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.

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