Friday, August 19, 2016

Boaz Walton Long (1876-1962), Boaz Willard Williams (1817-1880)

Portrait from the Denison Iowa Review, March 17, 1920.

    The life of career diplomat Boaz Walton Long is highlighted today, and it is worth noting the above portrait of him (featured in an Iowa newspaper) marks the first time I've seen a picture of the man in the several years I've known of him. Shortly after discovering the above portrait (via the newspaper archive Chronicling America), three further pictures of Walton were located, along with a treasure trove of information detailing his early life in Indiana and the New Mexico Territory, as well as his diplomatic career as U.S. Minister to Salvador, Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador.
   Born in Warsaw, Indiana on September 27, 1876, Boaz Walton Long was the son of Judge Elisha Van Buren (1836-1928) and Alice Rebecca (Walton) Long. Bestowed the name "Boaz" upon his birth, Long's biblical namesake was a prominent figure in the Book of Ruth, where he is mentioned as being a"wealthy landowner of Bethlehem" who later married Ruth and became a "model of piety, generosity and chastity." Long's family resided in Indiana until 1885, when Elisha V. Long (a circuit court judge) received the high profile appointment as Chief Justice of the New Mexico Territory. Named to that post by President Cleveland, Elisha Long moved his family to the New Mexico Territory in that year and settled in Sante Fe.
    Elisha V. Long served as territorial Chief Justice until 1889 and later relocated his family to Las Vegas, New Mexico. It was here that Boaz Long graduated from high school and soon after his graduation was enrolled at the Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Missouri. He would continue his schooling at St. Michael's College in Sante Fe and in the late 1890s clerked in his father's law office
   Around 1900 Boaz Long experienced a case of wanderlust and for the next decade traveled widely throughout the United States, Mexico and Central America. Employed in the commission business during this time period, Long is listed as being a resident of Mexico City in 1909, where he was a "prosperous merchandise broker" with offices located in both Mexico City and Chicago. 
   In October 1909 Boaz W. Long was engaged to be married in San Francisco to Winifred May Pollock, a daughter of U.S. Army Major Otis Wheeler Pollock. Curiously, their marriage was later indefinitely postponed due to what the Las Vegas Optic referred to as "a serious illness in the family of the bride." Even more curiously, Winifred Pollock is recorded as marrying in 1909 to a Lt. Col. John Lyle Fairfax, a decorated officer of the Spanish American War. One can only wonder if there's more to this failed engagement than what newspaper reports let on!
   Following his failed nuptials Boaz Long continued to travel widely and his knowledge of the business affairs, customs and languages of Central and South America caught the attention of William Jennings Bryan, then U.S. Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson. In May 1913 Bryan selected Long to serve as Chief of the Division of the Latin American Affairs for the U.S. State Department, and in his selection of Long, Bryan believed him to be "thoroughly  qualified for his new work."

From the Hopkinsville Kentuckian, August 14, 1913.

    Within a year of his appointment, Boaz Long had proven himself to be a valuable asset to the state department, advising Secretary Bryan on the movements of General Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution, as well as meeting with President Wilson to discuss aiding American citizens then preparing to flee the Mexican capital due to the ongoing hostilities.   
   In 1914 Long continued to advance diplomatically, being appointed as U.S. Minister to Salvador. Entering into his duties in July of that year, Long served in Salvador until November 1917 and two years later was named by President Wilson as Minister to Cuba. Arriving in Havana in January 1920, Long presented his credentials to Cuba's President Mario Garcia Menocal and later stated that his time in Cuba would be:
"Dedicated to the continuence of the cordial relations that have always existed between the two countries."
   Boaz W. Long's tenure in Cuba concluded in 1921 and in March 1930 married to Eleanor Lenssen (1889-1970). The couple are believed to have remained childless through the entirety of their marriage. From 1922 to 1934 Long is mentioned as having been engaged in "work of private character" and in the last named year returned to diplomatic service, serving as a deputy head of the National Recovery Administration in Puerto Rico. He remained in that post until 1935 and in the next year was selected by President Franklin Roosevelt to be Minister to Nicaragua. Long's ambassadorship in Nicaragua extended from 1936-38 and early in his term had to contend with rebels that attacked the presidential palace in an attempt to overthrow President Juan Batista Sacasa.

From the Daily Missoulan, June 15, 1913.

   Within a few days of leaving the ministry in Nicaragua, Long was named by FDR as U.S. Minister to Ecuador, an office he would continue to hold until 1942. In that year he was reappointed to the post at Ecuador under the title "Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary" and served until May 1943. Long's final diplomatic mission began in March 1943 when he accepted the Ambassadorship to Guatemala, a post he would occupy for two years. During his mission in that country Long made a rather poor decision to vacation at his home in Missouri in 1944, despite receiving reports of civil unrest and possible revolutionGuatemalan President Jorge Ubico was eventually overthrown in June 1944 and succeeded by Frederico Vaides, who in turn was overthrown a few months later. The overthrow of Viades occurred during Long's vacation at his Missouri home, and he was later forced to explain to President Roosevelt his surprise that the government of Vaides was overthrown so quickly.
   Boaz W. Long left Guatemala in April 1945 and for the remainder of his life resided in New Mexico. In 1948 he began a near decade long tenure as Director of the Museum of New Mexico, leaving that post in 1957. After many years of service abroad, Boaz W. Long died in Las Vegas, New Mexico on July 30, 1962 at age 85. He was survived by his wife Eleanor and was later buried at the Masonic Cemetery in Las Vegas.

Boaz W. Long as he appeared late in life. Courtesy of nmstatehood.unm.edu. 

Portrait from the 1869 Kansas legislative composite.

    Another "Boaz" that made his name known politically was Boaz Willard Williams, an obscure resident of Washington County, Kansas. A two term state representative and one term state senator, Boaz W. Williams was the son of James and Julia Willard Williams and was born in Forsyth County, North Carolina in 1817.
   Left parentless at an early age, Williams received a limited education during his youth and later taught school for a time "as a means of aiding him in educating himself." During the the late 1830s Williams removed to Danville, Indiana, where he established himself in the mercantile business. He married in that state in April 1841 to Nancy Long (died 1850), with whom he would have three children. Remaining here until 1851, Williams remarried that year and later went into business with his brother Isaac before resettling in Iowa, where he continued in merchandising until permanently relocating to Kansas around 1859.
  Boaz W. Williams first decade in Kansas saw him reside in both Leavenworth and Atchison County, engaging in farming in the latter area. In 1864 he was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives from Atchison and won a second term in 1868. He would continued his rise in state politics in 1873 when he was elected to the Kansas Senate from the senatorial district of Washington and Marshall County. This four year term (1874-78) saw Williams serve on the senate committees on Emigration, Education and Insurance as well as chairing the committee on Engrossed Bills. 
  In addition to his political doings Boaz Williams was for many affiliated with the Central Branch Union Pacific Railroad Company, serving on its board of directors. Williams died in Washington County on February 23, 1880 at age 62 and was later interred at the Washington Cemetery in that county.

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