Monday, October 3, 2011

Archelaus Marius Woodson (1854-1925), Archelaus Madison Hughes (1811-1898), Archelaus Madison Cochran (1839-1910), Archaleus Custer Steele (1848-1909)

From the St. Louis Republic, July 19, 1901.

   Today's multiple posting centers upon three politicians with the unusual name Archelaus, the name extending from Herod Archelaus (the son of Herod the Great), an ancient ruler of Samaria and Judea. The first of these men to be profiled is one Archelaus Marius Woodson, a distinguished lawyer and jurist from Missouri who would serve nearly two decades on the Missouri State Supreme Court.
   Archelaus M. Woodson was born on January 30, 1854 in Knox County, Kentucky, the son of Benjamin Jourdan and Margaret Fulkerson Woodson. The Woodson family migrated to Missouri when Archelaus was six months old and he resided in this state for the remainder of his life. Woodson's education was limited to local schools in Buchanan County, Missouri, with him "attending the district school in the winter and assisting in farm work in the summer." He later enrolled at the Plattsburgh College and graduated from Washington University in 1877 with his degree in law.
   Woodson began a law practice in St. Louis in the late 1870s and in April 1886 he married in Platte City to Elizabeth "Bettie" Oliver, with whom he would have three children, Lorene, Archelaus Jr., and Helen. In 1889 Woodson's exemplary skills as a lawyer were noticed by then Missouri Governor (and later U.S. Secretary of Agriculture) David Rowland Francis, who appointed him as a judge of the Twelfth judicial circuit of Missouri (comprising Buchanan County.) Woodson would serve a total of two years on the bench.
  In 1892 Woodson was elected as a judge for the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Missouri and was re-elected in 1898. Six years later he was named as a Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court and held his seat for 19 years, serving as Chief Justice during the 1915 court term. Woodson died at the age of 71 on November 17, 1925 and was buried in the Mount Mora Cemetery in Saint Joseph, Missouri. 

                                          Woodson during his Supreme Court service in 1907.

  The second man to be profiled today is Archelaus Madison Hughes, who was born on November 21, 1811, in North Carolina. Hughes earned his law degree in Tennessee and thereafter became a fairly prominent lawyer in the state. Hughes also served as a circuit court judge for Tennessee and in 1873 was appointed by President Grant as the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, serving in this office until 1877. Hughes was later nominated by the Republicans for Governor of Tennessee in 1881, but his candidacy is recorded as being unsuccessful. He died at the age of 86 on October 27, 1898, and was buried with full Masonic honors in the Rose Hill Cemetery located in Columbia, Tennessee.

   Next up is Archelaus Madison Cochran of Texas, who was born on Christmas Day, 1839 in Columbia, Tennessee. His family removed to Texas in 1843 when he was five, and as a young man studied medicine at the University of Louisiana in New Orleans. "Arch", as he was familiarly known, returned to Texas after concluding his education and in the early 1860s set up a medical office in Dallas. This was interrupted by his service in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, where he eventually was promoted to Captain.
   After the hostilities ceased, Cochran returned to practicing medicine and in 1866 was elected to the Texas State House of Representatives, where he served two terms, concluding in 1870. Cochran's political profile continued to rise when President Hayes named him as Postmaster of the city of Dallas in 1879. Cochran held this office for four years, until 1883 when he was named as the Republican candidate for Texas Governor. When the votes were tallied, Arch Cochran lost the gubernatorial election to Democratic incumbent Lawrence Sullivan Ross (1838-1898.) The loss margin was quite substantial, according to the Congressional Quarterly Guide to U.S. Elections. which notes states that Cochran garnered 66,456 votes to Ross's 229,806. Archelaus Cochran died at the home of his son on August 4, 1910, in Columbia, Tennessee, and was subsequently buried in Texas.

Portrait from the Province and the States, Volume VII, 1904.

  Lifelong Arkansan Archaleus Custer Steel earns a slot here on the Strangest Names in American Political History due to his service as County and Probate Judge of Sevier County, Arkansas. The son of Thomas  G.T. and Phoebe (Turrentine) Steel, Archaleus Custer Steel was born in Sevier County on March 22, 1848. A student in schools local to Sevier County, Steel would read law under the tutelage of his father and in 1872 was admitted to the Arkansas bar. In that same year, Steel married to Mary Susan Locke (1858-1898), and the couple's near twenty-six-year marriage saw the births of five children, Kate (1876-1925), Will (1879-1960), Irene (1892-1928), Phoebe Allen (1892-1977) and Susan (died in infancy in 1894).
  After establishing his law practice in Sevier County, Steel built up a clientele and also made strides into other aspects of county life, including a lengthy stint as school director of Lockesburg and was an organizer and president of the Bank of Locksburg. In 1902 he was elected as County and Probate Judge of Sevier County and was continually reelected to that office until his death in office on October 6, 1909, aged 61. He was later interred alongside his wife at the Belleville Cemetery in Locksburg.

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