Sunday, January 31, 2016

Geter Crosby Shidle (1831-1889)

Portrait from the Proceedings of the Supreme Council, 1889.

   Prominent Pennsylvania masonic leader Geter Crosby Shidle receives a write-up today, and in addition to his being a leading figure in Pennsylvania masonry served as a member of his state's legislature for one term beginning in 1874. A lifelong resident of the Keystone State, Geter Crosby Shidle was born in Pittsburgh on October 14, 1831, being the eldest of six children born to James (1800-1879) and Elmira Crosby Shidle
   Little could be found in regards to Shidle's early life in Pittsburgh or his education. After "attaining his majority" he joined with his father in the latter's wallpaper business, operating under the name of Jas. Shidle & Son. Their partnership continued until James Shidle's death in 1878, whereafter Geter "carried on the business under his own name". In the early 1860s, Geter Shidle married to Annie Rachel Jackson (1839-1894). The couple were wed for nearly thirty years and had a total of six children: Henry B. (1862-1864), Hunt Mills Butler (died in infancy in 1867), Annie (1871-1875), Geter Crosby (died aged 4 months in 1875), William L. (1876-1878) and Geter Crosby (1879-1945).
   Joining the Masonic order in 1854, Geter C. Shidle became a member of the Milnor Lodge No. 287 in May of that year and would serve that lodge as both Worshipful Master and Secretary. He was Knighted into the Pittsburgh Commandery in 1859 and in that same year became a member of the Zerubabbel Royal Arch Chapter, No. 162, of which he would serve as treasurer. Shidle would continue his rise through the masonic ranks and in 1872 became Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Pennsylvania. Acknowledged as having a career "honorable to himself and useful to his fraternity", Shidle also held the post of President of the Masonic Veterans of Pennsylvania and was trustee of the Masonic Fund Society.
   In addition to his wallpapering business Shidle made headway into other areas of Pittsburgh public life, including being a charter member of the Masonic Deposit Savings Bank of Pittsburgh in 1869.  He would later be named as a Director of the Dollar Savings Bank and Union Insurance Company and in 1874 made his first move into city politics when he was elected to the Common Council of Pittsburgh. In that same year, he was elected as one of Allegheny County's representatives to the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
   Taking his seat at the start of the 1875-76 session, Shidle sat on the house committees on Banks, the Library, and Retrenchment and Reform. Following his term, Shidle was elected as the President of the Masonic Bank of Pittsburgh (serving from 1886 until his death) and in 1887 was appointed by then Governor James Beaver to the Pennsylvania State Board of Charities. Shidle would turn down that job, however, sighting a contract to paper the Allegheny County Workhouse as making the position "incompatible." After many years of prominence in Pittsburgh public life, Geter Crosby Shidle died on June 11, 1889  in Atlantic City, New Jersey, having gone there out of health concerns. He was survived by his wife Annie and following her own death in 1894 was interred alongside her husband at the Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh.

Portrait from "A Library of Freemasonry", Vol. 4. 1906.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Veazie Winthrop O' Hara (1891-1979)

Portrait from the Washington Herald, December 26, 1922.

   After a bit of a break, we're back to highlight the life of oddly named diplomat Veazie Winthrop O'Hara, who gained wide experience in world affairs all before reaching the age of thirty, as he served as U.S. Vice Consul in France, Italy and Spain. One of a handful of oddly named diplomatic officers profiled here over the past five years, O'Hara's first name "Veazie" is also one of the most unique, this being the first instance of it I've ever seen. 
   The third in a trio of oddly named Kansans profiled recently, Veazie Winthrop O'Hara was born on August 23, 1891 in Partridge, Reno County, Kansas. The youngest of ten children born to Henry Clay and Durilla Loretta O'Hara, Veazie W. O'Hara attended the Fairmount College and in 1916 graduated from Clark University in Massachusetts. Prior to his graduation O'Hara worked in civil engineering and also dabbled in the life insurance business for a time.
   In 1915 Veazie O'Hara entered the U.S. consular service, passing an examination in August of that year. He would become a consular assistant in May 1916 and in November of the following year became Vice Consul at Bordeaux, France. He remained in Bordeaux until 1918 and in the next year was transferred to Trieste, Italy. His time in Trieste extended until 192o, and during his service as Vice Consul reported that "there was a great demand for cotton in that city, and that the Banco Italiana di Sconto will take 1,500 bales of cotton on trial consignment."
   O'Hara continued his rise through the diplomatic corps in late 1920 when he was selected as Vice Consul at Barcelona, Spain. Little information could be located on his time in Barcelona, excepting that it lasted two years, with the Washington Herald noting that O'Hara returned to Washington in December 1922.
   Following his return to the United States, Veazie O'Hara married in October 1925 to Belle McLean Callum (1889-1977). The couple would later have two daughters, Constance Belwyn and Dorothy Isabel O'Hara. Despite living to nearly ninety years of age little else could be found on Veazie O'Hara following his time in diplomatic service, excepting a death notice which denotes his being a "retired salesman." Widowed in 1977, O'Hara died in Winter Park, Florida on March 1, 1979 at age 87. He was later interred alongside his wife at the Partridge Cemetery in Partridge, Kansas.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Uberto Saunders Griffin (1857-1918)

Portrait from the 1905 Kansas Legislative Directory.

  2016 is upon us and following our 2015 "Strange Name of the Year " profile of two-term Kansas state senator Peru Italian Blackerby Ping we continue our stay in the Sunflower State for the first write-up of the new year. A man prominent in the political and business life of Nortonville, Kansas for over three decades, Uberto Saunders Griffin represented Jefferson County in both houses of the Kansas legislature during the early 1900s. A native of Illinois, Uberto Griffin was the third born son of Samuel Parker and Eliza Saunders Griffin, being born in the village of Farmington on February 21, 1857
  The Griffin family removed from Illinois when Uberto was just two years of age, settling near Nortonville, Kansas. Uberto would attend school in the nearby city of Atchison and as a young man saw his father Samuel enter political life in Atchison County, as he was elected as a state representative in 1870. Samuel Griffin would later represent Kansas' 2nd district in the state senate, serving in that body from 1875-77. 
   As a young man, Uberto Griffin would attend the Milton College in Milton, Wisconsin. After returning to Kansas he joined with his father in the mercantile firm of Griffin and Son, with which he would be affiliated for many years to come. Griffin would marry Luella Jane Hart on October 13, 1880 and later had three children: Geneva (1881-1977), Helen (1890-1973) and William (1893-1972). 
   A longstanding member of the Seventh-Day Baptist Church, Uberto Griffin was "converted at a revival meeting at Pardee" when just thirteen years of age. Griffin's connection to that church extended through the remainder of his life, and he would serve at various times as Sabbath school superintendent and "superintendent of the Nortonville school." Sources of the time also note that Griffin was a "druggist" in addition to operating a mercantile store.
   Following in the footsteps of his father, Uberto Griffin would be elected to the Kansas state legislature in 1900. Taking his seat at the start of the 1901-03 session, Griffin would sit on the committees on Insurance, Mileage and Temperance, as well as chairing the house committee on the WholeIn the 1902 election year Griffin was re-elected as a representative
and two years later won a seat in the state senate from Kansas' 5th senatorial district. Shortly after taking his seat Griffin was profiled in a small write up in the Topeka State Journal, which noted that he "would look out for the state university appropriation bills in the senate." During his senate term, Griffin chaired the senate committee on Penal Institutions and also was a member of the committee on Charitable Institutions.

                                      Uberto S. Griffin as he appeared in the Topeka State Journal, Jan. 25, 1905.

   Griffin continued to represent the 5th senatorial district during the special senate session of January 1908 and wasn't a candidate for renomination later that year. After leaving the senate Griffin continued in public service when he was appointed as "revenue collector", a post he would hold for several years. Uberto S. Griffin died at his home in Nortonville on November 22, 1918, after having been "in failing health for a number of years." The sixty-one year old former state senator was survived by his wife Luella (who died at age 82 in April 1941) and his three children. Both Griffin and his wife were interred at the Nortonville Cemetery.