Monday, September 26, 2011

Nimrod Lindsay Norton (1830-1903), Nimrod Davis Denson Sr. (1856-1927), Nimrod Davis Denson Jr. (1887-1958), Nimrod Hunter Chenoweth (1811-1894), Nimrod Whitfield Scott (1858-1943), Nimrod Richard Elliott (1826-1905)

Portrait courtesy of Find-a-Grave.

    Today's lengthy write-up highlights the lives of several obscure political figures, all of whom sport the unusual first name "Nimrod". The first of these men, Nimrod Lindsay Norton, was a minor political office holder in the government of the Confederate States of America and earns a place here on the site due to his service in the Confederate Congress from Missouri. Born in Carlisle, Kentucky on April 18, 1830, Nimrod L. Norton was the son of Hiram (Hyrum) and Nancy Norton and his unusual first name can be traced to Nimrod, the biblical "King of Shinar" and a descendant of Noah.
   Norton's early life saw him attend school in a log cabin near his home and he would go on to attend both the Fredonia Military Academy (located in Fredonia, Chautauqua County, New York) and the Kentucky Military Institute. He married in October 1853 to Mary Hall (1834-1900), with whom he would have eight children. Shortly after his marriage Norton and his wife relocated to Callaway County, Missouri, where he would operate a farm.
    Mentioned in the Biographical Register of the Confederate Congress as having been "opposed to secession", Norton cast his lot with the Confederacy and took to raising one of the first Confederate regiments north of the Missouri River. He would later serve amongst the staff of General Sterling Price and in November 1864 was elected to the Confederate Congress. His time here proved to be short, as health concerns began to plague him in January 1865, necessitating a "permanent leave of absence" from future legislative proceedings.
   Following the conclusion of the Civil War Norton returned to Missouri and two years later removed with his family to DeWitt County, Texas. Norton would relocate to Austin sometime later and was later selected by then Governor Oran Milo Roberts to serve as a commissioner to supervise the surveying of 3,000,000 plus acres of land in the Texas high plains that had been sold to defray cost expenses for construction of the new state capitol.    
   Norton would continue service to Governor Roberts as a member of a building commission responsible for overseeing building designs for the new capitol building. Widowed in 1900, Norton continued to reside near Austin until his death on September 28, 1903 at age 73 and was later buried at the Oakwood Cemetery in Austin.

Judge Nimrod D. Denson Sr., courtesy of

     A distinguished figure in Alabama law circles for over four decades, Nimrod Davis Denson was elected to numerous political positions during his life, serving at various times as Mayor of Lafayette, Alabama, a member of both houses of the state legislature, and the Alabama circuit court. Denson's public profile reached its apex in 1904 when he was elected to the Alabama Supreme Court. Born in Russell County, Alabama on June 20, 1856, Nimrod D. Denson was a son of Augustus and Elizabeth Ivey Denson
   Nimrod D. Denson began his schooling in the county of his birth and went on to attend the Auburn College from 1873-75. He studied law in the office of his brother William and was admitted to the bar in 1877. Soon after his admittance Denson formed a law partnership with J.J. Robinson, their firm continuing until its dissolution in 1882. Denson married on December 19, 1883, to Carrie Vernon (1861-1953). The couple would be married for over forty years and had four children, Carrie Luphelia, Mary Elizabeth, Nimrod Jr. and John Vernon. Both of the Denson sons would follow their father into practicing law, becoming prominent attorneys in the Opelika, Alabama area. 
   Nimrod D. Denson made his first foray into Alabama political life in 1881 when he served as intendent (Mayor) of Lafayette, Alabama. After a two year term in that office, he was nominated for the Alabama State Senate from that state's 9th senatorial district, and in November 1883 defeated Republican nominee Henry McCoy. Denson would serve a four-year term from 1884-88 and shortly after his term concluded was nominated "without any solicitation" for the Alabama House of Representatives. He would win election to that body in November and served in the session of 1889-91.
   Denson continued his rise in politics in 1891 when he was elected as a circuit court judge for Alabama's 5th judicial circuit. His tenure on that court extended from 1892 until 1904, and in the latter year was elected to the Alabama Supreme Court. His time as a state supreme court justice proved to be short, as he resigned in 1909 to resume the practice of law in LaFayette, Alabama
  Following his return to the practice of law Denson would move his practice to Opelika, Alabama and was retained as general counsel for the West Point Manufacturing Company, a prominent textile producer founded in Georgia in the early 1880s. Denson was later joined in his practice by his sons John and Nimrod Jr., continuing in his profession until his reappointment to the 5th Judicial Circuit Court of Alabama in 1923
   Nearly seventy years old at the time of his appointment, Denson's second tenure on the circuit court lasted until his death in Columbus, Georgia on March 25, 1927. His obituary in the Roanoke Leader relates that he had suffered heart trouble while en route to Columbus and a few days later succumbed to a heart attack at the home of his niece. Following his death, he was memorialized as a leader active in the prohibition movement, as well as a prominent figure in his churchJudge Denson was later returned to Alabama for burial at the Rosemere Cemetery in Opelika and was survived by his wife and sons. 

Portrait courtesy of

   Public service (and odd names) would continue in the Denson family in Nimrod Davis Denson Jr. (1887-1958), who received brief mention earlier. Born on January 3, 1887, Denson attended school in LaFayette and in 1904 graduated from the University of Alabama. He would practice law with his father and brother John in Opelika beginning in 1914 and later signed on for service in World War I, serving with the American Expeditionary Forces from 1918-19.
    After his return stateside Denson married on October 21, 1920, to Annie Elizabeth Rush (1897-1989). The couple would have three children, Charles Rush (1923-1971), Nimrod III (birth-date unknown) Carolyn (born 1930) and John Vernon (birth-date unknown). In 1926 Nimrod Denson Jr. entered politics for the first time when he was elected as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives from Lee County. 
   Serving in the session of 1927-29, Denson later was a member of the Alabama delegation to the Democratic National Convention held in Philadelphia, serving as an alternate delegate. Nimrod D Denson Jr. died in Alabama on June 13, 1958, and was survived by his wife and children. He was interred at the same cemetery as his parents. 

  Another  "Nimrod" that made his name known in politics was Butler County, Ohio resident Nimrod Hunter Chenoweth. Born in Middlesburg, West Virginia in May 1811, Chenoweth was the son of Philemon Cromwell and Sally Lyle Chenoweth. He relocated to the Ohio area in 1828 at age 17, settling in the town of Middletown. For a good majority of his life, Chenoweth was employed as a carpenter and civil engineer, and is recorded by the 1906 work Middletown in Black and White as "being one of the engineers of the Miami and Erie Canal when it was constructed."
   In 1837 Chenoweth married Ms.Jane Anderson (born 1815) with whom he had several children. He won election as Mayor of Middletown, Ohio sometime in the 1840s but his exact dates in office remain unknown at the time of this writing. Chenoweth died at age 82 on January 30, 1894, and was later interred at the Middletown Historical Pioneer Cemetery. 

   A distinguished son of Ensley, Alabama, the interestingly named Nimrod Whitfield Scott served a term as Mayor of Ensley and also represented the county of Jefferson in the Alabama State Legislature. Born in on August 11, 1858 near Rome, Georgia, Scott was the son of Pillsbury and Emily Anthony Scott. The Scott family removed to Alabama when Nimrod was five and he later lost his father when he died during active service during the Civil War. Nimrod Scott attended "country schools" in Jefferson County and as a young man is recorded by the Alabama Official and Statistical Register as teaching "a country school for five years." He married in October 1882 to Ms. Estelle Samples (1866-1954) and later had a total of eight children, Roscoe, Maude (1885-1947), Lester Lively (1888-1987), Edith (1890-1976), Ola, Paul, Romaine Samples (1902-1981) and Jessie Gregg. 
   In the years following his marriage Scott became a prominent merchant in the towns of Ensley and Pratt City and after Ensley was incorporated as a city in 1899, Scott was elected as its first mayor. He served four terms in this office and during his tenure accomplished much good for the young city, with the 1922 edition of the Men of the South noting that 
"during his term as mayor of Ensley he paved most of the city's streets and built two school buildings, all out of the general fund. He built the city hall and a complete sanitary sewerage system upon a basis whereby the fixed charges were less than four thousand dollars."
   After leaving the mayor's office in 1906 Scott served as police court judge and held a seat on the Ensley Board of Education. In November 1914 he was elected to a term in the Alabama State House of Representatives and is one term in this body saw him serve on the committees on Local Legislation, Corporations, Penitentiary and Criminal Administration and Municipal Organization. His term concluded in 1917 and in his later years was a member of a number of local fraternal organizations, including the Odd Fellows and Red Men Lodges, as well as the Knights of Pythias. Nimrod W. Scott died on October 14, 1943, at age 85 and was survived by his wife Estelle, who died in 1954 at age 88.

Portrait courtesy of

   In a recent update to this article (July 15, 2016), another political "Nimrod" has been located...Nimrod Richard Elliott of Indiana. A native of Perquimans County, North Carolina, Elliott was born in that county on May 4, 1826, being the son of Ephraim and Eliza Harden Elliott. He relocated with his family to Indiana in 1829 and four years later settled in Henry County. Elliott married in 1850 to Jane Cooper and in the following year moved to Mechanicsburg, Indiana, where he established a mercantile store. He would continue in that business for over forty years and also had a hand in similar operations located in Cadiz and Middletown, Indiana.
   In 1874 Elliott and two partners founded the Farmer's State Bank at Middletown, beginning with "a capital stock of 50,000 dollars." The bank would later be reorganized as the Farmer's Bank of Anderson about a year later, and Elliott would hold the post of bank vice president for four years. In 1882 a new Farmer's Bank of Middletown was organized, with Nimrod Elliott as its president.
   Recorded as a "stanch Democrat", Elliott would serve as a Democratic presidential elector on the Cleveland ticket in 1884 and also attended that year's Democratic National Convention as an alternate delegate. He would reach his highest degree of political prominence in 1894 when he became the Democratic nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives from Indiana's 6th district. Running for re-election against Elliott was two-term incumbent Republican Henry Underwood Johnson (1850-1939), a former prosecuting attorney and state senator. On election day it was Johnson who emerged victorious, besting Elliott by a substantial margin, 22,704 votes to 10,707.
   Nimrod Elliott retired from business in February 1895 and at the time of his death on January 16, 1905, was recorded as owning "750 acres of land" in the townships of Harrison and Fall Creek. He was survived by his wife Jane and two children, Erasmus Leonidas and Ida Florence, all of whom are interred at the Mechanicsburg Cemetery in Mechanicsburg, Indiana.

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