Today's multiple posting centers on five politicians with the unusual first name Americus. The first of these men, Americus Vespucius Rice, was a prominent Civil War figure in addition to his post-war political activities. Rice was born in Perrysville, Ohio on November 18, 1835, being the son of Clark Hammond Rice (1804-1870) and his wife Catherine (1808-1874). His unusual first and middle names stem from the anglicized version of the name Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer who later lent an alternate version of his first name to two continents, the Americas.
As a young man, Americus Rice studied at both the Antioch and Union Colleges, graduating from the latter in 1860. Following his graduation, he took up the study of law and would later abandon it at the outset of the Civil War. Rice entered into military service in April 1861 when he was "elected as a second lieutenant" in Co. E. of the Ohio 21st Volunteer Infantry. Rice would be wounded several times during his service, the first occurring at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862. He received a promotion to Lieutenant Colonel in 1862 and at the Battle of Kenesaw Mountain in 1864 was "severely wounded in the right leg, the left foot and the forehead." He had suffered a terrible injury at Vicksburg some months previously and this most recent wound eventually necessitated the amputation of his right leg above the knee. Despite his grievous injuries Rice pulled through and was later brevetted as a Brigadier General in May of 1865. Although his injuries kept him from active service for the better part of a year, Rice is recorded by the Biographical Encyclopedia of Ohio as having been able to "rejoin his army" at New Bern, South Carolina in April 1865.
Americus V. Rice during his congressional service, ca. 1875.
Rice was honorably discharged in January 1866 and after returning to private citizenship married to Mary Metcalf on October 11, 1866. Their union would later see the births of two daughters, Mary (born 1869) and Katherine (born 1873). Sometime following his marriage Rice journeyed to Arkansas to engage in cotton planting. His stay in Arkansas lasted two years and he returned to Putnam County, Ohio in the late 1860s. Americus Rice joined the C.H. Rice and Co., a banking firm operated by his father, and following Clark Rice's death in 1870 Americus took the reigns of the company.
In 1872 Americus Rice was elected to his first political office, that as a delegate from Ohio to the Democratic National Convention in Baltimore. Two years later Rice was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio and served here for two terms (1875-1879). During his congressional service, Rice is noted as having devoted "a large part of his services" to the affairs of Civil War veterans, even serving as the chairman of the house committee on Invalid Pensions during his second term.
Following his congressional service, Rice continued with his earlier banking interests in Ohio. In 1893 he was appointed as a pension agent in his native state, serving from 1894-1898. After moving to Washington, D.C. in 1899, Rice was tapped by then-President William McKinley to serve as a "disbursing clerk" for the U.S. Census Bureau and served in this capacity until his death at age 68 on April 4, 1904. Funeral services for Rice were held at the "Iowa apartment house" in Washington, D.C., and he was later interred with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.
Americus V. Rice, from his obituary in the April 6, 1904 Washington Evening Star.
The second Americus to be highlighted today is Americus Calvin Daily of Indiana, whose birth occurred March 10, 1835 in New Carlisle, Ohio. Daily attended local schools and eventually graduated from the Linden Hill Academy. In 1860, he removed to Indiana and settled in Boone County, and soon thereafter began service as deputy county treasurer under his uncle. Daily's public profile continued to rise throughout the 1870s and 80s with his service as Boone County Auditor and as the President of the Bank of Lebanon, Indiana. In 1884 he was named as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Chicago. Ten years later, Americus Daily achieved his highest level of public service when he was elected as the Indiana State Auditor, taking office in 1895. Daily served in this position until 1899 and died eight years later on June 4, 1907.
A great man with even greater facial hair, Americus Enfield.
Last but not least is Americus Enfield of Pennsylvania, who in this author's opinion has some of the greatest facial hair known to man (I'm fairly certain those mutton chops have their own gravitational pull!!!)
He was born in Somerset County, Pennsylvania on April 7, 1847. Although the political offices he held (a candidate for Congress and a National Convention delegate) are comparatively minor to the preceding individuals, Enfield gained most of his notoriety from his career as a physician. He attended Mercersburg College and after graduating, set up a small medical office in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.
Throughout the coming years, Enfield would continue his medical practice in Maryland and other parts of Pennsylvania. It is mentioned in the 1912 work The Progressive Men of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that Enfield made a "specialty of treating disorders of the stomach, which he treats with devices of his own invention". The book goes on to state that this invention was a brush/sponge/spraying implement which when inserted into the stomach "removes the substances which clog up the digestive machinery, and with this instrument he has treated nearly 300 cases without the loss of one."
On the political front, Enfield was a staunch Democrat, and in 1884 was nominated by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He ended up losing the election to the incumbent Republican, Jacob Miller Campbell (1821-1888.) In 1896, Enfield was named as one of the Pennsylvania delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and stumped for the party's presidential candidate, William Jennings Bryan. Enfield would serve as a Democratic delegate again sixteen years later, this time in Baltimore. Dr. Americus Enfield continued his career as a physician after his time in the political arena and died shortly before his 84th birthday on April 2, 1931.
In an addendum to this article, in early February 2012 another politician with the given name "Americus" was discovered. The man in question, Americus Columbus Mitchell Sr., has very few available sources mentioning him at great length, but enough information is available to write a small article on his life and political career.
Americus Columbus Mitchell Sr. was born on November 19, 1810 in Hancock County, Georgia. As a young man he resettled with his family in Alabama and later served during the Mexican-American War. Mitchell's inclusion here rests on his service in the Alabama State Senate, where he served both before and after the Civil War. In addition to his legislative service, Mitchell was named as Captain of the Glenville, Alabama Home Guard during wartime. He died at age 80 on January 21, 1891 and was buried in his native town of Glenville.
In another addition to this article (May 9, 2013), another political "Americus" has been located....Mr. Americus Hodge Woodward of Clearfield, Pennsylvania. A lifelong resident of the Keystone State, Woodward was born in Luzerne County on May 1, 1859 and went on to attend the Normal School at Millersburg, graduating from here in 1878. He later enrolled at the University of Michigan and graduated in the class of 1882.
After returning to Pennsylvania, Woodward read law and was admitted to the state bar in 1883. He married in June 1884 to Ms. Ella Jane Beistle (1860-1938) and the couple became the parents of three children, Hugh Beistle (1885-1968) Joseph Donald (1887-1949) and Dorothy (1895-1961). In the late 1890s, Woodward joined Co. E. of the 5th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and saw action in Cuba during the Spanish American War.
In addition to his military service, Woodward built up a successful law practice in Clearfield and in 1904 was named as one of Pennsylvania's delegates to the Republican National Convention in Chicago. Twelve years following his service as a delegate Woodward became a candidate for the Pennsylvania State Assembly and in November of 1916 was narrowly defeated at the polls.
Despite having little information on his life available online, it has also been found that Woodward was elected to two terms as Clearfield County District Attorney in the early 20th century. He died shortly before his 69th birthday on April 24, 1928 in Clearfield and was later interred at the Hillcrest Cemetery in that city.