Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Anglo Saxon Pfrimmer (1898-1981)

From the Chariton Leader, October 26, 1954.

   One of the few men in recorded history to receive their name in honor of a period in world history,  Anglo Saxon Pfrimmer was a lifelong resident of Lucas County, Iowa, where he was a farmer and prominent citizen. Undoubtedly one of the more intriguing names to be featured here in recent months, Pfrimmer earns a spot here on the site due to his being a two-time candidate for the Iowa State House of Representatives in the early 1950s, running as a Democrat. One of twelve children born to Albert Clay (1860-1923) and Martha Ellen (Lipe) Pfrimmer (1866-1941), Anglo Saxon Pfrimmer was born in Lucas County on March 20, 1898.
  Bestowed the names Anglo Saxon upon his birth, the reasons as to why he received this name remain unknown. Anglo Saxons (a historic term) describes the group of Germanic people that resided in what is now Great Britain beginning in the 5th century and is also used as the name of a historical period in that area dating from Roman Occupation to the Norman Conquest during the 11th century.
   Referred to by most sources as Saxon Pfrimmer, little is known of his early life or education, excepting notice of his being a student at the Wren Hill school. In 1917 Pfrimmer left his native county for a brief residence in Minnesota, where he was employed on a farm. He married in Chariton, Iowa on January 31, 1921, to Edna Roe (1903-1995), to whom he was wed for sixty years. This lengthy union saw the births of five children, Sherman (1922-1998), Robert (1924-1991), Francis Marion (1926-2011), Macel Marie (1932-2010) and a daughter who died in infancy in 1925. Following their marriage, Pfrimmer and wife resided on his farm near Ottercreek Township, and he would follow farming for the remainder of his life. In 1941 he purchased a "farm of 80 acres from his mother's estate" and took up residence there, and would later purchase an additional forty acres of farmland.
  In addition to operating these farms, Saxon Pfrimmer gained distinction in Lucas County agricultural groups, being head of the Ottercreek 4-H Club, a director of the Lucas County Purebred Swine Breeders Association, and a member of the Lucas County Sheep Improvement Association. In 1952 Pfrimmer made his first run for political office, announcing his candidacy for the Iowa House of Representatives from Lucas County. Following his win in the June 2nd Democratic primary (where he polled 279 votes) Pfrimmer faced off against Republican nominee Raymond T. Pim, and throughout the latter part of 1952 election advertisements for Pfrimmer appeared in various Lucas County newspapers.


From the Chariton Leader, October 21, 1952.

From the Chariton Leader, June 15, 1954.

  When Lucas County voters went to the polls on November 4, 1952 it was Republican Raymond Pim who emerged triumphant, polling 3, 744 votes to Saxon Pfrimmer's 2,154. Not one to let a loss get the best of him, Pfrimmer announced in early 1954 that he'd be seeking the Democratic nomination for state representative for the second time, and his candidacy was profiled in a small write up in the January 26th Chariton Leader (shown below). Along with his background as a farmer and his previous candidacy, Pfrimmer would state that:
"I don't belive the people of Iowa approve of the actions of the last legislature. Certainly we can't continue to live on the state surplus as we are now--it's dangerously low. If elected I pledge my best efforts to represent all the people of Lucas County."

From the Chariton Leader, January 26, 1954.

   In a repeat of the 1952 contest, Pfrimmer's Republican opponent was again Raymond Pim, running for reelection. Unfortunately for Pfrimmer, the vote count on November 2nd again brought defeat, with Pim garnering 2, 427 to his own total of 1, 908. Following his loss Pfrimmer returned to farming and in January 1957 was injured in a car accident in Lucas County that necessitated brief hospitalization for "head lacerations and shock." He continued to farm and reside in Lucas County until his death at a Des Moines hospital on April 1, 1981, at age 83. He was survived by his four children and wife Edna, who, following her death aged 92 in 1995, was interred alongside her husband at the Norwood Cemetery in Norwood, Iowa.

From the Chariton Herald-Patriot, April 9, 1981.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Coello Orland Boling (1867-1934), Coello Merriman (1846-1937)

From the Cedar County, Iowa Atlas, 1902.

   Another oddly named Iowan discovered in these past few months is Coello Orland Boling, a transplant to that state from Holmes County, Ohio. While little information could be located on Mr. Boling, his political qualifications (that of Prosecuting Attorney for Cedar County, Iowa) and his being an alternate delegate to the 1908 Republican National Convention, more than earn him a place here.
   Born in Holmes County, Ohio on August 28, 1867, Coello Orland Boling was the son of John and Harriet (Hoyman) Boling. At the age of two, he relocated to Cedar County, Iowa with his family and during his youth resided on a farm and attended school in the town of Stanwood. He would go on to study at the Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa and later studied law at the Northwestern University in Illinois, graduating in 1893. Two years following his graduation, he entered into a partnership with Robert Gordon Cousins in Tipton, Iowa. A prominent figure in his own right, Cousins (1859-1933) was a former Iowa state representative and in 1893 was elected to the first of eight terms in Congress from Iowa's 5th congressional district.
  Coello Boling began his political career in 1896 when he was elected as Prosecuting Attorney for Cedar County, and served in that post from 1897-1902. He married in June 1904 to Tipton native Mary MacNamara (1866-1944), who survived him upon his death in 1934. The couple would have two daughters, Mary Katherine and a daughter who died in infancy.
  In the years following his time as county prosecuting attorney, Boling served Tipton as its city solicitor for eight years and in 1908 was an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention in Denver that saw William Howard Taft nominated for the presidency. A former chairman of the Cedar County Red Cross chapter during WWI, Boling continued to practice law until a week prior to his death on June 20, 1934, at age 66. He was later interred at the Masonic Cemetery in Tipton.

 From the Muscatine Journal and News-Review, June 21, 1934.

Portrait courtesy of Find-a-Grave.

  Even more obscure than the preceding gentleman, Coello Merriman had fleeting involvement in the political life of his adopted home state of Minnesota, being elected to that state's house of representatives in the late 1870s. A son of Hyra and Lucinda (Marsh) Merriman, Coello Merriman was born in Friendship, Allegheny County, New York on December 2, 1846. His birth year is also variously given as 1848 and 1849. Little is known of his early life or education in New York, and by 1866 had relocated to Minnesota.
   A resident of Hennepin County early in his Minnesota residency, Merriman engaged in the insurance and real estate business and married on New Year's Eve 1871 to Julia Tomlinson (1848-1909). The couple's near four-decade marriage saw the births of several children, Clara Belle (1872-), Hyra L. (1875-1941)Sophronia "Frona" (1879-1972), Josephine Estelle (1882-), and Ralph Coello (1884-1921).
  By 1876 Coello Merriman was residing in Carver County and in that year was elected as a Democrat to the Minnesota House of Representatives. Serving in the session of 1877-78, Merriman's (whose first name is misspelled as Coellos in several legislative documents from the period) time as a state representative proved to be quiet, with notice given as to his introducing one bill "to provide for reduction in salary of judge of probate in Carver County" and serving on the committee on Public Buildings.
  Following his legislative service, Merriman was a resident of Watertown, Michigan in Sanilac County, where he is recorded as a druggist. The remainder of Merriman's life is equally as obscure, with little information available as to what he may have been up to in the years prior to his death. Widowed in 1909, Merriman spent the twilight of his life in Rooks County, Kansas, where he died November 3, 1937, his age being variously given as either 91 or 88. He was subsequently interred at the Woodson Cemetery in Rooks County.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Tuillar Jacques Davis (1864-1931)

From the Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, November 28, 1931.

  This past August Iowa fielded a number of unusually named political figures, several of whom were profiled on the site in the latter part of that month. One of those discoveries not featured back in August is the man profiled today, Tuillar Jacques Davis, a native Mainer who found distinction in Linn County, Iowa, being a lumber dealer, banker and leading Mason, amongst other activities. Davis earns placement here on the site due to his 1908 candidacy for the Iowa state senate, as well as an alternate delegate to the 1928 Democratic National Convention from Iowa. Born in West Newfield, York County, Maine on July 26, 1864, Tuillar Jacques "T.J." Davis was the son of Albion K. and Octavia (Challis) Davis. 
   Removing to Iowa with his family at age 12, Davis and his family settled in Marion, where Tuillar attended public school. At age sixteen he left school to join the workforce, and in 1881 joined the staff of R.D Stevens' First National Bank of Marion. His time there extended six years, during which time he was a teller, and left in 1887 to join W.J. Collar in establishing a grocery store in Marion. Operating under the firm name of Collar and Davis, their store continued until 1889, whereafter Davis sold off his interest in the business. Tuillar J. Davis married in December 1887 to Nellie Elliott (1868-1911), with whom he had several children, including Esther Primrose (1891-1977), Laverna Elliott, Priscilla Mayflower, J. Elliott (1900-1976), and Donovan Albion (1907-1927). 
  Following his marriage T.J. Davis saw lucrative opportunities in Iowa's lumber industry, and, alongside his father-in-law, Johnstone Elliott, formed the Eliott and Davis Lumber Co. Their firm would be acknowledged as 
"One of the most important in Marion, being heavy dealers in lumber, coal, wood, tilling, etc. This firm does an extensive trade not only in Marion but throughout Linn County."
  After several years of partnership, Johnstone Elliott retired from the business in 1895 and in that year Davis took on J.C. Fulkerson as a partner, the firm continuing under the name Davis & Fulkerson Lumber Co. Fulkerson too would later retire and Davis continued operations under his own name.
   In addition to success with his lumber interests, Tuillar Davis' name became one of the most prominent in Marion business circles, and through the 1890s and 1900s added additional titles to his resume, including service as secretary-treasurer of the Young Men's Business Association of Marion, and president of the Marion Building and Loan Association. In 1894 Davis helped to organize the Farmers and Merchant's Bank in that city. In the year following he assumed the post of bank vice president, and remained connected to its operation until 1909.

From the Marion Sentinel, December 24, 1908.

From the Marion Sentinel, October 29, 1908.


   In 1908 Tuillar Davis made his first move for political office, announcing his candidacy for the Iowa State Senate from the 26th district. Remarked by the Marion Sentinel as a "worthy citizen" with "gentlemanly instincts", Davis' candidacy was featured prominently in the Marion Sentinel throughout the 1908 election year. Running as a Democrat, Davis' opponent that year was two-term Republican incumbent Willard Coldren Stuckslager (1869-1931). When voters went to the polls that November it was Stuckslager who won out, garnering 6,421 votes to Tuillar Davis' 4, 888. Following this win, Stuckslager would be elected to two further terms in the state Senate and was later named to the Iowa state board of education in 1915. 
   Despite his loss at the polls in 1908 Davis achieved a measure of consolation that year when he was named as president of the First National Bank of Marion, entering into office in January 1909. He continued in that role until his resignation in 1917, and for several years afterward dabbled in real estate. During WWI he served as a Liberty Loan drive director and member of the county examining board and returned to banking in 1921 when he accepted a position of the Federal Land Bank of Omaha, being its secretary for Linn and Jones County, Iowa.
  Long an active Mason in Linn County, Tuillar Davis was first initiated in the Molay Lodge in 1889 and would serve as grand treasurer of the Grand Lodge of Iowa in 1903. Davis was also a past master of the Marion Lodge No.6 of Free and Accepted Masons, a high priest in the Marion Lodge No. 10 of Royal Arch Masons, and a commander in the Patmos Commandry, No. 27 of the Knights Templar Lodge.
   Widowed in 1911, Tuillar Davis never remarried following his wife Nellie's death and suffered further tragedy in 1927 with the death of his twenty-year-old son, Donovan. In 1928 Davis was an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention held in Houston, Texas that saw New York Governor Alfred E. Smith nominated for the Presidency. Tuillar Jacques Davis died at his home in Marion on November 27, 1931, aged 67. He was later interred at the Davis family plot at the Oak Shade Cemetery in that city.

Davis (with fancy hat), from the Grand Lodge Bulletin of Iowa, 1902.

From the Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, November 28, 1931.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Chipman Churchill Bull (1934-1996)

Bull during his 1984 congressional candidacy.

  We continue our stay in Maine to highlight the life and career of Chipman Churchill Bull, a longtime leader in Maine agriculture who had fleeting political notoriety in 1984 when he entered into the race for U.S. Representative from Maine, his opponent being then Congresswoman (and future U.S. Senator) Olympia Snowe. Nicknamed "Chip", Bull was for several years the executive director of the Maine Potato Council, a fact (given Bull's nickname) that gave this author a good laugh!
  Born in Washburn, Maine on September 5, 1934, Chipman Churchill Bull was the son of Ralph and Leilla Bull. A student in the public schools of that area, Bull graduated from the Washburn High School in 1952 and later attended the Springfield College in Massachusetts and the University of Maine. For a period of two years, he served in the U.S. Army and in 1957 made his first foray into agricultural work, becoming a field reporter in Presque Isle for the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS). He would quickly rise through the ranks of that organization, and by 1959 had been promoted to performance supervisor. 
  In June 1958 Chipman Bull married to Ardis Carmichael (1938-2003), to whom he was wed for nearly 40 years. The couple would have four children, Mary Jo, Michael John, Matthew Joseph and Melissa Jane.
  After three years as a performance supervisor with the ASCS Chip Bull advanced to a county office manager for the ASCS offices in Hillsboro and Coos County, New Hampshire. His time in that post would be brief and after a year returned to Maine, and following his return worked as an operations assistant and program specialist for the ASCS until 1968, when he was named as Maine state director for the ASCS. Bull's time in that post also proved to be short-lived, and upon Richard Nixon's presidential win in late 1968, he resigned.
   A few years following his departure from the ASCS, "Chip" Bull joined the Maine Potato Council, a body dedicated to overseeing the state's potato industry. By the following year, he had assumed the post of executive director of the Maine Potato Commission, and served in that capacity until his appointment in 1976 as Northeast area director of the ASCS in the administration of Jimmy Carter. This post would necessitate Bull's removal to Washington D.C. in 1977 and during his tenure oversaw "federal farm programs in 13 states."

Chipman C. Bull in 1984, from the Fort Fairfield Review.

  Through the remainder of the 1970s, Bull continued with the Department of Agriculture as a "senior executive" and briefly continued his work following Ronald Reagan's presidential win in 1980. Despite a long, successful career in agricultural work at both the state and national levels, Bull found himself in a quandary by the early 1980s, being referred to by the Washington Post as a denizen of the capital's "boneyard", or, to be more precise, a high paid Washington employee with few duties and plenty of free time. Bull would later remark that in his downtime he polished off several Robert Ludlam and Leon Uris novels and grew to be adept at finishing the New York Times and Washington Post crossword puzzles in short spans of time.
  This time period also saw Bull's government salary increase, an action that subsequently drew his ire. Acknowledging his own predicament and the government's touting of curbing wasteful spending, Bull remained on the job until resigning in March 1984, and in that year decided to return to Maine to launch his bid for the U.S. House of Representatives. Bull's candidacy would later receive support from Democratic Maine senators George Mitchell and Edmund Muskie, and the candidate himself later remarked:
"People asked why I would want a job that pays only $5,000 more than what I was making at USDA...Well, I feel things can be done in the legislative branch, and I think I know where the skeletons are at the USDA. I intend to be on the agricultural committee."
From the September 5, 1984 Old Town Orono Times.

    Bull's opponent in that year's congressional race was three-term incumbent Republican Olympia Snowe, who had earlier served several terms in the Maine state house and senate. When voters went to the polls that November it was an overwhelming win for the Republicans, with Snowe besting Bull by a wide margin, 192,166 votes to 57, 347. Following her win Olympia Snowe was elected to four more terms in the house of representatives and in 1994 won election to the U.S. Senate, where she would serve until her retirement in 2013.
  After his congressional defeat, Chipman Bull resided in both Maine and Florida, being a country club chef in the latter state. By 1991 he had returned to Washington D.C., and from 1991-1994 held the post of deputy postmaster and superintendent of mails for the U.S. Senate Post Office. He retired in 1994 and on January 29, 1996, died at a Virginia hospice of cancer at age 61. He was survived by his wife and children and a burial location for him remains unknown at this time.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Phidelem Sinai Demers (1887-1973)

Portrait from the Sanford Tribune, April 16, 1959.

  Possessing one of the more exotic sounding names you'll see on a roster of past Maine state legislators, Phidelem Sinai Demers was a native of Quebec, Canada who, following removal to the United States, began a long career as a pharmacist in York County, Maine. In addition to his chosen vocation, Demers also cultivated a reputation as one of Sanford, Maine's leading citizens, being a past president and treasurer of the Maine Pharmaceutical Association, a member of the Maine State Commission of Pharmacy, and a two-term state representative from York County. 
  Demers' story begins with his birth in Saint-Fortunat, Quebec, Canada on November 11, 1887, being the son of Telesphore (1847-1950) and Henriette (Lamontagne) Demers. During a long life that extended more than a century (he lived to age 102), Telesphore Demers and his wife raised thirteen children and he himself would achieve success in local Canadian politics, serving as mayor of Saint Fortunat and as school board president. Telesphore removed to Maine with his family in 1890 and after a brief residence in Springvale, settled in the town of Sanford, where he resided until his death.
  Young Phidelem Demers would attend "parish and public schools" in Maine and during his youth worked in a drug store. This work would have a lasting effect on Demers, and after deciding upon a career as a pharmacist enrolled at the University of Buffalo's College of Pharmacy. Following his studies, he earned his New York and Maine pharmacy certificates in 1909 and in the following year joined with his elder brother Donat in establishing a pharmacy on Sanford's "east side." Phidelem Demers married in Maine in April 1912 to Laura Brunelle (1886-1947), with whom he had two sons, Edouard (died in infancy in 1914) and Arthur (1916-1998), the latter also becoming a pharmacist.
   After several years of operating a pharmacy with his brother Donat, Demers sold his interest to his brother and in 1914 opened his own pharmacy, which continued until 1916. After the sale of that pharmacy Demers removed to Rumford, Maine to join the Rumford Drug Store, where he was employed until 1919, afterward returning to Sanford to operate his own pharmacy. In 1923 he purchased the Philip Woods Drug Store, which he continued to operate for over three decades.
  Through the following decades, Demers' status as one of York County's established pharmacists saw him maintain longtime memberships in both the York County and Maine Pharmaceutical Associations. His five-decade-long career in his field saw him hold both the presidency and treasurership of the Maine Pharmaceutical Association and was a member of the Cumberland County Pharmaceutical Association and treasurer of the Maine Independent Merchants Legislative CouncilFurther honors came Demers' way in 1937 when he was bestowed the American Druggist Award for Service to Pharmacy, and in 1947 was appointed by Governor  Horace Hildreth to the Maine State Board of Pharmacy, serving a three-year term. 

From the Sanford Tribune and Advocate, November 30, 1933.

   While distinguished as a pharmacist, Phidelem S. Demers' time in political office is another noteworthy aspect of his life story. He began his political career at the local level, being a member of the Democratic town and county committees. He was first elected as a member of Sanford's school superintending committee in the early 1930s and was later a trustee for the Sanford Water District for over twenty years, first being elected in 1943. In 1934 Demers announced his candidacy for the Maine House of Representatives and in September of that year won the election, polling 3,014 votes. 
  Taking his seat at the start of the 1935-37 session, Demers' first term saw him introduce legislation that would establish a "representative town meeting form of government" for Sanford, as well as an act that changed the name of the Nasson Institute in Sanford to Nasson College. He would win a second term in 1937, polling 3,246 votes, and sat on the committee on Public Health. The 1937-38 term also saw Demers help draft a new Maine state pharmacy law, taking to the floor of the house to outline the bill's benefits, remarking:
"The purpose of this bill is to regulate the practice of pharmacy, to regulate the sale of poisons, to eliminate certain evil practices, which have been a menace to the public health, and to revise and clarify the present apothecary law, so as to make it workable. Due to our very liberal pharmacy laws,  we find variety stores camouflaged to look like drug stores, selling poisons and other dangerous drugs without discrimination."
From the September 10, 1936 Sanford Tribune and Advocate.

   Following his terms in the legislature, Phidelem Demers returned to his work in Springvale and remained active in other Springvale civic organizations, including a stint as president of the Springvale Rotary from 1947-48 and as a trustee for the Springvale Public Library, serving well into the 1960s. He continued service as a member of the Sanford Water District and retired from his pharmacy in April 1964, being feted with a celebratory dinner at a local steakhouse. Widowed in 1947, Demers would remarry three years later to Aurore Brunelle (1900-1987), who would survive him upon his death. Sources also denote Demers as a keen philatelist with an impressive knowledge of American issues and commemorative issues.
  After many years of service to York County at both the local and state level, Phidelem Sinai Demers died aged 85 on June 6, 1973. He was later interred in the Demers family plot at the St. Ignatius Cemetery in Sanford, Maine.

From the Biddeford Saco Journal, April 17, 1964.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Winburn Milbury Staples (1855-1939)

From the Bridgton News, September 18, 1896.

  A standout figure in the history of Bridgton, Maine, Winburn Milbury Staples wore many hats during his life, being a real estate dealer, banker, steamship owner, academy trustee, and town selectman and treasurer. In the late 1890s, he was elected to the first of two terms in his state's house of representatives and followed that by winning election to the state senate, where he also served two terms. The son of Charles and Sarah (Center) Staples, Winburn Milbury Staples was born in Naples, Maine on February 8, 1855.
  Early in his life Staples attended the Naples district schools and at age ten removed with his family to South Bridgton. He continued his schooling at the Bridgton High School and Bridgton Academy, and during young adulthood briefly taught school as a means of income. In the late 1870s, he joined his uncle's mercantile store as a clerk and continued in that role until 1881. Staples married in November of that year to Idalyn Grove (1856-1939), to whom he was wed for nearly sixty years. The couple's lengthy union remained childless.
  Having accumulated ample knowledge as to the daily running of a general store, Winburn Staples resolved to go into business for himself, and in 1881 opened his own general merchandise store in Bridgton, which he continued to operate for several years. This period of operation also saw Staples begin to dabble in real estate, and in the mid-1880s he and a partner erected a building in downtown Bridgton that would house not only the town post office but also the local Knights of Pythias Lodge. This building would be followed by the construction of a grocery store, which Staples conducted as a "thriving and extensive business". Further business successes came to Staples when he developed plans for a small steamboat on Lake Highland for recreational use for tourists and townspeople. This steamer, called the "Lady of the Lake", held at least ten passengers and would burn wood for fuel. This period of activity also saw him assume the posts of manager and treasurer of the Bridgton and Harrison Electric Co. from 1897-1902.
   Active in the civic and fraternal life of his town, Staples was a longtime Mason, Knights of Pythias and Odd Fellows Lodge member, as well as a "faithful member" of the Congregationalist church. Staples would make his first foray into the political life of Bridgton with his service as town treasurer from 1888-90. He would later be elected to the Bridgton board of selectmen and served as board chairman from 1894-96. Desiring for further political honors, Staples announced his candidacy for the Maine House of Representatives in 1896 and was elected to that body in September of that year "by a handsome vote of 380, or all but eight of the Representative votes cast in town." Several days following his election Staples' life and public doings were highlighted by the Bridgton News, which acknowledged him as:
"Generous and public spirited, he is ever ready to lend a helping-hand towards promoting the advancement and prosperity of the community in which he lives; and that he is a popular and respected member thereof the size of his plurality at Monday's election adequately demonstrates!"
From the Bridgton News, May 18, 1900.

   Taking his seat at the start of the 1896-98 session, Staples would be one of over two dozen Cumberland County representatives serving in that session, and also had some oddly named company, his fellow representative being Plantville Preston Larrabee (also from Cumberland County) who was profiled here in April 2017. Staples' first term saw him serve on the committee on Inland Fisheries and Game, and in 1898 won his second term in the legislature, a term that saw him named to the committees on Commerce, County Estimates, Mercantile Affairs and Insurance, and Manufactures.
  In the 1900 election year, Staples set his sights on a seat in the state senate, to which he was elected later that year. The 1901-03 senate session saw Staples named to the committees on Bills in the Second Reading, Counties, Indian Affairs, Manufactures, and he would go on to win a second term in late 1902.
   Following the conclusion of his second senate term in 1905 Staples recommenced with his earlier business dealings in Bridgton and in 1908 was one of the organizers of the Bridgton National Bank. Soon after its establishment, Staples was named as its president, continuing in that role until his resignation in 1919. This bank would later fail during the Great Depression and in 1933 was "absorbed by a Portland concern." Seeing the need for a local bank, Winburn Staples personally wrote a check for $10,000 to be used to open a Portland bank branch in Bridgton, and along with $25,000 given by the town of Bridgton, a branch of the Cresco Bank and Trust Company was eventually developed.
  Staples continued to be heavily involved in the affairs of his town well into his eighties, and during the winter months resided with his wife in Florida. In the late 1930s Idalyn Staples' health eventually failed and on February 10, 1939, she died at a Maine sanitarium, aged 82. Winburn Milbury Staples survived his wife by less than a month, dying at a St. Petersburg, Florida hospital on March 7, 1939, aged 83. A double funeral for both Staples and his wife was held on March 11 in Bridgton and both were later interred at the Forest Hill Cemetery in that town.
  Now, nearly 80 years following his death, Staples memory remains alive in Bridgton in the form of the Noble House Inn, his former home that was built in 1903. First converted to a bed and breakfast in the 1980s, the inn continues to be sought out by tourists today.

From the Bridgton News, March 10, 1939.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Benneville Yeakel Shelley (1823-1892), Benneville Keim (1790-1872)

From the Omaha Daily Bee, May 4, 1902.

    The figure of Benneville Yeakel Shelley looms large in the early history of Niobrara, Nebraska, a moderately sized village located in Knox County. A physician born and raised in Pennsylvania, Shelley was later a resident of Iowa and arrived in the Nebraska Territory with a head full of dreams in 1856. Heading a small band of settlers, he marked off an area of land on the Niobrara River that would eventually become the town of Niobrara. In the years following his arrival in what would become Knox County, Shelley went on to further repute, and in the late 1870s was elected to the Nebraska House of Representatives for one term.
   Benneville Yeakel Shelley was born in Quakertown, Pennsylvania on April 20, 1823. Deciding upon a career in medicine early in life, he enrolled at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia (graduating in 1846) and soon after established his practice in that city. In 1850 he resettled in the still young state of Iowa, and after locating at Kanesville (now known as Council Bluffs), continued to operate his practice. 
   Embued like many others of the time with the pioneer spirit, B.Y. Shelley heard favorable reports of the settlement of the Nebraska Territory in the early 1850s, and, by 1855 had made his first visit to Omaha. In March of that year, he helped to incorporate the Nebraska Medical Society and later left Omaha to found a settlement in the then existing Black Bird County, called the Black Bird Hills colony. By early 1856 Shelley had returned to Kanesville, and, with fellow pioneer R.R. Cowan and a small band of settlers, returned to Nebraska in the hopes of establishing a town on the Niobrara river. Finding their desired location on an area of land populated by Ponca Indians, Shelley and his company marked off an area that would evolve into Niobrara. By the summer of 1856 the company (now known as the L' Eau qui Court Company) had returned to Iowa to entice others into settling the new town, and after their return had built several buildings and small garrison named "Old Cabin", which was later subject to a number of skirmishes with the native Ponca population. The natives, angered by the taking of their land, would burn down several of the colony's structures, and the winter of 1856 saw Shelley and three other men hunkered down in Old Cabin, away from the elements and natives.
   Following the incorporation of the L' Eau qui Court Company, Benneville Y. Shelley served as its president and in the summer of 1857, the steamship Omaha arrived at the community, bringing lumber and much-needed supplies. The erection of the settlement's first frame building came shortly thereafter, and in a few months time, Niobrara could boast of a saw-mill, a mercantile store, "a $10,000 hotel" and sixty residents. A post office was also established and in 1857 Shelley was named as the area's first postmaster. Niobrara would later become the county seat of the L'Eau qui Court County, which in 1873 underwent a name change to Knox County, which still exists today.
   In 1859 the L'Eau qui Court Company dissolved and was replaced by the Niobrara Town Company, with B.Y. Shelley being one of its incorporators. By the outbreak of the Civil War Shelley had removed back to Iowa and in 1862 enlisted as an assistant surgeon in the 5th Iowa Cavalry. He served with that unit until the close of the war and was mustered out in August 1865. 


   Certain aspects of B.Y. Shelley's life following his Civil War service remain a mystery. He is recorded in his Omaha Daily Bee obituary as having practiced medicine in Niobrara, Pennsylvania and Council Bluffs, Iowa, and also married and had a daughter, Laura. By the late 1870s he had removed back to Niobrara and in 1878 was elected to the Nebraska House of Representatives from Knox and Holt Counties. Taking his seat at the start of the 1879-81 session, Shelley was named to the committees on Federal Relations, Privileges and Elections, and Blind, Deaf and Dumb, and Insane Asylums.
  Shelley's life following his service in state government saw him remove back to Council Bluffs, Iowa, "making the latter place his headquarters" during the last five years of his life. Shelley died at his home in that city on February 26, 1892, aged 68, and was survived by his daughter, Laura. He was later interred at the Walnut Hill Cemetery, also located in Council Bluffs.

From the Omaha Daily Bee, February 29, 1892.


From the "Keim and Allied Families" 1899.

   A member of the distinguished Keim family of Berks County, Pennsylvania, Benneville Keim was a banker and hardware merchant in the city of Reading and also served as its mayor for three consecutive terms. The son of Johannes (John) and Susanna (DeBenneville) Keim, Benneville Keim was born in Reading on November 30, 1790. A family with its roots in the United States dating back to the 17th century, Johannes and Susanna Keim's children also included George DeBenneville Keim (1778-1852), a former chief burgess of Reading as well as a leading banker and iron manufacturer.
  Benneville Keim married on August 2, 1812, to Mary Hoch (last name also spelled High), with whom he had eleven children. Several of these children would die premature deaths, but amongst their children who lived to adulthood was William High Keim (1813-1862), who would follow his father into public service. He preceded his father as Mayor of Reading (serving from 1848-49) and later represented Pennsylvania's 8th district in Congress from 1858-59. A term as Pennsylvania Surveyor General followed and from 1861-62 was a Brigadier General of Volunteers during the Civil War.
  Following his marriage, Benneville Keim entered into banking in Reading, and from 1824-1843 was affiliated with the Farmer's Bank of Reading, serving at various times as its president and cashier. Keim would hold the post of president of the Reading Water Company and in 1836 joined with his nephew George May Keim (a future Congressman and Reading mayor) in establishing the Keim, Whitaker, and Co., later to become an "extensive iron works, one of the earliest and most important metal works of that region." Both uncle and nephew would also have a hand in the founding of the Reading Iron and Nail Works in June 1838.
  Benneville Keim didn't enter the political life of his city until well into his sixties, being elected as Mayor of Reading in 1858 as a candidate of the American Party (also referred to as the "Know Nothing" Party.) He would be returned to office for two more terms in 1859 and 1860 and was defeated for reelection in 1861 (having run as a Republican), losing out to Democrat Joel B. Wanner.
  A longtime parishioner at the First Universalist Church of Reading as well as a founding incorporator of the Charles Evans Cemetery in that city, Benneville Keim continued to reside in Reading until his death on October 30, 1872, one month short of the 82nd birthday. Widowed in 1833, he was later interred alongside his wife at the Charles Evans Cemetery.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Coursin Lafayette Mohney (1860-1922)

Portrait from the Memoirs of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1904.

   Lifelong Pennsylvania native Coursin Lafayette Mohney was for many years a leading contractor and builder in Pittsburgh, and in addition to his chosen profession also ventured into politics, being a member of the Pittsburgh common council and later a Progressive Party candidate for the Pennsylvania state senate. The son of Samuel and Elizabeth (Cribbs) Mohney, Coursin Lafayette Mohney's birth occurred in Clarion County, Pennsylvania on September 9, 1860. He attended public schools in the county of his birth and later embarked on a teaching career in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania that extended three years.
   Relocating to Pittsburgh in the early 1880s, Mohney continued schooling in that city, enrolling at the Duff's Mercantile College. Following his graduation, Mohney entered into a career as a building contractor, a vocation that saw him operate "throughout the country." The succeeding years saw Mohney's reputation in his field soar, with the Memoirs of Allegheny County noting:
"Some of the largest and finest buildings in Pittsburgh, Allegheny City and the surrounding country have been erected under his personal supervision, and few contractors are better known or sustain a high reputation."
   Coursin Mohney married in 1883 to Verona, Pennsylvania native Anne DeGraff (1861-1942), and the couple's near four-decade union saw the births of four children, Eva, Clyde (1887-1966), Clare, and Paul. In 1901 he joined the contracting firm of Langenheim, Cochran, and Co., and two years later made his first run for elective office, successfully running for the Pittsburgh Common Council. His time on the council saw him named to the committees on surveys and public works and retained his seat until 1907.
   In 1914 Mohney set his sites on higher office, becoming the Washington Party candidate for the Pennsylvania state senate. An offshoot of Theodore Roosevelt's "Bull Moose" or Progressive Party, the Washington Party ran a number of legislative candidates in the Pennsylvania elections of 1912 and 1914. Hoping to represent the state's 42nd senatorial district (comprising part of Allegheny County), Mohney would poll a total of 3,273 votes on election day, over 5,000 votes behind winning Republican candidate William Joseph Burke (1862-1925).
   Mohney's life following his senatorial candidacy saw him employed as a carpenter and maintained memberships in several fraternal clubs, including the Pride of the West, the Odd Fellows, the Ancient Order of United Workmen, the Junior Order of United American Mechanics, and the Masons. Notice has been found as to his declaring bankruptcy in February 1917 and on December 5, 1922, he died at his Pittsburgh home, aged 62. He was survived by his wife Anna and both were interred at the Union Dale Cemetery in Pittsburgh.
   
From the Pittsburgh Daily Post, December 8, 1922.