Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Leviticus Tilton Richmond (1859-1922)

Portrait from the Chariton Leader, September 15, 1910.

   There were few men more prominent in late 19th and early 20th century Monroe County, Iowa than Leviticus Tilton Richmond, a citizen long distinguished in the civic affairs and political life of that area. A lifelong Iowan, Richmond and his wonderfully odd name would go on to serve as Monroe County sheriff, Mayor of Albia (the Monroe County seat), and was a candidate for both district court judge and U.S. Representative from Iowa. Further political honors were accorded to him in 1920 when he was named as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
   One of ten children born to Samuel and Sarah (Bell) Richmond, Leviticus Tilton "Tilt" Richmond's birth occurred in Cedar township, Iowa on June 11, 1859. Natives of Kentucky, Samuel and Sarah Richmond had migrated to Monroe County, Iowa fifteen years prior to their son's birth, and there resided on a farm. "Tilt" Richmond's formative years were spent hard at work upon his family's farm, which he would later recount during his run for judge. He attended the district school during the winter months and went on to study at the Central University at Pella from 1877-1880. During this time Richmond also taught school in Monroe County, and in 1880 entered into teaching at the Knoxville AcademyLeviticus T. Richmond married in November 1885 to Elizabeth W. "Lizzie" Malone (1859-1940), with whom he had three children: Frances Richmond Bickert (1887-1987), William Tilton (born 1890) and Byron E. (1895-1923)
   In 1882 Richmond turned his attention to reading law, and following a period of study in the law office of W. A. Nichole in Albia was admitted to practice in 1883. Richmond removed permanently to Albia shortly thereafter and soon launched his law practice. While mainly engaged in private practice, Richmond had a longstanding legal connection to the Wapello Coal Company, serving as its attorney beginning in 1888.
   In the years following his resettlement in Albia the name of L.T. Richmond grew to be one of the most prominent in the vicinity. Aside from his law practice Richmond would rise high in the civic affairs of the city, serving as vice president and cashier of the First National Bank of Albia, cashier of the Farmer's and Miners Savings Bank, was an executive board member of the Albia Businessmen's Association, and served as president of the Albia Interurban Railway Co. Richmond was also named to the board of trustees of the Knoxville Industrial School for the Blind in 1892, holding his seat well into the 1900s.
   "Tilt" Richmond first entered the political life of Monroe County in 1884 when he was named as Deputy Sheriff for the county. In the following year, he was elected Sheriff and served in that capacity until 1888. He would later become a member of the Albia city council and also served a five-month period as Mayor of Albia, his dates of service being unknown at this time. Acknowledged as one of Monroe County's leading Democrats at the turn of the 19th century, Richmond continued to raise his political profile in July 1902, being chosen as chairman of the 6th District Democratic Congressional Convention held at Oskaloosa.
  In July 1910 L.T. Richmond announced that he would be a Democratic candidate for district court judge for Iowa's 2nd judicial district. During that election season, he took to the stump, making a number of addresses through the district, relating his being in"favor of cutting down court expenses and favored a non-partisan judiciary." Richmond's candidacy was also given a substantial write-up in the Chariton Leader in September 1910, in which he was described as 
"A big, warm hearted man, firm in his convictions of right, true to his obligations and opposes men without incurring their ill will, because, while he is courteous, yet he is resolute, and never temporizes."
   As one of eight candidates (both Democrat and Republican) vying for the judgeship, Richmond faced an uphill battle. On election day 1910 he polled a respectable 11,641 votes but still placed below winning candidates Dan Anderson, Frank Eichelberger, C.W. Vermillion and F.M. Hunter. Richmond also failed to carry his home county of Monroe, losing to fellow Albia resident Dan M. Anderson by a vote of 2,017 to 2,338.

An electoral result from the 1910 election for the 2nd Judicial District.

   In early 1918 L.T. Richmond was induced to reenter politics, being urged by local Democrats to enter the primary race for U.S. Representative from Iowa's 6th district. In the May of that year, Richmond's candidacy was highlighted in a large campaign notice in the Kellogg, Iowa Enterprise. As one of three Democratic candidates hoping to win the June 3rd primary, Richmond outlined his platform of "pure Americanism" during wartime and noted that he had been mentioned as a congressional candidate on a number of previous occasions. In this notice Richmond hoped to be of aid to the American war effort in Congress, stating:
"When war was declared against Germany last April I resolved that from that moment I would do anything in my power to support our Government and stand back of our splendid army of young heroes, who are now so patriotically fighting our battles for the perpetuation of Democracy.....I have decided to ask the Democratic voters of the 6th district to favor me with the nomination for Congress, and if so favored, the platform on which I will stand for election will be one of pure Americanism, and the most vigorous prosecution of the War until Prussian militarism is forever crushed and the peace which comes will be a guaranteed and forever lasting peace, which will behold democracy triumphant over her foes."
From the Kellogg Enterprise, May 24, 1918.

   Also vying for the Democratic nomination were Patrick Leeny (then serving as Albia's mayor) and Buell McCash (1888-1978), a soldier then stationed at Camp Dodge. McCash, a newcomer to the race, had had his name put forward by a group of friends shortly before the primary occurred. Despite polling 1,719 votes on June 3rd, Richmond placed second, losing out to McCash, who received 2,213 votes. McCash would go on to lose the general election that November to two-term incumbent Republican Christian W. Ramseyer (1875-1943), who triumphed by over 4,000 votes.
   Two years after his congressional run L.T. Richmond was selected as part of the Iowa delegation to the 1920 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco which nominated Ohio Governor James M. Cox for the presidency. Richmond continued to reside in Albia until shortly before his death. In November 1922 he traveled to Chicago to undergo an operation for "gland trouble" in his throat but didn't survive the procedure, dying at the Presbyterian Hospital in that city on November 21. His Cook County death certificate denotes his full first name of "Leviticus" and he was later returned to Iowa for burial at the St. Mary's Cemetery in Albia. One should note that Richmond's gravestone records his name as "L. Tiltson Richmond", presumably an error on the part of the engraver. 
   Leviticus Tilton Richmond was survived by his wife Lizzie and all of his children. Frances Richmond Bickert, Leviticus' eldest child, would go on to become a prominent Democrat in Iowa, serving as vice chairman of the Monroe County Central Democratic Committee for forty-eight years. She would also serve as a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions of 1940 and 1952. Bickert died shortly before her 100th birthday in October 1987

Richmond's death notice.

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