Friday, May 31, 2019

Floridus Stott Crosby (1893-1957)

Portrait from Virginia Democracy, Vol. III, 1940.

  "The Old Dominion State" has fielded a host of new unusual names over the past few days, and none has proven to be more unusual than the man profiled today, Floridus Stott Crosby of Staunton, Virginia! Possessing a first name that sounds as if it could be a chemical on the periodic table of elements, Floridus Crosby was a lawyer and civic leader in Staunton who gained his taste of political prominence in 1922 when he was appointed as Commonwealth's Attorney for Staunton. In 1937 he succeeded to the post of Judge of the Corporation Court of Staunton, a post similar to that of a municipal judge. After several years on the bench, Crosby won election as Circuit Court Judge for Virginia's 18th judicial circuit, serving until ill health compelled his retirement. The son of John Fletcher Harris (1868-1948) and Janet (Burnett) Crosby, Floridus Stott Crosby was born in Staunton on January 15, 1893.  
  Born into a distinguished Staunton family, Floridus Crosby's father John was for many years auditor statistician for the Virginia state board of education, and in 1908 gained lasting repute for formulating "the idea of a city manager form of government", an idea that was later put into service by many American cities. Young Floridus was a student in schools local to Staunton and later enrolled at the Staunton Military Academy, graduating in 1911. For one year Crosby attended the Dunsmore Business College before beginning law studies at the University of Virginia, earning his bachelor of laws degree in 1917.
  Following graduation, Crosby journeyed to Richmond, where he joined the law firm of Munford, Hinton, Williams, and Anderson, where he remained until deciding to join in the ongoing war effort. Though he was rejected for service due to physical disability, Crosby aided the war effort in other capacities, serving on the legal advisory board for Richmond and also participated in Victory Loan drives as a public speaker.

Crosby's middle name was misspelled in the 1911 Staunton Military Academy yearbook.

  Returning to Staunton in 1919, Floridus Crosby partnered with Hugh Kerr in a joint law practice that would continue until 1927. Crosby first entered the political waters of his state in 1920 when he began a near two-decade tenure on the Staunton Democratic committee and served as its chairman for a ten year period. In 1922 Crosby was appointed as Commonwealth's Attorney for Staunton, succeeding Carter Braxton, who had died a few days previously. He served out the remainder of Braxton's term and in 1925 was elected to a term of his own in that office. He married in June 1925 to Martha Virginia Bell (1889-1975), with the couple's three-decade union being childless. 
  Through his time as commonwealth's attorney, Floridus Crosby continued to be active in local Democratic politics, being the Staunton based campaign manager for gubernatorial candidate Claude Swanson in 1922, gubernatorial candidate Harry Flood Byrd in 1925 and in 1933 was affiliated with the campaign of Governor George Peery. In 1928 Crosby resigned from the commonwealth attorney's office to focus on his banking interests, having accepted the post of trust officer with the National Valley Bank
   In 1937 Crosby was returned to government service when, a month following the death of sitting Judge Richard Ker, was appointed as Judge of the Corporation Court of Staunton, a post similar to that of a municipal judge. Initially seated as an interim judge, Crosby was elected by the state house of delegates for a full term of his own the following year. Three years into his service Crosby was tasked to pull judicial "double-duty", as it were, being designated as an acting judge on the state circuit court, filling in for an incapacitated judge Joseph Glasgow. Following Glasgow's death in 1942 Crosby was appointed to fill his vacant seat, and in 1944 was elected to a full eight-year term of his own. Crosby's judgeship saw him as judge of Virginia's 18th circuit, comprising the counties of Augusta, Highland, Rockbridge, and the city of Buena Vista.

From the Highland Recorded, January 30, 1942.

   By 1947 Floridus Crosby was acknowledged as "judge of one of the most exciting circuits in the state", as well as a "man of the highest integrity, with sound knowledge of the law." This sterling character assessment would see him boosted as a potential candidate for the state supreme court of appeals that year, with substantial praise coming from his contemporaries throughout the 18th circuit. With the death of state chief justice Henry W. Holt in recent weeks, many thought Crosby would be a superb replacement, stating:
"No more fitting appointment to the State Court of Appeals could be made by Governor Tuck than that of Judge Floridus S. Crosby of the 18th judicial circuit...Unless the state is going to depart entirely from the custom of keeping the court well balanced between the major geographical divisions, the vacancy caused by the death of Chief Justice Holt should unquestionably go to a Valley man, and Judge Crosby is the most eminently qualified man available."
  Ultimately, Crosby would be passed over for a spot on the state supreme court, the Holt vacancy eventually being filled by Judge Edward Wren Hudgins (1882-1958). Despite this turn of events, Crosby would win a second eight-year term as circuit court judge in 1952 and served until ill health necessitated his retirement in February 1955. Crosby's final years were spent in Staunton, where he died at age 64 on June 18, 1957. Distinguished in the local Y.M.CA and Kiwanis Club chapters, as well as the Staunton masonic lodge, Floridus Crosby was survived by his wife Martha. Following her death in 1975, she was interred alongside her husband at the Thornrose Cemetery in Staunton.

From the Staunton News Leader, January 18, 1955.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Squire Merriman Chitwood (1868-1951), Squire Littell Pierce (1832-1918)

From the Virginia House of Delegates composite, 1934-35.

   Another curiously named Virginia state delegate discovered recently, Squire Merriman Chitwood represented the counties of Franklin, Bedford, and Lloyd in the state house of delegates for six consecutive terms, and had earlier held local political office, being a justice of the peace and school board chairman. Born in Rocky Mount, Virginia on September 14, 1868, Squire Merriman Chitwood was the son of Henry Clay and Gillie Anne Divers Chitwood. A student in the Franklin County public schools, Chitwood would later attend the Hale Academy in that county.
  For a five year period, Chitwood followed a teaching career in Franklin County and in June 1906 married to Blanche English, who predeceased him in 1931. The couple was childless, and two years after his wife's death remarried to Wilhelmina Jones (1899-1982), who was thirty years his junior. Despite their substantial age gap, the couple had one son, Squire Merriman Jr., who died in infancy in 1938. One should also note that Chitwood became a father for the first time at age 70!
  Beginning in 1904 Squire Chitwood worked for the U.S. Postal service as a rural letter carrier, continuing along that route until 1917. During this employ, he operated a farm in Franklin County as well as a mercantile store, "meeting with a well-merited measure of success" in both. Active in church work, Chitwood was for many years a Sunday school teacher and a church board member in the local Christian church. 
  Prior to his election to the legislature, Chitwood occupied several local political offices, being a delegate to multiple Democratic state conventions, a justice of the peace, and chairman of the Franklin County school board. First elected to the state house of delegates in November 1931, Chitwood's service in the 1932-34 session saw him named to the committees on Enrolled Bills, Immigration, Schools and Colleges, and General Laws. 

From the 1938-39 Virginia House of Delegates composite.

  Proving to be popular with his constituency, Squire M. Chitwood would subsequently win reelection to five further terms in the state house in 1933, 1935, 1937, 1939 and 1941. In his final years in the legislature Chitwood chaired the house committee on Enrolled Bills and from 1940-44 was chairman of the General Laws committee. Chitwood died in Rocky Mount on March 2, 1951, aged 82, and was survived by his second wife Wilhelmina. Both were interred at the High Street Cemetery in Rocky Mount.

from the Bar and Bench of Ramsey County, St. Paul Dispatch  Souvenir Edition, 1892.

  Another "Squire" that made his name known through public service is Squire Littell Pierce, a Buckeye State native who was elected to the post of Prosecuting Attorney for two different counties, those being in Indiana and Minnesota. Born in Trenton, Ohio on March 6, 1832, Pierce studied at Furmen's Seminary in Hamilton, Ohio and, after deciding upon a career as an attorney began reading law in the office of M.B. Chadwick in Eaton, Ohio. Admitted to practice in 1853, Pierce left the state of his birth for a new life in Indiana and soon settled into practice in Wabash County.
  Squire Pierce made his first foray into politics in 1854, serving as a delegate to that year's "democratic congressional convention" held in Marion. That same year saw Pierce elected as prosecuting attorney for Wabash County, serving in that capacity for an indeterminate length of time. Just twenty-two years old at the time of his election, Pierce would marry the following year to Mary J. Adams, to whom he was wed until her death in 1899. The couple had at least seven children, including a daughter, Nina, recorded as the first white child to be born in Wasioja, Minnesota. Following Mary Pierce's death, Squire remarried later that year to Alice Bunker (1854-1925), who survived him. 
  Pierce's stay in Indiana proved to be shortlived, and in the year after his marriage, he and wife removed to Dodge County, Minnesota. Settling in the town of Wasioja, Pierce established a law practice and in the late 1850s was elected Judge of Probate for Dodge County. Pierce is recorded as having turned down that office but did return to political service in 1860 when he was elected to the first of two terms as Prosecuting Attorney for Dodge County. He would refuse nomination for a third term in office and later lived in Mantorville, where for a period he was involved in newspaper work, being editor and publisher of the Mantorville Express.

Squire L. Pierce in old age.

   In 1872 Squire and Mary Pierce removed to St. Paul, Minnesota, where Pierce practice law until ill health necessitated his retirement in 1900. For a three year period, he resided in Wood Falls, Minnesota and in 1904 returned to Dodge County, where he emerged from retirement to again take up a law practice. Pierce died in Wasioja on September 12, 1918, aged 86, and was buried alongside his first wife at the Oakland Cemetery in St. Paul.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Myon Edison Bristow (1879-1955)

Portrait from the Virginia House of Delegates composite, 1916.

  Spanish American war veteran and lawyer Myon Edison Bristow occupied several political posts in Virginia state government, including stints as Commonwealth's Attorney, member of the state house of delegates, chief examiner of banks, and State Commissioner of Insurance and Banking. This author recently discovered Bristow's name via Volume 3 of 1937's Virginia Democracy, and, taking note of his unusual first name, was under the assumption it was a misspelling of the more familiar name "Myron". As it turns out, "Myon" is indeed the spelling of Bristow's first name, as it is listed several times among the U.S. Census, Veteran's index, WWI and II Draft Registration cards, and Bristow's own death certificate. Unfortunately, no source available mentions this name's origin or as to why it was bestowed on Bristow. The son of Dr. Lewis Shuck Bristow and the former Nellie Blanche Games, Myon Edison Bristow was born in Saluda, Virginia on November 2, 1879.
  Bristow attended schools local to Saluda and at the age of eighteen signed on for service in the Spanish American War. Enlisting in the U.S. Navy, Bristow was assigned to the U.S.S. Wilmington, where he served until his discharge in May 1899. After his return to Virginia, Bristow decided to pursue a degree in law, enrolling at the University of Virginia. After graduating in 1901 he elected not to open a practice, and instead took a position with the Bank of Gloucester, Virginia
  Following a stint as deputy clerk for Gloucester County, Virginia, Myon Bristow entered into his first substantial political office when he was appointed as Commonwealth's Attorney for Gloucester County, succeeding William C. Jones, who had died in office. Just 25 years old at the time of his appointment, Bristow's youth proved to be a non-factor when he entered into office, being remarked as "unusually bright and thoroughly capable of filling the office with credit to himself and honor to the county." Bristow married during his term in 1905 to Baltimore native Emerald Alvin Christian (1882-1949), to whom he was wed until divorcing in the early 1940s. This curiously named couple would have a total of five children, those being Emerald, Frances, Alice (born 1908), John Christian (born 1911), and Blanche.

From the Southside Sentinel, January 29, 1904.

  Bristow's time as commonwealth attorney extended until at least 1907, and during his last year in office became a founding organizer of the Gloucester Point Bank, of which he would serve as cashier from 1907-14. Following his resignation, he operated a law practice in Norfolk with Thomas W. Shelton and in 1915 returned to politics, winning election to the Virginia House of Delegates. Bristow's one term began in 1916 and during this session served on the committees on the Chesapeake and Its Tributaries; Enrolled Bills; House Expenses; and Insurance and Banking.
 After leaving the legislature Bristow took on an accounting position at Cape Charles, Virginia business and in 1917 re-enlisted in the U.S. Navy to aid in the ongoing war effort. He would become an ensign in the supply corps and served until his discharge in 1919. In that same year, Bristow resumed his banking career, joining the state banking department as an assistant examiner. He quickly rose through the ranks of that department and for a time was also engaged with the Farmers and Merchants Trust Bank at Cape Charles. In August 1923 Bristow assumed the post of Chief Examiner of Banks for Virginia, serving until 1927. From 1927-30 he was chief deputy to the Commissioner of Insurance and Banking, and in 1930 succeeded to that post himself, serving until 1938. Bristow's time with the state banking department also saw him elected to the presidency of the National Association of Supervisors of State Banks, serving from 1929-30.
  With the separation of insurance and banking into separate departments in 1938, Myon Bristow served as State Commissioner of Banking until stepping down in January 1939. After separating from his wife Emerald, Bristow later remarried to Rebecca Thornton in 1942. She survived him upon his death on November 11, 1955, and both were later interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

From the Southside Sentinel, November 24, 1955.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Burder Bunyon Bowman (1860-1951)

Portrait from the 1908-09 Virginia House of Delegates composite.

    An obscure resident of Shenandoah County, Virginia, Burder Bunyon Bowman lived to the age of 91 and, despite that longevity, has scant information available on his life and political career. A lifelong resident of the Old Dominion State, Bowman was a farmer who was elected to three consecutive terms in the Virginia House of Delegates and later achieved further political distinction by being a two time Republican National Convention delegate and a Presidential Elector for Virginia. The son of Joseph and Sarah Ann (Johnson) Bowman, Burder Bunyon Bowman was born in Edinburg, Virginia on February 27, 1860. 
   Born and raised on his family's farm in Edinburg, Bowman studied at schools local to Edinburg, including "a subscription school, then one of the early one-room free schools", before graduating from the Edinburg High School. After completing his schooling Bowman followed the career of a gentleman farmer, raising on his family's farm "wheat, corn, hay, and livestock" and by the mid-1920s owned a farm that comprised two-hundred and fifty acres "along the north branch of the Shenandoah River." 
  In August 1905 Burder Bowman was a delegate to the Shenandoah County Republican Convention at Edinburg and was nominated for the state house of delegates by his fellow Republicans. He would win the election that November and after taking his seat at the start of the 1906-08 session was named to the committees on Agriculture and Mining, Militia and Police, and Privileges and Elections. Bowman won his second house term in November 1907 and during the 1908-10 session was a member of the same committees listed above.
   As a candidate for a third term in November 1909, Bowman's two previous terms of service were acknowledged by the Richmond Journal as having been marked by a "close application to duty". However, the opinion of Bowman was not shared by Shenandoah County Democrats, who excoriated him in several articles printed in the Shenandoah County Herald's October 29, 1909 edition. Aside from printing a large blank space devoted to Bowman's accomplishments during his two previous terms in the house, the Herald further slandered Bowman by describing him as a tool of the state Republican machine and denoted his service as having been "ornamental", rather than useful, stating: 
"Mr. Bowman has been called on to show one single thing he has done for the people of Shenandoah County during his four years in the legislature. He has even been asked to write one single act, in the blank record which appeared in the County papers. But, alas, up to this time that record is as blank as the day it was put there. Mr. Bowman thus admitting he has done nothing. Why then should he be returned to the Legislature?"
From the Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 6, 1908.

  Despite being pilloried by state Democrats, Burder B. Bowman won his third term in the state house in November 1909 and beginning in January 1910 again served on the committees on Militia and Police, and Privileges and Elections. Several months into his term, the Richmond Journal lauded Bowman's time in state government, giving an exact opposite characterization of what the Shenandoah Herald had made of his service. In this summation of his career (which was later reprinted in the Herald), Bowman was remarked as having been:
"A progressive public spirited citizen and one whose standing in the community is of the highest. Both at home and in the legislative halls he has earned the respect of all because of his straightforward, upright manner of doing business."
   After leaving the legislature Bowman continued to be politically active, being an alternate delegate from Virginia to the 1916 Republican National Convention and in 1924 was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland that nominated Calvin Coolidge for the Presidency. Four years later he served as a Republican presidential elector for Virginia, casting his ballot for Herbert Hoover. Bowman was also an unsuccessful Republican candidate for State Commissioner of Agriculture and Immigration in 1917.
  In addition to his political doings, Burder Bowman was a former president of the Farmer's Bank of Edinburg, serving in that post between 1919 and 1924. A lifelong bachelor, Bowman died at the age of 91 on April 27, 1951, in his home city of Edinburg. He was interred next to his older sister Sarah (1848-1924) in a plot at the Old Edinburg Cemetery.

From the 1910-11 Virginia House of Delegates composite.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Jutten Allen Longmoore (1892-1963)

From the Burlington Free Press, April 29, 1963.

  The Strangest Names in American Political History makes its first stop in Vermont in 2019 to highlight the life of Jutten Allen Longmoore, a curiously named resident of St. Johnsbury who, in addition to practicing law for over forty years, was State's Attorney for Caledonia County for a two-year term. In addition to that post, Longmoore later served a brief term in the Vermont State Assembly, being appointed to fill a vacancy. Born on December 17, 1892, in South Ryegate, Vermont, Jutten Allen Longmoore was the son of Thomas and Louise (McDonald) Longmoore, both natives of Quebec, Canada.
  A student in schools local to the Newbury, Vermont area, Longmoore also studied at the South Ryegate Academy and the University of Southern California. Deciding upon a career in law, Longmoore read law in the office of Albro Franklin Nichols (1850-1930), a former state's attorney for Essex County. Admitted to the Vermont bar in 1917, Longmoore would put his career on hold to serve in the U.S. Army during WWI. His time overseas also saw him attain additional study at the University of Dijon in France, and by 1919 had returned to St. Johnsbury.
  After his return stateside, Longmoore joined the law firm of Foster, Witters and Longmoore, with which he would be affiliated through the remainder of his life. This firm would later take on additional partners, and by the time of Longmoore's passing in 1963 had undergone a name change to Witters, Longmoore, Akeley, and Brown. Their firm would be retained as counsel for a number of New England banks and businesses, including the Caledonia National Bank at Danville, Vermont; the Citizens Savings Bank and Trust Co.; the Cary Maple Sugar Co.; the St. Johnsbury Aqueduct Co.; the Woodstock Lumber Co. of Boston, Massachusetts; the Parker Young Co. of Lisbon, New Hampshire; and the Black River Lumber Co. of Healdsville, Vermont.

Portrait from the University of Southern California's El Rodeo Yearbook, 1917.

  Longmoore made his first attempt at political office in 1923 when he began service as State's Attorney for Caledonia County. He served a two-year term and married in April 1925 to Elizabeth Ellen Bassett (1890-1972), to whom he was wed until his death. The couple would be childless. Active in the civic affairs of his native town and county, Longmoore was a past commander of his American Legion Lodge, a member of the Vermont National Guard, an exalted ruler of the local Elks Lodge, a Mason, and for several years was a member of the board of managers of the Vermont State Bar Association. 
  Jutten Longmoore was returned to public office in April 1947 when he was appointed to fill a vacancy in the Vermont House of Representatives, this vacancy having been occasioned by the resignation of St. Johnsbury representative Fred Warren Knowlton. Taking his seat on April 1, 1947, Longmoore served through the remainder of the 1947-49 house session and was named to the committee on Highways and Bridges. He was not a candidate for reelection in 1948. 
  After leaving the legislature in 1949 Longmoore continued with his law practice and was also the chairman of the board of directors of the Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury. Longmoore died at the Brightlook Hospital in that city on April 25, 1963, aged 70, and was survived by his wife Elizabeth. Both were later interred at the  Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in St. Johnsbury.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Mons Brynell Peterson (1859-1960)

Portrait from the South Dakota Legislative Manual, 1915-16.

  Featured on the Strangest Names in American Political History's Facebook page back in July 2018, Mons Brynell Peterson was Norwegian native, who, following resettlement in South Dakota in the 1880s, began a long career as a farmer in the Day and Clark County areas. Elected to two terms in the South Dakota House of Representatives (these terms being spaced twenty-two years apart), Peterson is only the second political figure profiled here who attained centenarian status, dying several months after his 100th birthday in 1960. 
 Born on November 15, 1859, near Bergen, Norway, Mons Brynell Peterson's early schooling was obtained in the country of his birth and at age seven removed to the United States with his family. Settling in Mower County, Minnesota, Peterson would later attend the State Normal School in the neighboring county of Winona. In 1885 Peterson traveled to Highland Township, Minnesota, and, after purchasing a land claim, settled into establishing a homestead. In April of that year, he married Elena (Olena) Dahl (1863-1956), to whom he was wed for nearly seventy-two years. The couple's seven-decade union saw the births of eight children, Inga (1886-1966), Melvin (1889-1986), Arthur (1891-1968), Henry (1892-1974), Mayble Georgine (1895-1957), Edward (1898-1985), Clarence (1900-1977), and William (1903-1935).
  Following their resettlement in South Dakota in 1887, Peterson and his family resided in Day County on a farm and in 1892 he was elected to his first term in the South Dakota state legislature. Serving during the 1893-95 session, Peterson sat on the committees on Insurance and Rules. After two decades of residence in Day County, the Peterson family resettled in Clark County, and in 1914 was elected his second legislative term. Serving during the 1915-17 session, Peterson also held the post of president of the Wallace Farmer's Telephone Company during his term. At the conclusion of this legislative session Peterson returned to farming and from 1919-1926 was a cattle buyer "for shipping associations." 
   A resident of Wallace, South Dakota beginning in 1919, Peterson continued to reside in that town until 1953, when he and his wife entered a retirement home in Madison, Minnesota. The couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in April 1955 and less than a year later Peterson suffered the death of his wife at age 92. Mons Brynell Peterson celebrated his 100th birthday in November 1959 and died several months later on May 18, 1960, at the retirement home where he resided. He and his wife were interred at the Webster Cemetery in Webster, South Dakota following their deaths.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Altis Skiles Hopkins (1872-1954)

Portrait from the Sandusky, Ohio Register, April 21, 1927.

   A leading Kansas oil executive during the first half of the 20th century, Altis Skiles Hopkins was a longtime Neodesha resident who, after working his way up the corporate ladder, succeeded to the post of President of Standard Oil Co. of Kansas in 1927. Following his retirement from that office, Hopkins made his lone foray into Kansas politics when he was appointed as Mayor of his home city of Neodesha, this appointment coming about due to the death of incumbent mayor J.W. Bogue. Born on a farm in Neodesha on November 9, 1872, Altis Skiles Hopkins was the son of James Madison (1849-1917) and Ellen (Skiles) Hopkins (1842-1909).
  Little information could be found in regards to Hopkins' early life and education, excepting his being "reared on a farm" and his first entering the oil industry in 1897, gaining employment at the Standard Oil of Kansas' refinery at Neodesha. Altis S. Hopkins married in Neodesha to Helen Gilmore Blakeslee (1879-1943) on February 23, 1898. The couple were wed for over four decades and later had three children, Thomas Blakeslee Hopkins (1903-1965), Grace Ellen (born ca. 1908), and Helen Rosemary (born ca. 1914).
   Beginning his career in oil "digging ditches for ten cents an hour", Hopkins quietly climbed the corporate ladder by hard work and perseverance, and by 1913 had become the superintendent of the Neodesha refinery. In addition to his attaining that post, Hopkins was awarded two patents in 1916 for petroleum distilling apparatus. A decade after becoming superintendent Hopkins was promoted to general manager of the Neodesha refinery, and in that same year assumed the role of vice-president of Standard Oil Co. of Kansas.
  Altis Hopkins reached the apex of his business career in 1927 when he became president of Kansas Standard Oil, then remarked as being  "an $8,000,000 corporation." He served in that capacity until stepping down in 1932.

  After retiring from Standard Oil of Kansas Hopkins saw his former company sold to the Standard Oil Co. of Indiana. He later took on the presidency of the Ozark Pipe Line in the mid-1930s and entered politics for the first time in 1934 when he was appointed as Mayor of Neodesha, succeeding longtime mayor John Wilson Bogue, who had died in office a few days previously. Hopkins mayoralty extended until 1937, with no information available as to the particulars of his term of office. Widowed in 1943, Altis S. Hopkins died of cancer in Neodesha on May 5, 1954, aged 81. He was survived by his son and daughters and was interred alongside his wife Helen at the Neodesha Cemetery.

From the Kansas City Times, 1954.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Harmannes Behrend Ihnen (1895-1975)

Portrait from "100 Golden Years: A Brief History of Golden, Illinois, 1863-1963".

  Lifelong Adams County, Illinois resident Harmannes Behrend "H.B." Ihnen rose to become one of that county's most honored sons, being elected to nine terms as its representative to the Illinois General Assembly between 1946 and 1966. A former township supervisor and member of the Adams County Board of Supervisors, Ihnen gained additional prominence in agricultural circles, being a longtime member of the Adams County Farm Bureau and was vice chairman of the State Board of Agricultural Advisors. 
  Born of German extraction in Camp Point, Illinois on July 19, 1895, Harmannes Behrend Ihnen was the son of Behrend Gerdes and Bertha (Kollman) Ihnen. Referred to by most sources by the initials "H.B.", Ihnen resided on a farm during his youth and would attend schools local to Camp Point and at La Prairie, Illinois. A graduate of the Camp Point High School, Ihnen married in 1917 to Ethel Keppner (1899-1995). The couple's near six-decade union saw the birth of one son, Ernel Dean Ihnen (1926-1992). 
   A farmer in Adams County for the majority of his life, H.B. Ihnen was for over two decades a member of the Adams County Farm Bureau, as well as an insurance agent. By the late 1940s he had firmly established his name in the civic affairs of his native county, being a charter member of the Golden, Illinois Lions Club; a member of the executive committee of the Adams County Chest and Welfare Association; board chairman of the Golden, Illinois Fire Protection District; a member of the Quincy, Illinois City Planning Commission; and was vice chair of the Golden Locker Co-op board of directors.
  Ihnen first entered state politics at the local level, serving as township supervisor of North East Township for over a decade, and for three years served as chairman of the Adams County Board of Supervisors. In 1946 he launched his candidacy for the Illinois House of Representatives from the 36th district (comprising Adams, Calhoun, Pike, and Scott County) and that November won out at the polls, garnering 8,053 votes. Ihnen's first term (1947-49) saw him named to the committees on Industry and Labor Relations; Municipalities; Personnel and Pensions; Public Aid, Health, Welfare and Safety; and Revenue.

From the 1947-48 Illinois Blue Book.

   In November 1948 Ihnen was defeated in his bid for reelection. Two years later he again became a candidate for the house of representatives and was successful, besting his two opponents by a substantial margin. The 1951-53 session saw Ihnen sit on the committees on Insurance; Municipalities; Public Utilities Railroads and Aviation; Revenue; and Roads and Bridges. From 1952 to 1962 Ihnen was continually reelected to the legislature and this uninterrupted ten-year span was later lauded in the Jacksonville Courier, which denoted his "100% attendance and past record". These five terms saw Ihnen named to several new house committees, including Agriculture; Education; Motor Vehicles and Traffic Regulation; and Waterways, Conservation, and Fish and Game.

From the Jacksonville Courier, November 6, 1960.

   H.B. Ihnen wasn't a candidate for reelection in November 1964 but returned to politics two years later when he was elected to his ninth legislative term in November 1966. The 1967-69 session saw Ihnen as a member of the Appropriations and Highway & Traffic Safety committees, as well as being chairman of the state Motor Vehicle Laws Commission. Ihnen retired from the legislature at the conclusion of his ninth term but continued to be active in government service, being appointed to the State Board of Agricultural Advisors in 1969. From 1971-74 Ihnen served on the Agricultural Export and Advisory Committee for the state agriculture department and in July 1975 celebrated his 80th birthday.
  After over four decades of service to his native county and state, Harmannes Behrend Ihnen died at Quincy, Illinois hospital on August 12, 1975. He was survived by his wife of fifty-eight years, Ethel, and son Ernel. Following her death at age 96 in 1995, Ethel Ihnen was interred alongside her husband and son at the Friedhof (Trinity) Cemetery in Golden, Illinois.

From the Alton Evening Telegraph, June 10, 1966.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Voyle Dixon Rector (1891-1964)

From the North Bend Eagle, August 6, 1942.

  The Strangest Names in American Political History makes a rare stop in Nebraska to examine the life of Voyle Dixon Rector, a WWI veteran and creamery manager who made his lone foray onto the political stage in 1942 when he entered into the Republican primary race for U.S. Senator from Nebraska. A native of Tobias, Nebraska, Voyle Dixon Rector was born in that town on December 28, 1891, the son of Edward Terwilliger and Tessie Belle (Dixon) Rector.  
   A student in the public schools of Omaha, Rector would graduate from the Central High School in 1911 as president of his class and shortly thereafter enrolled at Dartmouth College. His time here saw him acknowledged as playing "a star game at left tackle" on the school's football team, which also featured his younger brother Virgil, who played fullback. Rector graduated in 1915 with his degree and continued his studies at the Pomona College in California the following year. In September 1917 he married to Lillian Farnam Chapin (1892-1986), to who he was wed until his death. The couple would have two sons, Robert Chapin (1921-1978) and Irving Chapin Rector (1923-2002). 
   Rector would begin his business career in the mid-1910s, being a salesman for the Fairmount Creamery in Syracuse, New York. He was later briefly a resident of Buffalo, New York (being recorded as such in an October 1916 edition of the Daily Nebraskan), where he was a creamery superintendent. Following American entrance into the First World War, Voyle Rector enlisted for service and by early 1917 was stationed at Fort Snelling in Minnesota. Commissioned as a captain in August of that year, Rector was also stationed at Camp Dix and later was a battery commander in the 350th Field Artillery, serving overseas.  He would receive an honorable discharge in March 1919 at Camp Meade.

A youthful Voyle Rector, from the Omaha Daily Bee, November 12, 1911

   Within a few years of his return from military service, Voyle Rector had returned to the creamery business and in 1921 had been made manager at the Fairmont Creamery's branch in Detroit, Michigan. This post was followed by his being named as assistant general territory manager for the Fairmont Creamery in Omaha, continuing in that post well into the 1930s. 
   In 1942 Voyle Rector made his first move into state politics when he announced that he'd be seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator from Nebraska in that summer's primary election. As one of three GOP candidates vying for the nomination, Rector's campaign platform was featured in a number of Nebraska newspapers through the summer of 1942, detailing his "jobbing" Nebraska agricultural products in previous years, as well as his longstanding connection to creameries in the state. Amongst other tenets of his platform, Rector advocated for "protection of private business and property"; using Nebraska farm products in the manufacture of "industrial alcohol, rubber and explosives" to aid in the ongoing war effort; and pressed for the use of farm products for plastics and motor fuel manufacture after the war had concluded. 

From the North Bend Eagle, August 6, 1942.

  On primary election day in August 1942, Voyle Rector polled third with 10, 624 votes, 50,000 votes behind winning candidate Kenneth S. Wherry. Wherry, in turn, would go on to defeat five-term incumbent Senator George William Norris that November and would represent Nebraska in the Senate until his death in 1951. Little information could be located on Rector's life following his Senate loss. Some years prior to his death he and his wife relocated to California, and on December 28, 1964, his 73rd birthday, Voyle Rector died in Los Angeles. He was survived by his wife and sons and was later returned to Nebraska for burial at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, a cemetery that is also the resting place of Experience Estabrook, profiled here in July 2011.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Novatus Mapes Blish (1828-1905)

From the Hobart Independent, February 28, 1905.

  For many years a farmer in Delaware County, New York, Novatus Mapes Blish would also active in local politics in his native county, serving as a justice of the peace and justice of the session. Possessing a truly unique first name (the first such instance of which this author has located), Blish earns a spot here on the site due to his being a delegate to the 1880 Republican National Convention from New York. The son of Novatus (1795-1848) and Mary Mapes Barlow Blish (1804-1884), Novatus Mapes Blish was born in Roxbury, New York on July 16, 1828.
  The Blish family removed to the town of Stamford, New York while Novatus was still a child and here purchased a 150-acre farm, which would later be enlarged by an additional 100 acres. Young Novatus would attend the district school and later studied at the Hanford Academy in Hobart, New York. Left fatherless at age 19, Blish would take on the day to day management of his family's farm, as well as a small store that came with the original property. He married on September 22, 1851, to Marietta Cowan (1830-1893). The couple's four decades of marriage saw the births of four children, Charles Addison (born 1852), Helen Mary (1855-1878), John Cowan (born 1858) and Marietta Louise (born 1861).
   After selling the store on his property in 1861, Novatus Mapes Blish continued operations with his farm, which would eventually consist of 430 acres and a dairy. Blish's obituary in the Hobart Independent also denotes his involvement with a hardware store in Hobart, which he operated with two partners. A devout Presbyterian, Blish served as a deacon in the Hobart Presbyterian Church and for many years served as church treasurer. He undertook further religious work with the Delaware County Sunday School Association (being that organization's secretary) and was also connected with the New York State Sunday School Association.
  An active Republican in Delaware County, Blish held the office of justice of the peace for twelve years and from 1858-1859 served as a justice of sessions for the county. In 1880 he was selected as part of the New York delegation to that year's Republican National Convention in Chicago that nominated James A. Garfield for the Presidency. Blish also had some oddly named company at the convention, his fellow delegate being Cyrillo Southworth Lincoln (1830-1900), a former Ontario County state assemblyman featured on this site in August of 2012.
  Following his service as a delegate, Blish found prominence in the state grange, representing it before the state assembly in 1883-84 "in promotion of legislation for the benefit of agricultural interests. In 1892 he retired from farming, turning over ownership of the farm to his son John. Widowed in 1893, Novatus Blish made his home with his daughter Marietta Blish Griffin in his later years and died at home on February 19, 1905, aged 76. He was later interred at the Locust Hill Cemetery in Hobart.

From the Jefferson New York Courier, February 1905.