Monday, July 20, 2015

Elgie LaVernze Wasson (1875-1931)

Portrait from the "Book of Prominent Pennsylvanians".

    Pennsylvania yields another oddly named public figure in one Elgie LaVernze Wasson, a Butler County-based surgeon and businessman. A two term member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Wasson served during the 1911-12 legislative term, a session which featured such interestingly named legislators as Artanus L. Snyder, Mandus Welles Reeser, Plymouth W. Snyder, Eckley Walter Klingerman and the venerated Hillorious Kester Bender (now there's a name!)
   Elgie LaVernze Wasson was born in the city of New Castle, Pennsylvania on July 12, 1874, being the son of William J. and Samantha Jane Wasson. He would begin his schooling in the public school system of Butler County and was later a graduate of the Sunbury Academy. Following his graduation, he entered upon a teaching career and followed that vocation for three years before deciding upon a career in medicine.
   In the late 1890s Wasson enrolled at the Baltimore Medical College and earned his medical degree in 1898. He continued study at Johns Hopkins University and after graduating in 1902 returned to Pennsylvania, establishing a medical practice in the town of Callery. Two years later he removed to the city of Butler, where he would continue to reside and practice for decades afterward. 
  Regarded as a "specialist in surgery and gynecology", Wasson served as head surgeon at the Butler County General Hospital and was also retained as head surgeon for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company's Butler district. A member of both the Butler County and Pennsylvania State Medical Society, Wasson also made a name for himself in a number of business concerns, several of which were located in other states. For a period of ten years he actively engaged in the "oil producing business" and was a director of the Evershed Land and Improvement Company in Niagara Falls, New York. Wasson also served as a director and Vice-President of the Western Slope Copper  Mining and Land Company based in Colorado and for a time was affiliated with California Touring and Land Co. and the Sun Film Manufacturing Co., both of Pittsburgh.
   Elgie Wasson made his first step into Pennsylvania political life in the late 1900s, winning election as Butler County's representative to the Pennsylvania State Assembly in 1908. He would win reelection two years later and during his four years in the house served on the committees on Banks and Banking; Congressional Apportionment;  Mines and Mining; Good Roads; Education; Military Affairs and Fish and Game. During the 1911-13 term Wasson chaired the committee on Health and Sanitation. 
   Little is known of Wasson's life following his time in the legislature. Regarded as a prominent club man in the Butler area, he was an active Mason and was affiliated with the Elks, the Oil Men's Carnival Association, and the Butler Country Club. Elgie L. Wasson died in Pennsylvania on June 13, 1931 of "pulmonary edema" and was survived by his wife Henrietta and a daughter, Joan (1917-2009).  He was later interred at North Side Cemetery in Butler, Pennsylvania.

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