Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Stroder McNeal Long (1840-1898)

From the Historical and Biographical History of Douglas County, Illinois, 1900.

   A farmer, banker and political figure from Douglas County, Illinois, Stroder McNeal Long represented that county for one term in the Illinois General Assembly, and in the year prior to his death was again the Republican candidate for the state assembly from Illinois' 40th district. A native of the Buckeye State, Stroder McNeal Long was born in Fayette County, Ohio on October 6, 1840, being the son of Andrew and Margaret (Mark) Long. The Long family relocated to Illinois in 1848 and, like many other young men of the time, Long would balance both farm and school work, working the family farm in the summer and attending school in the winter months. In 1860 he began an "academic course" in Paris, Illinois and in the following year enlisted for service in Co. E. of the 12th Illinois Infantry.
   Long's Civil War service proved to be brief, as he became severely ill and was honorably discharged after only three months service. Following his return home, he farmed and taught school until removing to Douglas County in 1867. He would purchase eighty acres of farmland near the town of Newman, and married on February 4, 1872 to Mary Elizabeth Pound (1846-1941), with whom he had five children: Mabel Maude (born 1873), Potter Palmer (1874-1934), Garnet Alice (born 1879), Cecile Roxina (born 1882) and Fay Ellen (born 1888).
   In addition to farming and stock raising in Douglas County, Stroder Long also entered into local politics in the late 1870s, serving on the county board of supervisors from 1878-1879.  In 1884 he won election as Douglas County's representative to the Illinois General Assembly, and his one term of service (1885-87) saw him sit on the committees on Canals and Rivers, Education, Farm Drainage, House Contingent Expenses and State/Municipal Indebtedness.
   A year after leaving the legislature Stroder Long added the title of bank president to his resume, assuming the presidency of the Newman Bank. He would hold that post until his death in 1898 and during this time also attained prominence with the Newman Building and Loan Association, serving as one of its directors. In 1897 Long was again nominated for the state assembly but lost out that election year, placing fourth in a field of five candidates. He died on August 20th of the following year at age 58 and was survived by his wife Mary. Mary Pound Long survived her husband by over forty years, and following her death at age 94 was interred alongside him at the Newman Cemetery in Douglas County.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Cecilius Risley Higgins (1847-1904)

Portrait from " Ice and Refrigeration", Volume 27, August 1904.

  2018 is upon us and with the dawn of new year comes something new here on the site...the inclusion of U.S. Postmasters of major American cities! Over the past few years I've accumulated a number of intriguingly named men and women who were appointed as U.S. Postmaster of a major city in the United States and, as it is the new year, have decided that they should warrant inclusion here. The position of U.S. Postmaster is an old one, and from 1836 to 1971 cities with larger populations and bigger post offices had their postmaster appointed by the President. Cecilius Risley Higgins, a native Hoosier who found distinction in the public life of Allen County, Indiana, is the first of these oddly named postmasters to be profiled and was appointed as Postmaster of Ft. Wayne by then President Benjamin Harrison.
   Born on January 21, 1847, in the small village of Kalida in Putnam County, Ohio, Cecilius Risley "Ceil" Higgins removed to the neighboring town of Delphos whilst still a child, and his early education was obtained there. At the age of just thirteen Higgins entered the workforce, becoming a telegraph messenger boy under the employ of the Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne and Chicago Railway. During this time Higgins began the study of telegraphy and would eventually advance to telegraph operator. After several years in that position, he accepted the position of ticket and freight agent with the Pennsylvania Railroad Co. and in January 1868 removed to Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
  Following his resettlement in the Hoosier State, Ceil Higgins was engaged as chief train dispatcher for the Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne and Chicago Railway, a role he would fill for nine years. He married in May 1874 to West Virginia native Eleanor "Ella" Hale (1851-1936). The couple were wed until Cecilius' death in 1904 and would have three children, Cecilia (1875-1950), Gracie (1878-1880) Frederic (1880-1883) and Adah Louise (birth-date unknown).

From "Story of Our Post Office: The Greatest Department in All Its Phases", 1892.

    After leaving the post of chief train dispatcher in 1877 "Ceil" Higgins spent two years as a "fuel and tie agent" before taking on the position of chief clerk for the Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne and Chicago Railway. In the mid-1880s he entered the political life of Allen County when he received the Republican nomination for county auditor. Although defeated that November, Higgins ran "2,700 ahead of his ticket" and in 1888 served as treasurer of the Allen County Republican committee. With the Republicans claiming victory in the 1888 election year, President-elect Benjamin Harrison had a number of office seekers to appoint, and Cecilius Risley Higgins was one of the men chosen to serve as a postmaster. 
  Taking the reins as U.S. Postmaster at Ft. Wayne in 1889, Higgins served four years in that post and filled the office "with signal ability." In 1891 he was profiled (along with several other Hoosier postmasters) in the Indianapolis Journal, which lauded his efficiency, noting that he
"Has effected marked improvements in the carrier service, reducing the advertised letter list from an average of sixty-five a week to about eleven; and the general delivery window is kept open two hours later, which, with other improvements, places Fort Wayne on a metropolitan footing."
  Higgin's tenure as postmaster extended through the Harrison administration (1889-1893) and several years after leaving office found further prominence in the Ft. Wayne business community, becoming manager of the Ft. Wayne Artificial Ice Co. This business later underwent a name change to the Higgins Artificial Ice Company and Higgins himself would assume the titles of president and manager of the business. He would remain affiliated with that company until his death at age 57 on July 17, 1904, dying at the St. Joseph's Hospital in Ft. Wayne from the effects of Bright's disease and uremic poisoning. He was survived by his wife Ella, who, following her death in 1936, was interred alongside him at the Lindenwood Cemetery in Ft. Wayne.