Monday, February 20, 2017

Weylud Hudson Lanier (1888-1979)

Portrait from the 1913 Pandora Yearbook.

  The recent discovery of the University of Georgia's Pandora yearbook archive has fielded photographs of a number of unusually named men who would go on to prominence in Georgia political life, among these being the man highlighted today, Weylud Hudson Lanier. A standout figure in the history of Candler County, Georgia, Lanier was a practicing lawyer for over sixty years and during that time held a number of public offices, including service as Mayor of Metter, Georgia and Judge of the city court of Metter. In 1937 he entered into the post of Solicitor General (District Attorney) for Georgia's Middle Circuit, holding that office for over two decades.
  One of ten children born to William M. and Adeline (Scarboro) Lanier, Weylud Hudson Lanier was born in Metter on August 21, 1888. Desciding on a career in law early in his life, Lanier enrolled at the University of Georgia and would study at the Lumpkin Law School. Earning his bachelor of laws degree in 1913, Lanier returned to Metter to establish his law practice in June of that year.
  Weylud H. Lanier married on May 10, 1914 to Bernice Bird (1895-1965), to whom he was wed until 1965. The couple later had six children born to their union, Addie Laurie (1915-1981), Weylud Hudson Jr. (1918-1922), Jewel Bird (1923-2004), William Albert (1927-2008), Dan Lambert (1929-1967) and Helen Hudson (born 1936). Following Bernice Lanier's death in 1965 Weylud Lanier would remarry to Patriel May Jones (1905-2002), who survived him upon his death in 1979.
   Lanier entered the political life of his home town in 1917 when he was elected as the Mayor of Metter. Entering into office on January 1, 1918, Lanier served one two year term and several months after leaving office began service as Judge of Metter's City Court. He would serve on the bench until January 1929 and afterwards returned to his law practice.

Portrait courtesy of Find-a-Grave.

  In November 1936 Weylud Lanier was elected as Solicitor General for Georgia's Middle Circuit, defeating Republican candidate Marvin Gross by a vote of 5, 737 to 5,509. He would subsequently win reelection to that post on five more occasions, and in 1961 received the title of District Attorney Emeritus, a title he would continue to hold until his death eighteen years later.
  Until 1950 Lanier practiced law alone in Metter but later operated a firm with his son Dan Lambert, practicing until the latter's death in 1967. Weylud Lanier celebrated his 90th birthday in August 1978 and died on April 22, 1979. He was survived by his wife Patriel and was interred at the Lake Cemetery in Metter, Georgia.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Tigner Emmett Thrasher (1908-1980)

                                                       Tigner E. Thrasher, from the 1931 Emory College yearbook.

    A Turner County, Georgia based businessman and one term member of the Georgia House of Representatives, Tigner Emmett Thrasher was born in Ashburn, Georgia on August 31, 1908, being the son of Clarence Emmett (1875-1936) and Grace Elizabeth (Harwell) Thrasher (1876-1942). A student in the public schools of Ashburn, Thrasher would enroll at the Emory University in the late 1920s and was active on campus, being a member of that school's baseball, basketball and football teams as well as the Glee Club. Thrasher would also excel academically, earning his B.B.A. degree in 1931 and was president of the college's Junior Business Administration Class.
   Following his graduation Thrasher entered the business life of his community when he became a partner in the firm of Thrasher and Thrasher, a firm dealing in the sale of building materials and cotton gin implements. He would marry in Georgia in October 1937 to Evelyn Thaxton (1913-2001), with whom he had one daughter, Sarah Evelyn (1942-2015).
   In 1934 Tigner Thrasher entered political life when he was elected to represent Turner County in the Georgia State Assembly. He would serve during the 1935-36 session and during his term was a prominent figure in the Lions Club in Georgia, attending that organization's annual convention in Gainesville in 1935.
  Other than a brief write-up on his life published in the Georgia State Register during his term, little else could be found on Tigner E. Thrasher, excepting mention of his death in Macon, Georgia on March 5, 1980. He was survived by his wife Evelyn, who, following her death in 2001, was interred alongside her husband at the Oak Grove Cemetery in McRae, Telfair County, Georgia.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Tuthill Raymond McDowell (1895-1956)

Portrait from the three volume "Southeastern New York", published 1946.

   For many years a distinguished resident of Wawarsing and Ellenville in New York, Tuthill Raymond McDowell was former U.S. Postmaster at Ellenville as well as a township supervisor of Wawarsing. A real estate broker and banker in addition to his involvement in local politics, McDowell also was an alternate delegate to the 1952 Democratic National Convention from New York.
   The son of John and Margaret Stapleton McDowell, Tuthill Raymond McDowell was born in Woodridge, Sullivan County, New York on December 4, 1895. He would be a student in the schools of the aforementioned county and as during his time in high school was viewed as a standout athlete. McDowell would later become a coach at the Ellenville High School and is remarked as having guided that school's baseball and basketball teams to "several championships" during his time there. A veteran of the First World War, McDowell entered the U.S. Army and would serve with a cavalry unit, his total dates of service being unknown at this time.
   Tuthill McDowell married in Kerhonkson, New York in 1919 to Hilda Myers (1894-1991). The couple were wed for nearly forty years and are believed to have been childless. Following his military service McDowell entered into business with his father, joining him in the firm of John McDowell and Son. Their business centered on the breeding, raising a sale of horses, and in addition to that firm McDowell also worked as a real estate broker and was a director of the First National Bank and Trust Company of Ellenville.
   Active in the civic life of his community, Tuthill McDowell was for many years a prominent booster in the fight against polio, leading a number of collection drives in Wawarsing to raise money to combat the disease, and for a number of years served as the vice chairman of the Ulster County Chapter, National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.
Tuthill R. McDowell at a 1951 March of Dimes Rally, from the Kingston Daily Freeman.

    As a prominent  Democrat in Ulster County, Tuthill McDowell was often called to serve in various positions of the public trust. A former Democratic town chairman of Wawarsing, McDowell served that town as its supervisor from 1934-1939 and in 1940 began a ten year tenure as U.S. Postmaster at Ellenville, being named to that post by President Roosevelt. In 1952 he served as an alternate delegate from New York to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago that nominated Adlai Stevenson for the presidency.
   In addition to his political and business doings, Tuthill McDowell was a prominent club man in Ulster County, holding memberships in a number of fraternal groups. Among these were the Shawangunk Country Club, the Wawarsing Lodge No. 582 of Free and Accepted Masons, the Wawarsing Sportsmen's Association, the Noon Day Club and the Cooke-Taylor Post 111 of the American Legion. 
   Tuthill R. McDowell died at age 61 on December 27, 1956 at the Veterans Memorial Hospital at Ellenville, He was survived by his wife Hilda, who died in January 1991 at age 96. Both were interred in the McDowell family plot at the Fantinekill Cemetery in Ellenville.

Obituary from the Kingston Daily Freeman, December 28, 1956.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Gammey Mitchell Hill (1895-1974)

Portrait from the South Carolina Legislative Manual, 1945-46.

   Hailing from Spartanburg, South Carolina, Gammey Mitchell Hill was a restaurateur and one term member of that state's house of representatives. The first restaurant owner to warrant a profile here on the site, quite a bit of digging had to be done to find out Hill's first name, as nearly every available source mentioning him records him under the name "G. Mitchell Hill". Thankfully, a 1945 edition of the South Carolina Legislative Manual was located that solved that mystery, and one can only wonder the origins of the name "Gammey", the first such instance of the name I've discovered. 
   The son of Thomas and Mary Blackwell Hill, Gammey Mitchell Hill was born in Clifton, South Carolina on March 5, 1895. Little is known of his early life, excepting notice of his move from Clifton to Spartanburg in 1909. A veteran of World War I, Hill served with the 156th Depot Brigade and entered into service at Camp Jackson in  Columbia, South Carolina. 
   Following his military service G. Mitchell Hill was the owner and operator of Hill's Cafe in Spartanburg. He married in August 1937 to Ruth King (1907-2003), with whom he had one daughter, Ann. In 1944 he was elected to represent Spartanburg County in the South Carolina House of Representatives and during the 1945-46 session served on the committees on Accounts, Labor, Merchants and Mercantile Affairs, Railroads and Veterans Affairs.
   In addition to his business interests and political service Hill was a past commander of the local American Legion post and a past Noble Grand of the Odd Fellows Lodge No. 19.  Hill died shortly before his 79th birthday on February 25, 1974. He was survived by his wife Ruth, who, following her death in 2003, was interred alongside her husband at Greenlawn Memorial Gardens in Spartanburg.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Kirtland Irving Perky (1867-1939)

Portrait courtesy of the Library of Congress.

  After nearly six years and over six hundred profiles, the Strangest Names In American Political History can point to Idaho as being a state with a very meager amount of representation here on the site. With just Burpee L. Steeves (a former Lieutenant Governor) and Trowbridge C. Egleston (a former Mayor of Caldwell) keeping the flame alive for the Gem State, Idaho gains another profile here due to the political service of Kirtland Irving Perky, who for several months represented that state in the U.S. Senate due to a vacancy.
   A lawyer based in Nebraska prior to his removal to Idaho, Perky briefly served as a state district court judge prior to his short stint in the U.S. Senate. A native of the Buckeye State, Kirtland Irving Perky was born in Smithville, Wayne County, Ohio on February 8, 1867, being the son of Dr. John Firestone and Esther Martin Perky. Young Kirtland's early education took place in the state of his birth and at age thirteen removed with his family to Nebraska. Despite their move, Perky continued his higher education in Ohio. graduating from Ohio Northern University in 1888 with his Bachelor of Science degree. He married in April 1891 to Ella Hunter (1870-1921), with whom he would have one daughter, Esther (1892-1980).
  Returning to Nebraska following his graduation, Perky took up the study of law in Lincoln, first with the law firm of Bryan and Talbot (the Bryan being William Jennings Bryan.) Perky continued study with the firm of Cornish and Tibbetts and for one year studied law at the University of Iowa, being admitted to the bar in 1890. He established his first practice at Wahoo, Nebraska, where he remained until 1894. He shortly thereafter relocated to Albion, Idaho, and after several years in that location moved his practice to Mountain Home. It was in this city that Perky first entered politics, being appointed as a state district court judge in 1901, filling a vacancy. Perky would briefly serve in that post, declining to run for election in his own right.
   Around the same time as his service as judge, Kirtland Perky took on additional political duties when he was named as chairman of the Idaho democratic central committee, holding that office from 1900-1902. He would continue with his law practice for the next decade and in 1912 achieved national prominence when he was selected by then Governor James Hawley to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate. This vacancy had been occasioned by the death of two-term senator Weldon Brinton Heyburn, who had died shortly after collapsing on the floor of the U.S. Senate in October 1912. 

From the Boise Evening Capital News, November 17, 1912.

   Kirtland I. Perky officially took his seat in the U.S. Senate on November 18, 1912 and would serve in that capacity until the close of the senate term in February 1913. On February 5, 1913 former Idaho Governor James Henry Brady was  duly elected by the Idaho legislature as Heyburn's successor and Perky retired to Boise to resume the practice of law. Following his return Perky became a senior member of the law firm of Perky and Brinck and in 1916 was part of the Idaho delegation to the Democratic National Convention held in St. Louis. 
  In 1923 Kirtland Perky removed to Los Angeles, California, where he continued to practice law. In 1932 he reemerged on the political scene on behalf of his friend Ralph W. Eckhardt. who was then running for the California state assembly. As both men had known one another from their time in Idaho, Perky took to the stump for his friend, describing him as a "man of staunch loyalty and a democrat in the truest sense of the word."  
   Perky continued to reside in Los Angeles until his death on January 9, 1939 at age 71. He was preceded in death by his wife Ella, who died aged 51 in 1921 and was buried in Boise. Following his death Perky was interred at the famed Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, the resting place of such luminaries as L. Frank Baum, Wallace Beery, Humphrey Bogart, Jean Harlow, Aimee Semple McPherson and Michael Jackson.

Perky during his time in the U.S. Senate, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Olger Burton Burtness (1884-1960)

Portrait courtesy of the Library of Congress.

   A six term member of the U.S. House of Representatives from North Dakota, Olger Burton Burtness was a prominent figure in North Dakota politics for nearly fifty years. A county prosecuting attorney and state legislator prior to his election to Congress, Burtness would later serve as a city attorney and state district court judge after his last term in Congress concluded in 1933.
   Olger B. Burtness' birth occurred on March 14, 1884 in Grand Forks County, North Dakota, being the son of Ole and Mary Anderson Burtness. Raised on a farm in that county, Burtness received his education at a school in Mekinock and later enrolled at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. A member of that school's football team and debating society, Burtness also was head editor of the unversity yearbook, the Decorah. Earning his bachelor of arts degree in 1906, Burtness received his bachelor of laws degree the following year and in 1907 was admitted to practice law.
   Establishing his practice in Grand Forks, Burtness married in September 1909 to Zoe Ensign (1884-1962), to whom he was wed for over fifty years. The couple's union is believed to have been childless. In 1910 Burtness tested the political waters for the first time, successfully winning election as Prosecuting Attorney for Grand Forks County. Taking office at the start of the new year, Burtness held that post for six years and in 1916 served as part of the North Dakota delegation to that year's Republican National Convention in Chicago that nominated Charles E. Hughes for the presidency.

From the Grand Forks Evening Times, Oct. 31, 1910.

    Olger Burtness set his sights on higher office in June 1917 when he announced his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives from North Dakota's first congressional district. One of five aspirants to file for that office, this was a special election to fill the vacant seat of Henry Thomas Helgeson, who had died some weeks previously. After winning the endorsement of the republican district convention, Burtness hit the campaign trail, stumping at a number of locations throughout his district. Despite being touted in local newspapers as the son of a pioneer Grand Forks family, as well as a farmer and prominent citizen, Burtness lost out on election day that July, being defeated by Non- Partisan League candidate John M. Baer by a vote of 13, 211 to 8, 969

A Burtness campaign notice from the Grand Forks Herald, 1917.

  Returning to his law practice following his defeat, Burtness announced his candidacy for the North Dakota House of Representatives in 1918 and won election to that body in November of that year. Taking his seat at the start of the 1919-20 session, Burtness was once again a candidate for Congress in 1920 and in November of that year defeated John W. Baer by "an official majority of 11, 458."
  Burtness' first term as a representative saw him serve on the committees on Alcoholic Liquor Traffic, Indian Affairs and Public Lands. Reelected to Congress by wide margins in 1922, 1924, 1926, 1928 and 1930, Burtness would attempt to win election for a seventh term in 1932 but was not renominated, the nod instead going to North Dakota Attorney General William Lemke (1878-1950).
  After leaving Congress Olger Burtness returned to his Grand Forks law practice. He would continue to be politically active, serving as Grand Forks City Attorney in 1936-37 as well as being a delegate to the Republican National Conventions of 1936 and 1948. Burtness was called to public service once again in 1950 when then Governor Frederick Aandahl appointed him as judge for North Dakota's First Judicial District, succeeding retiring Judge Peter Swenson. Burtness would subsequently win reelection to the bench in 1952 and 1956 and served until his death four years later.
   In addition to the above Olger B. Burtness gained prominence in several non-political areas, including service as director of the Red River National Bank and as a member of the Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce. Further honors were accorded to Burtness in 1930 when President Herbert Hoover selected him as a member of the U.S. delegation to celebrate the centennial of the Icelandic parliament.
  Olger B. Burtness died in Grand Forks on January 20, 1960 at age 75 and was interred at the Memorial Park Cemetery in that city. Shortly after his death Zoe Burtness would donate $100,000 in her husband's memory to the University of North Dakota to establish the Burtness Theatre, which was dedicated in April 1963. 

Olger B. Burtness in old age.