Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ithamar Conkey Sloan (1822-1898), Ithamar Martindale Howell (1866-1920), Ithamar Warren Beard (1814-1862), Ithamar Francis Conkey (1823-1875)

From a Wisconsin Bar Proceeding report, 1901.

   The first politician to be profiled in today's three part article is Ithamar Conkey Sloan, a transplant from New York to Wisconsin. Following his resettlement, Sloan established a reputation as a prominent attorney in Janesville and was later elected to two terms in Congress. Born in Morristown, New York on May 9, 1822, Ithamar Conkey Sloan was the son of Henry Scott and Maud McKenney Sloan. He was bestowed his unusual first and middle names in honor of Ithamar Conkey (1788-1862), a distinguished political figure and judge in Pelham, Massachusetts.
   Young Ithamar attended the commons schools of Morristown and early in life began reading law under Timothy Jenkins. Admitted to the New York State bar in 1848, Sloan married in 1852 to Celestia Eliza Spears (born 1831) in the town of De Ruyter, New York. Two sons would be born to their union, Francis and Charles Ithamar (born in 1857). Six years after being admitted to practice law Sloan removed to Wisconsin and established roots in the then-burgeoning city of Janesville. 
   Within a few years of his relocation, Sloan's name became a prominent fixture throughout law circles in Wisconsin, and in 1860 he was elected to the first of two terms as Rock County District Attorney. Three years later he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Wisconsin, defeating Democratic candidate Joshua J. Guppy (1820-1893). Sloan served two terms in Congress (1862-1866) and would serve on the house committees on Public Lands as and Expenses of the War Department.  
  After returning to Wisconsin in 1867, Sloan returned to his earlier career as an attorney and in 1875 became the Dean of the University of Wisconsin's Law Department. He retired from this office in 1889 and died on December 24, 1898 at age 76. Sloan was subsequently interred at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Janesville, Wisconsin.

  Next up is Ithamar Martindale Howell, an Iowa resident who later became Secretary of the State of Washington. Howell was born in Waukon, Iowa on February 18, 1866 and immigrated to the Washington Territory with his family in 1877. Howell attended Monmouth College in Oregon as a young man and within a few years became an important figure in the burgeoning Puget Sound business community. During the 1890s he became Secretary of the World Printing Company, and during this time also developed an interest in mining. This interest eventually led Howell to become the Secretary and Treasurer of the Peco Free Milling and Mining Company.
   With his name firmly established in the Washington Territory, Howell began to dabble in politics in 1899, winning election as Pierce County Assessor. Ten years later he was named by then Washington Governor Marion Hay as the Secretary of the State of Washington, and was twice reelected to that office. Howell served eleven years in this post, dying in office on July 13, 1920 at age 54.

   A prominent resident of Middlesex County, Massachusetts during the mid 19th century, Ithamar Warren Beard was born in the aforementioned county on September 3, 1814. Beard studied law in New Hampshire and eventually established a law practice in Pittsfield, New Hampshire in 1842.
  Beard moved back to Massachusetts during the mid-1840s and was nominated by the state Democratic party for a seat in the State Senate. He lost this election but eventually won the Senate seat in November 1851, with his term commencing at the start of the following year. After serving one term in the state senate Beard was named as the Assistant U.S. Treasurer at Boston. He served in this post for seven years, and in 1860 was named as cashier of the custom house of Boston. Beard's tenure in this office was cut short by ill health, and he died at age 48 on October 31, 1862.

   Hailing from the town of Amherst in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, Ithamar Francis Conkey was born in that town on March 23, 1823, the son of Judge Ithamar Conkey and his wife Elizabeth Clapp. He attended schools local to Amherst and went on to study at the Amherst College in 1843, but left before completing his studies. He eventually decided upon a career in law and after a period of study was admitted to the bar and launched his practice in Amherst in 1844. He married in that town on June 15, 1847 to Luthera Cutler (1826-1885), with whom he would have the following children: Jane Cutler (1848-1905), Edward (1850-1919), Lizzie (1853-1855) and Samuel (1856-1857).
   In the succeeding years, Conkey built up a successful law practice, and with it a reputation as one of Amherst's leading men of affairs. In the year of his marriage he was named as a justice of the peace and in 1852 was elected to the Massachusetts State House of Representatives from Hampshire County. He served in the legislative session of 1853-54 and in 1856 was elected as District Attorney for the Northern District of Massachusetts.
   In addition to his time in public office, Conkey was active in a number of civic organizations, such as the Hampshire Agricultural Society, secretary of the Amherst Lyceum, the Masonic Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and was a vestryman in the Grace Church of Amherst. Ithamar F. Conkey died in Amherst on August 8, 1875 at age 52 and was survived by his wife Luthera, who died in 1885. Both were interred at the West Cemetery in Amherst. The above portrait of Ithamar F. Conkey appeared in volume one of the History of the Town of Amherst, Massachusetts, published in 1896.


  1. Thanks for the informative short bio of Ithamar Conkey Sloan. May I suggest a few corrects? Ithamar was married to Celestia Eldridge Sears and they had a family of 7 children (see the 1880 census for the family in Janesville, Rock,Wisconsin. Not all the children are listed but the surviving children are.)

  2. Here's another bio for Ithamar Conkey Sloan that gives a better birthplace - Morrisville, Madison County, New York. He would have met his wife, Celestia Eldridge Sears in that county and they were married in DeRuyter, Madison, New York.:
    Term: Sloan, Ithamar Conkey 1822 - 1898Definition: lawyer, politician, Congressman, educator, b. Morrisville, N.Y. He was the brother of A. Scott Sloan (q.v.). He studied law in New York, was admitted to the bar (1848), and practiced in that state for several years. In 1854 he moved to Wisconsin, settling in Janesville, where he set up a law practice. A Republican, he held local political offices in Janesville, was instrumental in winning a portion of the land grant of 1856 for the Madison and Portage R.R. Co., and for several years served as district attorney for Rock County. In 1862 he was elected to Congress, and served two terms (Mar. 1863-Mar. 1867). After leaving Congress, he returned to his law practice in Janesville, but moved to Madison in 1875, where for a time he assisted his brother, Attorney General A. Scott Sloan, in litigation concerning the Potter law. He was a faculty member (1875-1894) and dean (1885-1889) of the Univ. of Wisconsin Law School. He spent his last years in Janesville. Biog. Dir. Amer. Gong. (1928); Milwaukee Sentinel, Dec. 25, 1898; WPA field notes.

    [Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]

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