Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lotus Ingalls (1818-1897), Lotus Lee Langley (1875-1955)

   Today's profile will be a very memorable one, as the Strangest Names In American Political History recently visited the mammoth Brookside Cemetery in Watertown, New York! As I just returned from vacationing in the Jefferson County/Ontario County, New York area, the next few profiles here on the site will center on several oddly named political figures who called these two counties their home. The first of these men to be profiled is Mr. Lotus Ingalls, a 19th century Watertown resident who distinguished himself in the fields of both journalism and politics. I visited Mr. Ingalls's gravesite at the Brookside Cemetery  in Watertown early yesterday, and some photos from that excursion will conclude his profile here! The rare portrait of him shown above (one of two known pictures of him) was found in the Jefferson County history The Growth of a Century, published in 1895, two years before his death.
   Lotus Ingalls was born on January 12, 1818 in Rodman, New York, one of ten children born to James (1791-1881) and Laura Cooley Ingalls (1795-1837). Lotus is recorded as engaging in farm work during his youth and in 1839 enrolled in the Black River Institute. While attending this institution, Ingalls began earning extra money by teaching school in the towns of Wilna and Perch Lake, and later taught at the Factory Street School in Watertown.
   In 1845 Ingalls began pursuing the study of law, eventually entering the law office of Lansing and Sherman. He passed the New York State Bar exam in the late 1840s and during this time was also elected to a two-year term as town school superintendent.  In 1847 he married Watertown native Marinda Emily Murray (1826-1904) and they became the parents of one child, Alice Elvira Ingalls (1848-1932).
   Ingalls's career in law was short-lived, and it is noted by The Growth of a Century that "the demands of that profession seemed hardly suited to his tastes." It was around this time that the Watertown Democratic Union (an anti-temperance or "liquor interest" newspaper) was established, and as a counterpoint to this paper, many temperance advocates in Jefferson County suggested the start of a paper devoted to their interests, and Mr. Ingalls was "suggested and urged to become its editor." 
  Using some small start-up capital, Ingalls founded the Watertown Daily Reformer, and with the help of an established Watertown printer (L.C. Stowell, who later became Ingalls's partner) the Reformer was viewed as unqualified success, with the Growth of a Century remarking that it was "full of snap and ability" and that it appealed "to the better class of readers, who had become weary with editors that looked at all questions through the colored spectacles of party policy." Ingalls and his paper are also listed as being instrumental in espousing opinions on then-current New York assessment laws, and it was because of the work of Ingalls and the Reformer that the New York legislature eventually created the Board of State Assessors.

                                  This article on Lotus Ingalls appeared in the New York Times.
  The Daily Reformer's circulation continued to grow throughout the 1850s and 60s, and with it, Lotus Ingalls's reputation as one of Jefferson County's most prominent men of affairs. During the 1860s he became connected with the Carthage, Watertown and Sacketts Harbor Railroad Company, eventually serving as its Secretary and Treasurer during the early 1870s. An annual railroad report bearing Ingalls's name was published in 1872 and has been posted below.

   In 1875 Ingalls launched a campaign for the New York State Assembly and won election to that body in November of that year (representing Jefferson County.) Taking his seat in 1876, Ingalls served on the committees on Public Printing,  State Prisons and Enrolled Bills during his one term in the legislature. The Growth of a Century highlights his service as Chairman of the Printing Committee, stating that Ingalls "saved the state many thousands of dollars by applying the pruning knife to the extravagant requests of members and others." It is also mentioned that Ingalls "had very important economic reforms in his mind" after entering the assembly, but was unable to implement them due to the political partisanship of the time.

                             Another portrait of Lotus Ingalls, probably from the 1870s or 80s.

   An interesting point is made by the Growth of the Century as to Ingalls's later years as a publisher. During the late 1860s/early 1870s, he ran into financial problems and declared bankruptcy, and was "even forced out of the newspaper which he had established and raised to an institution of great value." Ingalls eventually rebounded financially and in the mid-1870s purchased the Watertown Post, which he ran successfully until selling it eighteen years later. Soon afterward he retired from public life, having been engaged as an editor and publisher for over forty years! His retirement from publishing was marked as the end of an era, as "he had been for 42 years one of Jefferson's most strenuous and powerful men, and has wrought his individual life into the very fibre (sic) of that county's history as no other editor has done. His example is an illustrious one, and a good one to follow."
   After a long career in public service, Lotus Ingalls died at age 79 on April 24, 1897, in Watertown. Judging by the number of archived newspaper sources mentioning his death, his demise was front page news in a number of New York newspapers, including the New York Herald, the Rome Citizen (shown below) and the Ithaca Daily News. Ingalls was survived by his wife of fifty years, Marinda (who died in 1904) and his daughter Alice, who died at age 84 in 1932. 

                                                      From the Rome Citizen, April 27, 1897.

     Another Lotus Ingalls obituary, originally published in an April 1897 edition of the Syracuse Herald.

   As mentioned in the opening of Mr. Ingalls's profile here, I was lucky enough to be on vacation near Watertown this past week and yesterday (August 15, 2012), I made it a point to visit the Brookside Cemetery in that city to seek out his gravesite, as well as those of Gilderoy Lord (an oddly named Watertown Mayor), Pardon Clarence Williams (a former New York State Supreme Court justice) and Gotham Ives (a New York State Assemblyman). All of these goofy named public figures are buried in Brookside, as are a number of other politicians, including Roswell Pettibone Flower (a former New York Governor) and Willard Ives (a U.S. Representative.) 
  Describing Brookside Cemetery as "big" doesn't even begin to cover the sheer size of its confines. This mammoth cemetery is the final resting place of over 14,000 people, and I was lucky enough to have one of Brookside's office personnel give me a marked map denoting the location of each of the aforementioned people. And now some photos from the trip!

  Lotus Ingalls is buried the Ingalls-Murray plot in section M of the Brookside Cemetery. The large granite stone marking his gravesite has both the Ingalls and Murray surnames inscribed on its sides (as Lotus's wife Marinda's maiden name was Murray) and in front of this stone are smaller headstones denoting each family members name and their dates of birth and death.

                                                             Lotus Ingalls's headstone.

                                                       Another view of Ingalls's headstone.

                               With the SNIAPH Book at the Ingalls gravesite, August 15, 2012.

  All in all, Lotus Ingalls's impressive stone certainly befits a man who devoted the majority of his life to public affairs in his native Watertown. Sadly no plaque or marker denotes Ingalls's status as a prominent 19th century Watertown citizen, or his service in the state assembly. In addition to his already lengthy article here, I also recently created a Find-a-Grave profile for him, which can be viewed at the following link:

From the Oregon Voter's Pamphlet, 1918.

 Another "Lotus" that made his name known in public service is Lotus Lee Langley, a longtime resident of Multnomah County, Oregon. Born in Scranton, Iowa on September 15, 1875, Langley was a son of William  and Amanda Scott Langley. Lotus would remove to Oregon with his family in 1891 attend the Pacific University in the town of Forest Grove. He studied law under the tutelage of his father and was admitted to practice by the Oregon bar in 1897.
  Langley relocated to Portland to practice law in 1901 and married in December 1908 to Eva Allen, later having two children. After a decade or so of practice in Portland, Langley entered into political life in 1918, becoming the Democratic candidate for circuit court judge for Oregon's 4th district. His candidacy was unsuccessful, being defeated that November by Calvin U. Gantenbein.  Langley continued to be active in Democratic political circles for the remainder of his life, serving as the chairman of the Multnomah County Democratic Party in 1928 and in that same year was an unsuccessful candidate for Associate Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court.
   In 1931 Langley's political fortunes changed when he was elected as District Attorney of Multnomah County, serving a term of four years. During the 1940 election year he served as part of Oregon's delegation to the Democratic National Convention being held in Chicago that renominated Franklin Roosevelt for a third term. Lotus Langley died on February 6, 1955 at age 79 and was later interred at the Forest View Cemetery in  Forest Grove, Washington County, Oregon.

1 comment:

  1. Great site and great idea for bringing historical facts "alive". Lotus Ingalls is my great-granduncle. In 1870 he traveled to California and documented his journey with 40 letters. I transcribed these letters, and along with maps and period pictures assembled a book: "Mr. Ingalls' Journey West - 1870". Author: James A McHugh. If anyone is interested in reliving his journey, check out my book which is available on