Sunday, February 9, 2014

Ibzan William Middlebrook (1837-1899)

                                          From the Personnel of the Texas State Government, 1889 edition.

   The Lonestar State yields another oddly named political figure in one Ibzan William Middlebrook, a resident of Colorado County who served as a state representative in the Texas Legislature during that body's 21st legislative session. While his first name "Ibzan" is truly unusual, it has its origins in the Bible, being the name of one of the Judges of Israel featured in the Book of Judges. Why Middlebrook was bestowed this odd name has been lost to history, and his name also has a variation in spelling, being listed on his gravestone as "Ibsam William Middlebrooks", presumably a spelling error on the part of the gravestone carver.
    Born in the county of Chickasaw in Mississippi on November 28, 1837, Ibzan W. Middlebrook was the first born child of nine born to  James Bird Middlebrook and his wife Mariah Bray (1815-1874). He received his schooling in the "private schools of that state" and later relocated to Texas with his family. The Personnel of the Texas State Government reports that Middlebrook worked at farming during the 1850s and is also recorded as being the manager of the estate of a "Mrs. Hardeman" in Bastrop County.
    Shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War Ibzan Middlebrook enlisted for service amongst the ranks of the Confederacy, becoming an orderly sergeant. The Personnel of Texas notes that Middlebrook saw action at the Battles of Elkhorn, Corinth, Mississippi, and Iuka, and in the closing months of the war was taken prisoner, spending the remainder of the hostilities at Fort Delaware. After being released at the conclusion of the war, Middlebrook returned to Texas and later removed from Lavaca County to Colorado County, where he engaged in lumber manufacturing for a number of years, subsequently amassing a substantial fortune through "lumber yards in different localities."
   On January 3, 1869, Ibzan Middlebrook married in Columbus, Texas to Hattie Cunningham, who eventually gave birth to five children: Earl Sloan (1869-1914), Ibbie (1871-1945), John Moore (1873-1938), Ray (1875-1950) and Percy Cunningham Middlebrook (1879-1963). 
  In the mid-1870s Middlebrook made his first move into politics, winning election to the Texas State House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1876. Representing the counties of Colorado and Lavaca, Middlebrook was returned to the legislature in 1888 and during his second term chaired the house committee on Claims and Accounts, while also holding a seat on the committees on Internal Improvements, Mining and Minerals, Penitentiaries, Public Buildings and Grounds, Roads, Ferries and Bridges, and State Institutions of Learning. In his last full year of legislative service (1890), Middlebrook was named as a member of the Texas State Penitentiary Board, also serving as an inspector of convict camps for a five-year term.

                                                    From the Legislative Reference Library of Texas website.

    After leaving the legislature Middlebrook returned to his business dealings and in 1891 he and his brother Oscar joined in a partnership to purchase several thousands of acres of land which was eventually harvested for its timber, and this acreage eventually saw the erection of a sawmill and a cattle ranch. Middlebrook also continued activity in politics, being elected as the Mayor of Columbus, Texas, serving in office until his death on July 5, 1899 at age 61. He was later interred at the Columbus, Texas Odd Fellows Rest Cemetery and was survived by his wife Hattie, who followed her husband to the grave in January 1917 at age 69.

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