Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Alcinous Thomas Bratton (1852-1936), Alcinus Young Eaton (1842-1898), Alcinous Young Wright (1854-1921)

Portrait from the 1920 Nebraska Blue Book.

    The following dual profile highlights the lives of two politically inclined men named "Alcinous". Alcinous, (for those of you who didn't pay attention in history class) was the name of two ancient Greek figures, the first of which was a "middle Platonist" philosopher. The second (and more well recorded) Alcinous was King of the Phaiacians, and was featured in both Homer's Odyssey as well as the myth of Jason and Argonauts. First to be profiled today is one Alcinous Thomas Bratton, an Ohio native who would find prominence as a publisher and politician in Nebraska, serving as a delegate to that state's Constitutional Convention in 1920.
   Born in the village of Eden, Ohio on December 24, 1852, Alcinous T. Bratton was one of eight children born to Ira and Deborah Thomas Bratton. He is recorded by the 1920 Nebraska Blue Book as having received his early schooling in a "log schoolhouse". He attended the Angola Academy at Steuben County, New York and later taught school during the winter months in 1870-71. He would later serve as a principal of the academy at Alvarado, Indiana from 1872-73 and later left this employ to study at the Hillsdale College, located in Michigan. In 1874 he left Hillsdale to serve as the principal of the Fremont, Indiana Academy, remaining in this post until mid 1875. Bratton later entered upon study at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, graduating in the class of 1877. In that same year he married to Hattie S. Stevens and the couple later became the parents to two sons, Lillo (born 1881) and Leslie (born ca. 1886).
   Bratton practiced law in Angola, Indiana in the late 1870s and in March of 1879 he and his wife removed from Ohio to Beaver City (located in Furnas County, Nebraska) where they would purchase a home. He developed an interest in publishing in his new home county and in September of 1879 took over the editorship of the Beaver City Times. In 1881 Bratton was elected as Judge of Furnas County and served until being elected as County Attorney in 1882.
    The Bratton family removed to the city of Hastings in Adams County, Nebraska around 1885 and in that year took on the ownership of the Hastings Nebraskan. He continued to be affiliated with this paper for several years afterward and in 1901 became the city clerk of Hastings, serving in this capacity for over three decadesIn 1920 he was elected as a delegate to the Nebraska Constitutional Convention, and following his service returned to his duties as Hastings city clerk. Bratton's final years were marred by ill health resulting from an attack of influenza in 1932, and he resigned from the clerks office in 1933. He died three years later at the home of his son Lillo on November 13, 1936, shortly before his 84th birthday. A burial location for Alcinous Bratton and his family is unknown at this time.

Portrait courtesy of the Minnesota State Historical Society website.

    Alcinus Young Eaton, like Alcinous T. Bratton, was a native of the Buckeye State for a good majority of his life. He would relocate to Minnesota in the late 1870s where he would practice law, later being elected as Warren County attorney. In addition to that office, Eaton won two terms in the Minnesota State Senate from the counties of Sherburne and Wright. The son of Isaac and Mary Lamberson Eaton, Alcinus Young Eaton was born in Middleton, Columbiana County, Ohio on July 3, 1842 and appears to have been bestowed his unusual first and middle names in honor of the Rev. Alcinus Young (died 1876), a minister and Presiding Elder in the Methodist Church, preaching in both Ohio and Cedar County, Iowa.
   The first half of Alcinus Y. Eaton's life was spent in the state of his birth. He attended both the Beaver Academy and the Mt. Union College in Alliance, Ohio (graduating from the latter in the class of 1867) and following his graduation accepted a position as a professor of Greek and Latin at the Wyoming College in Delaware. He would return to Ohio around 1869 and continued his studies at the Ohio State Law College, being a graduate of the class of 1870. After receiving his degree Eaton developed a case of wanderlust and spent the next few years traveling, keeping a diary of his travels, which included stints as a gold prospector and newspaper editor in Silver City, New Mexico. Eaton eventually settled in San Saba, Texas, where would establish a law practice. He engaged in practice in that town for about two years, later leaving Texas to again take up traveling, this time "through the South and parts of South America."
   After completing his travels Alcinus Eaton migrated to Minnesota in 1879, first settling in St. Paul. He remained here a short time and in 1880 removed to Delano, where he built up another law practice. Eaton left Delano some time later and resettled in the neighboring village of Buffalo, where he would become a prominent public figure, serving as Buffalo village president (nine terms in all) and would later be elected as Wright County Attorney. Eaton also dabbled in publishing during his residency here, serving as the editor of the Buffalo Journal
    In 1886 Eaton's public profile received a significant boost when he was nominated for the Minnesota State Senate. He would win election to that body in November as a Republican, and after taking his seat at the start of the 1887 term was named to the senate committees on Booms, Logs and Lumber, Claims, Grain and Warehouses, Judiciary, the State Reform School, and chaired the committee on the Geological and Natural History Survey. Eaton would be returned to the senate by the citizens of Sherburne and Wright counties in the election of 1890, and during this term sat on several different committees, including: Elections, Towns and Counties, and served as chairman of both the committees on Printing and Reapportionment.
    Alcinus Y. Eaton retired from the senate at the conclusion of his second term in 1894. He died four years later on October 8, 1898 at age 56 and was survived by his wife Narcissa Walker Eaton, whom he had married in 1885. A burial location for both Eaton and his wife is unknown at this time.

From "Arizona, Prehistoric, Aboriginal, Pioneer, Modern", Vol. III, 1916.

    In a brief addendum to this already published article (December 13, 2014), another politically inclined "Alcinous" has been located......Alcinous Young Wright! An attorney who seems to have enjoyed rabbiting-around the United States (he was at various times a resident of Iowa, Idaho, Nebraska, California and Arizona), Mr. Wright has a connection to the earlier profiled Alcinous Thomas Bratton, as both were residents of Furnas County, Nebraska and both were elected as Prosecuting Attorney of that county during their residency there. In another odd twist, Wright shares a first and middle name with Alcinus Young Eaton, as both were named after the previously mentioned Alcinus/Alcinous Young, a Methodist clergyman who preached in both Ohio and Iowa.
   Born on August 21, 1854 and raised in Lamotte, Iowa, Alcinous Young Wright was the son of Lyman and Sarah Hagerman Wright. His early life and education centered upon the family farm in Jackson County, Iowa and schools local to that area. He engaged in farm work and teaching during his adolescence and after several years in the latter vocation had earned enough income to enroll at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. Sometime later he would leave Iowa for Idaho and took part in surveying during his residency there.
    After a year in Idaho Wright removed once again, this time relocating to Illinois, where he would enroll at Northwestern University in the city of Evanston. He would study law here and would be admitted to practice to the Illinois bar. However, Wright decided to forgo a law practice and returned to Iowa to resume teaching. Sometime later he took ill and was advised to journey to Nebraska, where he would teach school in the towns of Sutton and Harvard. In the late 1870s he entered into the law office of Heard and Barbour in Harvard and in 1879 settled into private practice in Arapahoe County. On July 3, 1884 Alcinous Wright married to Sarah Reynolds (1859-1924) and later became the father to two children, Leon Cecil and Olive Myrtle
   Wright would practice law in Arapahoe County into the mid 1880s and later moved to Furnas County, Nebraska, where in 1887 he was elected as County Prosecuting Attorney. He would serve in that capacity for three years, and upon leaving office in 1890 pulled up stakes once again and moved to California. He would settle in Orange County and in 1892 was an unsuccessful candidate for Orange County Prosecuting Attorney, being defeated by Democratic nominee J.C. Scarborough, 1208 votes to 1004. Wright continued to practice law here until 1903, whereafter he spent the next year flitting between Iowa, Nebraska and Las Cruces, New Mexico
    In 1904 Wright and his family resettled in Arizona, where he would be retained as an attorney for the Pawney Mining Company. Wright would also make headway in a few other non-law related areas, including service as the secretary for the Arizona Realty Corporation, as well as the Arizona and Mexico Railroad Company. Alcinous Y. Wright died in Douglas, Arizona on April 6, 1921 at age 66 and was buried at the Calvary Cemetery in that town. His wife Sarah survived him by three years and following her death in 1924 was interred at the same cemetery as her husband. 

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