Sunday, September 30, 2018

Dionysius Crandell Oliver (1834-1899)

D. Cran Oliver during his time as Athens police chief.

  Undoubtedly one of the most unusually named men ever to serve in the Georgia legislature, Dionysius Crandell "D. Cran" Oliver represented Banks County for one term and following his removal to the city of Athens served as its police chief for several years. While there is a dearth of resources mentioning him, an obituary for Oliver (published in the December 8, 1899 edition of the Athens Weekly Banner) helped significantly in terms of information! Sharing an odd first name not only with the Greek god of winemaking but also several other figures from ancient history, Dionysius Crandell Oliver was born in Georgia on November 14, 1834, the son of the Rev. Jackson and Mary Maxwell Oliver
  No information could be located on Oliver's early life or education, excepting notice of his marriage in Madison County on October 9, 1853 to Emily J. Sanders (1832-1912), to whom he was wed for over forty years. The couple would have several children, including Dionysius Jackson (born 1860), Sanders B. (1861-1937), George Pierce (1868-1875), Adessa Ann, Thomas Britton, and Roberta Estelle.
    A year following the start of the Civil War, D. Cran Oliver enlisted in May 1862 as a private in Co. A., 24th Regiment Georgia Volunteer Infantry, with which he would serve through the duration of the hostilities. In August 1862 he was promoted to Quartermaster Sergeant and is recorded (under the name Dionicious Cran Oliver) as having surrendered at Appomattox, Virginia on April 9, 1865.
  At the conclusion of his service, Oliver returned to his home state, where for years afterward was engaged as a Methodist minister, both in Banks County and Athens, Clarke County and in 1877 served as chairman of the first annual Banks County Sunday School Celebration. A lifelong temperance advocate, Oliver is remarked in his Athens Weekly Banner obituary as "having never known the taste of alcoholic stimulants or tobacco. Such a record few men in this world can boast", and was a member of the Independent Order of Good Templars, then a leading prohibition organization.
  D. Cran Oliver made his first foray into Georgia political life in late 1877, being elected as Banks County's representative to the Georgia General Assembly. Taking his seat at the start of the 1878-79 session, he would be named to a "committee to investigate the expenditures in the Geological department." Oliver's prohibition leanings also impacted his one term in the legislature, and in 1879 he introduced a bill to
"Provide for the prohibition of the sale of spiritouous, malt or vinous liquors in the different counties of this state, and to provide for the punishment therefor, and for other purposes."
   Following his legislative term, D. Cran Oliver removed to Athens, Clarke County, Georgia, where he would reside for the remainder of his life.  In 1883 he entered into the race for Athens police chief and was elected, serving in that post until 1891, and again from 1894-95. Oliver's time in office saw him attend the 1895 national gathering of police chiefs in Washington, D.C., and after leaving that post in December of that year began a trek through Arkansas and the Indian Territory, where he would "preach the gospel."


From the Atlanta Constitution, December 30, 1895.

  After his return to Georgia Oliver returned to an active role in the civic life of Athens, being a member of the local Masonic and Odd Fellows lodges, and in January 1898 was named as Commander of the Cobb-Deloney Camp of United Confederate Veterans. In early December 1899, he visited Macon, Georgia as a receiver in bankruptcy to take stock of a bankrupt business in that city. On December 4, while still on business in Macon, Oliver died unexpectedly at age 65, the cause of death being attributed to heart disease, according to the Athens Weekly Banner. Oliver's remains were later returned to Banks County for burial at the New Salem Cemetery. He was survived by his wife Emily, who died aged 79 in 1912 and was subsequently buried in Barrows County, Georgia.
  As an addendum, one should note that in addition to the spelling given here, Oliver's name is most often listed as "D. Cran" and his middle name spelled as both "Crandell" and "Crandall".


From the Athens Weekly Banner, December 8, 1899.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Lectured Crawford (ca. 1842-1901)

Portrait from the Atlanta Constitution, July 19, 1891.

   The name would be Lectured Crawford. A truly unusual name at that, and hiding behind that curious name is the story of an African Methodist Episcopal minister who was elected to three terms in the Georgia legislature, his service occurring after the Reconstruction period (1867-1876.) As a black man holding political office in the South at a time of intense disenfranchisement for African-Americans, Crawford represented McIntosh County during the entirety of his service, a county that had produced Georgia's first African-American legislator, Tunis Gulic Campbell, in 1868. 
  Shortly after the discovery of Crawford's name via a Georgia state register several years ago, a search on his life's backstory yielded minimal results, and this remained the case until the location of the July 19, 1891 edition of the Atlanta Constitution, which offered up not only an extremely rare portrait of Crawford but also some background on his life leading up to his career in public life. The following lines aim to give an adequate biography of this early African-American legislator and restore him to prominence, now more than a century after his death.
   Lectured Crawford's birth-year is recorded as 1842 in his brief biographical sketch in the Atlanta Constitution. It remains uncertain as to whether Crawford was born into slavery, though mention is given as to his status as a former slave in R.B. Rosenburg's Living Monuments: Confederate Soldier's Homes in the New South. While information regarding Crawford's early life remains scant at best, he is remarked in the Atlanta Constitution as having "never went to school a day in his life, but acquired a fair education by the light of the pine knot fire." He is known to have a married a woman named Emma prior to 1880, as he is listed with her (under the name Lectried Crawford) in the McIntosh County portion of the 1880 U.S. Census. Notice is also given in this census to his mother, named Tena. 
   Crawford's brief biographical snippet in the Atlanta Constitution mentions his briefly teaching school and in the 1880 census lists his occupation as a carpenter. For many years he was a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and was still engaged in the ministry during his legislative service. 
  Lectured Crawford' s political career in McIntosh County is intertwined with the life of Tunis Gulic Campbell (1812-1891), another curiously named black politician who in the late 1860s began building an impressive political machine in and around McIntosh County, Georgia. A former state constitutional convention delegate, Campbell was elected to the Georgia state senate in 1868 and following his service saw a number of his fellow freemen elected to political office in McIntosh County. In total, the citizens of McIntosh County would send five African-Americans to the state legislature between 1868 and 1907, including the two men mentioned above. 
  Crawford's political service prior to the legislature saw him serve four years as a justice of the peace in his native town of Darien, and in 1872 served as mayor pro tem of that town. In 1886 he was elected as a Republican to the Georgia legislature, and the 1887-88 session saw him as one of two African Americans serving in the house, Anthony Wilson of Camden County also being elected.

From the Savannah Morning News, October 15, 1886.

 Crawford's service in the 1886-88 session saw him named to the committees on Education and the Lunatic Asylum, and during his term took to the floor of the house to speak on behalf of a bill for disabled Georgia Confederate veterans. During this speech, Crawford remarked that:
"The United States government has pensioned her soldiers, both white and black, who fought for her in the late war. I do not see why Georgia should not pension her wounded veterans, although I am well aware that my race will not get a dollar of pension money."
  Looking back on Crawford's remarks from 130 years retrospect, a black legislator taking to the floor of the capitol to argue on the behalf of wounded Confederate veterans is, at least to this author, a surreal scene. One can only wonder what Crawford's fellow legislators (many of whom were Confederate veterans themselves) made of his actions, and despite the racial animus of the time, Crawford's remarks were reported on favorably by newspapers of the time, warranting notice in both the Atlanta Constitution and the Milledgeville Union-Recorder.


From the October 13, 1888 edition of the Atlanta Constitution.


From the July 19, 1891 edition of the Atlanta Constitution.

    In October 1888 Crawford was defeated in his bid for reelection by Charles M. Tyson, and despite Crawford's contesting the election results, Tyson served out a full term in the legislature. Following his loss, Crawford served as chairman of the McIntosh County Republican committee until his resignation in late 1888 and in 1890 won his second term in the house. During the 1890-92 session, he sat on the committees on Labor and Labor Statistics, the Penitentiary, and Temperance and was one of two black representatives to serve in that session, along with John M. Holtzendorff. This session also saw Crawford come out firmly against a House measure that would reinstate whipping posts for chain gangs in the state. As a member of Georgia's Colored Alliance, Crawford was the only legislator to speak against the passage of the measure, which was later passed by a house vote of 96-8.
  Lectured Crawford was defeated for reelection in October 1892 by Democrat C.H. Hopkins. Despite his loss, Crawford took his defeat in stride, remarking that the election was one "of the fairest and best" he'd seen in McIntosh County. In remarks printed in the Americus-Times Recorder, Crawford explained that
"My votes went into the ballot box and they we counted all right, and I have nothing but praise for the managers and clerks...The trouble is that I did not get enough votes, and of course I was defeated, but it was fairly and squarely done. Of course, people told lots of lies and succeeded in defeating me. However, I hope Mr. Hopkins will do all the good things he has promised. We shall see."
  In addition to his political service and his being a minister in the AME church, Lectured Crawford was also an active club man in McIntosh County, holding memberships in the Masons, Knights of Pythias, International Order of Odd-Fellows, and the Knights of Labor.  Elected to his third term in the legislature in 1900, Crawford was again one of two African-Americans serving in that session and held seats on the committees on County and County Matters, Education, Labor and Labor Statistics, and Special Agriculture.
  Lectured Crawford's final house term saw him in a state of impaired health, only being able to attend two sessions of the legislature. Crawford died in office in December 1901, succumbing to consumption in his room at an Atlanta boarding house. He was survived by his wife and a daughter (the latter's name unknown) and following his death was returned to his hometown of Darien for burial, an exact cemetery location for him being unknown at this time. In the days following his passing, Crawford's death made the pages of several Georgia newspapers, which noted that he was fondly remembered by his house colleagues and that he:
"Was always respectful and conservative. He had the good will of his white colleagues in the house and of his neighbors in McIntosh County. He was well up on public affairs and resolutions of respect to his memory were passed by the house."
                                                        From the Milledgeville Union-Recorder, Dec. 17, 1901.

From the Montgomery Monitor, December 19, 1901.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Devereaux Fore McClatchey, III (1906-1993)

From the 1969-70 Georgia Official Register.

   An Atlanta based attorney for over forty years, Devereaux Fore McClatchey also made substantial inroads into Georgia educational and political circles, being a member of the Atlanta Board of Education for two decades (including four years as its president) as well as a multi-term state representative. Born into a family with prominent Georgia roots, Devereaux Fore McClatchey III was born in Marietta, Georgia on June 1, 1906, the son of Devereaux Fore Jr. and Leone (Autrey) McClatchey. A distinguished figure in his own right, Devereaux F. McClatchey Jr. served as reading clerk for the Georgia House of Representatives from 1898-1915 and followed this post with a sixteen-year stint as Secretary of the Georgia Senate, 1915-1931.
   Removing to Atlanta with his family  at the age of 8, McClatchey attended the Boys High School of that city and graduated from Emory University in the class of 1925. He would return to Emory to earn his law degree and after four years of study graduated with his LL.B degree in 1929. In July 1930 McClatchey married to Dorothy E. Methvin (1907-2009) in New Orleans, Louisiana and the couple's sixty-three-year union saw the births of two children, Eve Leah (born 1936) and Devereaux Fore IV (born 1941.) 
   Several years following his marriage McClatchey joined the Atlanta based law firm of Kilpatrick, Cody, Rogers, McClatchey, and Regenstein, with which he would be affiliated until his retirement in 1976. His status as a leading Atlanta lawyer saw him retain memberships in the Atlanta Lawyers Club, the American Bar Association, and the American Law Institute, and from 1951-52 held the presidency of the Atlanta Bar Association. He would occupy a similar post in the Emory Law alumni organization in 1955.
   Devereaux McClatchey's first entrance into public service came in 1936 when he was elected to the Atlanta Board of Education. He took his seat in 1937 and would serve on this board until 1957, and from 1953-57 served as board president. McClatchey's time in this post came at a watershed moment in American Civil Rights history, and following the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education, a number of Atlanta citizens petitioned the board to "comply with the ruling and integrate." As president of the board during the era of Jim Crow (an era that saw laws that forbade integration), McClatchey and four other school board members issued a resolution, detailing that
"The sole purpose and intent of this board is to protect and improve the school system...Each pupil should have an equal opportunity for education, and all pupils should receive the best possible education. We regard with apprehension any development any development that might in its application tend to interrupt or damage the educational program, or reduce the educational opportunities of any one group of Atlanta's more than 100,000 school children."
   Following this resolution, the Atlanta Board of Education decided that "it could not make or change laws but only preserve the system until conflicts in laws are replaced." In 1956 McClatchey would lose his bid for reelection as school board president to A.C. Latimer (1914-1971). Latimer's tenure as board president saw his name enter the history books as the Latimer in Calhoun et al v. Latimer, a 1958 lawsuit filed against the Atlanta school system for failing to comply with Brown vs. Board of Education. Atlanta schools would finally be integrated in 1961 when the "Atlanta Nine" enrolled as students at four all-white city schools.
   Devereaux McClatchey returned to his law practice after leaving the school board and in 1965 was elected as a Democrat to the Georgia House of Representatives, besting Republican nominee William A. Brown by a vote 1,802 to 1,108. McClatchey's first term in the legislature saw him sit on the Special Judiciary committee's Code Revision sub-committee and the Insurance Committee's subcommittee on Fire, Casualty and Allied Lines. He would serve two more terms in the state house 1967-68 and 1969-70 before retiring from office.
   After retiring from the practice of law in 1976 McClatchey was awarded Emory University's distinguished law alumnus award in 1990 and remained active well into his twilight years, including teaching Sunday school at the First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta. Devereaux F. McClatchey died in LaGrange, Georgia on August 30, 1993, aged 87. He was survived by his wife Dorothy, who lived to become a centenarian, dying in June 2009, shortly after her 102nd birthday. Both were interred at Atlanta's famed Oakwood Cemetery.

From the Atlanta Constitution, August 31, 1993.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Gaines Webster Marquis Tatum (1852-1930)

From the Atlanta Constitution, November 1, 1898.

   Featured on the Strangest Names in American Political History's Facebook page back on August 4th, Dade County, Georgia resident Gaines Webster Marquis Tatum represented his home county in the Georgia House of Representatives for four terms and served two terms in the state senate. Despite his long service in his state's legislature, little information could be located on him, excepting a few brief biographical lines in a July 19, 1891 edition of the Atlanta Constitution. Born in Dade County on November 25, 1852, Gaines W.M. Tatum was the son of Col. Robert Haley and Louise (Sulton) Tatum.
   A student in the common schools of Dade, Tatum had earned a modest fortune by the time he reached twenty years of age, having done contracting work with the Rising Town Iron Manufacturing Company. In the mid 1870s he married to Louise Gray (1857-1936), and the couple's lengthy union saw the births of several children, including Willie (1876-1892), Russell Fleming (1878-1958), Thomas Dabney (born 1879), Webster (1884-1958), Allen (died in infancy in 1895), Edward Turner (1895-1955) and Marion Shook (1897-1900). 
   Following his marriage, Tatum farmed, raised livestock, and is recorded as having had substantial mining interests in the Walker County area. In 1885 he made his first run for the Georgia legislature but was defeated by incumbent representative Shadrach Hale. Two years later Tatum made another run for the legislature and was this time successful, and during the 1889-90 session introduced a bill to "amend an act to prohibit the working of convicts of this state at night, and for other purposes." He would win a second term in 1889 and during the 1890-91 session chaired the committee on Manufactories and served on the committees on Banks, Wild Lands, the Penitentiary and Special Judiciary. 
  Gaines W. M. Tatum would serve two more terms in the Georgia state house from 1892-94 and 1898-1900. From 1894-1896 and 1900-1902 he represented Georgia's 44th senatorial district in the state senate, where during the former session he chaired the Mines and Mining committee and was a member of the committee on the Academy of the Deaf and Dumb, Immigration and Labor, Privileges and Elections, Public Schools, and Railroads.
  Tatum' s life following his final Senate term remains largely a mystery, excepting a 1918 notice detailing his discovering large seams of coal on Lookout Mountain in Georgia. Gaines W.M Tatum died in Trenton, Georgia on June 15, 1930, aged 77. He was survived by his wife Louise, and both were interred at Trenton's Baptist Cemetery.
  
From the July 19, 1891 Atlanta Constitution.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Allatia Coley Westbrook (1842-1910)

From Georgia's General Assembly of 1880-81.

  Lifelong Georgia resident Allatia Coley Westbrook rose to become one of Dougherty County's distinguished political figures, being at various times Mayor of Albany, Georgia, a two-term state representative, and one term state senator. One of ten children born to Richard N. and Josephine (Coley) Westbrook, Allatia Coley Westbrook's birth occurred in Houston County, Georgia on March 19, 1842. His early education was attained in the common schools of Houston County and during his youth left Georgia to reside with a cousin, Henry Battle, then head of a high school in Chunnenuggee, Alabama. 
  Westbrook would continue his schooling in Chunnenuggee and worked as a mechanic until the outbreak of Civil War. While he remained opposed to the destruction of the Union, Westbrook cast his lot with the Confederacy, returning to Georgia to enlist as a private in Co. C., First Georgia Volunteer Infantry. His duration with that unit extended a year and saw action at the battles of Laurel Mountain and Cheat Mountain. Westbrook would be wounded in action at the battle of Greenbriar, and, after the expiration of his first tour of duty, he reenlisted, forming a cavalry company with his brother that was later part of the Eighth Georgia Cavalry. He continued service with that regiment until early 1865 when he was promoted to Captain and dispatched to Albany, Georgia, where he remained until the close of the war.
   As the son of a slave owner, Allatia Westbrook is recorded by period sources as "having imbibed an early prejudice against the institution of slavery", and after receiving a number of slaves from his father in the early 1860s resolved to see them freed. Applying for a furlough from military duty to achieve this purpose, Westbrook's request was given the ok by General Robert E. Lee, and after returning home, Westbrook gave each of his slaves "the liberty of selecting his own home." Following the conclusion of the war, Westbrook saw his former slaves "comfortably well settled and doing well", many of whom "constantly manifested gratitude to him" for his actions.
   Embarking upon a mercantile career in Albany after the war, Westbrook's business met with success and in 1868 was elected to his first political office, that of Dougherty County treasurer. Westbrook would decline this post, however, and in 1870 was elected as a member of the Albany city council. This post was followed by his election as Albany's mayor in 1872, serving a one year term. In November 1874 he was elected as Dougherty County's representative to the Georgia State Assembly and during the 1875-77 session sat on the committees on Finance and Internal Improvements. In 1877 he won a second term in the state house (serving in the 1878-80 session) and during this term was a member of a special committee that investigated financial irregularities on the part of state comptroller Washington L. Goldsmith, who was later removed from office.
   Allatia C. Westbrook reached his highest degree of political prominence when he won election to the state senate in 1879. His service during the 1880-82 session saw him introduce a bill "to provide for the correct assessment of the property of this state for the purpose of taxation", an action that was reported on favorably by newspapers of the timeAt the conclusion of his term Westbrook returned home to Albany, and in the 1880s and 90s held large farmland holdings in both Dougherty and Baldwin counties. He would subsequently hold the post of a claims adjuster for the Central Railroad and Banking Co. of Georgia and, after several months of ill health, died in Albany on November 28, 1910, aged 68. A lifelong bachelor, he was later interred at the Oakview Cemetery in Albany.


From the Milledgeville Union Recorder, November 29, 1910.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Meriwether Flournoy Adams (1882-1947)

Portrait courtesy of Find-a-Grave.

   A leading figure in the political and judicial life of Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia, Meriwether Flournoy Adams served Eatonton as both its city attorney and mayor and in 1929 began a lengthy stint as Putnam County judge. The son of John William and Ella Carlton Adams, Meriwether Flournoy Adams was born in Eatonton on September 22, 1882. A student at the Eatonton High School, Adams graduated in the class of 1899 and soon after decided on a career in law, enrolling in the Mercer University law department. He earned his bachelor of laws degree in 1901 and in June of that year was admitted to the Georgia bar.
  Soon after his admittance to the bar, Adams partnered with Joseph Sydney Turner (1859-1909), a former Putnam County judge, to form the law firm of Turner and Adams. Their partnership would continue until Turner's death and in September 1905 was elected as Mayor of Eatonton. Assuming that post at the age of just 23, Adams was remarked as being the "youngest mayor in the state" and served three years in office, being succeeded in September 1908 by W.H. Hern.
   Adams returned to his law practice at the conclusion of his term and in November 1911 married to Sarah Edward Irvine (1889-1979) and later had five children, Meriwether Flournoy Jr. (1912-1993), Sarah Irvine (1914-1925), Edna Kathryn (1915-2001), Ann Robert (1917-2002) and Edward Irvine (1925-2008).
   In the years preceding his time as county judge Meriwether F. Adams would serve Eaton in other political capacities, being at various times city attorney and a member of the board of city aldermen. Beginning in 1923, Adams was named as a member of the Eatonton Male and Female Academy's Board of Trustees, where he served for four years. In November 1928 he won election as Judge of Putnam County and entered into his duties in January of the new year. He served a term of four years and was succeeded as judge in January 1933 by former state senator and longtime Eatonton lawyer Sidney Terrell Wingfield. In a strange quirk of fate, Wingfield died less than a year into his term, and his death occasioned a special election to fill his seat.

From the Eatonton Messenger, November 1, 1934.

    As a recent county judge, Adams was quickly boosted as the logical candidate to fill the vacancy, being acknowledged as the "senior member of the Eatonton Bar" and "one of the best civil lawyers in all Georgia. Competing against Adams in this contest was Dallas D. Veal (1903-1981), then the acting Putnam County judge. On November 6, 1933, it was Adams who was elected, garnering 349 votes to Veal's 171. He would win another term in 1941 and in 1945 won his fourth term as judge. Adams died in office on September 2, 1947, having been in ill health for several months prior to his death. He was survived by his children and second wife, Jewel Bailey Adams. He was later buried at the Pine Grove Cemetery in Eatonton.


                                              Meriwether Adams as he appeared early in his political career.

From the Eatonton Messenger, September 4, 1947.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Edmondson Ware White (1906-1958)

From the 1953-54 Georgia Official Register.

   A city attorney, municipal judge and one-term state representative, Edmondson Ware White lived to the age of just fifty-two but still managed to carve out an impressive career in the political life of Gwinnett County, Georgia. The son of Clarence and Rintie (Edmondson) White, Edmondson Ware White was born in  Buford, Georgia on February 19, 1906. A student in the public schools of Buford, White would graduate from the Georgia Military College in the class of 1926 and, after deciding upon a career in law, enrolled at the University of Georgia. Following his graduation with his bachelor of laws degree in 1929, White entered into practice in Buford, Georgia. In 1934 he won election to his first political office, that of city solicitor for Buford, and after serving four years in that post returned to private practice. 
  After several years away from politics, White was elected as judge of the city court of Buford in 1951 for a four-year term, and beginning in November 1952 pulled political "double-duty", as it were, due to his election as Gwinnett County's representative to the Georgia State Assembly. Taking his seat at the start of the 1953-54 session, White sat on the committees on Amendments to the Constitution No. 1; Appropriations; Banks and Banking; Conservation; General Agriculture No. 2; Hygiene and Sanitation; Invalid Pensions and the Soldiers Home; Privileges and Elections; Public Highways No. 2; and Public Property. 
  Following his legislative term White again served as Buford city court judge beginning in June 1956 and later was reelected to that office for a term ending in 1963. Sadly, White died in office on November 19, 1958, being just 52 years old. A lifelong bachelor, he was later interred at the Hillcrest Cemetery in Buford.

Edmondson W. White, from the 1929 Pandora Yearbook.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Cosmo Richardson Davis (1845-1904)

Portrait from the Atlanta Constitution, July 19, 1891.

   We continue our trek through Georgia to spotlight the life and political doings of a man named Cosmo--Cosmo Richardson Davis of Bulloch County! A Confederate veteran and farmer, this obscure man represented his home county in the Georgia State Assembly for one term and held no other political offices other than his service as a state representative. Born in Savannah, Georgia on March 10, 1845, Cosmo Richardson Davis spent the majority of his early life in the city of his birth and during the Civil War served with both the 47th and 57th Georgia Infantries.
   Following his removal to Bulloch County, Georgia, Davis resided in Statesboro and briefly practiced law before concentrating his efforts on farming. He would serve as president of the Bulloch County Alliance (an agricultural organization) and in the early 1880s married to Sarah Catherine Porter (1858-1926), with whom he had three children, Cosmo Patrick (1885-1946), Porter (1888-1890) and Emma (1890-1975).
   Elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1890, Davis served during the 1890-92 session and was named to the committees on Enrollment, Special Agriculture and Temperance. Little else could be found on Davis' life after leaving the legislature, excepting notice of his attending a Confederate veterans reunion and parade in Statesboro in August 1902. Cosmo R. Davis died shortly after his 59th birthday on March 24, 1904, and was survived by his wife Sarah, who, following her death in 1926, was interred alongside her husband at the Macedonia Baptist Church Cemetery in Statesboro.


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Tugalo Harvie Risner (1884-1954)

Portrait from the Georgia Official and Statistical Register.

   One of the truly unusual names to be found on a roster of past Georgia state senators, Tugalo Harvie Risner had served three terms in the Georgia House of Representatives from Hartwell prior to his Senate election in 1953. Risner's term in the Senate proved to be short, as he died a year into his term in June 1954. The son of Robert and Martha (Suit) Risner, Tugalo Harvie Risner was born on November 28, 1884, in Hart County, Georgia. The origins behind Risner's unusual name remain unknown but may have a connection to the Tugaloo River, a waterway that flows near a once existing Cherokee Indian town, also called Tugaloo. Several sources give the spelling of Risner's first name as "Tugaloo" (including a bridge named in his honor), and he himself spells his name as "Tugalo Harvie Risner" on his 1917 draft card. It is that name spelling that is given here.
  A student in the Reed Creek schools at Hartwell, Risner married on November 15, 1908, to Clara Mackey (1891-1963), to whom he was wed for nearly fifty years. The couple would have seven children, Lowell Garrett (1910-1982), Herndon Eldridge (1911-1991), Leon Tugalo (1914-1991), Marene Martha (1916-1997), Catherine (died in infancy in 1921), Yona (1924-1986) and Burt Cleveland (1930-2007). 
   Following the completion of his schooling, Risner was employed as a barber for a time (listing that as his occupation on his 1917 draft card) and during the 1920s and 30s was engaged as a wildlife ranger in the Georgia Game and Fish Department, serving under commissioners Peter Twitty and Zach Cravey. Prior to his government service, Risner also worked as a traveling salesman, a vocation that is briefly mentioned in his Georgia Official Register biography.

From the 1952-53 Georgia State Register.

  Elected as Hart County's representative to the Georgia Assembly in 1946, Risner proved to be busy as a first-term legislator, and during the 1946-48 session was named to the following committees: Auditing; Conservation; Corporations; Enrollment; Excuse of Members Absent Without Leave; Game and Fish; General Agriculture, No. 1; Georgia School for the Deaf;the Georgia State Sanitarium, Insurance; Invalid Pensions and the Soldiers Home; Mines and Mining, and Public Property.
  Risner won two further terms in the house in 1948 and 1950, and in 1952 was elected to the state senate. Taking his seat at the start of the 1953-54 session, Risner sat on the committees on Highways and Public Roads, Insurance, Motor Vehicles, Penal Institutions, State of the Republic, Temperance. Sadly, Risner's term in the Senate was brief, as he died at his Hartwell home of a "heart ailment" on June 20, 1954, a year into his term. He was survived by his wife Clara, who, following her death in 1963 was interred alongside her husband at the Reed Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in Reed Creek Georgia. Three years following his death, the "Tugaloo H. Risner" Memorial Bridge was dedicated in his honor, which still exists today.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Argin Artemas Boggus Sr. (1896-1955)

Portrait from the Georgia Official and Statistical Register, 1951-52.

   Georgia state assemblyman Argin Artemas "Double A" Boggus Sr. was for many years a leading figure in the civic and business life of Ben Hill County, being an auto supply store owner, chamber of commerce director and church leader. Elected to a third term in 1954, Boggus would die in office the following year of a heart attack, being just 58 years old. The son of Robert Lee and Lolah Anna (Bass) Boggus, Argin Artemas Boggus was born in Franklin, Georgia on October 26, 1896. He would attend schools local to the area of his birth and graduated from the Glenn High School in Heard County.
  Boggus married in October 1916 to Avie Lee Allen (1892-1982), and later adopted her two children from a previous marriage, Homer Cleveland (1911-1998) and Judson T. (born 1912). Boggus and his wife would also have five children of their own, Lola Belle (1918-2011), Myrtle Lee (1919-2015), Sarah Evelyn (1926-2018), Argin Artemas Jr. (1928-1999) and Everette Delano (1933-2012).
   Following his marriage, Argin Boggus removed with his family to Fitzgerald, Georgia, and later resided in Savannah, Georgia in the early 1930s, where he is recorded as working with the ACL Railroad and as a dairy farmer. In 1936 he and his family removed back to Fitzgerald, and after his return Boggus owned and operated the Western Auto Associate Store, dealing in auto accessories, tires, bicycles, fishing tackle, and other pieces of merchandise. 
  Through the succeeding years, Boggus achieved success in a number of other endeavors in the city, including being a director of the Fitzgerald Chamber of Commerce, vice president of the Fitzgerald Civic Corporation, president of the Fitzgerald Business Men's Club, and was president of the Fitzgerald Baseball Club. A longstanding member and deacon in the Zion's Rest Primitive Baptist Church, Boggus was also a Mason and Lions Club member active in drives for the Boy Scouts and the Red Cross.

From the 1953-54 Georgia Register. 

  Argin A. Boggus made his first move into local politics with his service as a member of the Fitzgerald city council and would serve as mayor pro-tem of Fitzgerald for a time. In 1950 he was elected as Ben Hill County's representative to the Georgia State Assembly and would serve a total of three consecutive terms, last being elected in November 1954. Boggus' last year in the legislature saw him come out as a firm foe against the raising of taxes, and in the spring of 1955 took to the floor of the assembly with a pair of wool-clipping shears and a skinning knife. Having gained the right to speak on the floor, Boggus remarked that "I want to teach you something...If you can clip a sheep this year, you can clip him again next year." His colorful actions warranted write-ups in several Georgia newspapers, and just a few weeks after making the above speech, died on July 8, 1955, succumbing to a heart attack he'd suffered at his store in Fitzgerald.
  Boggus' funeral was attended by an honorary escort of his fellow representatives and he was survived by his wife Avie and all of his children. A burial location for him remains unknown at this time and is belived to be in the Fitzgerald area.

Boggus' obituary from the July 9, 1955 Atlanta Constitution.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Broadus Brown Zellars (1898-1961)

Portrait from the 1917 Cauldron Yearbook.

  The Strangest Names in American Political History begins a monthlong stay in Georgia with a peek at the life of Broadus Brown Zellars, a native of Hart County who served terms in his state's house of representatives and senate. Elected to the former office at the age of just 25, Zellars continued prominence in state government in the late 1930s when he was appointed as assistant attorney general for the state. The son of Albert L. and Texie (Brown) Zellars, Broadus Brown Zellars was born in Bowman, Georgia on January 27, 1898.
  A student in the public schools of Hartwell, Georgia, Zellars graduated from that city's high school and would go on to attend Mercer University, where he edited the law portion of the Cauldron yearbook and took part in university debates. He received his bachelor of laws degree in 1917 at age 19, being remarked as the youngest member of that class.
  In June 1917 Zellars established his law practice in Hartwell, and although still in his teens, success at the bar came quickly to the young man, with Howell's History of Georgia noting that:
"He is well qualified to handle important litigation and has been accorded a liberal clientele. He possesses keen analytical powers and wins a large percentage of his cases, convincing by his concise statement of the law and the facts, rather than by word painting."
  Broadus B. Zellars married in March 1920 to Ora Lake Gaines (1898-1991), and the couple's four-decade marriage saw the births of three children, Mary Kate (1922-2011) and John Broadus (1924-2002), and Martha (1928-2007). Four years following his marriage Zellars entered into the race for the Georgia State Assembly, and in November 1924 won the election. As Hart County's representative in the legislature, Zellars held seats on the committees on Agriculture, Appropriations, Education, the Judiciary, and Public Highways. 
  In 1926 Zellars began his second term in the house and in 1928 was elected to the state Senate from Georgia's  30th senatorial district. During the 1929-31 session he chaired the committee on Education and Public Schools and was also named to the committees on Amendments to the Constitution; Banks and Banking; Commerce and Labor; Finance; Game and Fish; General Judiciary No. 1; Highways; Hygiene and Sanitation; Public Library; Public Printing; and Rules. 
  After several years away from government service, Broadus Zellars returned to public life in 1938 when he was appointed as assistant attorney general for Georgia, an office he served in until taking on the post of attorney for the War Labor Board and War Assets Administration in the mid-1940s. In 1947 Zellars became assistant solicitor for the Fulton County Criminal Court and remained in office until his death from a heart attack on January 19, 1961, shortly before his 63rd birthday. He was later interred at the Westview Cemetery in Atlanta.