Sunday, October 12, 2014

Quintillion Kepler Groves (1855-1909)

From the 1897 Indiana State House of Representatives composite portrait.

   After a few days of highlighting the lives of several oddly named Indiana political figures we conclude our stay in the Hoosier state with one Quintillion Kepler Groves, who is in possession of one of the most unusual names I've stumbled across in quite some time! A prominent citizen of Perry County, Indiana, Groves was for many decades a farmer and merchant based in the town of Tobinsport and was also active in Republican circles within Perry County. He would serve as the doorkeeper of the Indiana State House of Representatives during the 1897-98 term and in the latter year came within a few hundred votes of being elected to the Indiana State Senate.
   The youngest son of eleven children born to Samuel and Eliza Huckaby Groves, Quintillion Kepler Groves was born in Perry County on April 4, 1855. The exact origins behind the names "Quintillion Kepler" are presumed to be connected to two historical figures, Quintilian (an ancient Roman writer) and Johannes Kepler (the famed German academic, astronomer and mathematician). Despite its peculiarity, Mr. Groves' unusual first name is also one of the most varied in spelling that I've yet seen, with several variations of it floating around online. These numerous variations (which include Quintilian, Quintillian, Quintillion and Quintilleon) are even further compounded by Groves' gravestone, which records it as "Quintillious". With all of these spelling differences it was a great relief to me to have found Groves' marriage certificate from 1874, and this certificate (which was presumably filled out by both Groves and his wife Nancy) records the spelling as "Quintillion", and it is that spelling that I've decided to go with in his write-up here. That certificate is shown below (click to enlarge.)


   Groves' early life in Perry County saw him receive his "academic education" in Rome, Indiana and during his adolescence worked at both farming and teaching. He married on Christmas Eve 1874 to Nancy Tobin (1856-1940), daughter of former Indiana state representative Robert Tobin (1815-1898) of Perry County. The couple would later become parents to four children:  Robert Tobin (1876-1914), Mary Jane (1878-1921), Samuel (1881-1906) and Thomas Joshua (1883-1971). 
   Following his marriage Groves farmed in an area known as "Polk's Bottom" near Tobin Township. He would later operate a mercantile firm-general store in Tobinsport and also served as a notary public and justice of the peace beginning in the late 1880s. In December 1893 he took part in the Perry County Farmer's Institute being held at Rome, Indiana and is recorded as giving an address on "Economy on Making Hay"in the Breckenridge News.
   Long active in Perry County Republican circles, Groves was tapped to serve as the Doorkeeper of the Indiana State House of Representatives in 1897 and held this post through the 1897-98 term, even being presented with a "gold headed cane mounted on black ivory wood"; a gift from the assistant doorkeepers of the house. In 1898  "Till" Groves received the Republican nomination for Indiana state senator from the counties of Perry, Crawford and Spencer. Squaring off against Democratic nominee Oscar C. Minor, Groves narrowly lost the election in November 1898, being defeated by Minor by just 274 votes (6, 246 to 5, 972).

A notice of Groves' senate nomination from the Breckenridge News, June 1, 1898.

   Following his senatorial loss Groves continued to reside and farm in Tobinsport. A longstanding member of the local Masonic chapter in Perry County, Groves suffered personal tragedy in 1906 with the death of his son Robert, who succumbed to typhoid fever at age 24 in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.  Groves continued to be socially active in Perry County affairs until suffering a stroke and for a period of two years "was unable to get about conveniently." The affects of the stroke later were compounded by the onset of bronchial pneumonia, which claimed Groves' life on April 19, 1909. Just 54 years old at the time of his passing, "Q.K." Groves was survived by three of his children as well as his wife Nancy, who died in 1940 at age 86. All of the Groves family (including both of Q.K's parents) were interred at the Lamb Cemetery in Tobinsport following their deaths.

From the Cannelton Enquirer, April 24, 1909.

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