Saturday, March 24, 2012

Zael Ward (1791-1864)


  Yesterday's remarkable discovery and detective work by me has yielded one of the most interesting site articles you're ever going to read here. If you haven't read yesterdays article on the "rediscovery" of Zael Ward (1791-1864), I urge you to do so immediately!
  I'll begin with a "condensed" version of yesterday's happenings. I had been doing research on a Michigan politician and businessman named Worthy Lovell Churchill (1840-1913) when I discovered a work entitled St. Clair County, Michigan: Its History and its People, written and published by William Lee Jenks in 1912. In this particular book was a roster of men native to the St. Clair County area who had served in the Michigan State House of Representatives from 1835 to the time of the books publishing. As I perused this list looking for odd names one of them jumped out at me......Zael Ward. The list in question is shown below.




 When I first saw this unusual name it struck a chord with me, as if I had seen it before. After some quick thinking I remembered where I'd seen the name.....Andrew Young's 1875 work The History of Chautauqua County. In said work was a list of Supervisors of the town of Harmony (located in Chautauqua County) and on this list is the name of Zael Ward, who served as supervisor from 1835-36. Another list shows Ward's name in regards to a meeting of the Chautauqua County Board of Supervisors in November 1835 (posted below). For comparison to the above blurb (mentioning his legislative service) one only need look at this  to see that the names are indeed the same!




  After making this astonishing local history discovery, I felt confident enough in my research to conclude that the Zael Ward who had been a Chautauqua County resident in the 1820s and 30s was indeed the same man who went on to serve in the Michigan legislature twenty some odd years later. However, I was now faced with a question......whatever became of this man? A few Google searches later told the whole story, which I will now relate to you, and there are a variety of twists and turns along the way!  And in case you may be wondering, there is no proper biography available on Zael Ward. There are only bits and pieces of information scattered about in various histories on St. Clair County as well as Chautauqua, which made researching him a bit more difficult! I also had to contend with the rather inconsistant spelling of his first name, which is shown to have been spelled as "Zael", "Zale", "Zeal" and "Zuel".
  Research has shown that Zael Ward was born in Vermont on April 7, 1791, the son of the Rev. David Ward (1761-1822) and his wife Abigail Pray Ward (1755-1817). Virtually nothing could be found on Ward's early life in Vermont or his education/schooling. It is known that Zael was the sixth child in a family of ten children, who are listed as follows: Submit (1780-1856), Eber (1782-1855), Samuel (1784-1854), Nathan (1786-1868), Keziah (1789-1864), Zael (1791-1864), Rhoda (1793-1864), John Pray (1795-1816), Charlotte (1797-1863) and David (1799-1889). 
 It is unknown when Zael left Vermont, but it is assumed that it was after his marriage to Susan Page, which occurred on April 26, 1812. Zael and his wife also had a large family (which also consisted of ten children) and are listed by order of birth: Phebe (born in 1813), Rhoda (1814-1909), Susan (1817-1905), Submit (died aged 9 months in 1819), Submit (1819-1902), Samuel (born 1821), Eber (born in 1823), Mary Jane (born in 1826), Zael Jr. (1827-1850) and David William (1833-1854). Zael and his large family eventually resettled in Keene Valley, located in Essex County New York and it was here that he purchased a farm located next to his brother Nathan's homestead. Most of the information thus given on Zael and his family  was discovered in the Autobiography of David Ward (Zael's nephew) published in 1893, and it stands as the best available source on Zael's life and exploits. An important passage from the book (it gives note on his removal to Chautauqua) is posted below. 



  Zael Ward and his family are listed as resettling in the town of Harmony in Chautauqua County in 1828. It was here that he purchased a farm in the aforementioned town and research has shown that it didn't take long for Zael to become active in county politics! The blurb below (from John Philip Down's 1921 work History of Chautauqua County, New York) shows that from 1835-1836 he served as Supervisor for the town of Harmony.




   Zael Ward's stay in Chautauqua County was quite short, as he and his family (with the exception of his daughter Rhoda) removed to Newport/Marine City, Michigan in "the spring of 1837." Zael's brother Samuel had emigrated to Michigan some years previously and was the founder of the aforementioned town. Samuel's brothers Eber and Nathan also relocated here during the 1820s and 30s.
  Within a few years of his resettlement, Zael Ward's name became a prominent one in the St. Clair County area, and it's truly amazing how quickly this Chautauqua County resident built up his reputation in his new home state! From 1838-1840 he served as a St. Clair County commissioner and in 1842 he became a  founder (and later a trustee) of the first Congregational society in Marine City. In the latter year Ward was elected as Justice of the Peace, serving a one year term. A genealogical website mentioning the Ward family also lists Zael as being involved in shipping interests in Newport/Marine City, stating "Zael Ward also owned ships and served as captain". Sadly no other source elaborates on his involvement in the local shipping trade.
  Throughout the 1840s and 50s, Zael's public profile in Michigan continued to rise and in November 1854 he was elected by the citizens of St. Clair County (or to be more precise, Belle Springs) to a seat in the Michigan State House of Representatives. The History of St. Clair County gives note that Ward defeated his Democratic opponent (Alexander Gilchrist) by a vote of 553 to 347 and took his seat in January of 1855. The tally of that election is shown below. 



  During his legislative service (which concluded in 1856) Ward served on the Committees of Agriculture and Manufactures, and is listed in the 1855 Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Michigan as presenting "three petitions, of the inhabitants of Clay, Ira and Cottrellville, in the county of St. Clair, asking alteration of boundaries.
 Very little could be found on Zael Ward's life following his service in state government. Both David Ward's Autobiography and the History of St. Clair County note that Zael moved back to Chautauqua County at some point in early 1864 and died here on July 21, 1864. It was also found that he was buried in the Blockville Union Burying Ground in Blockville, New York!!!!

 All in all, it is truly fascinating that this obscure man with an incredibly interesting life story is buried right here in Chautauqua County! I'm willing to bet that absolutely no one residing here realized that we had an oddly named Michigan legislator and shipping captain buried in the tiny settlement of Blockville, and it only goes to show that there is still exciting local history to be found in this day in age......all we need to do is read, research and look!
 Yesterday I made a sojourn out to Blockville to photograph Zael Ward's gravesite. After some intensive searching his stone was discovered towards the front of this fairly small cemetery.....and now for some photos from the trip!


The Blockville cemetery has some very early graves located within its borders (the earliest I could find dated from 1833) and there's even one or two Revolutionary War veterans buried here!

  
  The writing at the bottom of Zael Ward's stone really isn't decipherable, and his date of birth and death are April 7, 1791 and July 21, 1864. There are a few sources out there that list his death year as 1861 but these are incorrect. I've also seen the date of April 6 listed as his birthday but this has also proven to be the incorrect date.

  
 You'll also notice that Zael's gravestone is quite nondescript, and gives no indication to the interesting life and exploits of the man buried beneath it!


  Zael's wife Susan is buried next to him, and her stone isn't in the greatest condition. Susan survived Zael by nine years, dying on September 11, 1873 at age 82. It is unknown whether she died in Michigan or in Chautauqua County, but I presume that she joined her husband in Chautauqua when he relocated here in 1864. Next to Zael and Susan's stones are the markers for their daughter Rhoda, who died in Blockville in 1909 at age 94. She is buried next to her husband (the wonderfully named Sardius Steward) who served as township supervisor of Harmony from 1858 to 1860.
 So there you have it!! Even more obscure Chautauqua County history that you didn't know about! 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

And who says that detective work doesn't pay off!!


  I am extremely excited to report that an astounding discovery has been made in regards to an oddly named politician named Zael Ward. Mr Ward's name was discovered by me in a book centering on Chautauqua County history a number of years ago (as he was a township supervisor of Harmony, New York from 1835-36) and since putting him on the list all those years ago I'd completely forgotten about him!
  Earlier tonight I was doing some research on a Michigan representative named Worthy Lovell Churchill when I stumbled across a Google book link called St. Clair County, Michigan, a History and its People. In this book (published in 1912) was a large roster of men who had represented St. Clair County in the Michigan State House of Representatives from 1835 to the time of the books publishing. As I scanned the list looking for goofy names one of them immediately jumped out at me....Zael Ward.
  I told myself "that sounds mighty familiar" and after some thorough Google searching found that it was indeed the same man who had resided in Chautauqua County years before!!!! Even more good news was in store for me when I found another book (written by David Ward, Zael's nephew) stating that his Uncle Zael resided in Michigan for many years and then returned to Chautauqua County, NY where he died shortly after arriving. 
  Needless to say my jaw dropped to the floor. I immediately thought "he has to be buried in the county somewhere!" and after a half hour or so of tedious searching discovered a genealogical website that lists a "Zale/Zael Ward" that died in Blockville, New York on July 20, 1864 and was buried in the Blockville Union Burying Ground!!!! Quite needless to say but....prepare for a fantastic blog article within the next few days....as well as gravesite pictures!!!!!
  Just think.....we here in Chautauqua County have had an oddly named Michigan State Representative/ship builder/captain buried in Blockville for the past 147 years!!!!! Wonder how many people knew that!!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Adolphus Freeman Morrison (1805-1852), Adolphus Dykeman Zabriskie (1854-1947), Adolphus Hawxhurst Searing (1856-1907)


  Today's write-up once again centers on an oddly named Chautauqua County resident who made his name by serving in the New York State Assembly. The man in question is one Adolphus Freeman Morrison, an obscure 19th century resident of Hanover, New York. Unlike Sextus H. Hungerford and Waterman Ellsworth (both profiled a few days ago) very little information could be located on Morrison's life, excepting a few brief mentions in Andrew Young's History of Chautauqua County, published in 1875. A portrait of Morrison is not known to exist at the time of this writing, but the photographs of his gravesite in Forestville, NY (located below) more than make up for it!
  Adolphus F. Morrison was born on November 29, 1805 to Samuel (1771-1827) and Lurena Patterson Morrison (1775-1848), both of whom were residents of Washington County, New York. He received his odd first name in honor of his cousin Adolphus Freeman,  a prominent physician in the Washington County area. Adolphus's father Samuel was originally born in Massachusetts and he and his wife settled in the Chautauqua County area in the early 1820s with their six sons, who are listed as follows: John, Adolphus, Robert, Ransom, Wilson and Orrin.
  Adolphus Morrison is listed (along with his brothers  John and Orrin) as a merchant in the Forestville area, although no mention is given as to what business they were involved in. At some point in the 1820s he married Ms. Ann Dennison, a union that lasted until Adolphus's death in 1852. This marriage also produced one son, Leverett A. Morrison (1832-1871) who is buried in Erie, Pennsylvania.

     This roster shows the members of the 1848 Chautauqua County Board of Supervisors, with Adolphus 
    Morrison's name highlighted in yellow. Future NY Governor/United State Senator Rueben E. Fenton  
   served as chairman of this board.

   Although few sources mention him at great length, Adolphus F. Morrison served in a number of local public posts during his short life, and this is a true testimonial that he was a man held in high esteem by his fellow Chautauquans. In 1839 he was named as Hanover town supervisor and was reelected to this position in 1848. During his years as town supervisor Morrison also held a seat on the Chautauqua County Board of Supervisors, and it is worth noting that this board was chaired by future New York Governor and U.S. Senator Reuben Eaton Fenton (1819-1885).
  Adolphus Morrison achieved his highest level of public service in November 1842 when he was elected to the New York State Assembly. Representing his native town of Hanover, Morrison took his seat at the beginning of the assembly's 66th session on January 3, 1843. During his service (which extended to the end of the session on April 18, 1843) Morrison served alongside fellow Chautauquans Odin Benedict (1805-1874) from the town of Ellery, and Emory Force Warren (1810-1895, from Charlotte) who also won assembly seats in the November 1842 election.
   Little is known of Morrison's life after his legislative service. An 1847 New York Agricultural Society report lists him as being elected as a Vice President of the "Chautauque County Agricultural Society" for the year 1848. Adolphus Freeman Morrison died in Hanover on September 20, 1852 at the young age of 46 and was subsequently buried in the Forestville Pioneer Cemetery.
  Yesterday (March 18) I made a visit to Morrison's gravesite in Forestville to photograph his gravesite. The Forestville Pioneer Cemetery is one of the more interesting cemeteries to visit in Chautauqua County. There are some very early gravestones here (the earliest I found dated from the mid 1810s) and there's also an ancient looking fountain/reflecting pool located near its center. This fountain is covered over by a clapboard shack and looks to be in dire need of restoration. Still very interesting to visit though!

  
  Adolphus Morrison's stone is quite substantial and also bears the name of his wife Ann, who survived him by 26 years, dying in May 1878 at age 82. She is actually buried under the small marker in the left of the above picture, and its also interesting to note that she was nine years older than her husband!

  
  There is also a badge shaped insignia towards the top of Morrison's stone. Though it is not very readable in the picture above, the insignia reads "MY FATHER", a dedication from Adolphus's son Leverett.

  
  Despite being erected over 160 years ago all of the writing and names are legible, though a fair amount of algae and a century and a half of wear have taken their toll. So there you have it! Even more obscure Chautauqua County history you may not have known about....brought to you by the Strangest Names In American Political History!

From the Legislative History and Souvenir of Connecticut, 1901.

  Preston, Connecticut resident Adolphus Dykeman Zabriskie was for many years a prominent citizen of that town, being elected as its representative to the Connecticut General Assembly in 1900. Although a resident of Connecticut for nearly all of his life, Zabriskie's birth occurred in Brooklyn, New York on  October 1, 1854. The son of Thomas Henry and Marie Cleveland Zabriskie, Adolphus received his schooling in New York state and married in 1875 to Sarah Kimball, with whom he would have six children: Charles Cross (born 1877), Luther Kimball (born 1879), Mary Cleveland (born 1883), Maria Louise (born 1887), Alice Mabel (born 1889) and Edward Henry (born 1892). 
    Three years following his marriage Zabriskie relocated to Preston, Connecticut, where he would engage in farming. Elected to the Connecticut Assembly in November 1900, Zabriskie served on the house committee on agriculture during his one term, which concluded in 1903. Little else is known of Zabriskie's life following his time in the legislature. He did however have a long lifespan, dying sometime in 1947 when he would have been either 92 or 93 years old. He was interred at the Preston City Cemetery in Preston, New London County, Connecticut.

From the Notable Men of Central New York, 1903.

    Cayuga County, New York jurist Adolphus Hawxhurst Searing may have lived to just fifty years of age, but during his short life carved a notable career for himself on the Cayuga County bench, serving as Judge of that county from 1901 until his death. Born in Cayuga County town of Scipio on August 27, 1856, Adolphus was the son of Leonard Hawxhurst and Alice Hudson Searing. A student at the Sherwood Academy in Cayuga County, Searing would continue his schooling at Swarthmore College, graduating in the class of 1878. 
   Following his graduation from Swarthmore Searing decided upon a career in law and enrolled at the University of Michigan's Law School at Ann Arbor. A graduate of that school in the class of 1882, Searing returned to New York and settled in Auburn, joining a law firm operated by Horace Howland. Searing married in 1884 to Sarah McKeel (born 1864) and the couple would remain childless through the entirety of their marriage.
   Adolphus Searing practiced law in Auburn until 1889, when he was selected to serve as a special county judge for Cayuga County.  He would serve until 1901, when he won election as Judge of Cayuga County, and remained on the bench until his death at age 50 on March 26, 1907. He was survived by his wife Sarah and was interred at the Aurora Cemetery in Cayuga County.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Rheuna Drake Lawrence (1837-1901)

From the Encyclopedia of Biogrpahy of Illinois, Volume III.

   After profiling two local Chautauqua County politicians with odd names, today's biography takes us to the city of Springfield, Illinois. The individual shown above, Rheuna Drake Lawrence, was a prominent public official in Springfield for many decades and he served as that city's mayor from 1891-1892. Details on Mr. Lawrence's life are somewhat lacking online, but two sources giving a good overview on his public career were discovered via Google books. The first of these was an annual Springfield Public School Report (Volume 43) which furnished the portrait of Lawrence shown above. The second is a 1996 work entitled Frank Lloyd Wright's Dana House, authored by Donald Hoffman. This particular book has a chapter or two devoted to Rheuna Lawrence's migration to Springfield and his later public career.
   Rheuna Drake Lawrence was originally born near Cederville, Ohio on January 18, 1837, the son of Lewis W. and Sarah Minerva Lawrence. Rheuna left his Ohio home at an early age and found employment as a bricklayer in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. He eventually relocated to Chicago and then to Springfield, where he settled in 1856. Once he had taken up residence, Lawrence became a building contractor and during the next few years aided in the design and construction of the Springfield Universalist Church, as well as additions to the Jacksonville Insane Asylum. 
  In January 1859 Rheuna Lawrence married Mary Agnes Maxcy and two daughters were eventually born to the couple: Agnes Salome Lawrence (died aged 1 in 1862) and Susana Lawrence (1862-1946). Susana Lawrence later gained notoriety as an heiress and as well as her connections to noted architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
  During the late 1860s Lawrence began dabbling in the business of railroad contracting, and later began a lasting interest in the burgeoning coal mining industry. In 1872 he and a few partners established a coal mining town in Barclay, Illinois and Lawrence became manager of said company for several years. In 1876 he was named by then Illinois Governor John Lourie Beveridge as a member of the commission that would eventually locate and design the Illinois State Penitentiary. He served on this commission until August of 1878 when he resigned, and within a few short years was appointed to the office of Springfield Superintendent of Public Works.


    This portrait of Rheuna D. Lawrence appeared in the 1996 book Frank Lloyd Wright's Dana House.
  
   Throughout the 1880s, Lawrence's public profile in Illinois continued to rise and in 1881 he was named as President of the Springfield Board of Trade. Ten years later the citizens of Springfield elected Lawrence as its Mayor for a one year term. During his mayoralty it is mentioned that "his administration accomplished many reforms and much was done in the way of municipal improvements." Shortly after the conclusion of his term in 1892 he was appointed as a member of the Springfield Public School Board. He served on this board for almost nine years (including six as its president) and was later named as the head of the Springfield Board of Public Charities.
   After a "long and painful illness", Rheuna Drake Lawrence died at age 63 on February 17, 1901 and was later memorialized in the earlier mentioned 43rd Annual Report of the Springfield Public Schools as a man who "in every public capacity he has served has commanded universal respect". Lawrence was interred at the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, and it can certainly be said that he is buried among good company! This massive cemetery is the final resting place of numerous Illinois public figures, including oddly named Illinois Governor Ninian Edwards (1775-1833), Illinois Governor and Senator Shelby Moore Cullom (1829-1914) and last but not least, Abraham Lincoln and his wife and children!


From the Indianapolis Journal, February 18, 1901.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Waterman Ellsworth (1797-1849)


   In keeping with the local history theme established with the previous article on Sextus Hungerford, today's profile centers on the Hon. Waterman Ellsworth, a resident of the town of Stockton, New York who served a term in the New York State Assembly. While his name may not be as odd as the man who preceded him here, Ellsworth is an unjustly forgotten Chautauqua County resident who should be remembered not only for his service in the state government, but as a pioneer physician and man of affairs in the village of Stockton. 
   I first discovered Ellsworth's name while doing research on Sextus H. Hungerford, who's article was published few days ago. While perusing Andrew Young's 1875 work History of Chautauqua County I noticed the odd name of Waterman Ellsworth listed among the names of men who had previously served in the state assembly. Intrigued, I managed to find a small biography on him in said book that mentioned his legislative service as well as his burial location in the Stockton Cemetery! Earlier today I managed to make a visit to the small cemetery to get some photos of his gravesite, which will be posted at the end of this article!
  Waterman Ellsworth was born in the town of Hartwick, Otsego County, New York on December 14, 1797. In an interesting historical connection, Waterman's father was none other than Stukely Stafford Ellsworth (1769-1837), a resident of Otsego County who served as a New York State Senator from 1825-1828. Stukely is also listed in my SNIAPH book and will eventually have a blog profile of his own at some point. Before his senate tenure, Stukely Ellsworth married and eventually had five children, of whom Waterman was the youngest. The History of Chautauqua County also mentions that Stukely and the rest of the Ellsworth family were related to quite a number of eminent Americans, including Oliver Ellsworth, (who served as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1796-1800) and William Wolcott Ellsworth (1791-1868), a Governor of Connecticut. Stukely and his family were also direct descendants of Abel Aylesworth, who married Benjamin Franklin's sister Amy!
  Waterman Ellsworth resided in Otsego County until the early 1820s, when he removed to Stockton (which was then called Delanti). After purchasing some land and establishing a home, Ellsworth married on February 26, 1826 to Ms. Rosina Lyon, who also came from a notable family. Rosina was born in Massachusetts in 1799 and was the younger sister of Mary Lyon (1797-1849), a prominent pioneer in women's education as well as the founder of what is now Mt. Holyoke College! It is unknown when Rosina first arrived in Stockton, but research has indicated that both she and her brother Aaron were both Stockton/Delanti residents by the time of Waterman Ellsworth's arrival. 
  Waterman and Rosina Lyons Ellsworth were married for only six years, with Rosina dying at age 32 on August 18, 1832. During their short union four children were born to the couple and are listed by order of birth: Stukely Stafford (born in 1826), Hazelius (born 1828), Franklin (born 1830) and Henry Martyn (born May 1832).

     Mary Lyon (founder of Mt. Holyoke College), whose sister Rosina married Waterman Ellsworth.

   In addition to his notable familial connections, Waterman Ellsworth was truly a pioneer citizen in the Stockton community. He was one of the first physicians to settle in the Delanti/Stockton area and in 1830 was named as the first postmaster of Delanti/Stockton. He was later elected to the position of town supervisor for three terms, serving in the years 1827, 1831 and 1832. At some point during the late 1830s Ellsworth married Sarah Smith Pierce, a Vermont resident who had removed to Delanti/Stockton some years previously. Three children were born to Ellsworth and his new wife, including: Rosina Julina (who died two months after her birth), Rosina Manerva (died at age 2 months) and Clay Waterman Pierpont (born in 1845). Sarah Pierce Ellsworth outlived Waterman by a number of years and later relocated to Oregon in 1881 to live with her son Clay.
  Waterman Ellsworth's public profile received a significant boost in November 1838 when he was elected to the New York State Assembly, representing Chautauqua County. He took his seat at the beginning of the 62nd session of the assembly on January 1, 1839 and served until sessions end on May 6 of that year. It is unknown what committees he served on during his legislative tenure, but it is known that he served alongside fellow Chautauquans Abner Lewis (1801-1879, from Panama) and Timothy Judson (1801-1872, from Fredonia) who also won assembly seats in the November 1838 election.
  Waterman Ellsworth died at his home in Stockton on January 6, 1849, a few days after his 51st birthday. Young's History of Chautauqua County makes note that a "plain, but substantial monument in the burying ground at Delanti marks the resting place of his remains; and all the early settlers of Stockton, and many others scattered over this wide country, hold him in grateful remembrance." Sadly, no pictures of Waterman Ellsworth or his wife Rosina are known to exist, but I think the photos of his gravesite below more than make up for the lack of a portrait!


  As mentioned in this article's introduction, I made a visit to Ellsworth's gravesite in the Stockton Cemetery earlier today and after some searching, discovered its location towards the front corner of the cemetery. Both Waterman and Rosina's stones are (aside from some algae spots) in remarkable condition, with the writing on both stones being perfectly legible.

  
  Although his stone doesn't list his date of birth, Waterman Ellsworth was born in December 1797 in Hartwick, New York. I had initially expressed hope that his oddly named father (the New York state senator) would be buried here as well, but sadly this wasn't the case. As it turns out, Stukely Stafford Ellsworth is buried in somewhere in Otsego County, although his exact burial location in the county remains uncertain.

  
  Rosina Ellsworth's stone (which is 180 years old, don't forget!) is on the right in the above picture. It is truly amazing that the harsh Western New York weather conditions over the past century haven't wreaked more damage on them! Also in the picture is the Strangest Names In American Political History book, which has made a visit to all of the grave sites posted here thus far!
 So there you have it! Even more obscure Chautauqua County history that you may not have known about! I still find it quite amazing that this interestingly named man with a very interesting life story is buried in the tiny village of Stockton, and hopefully this small article will make Waterman Ellsworth a little more familiar to current Chautauqua residents!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sextus Heman Hungerford (1806-1867)


   The following profile will be a special one, as the honoree is none other than Sextus Heman Hungerford, a 19th century resident of Westfield, New York! This intriguingly named man served one term in the New York State Assembly and during his life was viewed as one of Chautauqua County's most prominent citizens, being at various times a banker, church elder and state legislator. I must admit that there are very few resources on Hungerford's life available today, with the exceptions going to Butler F. Dilley's Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Chautauqua County, published in 1891 and Andrew Young's 1875 work History of Chautauqua County. Both of these works give a decent overview on the Hungerford's career as a public official, both locally and otherwise. I'll also venture a guess that very few people know of this oddly named man's accomplishments in this day in age (even here in Chautauqua County), and hopefully the succeeding biography will change that! 
   Sextus H. Hungerford was born on January 14, 1806 in the town of Smithfield, New York, the son of Lot Hungerford and his wife Celinda. Sextus was the eldest of nine children, and he spent his formative years in Smithfield before moving to Vernon, New York with his family at a young age. Lot Hungerford died in Vernon in 1827 when Sextus was 21 and for the next few years Sextus engaged in farming pursuits while also helping raise his younger siblings. In 1830 he married Polly Maria Skinner and seven years later removed from Vernon and resettled in the town of Westfield.
  With a few months of his resettlement, Hungerford and his brother in law (Henry J. Miner) were furnished with goods to begin their own mercantile store, courtesy of local merchant Joshua Babcock (1793-1878). This business achieved modest success and in 1843 Hungerford removed to nearby Ripley, New York where he purchased a farm. He moved back to Westfield a few years later and in 1848 became the founder and President of the Bank of Westfield.


           This print of Sextus Hungerford appeared in the 1875 work "History of Chautauqua County".


   While Hungerford's name was solidly established in the Westfield business community, he was also quite attentive to church affairs in his native town. Hungerford is listed as being a ruling elder in the local Presbyterian church from 1851 until his death, and the earlier mentioned Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia gives note that he "aided in sustaining the institutions of the church and religious and benevolent institutions generally, by personal effort and liberal pecuniary contributions." The Centennial History of First Presbyterian Church of Westfield, published in 1910, gives a substantial write up on Hungerford's religious affiliations, mentioning that he was "never ostentatious but always doing his part in the church work" and that he also acted as church session moderator when a clergyman was unavailable. 


      A New York State Assembly roster from 1865 with S.H. Hungerford's name highlighted in yellow.


  In addition to his church work and banking interests, Sextus Hungerford was also a man of keen civic awareness and throughout his life was elected to public office at both the local and state level. He was named as Westfield town supervisor in 1861 and served six years in this post. In November 1864 he was elected by the citizens of Chautauqua County as their representative in the New York State Assembly, and took his seat during the 1865 session. During his service (which extended from the session opening on January 8 to its end on April 28) Hungerford sat on both the committee on Railroads and the committee on Banks. Another roster from that session is provided below, with Hungerford's name again highlighted in yellow.



  Young's History of Chautauqua County notes that Hungerford continued with his earlier banking activities around the time of his legislative service. In 1864 he was one of the founders of the First National Bank of Westfield and during the final year of the Civil War is listed as being "untiring in his efforts to sustain the government, and devoted much time gratuitously furnishing both men and means." Hungerford died at age 61 on May 15, 1867 at his home in Westfield, and his obituary lists him as being in "declining health for some time", although there's no mention of what illness he may have suffered from. In his will Hungerford left $15,000 (a considerable sum for the time) to the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions and Theological Seminary. The obituary below appeared in the Corning Journal on June 6, 1867, a few weeks after Hungerford's death.



   Shown above is another death notice for Hungerford that appeared in the Albany Evening Journal on May 24, 1867. Both the Corning Journal and the Albany Evening Journal lament the passing of Hungerford, describing him as a "sound and reliable businessman; upright and respected by all who new him" and "a gentleman high'y esteemed for his many virtues" among other attributes.
  In keeping with the exhaustive research that I do on many of these oddly named public figures, I made it a point to seek out grave site of Sextus H. Hungerford yesterday (March 10th). Hungerford's final resting place is under a mammoth granite obelisk in the Westfield Cemetery. The stone itself is well over twenty feet tall and in the picture below I'm practically dwarfed by it's size!




  Hungerford's stone is in remarkably great condition, and it shows virtually no wear whatsoever. This in itself is quite remarkable, considering its been exposed to countless elements and harsh weather conditions over the past 144 years!


 I also noticed something odd about this stone....Hungerford's wife's name is listed on the stone as Polly Maria Skinner, but all other references to her indicate her name as "Maria P. Skinner". Aside from the inconsistencies regarding her name, Polly/Maria outlived her husband by nearly 30 years, dying in November 1895 at age 87. 


  The picture below is of Sextus's burial marker. The stone bearing his wife's name is out of camera range a few feet away to the right. The Westfield Cemetery is a great repository for local history and there are a few other notable local political figures buried here as well, including George Washington Patterson (1799-1879, a U.S. Representative and Lieutenant Governor of New York), Austin Smith (1804-1904), Chautauqua County's representative in the State Assembly in 1851-52 and also a centenarian, and finally Samuel Frederick Nixon (1860-1905), Speaker of the New York State Assembly for several years!


  And lastly, I also managed to snap a picture of Sextus Hungerford's home, which stills stands in Westfield. The Hungerford house is currently the home of the Jakway VFW Post, and the building looks significantly different to what it was during the 19th century. My family has a large wall-map of Chautauqua county (circa 1854) in our possession and this very map bears a picture of the Hungerford homestead. While doing research on the map many years ago, I discovered Hungerford's name underneath the portrait of his home and set out to find more about him. All the research that I've done on the man has culminated in the article here, and yes, I think it has turned out rather well!!


   The Hungerford Home-Jakway VFW Post in Westfield.

This death notice for Maria Hungerford appeared in the Elimira Gazette in 1895.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Eschines Pierson Matthews (1832-1913)

  Portrait from the Pioneer History of Milwaukee, Volume IV, 1886.

  Today's write-up centers on the life of the oddly named Eschines Pierson Matthews, a native Ohioan who sought his business and political fortunes in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Eschines ( "E.P", as most sources refer to him) and his brother Alonzo were the founders of the famed Matthews Bros. Furniture Company, one of the most prominent furniture manufacturing houses in the United States during the 19th century. While this fact alone makes Eschines Matthews a notable figure in Wisconsin history, it is his service as a Wisconsin state representative in the 1880s that earns him a place here!
  Considering that Matthews was a fairly prominent man in Milwaukee throughout the latter period of the 19th century, you'd figure that there would be at least one substantial biographical resource on him. Sadly this is not the case! Although there are a few brief mentions of him in various works chronicling Wisconsin history, the only one that can be considered "significant" is the 4th volume of the Pioneer History of Milwaukee, published in 1886. The portrait of Matthews shown above was discovered in this book, as was a good majority of the information that constitutes his profile here!
  Born and raised in Ohio, Eschines Pierson Matthews birth took place in Painesville on September 11, 1832, the son of Anson and Betsy Durand Matthews. Eschines and his younger brother Alonzo (1835-1901) received their education in schools local to the Chagrin Falls area and later attended the Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio. When both brothers reached manhood they relocated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in June 1857 and soon set about establishing the Matthews name in local business circles.
  Within a few years of their resettlement, the Matthews brothers had built a prosperous furniture store on East Water Street in Milwaukee as well as a manufacturing facility on River Street. Eschines and Alonzo were joined in the business by a third brother, John Quincy Adams Matthews in 1867 and he soon became a full partner. 
   The Matthews Bros. Furniture Company continued to grow throughout the 1870s and throughout that decade moved to larger quarters on more than one occasion. After two enlargements in 1879 and 1882, the company could boast of a payroll with over 200 men on it, and an incorporated capital of over $100,000 dollars. The Pioneer History of Milwaukee also gives note that the company show rooms were "filled with the most costly and elegant furniture to be found in the West, nearly all of which is the product of their own factory."A photograph of the Matthews Brothers building is shown below, as looked around the turn of the century.




  With his name now firmly established in the Milwaukee business community, Eschines P. Matthews began to involve himself in city political affairs, and in 1878 was elected to a two year term on the Milwaukee Board of Aldermen. This was his first attempt at public office, and James Smith Buck, author of the Pioneer History of Milwaukee makes note of  Matthews's disdain for political life, stating that "Indeed, such was the disgust engendered in his breast for anything remotely smelling of politics, by his short service in that body.......would tempt him to enter the arena of politics again". 
  The above observation proved to be somewhat premature, as Matthews did indeed venture into the field of politics once again! In 1880 he ran for and was elected to a seat in the Wisconsin State Assembly as a Republican. The 1881 Blue Book of the State of Wisconsin lists Matthews as defeating his Democratic challenger (George P. Harrington) by a vote of 1492 to 941. During his one term he represented the 4th ward of Milwaukee County and served on the house committee on Charitable and Penal Institutions and chaired the committee on Cities. A roster from the 1881 session (with Eschines P. Matthews's name highlighted in yellow) has been provided below.




  Eschines Matthews continued active involvement with his furniture company after his legislative term, and at the beginning of the 20th century the company began the manufacture and sale of furniture pieces designed by eminent American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Eschines himself died at age 81 on July 30, 1913 and the company experienced a dip in business in the years following his demise. The company eventually closed its doors in 1937 after eighty years of business. The obituary of Matthews shown below appeared in the Fond du Lac Daily Commonwealth on the day following his death. Curiously, it makes no mention of him having served a term in the Wisconsin legislature.



Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Solva Converse (1790-1877), Salva Goodspeed (1805-1885)


  Today's profile centers on a truly obscure Connecticut state representative named Solva Converse. For many decades Converse was viewed as a prominent leader in political and business circles in his native county of Tolland, and was also acknowledged as an active participant in local church affairs.
  Solva Converse was born in Stafford, Connecticut on April 1, 1790, the son of militia Captain Solvin Converse and his wife Sarah. Eleven children were eventually born to the couple, and is it interesting to note that Solva and his younger brother George were the last surviving members of this large family, both dying on November 22, 1877....quite an intriguing coincidence!
  The Commemorative Biographical Record of Tolland and Windham Counties (where the majority of the information on Converse was found) lists that Solva Converse "received only limited educational advantages" during his youth. He worked at farming during his younger years and was later engaged in the transport of freight with his younger brother Parley (who also served a term in the Connecticut legislature.) In 1812 Solva married his wife Esther Blodgett, and their marriage lasted for over 60 years until his death in 1877. In another interesting familial coincidence, eleven children were born to Solva and Esther, four of whom died in infancy.
  Of the limited sources mentioning Solva Converse's life, all of them stress the importance of his role as a manufacturer of satin and woolen cloths in the Stafford area. In 1839 he was one of the founders of the Mineral Springs Manufacturing Company's first wool mill, established in the village of Stafford Springs. Aside from being a founder in this new endeavor, Converse served the company as an agent and was later named to its presidency. The Commemorative Biographical Record also gives note that under Converse's leadership of the company "a great and prosperous business was developed."
  In addition to his business interests, Solva Converse was also attentive to political matters in the town of Stafford. He was elected as a town selectman on numerous occasions and in 1838 the citizens of Tolland County elected him to the Connecticut State House of Representatives. He served a one year term in the legislature and a roster from that particular session is shown below. One should also note that this roster misspells Converse's first name as "Salva", and considering that they didn't have a spell checker in 1838, I wonder how many people besides me have noticed this mistake!!!




   In the years following his legislative service, Converse continued his involvement with the wool mill and was also a significant benefactor in regards to local church affairs. Both Solva and his brother Parley are listed in the 1905 two volume work Some of the Ancestors and Decendents of Samuel Converse Jr as "the most prominent supporters of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Stafford." Solva Converse is also listed as major contributor to the erection and contruction of a new Methodist church in Stafford in 1866. 
  Solva Converse lived quite a long life by 19th century standards, dying at age 87 on November 22, 1877. He had outlived six of his eleven children and it is also known that Esther, his wife of 65 years, survived him by nearly three years, dying in 1880 at age 89. The portrait of Solva Converse featured above (and very likely the only one to be found online) was discovered in the earlier mentioned Ancestors of Samuel Converse Jr., Volume 1.


  While his first name may be spelled slightly differently, Salva Goodspeed is another man with this unusual first name who made himself known in political circles. A lifelong resident of Vermont, Goodspeed served a brief term as one of Franklin County's representatives in the state legislature, and later distinguished himself as a selectman for the town of Montgomery.
  Salva Goodspeed was born on August 2, 1805 in Montgomery, Vermont, one of several children born to Seth and Hannah Stone Goodspeed. Nothing is known of Salva's early years or education, or his date of marriage. He married to Carshina Johnson sometime in the 1830s  and had five children, who are listed as follows: Ellen (born 1837), Nelson (born 1839), Monroe (born 1842), Hannah (born 1845) and Dean (born 1851).
   The 1907 History of the Goodspeed Family (where the above picture of Salva was located) notes that he "was prominent in the affairs of his community" for many years and held the office of trustee of surplus money for Montgomery in 1849. In 1855 he was elected to the Vermont State House of Representatives and served here until 1857, afterwards serving as town selectman from 1858-1864.
  In addition to his political involvement, Goodspeed was also active in local church affairs, being "one of the pillars of the Episcopal Church at Montgomery." He died at age 79 on June 9, 1885 in his native town of Montgomery and was interred at the Montgomery Village Cemetery. Carshina Johnson Goodspeed (who died in 1902 at age 88) is also interred here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Memory King Tucker (1897-1985)



  This outstandingly named politician is Memory King Tucker, a Georgia resident who served three terms in his state's legislature. With a name like "Memory King" (which sort of brings to mind a quiz/trivia related television show) Tucker's name is quite unique in the annals of politics and like most of the men who have preceded him here, obscurity again prevails! Aside from a small biographical blurb in the Georgia Official and Statistical Register, 1963-1964, little else could be found on this intriguingly named Georgian. 
  Memory King Tucker was born in Statham, Barrow County, Georgia on September 19, 1897, the son of Memory James and Eudora Lanier Tucker. Memory J. Tucker served as the first Mayor of Statham, Georgia, so it can certainly be said that politics and odd names ran in the Tucker family! Memory K. Tucker attended schools local to the Barrow County area and later removed to Burke County, where he married his wife Mildred Hill in February 1916. The couple were married for over 40 years before divorcing in November 1956, and this union produced four children: Mamie (died aged one in 1919), Susie (born 1920), Margaret (born 1924) and Mary Elizabeth (born 1927).
  Tucker first became active in Georgia political affairs in 1935, when he was elected to the Waynesboro, Georgia City Council. He served in this post until 1936 and two years later was elected as the Mayor of Waynesboro. Tucker served four years in office and in the years following his mayoral term became active in civic affairs in Burke County. From 1944-1952 Tucker served as a member of the Burke County Board of Commissioners as well as the chairman of the Hospital and Housing Authorities. Further honors were accorded to him when was appointed as the president of the Bank of Waynesboro in the 1950s.
  Tucker's political profile received a significant boost in 1959 when he was elected to the first of three terms in the Georgia State House of Representatives, representing Burke County. Tucker was reelected to the legislature in 1961 and 1963, and a roster from the 1964 session (bearing Tucker's full name) is posted below.




  Very little is known of Memory K. Tucker's life after his service in the state legislature. His wife Margaret died in 1984 at age 88 and Tucker himself died on February 27, 1985 at age 87. He was subsequently buried in the Magnolia Cemetery in Waynesboro, Georgia alongside his wife and infant daughter. The portrait of him featured above was discovered in the earlier mentioned Georgia Official and Statistical Register, published in 1964.


You Can Help!
  I am currently trying to locate more information on Memory King Tucker. As there is next to nothing online about this wonderfully named politician, I am taking this time to plead for your assistance in finding more information on him! If any reader/lurker/amateur historian wants an interesting project to fill their time with, see what you can dig up on this interestingly named Georgia resident!


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Burpee Laban Steeves (1868-1933)


  This very obscure gentleman is Burpee L. Steeves, a physician who gained political notoriety as the Lieutenant Governor of Idaho in the early 20th century. Very little biographical sources could be found on Steeves, with the exceptions being a write up in the Centennial History of Oregon, published in 1912 and a small blurb in Volume 8 of  the Success Magazine of 1905. Further research has indicated that the "L." in his name stands for Laban (a figure in the Book of Genesis) and that he was a Canadian by birth, being born in the province of New Brunswick on July 7, 1868. His parents, Aaron and Lydia Steeves Steeves (not a typo!) were also New Brunswick natives.
   At the age of five, Burpee and his family are listed as moving to Prince Edward Island, where he later attended the Prince of Wales College. Steeves embarked upon a teaching career until 1888, when he relocated to Oregon and began studying at the Willamette University at Salem. He graduated from here in 1891 and soon thereafter began pursuing a career in medicine at the Willamette University at Portland. He received his medical degree from the latter institution in 1894 and thereafter opened a practice in the town of Silverton. Burpee Steeves married in Salem on April 18, 1893 to Ms. Sarah Fiducia Hunt (1871-1939), with whom he would have one son, Laban Aaron Steeves (1894-1943).
   In 1897 Steeves removed from Salem to Idaho and reestablished his medical practice, "winning a wide reputation and large business" in the process. Throughout the succeeding years his name became prominent in Idaho political circles, so much so that in 1905 he was elected as the Lieutenant Governor of Idaho on the Republican ticket, serving under Gov. Frank Robert Gooding (1859-1928). Steeve's term lasted two years (1905-1907) and is mentioned in the Centennial History of Oregon as "constituting a most commendable chapter in his life." A roster of Idaho Lieutenant Governors (with Burpee Steeve's name highlighted in yellow) has been posted below.




  Steeves returned to his medical duties at the conclusion of his term and in 1909 returned to Salem, Oregon, where for the rest of his life he operated a medical practice specializing in the treatment and prevention of eye, ear, nose and throat diseases. Steeves's work in this area earned him statewide repute, and it is noted in the Centennial History of Oregon that "his skill and ability today place him in the foremost ranks in the medical profession, not only of Salem, but all of Oregon". In 1914 Steeves received further political honors when he was elected as the Mayor of Salem, Oregon for a one year term. During his mayoralty, Steeves is mentioned by the History of Oregon as giving Salem "a most businesslike and progressive administration.
  In the years following his mayoral term, Steeves continued in the medical profession, and in 1918 was elected as the President of the Oregon State Medical Association. He served in this post until 1920. The History of Oregon also lists him as a being a religious man, holding membership in the local Methodist Episcopal Church. Steeves was also a delegate to that church's General Conference in Saratoga Springs in 1916.


                      This portrait of Burpee Steeves was found in the 1923 work "History of Oregon".


  Burpee L. Steeves died at the age of 65 on October 23, 1933 at his home in Salem. He was subsequently interred at the Mount Crest Abbey and Mausoleum in Salem. The portrait of him featured at the top of this article (and one of the few to be found online) was discovered in the earlier mentioned Success Magazine, Volume 8, published in 1905. 


  This blurb on Steeves' election as Lt. Governor appeared in the St. John Daily Sun in November 1904.