Saturday, September 16, 2017

Gates Bezaleel Bullard (1829-1901), Gates Markham Minckler (1875-1958)

Portrait courtesy of the Vermont Historical Society.

   Dartmouth graduate Gates Bezaleel Bullard is another oddly named Vermont Civil War veteran who went on to a career in public office, in his case being elected to both houses of the Vermont legislature. Following his legislative service Bullard would gain further distinction when he was named as state surgeon general, and later held the post of state commissioner for the insane for two years.
  Born in Plainfield, New Hampshire on February 1, 1829, Gates Bezaleel Bullard was the son of Jonathan and Rebecca Gates Bullard. His early education occurred in Plainfield and he would also be a student in several academies located in Vermont. Bullard decided upon a career in medicine and in 1851 began to study in Newbury, Vermont. His education continued in Hanover, New Hampshire, and the Woodstock Medical College, and in 1855 graduated with his degree from the medical department of Dartmouth College
   Gates B. Bullard operated his first medical practice in Canaan, Vermont, residing in that town for three years.  He later removed to East St. Johnsbury and in 1860 married to Lefie Permelia Wheeler (1839-1879), with whom he had four childrenCarlisle (1862-1864), Harry Gates (1866-1915), Rebecca (1869-1937) and Agnes Marion (1872-1958).
   At the dawn of the Civil War in 1861, Bullard was selected to be an assistant surgeon for the 15th Reg., Vermont Volunteers, serving under the command of future Vermont Governor and U.S. Senator Redfield Proctor. Two years after taking the above position Bullard was promoted to surgeon of that unit, due to the resignation of Carleton Frost. 1863 proved to be an important year for Bullard, as he began a term in the Vermont House of Representatives, having been elected the previous November. During the 1863-65 session, he sat on the committee on Roads and later returned to his medical practice in St. Johnsbury.
   Bullard continued his ascent in Vermont politics in 1866 when he won election to the state senate from Caledonia County. Bullard's one term in that body (1867-68) saw him sit on the committees on Education and Rules, and in the year following the conclusion of his term was named as Vermont state surgeon general. Holding that post from 1869-70, Bullard would advance to the post of state commissioner of the insane, serving in that capacity from 1871-72. Sources also note that for Bullard was a delegate to county and state Republican conventions on a number of occasions.
  In addition to politics Bullard also left a lasting mark in New England medical circles, being a member of the Vermont Medical Society, and held the presidency of both that group and the White Mountain Medical Society of New Hampshire. Widowed in 1879, Bullard himself died on September 4, 1901, at his home in St. Johnsbury, and was subsequently remembered as having been 
"Long ranked among the most influential in state affairs as well as the political life of his own town and county. For more than 20 years he was a leader in everything the pertained to the social and political life of St. Johnsbury."
  Shortly after his death, Bullard was interred alongside his wife Lefie at the Grove Cemetery in St. Johnsbury, with their three children also being buried here through the succeeding years. 

From the St. Johnsbury Caledonian.

From the Livingston Democrat, October 8, 1919.

  Nearly two years (May 16, 2019) following the publishing of the above article on Gates Bezaleel Bullard, another "Gates" that entered politics has been located, Gates Markham Minckler of Livingston County, New York. An unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the New York State Assembly from his home county, Minckler later rebounded politically and was elected as the first mayor of Geneseo, New York in the 1920s. Born on August 14, 1875, in Mexico, Oswego County, New York, Gates Markham Minckler was the son of David L. and Elizabeth (Markham) Minckler.
  A student in schools local to the area of his birth, Minckler attended the Mexico High School and Academy and following graduation worked in a pharmacy and began teaching career that extended several years. Deciding upon a career in the druggist's trade in the early 1900s, Minckler enrolled at the University of Buffalo's Department of Pharmacy and in 1905 graduated with his degree. Soon after he relocated to Brockport, where he briefly worked for pharmacist Roland Chandler, and later removed to Holly, New York where he operated a pharmacy with H.B. Fisk until 1909. In November of that year Minckler purchased a Rexall pharmacy in Geneseo, New York, and after permanently relocating in that town continued in its operation until its sale in January 1948
   In the years following his settling in Geneseo, Gates Minckler became a leading name in the town, and in addition to his chosen profession was a member of the local school board and was a founder of the Genesee Valley Automobile Club, of which he would serve as president. Aspiring for higher political honors, Minckler gained the Democratic nomination for state assemblyman from Livingston County in 1919. In a write-up concerning his candidacy, Minckler was touted as a "vigorous advocate of woman suffrage" and a "most ardent advocate of good roads", and in that year's contest faced off against four-term incumbent Republican George F. Wheelock. On election day that November it was Wheelock who emerged victorious, besting Minckler by a vote of 6,657 to 4,057.

From the Dansville Express, October 16, 1919.

 After his legislative defeat Minckler continued with his pharmacy and in October 1922 was selected to the head the Livingston County Democratic Committee. In March 1927 Minckler was elected as Geneseo village president, "without opposition", for a two-year term. This post saw him serve in an additional role as a member of the village board of trustees, and during his term became the first mayor of Geneseo, the post of village president being dropped in favor of the title of mayor. Minckler was narrowly defeated for reelection in March 1929 by Republican William Milliman, who won the mayoralty by a majority of 21 votes. 

From the Livingston Democrat, March 16, 1927.

  Three years following his mayoral loss Gates Minckler established an additional drug store in Canandaigua, New York, which he would continue to own until its sale two years prior to his death in 1958. The 1940s would see Minckler serve as president of the Geneseo school board and in 1950 suffered the death of his wife Emma. On October 28, 1958, Gates Markham Minckler died at his Geneseo home at age 83. He was survived by his son, Gates Jr. (1910-1987), and daughter Helen, with burial occurring at the Temple Hill Cemetery in Geneseo.

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