Thursday, December 13, 2018

Brace Sloan Knabenshue (1896-1985)

From the Warren Times Mirror, December 1955.

  In our first posting for 2018, it was announced that U.S. Postmasters for major American cities would have biographies featured here, the first such inclusion being Indiana's Cecilius Risley Higgins. Nearly a year following Higgins' write-up, Warren, Pennsylvania's Postmaster Brace Sloan Knabenshue receives a long overdue article, and it is worth noting that in addition to his service as postmaster Knabenshue's Warren residency saw him residing just a short drive from where this author currently resides! 
  A native of West Virginia, Brace Sloan Knabenshue was born on July 13, 1896 in Upshur County,  the son of Edward H. and May Knabenshue. The majority of Knabenshue's early life was spent in the state of his birth and is recorded in the 1920 census as a resident of Fork Lick, Webster County, West Virginia. By 1930 Knabenshue was residing in Warren, Pennsylvania and had married to Inez Blair, to whom he was wed until her death in 1966. The couple would remain childless. 
  Following his resettlement in Warren Knabenshue operated that city's Motor Lighthouse Esso Service station in the 1930 and early 40s. So named to due to a large gas tank shaped like a lighthouse, this curious bit of gas station advertising came from one of Knabenshue's own ideas, noting that "tankage could be put up in this type structure." He would operate the business with a partner, James Chapman, until the latter's death in 1932, and in 1946 the business was turned over to brothers Bill and John Timmis
   In the early 1940s, Brace Knabenshue entered into his first government service role, that of Warren County Rent Director. He remained in that role for an indeterminate length of time and in 1951 was put forward as one of several potential candidates to succeed acting Warren postmaster Paul Gray. Following the narrowing of the candidates, it was Brace Knabenshue whose name was forwarded to President Harry Truman to be nominated, and he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on October 20, 1951.

From the Warren Times Mirror, October 1951.

   Knabenshue's tenure as postmaster extended until 1965 when he retired after fourteen years. He was widowed a year following his retirement and in 1968 remarried in Palm Beach, Florida. Little else could be located on the remainder of Knabenshue's life, excepting his time as a member of the board of directors of the Warren County Red Cross chapter from 1972-73. Brace Knabenshue died in Orlando, Florida on December 24, 1985, aged 89. A burial location for him remains unknown at this time.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Chartley Artell Pitt (1878-1966)

Portrait from the 1939Washington legislative composite.

   One of the more colorful political figures to warrant a write up here, Chartley Artell Pitt rose from humble beginnings in Wisconsin to serve a decade as a Washington state representative, but not before time spent as a vagabond, assistant lighthouse keeper, poet, and published author. While resources on his life remain hard to come by, Pitt was the Portage County, Wisconsin born son of William C. and Jennie (Eaton) Pitt, being born on April 17, 1878. "Chart", as he was familiarly known, himself gives the following summation of his early life in a brief autobiography published in 1919 in the Chicago Ledger, a periodical he regularly contributed to:
"I am a product of the Wisconsin woods, vintage 1878. My life cord has twisted a bit in the unwinding--and, God willing, I'll tangle it a bit more before I die. There are a few of my footprints scattered around in the Alaskan snows--and several fish in the sea that know the taste of my hook. Been a hunter and trapper all my life --began on rats. Of late it's editors I'm baiting. I have hunted gold, and had the pleasure of not finding it. Took a close up look at the cow camps; and got so that I knew a thousand sheep by their first names."
  With a picturesque early life that saw him widely traveled, Chart Pitt's own vivid writings of riding the rails with hoboes and spending time in hobo camps sound fanciful, with Pitt himself remarking that "Some of my richest adventures have come from the road and its riding." By 1909 Chart Pitt was residing in the Pacific Northwest and on August 18th of that year married in Westminster, British Columbia to Emma May McLeod (1885-1949). The couple would have three children, Lotus Jean Pitt Pasternak (1912-2007) and sons Donald and Gordon.
  A resident of Joseph, Idaho following his marriage, Chart Pitt was published for the first time in 1910, when a poem he'd written, "The Watcher", was featured in the Modern Woodman, a periodical published by the Modern Woodman of America fraternal group. Pitt would win a $10 prize for his efforts (beating out over 1,300 poems) and was acclaimed in both the Modern Woodman and the Steven's Point, Wisconsin Gazette as "a real poet." This same year saw another of Pitt's poems, entitled "Back to the Night", be published in Liberty, a newsletter issued by the Seventh Day Adventist Church.


From the Steven's Pont Gazette, June 15, 1910.

   In 1911 Chart Pitt entered the U.S Lighthouse Service as a  second assistant lighthouse keeper, being stationed at Tree Point Lighthouse near Ketchikan, Alaska. He would remain here with his family until at least 1913 and was afterward stationed at the Destruction Island Lighthouse (where he was first assistant), and in 1917 was named assistant keeper at the Mukilteo Lighthouse, where he was stationed until 1922. These solitary hours provided Pitt with ample time for writing, and in the late 1910s and early 1920s contributed a number of articles to the Chicago Ledger, a weekly story paper that featured adventure stories, romance, and poems. The accompanying picture of Chart Pitt in his lightkeeper's uniform and the Mukilteo lighthouse appeared in the Ledger on September 20, 1919.


   Through the 1920s Pitt contributed a number of short stories and prose to then-popular pulp magazines, including Action Stories, Thrilling Adventures, and Outdoor Stories. Pitt's full-length novel, entitled The Bootlegger's Brat, appeared in 1931, dealt with rum running in Oregon and even warranted a review in the Sydney, Australia Morning Herald. Still a resident of  Snohomish County at the time of that book's publishing, Chart Pitt was long an advocate of Prohibition and made his debut on the Washington political stage in 1936 when he entered into the race for the Washington House of Representatives from the 38th district, which comprised part of Snohomish and Island County. Running as a Democrat, Pitt won the September 1936 primary and that November was elected to his first term, polling 13,424 votes
   Chart Pitt won his second house term in 1938 would follow that with three more legislative victories, serving ten years in total (1937-47), and was at various times a member of the committees on Elections and Privileges, and Fisheries. His decade-long tenure in the state house saw Pitt continue his early advocation for temperance and during the 1939 session spoke on the house floor to "oppose a bill to permit sales of liquor by the drink on trains within the state." Pitt's time in the legislature also saw him aid imprisoned Communist Party political leader Earl Russell Browder, joining 134 other activists, politicians and intellectuals in sponsoring the Call for the Free Earl Browder Congress in February 1942.

From the 1937 Washington legislative composite.

  In addition to advocating for the prison release of one of the most controversial political leaders in the United States, Chart Pitt was not above theatrics to get his point across on the floor of the Washington legislature, including thumbing his nose at house speaker Jack Sylvester after asking to make a motion, and, during his final term, took to "thumping a baseball bat on boxes and desks" to get a chairman's attention during a raucous debate on the house floor.
  The July 1946 Democratic primary saw Chart Pitt lose in his bid for a sixth term, but he wasn't done politically, as he would launch another campaign for his old house seat in 1948, this time on the Progressive Party ticket. He would poll just 1,405 votes that November, and in the September 1952 Democratic primary was again a losing candidate. Pitt would continue to seek his old seat in the legislature well into his eighties, running candidacies in the 1958, 1960 and 1962 Democratic primary elections. Chartley A. Pitt died at age 87 at an Everett, Washington hospital on February 3, 1966. Widowed in 1949, Pitt was survived by his three children and was interred alongside his wife May at the Evergreen Cemetery in Everett.

From the Washingon legislative composite of 1943.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Truitt Kendall Robe (1869-1949)

From the 1915 Washington legislative composite.

   A pioneer businessman and lumber dealer in the Granite Falls, Washington area, Truitt Kendall Robe was a native Missourian who first removed to the Washington Territory in 1886.  Earning a place here on the site due to his two terms in the Washington house of representatives, Robe is also one of the few odd name political figures to have a settlement named after him, the unincorporated community of Robe, Washington. Born in Cass County, Missouri on January 16, 1869, Truitt Kendall Robe was the son of William Restine and Mary Jessimah Robe.
  Removing to Adams County, Ohio with his family at an early age, Robe attended school in that state, being a student at the North Liberty Academy. He began a brief career as a school teacher in Manchester at age 17 before removing with his family once again, this time to Auburn in the Washington Territory. Following their settlement, young Truitt took employment as a clerk in a local store and later resigned to help his family run a hop farm they'd rented
  Beginning in 1889, Truitt Robe and his brother Campbell partnered with E.A. Stevens to form a shingle manufacturing business in Marysville, Washington, continuing in that business for nearly a year. Following a brief flirtation with railroad contracting, Robe joined the mercantile firm operated by Mark Swinnerton in Marysville, and by 1891 had been given the green light by Swinnerton to establish a branch of his store in the settlement of Granite Falls.
  The life of Truitt Robe is intertwined with the early history and success of Granite Falls, and following his settlement there operated Swinnerton's store, the first of its kind in the settlement. Robe would further aid the still young settlement by purchasing forty acres of land and "platting the original townsite of Granite Falls", which by the fall of 1891 consisted of 18 blocks, a two-story hotel, grocery store, and a nearby railroad-tie mill. Truitt Robe married in Granite Falls in November 1891 to Ella Daisy Turner, then just seventeen years old. The couple's fifty-eight-year marriage saw the births of two daughters, Mildred Mary (1895-1975) and Doris Martha (1897-1977). 
  After leaving the employ of Mark Swinnerton, Robe made his first entrance into the lumber industry, erecting a sawmill with two partners, C.P. Last and W.H. Harding. After selling his interest to his partners, Robe went into business for himself, and after establishing his own mill along the Everett and Monte Cristo Railroad saw it develop into a major manufacturer of lumber and shingles. This flurry of activity also saw the town of Robe spring up around his mill, and by the turn of the 19th century was home to nearly 200 residents, as well as a post office. This area still exists today as an unincorporated community in Snohomish County.
  Following the dissolution of the sawmill operated by Last and Harding, Robe purchased that mill's machinery and received a work-related injury that necessitated a year-long recuperation. After regaining his health, Robe joined with Henry Menzel to form the Robe-Menzel Lumber Co., which would eventually consist of a sawmill, planing mill and "30,000,000 feet of lumber." The business also added a railway for logging and transportation purposes. This firm would continue until 1910, and after Henry Menzel left the business, Robe followed him into a new business endeavor, the Coast Ice and Storage Company, a dealer in ice, ice cream and dairy products. Robe would serve that business as its vice president, his full dates of employment being unknown at this time.

From the History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties, 1906.

   A longtime Republican, Truitt Robe entered politics in Washington as a member of the Snohomish County Republican Central Committee and was a delegate to various Republican conventions in the state. In 1912 he announced his candidacy for the Washington House of Representatives on the Progressive Party ticket and that November was elected. The 1913-15 session saw Truitt named to the committees on the Miscellaneous; Municipal Corporations Other than the First Class; the State School for Defective Youth, Reform School and Reformatory; and Township Organization. Robe would win a second term in November 1914, polling 2, 861 votes and at the start of the 1915-17 term was named to several new committees, those being Counties and County Boundaries, Dairy and Livestock, Engrossed Bills, Federal Relations and Immigration, Internal Improvements and Indian Affairs, and Mines and Mining.
  After leaving the legislature Truitt Robe was a resident of San Juan Island, Washington, where he raised sheep for a number of years. His final weeks were spent battling rectal cancer and he died in Seattle on November 29, 1949, at age 80. His wife Ella survived her husband by well over a decade, and following her death in 1966 at age 92 was interred at the Wenatchee City Cemetery alongside her husband.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Luthene Claremont Gilman (1857-1942)

From Seattle and the Orient, 1904.

   Native Mainer Luthene Claremont Gilman found his business and political fortunes in King County, Washington following his resettlement there in the mid-1880s. A leading attorney in Seattle for many years, Gilman would win election as that city's attorney and later served a term in the state house of representatives. The son of Henry and Mary Twombly Gilman, Luthene Claremont Gilman was born in Levant, Maine on January 28, 1857. His early education was obtained at the Maine Central Institute (graduating in 1879) and after deciding upon a career in law enrolled at the Columbia University Law School in New York. 
   Earning his law degree in 1883, Gilman relocated to the Washington Territory shortly thereafter and soon established his first law practice. He would become a member of the firm Stratton, Lewis and Gilman and in 1887 was elected to his first political office, that of Seattle city attorney. Two years later he set his sights on a seat in the state senate, but, along with a number of other state Democratic candidates that year, went down to defeat. Luthene C. Gilman married in Seattle in August 1887 to Eva Augusta Stinson (1861-1944), to whom he was wed for over fifty years. The couple would have four children, Ernestine (died in infancy in 1889), Benjamin Frederick (1890-1932) Frederick Stinson (1892-1918), and Mary Alice (1894-1955).  
  In 1892 Gilman launched a second candidacy for the legislature, this time for the state house of representatives. He would win the election that November and was remarked as the "only Democrat elected on the legislative ticket in King County" that election year. The 1893-95 session saw Gilman as a member of the committee on the Judiciary and was  acclaimed as: 
"A polished and ready speaker, forcible, and eloquent when occasion demands, ever alert to the best interests of the people he represents, Mr. Gilman has clearly demonstrated the wisdom of the citizens of King in electing him to the legislature."

From "A Souvenir of Washington's Third Legislature", 1893.

   Returning to his law practice at the conclusion of his term, Gilman joined the firm of Preston, Carr, and Gilman in 1897, and six years later was made Western counsel in Seattle for the Great Northern Railway. This appointment marked a career change for Gilman, and in the next two decades rose to become a leading name in the railroad industry in the Pacific Northwest. Beginning in 1909, Gilman left the legal portion of the railway business behind when he assumed the role of assistant to the president of the Great Northern Railway, necessitating his removal to St. Paul, Minnesota. He remained here until 1914, and in that year was elected as president of the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway. This position also saw Gilman serve as president of two subsidiaries of that railway, those being the Oregon Electric Railway and the United Railways. 
  In 1918 further business honors were accorded to Gilman when he was selected as director of the Puget Sound District of the United Railway Administration, comprising the states of Oregon and Washington. In that same year he removed back to Seattle to assume the post of vice-president of the Great Northern Railway, and in April 1922 added the position of bank director to his resume, being named to the board of directors of the Washington Mutual Savings Bank. 
  Luthene C. Gilman served as vice-president of the Great Northern for seventeen years, retiring in 1937 at age 80. He and his wife continued to reside in Seattle at the Rhododendron Apartments until Luthene's death at age 85 on September 7, 1942.  Gilman's wife Eva survived her husband by two years, dying in 1944. Both were interred at the Lakeview Cemetery in Seattle.
From the Railway Age and Review, November 1920.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Bramwell Christie Altman (1862-1941)

From the April 30, 1908 Sunday Oregonian.

   A transplant to Multnomah County, Oregon from Ohio, Bramwell Christie Altman served in the Oregon House of Representatives for one term. The son of James Henry and Mary (Butler) Altman, Bramwell Christie Altman was born in Clermont County, Ohio on May 14, 1862. Little is known of his early life in the state of his birth, and by the late 1890s had relocated to Oregon, where he married in December 1898 to Amy Eveline Stephens (1881-1967), who was nearly twenty years his junior. The couple would have two sons, James Wilbur (born 1902) and Dale Ellis (1908-1993), the latter earning distinction as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force.  
  Following his establishing roots in Oregon, Altman became a teacher in the Portland school system while also devoting himself to farming. In 1900 he purchased the "old Spiller ranch" in Pleasant Home, which he planned to convert to a large dairy farm. The succeeding years saw Altman's name become prominent in Multnomah farming circles, and as a breeder of Jersey cattle won awards for his stock, which by 1916 consisted of 55 head, several of which were lauded for their extensive milk, cream, and butter production. Altman was also a member of the Multnomah Grange, and in August 1907 took part in the founding of the Multnomah County Fair Association, where he was a speaker and member of the committee on dairying. 
  In March 1908 Bramwell Altman made his first run for political office, announcing his candidacy for the Oregon House of Representatives. Following his legislative win that November, he was named to the committees on Education and the Public Library and was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1910. In 1914 he would run for the Oregon state senate on the Prohibition party ticket but again went down to defeat. 
  After leaving office Altman and his family resided in Gresham, Oregon, where he died on November 7, 1941, aged 79. Both Altman and his wife (who survived him by nearly thirty years) were interred at the Pleasant Home Cemetery in Gresham

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Jeromus Johnson (1775-1846)

Portrait courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.

   Two-term U.S. Representative Jeromus Johnson can rightly be labeled as an "old guard" oddly named political figure, as I discovered his name via the Congressional Bioguide database way back in the summer of 2000! In the eighteen years since becoming aware of Mr. Johnson, he stands as the only "Jeromus" I've found, and other than a few brief biographical lines on the Congressional Bioguide and Wikipedia, Johnson's life largely remains obscure. The son of Capt. Barent Johnson (1740-1782), a state militia captain, and the former Anne Remsen (1745-1792), Jeromus Johnson was born in Wallabout, New York on November 2, 1775. He was a student in the Wallabout schools and during his youth removed to New York City. In 1802 he married to Mary Carpenter (1782-1863) and would have at least one daughter, Mary Carpenter Johnson (died 1849).
   After his removal to New York City Johnson plotted his future and the succeeding years saw him attain prominence in several business endeavors in the city, including service as a trustee for the Seaman's Bank for Savings, being a director of the Merchants Fire Insurance Company, and had a hand in establishing "the first horse-drawn omnibus line from Manhattan to Brooklyn." From 1805-1812 Johnson operated a distillery in Hudson, New York, devoted to the manufacture of rum from imported molasses. 
   Long active in Democratic political circles in the city, Jeromus Johnson was remarked as  "sort of a pillar in Tammany" and following his election to the New York State Assembly in 1821 chaired an assembly committee responsible for the North River and Fulton Bank charters. A staunch Tammany man and Jacksonian Democrat at the time of his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1824, Johnson served two terms in Congress (1825-1829) and chaired the committee on Public Expenditures. As a cog in the preeminent political machine in New York City, Jeromus Johnson proved to be susceptible to political patronage, and as two of his contemporaries (Benjamin F. Butler and Jesse Hoyt) noted in their retrospective of the city political scene:
"Mr. Van Buren knew his man, and he baited a political hook with an appraiser's office; hung it up in the ceiling of the House of Representatives to make Jeromus vote straight when he went to congress. Jerome kept his eye upon the bait--was in due time nominated an appraiser, though he had been a conservative and voted for the Tallmadge pledge"
   Indeed; one year following his final term in Congress, Jeromus Johnson was named as Appraiser of Goods for the Port of New York in 1830, an office he would fill through the administrations of Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. Following his retirement in 1840, Johnson retired to his estate in Goshen, Orange County, New York, where he died on September 7, 1846, aged 70. He was survived by his wife Mary and both were interred in the Johnson family cemetery, a private graveyard located on the grounds of their estate.

From the American Republican and Baltimore Clipper, Sept. 14, 1846.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Eliada Sanford Merrell (1820-1898)

Portrait from the History of Lewis County, New York, 1883.

  Just a few days following a write up on Lewis County, New York assemblyman Rutson Rea, an oddly named contemporary of his receives a profile, Eliada Sanford Merrell. A former District Attorney of Lewis County and county judge for over a decade, Merrell served in the latter office at the same time Rutson Rea sat in the state assembly (1886). The son of Seth and Mabel (Sanford) Merrell, Eliada Sanford Merrell was born on November 21, 1820, in Schoharie County, New York. In addition to Eliada Sanford, the Merrell family also boasted another prominent political figure, his younger brother Nathaniel Anson Merrell (1829-1896), a resident of De Witt, Iowa. Following his removal to that city, Nathaniel Merrell was elected as its mayor and served multiple terms in both the Iowa house of representatives and senate between 1872 and 1896.
   Removing with his family to Copenhagen, New York while still a child, Eliada Merrell worked his family's farm during his youth and studied at various schools in the Lewis and Jefferson County area, including the Denmark High School, the Lowville Academy, and the Black River Literary and Religious Institute in Watertown. After deciding upon a career in law in the early 1840s Merrell began to study in the offices of Ruger and Moore in Watertown, and continued his studies in Lowville and Lyons Falls, reading under New York state senator and Lewis County judge Francis Seger in the latter town.
   Admitted to the state bar in 1846, Eliada Merrell began his law practice in Copenhagen and married in June 1850 to Emeline Anderson Clark (1821-1904). The couple's forty-eight-year marriage saw the births of two sons, Lorenzo Eliada (1851-1862) and Edgar Sanford Keene Merrell (1865-1942). Of these children, Edgar S.K. Merrell would follow his father in law serving as Lewis County judge from 1903-09 and was elected to the New York State Supreme Court in November 1909. In the years following his son's births, Merrell would relocate his practice to Lowville, where he continued to reside until his death.
  Eliada S. Merrell made his first entrance into Lewis County politics in November 1850 when he was a successful candidate for Lewis County District Attorney, besting Edward A. Brown by a vote of 1,942 to 1,619. He would continue in that post until November 1856, when he was defeated by Henry Turner, and in November 1867 was again elected to that office, serving from 1868-70.

Judge Merrell's home in Lowville.

   After several years away from county politics, Eliada Merrell was returned to public office in November 1874 when he was elected to a six-year term as County Judge and Surrogate for Lewis County. He would win a second term in November 1880 and served until January 1, 1887. A member of the Trinity Episcopal Church following his judgeship, Merrell "took a deep interest" in the affairs of that church until his death at his Lowville home on Independence Day 1898. The Watertown Herald attributes Merrell's death to pneumonia, which he had come down with ten days prior. He was survived by his wife and son Edgar, all of whom were interred in the Merrell family plot at the Lowville Rural Cemetery

From the Watertown Daily Times, July 5, 1898.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Younger Lovelace Power (1907-1958)

From the Ilion Sentinel, March 1, 1952.

  Following on the heels of Ballston Spa mayor Purcell Dow Ball, another curiously named New York mayor receives a write-up, Younger Lovelace Power of the town of Ilion. A transplant to Herkimer County, New York from Virginia, Power was a physician and served as Ilion's mayor for three terms. The son of Edward O. and Mattie S. Power, Younger Lovelace Power was born in Virginia in 1907. His early life was spent in Staunton, Pittsylvania County, and after deciding upon a career in medicine enrolled at the Medical College of Virginia, graduating in the class of 1932
   Following his graduation, Younger L. Power interned at the Hazleton State Hospital in Pennsylvania in 1933 and during his residency married in that city on January 17, 1934, to Cleo L. Boock (1911-1954). The couple would later have two children, Mary Susan (born in 1935 in Hazleton, Pennsylvania) and Younger Lovelace Jr. (born 1936). Of these children, Mary Susan Power would go on to a distinguished career as a political scientist, and in 1972, 1976 and 1988 was an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention from Arkansas.
  Power would resettle in Ilion in Herkimer County, New York in the mid-1930s and was a physician at the Ilion Hospital, as well as chief company physician for the Remington Arms Co. factory, also located in Ilion. Power would become active in the affairs of his community and after more than a decade of residence in the town entered into the race for Ilion mayor in early 1948. That March Power defeated Republican candidate L.H. Burnham by a vote of 1,535 to 1,343, and in an Ilion Sentinel notice on his election, Power outlined his ideas for a successful, people-centric mayoralty:
"This is the way I feel about it. We are handling taxpayers' money and for that reason no individual should take any final decisions upon himself in regards to finances or other important matters...If things go wrong, lets not get off in a corner somewhere and growl about it. Let's bring it up here and thrash it out. There is no reason why we can't make Ilion an even better place to live in. I'm proud to live here now and I think we can make Ilion the best town in northern New York."
  Dr. Y.L. Power's first term as mayor saw a resolution passed that increased the mayoral term from one year to two and would launch his re-election bid in February 1949, running against Republican town trustee Frank Sheffield. In the lead up to the March election, the Power administration could boast of a number of betterments for the town, including a workable plumbing code, as well as:
"Functioning water softenings and sewage disposal plants, new street signs; considerable new rolling equipment for the Street department; a new Street department garage; new street lights; extension of Elm Street and South Fifth Avenue and a study of the storm water sewer system with the idea for improvements."
  In early March Power defeated Sheffield by a vote of 1,950 to 1,447, in a contest described in the Herkimer Evening Telegram as "the heaviest village election in recent years."

From the Ilion Sentinel, February 24, 1949.

  Power's second term as mayor extended until 1951, and during this term, he and the village of Ilion played host to the Northern New York Methodist Conference in May 1950, a conference that saw the arrival of several hundred delegates, which in turn provided a boost to the local economy. He would win a third term as mayor in March 1951 and served until 1953, not being a candidate for reelection. 
  One year after leaving the mayor's office Power was dealt a severe blow with the death of his wife Cleo at the age of just 42, her death occurring in March 1954 "after a long illness." Power was dealt a further blow in August 1956 when he was involved in a two-car accident near Dolgeville, New York that neccesitated a few days recuperation at Ilion Hospital. Younger L. Power died suddenly at his Ilion home on March 4, 1958, aged 50. An exact burial location for him remains unknown at this time but likely is at the Armory Hill Cemetery in Ilion, the resting place of his wife Cleo.


Mayor Power at a board of trustees meeting, from the Ilion Sentinel, March 1, 1951. 

From the Hazleton Plain Speaker, March 5, 1958.

From the Utica Observer, March 8, 1958.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Purcell Dow Ball (1892-1968)

From the Schenectady Gazette, December 20, 1968.

  Obscure Saratoga County, New York resident Purcell Dow Ball served one term as mayor of the village of Ballston Spa in the mid-1940s, having never before been active politically. Following his term, he served as a Ballston Spa village trustee for several years. The son of Simon and Carrie (Becker) Ball, Purcell Dow Ball was born on December 28, 1892, in Albany, New York. Little is known of Ball's early life and education and by 1919 had resettled in Saratoga County, New York.
  Purcell D. Ball married in November 1919 in Saratoga to Ada G. Green, who would survive him upon his death in 1968. The couple had two children, including a son, William J. Purcell Ball and his wife would remove to Ballston Spa following their marriage, where Purcell would work at farming, and later was employed by the American Hide and Leather Co., where he would be a foreman in the business' shipping department.
  After decades of residence in Ballston Spa, Purcell D. Ball was drafted into local politics for the first time in March 1945 when he was named as the mayoral candidate for the newly established Citizens' Party. On March 20th Ball and the Citizen's Party emerged victorious at the polls, defeating six-year Republican incumbent Wright Scidmore by a vote of 812 to 784.
  Early in his mayoralty Ball assumed the role of honorary chairman of the Ballston Spa spring clean up campaign, and in April 1945 issued a village-wide proclamation upon the death of President Franklin Roosevelt, declaring April 14 to be a day of mourning, and that "all business places be closed" during the hours of the president's funeral. Ball's term as mayor concluded in 1947 and in 1950 was appointed as a member of the board of village trustees, filling a vacancy. He would serve in that capacity into the mid-1950s and in 1951 held the additional office of sewer commissioner for the village.

From the Saratogian, February 17, 1949.

  Purcell Ball retired from the American Hide and Leather Co. in 1955 and continued to reside in Ballston Spa until his death at the Benedict Memorial Hospital in that village on December 18, 1968, ten days short of his 76th birthday. He was survived by his wife and children and was later buried at the Powell-Wiswall Cemetery in West Milton, Saratoga County, New York.

From the December 20, 1968 Schenectady Gazette. 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Rutson Rea (1816-1895)

Portrait from the History of Lewis County, New York, 1883.

  One of a vast number of curiously named men who were elected to the New York State Assembly during the 19th century, Rutson Rea was a two-term member of that body who for many years was a leading produce dealer and farmer in Lewis County, being the owner of over three thousand acres of farmland. A lifelong New Yorker, Rutson Rea was born in Columbia County on March 17, 1816, the son of Peter and Elizabeth (Hoisradt) Rea. Young Rutson would relocate to Lewis County with his family at age seven and, following settlement in the village of Turin, attended the common schools of that area. He resided upon his family's farm until age 23 and, after receiving a four hundred dollar gift from his father, went out into the world.
  Using his father's monetary gift, Rea purchased fifty acres of land in Turin that he would farm and in 1840 married to Clarissa A. Clark (1818-1908), to whom he was wed until his death. The couple would have one daughter, Amelia Francis Rea (1844-1869). Following his marriage, Rea continued to reside and farm in Turin until 1852 when he sold his property and purchased a farm in Lowville, where he also bought and sold butter and cheese.  
  After three years residency at that location, Rea purchased another farm in Lowville that he would continue to operate for decades afterward. By the mid 1880s, Rea would own "thirty-five hundred acres of improved farming land", as well as city property, and beginning in the early 1850s entered into dealing produce. The 1883 History of Lewis County further relates that Rea operated a steam mill and also sold flour and seeds. He would find additional business distinction in Lowville with his service as a member of the board of directors of the Bank of Lowville in 1860, and later held the presidency of the Black River Bank.
  Rutson Rea's political career began at the local level, serving as a village trustee, township supervisor of Lowville from 1864-65 and town assessor for several terms. In 1885 he was nominated by the Lewis County Republican establishment for the New York State Assembly and later won the election by a plurality of 787. His service in the 1886 session saw him named to the committees on Agriculture, Charitable and Religious Societies, and Villages, and later that year was "reelected by a plurality of 1,950". 
  At the conclusion of his second term, Rea returned to his farming and business interests in Lowville, being the owner of "about 20 farms in Lewis County" and had a personal worth of nearly $100,000. Unfortunately for Rea, in 1892 a vast majority of his wealth was wiped out due to land depreciation. This substantial loss not only caused Rea emotional distress but also compelled him to give up his produce business. For several weeks prior to his death Rea experienced weakening health, and he died at his home in Lowville on July 7, 1895, aged 79. He was survived by his wife Clarissa, and following her death at age 90 in 1908 was interred alongside her husband under a substantial obelisk at the Lowville Rural Cemetery.

From the Rome Evening Citizen, July 8, 1895.

From the Johnstown Daily Republican, 1895.