Friday, March 25, 2016

Chancellor William Hookway (1876-1945), Chancellor Hartson (1824-1889)

Portrait from the North Dakota Magazine, Vol, 4, 1914.

   North Dakota state senator Chancellor William Hookway is on a short list of American political figures who sport a title as a first name. Like General G.O. Pence and Colonel E. Rudesill before him, Hookway's unusual first name is somewhat misleading, as he never served as a chancellor of any post during his life!
  A native of Canada, Chancellor W. Hookway's birth occurred (depending on the source) in either West Lorne or Aldborough Township, Ontario on March 21, 1876 (or 1877), being the son of Francis and Mary Hookway. The Hookway family resided in Canada until 1884, thereafter removing to Pembina County, North Dakota. Chancellor would attend the common schools of St. Thomas in that county and graduated from the local high school. He entered the University of Minnesota in the late 1890s and in 1900 graduated from that university's law department. Shortly thereafter he removed to McHenry County and established his first law practice in the city of Granville, continuing in his profession for a number of years afterward.
   Chancellor Hookway married in the early 1900s to Mary E. Lindquist (born 1877) and later had one daughter, Myrtice (born ca. 1905-1940). Sources relate that prior to his senate service Hookway served Granville as its city attorney (his dates of service being unknown) as well as a notary public
   In November 1910 Hookway was elected to the North Dakota State Senate, defeating his Democratic opponent Knute Steenerson by a vote of 952 to 342. Taking his seat in January 1911, Hookway served on the following committees during his four years in office: Cities and Municipal Corporations, Corporations Other Than Municipal (chairman), Counties, Educational Institutions, the Judiciary, Mines and Minerals, Warehousing, and Grain and Grain Grading. 

Chancellor W. Hookway, from the January 12, 1911 Grand Forks Evening Times.

   In July 1914 Hookway failed to gain renomination to the senate in a rather unique fashion. In that year's primary election he and Democratic opponent J.M. Vatevog both received 398 votes, their tie resulting in a drawing under the supervision of the board of county commissioners. Hookway unfortunately lost the draw! Following that loss Hookway returned to practicing law and later removed to Beadle County, South Dakota, where in 1943 was elected as County Judge. He would serve two years on the bench, dying in office on December 8, 1945 at age 69. He was survived by his wife Mary and a burial location for both Hookway and his wife remains unknown at this time.

Chancellor Hartson, 1824-1889.

   From North Dakota we make our way to California to profile another political "Chancellor", Chancellor Hartson of Napa County. A native of New York, Hartson removed to California during the gold rush years and subsequently went on to gain prominence in state government, being elected as a district attorney, county judge, state assemblyman and state senator. Hartson would also make two unsuccessful bids for for the U.S. House of Represenatives, hoping to represent California's 3rd congressional district. In addition to being a distinguished name in Sunshine State politics, Hartson also has connections to my home county of Chautauqua, New York (more on that later!)
   Born in Otsego, New York on 1824,  Chancellor Hartson was the son of Horace and Asenath Liddell Hartson. He attended Madison University in his home state and earned his law degree from the Fowler Law School in Cherry Valley, New York. Like many other young men of the time, Hartson was bitten by the gold rush bug and in 1850 made his way to California. In the year following his sojourn west he moved to Napa, where he would establish a law practice.
   Hartson's first few years in Napa saw him quickly rise through the ranks of county public life. In 1853 he was elected as county District Attorney and at the conclusion of his term succeeded to the post of county judge, continuing in that post until 1858. In 1854 he married to Sinclairville, New York native Electa Burnell (died 1902), to whom he was wed until his death. Four children were born to the couple: Burnell, Ernest Harrison, Channing King (1872-1930) and Daisy Asenath.
  A prominent figure in the early years of the Republican Party in California, Hartson switched from a Whig to a Republican in the late 1850s. In 1862 he was elected to his first term in the California State Assembly, where he served as chairman of the Judiciary committee. In the following year he became a member of the state senate, serving continuously until 1867. During his term he introduced an important piece of legislation, one that would have lasting affect on Napa County. In March 1864 he introduced a bill "to aid in the construction of a railroad in Napa County", with bonds in the sum of $225,000 to be issued by the county board of supervisors. The bill was passed in April of that year and in May was voted on "by the people", who approved it by a "large majority."

Portrait from the History of Solano and Napa Counties, 1912.

  Shortly after the aforementioned vote the Napa Valley Railroad Company was organized, and Chancellor Hartson took office as its first president. The railroad would have its inaugural train launch in June of 1865 and by the dawn of the 1870s it had been connected to the transcontinental railroad.
   In 1867 Hartson made his first move into national politics when he became the Republican nominee for Congress from California's 3rd congressional district. In a close contest, Hartson lost out to Democratic nominee James Augustus Johnson (a future Lieutenant Governor of California), who defeated him by only 373 votes.  Hartson's second run for Congress in November 1868 brought him another loss to Johnson, this time by an even slimmer margin (just 264 votes!)
   Following these two losses Chancellor Hartson refrained from political candidacy for several years, instead focusing attention on his law practice. In 1871 he made his first move into banking, being a founding organizer of the Bank of Napa, of which he would serve as president. He continued in that role until January 1879, and in the following year was returned to the state assembly, being elected to fill a vacancy caused by the death of William James Maclay. Hartson would win another term in November 1880 and during the 1881-83 session of the legislature served as one of two chairmen of the Joint Senate and Assembly Committee on Prisons.
   During his assembly term Hartson was appointed by President James Garfield as Collector of Internal Revenue for the district of San Francisco, an office that he would fill for several years. In 1886 he was even talked of as a potential candidate for Governor of California. Active in a number of other non-political areas in Napa County, Hartson held the post of president of the Board of Directors of the Napa State Hospital and for a time served as President of the Board of Trustees of Napa College. 
   Chancellor Hartson died on September 25, 1889 at age 65, his death resulting from " a sudden attack of apoplexy" suffered at his home. Acknowledged by his contemporaries as "one of the most kingly of men", Hartson was later interred at the Tulocay Cemetery in Napa.

Portrait from the Memorial and Biographical History of Northern California.

   In an interesting tidbit to conclude Hartson's write-up here, I've found that he has quite a strong connection to my home county of Chautauqua, New York! Both his parents (Horace and Asenath Hartson) are interred at the Levant Cemetery in Poland, New York, just a few miles from my home! Further local connections can be found in Hartson's wife Electa Burnell (1832-1902), who was born in Sinclairville and was a sister of New York state assemblyman Madison Burnell (1812-1865), who represented Chautauqua County in the assembly from 1846-47! 

The gravesite of Horace and Asenath Hartson, Levant Cemetery.


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