Sunday, July 27, 2014

Wooster Ferdinand Dodge (1841-1914)

                                                      Portrait from "The Leominster Book: Illustrated", 1901.

   A two-term member of the Massachusetts General Court during the early 20th century, Wooster Ferdinand Dodge was a lifelong resident of Leominster, Massachusetts. A descendant of an old established Massachusetts family, Wooster F. Dodge was born on March 28, 1841, a son of Stephen (1808-1855) and Elvira Foster Dodge (1811-1900). A student in the common schools of Leominster, Dodge was an enlistee in the First Massachusetts Infantry Band in May 1861 and served until his discharge in August of 1862.  Dodge would later reenlist as a member of Co. H. of the 4th Massachusetts Heavy Artillery and served with this regiment until the close of the hostilities. He married first in 1867 to Emma Renew Brown (1847-1874), who died several years after their marriage. Two children would be born to their union, Flora Elvira (1868-1946) and Fred Lyman (1870-1872). A decade later Dodge would remarry to Sibelle Eunice Carter (1846-1931) who would survive her husband upon his death in 1914.
   Upon his return home to Leominster Wooster Dodge became employed by the Jewett Allen Piano Case Company. He would continue in this line of work in Andover, Massachusetts and would return to Leominster sometime later to go into business for himself, being the proprietor of a steam laundry in the early 1870s. Sometime later Dodge would sell this business and join as a partner in his family's paper box manufacturing business (the E.F. Dodge and Co.) in 1874. He is recorded as having "enlarged the capacity of the box factory and has succeeded admirably in business" and continued to be connected with the company through the remainder of his life.
  An active Mason in Leominster, Wooster Dodge was also affiliated with a number of other fraternal groups in the city, including the local chapter of the G.A.R., the Odd Fellows lodge, the Wachuset Tribe of Red Men and the Columbia Lodge of the Knights of Pythias. Dodge entered city politics in the mid 189os when he was elected as a member of the Board of Selectman for Leominster, serving in that capacity from 1895-1900. He would serve the board as clerk for a period of three years and in his last year in office held the board chairmanship

                                             Portrait from the 1902 Souvenir of Massachusetts Legislators.

    In November 1901 the citizens of Leominster elected Wooster F. Dodge to be their representative in the Massachusetts General Court. A Republican, Dodge defeated Democratic nominee F. I. Pierson by a vote of 884 to 565 and took his seat at the beginning of the 1902 session. He would serve on the house committees on Railroads during this term and was reelected to the house the following year, holding a seat on the committees on Liquor Laws and Railroads
  Dodge's second term concluded in 1903 and he died in Leominster on December 23, 1914 at age 73. He was survived by both his daughter Flora and his second wife. Both Dodge and his family were interred at the Evergreen Cemetery in Leominster.

From the 1903 Souvenir of Massachusetts Legislators.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Calvary Morris (1798-1871)

Portrait from the "Athens Home Coming Reunion", published 1904.

   The state of Ohio has lucked into the good fortune of being represented in Congress by a great many oddly named figures, including such men as Eleutheros Cooke, Philadelph Van TrumpAdoniram Judson Warner and Lycurgus Luther Marshall. Calvary Morris, a long time resident of Athens County, represented Ohio's sixth district in the U.S. House of Representatives for three terms, having earlier been a member of both houses of the Ohio legislature. With a name that's truly one-of-a kind, Mr. Morris was for over fourteen years one of a great many "faceless" politicians that I've found, and despite many attempts at trying to locate a portrait of him, Morris continually stymied me out of a picture. As luck would have it however, late yesterday a portrait of Mr. Morris was located (quite accidentally in fact) via Absolom Mattox's "Athens Home Coming Reunion", a 1904 work centering on the history of Morris' adopted home city of Athens, Ohio. The rare picture of Calvary Morris above marks the first time that I've seen a portrait of him, having first located his name via the "Political Graveyard" website way back in 2001. Truly amazing!!
   While he may have been a resident of the Buckeye State for a good majority of his life, Calvary Morris was not born in Ohio, his birth instead occurring in Charleston, West Virginia in January 15, 1798, being one of nine children born to John (1751-1818) and Margaret Droddy Morris (1758-1818). The meaning behind Morris' unusual first name is unknown at this time, but its origin may lie in an area called  "Calvary" (a Latinized name for the bibical land called Golgotha) which is noted as being a site outside the city walls of Jerusalem where Christ's crucifixion occurred.....Whatever the origins behind his name, it was certainly a peculiar name to give a child! 
   Morris' early life was spent in the state of his birth, where he is recorded as "laboring on a farm" as well as having limited educational advantages. He married in March 1818 to Athens, Ohio native Mary Polly Jewett (1797-1871) and fathered four children, Charles (1823-1919), Martha (born 1833), Jewett H. (born 1833), Emarine (1821-1827). A year following his marriage he relocated from Virginia to his wife's home county of Athens, where he would reside for the remainder of his life. Shortly after his arrival Morris established a homestead, as well as purchasing five acres of land on which to grow crops.  In mid 1819 he was offered a teaching opportunity in town, and despite his lack of formal education, took the post after being allotted three weeks time to study up on the subjects he was required to teach.
    After four years of teaching Morris won election as Athens County sheriff in 1823 and was returned to that office two years later by a near "unanimous vote." In 1827 he was elected as one of Athens County's representatives in the Ohio General Assembly and was reelected the following year. The year 1829 saw Calvary Morris be elected to the Ohio State Senate, serving here until 1835. In his final year in the senate Morris won a third term in the house of representatives, and during this term became a leading voice in the assembly for the construction of the Hocking Valley Canal. His backing of a bill for the canal's construction was passed in February 1836 and in that same year was rewarded for his work by receiving the Whig nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives. In November of that year Morris defeated his Democratic opponent Nahum Ward by a narrow vote of 3, 780 to 3, 703.
   Taking his seat at the start of the 1837 Congressional session, Morris would be reelected as a representative in 1838 and 1840, in the latter year besting Democrat nominee George House by a vote of 8,724 to 6, 882. During the 1841-42 term Morris served on the committee on Invalid Pensions, and was not a candidate for renomination in November, being succeeded in office by Henry St. John (1783-1869)


   After leaving Congress Calvary Morris settled into private life in Athens, where he would engage in wool-growing, and was noted by the 1869 History of Athens County as having introduced "fine-wooled sheep into the county." He would remove from Athens in 1847 and resettle in Cincinnati, where he resided for several years. Morris moved back to Athens in 1854 and was soon after elected as county probate judge, holding that office until shortly before his death, which occurred in Athens on October 13, 1871. He had been predeceased by his wife Molly in July of 1871 and both were interred at the West Union Street Cemetery in Athens.

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. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Aloha Eagles (1916-1992)

                                      Portrait courtesy of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

  Joining an all-to-short list of oddly named female political figures who've had profiles here on the site, Minnesota native Aloha Pearl Taylor Browne Eagles was a homemaker who was elected to several terms in the North Dakota House of Representatives, gaining statewide distinction as an advocate of liberalizing that state's abortion laws. Prominent in state social organizations in addition to public service, Eagles was honored as North Dakota Woman of the Year in the early 1970s and was accorded similar honors in 1976 by the University of North Dakota. 
   Born in Duluth, Minnesota on November 8, 1916, Aloha Pearl Taylor Brown was the daughter of Edward Richard (1879-1967) and Irene Belle Taylor Browne (1885-1978). She would attend school at the Crosby-Ironton High School and later studied at a nursing school in Duluth for a short time. She graduated from the Hibbing Junior College in Hibbing, Minnesota in the class of 1936, and also studied at the University of Minnesota for one year. In August of 1939 she married Donald Eagles (1916-1980), with whom she would have two sons, Donald Taylor (died 1994) and Keehn (born 1947). 
  In 1942 the Eagles family removed from Minnesota to Fargo, North Dakota, where Aloha would be a homemaker. In 1966 she announced her candidacy for a seat in the North Dakota State House of Representatives from that state's 21st district, and in November of that year won the election. Elected as a Republican, Eagles took her seat at the start of the January 1967 term and so began an eighteen year tenure in the North Dakota legislature, one that would see Eagles become a standout figure in state government, being a prime mover in legislation for women's rights.
   As one of just three women serving in the North Dakota legislature during the 1969 term, Eagles authored a bill (House Bill 319) that aimed to legalize abortion "in cases of rape, incest, or if the mother's heath was endangered". At that time, women residing in North Dakota could be subjected to fines and imprisonment for asking for an abortion, and with the announcement of Eagles' bill a storm of controversy ensued. As the leading voice behind House Bill 319 Aloha Eagles was targeted by anti-abortion advocates, receiving "abusive phone calls", hate mail and even death threats. These threats eventually necessitated Eagles being provided with a North Dakota Highway Patrol officer out of concerns for her safety, and in 1969 House Bill 319 was defeated by a vote of 52 to 42. Undeterred, Eagles reintroduced the same bill during the 1971 legislative session where it again met defeat, this time being struck down by a vote of 85-15.
  In spite of the failure of House Bill 319 Aloha Eagles made great strides in promoting other pieces of social legislation, including a bill that prohibited "the sale of volatile solvents" that were being used in "glue-sniffing", as well as being an advocate for the construction of a women's prison in the state. During her third term in the legislature Aloha Eagles was named as North Dakota Woman of the year for 1973 and three years later received the University of North Dakota's Law Woman's Award.

Aloha Eagles, a scanned portrait from the 1981 North Dakota State Blue Book. 

  While still an incumbent legislator, Aloha Eagles was an active participant in a number of North Dakota social services and organizations, being a member of the State Law Enforcement Council, the Coordinating Council for Family Planning, the State Day Care Board, the Advisory Board for Vocational Rehabilitation, the Fargo Chapter of the League of Women Voters, Church Women United, and was the director of the Community Action Agency.
  Aloha Eagles' final term in the legislature concluded in 1985. Widowed in 1980, Eagles died in Virginia Beach, Virginia on February 22, 1992 at age seventy-five and was survived by both of her sons. A burial location for her is unknown at this time.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cilbey Lihu Wiggins (1847-1910)

Cilbey Lihu Wiggins, from the Pensacola Journal, November 4, 1908.

    Hailing from the county of Escambia in Florida, Cilbey Lihu Wiggins accumulated a fortune through the manufacture of timber, and through his work gained a reputation as a prominent business figure in the South. Towards the end of his life Wiggins was honored by being elected as Pine Barren, Florida's representative in the Florida State Assembly, taking his seat in January 1909.
   The son of William David and Sarah Ann Noble Wiggins, Cilbey L. Wiggins' birth occurred in Pike County, Alabama on July 5, 1847. Wiggins was left fatherless at a young age (his father having died in 1849) and shortly thereafter was sent to live with the Emmons family of Escambia County, Alabama. He would reside in their home until reaching his "twenty-fifth year" and married in March of 1872 to Martha Hamac, and they are recorded as being childless through the duration of their nearly forty years of marriage. Though they may not have had any children of their own, Wiggins and his wife were the guardians of two brothers, John L. and Walter B. Jernigan
    Shortly following his marriage Cilbey Wiggins entered into a partnership in a mercantile firm with Neil McMillan. The firm of Wiggins and McMillan lasted for about a year, when Wiggins decided to withdraw from the business. Some time later he turned his attention to the lumber industry, and, after meeting up with A.R. McMillan (presumably a relative of the previously mentioned Neil McMillan), the two men established a saw mill located near Pollard, Alabama. This business was sold in 1881, and soon after Wiggins and McMillan set their sights on property located in Pine Barrens, Florida where they would erect another lumber mill.  This mill (described by the Memorial Record of Alabama as being one of the "best of its kind in the lumber region") would put out "60.000 to 75,000" board feet a day, and was furnished with then state-of-the art machinery and kilns.
   Through his dealings in lumber and milling Cilbey Wiggins amassed a fortune, and was recorded in his Montgomery Advertiser death notice as having an estate worth nearly $500,000. Mentioned as being a man of great "personal popularity" amongst his fellow Escambia County citizens, Wiggins had substantial real estate holdings in the area, as well as a large share of stock in various local banks. Though not an office seeker, Wiggins' name was put forth as a Democratic nominee for the Florida House of Representatives in 1908, and in November of that year was elected with a vote of 1, 460. Taking his seat at the beginning of the 1909 term, Wiggins was named to the house committees on Forestry, Game and Public Health. During his service Wiggins introduced "a bill to protect gophers" which was later given to the committee on bills in the third reading. The bill eventually came up for vote and passed, 41 votes to 5, in May 1909
   Cilbey Lihu Wiggins died in office on March 26, 1910 at age 62, his cause of death being attributed to "heart trouble." In his will Wiggins left a number of bequests to institutions in both Alabama and Florida, including a $10,000 donation to the Summerfield Orphanage in Summerfield, Alabama and a $10,000 donation to the Downing Industrial School for Girls. Wiggins also left $30,000 to both his brother John and Walter Jernigan, the latter of whom also received twenty-five shares of stock in the McMillan Lumber Company as well as real estate holdings. 
  Following his passing Wiggins was entombed in a mausoleum at the Pollard Cemetery in Pollard, Alabama. He would later be posthumously recognized by the Downing Industrial School by having Wiggins Hall named in his honor. 

From the 1909 Florida House Journal.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Wauhope Lynn (1856-1920)

Portrait from "Notable New Yorkers of 1896-1899".

  This stern looking man is Wauhope Lynn, a native of Ireland who during the late 19th century became a distinguished member of the New York bar. An assistant district attorney for New York as well as a judge on both the district and municipal courts, Lynn would also serve a term in the New York state assembly, being elected in 1900. Wauhope Lynn was the son of Crawford and Mary A. Lynn and was born in Ballymena, County of Antrim, Ireland on December 14, 1856. The first eleven years of Lynn's life was spent in the country of his birth, and he would receive his early education here. He immigrated to the United States with his family in 1866 and would settle in New York City, attending the city schools as well as working as a "maker of chemical apparatus".
  During the 1870s Lynn would be employed as a mechanic and during his free time would read law to better educate himself. Around 1879 he began attending the Cooper Union School, where he would excel in oratory, and in 1880 began a stint as a clerk in a local law office. Lynn would continue his education at the Law School at New York University, and graduated with his law degree in the class of 1882. After being admitted to the bar following his graduation he was selected to be a docket clerk in the New York County clerk's office.
  Lynn remained in the clerk's officer for several years and in 1891 received the appointment of Deputy District Attorney of New York County. Serving under District Attorney DeLancey Nicoll (1854-1931), Lynn would later be appointed as Assistant District Attorney, and his time in this post was lauded by the New York Times, which noted that:
"In this position he made a record of having disposed of 289 cases in twenty days, the sentences from which aggregated more than 1,000 years." 
   Wauhope Lynn's time as Assistant District attorney ended with his resignation in 1892, having received the appointment as Judge of the First District Court of New York City. He would be reelected to the bench on two more occasions, both of which he won with a 5,000 vote majority . In 1897 Lynn began service as a Judge of the Municipal Court of the City of New York and three years later received the nomination for a seat in the New York State Assembly. That November Lynn defeated his Republican opponent, Martin J. Nerney, by a vote of 5,020 to 2, 995. Taking his seat at the start of the January 1901 term, Lynn served on the committees on Claims and Railroads during his one term in the assembly. Despite his brief service, Lynn gained press in 1901 when he introduced a bill aiming to "compel the printing of newspapers in type of a specified size". Introduced as a "health law", the basis of Lynn's bill was for "the protection of the eye sight of readers", and, not surprisingly, was called "absurd" in periodicals of the time.
  

   Following his brief time in the assembly Lynn returned to his judicial duties and while extensive mention is given as to Lynn's service as a judge and assemblyman, his personal life has been a bit more difficult to research. He married first to Anna Nelson, with whom he would have one son, Norman Mills Lynn. Following Anna's death in February 1910 Wauhope remarried to Catherine Corson in June of 1912, and Catherine would survive her husband upon his death in August 1920. 
  A member of Tammany Hall, Wauhope Lynn is noted as being active in "Irish affairs" in New York City, being a member of the Irish Land League, and for many years was a member of both the Iroquois Club and the Monticello Club. In the early 1890s Lynn had purchased property in the area of Good Ground, Long Island where he would build his home "Lynncliff",  where he died on August 17, 1920 of a heart attack. He had retired from the bench on January 1st of that year and following his passing was interred at Brooklyn's famed Green-wood Cemetery, which, coincidentally enough, happens to be the resting places of two other oddly named political figures who've been profiled here,  Thorndyke Corning McKennee, and Lispenard Stewart.

Wauhope Lynn, a portrait from his obituary in the Aug. 18, 1920 NY Evening World.





Sunday, July 13, 2014

Massena Berthier Erskine (1819-1894)

From "the United States Biographical Dictionary of Eminent and Self Made Men"

    A native of Royalton, Massachusetts, Massena Berthier Erskine would remove to Wisconsin in the early 1850s, later residing in the city of Racine for over fifty years. During this time the name of Massena Berthier Erskine grew to be one of the most memorable in the vicinity, as he became a prominent manufacturer and banker, and would also serve four terms as Mayor of that city between 1869 and 1880. 
   Born in Royalton on December 19, 1819, Massena B. Erskine was one of three children born to Walter and Margaret Bowen Erskine. Massena was left fatherless while still a child and would have "meager educational advantages" during his youth. Due to his father's passing Massena would become his family's breadwinner and at age fifteen was apprenticed by his mother to a local shoemaker. He would later tire of this work and was "thrown out" by his employers, and following his dismissal became employed as a carpenter in Westford, Massachusetts, continuing in this line of work until 1847. Erskine had married in Westford,  in April 1841 to Susan Perry (1820-1906) and became the father to five children, listed as follows in order of birth: Susan E. (birth-date unknown), Freeman (died 1864), Charles E. (1852-1908), Emma (1851-1951) and Flora (birth-date unknown.)
   Like many other young men of the time, Erskine would soon hear of the discovery of gold in California and cast his lot with other hopefuls, starting out from Boston via a sailing ship. The vessel would travel around Cape Horn and reached San Francisco in 1849. Once settled, Erskine would begin work in a local shipyard and during his time there reached the position of superintendent. In 1850 he returned to Massachusetts with the intention of bringing his family to California, but "unforeseen circumstances" would later cause him to change his destination to Wisconsin, and in 1852 settled in the still young city of Racine.
   Soon after his family's settlement Erskine found employment under the auspice of Jerome Increase Case (1819-1891), the owner of the J.I. Case Threshing Machine Co. and a former Mayor of Racine. Several years after joining the company Erskine assumed the position of superintendent of the company and in 1863 bought a "fourth interest" in the business. Erskine would later become a vice president of the company in 1892 and served in that capacity until his death two years later. Under Erskine's stewardship the company grew exponentially, with the Commemorative Biographical Record of Prominent and Representative Men of Wisconsin noting that:
"The working force grew from twenty-five hands to about a thousand, and the value of the product from $75,000 to about $2,000,000."

From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Racine and Kenosha Counties.

   Erskine became involved in local politics in Racine within a few years of his arrival, and would serve the city as a supervisor and member of the school board. In November 1868 he was elected as the Mayor of Racine and would be returned to that office on three more occasions in 1870, 1871 and 1880. Erskine's time in the mayor's office is noted by the Commemorative Biographical Record as "being more frequently honored in that respect than any other citizen of Racine" up to that time. 
   Aside from his business and political pursuits, Massena Erskine also made good in financial circles, being one of the original incorporators of the National Bank of Racine in 1872. He would later assume the presidency of the First National Bank of Fargo, North Dakota and would also serve as a founder and director of the First National Bank of Burlington, Wisconsin. Erskine was also active in  charitable endeavors in Racine, being a treasurer and director of the Taylor Orphan Asylum and also donated a substantial sum of money for the establishment of a Civil War memorial in Racine's Memorial Square. 
   The latter portion of Erskine's life saw him continue to be active in his business pursuits, and, being a millionaire, resided with his family in a palatial mansion in Racine. In 1885 he would take the reigns of the Racine Wagon and Carriage Co., and as president of the company helped its sales expand into "every state and territory, as well as Mexico and South America." Massena B.  Erskine died at age 74 on May 20, 1894 at his home and was survived by his wife and four of his children. Following his death he was interred at Racine's Mound Cemetery, coincidentally enough the same resting place as that of his friend and business partner Jerome I. Case.
  
Portrait from the "History of the town of Richmond, Cheshire County, New Hampshire."

Erskine's age is mistaken as "84" in this notice from the Little Falls Weekly Transcript.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Apollonius Bohun Houston (1823-1902)

                           Portrait courtesy of Ronda Weber and the Audubon, Iowa Historical Society.

   The state of Iowa has yielded numerous instances of curiously named public figures featured here over the past few years, and that list of oddly named Iowans grows ever larger with the addition of Mr. A.B. Houston of Exira, Iowa, and you can probably imagine my surprise when I found that the initials "A.B."  actually stood for Apollonius Bohun! A resident of Audubon County for over four decades, Houston made his name through involvement in several business concerns in that county, as well as through political service, occupying the offices of Judge of Audubon County, Audubon County Treasurer and Mayor of Exira, Iowa. When I first located Mr. Houston's name several weeks ago I began a lengthy search for a portrait of him to include in the article that I was preparing on him, and after scouring several sources on the history of Audubon County came to the conclusion that there were none to be found! 
   Faced with this lack of a portrait, I soon began work on a message to the Audubon County Historical Society relating my interest in Mr. Houston's life, and a week or so following my message received a response from Society member Ronda Weber, who related that a copy of a picture of Apollonius Houston would soon be sent to me via e-mail. That picture adorns the top of Mr. Houston's write-up here and this author is most thankful for the efforts of Ronda and the Audubon Historical Society in managing to track down a portrait of this once prominent Audubon County resident!! 
   Although a good majority of his life was spent in the small Iowa town of Exira, Apollonius B. Houston was a native son of the South, being born in South Carolina on February 16, 1823, the eldest of ten children born to Oswald and Anna Louise Shaw Houston. Houston's truly unusual first name has two variations in spelling, being given as "Appollonias" and "Appollonius" in addition to the spelling listed here, and his middle name "Bohun" is also recorded as being spelled as "Bohon."
   Houston's early life was spent in the state of his birth and at age nine removed with his parents to Tennessee, where he would attend the "subscription schools." Houston would marry at age 18 in 1844 to Nancy Bridges (1826-1906), to whom he was wed for nearly sixty years. Their marriage would see the births of ten children, who are listed as follows: Henry Bohon (born 1848), Eudora Indiana (born 1851), Louise Blake (born 1853), Oswald James (born 1855), William Walter (born 1858), Flora Douglas (born 1860, Mary Louise (1862-1941), Charles Washington (born 1866), Robert Lonee (1868-1937) and Eliza Amanda (born 1871).
   Following the completion of his schooling Houston joined his father Oswald in a mercantile store in Atlanta, Georgia. Remaining here for several years, Houston also worked as a carpenter, and in 1853 began traveling through the "state of Texas and the pacific states", returning to Tennessee some time later. In 1856 he began preparations for a move to California, and after a journey of several weeks made it as far as Iowa. On account of Indian attacks in the vicinity, the U.S. government's actions combating the natives precluded Houston from traveling further, and he instead settled in Hamlin's Grove, located in Audubon County, Iowa.
   A few months after their removal to Iowa, Houston and his family resettled in the neighboring community of Exira, where he would reside for the remainder of his life. As one of Exira's pioneer settlers Houston is recorded by the Biographical History of Shelby and Audubon Counties as "having built the first dwelling house in the village", and also participated in the building of Exira's first schoolhouse.
   In the years following his removal Apollonius Houston established a reputation as one of Exira's prominent public men, "purchasing a good deal of merchandise" in the early 1860s and shortly thereafter established a general store, later being described as a "shanty" in the 1915 History of Audubon County. He continued in this line of work for several years, and was noted in the aforementioned work as having done "the largest business in the county from 1865-1870" and in the latter year built the Houston House (pictured below), later to become one of Exira's popular hotels. 


The Houston House in Exira, Iowa.

   Several years after his resettlement in Exira Apollonius Houston took his first steps into public service  in his adopted home county, being elected as Audubon County Judge in 1863. He served as judge from 1864 to 1865 and in the following year began a two year stint as the deputy clerk of the district court. In 1870 he became Audubon County Treasurer, serving here until 1873. 
   In November 1884 Apollonius Houston was elected as the Mayor of Exira, Iowa, and served one term in office. He left this post in 1885 and for the remainder of his life remained active in the the affairs of Audubon County, dealing in real estate, being a member of the local Masonic chapter and was a justice of the peace. Houston died in Exira on October 21, 1902 at age 79 and was later interred at the Exira Cemetery. Nancy Bridges Houston, his wife of sixty plus years, survived him, and upon her death in 1906 at age 82 was laid to rest at the same cemetery as her husband.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mungo Montgomery Dick (1821-1895)

Portrait from the Biographical and Historical Cyclopedia of Westmoreland County.

   A descendant of a Scottish family with its roots in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Mungo Montgomery Dick was a veteran of the Civil War, being a major in the 105th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers. A farmer before his military service, Dick would later serve Westmoreland as a county commissioner for three years and in 1884 was elected as his county's representative in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, where he served one term.
  Born in the township of Sewickley, Pennsylvania on December 13, 1821, Mungo M. Dick inherited his unusual first name courtesy of his father, the Rev. Mungo Dick (1773-1839), a pastor of the Associated Reform Church of Sewickley, Pennsylvania from 1806-36. Born in Moray Firth, Scotland, Rev. Mungo Dick emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1806 and married in 1815 to Eliza Murray, with whom he would have eight children, our subject being the fourth born. Mungo M. Dick received his education in the "subscription schools", as well as a log house located on his father's property, and as a youth engaged in both farming and stock raising.
  Beginning in the early 1840s Dick entered into military service, becoming a captain in a local company of volunteers referred to as the "Sewickley artillery." He was affiliated with this unit until 1859, and in June of that year was named a "brigadier general of the first brigade of the seventeenth division" of the Pennsylvania militia, comprising the counties of Westmoreland, Washington, Fayette and Greene. At the dawn of the Civil War in 1861 Dick gathered together a company of men later known as the "Sewickley Infantry", which later joined the 105th Pennsylvania Volunteers. During his service Dick and his company would see action during the Peninsula Campaign, as well as the "stubborn battles of Fair Oaks and the Seven Days Fight." 
  
  
                                                                    Major. M.M. Dick in his military uniform.

   Mungo M. Dick married his first wife Mary Ann Guffy (1846-1870) sometime in the 1860s and later had two sons, Jeremiah (died aged four in 1872) and Joseph (born January 1870 and died in July 1876). Mary Guffy Dick died shortly after Joseph's birth on January 12, 1870. He would remarry to Elizabeth Gaut (1847-1876) shortly after and would have one son, Mungo M. Dick Jr., who died three months after his birth in November 1876. Elizabeth Gaut Dick died shortly after her son's birth in September 1876, leaving her husband a widower for the second time. 
   In addition to his military service both within Pennsylvania and in the Civil War, Mungo M. Dick operated a "banking house" in Sewickley, and was described in the Biographical and Historical Cyclopedia of Westmoreland County as having "acquired a handsome competency" through this business. Dick served Sewickley as its school director for many years and in 1876 was elected as a one of three county commissioners for Westmoreland County, serving in this capacity until 1879. In November 1884 Dick was elected to the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives as a Republican, garnering 8,840 votes on election day. Taking his seat at the start of the 1885 session, he would serve on the house committees on Agriculture, Elections, the Military, and the Geological Survey.
  Little is known of Dick's life following his service in the state assembly. He would marry for a third time in the mid 1880s to Emma Pentzer Goehring, later having one son, Mungo (born August 1889). After many years of prominence in the Westmoreland County vicinity, Mungo Montgomery Dick died at age 73 on June 5, 1895. He was survived by his wife Emma and was later buried at the Sewickley Union Cemetery in West Newton, Pennsylvania. 
   In an aside note, Dick's unusual first name Mungo (which was shared by his father) has its origins in ancient Scotland. Saint Mungo (also referred to as St. Kentigern) is noted as being the patron saint and founder of Glasgow, Scotland.