Sunday, December 31, 2017

Summerfield Massilon Glenn Gary (1826-1886)


   It has become customary the past four years to set aside the year's final posting to an especially strange named figure, and this year's honoree is certainly worthy of the title of 'Strangest Name of the Year". Following in the stead of such odd name luminaries like Peru Italian Blackerby Ping and Uno Sylvanus Augustus Heggblom, Florida lawyer Summerfield Massilon Glenn Gary lucked into receiving a real whopper of a name, and his inclusion here on the site rests on service as a Marion County delegate to the Florida Secession Convention of 1861.
  A native of South Carolina, Summerfield M.G. Gary was born Cokesbury, Greenwood County on October 10, 1826, being the son of Dr. Thomas Reeder and Mary (Porter) Gary. A distinguished figure in his own right, Thomas R. Gary (1802-1852) served several terms in the South Carolina legislature and for a time held the post of treasurer of the Greenville and Columbia Railroad. Recorded by most period sources under the initials S.M.G. Gary, Summerfield M.G. Gary's early education occurred in his hometown of Cokesbury, attending the Methodist Home Conference School. He would later enroll at the South Carolina at Columbia, and following his graduation in 1848 began the study of law under future U.S. Senator James Chesnut Jr. (1815-1885).
  Admitted to the South Carolina bar in 1851, Gary married a short while later to Frances "Fannie" Rosa Gary (ca. 1834-1914). The couple would have at least five children, Thomas R. (1853-1912), Maud Witherspoon (1859-1933), S.M.G. Jr. (1861-1873), Louella Victoria (1875-1954) and William Theodore (1876-1959). In 1855 Gary and his wife removed to Ocala, Florida, where they would reside for the remainder of their lives. Here Gary established a law practice that would see him advance to the front rank of Ocala public life, and in the succeeding years was acknowledged as a man of noble character, and 
"like a towering cliff he caught the rays of the sun of progress before its beams could reach the horizon of common minds."
   In 1860 Gary was selected as one of Marion County's delegates to the Florida Secession Convention, and in January 1861 traveled to Tallahassee to begin service. During the convention proceedings he was named to the committees on Communications from South Carolina, the Judiciary, Militia and Internal Police, and Schools and Colleges. Following Florida's entrance into the Civil War Gary entered into the Confederate Army and for a year's duration was a captain in a local infantry unit. After being wounded Gary was transferred to a cavalry unit and served as an aide de camp to his younger brother, Brigadier General Martin Witherspoon Gary (1831-1881) until war's conclusion. 
  At the time of his discharge from service S.M.G. Gary had attained the rank of Colonel and following his return to Ocala returned to practicing law. Sources of the time denote Gary as "Intendent" of Ocala in 1867 and is referred to as the mayor of that city prior to its incorporation the following year. Gary's later years saw him become an early advocate for the planting of citrus trees for profit in Florida, and 
"Through his persistent agitation on the subject many citizens were led to engage in this business, which he lived to see the principle industry of his state."
  Two years prior to his death S.M.G. Gary began construction on the three-story Gary building in Ocala, a building that would later become home to both a hardware and five and dime store. This structure replaced an earlier wooden one that had been destroyed by fire and following Gary's death in 1886 passed into the hands of his son William and daughter Maud. After many years of prominence in Ocala, Summerfield Massilon Glenn Gary died in that city on December 20, 1886, at age 60.  Memorialized as "generous towards his friends,  forgiving to his enemies" and a "scholar, a lawyer, a citizen and a man", Gary was survived by his wife Fanny and four of his children and was interred at the Evergreen Cemetery in Ocala.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Wiltz Gleason Kirklin (1912-1997)

Portrait courtesy of the Texas Legislative Reference Library.

   A two-term member of the Texas House of Representatives from Ector County, Wiltz Gleason "Cotton" Kirklin was a veteran of WWII and following his service in the legislature went on to further recognition, being a member of both the Texas Building Commission and the Texas Health Facilities Commission. The son of Aaron and Georgie Lou Kirklin, Wiltz G. Kirklin was born on February 4, 1912, in Mooringsport, Louisiana. He was a student at the high school in the city of his birth and following his graduation in 1929 attended both Texas Christian University and Baylor University. 
  In 1936 Kirklin received a bachelor's degree in business from Baylor University and around this same time married to Opal Mae Layton (1913-1989). The couple were wed for over five decades and would have two sons, Layton (born ca. 1937) and Donald Frank (born 1948). Shortly after his graduation, Kirklin entered into the oil business in Odessa, Texas, and after a brief stint of employment by the Gulf Oil Co. worked as a private oil driller. In 1942 he enlisted in the U.S. Army and during the Second World War served in Europe, eventually attaining the rank of Captain. 
  Following his return from service Kirklin returned to his oil drilling business and also engaged in irrigation farming and heavy equipment sales. In 1952 he was elected as Ector County's representative to the Texas state legislature and during his first term (1953-55) held seats on the committees on Common Carriers, Federal Relations, Military and Veteran's Affairs, Oil, Gas and Mining and Revenue and Taxation. He won a second term in the house during the 1954 election year and during this term sat on two new committees, those being Motor Vehicles and State Affairs.
  In his last year in the legislature, W.G. Kirklin was appointed by then Governor Allan Shivers to the Board of Texas Hospitals and Special Schools. Following two years of service on the Texas State Building Commission (1963-65) Kirklin would be reappointed to that board by Governor Price Daniel and in 1965 was tapped to serve as assistant commissioner of the then recently established Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. He would serve in that capacity until his retirement in 1977, and six years later returned to public service when he was appointed by Governor Mark White to chair the Texas Health Facilities Commission
  Kirklin retired from the above-named post in 1986 and in 1989 suffered the loss of his wife of over fifty years, Opal Mae. He himself died on May 9, 1997, at age 85 and was later interred at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Arioch Wentworth Griffiths (1851-1934)

Portrait courtesy of the town of Durham, New Hampshire, 1902.

   For many years distinguished in the civic life of Durham, New Hampshire, Arioch Wentworth Griffith won election to several local political offices in that town and in 1910 was an unsuccessful candidate for the New Hampshire state house of representatives. A lifelong resident of the Granite State, Griffiths was born on August 31, 1851, the son of John B. and Ruth (Wentworth) Griffiths. He received his unusual first and middle names in honor of his maternal uncle Arioch Wentworth (1813-1903), a Boston based multi-millionaire soapstone and marble magnate with substantial real estate holdings. 
   Young Arioch began his education in the common schools and would go on to attend the Newmarket High School and the Franklin Academy at Dover. As the son of a prominent Durham farmer, Arioch (as well as his brother Edward) inherited their family's 200-acre farm and in addition to farm work operated a vinegar and cider mill, an operation that could produce "one hundred barrels per day." 
   Arioch Griffiths married in June 1876 to Sadie B. McDaniel (1856-1943). The couple's fifty-seven-year union would see the birth of one son, John H. Griffiths, in 1877. A prominent figure in the local chapters of the Knights of Pythias, Griffiths was a member of both the Newmarket chapter of that organization as well as a founding figure of the group's lodge in Durham. Griffiths was also a longstanding member of the Sons of the American Revolution and engaged in banking, being a past director of the Newmarket National Bank.
   The holder of a number of political offices in Durham, Arioch Griffiths served at various times as town meeting moderator, census enumerator, road agent, deputy sheriff and for two terms was town selectman. In 1910 he set his sights on a seat in the state legislature, and in that election year faced off against Democratic candidate Albert DeMerritt, a former member of the state board of agriculture and state constitutional convention delegate. On election day it was DeMerritt who emerged triumphant, garnering 117 votes to Griffiths' 70.
   Following his legislative loss, Griffiths served as a justice of the peace in Durham and was an assistant quartermaster general for the William A. Frye Co., No.5. of the Knights of Pythias. He died in Durham on April 1, 1934, at age 82 and was survived by his wife Sadie. Sadie McDaniel Griffiths survived her husband by nearly a decade, and following her death in 1943 was interred at the Griffiths Cemetery alongside her husband.

Portrait from "New Hampshire Agriculture: Personal and Farm Sketches", 1897.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Deaderick Chandler Dungan (1899-1983)

Portrait from the 1949 North Carolina State Manual.

    A one-term member of the North Carolina House of Representatives, Deaderick Chandler Dungan had earlier served a term as mayor of the city of Salisbury. A native of Arkansas, Chandler was born in Little Rock on October 6, 1899, being the son of John Morgan and Anne Mitchell Dungan. A student at the Little Rock High School, Dungan would attend the New Mexico Military Institute at Roswell from 1916-18 and also studied at Cornell University.
   Towards the conclusion of American involvement in the First World War Deaderick Dungan began training at the Officers Training Corps at Fort Monroe in Virginia. His state military career would continue with his service in the North Carolina State Guard from 1941-47, having attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Dungan married in November 1924 to Vivian May Gregory (1900-1971), with whom he had two daughters, Anne and Jeanne.
   A tractor and farm implement dealer in Salisbury for a number of years, Dungan entered city political life in 1937 when he was elected to the city council. He would win election as mayor of Salisbury in 1938 (serving from 1939-41) and following his term was returned to the city council, holding his seat until 1947. In 1948 Dungan was elected as Rowan County's representative to the North Carolina General Assembly, and during his one term (1949-51) held seats on several house committees, those being Conservation and Development; Counties, Cities, and Towns; Finance; Manufactures and Labor; Military Affairs; Public Utilities; Public Welfare; Roads and Wildlife Resources.
   A member of the Knights of Pythias, Elks Lodge, and the American Legion, Deaderick Dungan continued to reside in Salisbury following his term and was recorded as a fertilizer plant owner. Widowed in 1971, Dungan died in Salisbury on March 19, 1983, and was later interred at the Memorial Park Cemetery in that city.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Parkhurst Ward Cutler (1848-1930)

Portrait from the Biographical Review of Hancock County, Illinois, 1907.

  A longtime resident of Hancock County, Illinois, Parkhurst Ward Cutler pledged allegiance to the Democratic party for a good majority of his life, until joining the Prohibition party in the mid-1880s. A Prohibition candidate for the Illinois State Board of Equalization (as well as several local offices), Cutler would also receive that party's nomination for U.S. Representative from Illinois' 14th congressional district in 1912. The son of Nathan and Hannah (Ward) Cutler, Parkhurst Ward Cutler was born in Fulton County, Illinois on February 27, 1847. The Cutler family resettled in Hancock County when their son was but five years old, and young Parkhurst would attend the "common schools" in the area, as well as working the family farm and briefly studying at the Central College in Pella, Iowa
   After attaining maturity, Cutler purchased 120 acres of land near Carthage, Illinois and established himself as a farmer and stock-raiser. He would subsequently purchase additional property to expand his fields and would be later acknowledged as "probably the most extensive stock feeder in Carthage township, usually shipping about two hundred fat cattle per year." Cutler's prominence in stock-raising saw him be the first farmer to introduce Hereford cattle to Carthage township, and also exhibited his stock at several fairs during his life.
   Parkhurst Cutler married on his twenty-fourth birthday in 1871 to Fannie Gage Barker (1838-1933). The couple's marriage extended nearly sixty years and their union would see the births of two sons, Nathan Barker (1873-1953) and Ward Augustus (1875-1953). 
   An adherent of the Democratic party until the mid-1880s, Cutler switched political allegiance to the Prohibition party in 1884, becoming a "stalwart champion of the cause of temperance." A candidate of that party for several local political offices, Cutler made his first run for state office in 1900, becoming a candidate for the Illinois State Board of Equalization from the 15th district. On election day he received just 878 votes, well behind Republican candidate John Cruttenden's winning total of 24, 510. In 1912 Cutler returned to politics, receiving the Prohibition nomination for U.S. Representative from his state's 14th congressional district. As one of four candidates that year, Cutler garnered a meager 680 votes that November, losing out to Democratic candidate Clyde Tavenner's winning vote of 17, 024
   A former director of the Harmony Mutual Fire Insurance Company and a longtime Baptist church member, Parkhurst W. Cutler continued to reside in Carthage, Illinois until his death at age 82 on May 3, 1930. His widow Fannie followed him to the grave three years later at age 94, and both were interred at the Moss Ridge Cemetery in Carthage.