth and studied at both the Maplewood Institute and the West Chester State Normal School. Following the completion of his schooling Sharpless returned home to assist his father with the running of the family farm.
   After reaching his early twenties Pennock Sharpless went into business for himself, establishing a dairy that specialized in the manufacture of a "high grade butter" for customers in Philadelphia. His success in this venture led him to establish a new creamery that would house the "Danish Western separator", a dairy implement mentioned in the History of Delaware County as being one of the "first imported separators known to have been used in the United States." 
   Pennock E. Sharpless married on Christmas Eve 1874 to Anna Phebe Bishop (1854-1938), to whom he was wed for over sixty years. The couple's lengthy union would see the births of five sons: Percival Yarnall (1875-1897), Albert Wayne (1877-1931), Casper Pennock (1878-1959), Edward D. (died in infancy in 1882) and Austin Edwards (1885-1948).
   In 1882 Pennock Sharpless removed his creamery operation to Concord, Pennsylvania and through the succeeding years built up an impressive business, one that would extend into several branch creameries located throughout Delaware and Chester County. The P.E. Sharpless Co., organized in 1902, is recorded by the History of Delaware County as specializing in a number of different products, including evaporated milk and "fancy soft cheese, one thousand three pound boxes being the daily output."
   One aspect of the life of Pennock Sharpless not highlighted in the 1914 History of Delaware County is his 1898 run for the U.S. House of Representatives on the Prohibition ticket. In May 1898 Sharpless received the Prohibition nomination for Congress at the party's state convention held in Harrisburg. In that year's congressional election Sharpless was one of several candidates vying for the seat and on election day in November 1898 received 47,543 votes, compared to Republican candidate Galusha Aaron Grow's winning total of 532, 898.
   Following his run for Congress Sharpless continued active involvement with his creameries and in 1912 served as a Presidential Elector on the Progressive Party or "Bull Moose" ticket. He was also affiliated with the Charter National Bank of Media, Pennsylvania, serving as its director. Sharpless died in Concord on July 22, 1935 at age 83. He was survived by his wife Anna, who, following her death three years later, was interred alongside him at the Cumberland Cemetery at Media, Pennsylvania. 

From the Philadelphia Inquirer, 1935.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Disney Rogers (1844-1917)

Portrait courtesy of Find-A-Grave.

   Hailing from a state that has yielded many an oddly named public official, Judge Disney Rogers' unusual first name will most likely conjure up images of Mickey Mouse and other Disney World related subjects. Despite having no connection to the more famous "Uncle Walt" and the many characters he created, Disney Rogers was a figure of distinction in the Mahoning County area for over forty years, serving two terms as Prosecuting Attorney and also as Judge of the Court of Common Pleas.
   Born on December 19, 1844 in Columbiana County, Ohio, Disney Rogers was one of eleven children born to James and Elizabeth (Jamieson) Rogers. While Disney is most certainly a peculiar name to give a child, James and Elizabeth also bestowed unusual names on several more of their children, these being Arminda, Volney, Diogenes, Lycurgus, Moronha and Zagonyi Lyon!  
  Disney Rogers attended the public schools of Middleton and New Lisbon, Ohio and decided upon a career in law at a young age. He began reading law at New Lisbon in the mid 1860s and was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1866. Soon after he relocated to Mt. Gilead in Morrow County to establish his practice and from 1866-74 was a member of the law firm of Andrews and Rogers. Disney Rogers married in Mt. Gilead in February 1869 to Ida Andrews (1852-1937), the daughter of his law partner. The couple were wed for nearly fifty years and later had one son, James Bertrand (1870-1937).
   During his residency in Mt. Gilead Disney Rogers entered political life for the first time, serving as president of the Mt. Gilead town council and later as a district court commissioner. In 1874 he relocated to Mahoning County and after settling in Youngstown joined his brother Volney (1846-1919) in the law firm of Rogers and Rogers, which would continue operation until 1901.  
   Several years following his relocation to Youngstown Disney Rogers made his first foray into the political life of Mahoning County, being named as chairman of that county's Republican central committee in 1880. In 1884 Rogers would win election as Prosecuting Attorney of Mahoning County, serving two terms in that office from 1885-1891. In September 1899 Rogers was appointed as Judge of the Common Please Court of Mahoning County following the resignation of Judge James P. Kennedy. Rogers was elected to a term of his own on the bench in 1901 and in 1906 won another five year term.
   In addition to his judicial service Disney Rogers was a longstanding member of the Trumbull Baptist Association, serving as its moderator for over twenty years.  After many years of public service Disney Rogers died in Youngstown on April 13, 1917 at age 72. He was survived by his wife Ida and son John, both of whom were interred alongside him at the Tod Homestead Cemetery in Youngstown.

From the Alliance Review and Leader, April 16, 1917.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Lovatus Chapman Allen (1816-1901)

Portrait from the History of Washtenaw County, Michigan, 1881.

    A transplant to Michigan from Vermont, Lovatus Chapman Allen rose to become a prominent citizen in Washtenaw County, where he was a large landowner and farmer. A holder of a number of local political offices in York township in that county, Allen was later elected to one term in the Michigan House of Representatives in the early 1860s. Born in Huntington, Vermont on September 21, 1816, Lovatus Chapman Allen was one of nine children born to Edward and Abigail (Palmer) Allen
   The 1881 History of Washtenaw County records that Lovatus Allen began his schooling in a log cabin schoolhouse located on his father's property and following his family's removal to the nearby town of Richmond attended schools local to that area. At age eighteen he began a stint as a school teacher and during the summer months worked the family farm. Allen continued along the route until aged twenty, when he left home to seek out work in Massachusetts. After a short spell working in a gun-maker's shop in that state he returned home to Vermont, where he continued to teach and farm until reaching age twenty-five.
   In the early 1840s Lovatus Allen left Vermont for Deckertown, New Jersey, where his brother Carlos had settled some years previously. Allen would teach in this area for several years and in 1847 married to Sarah Dewey (1822-1881), to whom he was wed for over thirty years. The couple would become parents to ten children, who are listed as follows in order of birth: Kate (born 1848), Mary E. (1849-1940), Louisa (1850-1938), Laura Anne (1852-1936), Lovatus (died in infancy in 1853), )Ada (birth date unknown) Adelaide (1855-1926), Alice (1856-1950), Ida (1860-1945) and William Fitch (1864-1952).
   Following his marriage Lovatus Allen removed to Branchville, New Jersey, where for three years he was affiliated with a woolen mill in that town. In 1850 he pulled up stakes once again, this time resettling in Washtenaw, Michigan. He would resided here for the remainder of his life and after a period of establishing roots in the community built up a substantial farming complex. In addition to farming Allen also taught school and was elected to a number of local political offices, including that of school inspector and justice of the peace.
   In 1862 Allen reached his highest degree of political prominence when he was elected to represent Washtenaw County in the Michigan State House of Representatives. Serving in the session of 1863-65, Allen returned to farming after leaving the house and was widowed in 1881. Three years prior to his death Lovatus Allen was invited by then Michigan Governor Hazen Pingree to attend the dedication of a monument honoring former Governor Austin Blair. The 82 year old former representative traveled to Lansing to attend the ceremony and was recorded as being "much pleased" at having visited the state capitol.
   Lovatus Chapman Allen died in York Township on September 5, 1901, just two weeks short of his 85th birthday. He was survived by several of his children and was later buried at the Marble Park Cemetery in Milan, Michigan.

From the October 20, 1898 Saline, Michigan Observer.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

North West (1857-1943)

   We continue our stay in Maine to profile another man with a truly amusing name....North West! While his name may stir up memories of the media frenzy that surrounded the birth of celebrity toddler North West a year or two ago, this North West was a Maine native who had a brief flirtation with state politics, serving a term in the Maine House of Representatives at the turn of the 19th century. Little could be found on West's life, and due to the dearth of resources mentioning him his write-up here will be as brief as his legislative service!
   The early year's of North West's life are shrouded in obscurity, excepting notice of his birth in Massachusetts in June 1857. He would later marry to a Ms. Beatrice L. Hall (1881-1974) and had at least two sons, George Milton (1908-1980) and William Hall (1911-1972).
   Prior to his election the Maine legislature the only public office West held was a stint on the Biddeford City Council, first being elected to that body during the 1880s. In 1898 he was elected as one of two state representatives from Biddeford and during his term (1899-1900) held seats on the committees on Claims and the State Prison. Following his time in state government West continued to serve Biddeford in various local offices, including time as a member of the Biddeford school board. He would serve as its chairman from 1901-02 and during the 1904-05 board session was a member of the committees on Repairs and Supplies and Text Books and Course of Study.
  By the time of his son William's birth in 1911 North West is recorded as residing in Kennebunkport, where he was the manager of a water company. Little is known on West's life following this point, excepting that he and his family later removed to Seattle, Washington sometime after 1920. West died here in 1943 and was later interred at the Acacia Memorial Park in King County, Washington. His widow Beatrice died in 1974 at age 93 and was also interred at this cemetery, as are his sons George and William.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Zelma Merwyn Dwinal (1884-1957)

   The following write-up takes us to Maine to examine the life and political exploits of a man named Zelma. After locating the name "Zelma M. Dwinal"  amongst a listing of Maine County Attorneys in the 1921 Maine State Register I was quite certain that Dwinal was an early example of a woman being elected as a county attorney; this mainly due to the appearance of the name Zelma (predominantly a female first name). After further research I was rewarded with the above portrait from the Lewiston Evening Journal, proving that Dwinal was in actuality a male and had previously been a municipal judge in Rockland, Maine, a one term state representative, two-term state senator and a Republican candidate for Congress in 1934....truly a man of many achievements!
   The son of Fred and Luetta Briggs Dwinal, Zelma Merwyn Dwinal was born on March 12, 1884 in Mechanic Falls, Maine. He would attend local schools and later studied at the Bates College, graduating in the class of 1906. Following his leaving college Dwinal settled into a educational career that saw him serve as principal in several Maine school districts, including those in Richmond (1906-09), Livermore Falls (1909-11) and Camden (1912-17). He married in December 1907 to Harriette Newall (birth-date unknown), with whom he had three children, Charles, Barbara and Lucille.
   Zelma Dwinal was called to a very different area of public service during the early 1910s, being selected by then U.S. Senator from Maine William P. Frye to be a member of the U.S. senate police force. Dwinal's appointment was successful and he served at the Capitol from 1910-1912, during which time he also studied at Georgetown UniversityDwinal continued to serve at the Capitol until the year following Senator Frye's death, afterwards returning to Camden, Maine. He continued to teach school and study law for the next five years and in 1918 was admitted to the bar. Establishing his practice at Camden, Dwinal also entered the business life of that community in 1919 when he took over ownership of the Talbot Insurance Agency
   In 1920 Zelma Dwinal entered the political life of Maine when he won election as County Attorney for Knox County, Maine. He would serve in that post from 1921-23 and in 1924 was elected to represent Knox County in the Maine State House of Representatives for the 1925-27 session. Dwinal continued his political ascent in 1927 when he began serving the first of two terms in the Maine State Senate, the last of which concluded in 1931. In addition to the aforementioned posts, Dwinal is also mentioned as having been a delegate from Maine to both the 1928 and 1032 Republican National Convention
   Dwinal's longest term of public service began in 1932 when he entered into the office of Judge of the Municipal Court of Rockland, Maine. He would continue to serve on the bench for over two decades before stepping down in 1954 at age seventy. Early in his tenure as judge Dwinal made his first appearance on the national political scene, announcing his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives from Maine's 2nd Congressional district in early 1934. Hitting the stump hard, Dwinal made a number of speaking appearance during the course of his campaign, including one stop at the Lewiston-Auburn Kiwanis Club in August 1934. During his address at the club, Dwinal took the Roosevelt administration and it's policies to task, emphasizing that:
"Too many theorists and too few practical authorities are dictating the operation of the Nation's business today."
A Dwinal campaign notice from the Lewiston Evening Journal.

   Continuing his speaking engagements throughout the late summer of 1934, Dwinal stepped up his attacks on Roosevelt's policies, arguing that the government's "lavish and record-breaking expenditures" had caused hardship in his state and made light of his opponent's enthusiastic support of Roosevelt and the New Deal programs. Dwinal's opponent for Congress that year was Edward Carleton Moran Jr (1894-1967), a former candidate for Maine Governor who had taken his seat in Congress the previous year. On election day in September 1934 it was Moran who won out in the vote count, besting Dwinal by a vote of 52, 491 to 46, 200
   Following his congressional candidacy Dwinal returned to the office of Rockland Municipal Judge, retiring in 1954. He died three years later on September 30, 1957 at age 73 and was later interred at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Camden, Maine.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Baltzer Kramer Higinbotham (1841-1891)

Portrait courtesy of www.greeneconnections.com. 

     Indiana has produced a number of oddly named men who've served in some political capacity and today's "honoree", Judge Baltzer Kramer Higinbotham of Tippecanoe County, is yet another in a long line of curiously named Hoosiers too receive a write-up here.  A former Judge of the Criminal Court of Tippecanoe County and delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1880, Higinbotham died under unusual circumstances in 1891 after undergoing the bi-chloride of gold treatment in an effort to cure his alcoholism.
   A native of Pennsylvania, Baltzer Kramer Higinbotham was born in Masontown on October 19, 1841, the son of Samuel (1789-1861) and Hester Kramer Higinbotham. Both his first and last names have a few variations in spelling, with the first being given as "Baltser", "Baltzell" , "Baltzar" and "Balser" and the last spelled with both a single and double "g". His early education occurred in the state of his birth and after a period of study at the Greene Academy at Carmichaels, Pennsylvania enrolled at Waynesburg College in 1857.
  Remarked as having graduated first in his class in 1859, Higinbotham met his wife Emily Wells (1840-1883) during his time here and they married in 1864. The couple would become parents to one son, John Wells, born in 1866. Prior to his marriage Higinbotham served with the First Regiment, Pennsylvania Calvary, enlisting in 1861. He was discharged due to disability after two years of service and following his marriage removed to Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Indiana.
   Shortly after his resettlement Higinbotham took work as a clerk in a book store and also read law during his spare time. He was admitted to the Indiana bar in the late 1860s and is recorded as having "rapidly rose in his profession." Just a few years after being admitted to the bar Higinbotham was appointed as Judge of of the Criminal Court of Tippecanoe County, taking office in October 1871. He would serve one four year term and afterwards returned to his law practice.
   An orator of some repute during his brief life, Higinbotham gained a wide reputation as an "eloquent speaker and rarely gifted poet" and in 1880 was invited by  U.S. Senator from New York Roscoe Conkling to join him in stumping the state for James Garfield, then the Republican nominee for President. In addition to that speaking tour Higinbotham also served as part of the Indiana delegation to the 1880 Republican National Convention held in Chicago where Garfield officially received the nomination.
  Widowed in 1883, Baltzer Higinbotham remarried in 1887 to Mildred Binyon, to whom he was wed until his death four years later. Higinbotham's death in October 1891 can be traced to the "bi-chloride of gold" or Keeley Treatment that he'd been receiving for two days prior to his death. The Keeley Treatment (also known as the Keeley Cure) was popularized in the late 19th century as a supposed cure for alcoholism. Named after its developer, Dr. Leslie Keeley (1836-1900), Keeley's treatments proved quite popular (with over 200 locations located throughout the world between 1879 and 1965) but was viewed with skepticism by many in mainstream medicine. 
   Using injections of bi-chloride of gold that were to be administered four times a day, the treatments were reported to last for a four week period. Baltzer Higinbotham's connection to this curious form of medical treatment began when his law partner, Judge Marcellus Bristow, underwent the treatment himself and returned to the pair's home city of Frankfort a changed man, free of drink. Having promised Judge Bristow to take the treatment himself in the event Bristow was cured of his urge to drink, Higinbotham accompanied Bristow to Plainfield, Indiana to try the treatment himself. A write-up on the incident appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune a few days following Higinbotham's death and is provided below.
   Remarked as having been a victim of a "terrible drink habit", Judge Higinbotham arrived in Plainfield with Judge Bristow in mid October 1891 and shortly before undergoing his first treatment stopped for drinks and later complained of not feeling well. Higinbotham underwent his first injection of bi-chloride of gold at the institute in Plainfield on the Sunday after his arrival and later underwent three more injections, accompanied by "two vials of whiskey and the preparations to take between injections."
   The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Higinbotham "couldn't retain the whiskey" and later borrowed Judge Bristow's lamp due to his wanting to read before sleeping. A few hours later Bristow found Higinbotham dead, with a post mortem reporting that "blood was found on the heart." Higinbotham's death occurred on October 19, 1891, his fiftieth birthday. He was survived by his second wife and son John and was interred at the Creston Cemetery in Lowell, Indiana

Death notice from the Bismarck Weekly Tribune, October 30, 1891.

From the Salt Lake Herald, October 22, 1891.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Major Wetherford Funk (1849-1917)

Major Wetherford Funk, 1849-1917.

  This dapper looking mustachioed man is Major Wetherford Funk, a prominent Harrison County, Indiana attorney during the late 19th century. With a first name that is a bit of a misnomer (he never served in the military and instead has a military title has a first name), Funk is profiled today due to his service as Prosecuting Attorney for Indiana's Third Judicial District in the early 1880s.
  Born in Milltown, Indiana on October 29, 1849 to Virginia parentage, Major Wetherford Funk was the son of Reuben and Lucinda Spencer Funk. His education occurred in the common schools of Crawford County, Indiana and during his youth also worked the family farm. At age 17 he began a brief stint as a school teacher. He would later put that work on hold and enrolled at the University of Indiana at Bloomington, graduating from that school's law department in the class of 1875. 
  In the year following his graduation Major W. Funk married to Annice Carolyn Wyman (1859-1919), a resident of Martinsburg, Indiana. The couple would set up a home in the Harrison County town of Corydon and later had one daughter, Fannie, born ca. 1879. 
   Major W. Funk was admitted to the Indiana bar in Corydon and soon after entered into the practice of law. He continued in private practice until 1882 when he was elected as Prosecuting Attorney for Indiana's 3rd Judicial Circuit. He would win reelection to that office two years later and prior to his stepping down in 1886 was remarked to have displayed:
"The gift of oratory and natural and acquired ability as a lawyer that he is so well known to possess; often times in the important criminal cases of that period being pitted alone against the ablest advocates of the district and the state, but always fearless in the discharge of his official duty, able in debate, resolute and courageous in action, has been unusually successful in the prosecution of criminals."
  After leaving the post of Prosecuting Attorney Funk returned to private practice and in the late 1880s was talked of as a potential candidate for Circuit Judge for Indiana's Third Judicial Circuit. Little is known of the remainder of Funk's life, excepting notice of his death in Corydon on August 2, 1917. His wife Annice survived her husband by only two years and was interred alongside him at the Ceder Hill Cemetery in Corydon.