Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ammi Ruhamah Robbins Butler (1821-1901), Ammi Storer Ladd (1835-1910)


  This intriguingly named man is Ammi Ruhamah Robbins Butler, who was born September 4, 1821 in Fairfield, Vermont, a son of Dr. Ammi R. R. Butler. Both father and son were presumably named in honor of noted New England clergyman Ammi Ruhamah Robbins (1740-1813), who maintained a ministry for over fifty years and later served as a trustee of Williams College.  
   The Butler family left Vermont when their son was still in his infancy and resettled in New York. Young Ammi would later attend schools in the village of Alexander and married here in 1843 to Ms. Orvilla Tanner (1819-1895). The couple were wed for over fifty years and are believed to have been childless. 
    Ammi R.R. Butler would study law in Buffalo, New York and was admitted to the state bar 1846. Soon afterward he relocated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he permanently settled. Establishing his law practice in that city, Butler quickly advanced to the forefront of his profession and by the early 1850s was serving as District Attorney of Milwaukee County. 
He was twice re-elected to that post and in 1866 he won election to the Wisconsin State Assembly, representing the county of Milwaukee until leaving the legislature in 1868.
   In 1869 Ammi R.R. Butler was urged by members of the state Democratic party to run for the office of Chief Justice of the Wisconsin State Supreme Court against the incumbent Luther S. Dixon, but refused to become a candidate. In 1876 Butler was nominated for Mayor of Milwaukee (despite his protests) and was subsequently elected without opposition. He was the first Milwaukee mayor to serve two terms, with his tenure concluding in 1878.


                                                            Butler's official Mayoral portrait.


   Having retired from the practice of law in 1874, Ammi R.R. Butler continued with civic activities in his native city and for a number of years served as president of the Milwaukee County Bar Association. He continued to reside in Milwaukee until his death at age 79 on April 4, 1901. Butler had been preceded in death by his wife Orvilla in 1895 and both were interred at the Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee. He was subsequently memorialized by his contemporaries as a "marked man in his profession", as well as having been a
"A man of commanding presence, of dignified bearing, rather reserved though courteous in manner, and of exceptionally personal character."

Portrait from "the Minutes of the Maine Conference", April 1903.

  A distinguished Methodist minister in Maine for over forty years, Ammi Storer Ladd entered politics in the early 1890s when he became the Prohibition Party nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives from Maine's 2nd congressional district. In addition to his run for Congress Ladd was later a two time candidate for Maine Governor, again being the Prohibition Party standard bearer.
  The son of Jesse and Sophronia Ladd, Ammi Storer Ladd was born on June 17, 1835 in Phillips, Maine. He attended school in the town of his birth and was later a graduate of the Kent's Hill SeminaryLadd joined the Methodist Episcopal Church as a young man and joined the Maine Methodist Conference in 1860. He was licensed to preach that same year and in July 1861 married to Lydia Golder (died 1880), with whom he had one daughter, Lizzie (1862-1867).
  Through the succeeding years Ammi S. Ladd's ministry took him to a number of Methodist churches throughout Maine, holding pastorships in Kent's Hill, Waterford, Biddeford, Bath, Portland, Lewiston, Bangor and Auburn. In 1869 he received an honorary degree from Colby University and several years later served as a member of the Maine delegation to the Methodist General Conference held in Baltimore
   Following Lydia Ladd's death in 1880 Ammi Ladd remarried to Marion Meriwether, with whom he had two further children, Lydia (born 1882) and John (died in infancy in 1885). Marion Ladd died in 1885 and one year later Ammi married for a third time, taking as his wife Helen Osgood (1854-1917). The couple would have one child, Marion, who died in infancy in 1887.
   Active in the temperance movement in Maine, Ladd was a staunch prohibitionist and in 1892 entered politics when he received the nomination for Congress as the Prohibition Party candidate. As one of five candidates vying for the seat, Ladd placed a distant fourth on election day, polling 803 votes to six term incumbent Nelson Dingley's winning total of 17, 194. Four years later Ladd was again the Prohibition Party nominee, this time vying for the Maine Governorship. On election day 1896 he placed fourth in a field of five candidates, losing out to Republican candidate Llewellyn Powers. Ladd was dealt another gubernatorial loss in 1898, garnering just 2326 votes to Powers' winning total of 53, 900.
  Ammi S. Ladd spent the final years of his life in Yarmouth, Maine, where he died at age 74 on February 6, 1910. He was survived by his wife Helen, who, following her death in 1917, was interred alongside her husband at the Riverside Cemetery in Yarmouth.

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