Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Woodus Kellum (1878-1963)

Portrait from the Star News, January 18, 1963.

   An attorney and Democratic political figure in New Hanover County, North Carolina, Woodus Kellum practiced law for over five decades and was elected to two terms in the North Carolina General Assembly from the aforementioned county. A fourteen year tenure as Solicitor for North Carolina's Eighth Judicial Circuit followed Kellum's assembly service, and after retiring from the latter office returned to practicing law.
   The son of Wilson Tomas (W.T.) Kellum and the former Nancy Humphrey, Woodus Kellum was born in Kellum, North Carolina on January 16, 1878. He would attend school in Onslow County and also studied at the Rhodes Academy at Trenton. Kellum relocated to Wilmington, North Carolina in 1900 and for a time was employed as a motorman for the the Consolidated Street Railway Co. in that city. In the year following his resettlement Kellum joined the Wilmington Fire Department and also took up the study of law during this time.
   Woodus Kellum was admitted to the state bar in 1903 and in October of the following year married to Christian Horne (1883-1963). The couple were wed for nearly sixty years and their lengthy union saw the births of two daughters, Madeline (1906-1990) and Chloris (1908-2003).
   In August 1903 Kellum was admitted to the North Carolina bar and was later a senior member of the Wilmington based law firm of Kellum and Loughlin. In 1910 Kellum won election to the North Carolina General Assembly and during the 1911-13 session served on the house committees on the Judiciary (No. 2), Military Affairs, Oyster Interests and Constitutional Amendments.
   Reelected to the house in November 1912, Woodus Kellum was named to a number of new committees during the 1913-15 term, those being Courts and Judicial Districts, Election Laws, Finance, Fish and Fisheries, Judiciary No. 1 and the Regulation of Public Service Corporations. He would chair the committee on Private and Public-Local Bills and was also a member of the joint committees on Revision of the Laws and Trustees of the University. Kellum's legislative tenure also saw him be a prime mover in legislation that aided in establishing the New Hanover County Recorder's Court, the Consolidated City-County Board of Health and the consolidated New Hanover County school system.
   Following his two assembly terms Woodus Kellum served fourteen years (1920-1934) as solicitor for North Carolina's Eight Judicial District, which comprised the counties of New Hanover, Pender, Brunswick and Columbus. He retired from that post in 1934 and returned to private practice, being a member of the firm of Kellum and Humphrey (his partner being his son-in-law George Dudley Humphrey.)

Woodus Kellum, from the June 22, 1950 edition of the Wilmington Star-News.

    Active in several non-political areas in his native county, Kellum was a past president of the New Hanover County Bar Association and had previously served as chairman of the city's board of education. In 1906 Kellum began a near six decade long connection with the People's Savings and Loan Association of Wilmington. A charter director of that association upon its organization in 1906, Kellum would occupy the posts of vice-president and attorney, and in a 1956 write up on the fiftieth anniversary of its founding, is recorded as a "senior director in service." He would serve as a vice president of the group until his death.
   Woodus Kellum died in Wilmington on January 17, 1963, one day after his 85th birthday. His wife Christian survived her husband by only a few months, dying in October of that year. Both were subsequently interred at the Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington.

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