Friday, July 22, 2011

Origen Storrs Seymour (1804-1881), Origen Drew Richardson (1795-1876), Origen Allan Blanchard (1838-1911), Origen Smith Caswell (1840-1872), Origen Bennett Jr. (1820-1905)

Portrait from the History of Litchfield County Connecticut, Vol. I, 1881.

   A scion of a prominent Connecticut political family and a graduate of the famed Litchfield Law School, Origen Storrs Seymour's career in public service lasted over four decades at both at state and national level. Born in Litchfield, Connecticut on February 9, 1804, Origen S. Seymour was the eldest of four children born to Ozias (1776-1851) and Salima Storrs Seymour. A family long prominent in American public life, the Seymour family would produce numerous statesmen, including Horatio Seymour (1810-1886), a Governor of New York and 1868 Democratic presidential nominee, Thomas H. Seymour (a former Connecticut Governor) and U.S. Representative Edward Woodruff Seymour (1832-1892), Origen's son. Ozias Seymour himself was a prominent lawyer in Litchfield County, as well as its sheriff for a number of years.
   Origen Seymour studied law under curiously named Connecticut jurist Tapping Reeve at the Litchfield Law School in 1824 and graduated from Yale College in that same year. Seymour married on October 5, 1830 to Lucy Morris Woodruff, with whom he would have four children, Edward Woodruff (1832-1892), Storrs Ozias (1836-1918), Maria (1838-1878) and Morris Woodruff (1842-1920), later to serve as a state senator.
   After several years of practicing law in his native Litchfield, Seymour was elected as Litchfield county clerk in 1836 and served eight years in that office. In 1842 (while still serving as county clerk) Seymour was elected to the Connecticut state house of Representatives for the first of several terms. In 1850 he was elected Speaker of that body and within a year was elected to national office, serving as a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Seymour served two terms in Congress (1851-1855), and is recorded as having "strenuously opposed the Kansas and Nebraska bills" due to their violation of the recently passed Compromise of 1850. 
  A member of the committees on claims and the judiciary, Seymour's time in Congress was later noted as one of hard work and little speechmaking, with his opposition to the Kansas Nebraska bills being a notable departure. At the conclusion of his second term in 1855, Seymour returned home to Litchfield. In that same year, he began an eight-year stint on the Connecticut bench, being elected to the Connecticut state superior court.

                             From the Bench and Bar of Litchfield County, Connecticut, 1709-1909.

    In 1863 Seymour resigned from the bench and in the following year launched his candidacy for Governor of Connecticut. In April 1864 he was defeated by incumbent Republican William Buckingham by a vote of 39,820 to 34, 162. Seymour launched another campaign for Governor in 1865 and again lost out to Buckingham, this time by a wider margin, 42, 374 votes to 31, 339Following his two unsuccessful gubernatorial candidacies, Seymour resumed his judicial service, being elected to the Connecticut State Supreme Court of Errors in 1870. He became Chief Justice of that court in 1873 and served until his retirement the next year, having reached the mandatory retirement age of seventy.
  During the late 1870s, Origen Seymour served as head of the commission that eventually settled the boundary dispute between the states of Connecticut and New York. In 1880 he was again elected as Litchfield County's representative to the Connecticut legislature and was acknowledged as a "controlling spirit in that body", even in his advanced years. Seymour died the following year on August 12, 1881, aged 77.  He had been preceded in death by his wife Lucy in 1878 and both were interred at the East Cemetery in Litchfield.

   Another Origen that made his name known politically is Origen Drew Richardson, who was elected to public office in both Michigan and the Nebraska Territory. He was born in Woodstock, Vermont on July 20, 1795, being the son of Jason and Mary Powers Richardson. Early in his life, Richardson began reading law in the offices of his cousin Israel. A veteran of the War of 1812, Richardson would see action at the Battle of Plattsburgh and practiced law in Vermont until his removal to the Michigan Territory in the 1826. Following his resettlement Richardson practiced law in Pontiac and also became active in territorial political affairs, being elected as Prosecuting Attorney for Oakland County in 1830.
  In the late 1820s, Richardson married to Sarah P. Hill, to whom he was wed for nearly forty years. The couple would become parents to four children, Origen Jr. (died 1840), Sarah Jane (1831-1921), Lyman (1834-1906) and Cornelia (1842-1923).
  Origen D. Richardson represented Oakland County in Michigan State House of Representatives in 1835, 1836 and 1841, and in 1842 won election as Lieutenant Governor of Michigan, defeating Edward Bostwick by a vote of 20,753 to 15, 536. Richardson served under Governor John Stewart Berry and at the expiration of his term in 1846 returned to Pontiac, Michigan where continued with his earlier law practice.
   In 1854 Richardson removed to the Nebraska Territory, eventually settling in Omaha. Soon after he put his law expertise to use as a Legislative Council member during the first and second sessions of the Territorial Legislature. The 1912 work entitled the History of Oakland County, Michigan states that during the Nebraska legislature's formative years, Richardson acted "as a prominent and useful part in the framing of some of the laws now on its statute books." 
   Origen D. Richardson died in Omaha on November 29, 1876 at age 81. His widow Sarah survived her husband by only three days, and both were interred at the same time at the Prospect Hill Cemetery in Omaha. This particular graveyard is also the resting place of two other oddly named politicians, Algernon Sidney Paddock (a Nebraska Governor and Senator) and Champion Spalding Chase (a Mayor of Omaha.)

  Origen Allen Blanchard was born in Barre, Vermont on December 17, 1838, one of several children born to Hiram Blanchard and his wife Parthenia Mary Earle. 
  Blanchard studied at both Barre local schools and the Barre Academy. He enlisted in the Vermont Volunteer Infantry Regiment in 1861. His three years of service saw him be promoted to corporal and eventually to sergeant in December 1863 before being mustered out of service in 1864. Following his military service, Blanchard engaged in farming for a number of years, and is recorded by the 1902 Vermont Legislative Directory as being a member of the Universalist Church as well as a road commissioner for the village of Williamstown for a number of years.
 Origen A. Blanchard married in Vermont in September 1867 to Ms. Myrna Elmer, with whom he would have two children, Leon (born 1870) and Hattie (born 1874). Blanchard is included on this the site here because of his brief tenure in the Vermont State House of Representatives, serving from 1902 to 1904. He is reported as being the recipient of a government disability pension to "chronic diarrhea" which he acquired during his stint in the Vermont Volunteer Infantry. Blanchard died at age 72 on January 12, 1911.

   On April 19, 2012 another politician with the unusual first name of "Origen" was discovered, courtesy of  an 1870 New Hampshire Register and Political Manual. The man in question is Origen Smith Caswell, who served one term in the New Hampshire state legislature in 1870.

   Origen Smith Caswell was born on March 17, 1840 in New Hampshire, the son of Joseph and Sally Berry Caswell. Little could be located in regards to Caswell's early life, but it is known that he was born into the prominent Caswell family, one of the most well known families residing on Star Island, New Hampshire. Other facts found on Origen's life relate that he served as town clerk of Gosport for many years and was also the owner of the Gosport House, one of the largest inns/boarding houses in that vicinity. During the early 1860s he married a Star Island school teacher named Christine Haley, to whom he was wed until his death in 1872.
  Origen Caswell's placement here on the site rests on his service in the Connecticut State House of Representatives, to which he was elected in 1870. Caswell served but one term in the legislature and died at the age of just 32 on December 2, 1872. The cause of his untimely death is listed by the book Isles of Shoals as smallpox, and a few years after his demise, a contemporary of Caswell (a Mr. William Gage) is listed as giving the following quote on the life of this obscure New Hampshire resident: "Origen was an example of temperance and quietness; trusted by all and loved by all." The rare portrait of Origen Caswell shown above was found in the earlier mentioned book Isle of Shoals, published in 2007 and authored by Donald Cann, John Galluzzo and Gayle Kadlik.

                           Caswell's name on an 1870 roster of Connecticut State Representatives.

You Can Help!
 Time for one of my famous "You can help" segments. Very little information can be found in relation to Origen Caswell's life and exploits, with exception going to his service in his state's legislature. As there is next to nothing available online about this interestingly named man, maybe someone out there knows more about Caswell than what is already stated in his article above. If any amateur historian/reader/possible descendants stumble upon his article here, please don't hesitate to comment in the space below or on the site's Facebook page!

  Hailing from the county of Windham in Connecticut, Origen Bennett Jr. was a prominent figure in that county for many decades, serving as a teacher in local schools for over forty years. In addition to his lengthy teaching career, Bennett also served one term in the Connecticut State House of Representatives in the late 1860s.
  Origen Bennett Jr. was born in Mansfield, Connecticut on March 14, 1820, the son of Origen Bennett Sr. (1784-1869) and his wife Sallinda Babcock. Origen Sr. was also a prominent Windham County resident, being a minister and later a four term representative in the Connecticut legislature.
  Little is known of Origen's early life, and it is presumed that he received his education in the schools of his native county. He married first to Miss Almira Hovey, who died in May 1860 at age 38. Origen and Almira are recorded as having at least one son, Frank, who died in 1855 at age four. After Almira's untimely death, Origen remarried to Emily M. Barton who died in November 1865 at age 44. 
  Origen Bennett Jr. became a teacher in the Bedlam, Connecticut school district around the time of his first marriage and taught during "many winter terms, during a period of forty years". The Modern History of Windham County, Volume 1 notes that in addition to his teaching career, Bennett was "widely viewed throughout neighboring towns as an auctioneer and people would come for miles around to here the wit and wisdom to which he would intertwine his sales art".
  Bennett won election to the Connecticut State House of Representatives in 1867 from Windham County and here served one term. After leaving the legislature Bennett continued to be a prominent figure and public speaker in the town of Chaplin, practically up until his death on January 2, 1905. He was later interred at the Bedlam Road Cemetery in Chaplin. The portrait of him shown above was located in the earlier mentioned Modern History of Windham County, Volume 1, originally published in 1920.

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