Monday, June 10, 2013

Clermonte Getman Tennant (1880-1955), Clermont Colfax Smith (1868-1939)


  Officially plucked from the depths of obscurity, Clermonte Getman Tennant was a leading attorney in Cooperstown, New York, a town known more for baseball than for yielding oddly named political figures. A practicing lawyer for nearly fifty years, Mr. Tennant was an unsuccessful candidate for the New York State Senate in 1908, running on the Democratic ticket. In addition to his senate candidacy Tennant would also serve as Deputy Attorney General of New York for several years.
  Born in Richfield Springs, New York on September 19, 1880, Clermonte G. Tennant was the son of Judge Albert Clermonte and Lizzie Harter Getman Tennant. Clermonte attended the Albany Academy as a youth and went on to enroll at the Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, graduating in the class of 1904. Following his graduation Tennant studied at the Albany Law School and after the death of his father in 1905 returned to Cooperstown to establish a law practice. He married in in that village on September 5, 1908 to Florence S. Bundy (1885-1961), with whom he would have one son, Robert Clermonte Tennant (1909-1972).
   Shortly after establishing his career as an attorney, Tennant was named to the position of deputy Attorney General of New York, serving in this post for "a number of years", according to his 1955 Otsego Times obituary. In 1908 he was nominated by the Democratic Party to represent the 37th District in the New York State Senate, and the Hamilton Literary Magazine, Volume 43 took note of Tennant's candidacy, remarking that "next to Willis S. Mills '94, Mr. Tennant holds that best record for memory tests made in the College. His tenacious memory may assist him in handling the intricate and diffuse problems of a political campaign. All success to the Hamilton man in politics."
  Tennant's Republican opponent in that year's election was another oddly named man, Mr. Jotham Powers Allds (1865-1923) of Chenango County. A seasoned politician, Allds had served in the state assembly from 1896-1902 (including three years as majority leader) and had been the senate incumbent since 1903. Despite a spirited contest, Tennant came up short in the vote count, losing to Allds by a vote of 14, 623 to 18,775. Despite his defeat, Tennant continued in his stellar public career for many years afterwards, while Jotham Allds' political career was derailed in 1910 by his resignation from the senate on account of bribery! An electoral result from the 1908 Tennant-Allds Contest appeared in that years New York State Red Book and is shown below.


  While losing in his state senate candidacy, Clermonte Tennent continued to be politically active, serving as a  member of both the New York State Democratic Committee and the Otsego County Democratic Committee. He also held a seat on the New York State Tax Commission as a representative for the county of Otsego. In 1937 he formed the law partnership of Tennant and Tennant with his son Robert, which continued until the senior Tennant's death in 1955. In addition to this partnership, Clermonte Tennant served as village attorney for Cooperstown for over two decades.
   Busy as an attorney and with local political affairs, Tennant was also active in a number of local fraternal organizations, holding memberships in the Oneonta Lodge of Elks, the Otsego Lodge #134 of Free and Accepted Masons and the Cooperstown Rotary Club. He was a past president of the Otsego County Bar Association and is noted by his Utica Observer obituary as being "widely known as a stamp collector and had a valuable collection including many commemorative U.S. issues on which he concentrated in recent years."
   Clermonte G. Tennant continued an active schedule well into his 75th year, until illness took a toll on his health. He died at his home in Cooperstown on October 28, 1955 after "an illness of six weeks" and was later interred at the Lakeview Cemetery in Richfield Springs, New York.

From the Utica Observer, October 30, 1955.


Portrait courtesy of the Iowa Legislative Database.

   Hailing from the county of Butler in Iowa, Clermont Colfax Smith represented the aforementioned county in the Iowa State Senate for three terms in the late 1930s, dying in office in December 1939. The son of Josephus and Elizabeth Lambert Smith, Clermont Colfax Smith was born in Adair County, Iowa on November 28, 1868. He attended the public schools of that county and graduated from high school in the city of Harlan, Iowa. 
   During his adolescence Smith taught school for a time and after a short period at college assumed the superintendency of the Fontanelle, Iowa school system. He would later resign this post and begin the study of medicine, attending the Northwestern Medical School, graduating in the class of 1904. Smith would later marry to Ms. Rachel C. Corrough (1871-1944) and the couple would become parents to two daughters, Selma Louise (1899-1984) and Marian Elizabeth (1904-1970).
  After spending a good majority of his life as a practicing physician, Claremont Smith won election as a Republican to the Iowa Senate in the 1934 election year, serving during the session of 1935-37. He was reelected to the senate in 1936 and 1938 and was a sitting senator at the time of his death on December 5, 1939, a few days after his 71st birthday. Following his death Smith was interred at the Lynwood Cemetery in Clarksville, Iowa.

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