Sunday, July 9, 2017

Eliphus Hibbard Rogers (1830-1881)

Portrait from Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska.

   I always welcome a new strange name discovery from Nebraska, and in the near six years this site has been online only nine political figures from the Cornhusker State have warranted write-ups here. With the addition of Eliphus Hibbard Rogers (a member of the Nebraska territorial council and state senate), that number grows slightly, and I was extremely pleased to have located not only ample information on this otherwise obscure figure but also a portrait!
   A native of Herkimer County, New York, Eliphus Hibbard Rogers was born in the town of Litchfield on January 12, 1830, being the son of the Rev. Lucius Cary (1801-1872) and Fanny Rogers. Young Eliphus worked the family farm during his childhood and attended common schools. He later studied at the O.C. Seminary in Cazenovia, New York and after reaching age sixteen began a brief career as a school teacher. Rogers married in September 1851 to Lucy Jane Groff (1832-1904) and later purchased a farm, which he worked until he and his wife removed to Illinois. The couple would have three children, Bertha, Ida and a child who died in infancy.
  Rogers' stay in Illinois proved to be brief, and he soon relocated to Jefferson, Wisconsin, where he farmed, studied law and taught school during the wintertime. In 1856 Rogers left Wisconsin for Nebraska, and after a brief stay in Omaha established himself in the then-burgeoning city of Fremont. Rogers farmed and also cut timber as a means of income, and in 1858 was admitted to the Nebraska bar. In the year following Rogers began service as a representative for Dodge County in the territorial legislature and served until 1860, when he caught the gold rush bug and began preparations for a journey to Pike's Peak in Colorado
   Rogers' Colorado sojourn saw him joined by his family, and after erecting a log cabin near Denver began his law practice. In early 1861 he would be elected as a "judge for the miner's court" and in the fall of that year returned with his family to Fremont. Following his return, Rogers engaged in the freighting business and in 1863 won election as Douglas County clerk, a post he'd continue to hold until 1867. In the fall of 1866 he was elected to the Nebraska Territorial Council and Senate and in early 1867 took part in legislative proceedings that discussed a "black suffrage amendment" and Nebraska statehood, which was achieved that February. During his service (1867-1869) Rogers served as president of both of those bodies and also began to dabble in banking, being the founder of the E.H. Rogers and Co., a private bank that would evolve in the First National Bank of Fremont in 1872.

From the Pen Sketches of Nebraskans, 1871.

   Following his time in the legislature Eliphus Rogers was talked of as a potential candidate for U.S. Senator from Nebraska, and in 1870 was boomed as one of three candidates for that office. This senatorial contest was pitched between incumbent Republican John Milton Thayer (who had been elected in 1867), former territorial delegate Phineas Hitchcock, and Rogers. As this election was held prior to 1913 (the year the seventeenth amendment was passed that provided for the direct election of U.S. Senators), the outcome would be decided by the Nebraska legislature. This "long drawn out balloting" was later eased by Rogers stepping out of the race and giving his support to Hitchcock, who would be elected.
   Active in religious affairs both prior to and after his service in state government, Rogers was selected as a lay delegate from Nebraska to the general conference of the Methodist church held in Brooklyn, New York. He would again serve as a delegate in 1876 and following a period of impaired health decided to remove to Florida in 1877. Between 1877 and 1880 Rogers would move between Florida and New Mexico, and in 1881 received the appointment as U.S. Consul at Vera Cruz. In July 1881 the still ill Rogers sailed from New York to Vera Cruz and after reaching his destination on the 15th of that month entered into his duties. His time as consul proved to be short, as he died on August 1, 1881 at age 51. 
   Shortly after his death Rogers was entombed in a vault in a Vera Cruz Cemetery. His remains were transferred back to Nebraska five years later and re-interred at the Ridge Cemetery in Fremont. His widow Lucy would also be interred at this cemetery following her death in 1904.

From the Omaha Daily Bee, August 3, 1881.

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