Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Wakeman Wakeman Edwards (1826-1921)

Portrait courtesy of geni.com.

  Louisiana yields yet another amusingly named public official in Wakeman Wakeman Edwards, whose first and middle names are the same! A one-term member of the Arkansas legislature prior to the Civil War, Edwards was a native of New York who, following residence in Indiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas, permanently resettled in Louisiana, where he practiced law. Named as a state district court judge in the late 1880s, Edwards continued with his practice until retirement and spent the remainder of his life as a local historian and elder member of the Vermilion Parish bar.
  The son of Henry and Elizabeth (Rogers) Edwards, Wakeman Wakeman Edwards was born in Charlton, Saratoga County, New York on September 13, 1826. For reasons known only to his parents, Edwards was bestowed the same first name and middle name, making him unique amongst the political figures profiled here. Edwards' formative education in New York was obtained "in the public schools of his native village" and later attended the Schenectady Lyceum. A young man with a keen interest in astronomy and mathematics, Edwards continued his schooling at the Union College (also in Schenectady), graduating third in his class with his A.B. degree in 1850
  Following his graduation, Wakeman Edwards sought his fortune out of state, and soon afterward removed to Indiana, where he took up the study of law in the office of Lovell Harrison Rousseau (1818-1869), later to attain prominence as a Union General in the Civil War and as a member of Congress from Indiana, 1865-67. By 1851 Edwards had moved south to Camden, Mississippi, where he would begin a teaching career at a "classical school" in that city. He remained here until at least 1855, whereafter he decamped to Sulphur Springs, Mississippi to escape an epidemic of yellow fever. While here, Edwards made the acquaintance of Mississippi supreme court justice Alexander Hamilton Handy (1809-1883), with whom he studied law, and in the latter portion of that year was admitted to the bar. 
  In 1856 Edwards left Mississippi for Arkansas, and for the next several years practiced law in that state. He married in 1857 to Martha Hollingsworth (1832-1908), to whom he was wed for over five decades. The couple later had three children, Dr. Clarence Jeptha (1858-1920), Sarah Elizabeth (1860-1943) and William Pierrepont (born 1867). In 1858 he began his political career by winning election to the Arkansas house of representatives from Conway County. He served in the session of 1858-59 and in the latter year resettled in Chicot County to continue his law practice. In the final 18 months of the Civil War Edwards' life and career were upset when he was conscripted into the Confederate Army, with which he served until war's conclusion.
  At the conclusion of his military service, Wakeman W. Edwards left Arkansas for good and removed to New Orleans, Louisiana, where he began another law practice. He continued along this route until 1875, when he permanently settled in Abbeville in Vermilion Parish, and in 1889 was appointed as District Court Judge for Louisiana's 25th judicial district in the wake of the resignation of Judge C. DeBaillon. Edwards' time on the bench extended until at least 1890 when he was succeeded by another oddly named man, Orther Charles Mouton.
  In addition to his law practice and brief judgeship, Edwards also held local public office, being president of the Vermilion Parish school board as well as U.S. Commissioner for Louisiana's western district. Retiring from his law practice in 1905, Edwards' remaining years saw him acknowledged as a leading local historian for Vermilion Parish, authoring a number of "historical sketches" that appeared in the Abbeville Meridional newspaper beginning in 1905. Widowed in 1908, Edwards continued to reside in Abbeville until his death at age 94 on March 10, 1921. He was later interred alongside his wife Martha at the Graceland Cemetery in Abbeville.

From the Abbeville Meridional, March 19, 1921.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Ethelred Macaulay Stafford (1875-1932)

Portrait from "Men of the South: A Work for the Newspaper Reference Library", 1922.

   A leading name in New Orleans political circles in the early 20th century, Ethelred Macaulay Stafford was a lifelong Louisianan who, after time spent in the state militia and as a lawyer, was elected to the Louisiana state senate from Orleans Parish. A three-term member of that body, Stafford would serve as senate president pro tempore from 1916-20 and in 1921 was a delegate to the state constitutional convention held in Baton Rouge. Born in New Orleans on July 13, 1875, Ethelred Macaulay Stafford was the son of Ethelred R. and  Mary (Burke) Stafford
  Receiving his unusual name from his father and his maternal grandmother's maiden name (Macaulay), Ethelred M. Stafford's early education was obtained in the public schools of New Orleans and in the late 1890s enrolled at Tulane University. Stafford would begin his law studies there, but, due to health concerns, was forced to leave school and did not graduate. Despite these circumstances, Stafford later resumed private study and, in 1898, passed a law examination to gain admittance to the state bar. 
   Following the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana harbor in 1898 war was declared on Spain, and in short order Ethelred Stafford had enlisted for service in Battery B, Washington Artillery (Louisiana Volunteers), with which he would serve until the close of the war. After war's conclusion Stafford continued as a member of Co. K. of the Louisiana State Militia, attaining the rank of captain. In November 1900 Stafford married to Eugenia Alice Tebault (1878-1948), to whom he was wed until his death. The couple remained childless.
  In the same year as his marriage, Ethelred Stafford became affiliated with Morgan's Louisiana and Texas Railroad Co., where he was employed until 1907. 1900 would also see Stafford begin a ten-year connection with the New Orleans Fire Department, being a fire commissioner for the city's fourth district.

Stafford as he looked during his senate tenure.

    Elected to the Louisiana State Senate in 1908, Stafford's first term extended until 1912 and during this session he wrote the Uniform Warehouse Bill, legislation that made warehouse receipts subject to negotiation, "with the bill compelling purchasers at tax sales to give notice of their purchase to the former owner before the time for presumption to start the run for redemption." This term would also see Stafford sit on the following committees: Affairs of the City of New Orleans; Corporations, Parochial, and Municipal Affairs;  Judiciary Committee B; Militia; and the Old Basin and the Carondelet Canal. 
  In 1912 Ethelred Stafford won reelection to the senate, and this four-year term saw Stafford's name attached to another important piece of legislation, the "Employe's Liability Bill", also referred to as the Stafford employer's liability bill. This bill passed into law, only after a similar bill had failed to be passed by the legislature over a two-decade period, and "did away with the assumption of risk on the part of an employe, and abolished the fellow servant problem."
  Elected to his third and final senate term in 1916, Stafford was elected as president pro tempore of the senate that year and served until 1920. This term also saw Stafford aid in the ongoing war effort, as he served as a food administrator for New Orlean's first and second districts, was a member of the State Defense Board, and toured the state as a member of the "Four Minute Men", a speaking group who touted the ongoing war effort along with other patriotic propaganda. Further notoriety was accorded to Stafford late in this term when his name was proposed as a potential candidate for Louisiana Governor as a candidate of the Good Government League. In an August 1919 write-up in the St. Tammany Farmer, Stafford's time in politics was glowing reviewed, with attention being paid to:
"His strong stand in prohibition, his unyielding attitude in defiance of ring politics, his fealty to the people in attempting to secure a constitutional convention, and his dependable force of character had given him a warm place in the hearts of the people."
From the St. Tammany Farmer, August 9, 1919.

  Unfortunately for Stafford, the prospects of his possible governorship were shortlived, as he later withdrew from the race in favor of Democrat John Milliken Parker, who would win the governorship the following year. Despite his gubernatorial hopes coming to naught, Stafford would further serve Louisiana in another political capacity, that of Orleans Parish delegate to the Louisiana Constitutional Convention of 1921. A distinguished club-man in New Orleans, Stafford was a longtime member of the Jefferson Lodge No. 191 of Free and Accepted Masons, the Elks and Moose Lodges, the Knights of Pythias, the Woodmen of the World, and the New Orleans Press Club. 
  Ethelred Macaulay Stafford continued to reside in New Orleans until his death, which occurred at his home in July 1932, aged 76. He was survived by his wife Eugenia, who, following her death in 1948, was interred alongside her husband at the Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans.

From the Biloxi Herald, July 13, 1932.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Hillyer Sealy Parker (1905-1968)

From the 1940 Tulane "Jambalaya" yearbook.

  Lifelong Monroe, Louisiana resident Hillyer Sealy Parker served in several prominent public posts in Ouachita Parish, being a one-term state representative, assistant city attorney, assistant district attorney, and in the six years prior to his death was a judge for Louisiana's 4th judicial district. Born in Monroe on April 16, 1905, Hillyer Sealy Parker was the son of leading local cotton trader and planter John Peyton Parker (1854-1929) and the former Marie Camille Stephens. A student in schools local to Monroe, young Hillyer was a member of the Monroe High School graduating class of 1924 and four years later graduated from the Louisiana State University.
  Having decided upon a career in law, Parker undertook further study at the Tulane Law School, earning his degree in 1933. After his admittance to the Louisiana bar in July 1933, Parker established a law practice in Monroe and would later marry Helen Womack (1913-1998). The couple's union saw the births of two sons, Bruce Stephens (born 1943) and William Hillyer Parker (1946-2017). 
  In 1940 Parker entered the political life of his state when he won election to the Louisiana House of Representatives from Ouachita Parish. His term extended from 1940-1943, resigning in the last named year to join the U.S. Army. Prior to his resignation, Parker entered the Democratic primary race for district judge in September 1942 but lost out in the vote count on election day.
   Information regarding Parker's service in the military following his resignation from the house remains scant. He was discharged sometime in 1946 from "the armed forces" and returned to Monroe, and in 1947 he took on the post of assistant campaign manager former Governor Sam Houston Jones, then running for a second term. Touting Jones' platform of "clean and efficient government", Parker saw Jones' campaign go down to defeat in the Democratic primary of 1948, losing out to former Governor Earl Kemp Long.

From the Jena Times, October 30, 1947. 

 In 1948 Hillyer Parker was selected as assistant city attorney for Monroe, an office he'd continue in until July 1956. In that year he advanced to the post of assistant district attorney for the Fourth Judicial District, where he served until 1962. In that year Parker was elected as district court judge for Louisiana's Fourth judicial district and was one of three judges to serve that court. He served on the bench until his death at age 62 on March 31, 1968, following hospitalization for a long illness. He was survived by his wife and sons and later was interred at the Mulhearn Memorial Park Cemetery in Monroe

From the Monroe News-Star, April 1, 1968.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Varyon Cullie Shannon (1910-1989)

From the Shreveport Times, January 26, 1969. 

  Two-term Louisiana state representative Varyon Cullie "V.C." Shannon is the first profile added to the site in well over a month, and hiding behind that unusual name lies the story of a man who, prior to entering politics, was engaged as an engineer in the Army Corps of Engineers and later held the post of executive director of the Caddo Levee District. A native of Mississippi, Varyon Cullie Shannon was born in Port Gibson in that state on May 2, 1910, the son of John Oscar and Pearl Van Shannon
   While information regarding Shannon's early life remains scant, it is known that he attended both the Port Gibson High School and the Port Gibson College and in the early 1930s he married to Lillian Claire Wood (1912-1974). The couple later had three children, D. Kenneth, Varyon Stacey (1934-2009) and Connie Gaile (born 1941). Following his marriage, Shannon was employed as a civil engineer in Mississippi, specializing in work on: 
"Dam, highway, bridge and railroad constuction in northeast Mississippi, together with wharf and levee construction on the Mississippi River."
   V.C. Shannon later relocated to Shreveport, Louisiana and in 1952 began a lengthy connection with the Caddo Levee District, work that later saw him rise through the ranks of the Shreveport offices of the Army Corp of Engineers. By 1969 he was the executive director of the Caddo Levee District, and is remarked as having directed and supervised the construction of the "complete bank protection system on Red River in the vicinity of Shreveport."
  Shannon entered city politics in 1966 when he was an unsuccessful candidate for Public Works Commissioner of Shreveport. In January 1969 he became one of six Democrats vying for a vacant seat on the Shreveport City Council, a vacancy that had been occasioned by the resignation of public works commissioner H. Lane Mitchell. Two years later Shannon was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives from Caddo Parish, with his first term extending from 1972-76. This term also saw Shannon serve as a delegate to the 1973 Louisiana Constitutional Convention held in Baton Rouge. 
   In 1975 V.C. Shannon won a second term in the legislature and during the 1976-80 session sat as a member of the committee on Transportation, Highways and Public Works; House and Governmental Affairs, and Retirement. Shannon would resign in 1979 (being succeeded by Robert P. Waddell) and for the remaining years of his life resided in Shreveport. Widowed in 1974, Shannon died aged 79 on January 30, 1989, and was later interred at the Centuries Memorial Park in Shreveport.

From the Shreveport Times, January 31, 1989.