Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Armentus Boyden Bixby (1834-1909)

Portrait from the "Men of Vermont, published 1894.

   With Vermont senator Bernie Sanders making his presence felt on the American political landscape, I thought it was high time for a return to the Green Mountain State to profile an oddly named man who in 1888 was the nominee of the Prohibition Party for Vermont State Treasurer--Armentus Boyden Bixby! Descended from a family with its roots in New England extending back several generations, Armentus B. Bixby was born in Mt. Holly, Vermont on June 26, 1834, being the son of Armentus William and Hannah Stoddard Bixby. Soon after Armentus'  birth the Bixby family removed to Shalersville, Ohio, where in 1841 both of his parents died of typhoid fever one day apart. The Bixby children would be taken in by relatives back in Mt. Holly and during his childhood engaged in farm work during the summer months and attended local schools in the winter. 
   After reaching his late teens Bixby decided upon a career in medicine, beginning his studies at the Black Rock Academy and later the Kimball Union Academy. From there he went on to attend the Castleton Medical College in Meriden, Connecticut, graduating in the class of 1858. A year prior to his graduation Bixby married on St. Patrick's Day 1857 to Annie French (died 1860), with whom he had one daughter, Lola Anne. Following his first wife's death Bixby remarried in October 1862 to Elnora E. Howard (1837-1901). This marriage would see the births of three more children,  Salome Eliza (1873-1953), Maud (died in infancy in 1877) and Howard A. (died in infancy in 1880).
   In 1860 Armentus Boyden Bixby settled in Londerry, Vermont, where he established a medical practice. His practice would grow to be "large and extensive" and in 1862 joined in the ongoing war effort, becoming an assistant surgeon in the 4th Reg. Vermont Volunteers. Discharged in October 1864, Bixby returned to practicing medicine in Londonderry and in 1882 retired on "account of ill health". Shortly after his retirement he and his family removed to the neighboring town of Poultney, where he resided until his death. 
   An avowed Republican for the majority of his life, Bixby changed his political leanings in 1884 when he joined the ranks of the Prohibition Party. A member of the state Prohibition Party committee and former chairman of the state Prohibition convention, Bixby was the Prohibition candidate for Vermont State Treasurer in 1888, squaring off against Republican nominees William Dubois and Democrat William Peck.  On election day Bixby polled a distant third, garnering only 1, 375 votes compared to Dubois' winning total of 48, 387.

From the St. Johnsbury Caledonian.

   Following his candidacy for state treasurer Bixby was nominated for Rutland County judge of probate in 1892, again being the nominee of the prohibitionists. He was again dealt a loss on election day and after this defeat was never again a candidate for public office. Armentus' second wife Elnora died in January 1901 and three years later he remarried to Mary Helen Bosford (1869-1963), who was over thirty years his junior. The couple were married until Armentus' death at age 74 in Poultney on May 3, 1909. He was later interred in the Bixby family plot at the Poultney Cemetery. 

Armentus Bixby, from the Genealogical Lines of Salome E. Bixby Ross, 1902.

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