Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Garvious Oresal Biles (1907-1973)


   The last profile for October takes us to Arizona and one of that state's more interestingly named public officials, Garvious Oresal Biles of Greenlee County. Biles served nearly two decades in the Arizona State House of Representatives from the 1955 until 1971, and was also active in that state's mining industry, serving as a mine foreman for a number of years.
  Garvious Oresal Biles was originally born in Nolanville, Texas on March 18, 1907, the son of John Henry Biles (1861-1965, lived to age 103) and his second wife Linia Elizabeth Bryant. Nicknamed "Sonny", little could be found on Garvious's early life or education. He went on to marry Ms. Lillian Pinckney (1908-1994), with whom he had two children, Donald Kenneth and Jean Evelyn. The Arizona Memory Project (which gives a substantial overview of most of Arizona's past legislators) notes that Biles removed from Texas to Rosedale, New Mexico before finally settling in the Morenci, Arizona area around 1936.
   After establishing his roots in the Greenlee County area, Biles became a mine foreman for the Phelps Dodge Mining Corporation, a mining company headquartered in Phoenix. This company was in existence for over 170 years before finally being bought out in 2007. Biles was employed as a foreman at this organization for eighteen years, this according to his obituary in the Scottsdale Daily Progress
   Biles was elected to the Arizona State House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1954, officially taking his seat at the beginning of the following year. His service in the house extended for nearly two decades, and during that time Biles earned a reputation as one of Arizona's "most powerful legislators." During his lengthy term of service Biles held a seat on numerous legislative committees, and the following is a listing on those which he served: Chairman of the House Appropriations committee, chairman of the Fish and Game committee, chairman of the Advisory committee on Indian Affairs, vice chairman of the Tourist and Industry Development committee. 
  In addition to serving as a chairman or vice-chairman, Biles was named to numerous other house committees, including the committee on Labor, Livestock and Public Lands, Public Health, Education, Judiciary, Rules, Municipalities, Transportation, Ways and Means, Highway Fact Finding, and lastly, Commerce and Industry. Truly a very busy man!
   
                      Another picture of Garvious O. Biles, taken early in his tenure in the legislature.

  Biles continued to serve in the legislature until 1971 and declined to run for reelection in 1972 because of health concerns. In that year the Scottsdale Daily Progress noted that he underwent surgery for lung cancer, but continued to be a familiar face in the legislature in the months before his death, "acting as a lobbyist for the mines."
  Garvious Oresal Biles died at age 66 on May 24, 1973 at the Scottsdale Memorial Hospital. Shortly after his death he was interred at the Green Acres Memorial Park in Scottsdale and was survived by both his children as well as his wife Lillian, who died in 1994 at age 86 and was also interred at the Green Acres Memorial Park. 

                                              From the May 25, 1973 edition of the Scottsdale Daily Progress.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Govnor Teats (1858-1926)


   Possessing one of the more humorous names you'll read about here on the site, Washington state lawyer, legislator and judge Govnor Teats was a prominent political leader in the Evergreen State for over twenty years. His unusual first name (which I presume is pronounced like the British greeting "ello govna") and last name "Teats" make for a very funny name, and one can wonder if that was ever brought up by his political opponents! Despite being a state representative and candidate for Lieutenant Governor, little can be found online in regards to his life, with the exception being a write-up in the History of the Puget Sound Country, published in 1903. The rare picture of Teats shown above was located here, and it stands as one of a few available portraits of him.
   Govnor Teats was born in the town of Erie, Whiteside County, Illinois in 1858, the son of Judge Christopher C. and Cloe Warren Teats. Govnor attended school in Illinois and resided here until age sixteen, whereafter he removed to Kansas to take up farming. He eventually decided upon a career in law, and after a substantial amount of studying, graduated from the Kansas State University at Lawrence with a degree in law. Teats married in Kansas in 1879 to Ms. Ella Reeves, who bore one son, Roscoe (1880-1945). Ella Reeves Teats died shortly after Roscoe's birth and Teats later remarried in 1883 to Florence Robb (1861-1943), with whom he had two more sons, Leo (1884-1964) and Ralph (1886-1977). 
   After passing the Kansas bar, Teats set up a law practice in Abilene and resided here until 1890, when he and his family resettled in Tacoma, Washington. His early years in Tacoma were spent practicing law, and over the following decades built a reputation as one of the "biggest personal injury damage suit lawyers in the state" and was described in the History of the Puget Sound Country as maintaining a large practice, while also being in the possession of "one of the most extensive law libraries in the city."
   Teats first became active in Washington state politics in 1910, mounting a campaign for the state house of Representatives from Pierce County (then the 36th district). His campaign platform (as featured in the Tacoma Times article below) makes note of his being a staunch advocate of the common workman, stating that "the time has come for the State of Washington to change from the present barbarous system of personal injury to a more humane system of compensation to the workman and their dependents in our industries." Teats also elaborates that he was in favor of a "State Compulsory Insurance plan" that would "put all the money paid by the employer and workman in a fund under the control and management of the State Insurance Department, and pay all injured workmen a sum according to the injury, without the intervention of a casualty company of lawyers."

                                                From the Tacoma Times, September 3, 1910.

   The above mentioned platform obviously resonated with Pierce County voters, as Teats (funny name not withstanding) did win election to the Washington State House of Representatives that November! Taking his seat in January 1911, he served one term in the house that concluded in January 1913. 
  As his term in the legislature came to a close, Teats began a campaign for Lieutenant Governor of Washington, running on the then popular Progressive Party (or "Bull Moose") ticket. He was unsuccessful in his attempt, losing by over 8,000 votes to Republican candidate Louis Folwell Hart (1862-1929), who later became Washington's ninth Governor, serving from 1919 to 1925.

                                                    From the 1913 Tribune Almanac.

  Despite his loss for the lieutenant governorship, Teats continued touting the "Bull Moose" agenda, mounting a campaign for a state senate seat in 1914. A Tacoma Times article on his candidacy (shown below) makes note that he wanted "to go to the senate to create a system of safety which will save life and limb of my fellow men." Despite having the best interests of his constituents at heart, Teats was again unsuccessful.

                  This article on Govnor Teats appeared in an October 1914 edition of the Tacoma Times.

   The life of Govnor Teats after 1915 is somewhat sketchy, with little being found that denotes what he was up to during the remainder of his life. A few newspapers of the time denote that he became a Superior Court judge in Tacoma around 1924 and it is in all probability that he served in this office until his death, which occurred sometime in 1926.
  Teats's exact date of death cannot be found, and his burial location is also unknown at this time. Seeing that he was a longtime resident of Tacoma, it is a good certainty that he is interred at a cemetery in this city, although a definitive location is lacking!

                                  A Govnor Teats Update...... January 8, 2013

    Our first "update" related article for the new year of 2013 is a brief return to a highly popular posting from October 2012 that highlighted the life of obscure Washington politician and lawyer Govnor Teats. Since putting his article up online a few months ago the humorously named Teats has become the single most viewed profile on the site, due to a number of interesting factors! In early December of 2012 a brief snippet on Mr. Teats (as well as his picture from the site here) was featured on the popular website www.cracked.com, much to my great surprise! 
  I had never heard of cracked.com but have since found out its one of the most popular sites on the web, and ol' Govnor Teats was featured in an article called a "quick fix" on that website under the header "the 5 Greatest Accomplishments By Men With Stupid Names". While Teat's name is certainly one of the funnier ones you'll read about here on the site, he is certainly amongst good company with a four other funny named politicians on cracked.com, including current U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Richard "Dick" Swett. You can see Teat's article on cracked.com at the following address posted below.....

www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/the-5-greatest-accomplishments-by-men-with-stupid-names/

 While the TSNIAPH getting a mention on cracked.com would make any writers day, it was numerous pieces of e-mail correspondence with Tacoma based genealogist and writer Greg Spadoni that truly made Govnor Teat's profile here one the site one of the most memorable I've yet written.
  Towards the end of October of last year I completed the article on Mr. Teats and posted it on the site here. Little did I realize that on the opposite side of the country someone else was doing their own research on ol' Govnor, research that managed to fill in a few of the blanks in Teat's life while also helping to shape the overall character assessment of him. And now for the backstory!
  Within a week of completing Teats' profile I received an e-mail from Greg, relating his research in regards to Gino Spadoni, who was accused (and initially convicted) in the shooting death of his ex-foreman Harry Hallen at the Griffin Wheel Co. in Tacoma. The murder itself occurred in March 1921 and Gino was eventually picked up on an unrelated charge of arson in San Francisco in 1925, and this is where the story (worthy of a movie screenplay in this authors opinion) takes a very interesting turn!

                                                         Enter Govnor Teats.........

  After being returned to Tacoma, Gino Spadoni underwent a substantial amount of questioning by Tacoma police, and a trial date for him was set for June 1, 1925. The judge in the case? Mr. Govnor Teats!
  As related in my article on him in October of last year, Teats became a Superior Court judge in Tacoma sometime in the early 1920s, and as Greg so eloquently put in his history of the Griffin Wheel Murder, the choice of ol' Govnor to head the trial "was unfortunate, for his less than stellar conduct of the trial, which began before the first juror had even been selected, was to have a profound impact on the ultimate outcome."
   Throughout the course of 1925 the Spadoni trial and its proceedings were front page news in Tacoma newspapers. Closing arguments for the trial began in mid June 1925, with Judge Teats reading instructions to the jury. After a lengthy deliberation, the jury deadlocked, and after further deliberation, found Spadoni guilty of murder in the first degree. The story doesn't end there however, as Spadoni's lawyer (S.A. Gagliardi), successfully appealed his conviction, making a point to state that Judge Teats had made thirty-eight points of error during the course of the trial!! Gagliardi's appeal eventually reached the Washington State Supreme Court, and after reducing the points of error from thirty-eight to eleven and finally to eight, Spadoni's conviction was overturned...mainly thanks to the judicial ineptness of one Govnor Teats.
  A second trial for Spadoni began some time later in May 1926 under a new judge, Fred Remann. This trial eventually saw witnesses refuse to testify or change their testimony, with the end result being that Spadoni was acquitted of all charges, walking away a free man. He eventually relocated to California, where he lived quietly for the next five decades. He later died in Italy in 1979 at age 85 and is also buried here.
  Teats' tenure as a judge after the Spadoni trial is also under some scrutiny. Greg made note of another trial Teats was involved in, one in which he "outraged the defense", so it certainly seems that as a lawyer and judge, Teats fell short of the mark!
  


   After reading Greg's thought provoking look at a forgotten piece of Washington history, its quite interesting to note that a funny named man featured on the site played an integral role in letting a (probable) murderer go free. While Teats' involvement in the Spadoni trial encompassed a major part of our e-mail correspondence, Greg also clued me into a few new details on Teat's life that so far remained a mystery.
  The first was Teat's date of death, which as of my October article was listed as occurring sometime in 1926. The correct date of his demise was September 4th of that year at age 68. Greg also found that Govnor met his end as a result of an ear infection (of all things!), making him the first politician profiled thus far to die in this way! And to top it off, Greg found that Teats was cremated shortly after his death, with the location of his remains so far being unknown. I'd also like to note that the Teats great grandchildren eventually changed their last name to Deitz some years after Govnor's death!
   While Teats obviously had to have some skill as a lawyer and politician (he was elected to the Washington State legislature after all) both Greg and I agree that Teats public career was tainted by acts of buffoonery, both as a judge and earlier. During our correspondence I located even more damning evidence that Teats really wasn't a skilled public servant, as written in the below excerpts from the Revised Charter and Ordinance of the City of Tacoma, published in 1905.


   The above passages detail Teats' appointment to the Tacoma Civil Service Commission in April 1896 and his subsequent ouster from that office a year later in July 1897. It seems that Teats (as well as his two fellow commission members) weren't up to the task of performing their duties properly, and were dismissed from office. Charges were actually presented to then Tacoma mayor Angelo Fawcett siting Teats' "gross incompetency, neglect of duty and prostitution of a public trust for his private gain." Not exactly the kind of thing you want on your resum√©! 
   With all that being said, its quite easy to look back on Teats' career and nitpick due to various mistakes he may have made. These errors of judgement (as well as a very funny name) have led three separate parties (myself, Greg and cracked.com) to really take Teats to the proverbial woodshed, and even a near century after his death, it seems the poor guy still can't catch a break! 
  
 You can read all about the Griffin Wheel Murder, Gino Spadoni (and more on Judge Teats) at the following link! Please check it out!

http://groupssa.com/ssa/griffinwheelmurder/griffinwheelmurder.html


  In this second update to the Govnor Teats article, SNIAPH site friend Greg Spadoni (mentioned above) has located even more interesting facts on ol' Govnor, including two different obituaries for him published in Tacoma newspapers after his death in September 1926. Greg also managed to locate the birth and death dates for Teat's wife Florence and his three sons, all of which have been added to the main article above. Through Greg's exhaustive research on Govnor, this article has grown exponentially, and will continue to do so as long as new tidbits on Govnor are discovered!



                                           This rare Teats' obit was provided by Greg Spadoni.

  As was mentioned in previous installment, Govnor Teats was felled by an ear infection, or, to be more precise, a mastoid of the right ear. Judge Teats had evidently been ill for a few months prior to his death, but still managed to maintain an active schedule, hearing cases up until a few hours before his death. This obituary mentions that in addition to his political and judicial activities, Teats was also involved in a number of local fraternal organizations, including the Elks Club, the Knights of Pythias and the Modern Woodmen of America. You'll also note that Teats is listed as serving a "hectic term as civil service commissioner", which (if you've read the previous update) is a very good way of putting it! 
  In addition to the above obituary, Greg also located two new portraits of Govnor, both of which are shown below.


    Teats is caricatured as a Roman gladiator (or rather a slighty out-of-shape Roman gladiator) in the above portrait, which was drawn around the time Govnor was serving in the legislature in 1911. Teats' was described in a passage that accompanied the portrait as "the doughty champion of labor. A hard stubborn fighter with a stinging blow that penetrates the vital heart and pierces the quick." While that passage makes Teats' sound like a championship boxer, he did indeed try to be a champion of the working man, eventually holding the chairmanship of the legislative committee on labor and labor statistics. The second portrait of Teats (shown below) appeared in the Tacoma Daily Ledger shortly after he was reinstated on the Tacoma Civil Service Commission.

                                           From the Tacoma Daily Ledger, October 22, 1897.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Appling Speaks Wells (1867-1930)


   Originally a resident of Louisiana, Appling S. Wells later removed to Florida where his political and business fortunes were realized. He was a member of both houses of the Florida legislature and later held a seat on the Florida State Railroad Commission for nearly a decade.
   Appling Speaks Wells was born in the Parish of Claiborne, Louisiana on October 6, 1867, the son of Daniel Appling and Caroline Ambrose Beard Wells. Little is known of Appling's early years and education, but at some point in his twenties removed to North Carolina. He married in 1889 in the town of Columbia to Ms. Caro Belle Lester (1871-1942). Thirteen children were born to this couple, and are listed as follows: Thomas Lester (1890-1955), Bonnie Sinclair (born 1891), Bessie Leigh (1893-1974), William Mitchell (1895-1897), Cornelia Jackson (1896-1900), Ada Belle (1898-1899), Appling Speaks Jr. (1899-1926), Lora Mae (1900-1987), Cora Patrick (1903-1973), Helen (born 1906), Pauline (born 1908), Blossom (died at birth in 1910) and Charlie (died at birth in 1912).
   The Wells family resided in Mississippi before removing to Florida in the late 1890s, eventually settling in the city of Tallahassee. In 1906 Appling Wells was elected to the Florida State House of Representatives from Leon County, officially taking his seat in January 1907. He served two terms in the state house, and in 1912 won election to the Florida State Senate, serving here until 1917.
  After leaving the senate, Wells maintained a low profile until 1921, when he was named to the Florida State Railroad Commission. His service on this board extended until his death at age 63 on December 16, 1930 in Tallahassee. He was survived by his wife Caro and was later interred at the Oakland Cemetery in Tallahassee. Also buried in Oakland is famed U.S. Senator (and later Representative) Claude Denson Pepper (1900-1989), who served over 40 years in both houses of the U.S. Congress.
  The rare portrait of Wells shown above and below were located via the Florida Memory archive website, which has proven to be a great repository for finding information on past members of the Florida legislature.

This new portrait of Appling Speaks Wells was located in a 1917 Florida Blue Book in May 2013.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Jetlee Bryngelson Nordhem (1841-1919)

Portrait from the History of the Norwegians of Illinois, 1905.

  The first native Norwegian to profiled here on the site, Jetlee Bryngelson Nordhem found his business fortunes in his adopted state of Illinois, where he settled at age 18. Born in Voss, Norway on June 6, 1841, Nordhem was the son Bryngel and Ingeborge Saue Nordhem. The History of the Norwegians of Illinois notes that he attended the common schools in his native country, worked on his father's farm and was "confirmed in the Vossvagens church."
  In 1859 Jetlee Nordhem immigrated to the United States, first settling in the town of Long Prairie, Illinois. After a year in this location he removed to Decorah, Iowa and in 1862 signed on for service in the Civil War, joining Company H, First Battalion of the Sixteenth U.S. Infantry. During his three years of service Nordhem participated in a number of important battles, seeing action at the battle of Marietta, Kenesaw Mountain, Mission Ridge, and Stone River, where he was wounded. 
  At the conclusion of his military service, Jetlee B. Nordhem returned to Long Prairie and married in 1871 to Ms. Julia Jonsdatter Amondson, with whom he would have three children, Joseph Bernard (died in infancy), Harriet Nordhem Hamann (1873-1968) and Edith Josephine (born 1877). 
    Following his marriage Nordhem and his family relocated to Chicago, where he found employment in the customs service. His years in this occupation saw him serve as an inspector, warehouse ledger clerk and bond clerk. Nordhem eventually left the employ of the customs service and found work in the publishing industry. He became the Secretary and director of the John Anderson Publishing Co. in the early 1890s and later became its vice president.
  Jetlee Nordhem made his first foray into political life in 1879, when he won election as supervisor of West Town, Chicago, Illinois, serving a one year term. In 1908 he was named as an alternate delegate to that year's Republican National Convention in Chicago, where William Howard Taft was nominated for the Presidency.
   Nordhem continued to be a prominent figure in Chicago's Norwegian community well into his twilight years, serving as the president of the Norwegian Republican Club of the 28th Ward and also held a life membership in the Norwegian Lutheran Tabitha Hospital Society. Jetlee and his family were parishioners at the English Evangelical Church of the Holy Trinity, and it is recorded that he was a trustee of this church for nearly two decades.
   Details on the remainder of Jetlee B.Nordhem's life are quite sketchy, although it it is mentioned that he passed away at his home in Chicago in May 1919 at age 78. His wife Julia survived him by thirteen years, dying in November 1932 at age 82. A burial location for both Jetlee and his wife is unknown at the time of this writing.

                                         From the Printer's Ink, Volume 107, published in 1919.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Odbrey Miles Snow (1831-1911)


   Today's profile takes us to Norfolk, Connecticut and one of that areas more oddly named public figures, state representative Odbrey Miles Snow. Born in Waldo County, Maine on February 21, 1831, Odbrey was the first of six children born to Levi and Mary Tracy Snow. Snow was afforded limited educational advantages as a youth and married in the mid 1850s to Ms. Ruth Ridley Ginn (1839-1923), with whom he had four children. They are listed as follows: Levi Tracy Snow (1860-1949, later a Connecticut State Representative in the 1890s), Melvin Edgar (born 1865), Mary Isabel (born 1867) and Frederick Wooster (born 1874).
  The majority of Odbrey Snow's life was centered in the private sector, engaging in the granite cutting business for many years. An interesting anecdote is given in a Connecticut Legislative Souvenir about Snow's early years in granite contracting. In 1860 he journeyed south to do business when he "narrowly escaped being pressed into service in the Confederate Army." Snow is recorded as making good his escape from enemy territory with several other men "in a boat from the coast of South Carolina on the night of November 18, 1863." Shortly afterwards the group was picked up by the U.S. Brig Perry and returned to friendly territory.
   During the 1870s Snow continued making his name known as a granite contractor, helping to erect "many prominent buildings in the state." In the following decade he became the head of the granite cutting firm Snow, Wooster and Crissey in the town of Norfolk. Snow's placement here on the site rests on his short stint in the Connecticut State House of Representatives, to which he was elected in November 1882. Official taking his seat in January of the following year, Snow was named to committee on Roads and Bridges during his one term in the legislature. 
   Little else could be found on the life of Odbrey Miles Snow following his time in state government. It is presumed that he continued involvement as a granite cutter, but this remains uncertain. He died at his home in Norfolk on December 21, 1911 at age 80 and was interred in the Center Cemetery in Norfolk. His wife Ruth survived him by over a decade, dying in 1923 at age 84, and was also interred at the Center Cemetery. The rare print of Snow featured in his article here was located via the digital archives of the New York Public Library. This pportrait was part of an article that looks to have been a portion of a Connecticut legislative manual, and most of the facts contained herein were located from the brief biography on him located there.



Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dancey Fort (1870-1955)


   Hailing from the city of Clarksville, Tennesee, oddly named attorney and jurist Dancey Fort was regarded as one of the Volunteer State's prominent practitioners of law during his life. A practicing attorney for over three decades, Fort also made substantial headway in state politics, serving as a city attorney, state senator, and State Commissioner of Finance and Taxation .
   Dancey Fort's story begins in the town of Adams, Tennessee, where he was born on October 11, 1870, being the son of Josiah and Eliza Penelope Dancey Fort. He was given the odd first name "Dancey" due to it being his mother's maiden name, and as a young man attended local schools and eventually enrolled at the University of Tennessee. Fort later studied at the Cumberland University, graduating in 1891 with a bachelor of laws degree.
  After completing his studies, Fort returned to Clarksville and opened a successful law practice, and "handled much important litigation before the courts". He is recorded by the 1923 work Tennessee, the Volunteer State as being attorney for the Cumberland Telephone and Telegraph Company and "several other local corporations." He married in November 1896 to Ms. Bennie Gill (1873-1957), with whom he had two children, Josiah and Mary Yancey Fort. 
   In the same year as his marriage, Fort began testing the political waters, running for a seat in the Tennessee State House of Representatives. He was unsuccessful in this attempt, but did win election to the state senate in November 1906 from Montgomery County. Fort was reelected to the senate in November 1908 (serving from 1909-11) and would also be named as chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Executive Committee. In addition to the above offices, Fort would serve as City Attorney for Clarksville for twenty-five years (1901-1926) and also held a directorship in the Northern Bank of Tennessee.
   After leaving the Tennessee legislature Fort's public profile continued to rise, and in 1932 and 1936  was a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions held in Baltimore and Philadelphia, respectively. In the following year Tennessee Governor Hill McAllister appointed Fort as State Commissioner of Finance and Taxation. He served as Commissioner until 1936, when he resigned to accept a seat on the 9th Judicial Circuit Court of Tennessee. His service on the bench lasted sixteen years, concluding with his retirement in 1952.
  While a figure of distinction in Tennessee politics and law for many years, Fort also fond time to be a leading light in local civic affairs, holding office as clerk of the Cumberland Association of Baptist Churches for seventeen years, a teacher in the Baranca Sunday School, and was a charter member of the Kiwanis Club of Clarksville. Fort was also an active figure in a number of local fraternal organizations, holding memberships in the Knights of Pythias and the Junior Order of Odd Fellows
   Dancey Fort died at age 83 on June 5, 1955 and shortly thereafter was interred at the Greenwood Cemetery in Clarksville. His wife Bennie survived her husband by two years, dying on January 7, 1957 at age 83. She too was interred at Greenwood, and it is presumed that Fort's two children are buried here as well, although no exact gravesite location could be found for them. The rare portrait of Judge Fort shown above was located in the earlier mentioned Tennessee, the Volunteer State, published in 1923.

     This death notice for Dancey Fort appeared in the Kingsport Times on the day following his death. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pharcellus Dean Bridges (1846-1940), Pharcellus V. Crittenden (1846-1933)



   A lifelong Massachusetts resident, Pharcellus Dean Bridges was a prominent farmer and businessman in Franklin County who served three terms in the Massachusetts General Court. Aside from a brief biographical write up in an 1894 edition of A Souvenir of Massachusetts Legislators (where the above portrait was located) little else could be found on Bridges' life, which extended to the grand old age of 93.
   Born in the town of Deerfield on December 21, 1846, Pharcellus was one of thirteen children born to Benjamin Franklin and Mary Hubbard Bridges. Educated in the common schools of Deerfield, Pharcellus later went on to study at the Deerfield Academy in the early 1860s. After reaching adolescence, Bridges removed to Connecticut where he became involved in the grocery business. He eventually returned to Massachusetts where he spent the rest of his life engaged in farming, as well as the sale of produce. In addition to this, Bridges was also one of the foremost political and civic leaders in Deerfield, serving as a member of the board of selectmen and later on the board of Overseers of the Poor. The Souvenir of Massachusetts Legislators also lists him as being the Captain of Company H, Second Regiment Militia from 1876-1888.
  Bridges was elected to his first term in the Massachusetts State Senate in 1877, representing the county of Franklin. He was returned to this office in 1885 and in 1894 was elected to his first term in the state house of representatives. It was remarked that Bridges was the "only representative from Deerfield who has been elected to the legislature for a third time for more than thirty years", and during his short stint in the house held a seat on the committee on military affairs.

                    Pharcellus Bridges as he looked late in life, found via the Find-a-Grave website.

   After leaving the Massachusetts legislature in 1895, Bridges returned to farming and produce sales, later serving as President of the Board of Trustees for the Deerfield Academy. He died at the age of 93 on August 26, 1940 in Deerfield and was later interred at the Pine Nook Cemetery in that town.


   Rochester, New York resident Pharcellus V. Crittenden is another man with this odd first name who made himself known in the public forum. A lifelong New Yorker, Crittenden was born in the town of West Brighton on August 6, 1846, being the last of eight children born to Austin and Sarah Crittenden
  Pharcellus received his education in the Monroe County district schools and later began studying at the Rochester Commercial School. Shortly after graduating from the latter institution he joined up with the H. Austin Brewster grocery house of Rochester, eventually becoming a full partner in this business. This company would later become known under the name Brewster-Crittenden Co., with Pharcellus serving as its president for a number of years. Crittenden married on October 12, 1879 to Frances Baker, who predeceased him in 1931. The couple remained childless through the entirety of their marriage.
   In 1907 Crittenden was selected as a chief commissioner from New York to the Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition being held in Hampton Roads, Virginia. In the following year he served as a Republican Presidential Elector for New York, and during the 1912 Presidential election was named as an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention in Chicago. Pharcellus Crittenden maintained an active involvement in business affairs well into his eighties, and is also mentioned in his Rochester Democrat Chronicle obituary as serving as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Central Presbyterian Church. 
   Pharcellus Crittenden  died at age 87 on October 15, 1933 at his home and was interred alongside his wife Frances Delora at the Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester. The rare portrait of Crittenden shown above was featured in his obituary in the October 16, 1933 edition of the Rochester Democrat Chronicle.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Menalcus Lankford (1883-1937)


   The bespectacled man pictured above is Virginia Congressman Menalcus Lankford, certainly one of the more oddly named 20th century U.S. Representatives you'll read about here on the site. I first discovered the name of this obscure politician in 2001, courtesy of the politicalgraveyard website. Since locating his name over eleven years ago Lankford's apparent faceless-ness became the stuff of legend, with no portraits of the man coming to light in all that time! You'd figure that an individual of Lankford's stature would have at least one picture of himself pop up in some form, but sadly this wasn't the case! I eventually gave up hope that I'd see a picture of Menalcus, and decided that he may have been camera shy, hence why I hadn't located any pictures of him yet.
   With that being said, I'm pleased to announce that during a furtive search on the newspaperarchive website (mentioned in the site introduction), a picture of Mr. Lankford has finally been located, courtesy of the Harrisonburg Daily News Record! This rare newspaper portrait of him appeared in his obituary in the above mentioned newspaper on December 28, 1937, and with that introduction, we'll now take a look at the life of this long forgotten Virginia politician!
   Born on March 14, 1883 near Franklin, Virginia, Menalcus Lankford was one of four sons born to Dr. Livius and Mary Conway Burnley Lankford. The name "Menalcus" has its origins in Greek mythology and is also spelled "Menalcas". Its meaning is given as one who is "strong, firm, resolute" and was featured in ancient work by the Greek poet Virgil called the Eclogues. Known by family and contemporaries as "Mack", Menalcus Lankford attended the Norfolk High School and later went on to study at the University of Richmond, graduating in the class of 1904. He continued his education at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, earning his bachelor of laws degree from this school in 1906. 
   Lankford was admitted to the Virginia State bar in the same year as his graduation and soon after opened a law practice in the city of Norfolk. In 1909 he married Richmond native Nancy Garland Waddill (1886-1963), and the couple are recorded as being childless.  Throughout the late 1900s and early 1910s Lankford's skill as a lawyer earned him wide repute, and his career in law was put on hold in 1917 when he became an ensign in the aviation service in the U.S. Navy. He served in the Navy throughout the duration of American involvement in World War I and at the war's conclusion returned to his law practice in Virginia.
   In 1920 Lankford made the jump into politics, mounting an unsuccessful campaign for Congress. Another campaign for a Congressional seat in 1924 met with similar results, but in 1928 the political tide turned in favor of Lankford, and in November of that year he won election to Congress, defeating Republican incumbent Joseph Deal by nearly 4,000 votes An article mentioning Lankford's election to the house appeared in 1929 edition of the San Jose News, and also makes light of the coincidence that two men with the last name "Lankford" were then serving as a U.S. Representative (the other being seven term Georgia congressman William Chester Lankford). In this article (posted below) attention is given to Menalcus' odd first name, and the congressman himself is recorded as saying that as far as legislation was concerned, "I'm more in favor of putting more joy into people's lives than taking more out. The more we let people alone the better off we'll be."

                                                 From a 1929 edition of the San Jose News.

   Lankford was reelected to Congress in November 1930 and was defeated for a third term in November 1932. He would serve as a delegate to the 1932 and 1936 Republican National Conventions in Chicago and Cleveland, and in 1933 was named as U.S. referee in bankruptcy for the Eastern district of Virginia. Lankford served in that capacity until his death at age 54 on December 27, 1937 at his home in Norfolk. Lankford was memorialized by ex-President Herbert Hoover in his Harrisonburg Daily News Record obituary as "a great American idealistically devoted to the interest of the country. As great as his loss is to us, it is a great loss to the nation."
   A few days following his death Lankford was interred at the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Norfolk, Virginia. He was survived by his wife of nearly thirty years, Nancy Waddill Lankford, who. following her death in 1963, was interred at Forest Lawn next to her husband.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Arminius Titus Haeberle (1874-1943), Arminius Calvin Paulsell (1832-1893)


  Continuing on a theme set by Tuesday's article on Epperson R. Fulkerson, another oddly named American diplomat is profiled here on the site, Arminius Titus Haeberle of Missouri. Unlike Mr. Fulkerson, who briefly served  as U.S. Vice Consul in Nagasaki, Mr. Haeberle was a career diplomat, serving as a Vice Consul or Consul in several different countries over twenty years time.
   Born in St. Louis, Missouri on January 23, 1874, Arminius Titus Haberle was the son of the Rev. Louis F.  (1838-1928) and Flora Lemen Bock Haeberle (1841-1909). Arminus attended school in St. Louis and later went on to study at both the  Elmhurst College in Illinois and Washington University in St. Louis. After completing his studies Haeberle embarked upon a career as a teacher, eventually becoming an instructor at the St. Charles College in St. Charles Missouri.
  After a number of years of teaching and serving as a principal at various locations in Missouri, Haeberle was named to the position of vice director of the Institute Ingles in Santiago, Chili, serving here from 1898-1903. After returning to the United States at the conclusion of his service in Chili Haeberle became the head of the modern language department at St. Louis's McKinley High School, holding this post until 1907. In the year following his leaving McKinley High School Haeberle was appointed to his first diplomatic post, that of U.S. Consul at Manzanillo, Cuba. After presenting his credentials and passing examination, Haeberle arrived in Manazillo on June 10, 1908. His service as consul concluded in 1910, and in that same year was transferred to the consulate at Tecgucigalpa, Honduras. 
  After arriving in Honduras in January 1911, Haeberle threw himself into his new appointment, being described as "energetic" and "instructive" by the 1912 Congressional Serial Set. This same work also notes that Haeberle made numerous trips by mule through the six districts that comprised Tecgucigalpa, and he gave detailed accounts of the region's agriculture, early history, industry and the area's "considerable mineral wealth".

                              This picture of Haeberle appeared in a July 1914 edition of the New York Sun.

   Haeberle continued to advance as a diplomat in November 1913, when he was transferred to the U.S. Consulate in St. Michaels, Azores. His tenure here was quite brief, as he was moved yet again in February 1915, this time to the consulate in Pernambuco, Brazil. Haeberle spent eight years as U.S. Consul in Pernambuco, with his tenure concluding in 1923. He remained in Brazil as Consul in San Paolo from 1923-1925 and was then dispatched to Dresden, Germany, where he took the post of U.S. Consul General in 1925. His eleven year tenure in that office saw the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich in the early 1930s, and at the time of his retirement from diplomatic service in 1936, Haeberle had served as a Consul in six different areas of the world for twenty-eight years!
   Following his retirement Haeberle returned to the United States, where he died on October 26, 1943 at age 69. He was survived by his wife Ida Weineke Haeberle, who died in 1949 at age 76. Both were interred at St. John's Cemetery in Bellefontaine Neighbors, Missouri, the same resting place as Haeberle's parents.

Portrait from the San Francisco Call, March 28, 1893.

    In an update to this article (June 28, 2016), another politician with the first name "Arminius" has been located....Arminius Calvin Paulsell!! A standout figure in the business and political life of San Joaquin County, California, Paulsell was a one term member of the California State Assembly from that county and was later tapped to serve on the State Board of Harbor Commissioners. 
    A native of Tennessee, Arminius Calvin Paulsell was born in Green County in that state on January 26, 1832, being the son of John and Mary Ann Polly (Bailey) Paulsell. The Paulsell family would remove from Tennessee to Illinois, where John Paulsell died in 1838. Arminius would reside with his mother in Missouri and at age 14 entered into work at a general store in Springfield. 
   Like many other young men of the time, Arminius Paulsell saw a bright future for himself in California and in 1853 permanently resettled there. First establishing himself in Stanislaus County, Paulsell married in the following year to Almira Holford Gardenhire (1839-1910), a daughter of a pioneer Tuolumne County family. The couple are recorded as being the first to be married in that county later had a total of nine children: Mary Catherine (1855-1868), Martha Augusta (1857-1922), Lee Young (1862-1871), John Jefferson (1864-1930), Ann Jeanette (1866-1956), Arminius Calvin Jr. (died in infancy in 1874), Oliver Franklin (1875-1941), Edna (1879-1961) and Jessie (1880-1956).
  Shortly after his marriage Paulsell resettled in San Joaquin County, where he purchased a farm and began farming and stock raising. Sources detail that he owned 3,500 acres of farm land and in 1872 sold off several hundred acres of it and moved to Stockton (also located in San Joaquin County), where in 1873 he helped establish the Farmer's Union, a cooperative formed "for the purpose of warehousing, buying and selling grain, bags, etc."
   In November 1873 Paulsell was one of two representatives from San Joaquin County elected to the California State Assembly and during this session (1874-76) served on the committees on Corporations and State Hospitals. Following his term he briefly served on the city Board of Aldermen from Stockton's 2nd ward in 1878.
  After a number of years as President of the Farmer's Union, Arminius Paulsell left that post in 1883 to accept an appointment to the California Board of Harbor Commissioners, being named to that board by then Governor George Stoneman. Paulsell would serve a total of seven years as a harbor commissioner and in 1890 was even floated as a potential Democratic candidate for Governor of California; his name being placed in nomination by then San Joaquin Superior Court Judge Franklin T. Baldwin.
  Touting Paulsell's experience as a businessman, Baldwin's nominating speech highlighted Paulsell's character and also acknowledged that:
"His sublime record had met with the approval of his fellow citizens in all parts of the state....and that no better man could be selected to act as the standard barer of the Democratic Party."
Arminius C. Paulsell.

   Despite the enthusiastic support of Judge Baldwin, Paulsell's gubernatorial hopes were dashed at the nominating convention in San Jose in August 1890. On the first ballot he garnered 44 votes and in the second round of balloting, 25 votes (compared to successful nominee Edward Pond's 217.) 
   After his gubernatorial ambitions had come to naught, Paulsell resided in San Francisco, where the continued in the "buying and selling of grain on a large scale." In 1893 he returned to Stockton, where on March 26, 1893 he died of the affects of Bright's disease at the home of his son John Jefferson. Prior to his death Paulsell had been a put forth as a possible Superintendent of the U.S. Mint at San Francisco, but his death terminated this from occurring. Paulsell was survived by his wife Almira, who, following her death in 1910 was interred alongside her husband at the Stockton Rural Cemetery.

Paulsell's death notice from the Sacremento Record-Union March 28, 1893.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Epperson Robert Fulkerson (1859-1940)


   This funny named gentleman is Mr. Epperson Robert Fulkerson, a resident of Pennsylvania who distinguished himself as both a Methodist missionary and later as U.S. Vice Consul at Nagasaki, Japan. Fulkerson is one of the first strange name American diplomats to be profiled here on the site, and he certainly won't be the last! The rare portrait of Fulkerson shown above was located via the genealogical website www.fulkerson.org, which also fielded nearly all of the details on his early life and education.
   Born in the town of Newcastle, Pennsylvania on October 2, 1859, Epperson R. Fulkerson was one of eight children born to William Brown Fulkerson Jr (1828-1890) and his wife Mary Sheddon Fulkerson (1832-1909). Little could be found on Fulkerson's adolescence, although it is known that he migrated to Missouri with his family sometime in the 1870s. He is listed as attending college at the Marion Collegiate Institute and later studied at the Simpson College in Iowa. Fulkerson was awarded numerous degrees from other institutions later in his life, including an honorary literary degree from Taylor University and an LL.D. from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1906.
   Religious work was a prominent theme throughout Fulkerson's life and numerous sources give note as to his being a Methodist minister. He was admitted to the Arkansas and Nebraska Conference of Methodist churches and would marry in September 1886 to Ms. Kate Strong. The couple would eventually have four children: Anson (1887-1964), Walter (1889-1972), Raymond (born 1892), and Earl (born 1899). Kate Strong is listed as dying of diabetes in 1903 and two years later Epperson remarried to her younger sister Anna, with whom he had two daughters.
   In 1887 Epperson and his wife traveled to Japan as missionaries of the Methodist Church, and shortly after their arrival he was named to a professorship at the Anglo-Japanese College in Tokyo, this being mentioned in the 1915 edition of Who's Who in American Methodism. Following a two year stint at this college, Fulkerson was appointed as a principal at the Chinzei Gakuin, a missionary project founded by the Methodist church in Nagasaki, Japan. Fulkerson would continue to serve in this post until 1907, when he resigned because of health concerns.


This sketch of Epperson Fulkerson appeared in the August 1900 edition of the San Francisco Call.

  Epperson Fulkerson's inclusion on the site here rests on his service as U.S. Vice Consul in Nagasaki from 1898-1900.  His tenure in this diplomatic post came at a very interesting time in regards to American foreign affairs, as the Spanish-American War was raging and the Boxer Rebellion in China occurred towards the end of his foreign service in Japan. A newspaper report in an August 1900 edition of the San Francisco Call mentions that Fulkerson viewed the fracas between the Boxers and foreign military forces with much concern, stating that "I regard the situation in China as one of the most serious that civilized nations have ever had to contend with. War cannot be avoided between that country and the foreign powers, for blood has been spilled and property destroyed and these acts of hostility must be avenged." 

                                        From the August 5, 1900 edition of the San Francisco Call.

   While a war with China never came to fruition, the ongoing rebellion in China was viewed as "suspicious" by Fulkerson, who stated that the "the present Boxer movement, I believe, is backed by the Empress Dowager, if not by the entire Chinese Government." The Boxer uprising was eventually crushed by an eight nation alliance of foreign powers (including the United States, Britain, Japan and Russia) and the Boxer Protocol Peace Agreement was signed in September 1901. In August of 1900 Epperson Fulkerson returned to the U.S. out of health concerns, but returned to Japan sometime later to resume his duties as Principal of the Chinzei Gakuin school.
   In 1907 Fulkerson made a permanent move back to the United States, eventually settling in the town of Galt, California. In 1908 he became a member of the Columbia River Conference of the Methodist Church, and six years later removed to Canon City, Colorado. In his later years Fulkerson made numerous appearances on the lecture circuit, speaking on topics related to Methodist church doctrine as well as his past services in Japan. In May 1930 he made an appearance in this author's hometown of Jamestown, New York, lecturing at a joint service at the First and Brooklyn Heights churches. An article on his Jamestown visit appeared in the May 1, 1930 edition of the Jamestown Evening Journal and is shown below.

From the Jamestown Evening Journal, May 1, 1930.

  Epperson Fulkerson continued to reside in Canon City, Colorado until his death on May 29, 1940 at age 80. Although a burial location couldn't be found for him, it is presumed that he was buried somewhere in the vicinity of Canon City, where he had resided for over twenty-five years.