Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Strangest Names in American Political History Strange Deaths List.....

   After noticing that I have had over 370 + views on the site here since July, I've decided to do something a little different today (just to keep things a bit interesting.) Some time ago I started compiling a companion list to the "Strangest Names In American Political History" list that is the cornerstone of the site here. This companion list centers around strangely named politicians who have met unfortunate ends, either by accident or by their own hand. When this list was started, it contained only three or four politicians, but has since grown to include a great deal more. This list will be continually added to when a new discovery is made, so keep checking back for more updates.



 This interestingly named character is Xenophon Overton Pindall (1873-1935), an Arkansas State representative and senator from Arkansas who later became the Acting Governor of his state from 1907-1909. Pindall was also a prominent criminal attorney in Little Rock, and returned to practice after leaving the governorship in 1909. His life came to an end in rather odd circumstances in 1935 when he accidentely fell from a railroad embankment while taking a walk near the Arkansas River. He subsequently struck his head on a pile of rocks during the course of the fall and then had the bad luck of landing in a  "steam exhaust pool near a power plant." Truly a case of a sad and strange demise! The former Governor was 61 years old at the time and a write up on the accident appeared in the Sarasota Florida Tribune a few days following his death and is shown below.

                                           A sad demise for a great man with a great name.

  You can read more about the life of Xenophon O. Pindall (and several other political figures with that odd first name) in the following article which appeared on the site in July 2011.



  Reverdy Johnson (May 21, 1796-February 9, 1876) was a prominent Maryland resident who served as Zachary Taylor's Attorney General, a U.S. Senator from Maryland and U.S. Minister to England.  
  A statesman known throughout the United States, Johnson suffered a rather inglorious end in February 1876 while a guest at the Governor's Mansion in Annapolis, Maryland. At some point in the evening he either tripped over a piece of coal or suffered an attack of some sort, which caused the 79 year old to lose his balance. As he fell, Johnson's head struck a sharp granite corner of the base course of the mansion and then struck the cobblestone pavement. The New York Times coverage of the incident states that "death must have resulted almost instantly". Johnson was given a lavish funeral (deserving of a statesman) and was buried in Baltimore.


                                             Part of the NY Times article on Johnson's death.


Fairchild Andrus (1814-1897) of New York also suffered an odd death at an advanced age, albeit a bit more inglorious than Reverdy Johnson. Andrus served as a New York State Assemblyman from 1863-1865. On May 17, 1897 at age 83, the retired politician was milking a cow when it kicked him, causing injuries that proved instantly fatal.


                                       

Ximenas Philbrick  (May 25, 1808-September 13, 1863) was a prominent resident of Woodland, Maine who served in the State House of Representatives from 1847 to 1849. In 1863, he was struck by a falling tree and killed outright. No picture of him is known to exist, and a newspaper article concerning his demise couldn't be found to post here.


The man above, Athelston Gaston (April 24, 1838-September 23, 1907) served as Mayor of Meadville, PA as well as a U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania from 1899-1901. While on a moose hunting trip in Canada in 1907 Gaston was accidently shot and killed by a companion while making his way through the dense underbrush. The news clipping below appeared a few days after the event. Strangely enough, it makes no mention of Gaston being a former Mayor or Congressman.....







Balfour Bowen Thorn Lord (1906-June 16, 1965) pictured above in a 1965 edition of the Utica Observer, served in a variety of public offices throughout his native New Jersey, including: U.S. Attorney for New Jersey from 1943-45; delegate to the New Jersey State Constitutional Convention, 1947; chair of the Mercer County Democratic Party, 1949-65; a delegate to the Democratic National Convention from New Jersey, 1956; the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senator from New Jersey, 1960 and the New Jersey Democratic state chair, 1961-65. Lord committed suicide in June 1965 by strangling himself with an electric shaver cord at the home of a friend of his in Princeton, New Jersey.








Hiester Clymer (November 3, 1827-June 12, 1884) was a four term congressman from Pennsylvania who served as the Chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the War Department during his service. Clymer was also an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania in 1866. He committed suicide in 1884 by taking a massive overdose of morphine due to what the New York Times called "financial embarrassment." A snippet of that obituary is shown below.








 The wonderfully named Spurzheim Derby (1856-1930) was a member of the Kansas State House of Representatives in 1915. Fifteen years after his legislative service, Derby was driving his Ford Model T when it was struck by a train. His injuries proved fatal.




  Savillion W. Longley (1841-1912) was a one term member of the Massachusetts State House of Representatives in 1910. Two years after his legislative term he suffered a horrific demise due to burns suffered in a fire in his rooming house on January 3, 1912. Longley got out of bed in order to blow out a kerosene lamp when the flame he tried blowing on became trapped under the burner of the lamp. The flame suddenly grew larger and caught his nightshirt on fire, and within moments the room (as well as Longley) were a flame. 
 Longley survived the initial fire but the prognosis wasn't good. He suffered burns over nearly all his body and lost the majority of his hair to the flame. Longley was kept under the influence of morphine to ease his pain, but died a few hours after the fire on the morning of January 4, 1912.








  American diplomat Rounsevelle Wildman (1864-1901) led a very eventful life in his short 36 years. He was named as U.S. Consul in Bremen. Germany in 1893 and in 1897 was appointed by President McKinley as U.S. Consul General in Hong Kong for a term of four years. In addition to his diplomatic activities, Wildman was also journalist and published author, writing about his experiences in Asia and Indonesia.
 In February 1901, Wildman and his family booked passage back to the United States onboard the steamship City of Rio De Janeiro. This ship would eventually take them to San Francisco, but fate intervened on February 22, 1901 in a very tragic occurrence.
  While steaming into San Francisco Bay, the ship struck a rocky shoal due to dense fog. The ship sank quickly, and it is estimated that more than 120 people perished in the disaster. Rounsevelle Wildman, his wife and two children were among them.






Reading Wood Black (1830-1867) was a Texas resident who served a term in his state's House of Representatives from 1865-1866. Black is considered the founding father of what is now Uvalde, Texas, and is mentioned as a Unionist during his legislative service.
  Black also engaged in business endeavors with a family member, George Washington "Tom" Wall, opening a livestock/mercantile store. Evidently, Black's political stances and the mismanagement of money Wall had put into the store fractured the two's relationship to such an extent that Wall shot and killed Black in his store on October 3, 1867. It is mentioned that there were numerous witnesses to the shooting, but this didn't stop Wall from escaping by horse, and within days was hiding out in Mexico. He eventually made his way back to Texas and then to Canada. Wall's whereabouts after making it to Canada are unknown.




  This bowler hatted fellow is Urban East Hicks (1828-1905) a native Missourian who migrated to the Washington Territory in the 1850s. He served as a member of the Washington Territorial legislature and was later named to the post of Territorial auditor, serving from 1865-1867. In his later years he became a newspaper publisher in the Portland, Oregon area. In 1905, shortly after his 77th birthday, Hicks lost his footing and fell from a railroad car on which he had been traveling. He died of his injuries shortly thereafter in the town of Orting, Washington.



  This obscure politician is Jabez Prior Thompson (1786-1852), a Massachusetts State senator during the early 1850s. On August 10, 1852 Thompson decided to hang himself in a barn located on his property in the town of Plymouth. A newspaper report of the time (shown above) mentions him as being "perfectly sane" at the time of his actions. No picture of him is known to exist at this time.


  Alvarus Eleazer Gilbert represented Waukesha County in the Wisconsin State House of Representatives in 1878 and 1879, having previously served as a member of the county Board of Supervisors and town clerk of New Berlin. Due to an ongoing illness Gilbert became despondent in 1891 and due to a state of impaired health began behaving erratically, as well as being prone to frequent periods of depression. The Waukesha Freeman notes that in the early hours of August 20, 1891 Gilbert dressed, took his hat and cane, and made his way to a barn located on his property. It was here that he hanged himself from a barn timber, using "a rope halter used in tying stock". His body was found by a family member a few hours later and a certain Dr. Ingersoll concluded that Gilbert's death was caused "by his own hand while in a state of insanity was rendered." Gilbert was profiled here on the site on April 24, 2012, so visit the following link for more information on his life and political career


  Next up is oddly named Virginia legislator (and later senator) Waddy Thompson James, who was struck and killed by a train at age 89 in 1926. James (who's first name is also spelled Waddie and was named after strangely named South Carolina Congressman Waddy Thompson) was born in August 1836 and served with distinction in the Confederate Army as a Lt. Colonel. He is also  listed as being wounded/losing his hearing at Seven Pines during the Peninsula Campaign in 1862. James was elected to the Virginia State House of Delegates in 1874 and later served a term in the state senate. The exact lead up to his demise is shrouded in mystery, but he is listed as being struck and killed by a train on May 18, 1926 because he "did not hear it coming". One should note that he was nearly ninety years old at the time, and his loss of hearing certainly was a factor in his demise!


 Next up is oddly named Wisconsin State Insurance Commissioner Zeno Mathias Host, who served in his elected office from 1903-1907. Host was born to German parents in Lyons, Wisconsin on July 1, 1869 and when he was in his twenties helped found the Milwaukee Savings Loan and Building Association. In addition to his tenure as State Insurance Commissioner, Host also served as manager of the insurance department of the Knights of Pythias fraternal organization. 
  In November 1917, Host committed suicide by gunshot at the Hotel Martin in Milwaukee. A revolver is listed as being found near his body, but no available newspaper sources give mention as to why this prominent Wisconsin state official chose to take his own life.

From the 1917 edition of the Indicator.


                                 From the November 20, 1917 La Crosse Tribune and Leader Press.


  Hailing from Decorah, Iowa, Urban F. Hageman represented the county of Winneshiek in the Iowa State House of Representatives for a few months in 1965. Mr. Hageman was born in Winneshiek County in August 1929 and attended school in Calmar, Iowa. Hageman went on to study at the Iowa State University and also served with distinction during the Korean War. He is recorded as engaging in farming for the majority of his life and was elected to the Iowa legislature in November 1964.
  Sadly, a tragic farming accident terminated Hageman's political career in October 1965. A write up on this accident (published in the Mason City Globe Gazette a few days after the accident occurred) makes mention that Hageman was helping a neighbor fill silos when a piece of farming equipment he was adjusting fell on top of him. Hageman was only 36 years old at time of his death and was survived by his wife and six children.

                                       From the Mason City Globe Gazette, October 11, 1965.



  Proving that roadways were dangerous even back in the 1930s, U.S. Representative Harcourt Joseph Pratt died of injuries sustained in a vehicle roll over in 1934. Mr. Pratt was a notable businessman and politician from Ulster County, New York for many years, serving as a member of the NY State Assembly in 1890s and as a U.S. Representative from NY from 1925 until the year before his death. Pratt was driving with his wife in Highland New York on May 21, 1934 when his car either blew a tire or encountered a wet patch on the highway, causing it to spin out of control, overturn twice, and then careen into a nearby telephone pole. Mrs. Pratt survived her injuries but Harcourt himself succumbed to his injuries (a fractured skull and internal damage) a few hours after the accident occurred. He was subsequently buried in the Highland Cemetery in Ulster County, New York.

This obituary for Pratt appeared in an Ulster County newspaper a day after the accident.


 Next up is Mr. Flavillus Sidney Goode (1831-1885) a fairly prominent (as well as mysterious) 19th century Louisiana politician. Born in Alabama, Goode attended the University of North Carolina and relocated to Louisiana in the mid 1850s. He served in the Louisiana State Senate from 1857-1858 and also distinguished himself as a Confederate Army captain during the Peninsula campaign. Goode was elected as Louisiana State Attorney General in 1862 and served three years in this post. He was reelected to the state senate in 1874 (serving until 1878) and also was a circuit court judge from 1879-1885. Goode's life came to end in tragic circumstances in late December 1885, and according to the Louisiana Democrat article above, committed suicide "by blowing his head off with a double barrelled shotgun". Why Goode chose to end his life in this manner is unknown, and a portrait of him could not be found to post here.


  Mayor Archland Miller Best of the city of Hudson is another political figure who met with a tragic demise. Born in 1892, Best served with distinction during the the First World War and was elected as Mayor of Hudson, New York in 1931. His brief term as Mayor came to an abrupt end on July 23, 1933 when he was thrown from his speedboat and drowned in the Hudson River. The Albany Times notes that Best's craft overturned when he rounded a buoy located in the river channel and he was subsequently thrown into the water. "Unable to swim, the mayor drowned before help could reach him. He came up twice for air but then sank from sight". The Times goes on to state that Best's speedboat continued on its course until it became stuck in a mud flat a few hundred yards away.
  His body was discovered five hours after the accident when workmen began dragging the the river in a quest to find him. Best was honored with a military funeral in Hudson a few days following his death. A burial location for him is unknown at this time.




  Hailing from the county of Blackhawk in Iowa, Cicero Close served two terms in his state's House of Representatives from 1866-68 and again from 1872-74. In addition to his political service, Close was also a prominent farmer in the area, holding the office of trustee of the Agricultural College in Ames, Iowa as well as serving as a  past Director of the State Agricultural Society.
   Close met his end in a rather odd fashion on June 1, 1883. The Waterloo Courier notes that Close and two of his farm hands were readying a team of horses for loading hay at his farm. The team was eventually hitched and Close gave orders to his workmen for the day, whereafter he began venturing towards his house......then tragedy struck. The horse team lurched forward and began galloping towards Close, who then unwisely tried to grab onto their bridles in an attempt to slow them down. 
  The Courier goes on to state that Close hung onto the tongue of the horse bridle and was dragged about twenty feet. The wagon behind the horses eventually stuck a water trough and Close was "thrown violently to the ground,  one of the horses striking him on the head, behind one of his ears, and one of the wheels passing over his head and fracturing the skull, death resulting almost instantaneously."
  Close's funeral was held a few days later and was reported to have had "one hundred and thirty-two vehicles in the funeral procession", a testament to his popularity in Blackhawk County.




  Wyoming resident Hysler Hayden Runyan (1927-1963) represented Fremont County in the Wyoming Legislature from 1959-1960. In 1963 he and friend Floyd Richardson drowned when their fishing boat capsized at the Worth Meadows Reservoir. Runyan was only 35 years old at the time of his death.


   Solider, politician and publisher Datus Ensign Coon (1831-1893) was born in New York in 1831 and later migrated to Iowa, where he became a distinguished figure in newspaper publishing. During the late 1850s and early 1860s he established a number of Democratic-leaning newspapers in Iowa, including the Cerro Gordo Press in 1858.
   At the dawn of the Civil War, Coon raised a company of men which joined the Second Iowa Calvary and in the succeeding years was promoted to major, colonel and finally, Brigadier General in March 1865. After leaving the military Coon relocated to Alabama, and in 1867 served as a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention and soon after was elected to that states provisional legislature during the days of Reconstruction.  In 1878 President Rutherford Hayes appointed Coon as U.S. Consul in Babaca, Cuba and several years later was serving as a U.S. Consular agent in Baracoa, Cuba. 
    Following his return to the United States, Coon resided in San Diego, California and on December 15, 1893 was accidentally killed in that city. As the San Francisco Morning Call relates, Coon and a friend, J.B. Grovesteen, had just started out on a horse and buggy ride when Grovesteen's pistol accidentally discharged, hitting Coon in the stomach. Coon (who had been seated in the buggy) was returned home and received prompt medical attention, but succumbed to his wound shortly thereafter. Following his death he was interred with military honors at the Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego.

From the San Francisco Morning Call, December 17, 1893.


   New York state assemblyman Clellan Scales Forsythe served in the New York legislature from 1944-48, representing Onondaga County. Forsythe had earlier gained prominence as an auto dealer in Syracuse, being the owner and operator of the Clellan Forsythe Motors Inc. Forsythe lost his life in an unusual hunting accident that occurred in September 1953. 
  As the Syracuse Times related in its September 19, 1953 edition (shown above), Forsythe had gone hunting at his private hunting area on Fox Island in Lake Ontario near Watertown, N.Y., and while seated in his jeep suffered a heart attack. Sometime during the initial heart attack Forsythe ended up slumping over in his seat, causing his shotgun to accidentally discharge into his chest. Forsythe had died by the time medical attention was administered and was later interred at the Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse.


  Born in Washington D.C. in 1881, Southard Parker Warner was a Dartmouth College graduate and joined the U.S. Consular service at a young age, first holding a post as U.S. Consular agent in Gera, Saxony,Germany. He would later be named as U.S. Consul at Leipzig, Germany, serving here from 1904-09. At age 27 he was transferred to the consulship at Bahia, Brazil (serving from 1909-11) and beginning in 1912 would serve as Consul at Harbin, China. Sadly, Warner would take his own life via gunshot while still serving as consul, his death occurring at Harbin on May 9, 1914. Just 32 years of age at the time of his passing, Warner would later be interred at Washington D.C.'s famed Oak Hill Cemetery.

From the June 9, 1941 edition of the Bismarck Tribune.

    A one term representative to the North Dakota State Assembly in the late 1930s, Romanus James Downey attained further public prominence in that state in 1937 when he appointed as Commissioner of Veterans Affairs for North Dakota. His life ended under peculiar circumstances in April 1947 as the result of an "elevator mishap" (more on that later.)
   Born in Barnesville Minnesota in 1897, Romanus Downey resided in that state until his removal to Devil's Lake, North Dakota with his family in 1909.  He attended high school in that town and later studied at the University of North Dakota, putting his studies on hold to serve overseas during WWI as a member of Co. D. of the 2nd North Dakota Infantry.   Following his return stateside in 1919 he recommenced with his studies and in 1924 graduated from the Georgetown Law School in Washington, D.C.
   Downey practiced law in Devil's Lake until 1935 when he began service in the North Dakota State House of Representatives, being elected from Ramsey County. He would serve here until 1937, when he was appointed as State Commissioner of Veterans Affairs by then Governor William Langer. Downey would serve in this capacity until his death in 1947. On April 21 of that year he had entered an elevator to ride to his room on the fourth floor of the Gardner Hotel when he suffered a "dizzy spell or heart attack", which in turn caused him to "fall against a floor as it was being passed by the elevator." Downey died as the result of a "crushed skull" received from the accident and was survived by his wife.

                                                                    From the Bismarck Tribune, April 23, 1947.



   Two-term Indiana state senator Thollie Wilbur Druley (1879-1952)  received a substantial write-up here in October 2014 and while his time in state government is worth note, his unusual demise in 1952 is also worth mentioning. A long-time farmer in Boston Township in Wayne County, the retired ex-senator was killed on the afternoon of March 27, 1952 when a tractor he was using to remove boulders from a field overturned, pinning him underneath it. His son Byron found him later that day, and Duley's death is recorded as being the result of a "crushed chest."


   Distiniguished Vermont attorney Columbus Floyd Clough is yet another odd named political figure who lost his life as the result of a train accident (see Waddy T. James' bio above.) Born in Stowe, Vermont on June 28, 1833, Columbus Clough studied law under Paul Dillingham (1799-1891), a prominent lawyer and former Congressman, Lieutenant Governor and Governor of Vermont. Admitted to the state bar in 1856, Clough built up a substantial law practice in Waterbury, Vermont, where he practice from 1867-1899.
  Clough was a candidate for public office on two occasions. In 1880 he ran as the Greenback candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Vermont (garnering only 1,580 votes) and in 1896 was the People's Party nominee for State Auditor (polling only 597 votes.) Two years following his candidacy for auditor Clough died in unusual circumstances as the result of being struck by a train.
   As the Vermont Phoenix reported in its July 28, 1899 edition, Clough and a friend were traveling in a horse-drawn carriage when they came upon a rapidly approaching train. The horse became frightened and Clough jumped from the buggy, only to be struck by a train car and ran over. The Phoenix reported that "had Clough remained in the buggy he would not have been injured." The passenger in the buggy, a Mr. G.B. Evans, appears to not have been injured.

From the July 28, 1899 Vermont Phoenix.


 Ruluff White Hollembeak (1851-1911).

    Two term Iowa state representative Ruluff White Hollembeak was recently featured in an article here (Sept. 5, 2015), a brief part of which centered on his death, which occurred as the result of a train collision in February 1911. A representative from Adair County to the Iowa state house beginning in 1904, Hollombeak served as chairman of the house committee on Horticulture during his terms in office. One February 27, 1911 Hollembeak was driving (presumably a horse and buggy) across the tracks at Casey, Iowa when he was struck and killed instantly by a "Rock Island train." The 59 year old former legislator was survived by a wife and son and was interred at the Oakwood Cemetery at Casey.

Hortensious L. Isherwood.

  Very likely the oddest named man ever to serve in the Missouri House of Representatives, Hortensious Lowry Isherwood was a native of Iowa who relocated to Carl Junction, Missouri, where he would practice medicine for over four decades. He represented Jasper County in the Missouri state house from 1893-95 and later served Carl Junction as its Mayor. Dr. Isherwood maintained an active schedule as he grew older, continuing to make medical calls throughout Carl Junction and neighboring areas. Isherwood's devotion to his practice eventually resulted in a tragic accident near Waco, Missouri on March 17, 1924. On that date the 73-year-old Isherwood was returning from a "professional call" in his automobile when his car was struck at a railroad crossing by an oncoming Kansas City Southern passenger train. 
  According to multiple newspaper reports following the accident, the view of the tracks was partially obscured by an embankment, and that Dr. Isherwood had been traveling alone. Following the accident Isherwood's body (described as being mutilated almost beyond recognition) was transferred by the train crew to the nearby town of Asbury, and then on to Joplin, and finally to Carl Junction, where funeral arrangements were completed. Isherwood was featured on the site back in May 2014 and you can read more about his life at the following link.

From the November 8, 1938 edition of the Charleroi Mail.

   A well-known banker in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, Kerfoot Weightman Daly was named to various positions of the public trust, serving as a Presidential Elector in 1916 and later as a delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1924. The life of this intriguingly named Pennsylvanian came to end in a tragic automobile accident in November 1938 while on a hunting trip to Virginia. On November 5, 1938 Daly and a companion began the drive back to Charleroi and it was on the return trip home that tragedy struck. As the Charleroi Mail noted in its November 7th edition, Daly and Naughton were traveling down Route 50 on Cheat Mountain when their car came upon a stretch of curved road. The Mail later related that their vehicle 
Moved into a long steeply banked curve with a deep ditch on the driver's side. At this point it is believed that the driver's door, which opened from the front, suddenly unlatched and that Mr. Daly reached to close it. When he did the car went into the ditch, the opened door caught against the hillside and pulled him out of the seat. Impact was such that it pulled the front and rear doors, attached to the center post, from the machine. These evidently hurled him under the car in the small clearance."
   During the course of the accident Daly’s companion was thrown from the vehicle but was uninjured. A hunting dog also in the vehicle was killed, and a report of the accident later noted that Daly "died a moment or so after the crash of a fractured skull and hemorrhage" caused by being crushed between the car and mountainside. Kerfoot Daly was featured on the site on November 8, 2013 and you can read more about his life and accomplishments at the following link.


  One of the most plentifully named men to serve in the Kentucky legislature, Chadwell Fleming Campbell Nolan (also spelled Nolen) was a Civil War veteran who, following his military service, became a leading citizen in Harlan County, where he was active in local mining and lumber concerns. He represented Harlan, Bell and Perry County in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1904-1906. Following his time in the legislature Nolan continued to be a figure of distinction in Harlan County, maintaining an active role in his community up until his death via a train accident on December 23, 1923. On that date Nolan had taken a stroll when he stopped near rail road tracks to let a rapidly moving freight train pass by him. Having "stepped back" to let the train pass, Nolan was unaware of a "switch train" that was following close behind the freight train, and was struck in the back by it. The injured Nolan was placed in a caboose on the train and was then taken to a hospital in Lynch, Kentucky, where he later died of his injuries. Nolan was profiled here on the site on July 4, 2016, and you read more about him at the following link.

Portrait courtesy of Find-a-Grave.

   A Confederate veteran and farmer in Ascension Parish, Louisiana, Octavius Alonzo “O.A.” Bullion (1840-1905) represented that parish in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1892-1896 and again from 1900-1904. Bullion suffered a gruesome end on August 29, 1905 at his plantation, “Hope Villa”, when he became entangled in a cotton gin located on his property.  The Opelousas Courier later reported in its September 9, 1905 edition that Bullion’s “arm and leg were severely lacerated, rendering amputation necessary, but the shock was too great for his advanced years, and he died the next morning.”  Bullion was survived by a wife and several children and was later interred at the Prairieville Cemetery in Ascension Parish. 

From the Opelousas Courier, Sept. 9, 1905.


   A resident of Cambridge, Vermont, Zina Goldthwait Chase (1830-1893) served as an orderly sergeant of Co. H, 2d Regt. Vt. Vols. in the Civil War but was later “mustered out for disability.” In 1886 he was elected “by a large Republican majority” to represent Cambridge in the Vermont House of Representatives and served during the 1887-88 session. He is also of note due to his “advance methods in maple sugar making”, even having his work exhibited in Chicago and Paris. On July 8, 1893 Chase was violently thrown from a wagon load of hay and seriously injured. His injuries proved so severe that he died several days following the accident. His loss to the community “was deeply deplored.” 

From the Morrisville News and Citizen, July 20, 1893.

Iraneaus Liter Smith.

   A native of Pennsylvania, Iraneaus Liter Smith later removed to Story County, Iowa following the Civil War. He would serve as the Mayor of Ames, Iowa from 1873-74 and became well known in the abstract and loan business and served twelve years as Clerk of the Story County District Court following his service as Mayor. He was visiting Kansas City, Missouri on business in October 1908 when he crushed to death in an electric train car collision and was reported to have "died before he could be lifted from the wrecked car". Following his death he was returned to Iowa for burial in the town of Nevada (located in Story County.)


   A native of Italy, Zefferino Ceria Prina (1862-1922) would become a businessman of wide repute in Graham County, Arizona, first settling there in the late 1890s. In addition to success as the owner of a ranch and ice/creamery business in the city of Safford, Prina would be elected to two terms as mayor of that city, The life of this prominent Safford, Arizona resident came to a tragic end on April 13, 1922, as the result of a vehicle rollover near Tucson. Prina and four others had been en route to Globe, Arizona to attend a Shriners convention when Prina (the driver of the vehicle) encountered a turn in the road. The vehicle then “Swerved into an embankment on the right hand side and in an attempt to right it, it was thrown too near the edge of the hillside on the left hand side of the road and went over, turning three times as it made its decent." The Copper Era newspaper notes that Prina was instantly killed in the accident, while two others were injured. Prina was featured here on the site back in May 2015, and you can read more about his life at the following link.


   The father and namesake of Lucius Q.C. Lamar (the famed Mississippi congressman, senator and jurist) was himself a distinguished figure, being an attorney and superior court judge in Georgia. A student at the famed Litchfield Law School in Connecticut, Lamar was admitted to the Georgia bar in 1819 and soon after set up a law practice in his hometown of Milledgeville. From 1830-1834 he served as a superior court judge for Georgia’s Ocmulgee district and committed suicide via gunshot on July 4, 1834, “allegedly despondent after learning that a man he had convicted of murder and sentenced to death was in fact innocent of the crime.” This account is under scrutiny, and other sources relate Lamar had been suffering from depression for several months leading up to his suicide.


Sobieski Ross (1828-1877).

  A two term U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania, Sobieski Ross was a lifelong resident of Coudersport, located in Potter County. He attended local schools and following the completion of his schooling “engaged in civil engineering and the real estate business.” He was appointed as an associate judge of Potter County in 1852 and in 1872 was elected to Congress. He would serve two terms (1873-77) and declined to be a candidate for renomination in November 1876. On October 24, 1877 Ross committed suicide in his barn by shooting himself through the heart. Sources of the time relate that he had “been despondent for some time past, and has not been enjoying good health. His death has cast a deep gloom over the community in the vicinity.”

From the Somerset Press, Nov. 1, 1877.

Godwin M. Pitman.

Despite living to the age of just 37, Godwin Monterey Pittman (1886-1924) packed an incredible amount of public service into a short life span. At the age of 19 he was serving as Deputy Sheriff of San Bernardino County (1905-06) and in 1910 began a term as Police Judge of San Bernardino. He would later serve as a justice of the peace and Deputy Coroner for San Bernardino. Pittman is later reported to have exhibited reclusive tendencies and committed suicide in a cabin near Enterprise, California in August 1924 by “slashing his throat and severing the arteries of his wrists with a small lance.” His remains were later discovered by a neighbor who had tried to seek him out on the basis of legal advice.


   A Shreveport, Louisiana based attorney, Yandell Boatner graduated from the Louisiana State University with an A.B. degree in 1913 and with an LL.B. degree in 1916. While at L.S.U. he worked as a member of the staff of the Baton Rouge State Times. In 1919 he removed to Shreveport and served for two years as assistant United States attorney for the western district of Louisiana and was for a short time ad interim U.S. Attorney for Louisiana’s Western District. Boatner was wounded by an accidental .22 caliber rifle discharge inflicted at his home. “The rifle was discharged into his chest when Mr. Boatner sought to remove clothing from a closet, it was believed.” He later died of his injuries at a sanitarium located in Shreveport.


  A distinguished lawyer and political figure in Tipton County, Indiana, Every Arthur Mock (1870-1916) attended Valparaiso University and was admitted to the Indiana bar in 1894. He made his first attempt at public office in 1898, being an unsuccessful candidate for the Indiana legislature. In 1899 he won election as Prosecuting Attorney for Tipton County (serving from 1900-1904) and in the last named year was elected to the Indiana State Senate, where he sat from 1905-09. Mock met his end on July 26, 1916 due to a collision between his vehicle and an Indiana Union Company Traction car. Mock and his passengers (his brother and sister in law) were on their way to the former’s farm to assist in farming when Mock unwisely tried to cross the tracks ahead of the approaching train car. Mock and his sister in law were killed outright, while his brother Mel expired several hours following the accident.


    A one term member of the West Virginia State Senate from 1935-37 from Roane County, Leoma Ord “L.O.” Curtis had earlier served as clerk for the Roane County Circuit Court and from 1921-1934 was the chief clerk in the office of the West Virginia State Auditor. A year after the conclusion of his senate term L.O. Curtis entered into the post of clerk with the geological department of the United Fuel Gas Company in Raleigh. He continued in their employ for eight years, and in the latter portion of his life was reported to have "been in bad health for some time." This state of ill health later led Curtis to take his own life via gunshot in the washroom of the Atlas building in Raleigh on March 14, 1946. In a Raleigh Register report on the incident, Curtis was "observed to remove his glasses shortly after 11 a.m and go to the washroom whence a shot rang out. The body, a pistol beside it, was found by a fellow employee who rushed to the scene." Curtis's life was highlighted here back on April 6, 2017, and further information on him can be obtained there.


    A prominent lawyer who was originally born in Missouri, Lycurgus Homer "Curg" Lingenfelter used that odd nickname throughout his public life, and later migrated to Idaho in the early 1900s. In 1908 he was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as U.S. District Attorney for that state and served in that capacity until 1913. Lingenfelter attempted suicide in Oregon in June 1917 by hanging himself from a window at the Portland Surgical Hospital, where he had been a patient forseveral weeks. His hanging body (whilst still alive) was discovered by several hospital attendants, who then tried to rescue Lingenfelter by cutting the bed clothes that he had attempted to hang himself with. By doing so the attendants caused Lingenfelter's body to fall fifteen feet down the hospital grounds below. Lingenfelter’s attempted suicide was initially caused by worries over his health, as he left a nearly illegible note relating that "I do this because my eyesight is failing."

 Pringle T. Youmans.

  Pringle Tillinghast Youmans was a son of former South Carolina Attorney General LeRoy Youmans. A graduate of the University of Virginia in the class of 1881 (attending school with future President Woodrow Wilson), Youmans was admitted to practice law in South Carolina and later became a distinguished member of the Richland County bar. He would represent that county in the South Carolina General Assembly from 1910-1914 and during his second assembly term was struck and killed by a car in downtown Columbia, S.C. The driver of the vehicle, Harry L. Davis, was a former chauffeur for the city’s police department. Youmans had married his wife May just three weeks prior to the accident that claimed his life at age 55.

From the Fort Mill Times, March 26, 1914.

Portrait from the Danville Morning News, January 21, 1931.

   A standout citizen in the history of Danville, Pennsylvania, Sharpless M. Dietz was a prominent businessman in this Montour County city for over thirty years, being the proprietor of two hotels as well as a leader in the local Moose lodge. A two term member of the Pennsylvania State Assembly from Montour County (serving from 1923-27), Dietz died in tragic circumstances in January 1931 in an automobile accident. On January 19th of that year he, former representative J. Beaver Gearhart and Montour County Associate Judge Victor Olsen left the Riverview Hotel and began traveling to the state capitol to attend the inauguration of Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot. The trio made it as far as Liverpool, Pennsylvania and on January 20th the Buick coupe they were travelling in encountered icy pavement, which in turn sent the vehicle plunging into a culvert.
    The force of the crash caused Dietz to be thrown from the vehicle and he was later found in a creek bed near the abutment in an unconscious state. Judge Olsen (who had been thrown into the highway upon initial impact) sustained injured ribs and lacerations. Only J. Beaver Gearhart remained in the vehicle, pinned in the wreckage. The Danville Morning News reported that Dietz showed "no signs of life" following the crash while Gearhart died a short while later. A coroner's report later stated that both men had suffered skull fractures caused by being "thrown against the framework of the interior of the machine with such violence that the tops of their skulls were crushed like eggshells." Only Judge Olsen survived the accident. A full write-up on Dietz's life appeared here on the site on October 25, 2016 and can be viewed at the following link.

Ryland Christmas Musick.

   One of the more humorous names you'll find while perusing a list of Kentucky state legislators, Ryland Christmas Musick (1884-1924) represented the counties of Breathitt, Lee and Magoffin in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1918-1920 and later was an unsuccessful candidate for Kentucky State Attorney General (running in 1919) and U.S. Representative from Kentucky in the 1924 Democratic primary. Just a few weeks following that primary loss Musick undertook a business trip to Virginia and on August 22, 1924 the car in which he was a passenger lost control and turned over several times. Pinned underneath the wreckage, Musick was extricated from the vehicle and later died at a hospital near Lebanon, Virginia, aged just 39. He was survived by his wife Bessie, and the full write-up on his life can be viewed at the following link.


   Frethias Jefferson Netherton was a California native who found his calling in educational matters in the Arizona Territory. At the age of just 28 he was named as Superintendent of Public Instruction for that territory and served one term. Netherton would meet a sudden end in 1897 when he was thrown from his horse while on a cattle drive, dying of his injuries a short while later.  A former president of the Arizona Teacher’s Organization from 1893-94, Netherton served as territorial superintendent from 1893-95. In 1897 he branched out into the butchery business, purchasing an interest in a meat market in Mesa, Arizona. 
  In June 1897 he and several other men embarked on a cattle drive near Mesa, during which several cattle became separated from the rest of the herd. As the Arizona Sentinel later reported, Netherton rapidly dashed after them on horseback, only to be thrown over the horse's head when it suddenly halted due to the cattle stopping. The Sentinel later reported that "he struck the ground on his forehead and face, smashing the bones of the forehead, breaking his nose and terribly lacerating both eyes." Following the accident Netherton was taken back to Mesa, where he was recorded as being insensible for a short time. He would briefly regain consciousness but lived only a few hours after the accident, dying on June 30, 1897. A full write-up on Netherton (and the accident that claimed his life) can be viewed at the following link

Hinche Parham Mabry.

   A two term member of the Texas House of Representatives, Hinche Parham Mabry (1829-1884was a native of Georgia, being born in Carroll County. After migrating to Texas in 1851 he was admitted to the state bar and served in the Texas legislature from 1856-57 and 1859-61. During the Civil War he was a member of a Confederate volunteer expeditionary force that took command of Forts Washita and Arbuckle located in the Indian Territory. In 1866 he served as a delegate to the Texas Constitutional Convention and later had a brief tenure as a district court judge. While visiting Sherman, Texas in early March 1884 Mabry was injured in the foot due to an accidental pistol discharge, the wounded later being compounded by blood poisoning, which would result in his death on March 21, 1884. Mabry was later interred at the Oakwood Cemetery in Jefferson, Texas. Mabry's full profile (published here in October 2016) can be read here.

Perez Hastings Field.

  A member of the New York State Assembly from Ontario County in the sessions of 1861 and 1863-64, Perez Hastings Field had previously served as township supervisor for Seneca, New York from 1859-60. Field died inthe August 1872 sinking of the Metis (of the New York and Providence line), which, during stormy conditions, collided with a schooner while en route to Providence, Rhode Island. Reports on the lives lost during the sinking vary, with most noting that at least fifty persons went down with the ship, including Field. 32 persons were rescued through the efforts of the Life Saving Service and local fishermen. Field’s body was later recovered and interred at the Glenwood Cemetery in Geneva, New York.

From the 1882 "Public Men of To-day".

   A seven term member of Congress from Tennessee, Leonidas C. Houk represented Tennessee’s 2nd congressional district for over a decade. Despite being from Tennessee, Houk was a staunch Union man and served with Union Army during the Civil War. A Republican presidential elector in 1864, he later was a circuit court judge from 1866-69 and in 1872 began a term in the Tennessee state legislature. Elected to Congress in November 1878, Houk served until his death on May 25, 1891, having accidentally drank a bottle of arsenic. While visiting the DePue drug store in Knoxville Houk drank a glass of what he believed to be water (it was in fact arsenic solution) and died the following day at his home in Knoxville due the effects of poisoning. He was succeeded as Congressman by his son, John Chiles Houk, who served until 1895.

Kumen Snow Gardner.

  Cedar City, Utah resident Kumen Snow Gardner was long prominent in the civic and political affairs of his community, being a farmer, city councilman, two term state representative, one term Mayor of Cedar City. A high ranking figure in the local Mormon Church, Gardner served in the Utah House of Representatives from 1958-62 and beginning in January 1962 took office as Mayor of Cedar City. A former winner of Utah “Father of the Year” in 1960, Gardner was also awarded the title of Utah’s “outstanding cattleman” by the FFA in 1976. On November 15, 1983 Kumen Gardner was injured in a truck accident in Southern Utah. He succumbed to his injuries two weeks later at a Las Vegas hospital on November 28, 1983 at age 83. A full profile on Gardner was published here in January 2015 and can be viewed at the following link

1 comment:

  1. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9C01E4DF173AE533A25755C2A9639C94609ED7CF

    DEATH OF CONGRESSMAN HOUK.; TOOK ARSENIC BY MISTAKE FOR A GLASS OF ICE WATER.

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