Friday, July 22, 2011

Cherubusco Newton (1848-1910)

Portrait from Herringshaw's Encyclopedia of American Biography of the 19th Century.

   A prominent lawyer and legislator in 19th century Louisiana, Cherubusco Newton's first name is truly one-of-a-kind. Research on Mr. Newton's life was somewhat hampered by the rather inconsistent spelling of his first name, which is variously given as "Cherubusco", "Churubusco" and "Curubusco".  Seeing that Newton was born on May 15, 1848 (a year after the famous Battle of Churubusco during the Mexican American War), it is in all likelihood that he was named after that particular battle. 
  I first discovered Mr. Newton's name in 2002 while perusing the website (the preeminent American political biographical index on the web, without question!) and other than the information there, little else could be found on him other than his short tenure in Congress. This remained the norm until websites (such as Wikipedia and Infoplease) began offering up tiny, uninformative blurbs on the man whose profile you are now reading!
   Cherubusco Newton was born in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana, the son of Daniel and Nancy Wright Newton. Cherubusco attended the State Seminary of Learning in Alexandria and graduated from Louisiana State University. He began teaching school soon afterward and in 1870 passed the Louisiana state bar exam. Over the next few years Newton gained statewide distinction as an attorney, and the Biographical and Historical Memoires of Louisiana (Volume II) mentioned that his firm "was ranked second to none in the northern part of the state." Newton married in 1879 to Amanda Cason (the sister of his law partner J.T. Cason) with whom he would have two sons, Thomas C. Newton (born 1886) and Sterling M. Newton, both of whom went on to distinguished careers as lawyers.
   In 1879 Newton was elected to the Louisiana State Senate and served four years total. In 1886 he was nominated by the Democrats for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and was victorious over his Republican opponent. He took his seat in March 1887 and served one term, being defeated for renomination by Charles Jahleal Boatner (1849-1903). In 1888 Newton was named as a delegate to that year's Democratic National Convention in St. Louis that renominated Grover Cleveland for President. At the expiration of his congressional term in 1889, Newton returned to Louisiana and continued with his earlier law practice. The Biographical and Historical Memoires of Louisiana Volume II notes that Newton was also a "successful financier and has accumulated a comfortable competency and a considerable fortune."
  Cherubusco Newton died shortly after his 62nd birthday on May 26, 1910 and was later interred at the New Cemetery in the town of Bastrop, Louisiana. In an aside note, Cherubusco Newton was, like Arphaxed Newton and Whitemarsh Seabrook before him, one of the few persons on the "Strangest Names In American Political History List" that I was sure I'd never see a portrait of. Google Books has once again come to my rescue and offered one up in a lengthy work entitled Herringshaw's Encyclopedia of American biography of the 19th century, published in 1898.

                                                   From the 1886 Troy Daily Times.


  1. Thanks for this post. I am the great grand-daughter of Cherubusco Newton. One of his sons, my grandfather, was also Cherubusco, sometimes written as Chernburns in Census reports. He was indeed named after the battle by his father, Daniel. This is the first time I have seen a picture of him.

  2. Thank you for your comment! As far as former Representatives go (strangely named or otherwise)your great grandfather is one of the more obscure ones to have served in the U.S. House. I'm still amazed I was able to locate a portrait him at all....even the online congressional bioguide lacks a picture of him! In case you may want to see where the portrait of him was found, here is the link...Thank you again for your comments!

  3. What a fantastic idea for a blog. Love it! I am fascinated by both unusual names and the 1800s so I could read this stuff for hours. Thank you so much for all your hard work on this.

    1. Terri,

      Glad to read your comments! You can like our Facebook page for more updates on articles and new strange name discoveries!