Monday, October 10, 2011
The intense looking gentleman above is Memucan Hunt Jr., a North Carolina native who became one of the pioneering politicians in the Republic of Texas. He was born on August 7, 1807 in what is now Vance County, North Carolina, the grandson of North Carolina State Treasurer Memucan Hunt (1729-1808). Hunt is recorded as attending schools local to the Hillsboro, North Carolina vacinity and was later involved in various business and planting interests in the North Carolina and Virginia areas.
While still a young man, Memucan Hunt Jr. moved to Mississippi to take over the ownership of a family plantation. While living in Mississippi, Hunt joined a group of volunteers headed to Texas to take part in the ongoing revolution. Within a few months of his arrival, Hunt was promoted to Brigadier General by then Texas President David Gouverneur Burnet (1788-1870.)
Hunt was named to his first major political office when Burnet appointed him as the Texas Republic's Minister to the United States in 1837. During his few months in that post, Hunt drew up a proposal for the possible annexation of Texas, but this was effectively squashed by the U.S. Senate.
This portrait of Hunt appeared on a 19th century carte de visite.
Towards the end of 1838, the new Texas president (the wonderfully named Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar) named Hunt as Texas Secretary of the Navy, and he served just six months in office. Three years after this, Hunt was nominated as a Texas Vice-Presidential candidate with the aforementioned David Burnet, but lost the election to the famed Sam Houston.
Memucan Hunt married on Valentine's Day 1850 to Galveston native Anne Taliaferro Howard (1832-1916). The couple are recorded as being childless during the course of their marriage. One can also note that Hunt was twenty-five years older than his eighteen year old spouse!
Hunt was later elected to a term in Texas State legislature in 1852 where he served for a year. He spent his last months in Tipton County, Tennessee, dying at age 48 on June 5, 1856 at the home of his brother. Hunt's body was subsequently returned to Texas a few days after his death and he was buried in the Montgomery New Cemetery in Montgomery County, Texas. Anne Hunt later remarried three times and died in 1916 at age 83. She is interred along with Memucan at the above mentioned cemetery.
The grandfather of the preceding gentleman, Memucan "Muke" Hunt Sr. was born in 1729 in Virginia. He migrated to North Carolina in his youth and in 1773 was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly. He continued to serve here until 1779, when he was elected to the state senate.
In 1784, the North Carolina General Assembly established the office of North Carolina State Treasurer and Memucan Hunt Sr. was selected as the first man to hold the post. He served in office until 1787, when he was defeated by John Haywood (1754-1827.) Haywood went on to become the longest serving state treasurer in North Carolina history, serving for forty years, until his death in 1827.
Memucan Hunt Sr. died at age 79 in 1808, a year after the birth of his grandson. The origins of the name "Memucan" stem from a figure with that name in the bibical book of Esther. This ancient Memucan is listed as being a vice regent and adviser to Ahasuerus, a Persian King.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
A banker and businessman who served as Michigan's State Auditor General, the uniquely named Eurotas P. Hastings was born in Litchfield, Connecticut on July 20, 1791, one of ten children born to Seth (1745-1830) and Eunice Parmalee Hastings. Little is known of Eurotas's early life, with the exception of his moving to New York state in 1805. It was here that he decided upon a career as a banker, and eventually found employment as a teller in a Geneva, New York bank.
In 1819 Eurotas married his first wife Electa Owen, who died two years following their marriage. In 1826 he remarried to Philema Moore, a Michigan native. She too died within a few years of her marriage to Eurotas, and he remarried a year following Philema's death in 1835 to Ms. Theodosia Petit. Eurotas Hastings was the father of five children, who are listed as follows: Eurotas Francis (died aged two months in 1820), Henry Dwight (1827-1850), Charles (1829-1834), Eurotas Parmelee (1831-1832) and George Field (died aged one in 1834).
Hastings removed to Michigan in 1825 and it is mentioned that during the 1830s he "occupied many important positions in Detroit" and was connected "to a syndicate of wealthy men in Detroit who selected and purchased numerous town sites in the State before the panic of 1837." Hastings was named as the President of the Bank of Michigan in May 1825 and remained in that post until 1839. In 1840 he was appointed by the Michigan State Legislature to the post of State Auditor, and would serve in that office until 1842. After leaving office Hastings was named as an assigner in bankruptcy, and over the following years he managed to settle over 660 cases of bankruptcy. Sources of the time also denote that Hastings as a very religious man, and he served as an elder in the First Presbyterian Church of Detroit.
Hastings died on June 1, 1866 at age 74 and was buried in Detroit. Interestingly, two references on his life mention that Hastings was the "subject of severe criticisms" and was "inclined to be over confiding in his disposition." Strangely, no sources mentioning Hastings elaborate on either of those odd statements.
Portrait from the Twentieth Century History of Hardin County, Ohio.
Another public figure endowed with this unusual name (albeit with a different spelling) was Eurotis Samuel Neeley of Hardin County, Ohio. Earning a place here on the site due to his service as Probate Judge for Hardin County, Neeley was born in Knox County Ohio on January 7, 1862, being the son of William and Rebecca Durbin Neeley. The Neeley family removed to Hardin County when Eurotis was but a few weeks old, and his early life saw him work both the family farm and attend district schools.
Following the death of his mother while in his teens Neeley left Ohio for Indiana, where he cut timber and engaged in farm work as a means of income. After a few years of study Neeley decided upon a vocation in teaching, and during the early 1880s taught in various schools in Ohio. He would later study at the Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio, graduating in the class of 1898. Neeley had married in June of 1891 to Byrd Turner, with whom he would have seven children: Lois (born 1894), Helen (born 1900), Samuel (born 1901), Eurotis Paul (1903-1957), James (born 1905), Richard (died in infancy in 1909) and John Howard (died in infancy)
In addition to teaching Neeley would serve as principal of the "Central school at Kenton" and in 1902 was elected as Probate Judge for Hardin County by "a majority of ninety-eight votes." He would be reelected to a second term in 1904 and due to "popular approval" won a third term on the bench in 1906.
Eurotis Neeley retired as judge in February 1909 and for the remainder of his life worked on his farm and maintained memberships in several fraternal groups, including the Latham Lodge #154 of Free and Accepted Masons, the Knights Templars, the Odd Fellows and the Modern Woodmen of America. Eurotis Neeley died at age 59 on March 22, 1922 and was later interred at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Ada, Ohio. Byrd Neeley survived her husband by sixteen years and following her death in 1938 was interred at the same cemetery as her husband.
Portrait from the San Francisco Call, December 6, 1897.
Arguably one of the strangest named men ever to serve in the California State Assembly, Caius Tacitus Ryland was for many years a prominent son of San Jose, being a pioneer of 1849. A two term member of the state assembly from Santa Clara County, Ryland would serve as Speaker of that body and later was talked of as a potential candidate for U.S. Senator from California.
Receiving his first and middle names in honor of the Roman historian and senator Caius Tacitus, Caius Tacitus "C.T." Ryland was born in Howard County, Missouri on June 30, 1826, being the son of John Ferguson and Elizabeth Ryland. A noted figure in his own right, John F. Ryland (1797-1873) was a circuit court judge who married twice and fathered a total of 18 children! Judge Ryland later served several years on the Missouri Supreme Court, and looks to have had an aptitude for giving his offspring odd names from history, including Erasmus, Xenophon, Manville Cass and last but not least, Caius Tacitus.
"C.T." Ryland was afforded a limited education as a child, working on his family's farm during the summer and attending school in Lexington during the winter months. He turned his attention to law at an early age and after a period of study was admitted to the Missouri bar. In 1849 gold was discovered in California, and, like so many other young men of the time, Ryland saw a bright future for himself out west. He is mentioned as being a "pioneer of July 30, 1849" and is also noted as having a "brief experience in the mines" prior to his resettlement in San Jose in 1850.
Upon his settlement in San Jose Ryland established a law practice in that city, continuing in his profession until 1869. Around 1850 he began service as a clerk to his future father in law, Peter H. Burnett, the first Governor of the state of California. Ryland continued in that post until 1851, and married in that same year to Letitia Burnett, a daughter of Governor Burnett. Caius and Letita were married for over four decades and later had ten children: Ada, Romie, John Wallace, Mary Norma, Joseph Robert, Frank Poe, Harriett, Charles Bernard, Caius Tacitus Jr. and Dwight Edwin.
After leaving the aforementioned post of clerk Ryland resumed his law practice and soon began treading the political waters, winning election as a Democrat to the California State Assembly in 1854. Serving on the committees on Internal Improvements and the Judiciary during the 1855-56 session, Ryland was also instrumental in his position as chairman of the Internal Improvements committee, reporting and helping to pass a bill "to build a wagon road across the Sierra Neva Mountains, for the relief of pioneers and migrants of the day."
Caius T. Ryland would win a second assembly term in 1866 and served as its Speaker during the 1868-69 session. He continued his political ascent in 1876 when he served as chairman of the California State Democratic Convention and was even talked of as a potential candidate for U.S. Senator from California, but was ultimately passed over for that position.
In addition to his time in politics Ryland gained further distinction in a number of civic and business endeavors both in San Jose and elsewhere. The Early Days and Men of California gives note to Ryland's contribution to the construction and completion of a wagon road extending from "Sierra Madre de Santa Cruz to the town of Santa Cruz" and also relates that Ryland dabbled in railroad promotion, serving as a director and an attorney for the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad (the first of its kind linking those cities) until its eventual absorption by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1870. Ryland was also a founding member of the Santa Clara Agricultural Society, a life member and three-time vice president of the California Society of Pioneers and a trustee of San Jose State Normal School.
Portrait courtesy of vendome.org
In the last years of his life Ryland was active in both banking and real estate, owning the Letitia, Ryland and Columbus blocks in San Jose. He reemerged on the political scene in 1888, when he served as a vice president of the National Democratic Convention that re-nominated Grover Cleveland for President.
Caius Tacitus Ryland died at his San Jose home on December 5, 1897, reportedly due to "due to a complication of diseases which affected the heart." He is recorded as having left an estate valued at over three million dollars was survived by his wife Letita, who died in 1910 at age seventy-seven. Both Ryland and his wife (as well as their children) were later interred at the Santa Clara Mission Cemetery in Santa Clara, California.
Ryland's obituary from the Santa Cruz Sentinel, December 1897.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
This obscure gentleman is one Trueworthy Ladd Fowler, a fairly prominent 19th century resident of Pembroke, New Hampshire. Details on his life are quite limited at best, but it is known that he was born in the aforementioned town on December 21, 1816, the last of eleven children born to Benjamin (1769-1832) and Mehitable Ladd Fowler (1776-1853).
Trueworthy married on August 29, 1847 to Ms. Catherine Lucretia Sargent (1827-1909) and this union eventually produced five children, who are listed as follows: Henry T. (1849-1936), Martin (1851-1853), Adin Gilbert (1855-1910), Charles Martin (born 1855) and Lillia Blanche (born 1860).
During his long life of nearly 87 years Fowler occupied a variety of public offices in his native town, including that of a school board member, collector of taxes, selectman (for eleven years) and eventually, town moderator. Fowler also went on to serve as Chairman of the Board of County Supervisors for two terms. From 1844-1895 he served Pembroke as a justice of the peace, totaling 51 years!
While these posts don't really qualify him as a "politician", his service in the New Hampshire State Legislature does. In 1857 the town of Pembroke elected Fowler to the State House of Representatives, where he served one term (1858-1859.) In 1870 he was named as a deputy marshal and is listed as helping with that years census in the towns of Pembroke, Allenstown, Hooksett and Bow. Later in 1876, Fowler was named as Pembroke's delegate to the New Hampshire State Constitutional Convention.
In his later years Fowler became a highly regarded local historian, and helped author the two-volume History of Pembroke, N.H.:1730-1895. He died at the age of 86 on March 13, 1903 and was survived by his wife of fifty-five years, Catherine. Both Trueworthy and Catherine were interred in the New North Pembroke Cemetery. The History of Pembroke notes that Fowler was "industrious, intelligent, of positive convictions, good judgement and practical common sense, and conscientiously faithful in the accomplishment of his undertaking."
This picture of Trueworthy Fowler was discovered in The History of Merrimack and Belknap
Counties, New Hampshire, published in 1885.
A six term Congressman from Texas in the early 20th century, Choice Boswell Randell (that's Randell with an "e") wasn't born a native Texan; his birth instead occurring in Murray County, Georgia on New Years Day, 1857. The son of James and Louisa Amantha (Gartrell) Randell, Randell attended both public and private schools in Georgia and would go on to attend the North Georgia Agricultural School for a short period. He would leave that school to begin the study of law in the late 1870s and in 1878 was admitted to the Georgia bar.
After passing the Georgia bar exam, Randell removed to Denison, Texas, where he established his law practice. In October 1879 he married to Anna Marschalk (1859-1913), with whom had two sons, Andrew (born ca. 1881) and Choice Marschalk (died in infancy in 1883). Following his removal to Texas it didn't take long for Randell to make his name known, and by 1881 he was serving as City Attorney of Denison. After a year in that post he won election as Grayson County Attorney, an office that he would fill until 1888. After serving six years as county attorney, Randell resumed his law practice.
In November 1900 Randell was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas' 5th district, defeating Republican nominee J.W. Thomas by a substantial margin, 28,074 votes to 1,790. During his years in the House Randell was a prime mover behind numerous pieces of legislation that aided in the construction of building projects throughout his district. He was also prominent in the passage of the Randell Anti Graft Resolutions, a piece of legislation that prevented congressmen from accepting money and goods from corporations/businesses that wished to have legislation passed in their favor. The Bismarck Daily Tribune profiled Randell's work in their April 8, 1912 edition, and also featured the portrait of him shown below.
From the Bismarck Daily Tribune, April 8, 1912.
Following the redistricting of Texas' congressional districts, Randell was reelected to Congress in 1902, and for the remainder of his time in Congress represented the 4th district. He would be reelected to four further terms in 1904, 1906, 1908 and 1910 and sat on the house Ways and Means committee from 1906-12.
The area of Texas that Randell had represented since 1903 underwent redistricting in 1912, and instead of mounting a reelection bid for his seat opted to run for the U.S. Senate seat that had been vacated by Joseph W. Bailey. Also vying for the seat was John Morris Sheppard (1875-1941), who had served alongside Randell in Congress since 1902. In January 1913 the Texas legislature elected Sheppard to the senate seat, where he would serve until his death twenty eight years later.
Choice B. Randell's term in Congress concluded in March 1913 and he was succeeded by Sam Rayburn (the future Speaker of the House), who had won election the previous November. Having retired from government service, Randell subsequently returned to his earlier career as an attorney, with his law office being located in Sherman, Texas. Widowed in 1913, Randell lived out the remainder of his life in Sherman, dying at age 88 on October 19, 1945. He was later interred at the West Hills Cemetery in that city.
Portrait from "Representing Texas", 2007.
Portrait from the Honey Grove Signal Citizen, July 10, 1942.
Two term Texas state representative Choice Wall Moore is another "Choice" who made his name known in Lonestar State politics. Born on March 5, 1911 in Fannin County, Texas, Choice W. Moore was a son of Jasper Oscar and Nodie Moore.
First elected to the Texas State House of Representatives in 1940, Moore served during the 1941-43 session and was vice chairman of the committee on State Eleemosynary and Reformatory Institutions. Also during this term Moore worked closely with fellow Fannin County representative John W. Connolly to introduce a bill to "pay the school teachers fund, the blind, dependent children and the old age people." Moore would serve on the committees on State Affairs Military Affairs, Penitentiaries, Privileges, Suffrage and Elections and Rural Aid.
Reelected to the house in November 1942, Moore would waive his "constitutional legislative military exemption" and signed on for service in the U.S. Army during World War II. He is recorded as having requested a short furlough from duty to serve in the legislature's January 1943 session and on May 27, 1944 resigned his seat.
Little is known of the remainder of Moore's life following his military service. In the late 1940s he served as the manager of the Bonham, Texas Chamber of Commerce, resigning that post in March 1948. He married in 1950 to Ruby Thomas (1920-2013), to whom he was wed until his death on July 28, 1990 at age 80. Both Moore and his wife were interred at the Willow Wild Cemetery in Bonham, Texas
Friday, October 7, 2011
A member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Louisiana, Phanor Breazeale was born in Natchitoches Parish on December 29, 1858. He graduated from the Tulane Law School in 1881 and shortly thereafter began the practice of law. While engaged in his law practice, Breazeale took on other responsibilities, including stints as a newspaperman and school board president.
Breazeale's first taste of political life came in 1892 when he was elected as district attorney for Louisiana's 10th judicial district. He served eight years in this office, and in 1899 was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He was elected to three terms in Congress, and was defeated for re-election in 1904 by John Thomas Watkins (1854-1925.)
Breazeale as he appeared in the 1902 edition of "Around the Capitol".
After his defeat, Breazeale returned to Natchitoches to resume his career as an attorney. In 1908 he was named to the Louisiana Democratic State Central committee and served on it until his death. He also was a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions of 1908 and 1916. One of his last acts of public service was as a member of the Louisiana Convention of 1921.
Phanor Breazeale died at the age of 75 on April 29, 1934 and was buried in his native city of Natchitoches.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Bushrod Ebenezer Hoppin (1828-1923), Bushrod Washington (1762-1829), Bushrod Washington Lott (1826-1886)
Portrait from the Republicans of Illinois, 1905.
During a long life that extended nearly a century, Bushrod Ebenezer Hoppin was elected to public office in both New York and Illinois, serving terms in the legislative bodies of both those states. Mentioned as being an "intimate friend" of both Abraham Lincoln and Roscoe Conkling, Hoppin was a lifelong Republican who engaged in farming and stock raising for a good majority of his ninety-four years.
Born in Madison County, New York on September 2, 1828, Bushrod Hoppin was the son of Curtis Hoppin (1783-1868), a former state assemblyman from Madison County in the session of 1823. Bushrod Hoppin's education took place in schools local to Madison County and he later went on to attend the Eaton and Lebanon Academies. For three years he taught school during the winter months and during his youth joined his brother on a journey to Illinois to sell a large flock of sheep. Following this trip Hoppin returned to his hometown of Lebanon and in January 1850 married to Harriett Parmenter (1830-1919). The couple were married for over 68 years and their lengthy union saw the births of nine children.
Hoppin and his wife continued to reside in New York until 1855, whereafter he removed to Sangamon County, Illinois. Following his resettlement Hoppin began establishing his roots in Chatham, Sangamon County, purchasing a farm and raising livestock. In late 1858 he and a partner, William Heard, began a lengthy trek to Texas, where they planned to sell a flock of twelve hundred sheep. Wintering in Missouri, the pair resumed their journey and after a short period in the Indian Territory reached Texas in late 1859. In early 1860 Hoppin traveled through Galveston and Hill County on business, and during his stay saw first hand the numerous instances of rebellion and secessionist activity then occurring.
After having "speedily" closed up his business doings in Texas, Hoppin returned to Illinois, just one week prior to the election of Abraham Lincoln (a Springfield native) to the Presidency. Meeting with the President-elect a day after his return to Illinois, Hoppin later reminisced:
"I got home just before the election at which Mr. Lincoln was chosen president. I met him the day after my return I had been to the south and Mr. Lincoln wanted to talk to me about conditions. I spent the whole day with him in his office."In December 1860 Bushrod Hoppin and his family returned to their old home in Madison County, New York. Two years after his return he would serve as an assistant assessor for New York's 22nd congressional district and in 1866 was elected as Madison County's representative in the State Assembly. Serving in the session of 1867, Hoppin sat on the committee on Affairs of Villages and is remarked to have been "clear in his ideas on State and National polices and honest in the expression of his views."
Bushrod Hoppin spent seven years in New York following his time in the legislature, and moved back to Illinois in 1874. Settling in Chicago, he "engaged in the stock business" for many years afterward and in 1888 was elected from Chicago's 2nd district to the Illinois State House of Representatives. Serving in the 1889-91 session, Hoppin would introduce a bill that would remove the "stain of Texas fever" from the Chicago Union Stock Yards.
Several years after his time in the legisature Hoppin was called again to political life; being named as an alternate delegate from Illinois to the Republican National Convention of 1896. Widowed in 1919 after 68 years of marriage, Hoppin removed to Arlington, Massachusetts following his wife's death, and resided with his daughter (listed as Mrs. Edward Everett Bacon) for the remainder of his life.
Bushrod E. Hoppin died in Arlington at age 94 on April 20, 1923. He was later returned to Illinois for burial alongside his wife Henrietta at the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield. This cemetery is also the resting place of both President Lincoln as well as oddly named Springfield Mayor Rheuna Drake Lawrence, profiled here back in March 2012.
A prominent jurist in his day, the oddly named Bushrod Washington is most certainly one of the oddest named men ever to serve as an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. A nephew of the first president of the United States, George Washington, Bushrod Washington's tenure on that court lasted over three decades and is remarked by court historians as having been largely undistinguished during his time on the bench. Born into a very prestigious Virginia family on June 5, 1762 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, Bushrod Washington was the son of John Augustine Washington (younger brother of the famous President) and Hannah Bushrod.
George Washington guided his nephew's early education and young Bushrod graduated from the College of William and Mary at age sixteen. During his time there he shared classes with future Chief Justice John Marshall, and put his studies on hold during the late 1770s to serve in a Calvary unit during the Revolutionary War. At the conclusion of his military service he returned to his studies, and on the influence of his famous uncle became a law student of James Wilson, a distinguished lawyer and future Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
After practicing law for several years Bushrod Washington began a fleeting interest in politics, serving as a member of the Virginia State House of Delegates in 1787 and as a delegate to the Virginia Convention to ratify the Constitution. In 1798 President John Adams appointed Washington to the U.S. Supreme Court as an Associate Justice, coincidentally filling the court vacancy caused by the death of James Wilson, his former law teacher. College friend John Marshall joined Washington on the court three years later, and the two served on the court together for twenty-eight years!
Bushrod Washington's official Court portrait.
Washington and Marshall shared a very similar judicial ideology, and Washington is remarked as having been Marshall's biggest supporter during their years together on the high bench. In an interesting tidbit, he only disagreed with Marshall in three opinions during their service together, and it was Washington who guided Marshall into his only dissent while on the court, in the case of Ogden vs. Saunders (1827.) In total, Washington wrote only 70 majority opinions during his three decade long stint on the court, and "formally dissented only once."
In addition to his court service, Bushrod would inherit Mt. Vernon from his famous uncle George after the latter's death in 1799. In his later years he helped to found the American Colonization Society and served as its first president, advocating the return of freed blacks back to Africa where they could gain more freedom. Washington served one of the longest tenures in Supreme Court history (over 31 years) and was described as a "short untidy man who liked snuff and suffered from ill health." He died while attending a circuit court proceeding in Philadelphia on November 26, 1829 at the age of 67. He was later interred on the grounds of Mt. Vernon in Fairfax County, Virginia.
Bushrod W. Lott, 1826-1886
Named in honor of the preceding gentleman, Bushrod Washington Lott was a native of New Jersey but made his name (politically speaking), in Minnesota. He was born on May 1, 1826 in Pemberton, New Jersey and moved with his father Charles to Missouri in 1837.
Lott graduated from St. Louis University and soon after began to study law in Quincy, Illinois. After a short stay in Wisconsin Lott migrated to the Minnesota Territory in 1848, and soon after his arrival began a law practice in the then burgeoning city of St. Paul. With in a few years of his arrival Lott had entered the political life of the region, being elected as a justice of the peace in 1851.
In that same year he was named as justice of the peace Lott took on the post of Chief Clerk of the Minnesota Territorial House of Representatives, continuing in that office until his election as Mayor of St. Paul in 1852. Only the third man to occupy that office, Lott
served in this capacity until 1854. In addition to his service as Mayor, Lott would be elected to two terms in the Minnesota Territorial House of Representatives from Ramsey County, serving in the sessions of 1853 and 1856.
Six years after leaving the mayor's office Bushrod Lott married to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native Cornelia Friend, with whom he had two children, Kennedy F. (1866-1953) and Edith (1870-1942). He continued his political ascent in 1862 when President Lincoln appointed him to succeed his deceased brother (Peter Lott) as U.S. Consul in Tehuantepec, Mexico. Lott remained in Mexico until 1865, whereafter he returned to St. Paul. He continued in civic affairs in his native city until his death from apoplexy on September 24, 1886 at age 60.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
A prominent 19th century resident of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Montressor Tyler Allen was born in that same county on May 20, 1844, being the son of George Washington and Mary Tyler Allen. Sources give varying accounts as to his actual birth year (1842, 1843, 1844 or 1845) but most periodicals of the day give the correct year as 1844. He would receive his education at the Warren Academy and also underwent private tutoring. Allen graduated from the Warren Academy and for a time "engaged in mercantile work in Woburn."
At age 20 Montressor Allen enlisted as a private in the 5th Massachusetts Regiment during the Civil War, and after returning home from service began pursuing a degree in law. He married in 1865 to Ms. Julia Frances Peaslee and the couple remained childless through the entirety of their near three decades of marriage. In the mid 1870s Allen resumed his law studies when enrolled in the prestigious Boston University Law School, graduating from that institution in 1878.
After being admitted to the bar in 1879 Allen established his law practice in Boston. In 1887 he won election to the Massachusetts State House of Representatives (representing Middlesex County) and served in the session of 1888-89. During his term Allen chaired the house Committee on Railroads and also held a seats on the joint committee on expenditures and the committee on finance.
Montressor Allen during his later years.
Following his service in the legislature Allen returned to his native town of Woburn, Massachusetts, later serving stints as city solicitor and registrar of voters. In 1895 he was elected as the Mayor of Woburn, serving one term in that office. In addition to being a public official, Allen was also a member of the Mt. Horeb Masonic Lodge in Woburn and is listed by his obituary as having owned a substantial amount of real-estate throughout the Woburn vacinity.
Sources mentioning Montressor T. Allen make light of him as one of Woburn's favorite sons, with the Boston Daily Globe noting that he "has for years been sought in a social way, in particular for his peculiar aptness in address. He was a wit and storyteller with hardly a peer; was eloquent and impressive in all that he undertook."
In 1897 Allen's health began to rapidly fail and in the month preceding his demise was sent to a Boston sanitarium to be cared for by physicians. His stay in the sanitarium lasted two weeks, and he was eventually brought home to Woburn, where he died on December 24, 1897 at age 53. His obituary (posted below) lists his cause of death as organic disease of the heart, and he was survived by his wife, mother and siblings. It is presumed that he was buried somewhere in the Woburn vicinity, but an exact burial location is unknown at the time of this writing. The rare portrait of Allen shown at the top of this article here appeared in the 1890 work One of A Thousand, a biographical and portrait resource of prominent Massachusetts citizens.
Montressor Allen's obituary from the Boston Daily Globe, December 24, 1897.
A four term U.S. Representative from Alabama at the turn of the 20th century, the oddly named Ariosto Appling Wiley was a distinguished lawyer in that state prior to his time in Congress. Born in Clayton, Alabama on November 6, 1848, Ariosto A. Wiley was the son of James McCaleb (1806-1877) and Cornelia Appling Wiley (1816-1872). A prominent figure in his own right, James M. Wiley served as a circuit court judge in Alabama and would attain high rank in the masonic fraternity, being Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the Free and Accepted Masons of Alabama from 1856-57. Ariosto Wiley removed with his family to Pike County while still a child and attended schools local to that area. He decided upon a career in law at an early age and in the late 1860s enrolled at the Emory and Henry College in Virginia. He would graduate from that school in the class of 1871 and soon after established his law practice in Clayton.
Wiley removed from Clayton a short while afterward and settled in Alabama's capital city of Montgomery, where he would build up a law partnership with Samuel F. Rice, a former state supreme court justice. Wiley married in November 1877 to Mary "Mittie" Noble (died 1935), to whom he was wed for three decades. The couple would have one son, Noble James Wiley (1878-1957), later to serve as a Colonel in the U.S. Army.
Portrait from "Northern Alabama:Historical and Biographical", 1888.
Having advanced "to the front rank of his profession" at the beginning of the 1880s, Ariosto A. Wiley's sterling character eventually resulted in his being nominated for a seat in the Alabama House of Representatives in 1883. He would win that election and represented Montgomery County in that body in the session of 1884-85, serving on the committees on the Revision of Laws and Commerce and Common Carriers during that term. Further political honors had been accorded to him in 1880 and 1884 when he served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, in the latter year seeing Grover Cleveland win the Presidency.
Reelected to the state house in 1887, Wiley would go on to serve in the sessions of 1888-89, and 1896-97. The years 1890-1893 saw him serving in the Alabama Senate, a body that he would be reelected to for the session of 1898-1899. In the last named year Wiley was appointed by then President William McKinley as a Lieutenant Colonel in the 5th Reg. U.S. Volunteer Infantry, an outfit that would soon be deployed to Cuba for the Spanish American War. Wiley would also be retained as an adviser to General Leonard Wood, with whom he would help establish a "civil government" in Cuba's Eastern province.
Courtesy of bioguide.congress.gov.
Ariosto Wiley's political career reached its apex in 1900 when he was nominated for a seat in Congress from Alabama's 2nd congressional district. He would coast to an easy victory that November, defeating Populist candidate William Mulkey by a vote of 12, 496 to 124. Wiley's reelection win in 1902 saw him best his opponent by over 6,000 votes and during the 1902-04 session sat on the house committees on the Militia and Pensions. Wiley would win a third term in 1904 and fourth in 1906. During his last term in the house Wiley was invited to speak before a group of Spanish-American War veterans in Washington, D.C., during which he spoke of his time in Cuba, noting:
" I see here....men from all sections of the Union who gallantly responded to the call of duty in 1898. I hold a commission in that war from William McKinley, the ideal President of a great country. I treasure that commission as one of my most beloved and personal possessions."
From the Evening Star, May 10, 1906.
In 1908 Ariosto Wiley's health began to suffer a "physical breakdown" due to the effects of inflammatory rheumatism. In an effort to restore his health Wiley vacationed in Hot Springs, Virginia, dying at a hotel there on June 17, 1908 at age 60. His son Noble was at his side at the time of his death and he was later brought back to Alabama for burial at the Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery. He was survived by his wife Mittie, who remarried following her husband's death and later died on Christmas Day 1935.
Wiley's obituary from the Evening Star, June 18, 1908.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Portrait from the Medico-Legal Journal, 1903.
Receiving his name in honor of prominent American Methodist clergyman Freeborn Garrettson (1752-1827), Freeborn Garrettson Jewett was born in Sharon, Connecticut on August 4, 1791, the fifth child of ten born to Alpheus and Abigail Sears Jewett. Freeborn would attend common schools in the Sharon area and began studying law at the age of twenty. Following his admittance Jewett married in 1814 to Ms. Fannie Warner and the couple later had one son, William (born in 1816.) The Jewett family eventually relocated to Skaneateles, New York and it was here that he formed a partnership with a local attorney named James Porter.
Jewett entered the political life of New York State in 1823 when he was elected as Onondaga County Judge. He would serve in that capacity from 1824-31 and during his term pulled political double duty when he won election to the State Assembly from Onondaga County in 1825. Serving in the session of 1826, Jewett would make his first move into national politics in 183o when he was elected as Jacksonian Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives from New York, besting National Republican candidate William Jerome by a vote of 4,539 to 2,739. Shortly after leaving Congress in 1833 he was honored as the first President of the village of Skaneateles, which had recently been incorporated as a village.
After his short stint on the national political scene, Jewett served one year (1838-1839) as the Inspector of Auburn State Prison. A brief term as Onondaga County District Attorney followed, and in 1845 continued his political ascent when he was named as an Associate Justice of the New York State Supreme Court. His time here proved to be short, due to his election to the New York State Court of Appeals in 1847.
Jewett was named as Chief Judge of the Appeals Court in the same year as his election and served as its head until 1850. His tenure on the court ended in 1853, when he resigned due to health concerns. He died on January 27, 1858 and was shortly thereafter interred in the Lake View Cemetery in his native town of Skaneateles. The rare photograph of Freeborn Jewett shown above was taken shortly before his death and appeared in the December 1903 edition of the Medico-Legal Journal, Volume 21.
Portrait from "Beverly: Garden City By the Sea", 1897.
Cressy was born in the aforementioned city on January 4, 1839, being the son of John and Johanna Ober Cressy. After attending local schools he began work in a shoe factory, continuing in that employ for several years. In 1873 he and a partner, Israel Lee, began developing their own furniture and upholstery company, which later underwent a name change to F.W. Cressy and William F. Lee. Cressy was also quite active in the local Fire King Engine Company, and would serve as both a foreman and member of its board of engineers.
In May 1866 Freeborn Cressy married to Sarah Godfrey, a native of New Hampshire. The couple would be married for over four decades and their union produced four children: Lewis W., Mary, John and Willis.
While still very attentive to his business pursuits, Cressy began venturing into local politics, winning election as a town selectman in 1869, an office he would continue to hold for nearly thirty years. Cressy continued his rise in Massachusetts political life with his election to the Massachusetts State House of Representatives in 1869 and three years later won a second term in that body. During his time as a selectman Cressy was an avowed leader in the development his native city's infrastructure, helping to design a new sewer system for the city, as well as bringing modern accommodations to the local fire department.
An "acknowledge authority in all that pertains to town and city forms of government", Cressy was "handsomely elected" as Mayor of Beverly in 1896, serving a one year term beginning in 1897. He died in his office in Beverly on April 26, 1908 at age 69, and a burial location for him remains unknown at the time of this writing.
Cressy as he appeared during his second term in the legislature, 1872.