Friday, March 3, 2017

Stiles Rust Nettleton (1834-1911), Stiles Trumbull Stanton (1849-1888), Stiles Ashbel Crandall (1851-1932), Stiles Denison Woodruff (1837-1906)

Portrait from Steel and Searl's Legislative Souvenir of 1895-1896.

   Buckeye state native Stiles Rust Nettleton spent the better part of his seventy-seven years with a case of wanderlust, journeying around the United States. From humble beginnings in Ohio Nettleton rose to be a veteran of the Civil War, took a bride in Michigan, grew cotton in Alabama, was a newspaper owner and Judge in Minnesota and served as a special treasury agent for the Pribilof Islands in Alaska. Relocating to Seattle, Washington in the early 1890s, Nettleton served one term in that state's house of representatives from 1895-1897. Truly a multifaceted man!
   Born on April 7, 1834, in Delaware County, Ohio, Stiles Rust Nettleton was one of several children born to Hiram and Lavina (Janes) Nettleton. In addition to Stiles Rust, the Nettleton family would also boast Alvred Bayard Nettleton (1838-1911), who (odd name notwithstanding) went on to prominence in his own right, being a Brevet Brigadier General during the Civil War and Assistant U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under Benjamin Harrison from 1890-93.
  Little could be found in regards to Stiles Nettleton's early life or education, excepting notice of his casting his ballot for Lincoln in the election of 1860, and his enlistment for service in the Twelfth Ohio Volunteers. Nettleton's time with that unit saw him see action in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, and in the latter state participated in attacking "the salt supply of the Confederacy" on several occasions. Nettleton would also take part in the raids conducted by General George Stoneman that destroyed portions of Confederate railway supply lines in Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.
    Research has shown that during the late 1850s Nettleton was a resident of Sanilac County, Michigan, and during his time there served as a Notary Public, Commissioner of Roads and town clerk of Lexington. Stiles R. Nettleton married in Sanilac County on March 20, 1862 to Almeda Orline Mills (1834-1921). The couple was wed for nearly five decades and within a year of their marriage had returned to Ohio. Their lengthy union would see the births of nine children: Elva (1863-1913), Alma (1864-1872), Hiram Sherman (1866-1951), Clark Mills (1868-1943), Fannie Lavinia (1868-1872), Alice Lyra (1873-1962), Mabel Orline (1874-1946), Stiles Rust Jr. (1876-1942) and Sarah Marie (1880-1975). 
   Following his discharge from service in November 1865 Stiles Nettleton is recorded as residing in Alabama, where in 1866-67 he had an interest in a "cotton raising and mercantile enterprise." By 1868 he was again residing in Ohio and in the early 1870s went west as a special agent with the Jay Cooke and Co. In 1872 Nettleton had moved his family to Minnesota, and was later employed as "a local agent for the land department of the Northern Pacific Railroad". 
    Nettleton's early residency in Minnesota saw him residing in the Clay County town of Glyndon, and in 1872 he and his wife became charter members of the Glyndon church. Nettleton also made his first foray into Minnesota politics during this period, being elected as Clay County Judge of Probate in 1879. He would be reelected to that office in 1881 and three years later removed with his family to  Northfield. Following his arrival, Nettleton would add another feather to his cap, that of a newspaper editor. He would purchase the Northfield News, "which he would conduct with success for four years."
    In the late 1880s, Nettleton would move once again, this time purchasing a stock farm in the southern portion of the state. In 1889 he received the appointment as assistant special agent for the U.S. Treasury Department on the Pribilof Islands, a group of rocky, sparsely populated islands located off the coast of mainland Alaska. Despite being sent to such a remote location, Nettleton took to the appointment with vigor, and in the autumn of 1889 settled into his duties on the Island of St. Paul, keeping a diary of his work with the local citizenry, as well as taking notes on the fur seal population. In the following year he returned to Minnesota and in 1891 was again dispatched to Alaska, first returning to St. Paul. He was later transferred to the island of St. George, remaining there until June 1892. During his time on St. Paul Island Nettleton was joined by his wife and youngest daughter, with his wife serving as a school teacher on the island during their stay.

Portrait from the 1895-96 composite photo of the Washington House of Representatives.

    After concluding his work on the Pribilof Islands Stiles R. Nettleton resettled in Seattle, Washington, where he worked in the customs service on the Puget Sound. In 1894 he was elected as one of King County's representatives to the Washington state legislature, and during his term (1895-97) sat on the house committees on Corporations, Counties and County Boundaries, Federal Relations and Immigration, Harbors and Waterways, Labor and Labor Statistics and Public Morals. 
    Following his time in the legislature, Nettleton resided in Kirkland, Washington, where he was a mining broker. He died in Kirkland on May 17, 1911, at age 77 and was survived by his wife Almeda and several of his children. Both Stiles and Almeda (along with four of their children) were interred at the Kirkland Cemetery. Prominence would continue in the Nettleton family with Clark Mills Nettleton, a former engineer and railroad contractor who in 1918 took over the ownership of the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

Nettleton's death notice from the Seattle Republican, May 26, 1911.

Portrait from the Evening Post Annual, 1885.

  Hailing from Stonington, Connecticut, Stiles Trumbull Stanton packed an incredible amount of activity in Connecticut state government despite living to the age of just 38. In addition to serving terms in the Connecticut House of Representatives and Senate Stanton was also an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1880 and ran an unsuccessful candidacy for Secretary of the State of Connecticut two years later. The son of Stiles and Abby W. Stanton, Stiles Trumbull Stanton was born in Stonington on December 10, 1849.
  Stanton's education in Stonington occurred at the Russell Collegiate and Commercial Insitute and he went on to further study at the Collegiate Institute of New Haven. Deciding to pursue a career in journalism, Stanton was employed on the staff of the Worcester Press and the Norwich Bulletin, and his time on the latter publication saw him garner a wide reputation as a humorist and "funny man", even having his work copied in various newspapers outside Connecticut.
  Following a three year stint on the brigade staff of the Connecticut National Guard, Stanton cut ties with the Norwich Bulletin in 1877  and following a trip to Europe returned to his home state. Within a few short years of abandoning his journalistic career Stanton had made substantial inroads in Republican politics in the state, serving as an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1880 and in that same year held the post of Secretary of the State Republican Committee. 
   Further honors were accorded to Stanton in May 1881 when he won election to the Connecticut House of Representatives from New London County and would win a second term the following year. 1882 also saw Stanton set his sights on higher office, becoming the Republican nominee for Connecticut Secretary of State. While he would lose that election to David Ward Northrup Stanton would achieve a measure of consolation in 1883 when he was elected to the Connecticut State Senate. Stanton served in the sessions of 1884-1886 and was also president pro tempore of that body during the last Senate session.
  Stiles Trumbull Stanton married in June 1884 to Lucy Bell Babcock (1849-1928) with the couple's marriage being recorded as childless. In early winter 1888 Stanton is recorded as staying at the Grand Union Hotel in New York City, where he would contract pneumonia. His health failed rapidly and by February was reported by the New York Times as being in a coma. On February 3, 1888, Stanton died at that hotel at the age of just 38, and in the wake of his untimely passing was memorialized as having been "handsome and popular, his career fraught with success from the first." Stanton was survived by his wife Lucy, who, following her death in 1928, was buried beside her husband at the Evergreen Cemetery in Stonington.

From the Waterbury Evening Democrat, February 3, 1888.

Portrait from the Biographical Review of New London County.

  Another "Stiles" that made his name known in Nutmeg State politics is Stiles Ashbel Crandall, who, like Stiles T. Stanton, hailed from New London County. Prominent in the towns of Ledyard and Norwich, Crandall served terms in both houses of the Connecticut legislature, was mayor of the city of Norwich and in 1895 was an unsuccessful candidate for Lieutenant Governor of his state. Born in the town of Ledyard on October 12, 1851, S. Ashbel Crandall was the son of Stiles and Caroline (Greene) Crandall. Crandall's youth was spent on his family's farm and, following study in district schools of the area, began a teaching career at age eighteen. 
  After several years spent teaching Crandall resumed his studies and left Connecticut for the Iowa State University, where he would read law. After graduating in 1878 he returned to his home state and in the following year was admitted to the Connecticut bar. He would soon relocate to Norwich to establish his law practice and in 1880 was elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives, where he served for one term. In April 1883 S. Ashbel Crandall married to Jane Stoddard (ca. 1851-1885) and later had two children, Mary Stoddard (born 1884) and Billings Francis Stoddard (born 1885). Jane Stoddard Crandall would die shortly after her son's birth in 1885 and Crandall never remarried following her death.
  Crandall returned to political life in 1887 when he won election as Mayor of Norwich, a  post he would continue to serve in until 1892. In 1892 he was elected to the Connecticut Senate, garnering 2, 796 votes on election day. Crandall's term (1893-95) saw him sit on the committees on Education and Forfeited Rights and in 1895 became the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor. He would lose that contest to former Lieutenant Governor Lorrin Alanson Cooke, who in 1897 would go on to win the Connecticut governorship.
  After leaving the senate Crandall continued prominence in Norwich, serving as a city school board member for six years and maintained memberships in a number of fraternal groups, including the Masons, Knights of Pythias, Odd Fellows, and the Improved Order of Red Men. S. Ashbel Crandall died at the Masonic Home of Wallingford, Connecticut on November 14, 1932, at age 81. He was later interred at the Gales Ferry Cemetery in Allyn's Point, Connecticut, the same resting place as his wife Jane.

Portrait courtesy of

  Orange, Connecticut resident Stiles Denison Woodruff served two terms in his state's house of representatives and would achieve additional prominence as a founder of S.D.Woodruff & Sons, one of the largest dealers in garden seeds in the eastern portion of the United States. Born on November 27, 1837, Stiles D. Woodruff was the son of Jeremiah and Charlotte Emeline (Nettleton) Woodruff. Stiles would marry in Orange in October 1862 to Elizabeth Maria Clark (1839-1906), with whom he had four children, Frank Clark (born 1866-1944), Watson Stiles (1869-1930), Robert Jeremiah (born 1874-), and Mary (born 1876). Of these children, Watson Stiles and Frank Woodruff would follow in their father's footsteps and serve in the Connecticut legislature, the former being a member of the house of representatives in 1907-08 and in the Senate from 1919-20. Frank Woodruff too would win election to the Senate, serving in the session of 1911-12.
   In the same year as his marriage, Stiles Woodruff entered into military service, enlisting in Co. G of the 27th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. In the spring of 1863 Woodruff (along with many other soldiers from the 27th Regiment) was taken prisoner at the Battle of Chancellorsville, and for two weeks was held at the Libby Prison in Richmond. Woodruff and his fellow prisoners were later swapped in a prisoner exchange and Woodruff himself later saw action at Gettysburg prior to his discharge from service.
   After his return from war Woodruff began a small business venture, the growing of garden seeds. After purchasing the Lyman Treat farm in Orange, Woodruff started out with beets, turnips, parsnips, cabbage and sweet corn. Woodruff's small enterprise eventually evolved into an extensive wholesale and retail enterprise, and by the time of his death in 1906 was acknowledged as "one of the largest growers of garden seeds in the east." In the early 1890s Woodruff's sons Watson and Frank joined the business, and in later years the company added "Maine seed potatoes and onion sets" to their catalog, along with a new type of corn breed called the "Country Gentleman".

A Woodruff & Sons advertisement from 1901.

  While his name grew prominent in Connecticut agricultural circles, Stiles D. Woodruff also cultivated a name in civic, religious and political affairs in his native county of Fairfield. A longstanding member of the Orange Congregational Church, Woodruff served as church clerk, treasurer, and deacon, and would hold the posts of grand juror and Orange town clerk for two decades. In 1878 Woodruff was elected to represent Orange in the Connecticut House of Representatives, and during his two terms (1879 and 1880) sat on the house committee on the School Fund.
  Following his legislative service Woodruff continued with his seed business and with his sons Watson and Frank, would lease a house in Long Island, New York, where further varieties of seed were developed. In March 1906, Elizabeth Woodruff, Stiles' wife of over forty years, died. Sickly at the time of his wife's passing, news of his wife's death was withheld from him for a time, and on April 11, a little over a month after his wife's death, Stiles Woodruff died at his home, aged 68. Both were later interred at the Orange Center Cemetery.

Woodruff's obituary from the New Haven Morning Journal and Courier, Apr. 12, 1906.

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