Friday, November 30, 2012

Petway Copeland Conn (1852-1921)


   Hailing from the county of Sequoyah in Oklahoma, Petway Coapland Conn is only the second oddly named politician from the Sooner State to be profiled here on the site (the first being Mazeppa T. Turner back on January 28th of this year). With a first name that brings to mind a pet supply business, Mr. Conn served in the first senate session of the newly formed state of Oklahoma and other than a brief mention of him in the 1908 work First Administration of Oklahoma, very little else could be found on him!
  Petway Copeland Conn was originally born in Tennessee on May 2, 1852, the son of the Methodist minister William W. Conn. It has been lost to history as to why Conn was endowed with the unusual first name "Petway" and his middle name Copeland is also listed as being spelled "Coapland." 
   Nothing exists online in regards to Conn's early years. He is noted by the First Administration as being "well educated, having graduated with an A.B. degree", but no mention is given as to where he attended college or when he graduated. Conn later removed to Arkansas and married on September 18, 1879 to Ms. Fannie Lenora Dye. The couple later had several children including Ulan Petway Conn (1884-1903, died in Izard County, Arkansas) and a son, Leslie Dye Conn (birthdate unknown). Petway is listed as being a physician for the majority of his life and he relocated to the town of Gans, Indian Territory (now in modern day Oklahoma) in 1901 with his family.
  Conn later became the Mayor of Gans for an indeterminate amount of time and also was a member of the local Methodist Episcopal Church. Described by the First Administration of Oklahoma as an "all around Democrat", Conn was elected to the Oklahoma Senate in 1907, shortly after Oklahoma attained statehood. Taking his seat in 1908, Conn chaired the committee on State Library and Statistic History as well as the Committee of the Whole.
  Nothing is known of Petway C. Conn's life after leaving the senate in 1910. He is recorded by a genealogical website as dying sometime in 1921 when he would have been around 69 years of age. A burial location for him is also unknown at the time of this writing.

             A memorial notice for Petway C. Conn that appeared in a 1922 edition of the State Sentinel.

                                                                   You Can Help!
   With the small amount of information available online on Petway C. Conn, I believe its time for one of my famous "You Can Help" segments. This is a brief shout-out to any of our SNIAPH Facebook friends, readers, lurkers, amateur historians or possible descendants of Mr. Conn asking for your assistance in finding some more information on him! If anyone wants an interesting project to fill their time with, see what you might be able to dig up on this oddly named (as well as obscure) Oklahoma resident!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

General George Oleander Pence (1879-1955)

From the Ohio State Manual.

  I'm sure if you've read the full name of the gentleman profiled today, most of you are probably scratching your heads in wonder, probably saying something along the lines of "this guy is a General named George..... what's so strange about that?" While the name George isn't strange in the slightest, the man in the suit and tie shown above has the unique distinction of having a military title as a given first name, and with that little factoid, I'll now explain how that came to be!
  General George Oleander Pence was an Ohio State House of Representative during the early part of the 20th century, hailing from the county of Highland. His unusual first name is given mention in the 1912 Ohio State Manual and is explained thusly: "The prefix Hon. for Honorable and the name General would seem to indicate a misnomer, but in this case it is not so, as the subject is entitled to the prefix and although General is rather an unusual given name, it was provided for Mr. Pence by his parents." Why Pence's parents decided to bestow the name "General" upon their son has been lost to history, and seeing that Pence himself never served in the military, one can wonder if he was ever mistakenly identified as a high ranking military figure due to his interesting first name!
   Pence's story begins in the town of Hillsboro, Highland County, Ohio, where he was born on May 6, 1879. One of several children born to Wesley and Susannah Duckwell Pence, General G.O. Pence attended schools local to the Hillsboro area and married fellow Highland County native Edith Marie Fawley (1880-1960) in 1903. Two sons were eventually born to this couple, Gerald Leroy (1906-1996) and Wesley Ralph (1909-1998). 
  Like most of the politicians profiled here on the site, G.G.O. Pence is recorded as being a farmer for the majority of his life, and is listed in his Ohio legislative biography as "recognized as being in the front rank of scientific farmers in Ohio." In addition to being a farmer, Pence later was elected as a township trustee for Hillsboro, serving for an indeterminate length of time.

                This portrait of G.G.O Pence appeared in a 1912 Ohio State Legislative manual.

    General G.O. Pence won election to the Ohio State House of Representatives in November 1912 from Highland County. Taking office in January of the following year, Pence was named to seats on the legislative committees on Agriculture, Fish and Game, Public Schools, and Public Waterways. He was reelected to the legislature in 1914 and after serving four years in the House of Representatives was elected to the Ohio Senate in the election of 1916. His term in the senate extended from 1917 to 1921, and his terms of service here saw him chair the standing committee on Enrollment as well as holding a seat on the committees on County Affairs, Common Schools, Agriculture, Public Works, Roads and Highways and Finance. The Ohio State Manual also denotes that Pence's "principal desire was to benefit the greatest number of people" while serving in the legislature.
   Little could be found on Pence's life after leaving public office, although he maintained involvement in a number of local fraternal organizations in Hillsboro, including the Odd Fellows, Modern Woodmen, the Sons of Veterans and Knights Templars. Pence died in Hillsboro on August 31, 1955 at age 76 and was survived by both of his sons and his wife Edith, who died in 1960. Both were later interred at the local Hillsboro Cemetery.

From the Hillsboro, Ohio News-Herald, October 22, 1914.

   A few short months after the G.G.O Pence profile was put online, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a comment on his article, courtesy of Mr. Wesley Pence, who happens to be G.G.O's great grandson!!! Wesley related in his comments that General G.O. Pence was a descendant of a family based in the United States dating back to the late 17th century. Wesley went on to relate that G.G.O was viewed as a bit of a "dandy" by some in Highland County, dressing in fashionable suits, spats and also owned a diamond-studded cane! According to Pence family lore, G.G.O was also believed to have had a stake in "gambling operations throughout Ohio, along with other questionable enterprises of the day" and may have fraternized with some shadowy characters in Ohio's capital during his time in state government!
   General G.O Pence's "double life" is certainly one of the more interesting tidbits I've been forwarded during the time I've profiling people here, and Pence's odd name was mentioned by Wesley as being "overblown and pretentious" with no other instances of the name "General" or "Oleander" occurring anywhere in the Pence family lineage. The spelling of Oleander (Pence's second middle name) is also spelt "Olander", and the former spelling is believed to be a corruption of the latter. It has also been related to me that G.G.O was characterized as being "very stern, particularly with children" and wasn't above using his diamond-studded cane as a persuasive tool to quiet down rambunctious youngsters!! 
  Through further correspondence Wesley also related that Pence was most often referred to as "Senator" by his contemporaries, and one can certainly wonder if he was ever introduced as the "Honorable Senator General" when campaigning for office! G.G.O's son Welsey Ralph followed in his father's footsteps and began a career in public office, and while still in his early twenties was elected as prosecuting attorney for Hillsboro, Ohio. 
  I'd like to extend a hearty thank you to Wesley Pence for his kind comments, as well as his insight into the interesting life of his wonderfully named great-grandfather. While I've received many comments on articles over the past two years, I've always believed that ones from family members and descendants yield the most interesting pieces of information, and that is certainly the case here! Many thanks again for your help!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

McMannomy Coffing (1890-1958)


   A one term Democratic state representative from Indiana, the wonderfully named McMannomy Coffing is without a doubt one of the oddest named politicians the Hoosier State has ever produced. Other than having a fascinating name, little information could be found on him, with the exception being a small write up on an Indiana genealogical website. The rare portrait of him above was located via the Bowen Projects website, which maintains a listing of every former member of the Indiana General Assembly! 
   The son of William Brown Coffing (1863-1960) and the former Emma McMannomy (1867-1942), McMannomy "Mick" Coffing was born near Covington, Indiana on July 20, 1890. Inheriting his odd first name courtesy of his mother's maiden name, Coffing was enrolled in the public schools of Covington as a child and graduated from the Covington High School in 1909. He went on to study at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, and during his time there made a name for himself on the schools football and baseball teams.
   Coffing graduated from Wabash in the class of 1913 and spent the next decade engaged in farming in his native Fountain County. In 1925 he removed from Covington to the city of Gary, Indiana in Lake County, and it was here that he made his business fortunes. Within a few years of his relocation, Coffing became an insurance agent, later becoming a full partner in the Coffing-Tyler Insurance Company. While still involved in the insurance business, Coffing became the secretary-treasurer of the Greenwald Surgical Manufacturing Company, and assumed its ownership upon the death of its founder in 1932.
   In addition to being busy with the aforementioned businesses, McMannomy Coffing also dabbled in real estate, was a member of the Gary Housing Authority, and later served as vice-president and director of the Gary Railways. In 1940 he married to Ms. Elizabeth Wilkey (1891-1976) and two years later was elected to the Indiana State House of Representatives from Lake County. His term in the legislature extended from 1943 to 1945 and during his service held a seat on the committees on Cities and Towns, Judiciary, Military Affairs, and Public libraries, Buildings and Grounds. An article on his election to the house appeared in the Hammond, Indiana Times in January 1943 and if one looks closely, you'll see that he's listed under his nickname "Mick". One can wonder if he ever had a hard time explaining his odd first name to his constituents and fellow legislators!!

                                                From the Hammond Times, January 12, 1943.

   After leaving the legislature in 1945, Coffing continued to have active involvement in Gary civic affairs, being a member of the Gary Board of Realtors and the Gary Taxpayers Association. He and his wife Elizabeth also established the "McMannomy and Elizabeth Coffing Educational Foundation" scholarship at his Alma mater (Wabash University) in 1949. He retired from business life in 1956 and later removed back to his hometown of Covington. Coffing is recorded as being a farmer during the last years of his life and was a member of the Presbyterian Church and the Fountain Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons. Coffing died at age 67 on June 6, 1958 at his home in Covington, "having been in ill health since January".  He was later interred at the Mt. Hope Cemetery in Covington and was survived by his wife Elizabeth, who died in October 1976 at age 85.

                                McMannomy Coffing, from the 1943 Indiana Legislative composite portrait.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mamre Hurlburt Ward (1899-1969)


    A Wisconsin civic leader and businessman, the oddly named Mamre Hurlburt Ward was also a four term representative in the Wisconsin State Assembly during the 1950s. His unusual first name "Mamre" has its origins in the bible, where it has two different connotations. The first is listed as being an ancient Semitic chieftain who was one of the allies of the patriarch Abraham, while the second is a location, or, to be more precise, an ancient shrine located near modern day Israel where the chieftain Mamre settled and "established the first Hebrew army." With that little historical tidbit out of the way, we'll now take a look at the life of this unusually named Wisconsin native!
   Born on January 16, 1899 in Bear Creek Valley, Wisconsin, Mamre H. Ward was the son of John Plumer (1866-1934) and Lora Lorena (Hurlburt) Ward (1869-1958). Mamre attended schools local to his native town and graduated from the Durand High School in the class of 1916. In August 1923 he married in Durand to Ms. Esther Nicklas (1899-1990) with whom he had three children, Robert Ward (birthdate unknown), John Plumer Ward III (1925-1988) and Esther Ann (born 1933). 
   Most of the resources mentioning Mamre Ward record him as having engaged in farming for the majority of his life, first in Bear Creek Valley and later in the village of Mondovi. While farming may have been an integral part of his life, Ward was also acknowledged as a prominent civic and business leader in the counties of Buffalo and Pepin. He served as President of the Bank of Durand for twelve years and later became the director of the Security National Bank of Durand after it was consolidated. Ward experienced continued success in local business in addition to his banking endeavors, becoming the vice president of the Durand Canning Company in 1933 and later managed a local cooperative creamery. The Wisconsin Blue Book (where the above picture of Ward was located) also denotes that he was a "member of several cooperative organizations" in addition to those already mentioned.
   While continuing to be active in the realms of local business and civic affairs, Ward also was also recognized as a prominent local political figure. In 1935 and 1936 he served as president of the Canton, Wisconsin town board and was a member (and later chairman) of the Wisconsin State Soil Conservation Committee. He also held a seat on the Pepin County Republican committee for a number of years. 


Mamre H. Ward as he appeared in the 1956 edition of the Wisconsin State Blue Book.

   In 1950 Mamre Ward won election as a Republican to the Wisconsin State Assembly, representing the counties of Buffalo, Pepin and Pierce. Ward was continually reelected to the Assembly until 1958 and during his four terms held a seat on the legislative committees on Highways, Municipalities and Agriculture. During the 1955  legislative term he served as the chairman of the Commerce and Manufactures committee and in 1957 chaired the committee on Public Welfare.
   After leaving the legislature in January 1958, Ward returned to his earlier business activities. In his later years he was a member and moderator of the Durand Pilgrim Congregational Church and also maintained a membership in the Durand Masonic Lodge and the Eastern Star Chapter. Mamre H. Ward died at the St. Benedict's Community Hospital in Durand on October 13, 1969 at age 70. His wife Esther survived him by a number of years, dying in 1990 at age 91, and both are buried at the Forest Hill Cemetery in Durand.


Mamre H. Ward's obituary as it appeared in the Oct. 15, 1969 edition of the Eau Claire Leader.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Chovine Clegg Richardson (1857-1931)

From Georgia's Public Men of 1902-1904.

   A multi-term state representative from Georgia, Chovine Clegg Richardson also distinguished himself as an attorney and merchant in his native county of Houston. A descendant of a family long prominent in South Carolina politics, Chovine C. Richardson was born in the town of Sumter, South Carolina on November 16, 1857, the son of Charles Hyatt (1830-1886) and Margaret Richardson (1836-1918). 
   Little informaton exists on Richardson's early years, or how he managed to receive the unusual name"Chovine Clegg", but is it is known that he began attending Mercer University in Macon, Georgia in 1873. Richardson left this institution after a short period due to health concerns and he later enrolled at the University of Georgia, graduating in the class of 1880 with an Bachelor of Philosophy degree.
   Shortly after his graduation, Richardson began pursuing a career in law, eventually entering  a law office in the village of Perry, Georgia. After being admitted to the bar, Richardson relocated to the city of Macon where he opened a law practice. His stay here lasted until the mid 1880s, whereafter he removed to Byron, Georgia,  where he resided for the rest of his life. In July 1885 Richardson married in Byron to Ms. Alice Culpepper (1867-1928), with whom he had five children: Katherine Guignard (1887-1974), Margaret (1889-1907), Chovine Jr. (1891-1954), Susie (1892-1985) and Marion (birthdate unknown).
   In addition to his law practice, Richardson is listed by the 1904 work Georgia's Public Men as being involved in the "general merchandise business" as well as farming. The earlier mentioned work denotes that he was "one of the leading business and professional men  of his county, and, like many of the sons of old South Carolina who have found homes in this State, he has won success."
    Chovine C. Richardson made the jump into state politics in 1900 when he won election to the Georgia House of Representatives from Houston County. He was continually reelected to house until 1906, and during his terms held a seat on the committees on Corporations, Education, Enrollment, Immigration, Labor and Labor Statistics, Pensions, and the Special Judiciary.
   Richardson returned to practicing law after leaving the legislature, but this was short-lived. He was later returned to the Georgia state house in November 1916 and served two terms, 1917-1921. The remainder of Richardson's life following his service remains a mystery, but it is known that he died at a private hospital in Macon, Georgia on January 31, 1931 at age 73. His wife Alice had predeceased him by three years and both were interred at the Byron City Cemetery in Peach County, Georgia. Three of Richardson's children (Katherine, Margaret and Chovine Jr.) are also buried here.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Boniface Juvenal Leyendecker (1866-1953)


   We continue our stay in the Lonestar State for today's profile on Mr. Boniface Juvenal Leyendecker, a lifelong resident of the city of Laredo. During a career in public service that lasted over five decades, Leyendecker went from being a railroad worker to county assessor to state representative, being elected to the latter office when he was over 70! While little exists online detailing the life of this intriguingly named man, a few archived newspaper articles have been located that give a substantial overview on his career in the public forum. 
  Boniface J. Leyendecker was born on May 3, 1866 in Laredo, being the son of John Zirvas (1827-1902) and Julia Benavides Leyendecker (1837-1926). John Leyendecker had earlier distinguished himself as an assistant quartermaster for the Confederacy during the Civil War and later represented Colorado County in the Texas Legislature from 1873-1874. Young Boniface would attend the public schools of Laredo and as a young man found employment as a teller in the National Bank of Laredo.
   Leyendecker eventually left that employ and became engaged in railroad work, serving as a passenger conductor for the Mexican National Railroad, running from Laredo to San Luis Potosi. A 1937 edition of the Laredo Times gives note that he served as a conductor for over a decade, and it is also mentioned that he had previously been a brakeman and express messenger. In 1890 Leyendecker married Galveston native Cecila Dellmar, with whom he had several children, including the following: Louis Lawrence (birthdate unknown), Pauline (1894-1969), Boniface Jr. (1896-1966), Cecilia (birthdate unknown), John Zirvas (1901-1971), Henry George (1903-1972) and Ernest Abbott (birthdate unknown).
   In the late 1890s Leyendecker made his first foray into local politics, being elected as an alderman to the Laredo city council. In 1902 he was named as district clerk for the Webb County district court, continuing in this position for a number of years. During this time Leyendecker also made his name known in local farming circles, becoming a partner in the firm of Leyendecker and Mullally, a business devoted to the manufacture of farming implements used in the conversion of Mexican sugar cane into syrup and molasses. The Twentieth Century History of Southwest Texas, Volume II makes note of the firm being "pioneers in this industry in the Laredo Country, and it is to be expected that the whole region will benefit greatly from their experiments.
   In addition to his farming pursuits, Leyendecker continued to be actively involved in the political affairs of his native county of Webb, serving as tax assessor for that county for over twenty-six years (1908-1934). He was also named as President of the Texas Tax Assessors Association from 1931-1932. Four years later Leyendecker won election to the Texas State House of Representatives from Webb County, taking office at the ripe old age of 71! 


                                Bonnie Leyendecker as he looked late in his legislative tenure, circa 1945.

    Familiarly known as "Bonnie" by his contemporaries, Leyendecker served in the House of Representatives from 1937-1947, holding a seat on a number of legislative committees during his decade long tenure. They are listed as follows: Live Stock and Stock Raising, Gaming and Liquor Laws, Public Health, Engrossed Bills, State Affairs, Aeronautics, and lastly, chairman of the committee on Banks and Banking. The Laredo Times newspaper  gave a substantial write up on his legislative service in 1943, mentioning "Bonnie" as a "short, quick man, rarely seen without his cigar" and that he maintained a fascination with a rather odd non-political subject, astrology. The Times quotes him as saying that "I absolutely believe that the study of astrology would make a Christian out of an athiest.....How can one study the stars and the planets and the mysterious ways in which they move without believing in a Supreme Being?"
   Boniface Leyendecker retired from political life at the end of the Texas Legislature's 49th session in 1947. He was 80 years old at the time of his retirement and is mentioned as being the oldest member of the House from the time of his first election until his leaving office. In the months before his death, Leyendecker is reported as suffering from a state of impaired health, and he died in Laredo on June 27, 1953 at age 87. He was shortly thereafter interred at the Laredo Catholic Cemetery. His obituary below appeared in the San Antonio Express on the day following his death.


The San Antonio Express, June 28, 1953.

This write up on Leyendecker appeared in the April 11, 1943 edition of the Laredo Times.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Offa Shivers Lattimore (1865-1937)


   After a brief break from writing, the first profile for the month of November takes us to Texas and one Offa Shivers Lattimore, an outstandingly named man who served as a member of the Texas State senate and later as a judge on the state Court of Criminal Appeals. A surprising amount of information has been located on Lattimore (as well as a few photographs of him) and I can certainly say that I wish this was the case for some of the other obscure persons profiled here on the site. The annals of the Texas State legislature are home to many unusually named political figures, of which Mr. Lattimore is one.
   Offa S. Lattimore was originally born in Marion, Alabama on January 10, 1865, the son of John Lee and Catherine Shivers Lattimore. The Lattimore family resided in Alabama until 1877, when they removed to Falls County, Texas, where Offa received his education. In the early 1880s he found employment with the Texas Central Railway Company, working on the railways from 1883-1884. A few years after leaving his employ, Lattimore enrolled at Baylor University to study law and also began teaching school during this time.
   Lattimore was admitted to the bar in 1889 and in August of that year relocated to the city of Fort Worth to open a law practice. In the following year he married to Ms. Ermine Field Buck (1866-1944) with whom he would have eight children, who are listed as follows: Nannie (born 1888), Offa Jr. (1890-1952), Halbert Shipp (1892-1969), John Lee (1894-1967), William Buck (1895-1954), Robert Baker (1897-1974), Oliver (died aged three months in 1898) and Walter R. (1900-1967). 
  Lattimore's career in public service began in the same year as his marriage, being appointed as assistant attorney of Tarrant County, Texas. He served in the post until 1894, and six years later became county attorney. After four years of service as county attorney, he returned to private practice and in 1910 won election to the Texas State Senate, representing the county of Tarrant. Lattimore served as Senate President Pro Tempore during his first term and also held a seat on the committees on Commerce and Manufacture (chairman), Constitutional Amendments, Finance, Labor, Privileges and Elections and lastly, Stock and Stock Raising.
  Offa Lattimore won reelection to the Texas Senate in November 1914 and continued to be a busy man at the state capitol, serving on the committees of Civil Jurisprudence, Educational Affairs, Internal Improvements, and State Affairs. Following his second term Lattimore mounted a candidacy for the Texas State Court of Criminal Appeals and a political advertisement on his campaign (shown below) was prominently featured in the Texas Railway Journal in 1918. This notice touted Lattimore's previous experience in the senate, as well as his being a friend to "organized labor."

                                       A  Lattimore political advertisement from the Texas Railway Journal.

  Officially taking his seat on the bench in 1919, Offa Lattimore was reelected to this court every six years until his death in 1937. While still serving on the court, he also gained distinction as a trustee for Baylor University, as well as its Female College. In addition to above,  Lattimore also served as the President of the board of trustees for the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for a number of years.
  Offa Lattimore died at age 72 on October 27, 1937 and was shortly thereafter interred at the State Cemetery in Austin. His wife Ermine survived him by several years, dying in August 1944 at age 78. A death notice for Judge Lattimore appeared in the November 4, 1937 edition of the Clovis, New Mexico Evening News and is shown below. If one reads closely, mention is given that Lattimore had a "remarkable power of remembering names that were not so distinctive as his own". On that note, one can certainly make the assumption that  anyone who ever made the acquaintance Judge Lattimore probably had no problem remembering his highly unusual name!!!