Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Janus Sumner Sweet (1859-1939)

Portrait from Vermont, A Souvenir of its Government, 1902.

  The 1902-03 session of the Vermont legislature could count a number of oddly named men amongst its ranks, including state senators Orien Smith Annis, Quimby Silas Backus and representatives Justus Dartt, Cola Di Rienzi Meacham, Pearl Castle Abbey, Origen Allen Blanchard; the latter three having profiles here. Also serving in that session was Huntington resident Janus Sumner Sweet, who is in all likelihood the only political figure ever named after the Roman god we're all familiar with.
   A lifelong resident of Chittenden County, Janus Sumner Sweet was born in Huntington on June 23, 1859, being the son of Justin O. and Rebecca (Sprague) Sweet. Bestowed the wonderfully odd name Janus upon his birth, this name extends from the two-faced Roman god Janus, known as the god of beginnings and ends, passages, transitions, time and duality. Despite numerous listings of this name (amongst Vermont vital records, legislative histories, and Sweet's own death certificate), some sources incorrectly identify Sweet's first name as Jamus and James.
   Little information exists on Sweet's early life, excepting notice of his attending the common schools of Huntington. He married on August 30, 1884, to Calista A. Miller (1858-1907) and the couple's twenty-plus year union is believed to have been childless. Two years following the death of his wife Sweet remarried in September 1909 to Jennie Belle Palmer (1868-1937), whom he also survived.
  Sources relate that Janus Sweet worked as an appraiser and speculator prior to his legislative service and also served as a school director and selectman for the town of Huntington, holding the latter post from 1899-1901. Elected to the Vermont state house in 1901, Sweet served one term and sat on the committees on Federal Relations and Mileage and Debentures
  Following his term, Sweet returned to Huntington and in 1921 is recorded as serving as a justice of the peace. His 80th birthday in June 1939 was celebrated with a card shower and he died just one month later on July 24. Sweet was later interred alongside his wives at the Maplewood Cemetery in Huntington.

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