Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Herbrand Langeberg Olson (1845-1926)

Portrait from the History of  Mitchell and Worth County, Iowa.

   Another in a long line of Norwegian natives profiled here, Herbrand Langeberg Olsen immigrated to the United States with his family at an early age, and first settled in Wisconsin. Following his relocation to Worth County, Iowa, he began a career in farming that extended through the remainder of his life. During his eighty years, Olson cultivated a reputation as a hardworking citizen and earned positions of public trust in his community, serving as township supervisor and school board treasurer. In 1903 he won election to the Iowa House of Representatives from Worth County, serving one term.
  The son of Ole and Gertie Olson (surname also spelled Oleson), Herbrand Langeberg Olson was born in Nes, Hallingdal, Norway on January 27, 1845. Left fatherless at an early age, Olson immigrated with his mother and family across the Atlantic and reached Quebec, Canada after a nine-week journey. The family then traveled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin before establishing roots in Rock County. Olson's formative years were spent there and in 1855 saw his mother remarry to Ole Peterson. The family removed to Worth County, Iowa the following year, where Olson worked at farming and was a student in the district school. 
  In 1862 Olson joined in the ongoing war effort, enlisting in Co. B., 32nd Iowa Infantry. His service extended several months and was honorably discharged in March 1863 in Tennessee due to health concerns. He returned to his family's farm upon the conclusion of his service, and in 1864 removed to the town of Brookfield, where he established his own farm. In April 1868 he married Ragnhild Olsdatter Mickelson (1843-1925), whose name is misspelled in the 1918 History of Mitchell and Worth Counties as "Maranda Mekkelson". The couple's marriage extended nearly sixty years and produced several children, Gertie, Augustina (1872-1897), Olena (1871-1909), Amelia, Ole, Amelia (1881-1961), and Carl (died in infancy).
  Following his marriage Olson continued farming in Brookfield, owning a "very productive tract of land" with "fields carefully and systematically cultivated". He would hold membership in the G.A.R. chapter and with his family attended the local Norwegian Lutheran Church. Before his service in state government, Olson held several local political offices, including county supervisor, town clerk, trustee, and for fourteen years was school treasurer for Brookfield. In the early 1900s, he served as president of the Farmer's Mutal Insurance Company of Worth County, his full dates of service being unknown at this time.
  In 1903 Olson made the jump into state politics, announcing his candidacy as an independent republican for the Iowa House of Representatives. In the weeks following his announcement Olson's character was highlighted in editions of the Forest City Summit and the Lake Mills Graphic, with the latter noting that he was "universally respected, and no lisp against his integrity was ever raised or ever will be, we believe."

From the Lake Mills Graphic, October 7, 1903.

  In November 1903 Olson defeated his opponent, Andrew Miller, by nearly 600 votes, and took his seat in January 1904. The 1904-06 session saw Olson appointed to the following committees: the Agricultural College and Farm, Agriculture, Claims, Congressional Districts, County and Township Organization, Labor, Military Affairs, Penitentiaries, and the Soldiers and Sailors Home.
  After leaving the statehouse Olson and his wife resided in Northwood, Iowa. In 1925 he traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota to take part in the Norse-American Centennial, and was selected as an honorary bodyguard to President Calvin Coolidge. Widowed in March 1925, Olson survived his wife by one year, dying after weeks of ill health on December 30, 1926. Both he and his wife were interred at the Elk Creek Lutheran Cemetery in Kennett, Iowa.

From the Northwood Anchor Index, December 30, 1926.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Amplias Hale Avery (1870-1950)

Portrait from the Iowa Red Book, 1931-32.

   Nine-term Iowa state representative Amplias Hale Avery rose to become a beloved figure in his adopted home city of Spencer, where he served as mayor and city school superintendent. Familiarly known as "Dad", Avery was a well-known civic leader in his community and attained further prominence in the Masonic fraternity, holding memberships in several lodges in his state. A native of Wisconsin, Amplias Hale Avery was born in Richwood, Richland County on May 20, 1870, the son of Alden Hale and Sarah (Otto) Avery. Unique in name, Avery is the first and only "Amplias" this author has located. Amplias (or its Latin counterpart, Ampliatus) is of biblical origin, recorded in Romans 16:8 as a Roman Christian greeted by the Apostle Paul.
   Avery resided on a farm during childhood, with his early education being obtained in the rural schools of his region. He was left parentless at the age of nine, with he and his six siblings being "parceled out" to various neighbors. It was Avery himself who was deposited in the hands of an "unfeeling old man", who proved a stern taskmaster. Avery was subjected to long hours of chores and verbal abuse for over a year before running away to seek his way in the world. Despite being just twelve years old, Avery traveled, lived, and worked upon several farms over the next few years, accumulating enough income to finally remove to Iowa. Locating at Osage, he enrolled at the Cedar Valley Seminary, and "worked his way through school" over four years, holding various jobs during his stay. 
   Shortly before graduating Avery saw a bright future for himself in South Dakota, and after settling in Aberdeen pursued a law degree. He supplemented his income by teaching in a country school and following the financial panic of 1893 elected to pursue a teaching career full time. After a year in Aberdeen, he removed to Ashton (residing here three years) and later removed to Woonsocket, where for seven years he was a school principal. Amplias Avery married in December 1888 to Grace Cornwall (1871-1915). The couple had one daughter, Theta Bell (1889-1965), and separated in the late 1890s. In 1899 he remarried to Grace Dunham (1878-1972), to who he was wed until his death. Their union produced three children, Margaret (1902-1931), Alden Dunham (1908-1994), and Barbara (1918-2011).
   In 1901 Amplias Avery was offered the post of principal of a high school in Spencer, Iowa, and after accepting relocated to the city that became his home for the next forty-nine years. He served as principal for one year, and following the resignation of the city school superintendent, succeeded to that post. He served thirteen years and during that time oversaw four schools in Spencer. His tenure was lauded in the 1909 History of Clay County, Iowa, noting that:
"During his incumbancy as superintendent he has introduced many substantial improvements in teaching and also in the branches taught. His labors are at all times practical and he inspires the teachers under him with much of his own his zeal and interest in the work."
  After stepping down as superintendent Avery undertook a career change and entered into the life insurance business. He advanced quickly and by the time of his entering politics had become the sales manager for "one of the largest life insurance companies operating in Iowa." Avery also owned three farms in the vicinity of Spencer, and engaged in Chautauqua work, organizing assemblies in Kossuth County. Avery also proved instrumental in the founding of the Spencer library, and sat on its board of trustees until his death. A longstanding Mason both before and after his settlement in Iowa, Avery had been a Worshipful Master of the Woonsocket Lodge #33 of Free and Accepted Masons, and in Iowa held memberships in the following:
  • The Evening Shade Lodge #312 of Free and Accepted Masons
  • Clay Chapter #112 Royal Arch Masons (served as High Priest)
  • Temple Council #37 of Royal and Select Masters (past Illustrious Master)
  • Asotus Commandry #65, Knights Templar (past Commander)
  • Sioux City Consistory#5 Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite 
  • A founder of the Spencer DeMolay Chapter in 1922.
From the Spencer Reporter, March 31, 1926.

   Amplias Hale Avery made his first foray into politics in 1924, announcing his candidacy for the Republican nomination for state senator from the 47th district. Acknowledged as "well known and time tried" by the Kossuth County Advance, Avery's opponent that year was William J. Breakenridge, president of the Kossuth County Farm Bureau. Breakinridge defeated Avery in the Republican primary and went on to win the general election, later serving two consecutive terms in the senate.
  Undeterred, Avery continued plotting his political future and in 1926 entered into the race for mayor of Spencer. In March he defeated incumbent William Ziegler Long by 55 votes and during his term was elected as president of the Iowa League of Municipalities for 1926-27. Avery was defeated for reelection in March 1928, placing third in a field of four candidates. 
  Two years following his term as mayor Avery set his sights on a seat in the state legislature, and in June 1930 won the Republican primary. In the general election, he defeated W.J. Heikens by a vote of 2,217 to 1,754 and took his seat in January 1931. Avery proved to be busy as a first-term legislator, being named to the Committees on Appropriations, Cities and Towns, Conservation and Resources, Dairy and Food, Fish and Game, Insurance, and Roads and Highways. As the first session of the legislature came to a close in April 1931, Avery's  work was profiled in the Spencer News-Herald, which noted:
"In political affiliations in the legislature, Mr. Avery maintained the position of an independent Republican, being affiliated with no group or faction. As a result he was enabled to meet with and cooperate with almost every faction of the house during the term and advance Clay County's cause through his connections with all blocs."
From the 1939-40 Iowa Red Book.

      In addition to his committee service, Avery supported seventeen of the twenty major pieces of legislation passed by the house during the 1931 session. Amongst these measures were the following:
  • Supported the State Road bond constitutional amendment.
  • Supported the inheritance tax increase.
  • Supported oleomargarine tax increase.
  • Supported a 5% tax cut by all levying bodies.
  • Supported a twenty-five-year conservation program.
  • Supported a state senate redistricting bill.
  • Fought against the state purchase of interstate bridges.
  • Fought against state control of telephone and telegraph lines.
  • Fought against the appropriation of $50,000 for an Iowa exhibit at the 1933 World's Fair, "on the grounds that it was an excessive outlay of tax money."
   Avery reflected on the camaraderie of the house at the close of the session, noting that he was:
"Most impressed by the honest and sincerity of the majority of the members of the house to act and vote in accordance with their honest convictions of what was the best for the state of Iowa. Honest disposition of all matters seemed to be the first consideration on the part of the majority, no matter how determined the opposition."

  In the June 1932 Republican primary Avery was defeated for reelection but was not out of the political spotlight for long. Due to the resignation of fellow Clay County representative Frank Wenig, a special election was held in September 1933 to fill his seat. Avery entered the race and was elected that September, and two years later won a third term, defeating Democrat Roy S. LaBrant by a vote of 2,812 to 2,077. These terms saw Avery named to four new house committees, including the Judiciary, Military Affairs, Public Health, and Public Utilities, and in November 1936 lost his reelection bid to Democrat Thomas I. Kephart.

From the 1947-48 Iowa Red Book.

   Amplias Avery was returned to the legislature for a fourth term in November 1938, besting J. Russell Cook by a vote of 2,858 to 2,317. The 1939-41 term saw Avery chair the committee on Public Libraries and sat on two new committees, Old Age Assistance and Telegraphs and Express. He subsequently won reelection to five more terms in the house (1940, 1942, 1944, 1946, and 1948), and during the 1943-45 session served as speaker pro tem of the house. 
  Acknowledged as the dean of the house in his final years of service, Avery celebrated his 80th birthday in May 1950 and that July was named "Tops In Our Town" by the citizens of Spencer. In November 1950 he took ill and collapsed at his home in Spencer, and on December 7 died at the Spencer Municipal Hospital. He was survived by his wife Grace and two of his children and was interred at the Riverside Cemetery in Spencer.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Tancred Burdette Thorson (1898-1949), Tancred Peter Blain (1868-1918)

From the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, December 31, 1931.
    Although he lived to just fifty-one years old, Tancred Burdette 'Ted" Thorson figured prominently in South Dakota law circles for over twenty years. A graduate of the University of South Dakota, Thorson served as state's attorney for Brule County and was afterward appointed as special counsel for the state banking department. In the 1930s he was again elected state's attorney (this time for Pennington County)  and also gained distinction in two decidedly non-political areas: polo-playing and show horses. Thorson was severely injured in 1949 after being struck by a vehicle in  Rapid City and succumbed to his injuries several days later. 
  Born in Cabery, Illinois on February 18, 1898, Tancred Burdette Thorson was the son of Thor Endreson (1855-1927) and Helen (Gaard) Thorson (1870-1959), both natives of Norway. The family removed to South Dakota during Thorson's childhood, where he grew up "on a farm northeast of Centreville." He would graduate from the Canton High School in Lincoln County, where he won first prize in an April 1916 oratorical contest, speaking on "The Injustice of Justice." 
  Following graduation, Thorson pursued a law degree at the University of South Dakota Law School. After graduating in the early 1920s he removed to Kimball in Brule County, where he established his practice. He married in 1921 to Bernice Margaret Byrnes (1897-1970), to who he was wed until his death. The couple would be childless. 
  Thorson quickly advanced to the front rank amongst the lawyers in his community, and in 1922 was elected to the first of two terms as state's attorney for Brule County. He served from 1923-27, and in October of the last-named year was appointed as special counsel for the state banking department in Pierre. Thorson's appointment necessitated his removal to South Dakota's capital, where he was acknowledged as "one of the youngest men ever hold a major official position in the state government". His time as special counsel extended four years, and on January 1, 1931, he resigned to return to private practice in Rapid City, where he specialized in criminal cases. 

From the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, December 31, 1931.

  After leaving the state banking department Thorson wasn't out of the political spotlight for long, and in November 1932 was elected as state's attorney for Pennington County. He served two back to back terms from 1933-37 and was succeeded by Charles H. Whiting. He continued in private practice after leaving office and gained additional repute through his musical and horsing interests. 
  Remarked in his Rapid City Journal obituary as "one of the few polo players in the state", Thorson had a lifelong interest in horses and in addition to polo owned several show horses, participating in the West River Horse Show and the Black Hills Range Days rodeo. He was also musically inclined, founding a civic choral club in Rapid City and held memberships in the Elks Male Chorus and the Trinity Lutheran Church choir. 
  Thorson continued his law practice in Rapid City until May 1949. On the night of May 5, he was severely injured while crossing the street in downtown Rapid City during a rainstorm. While crossing, Thorson ran into the side of a panel truck driven by local businessman Grover Ru'we and was struck by the truck's rear fender. He was thrown to the pavement where he sustained cranial injuries and was transported to a hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. Thorson succumbed to his injuries at the hospital on May 15, 1949, aged 51, and was survived by his wife Bernice. Following her death in 1970, Bernice Thorson was interred alongside her husband at the Mountain View Cemetery in Rapid City.

"Ted" Thorson, from the Rapid City Journal, January 16, 1940.

From the Deadwood Pioneer Times, May 16, 1949.

From the 1905 South Dakota Legislative Manual.

   Prior to Tancred Thorson's political activity, another South Dakotan with that curious first name entered public office. That man was Tancred Peter Blain, a resident of Redfield. Like Tancred Thorson, Blain's early life began in Illinois, being born in Kankakee County in November 1868. The son of Nazaire and Marie Louise Blain, his formative education was obtained in Illinois, and in 1882 he removed with his family to Spink County, South Dakota.
  Following his family's resettlement, Blain continued his schooling and later enrolled at the South Dakota Agricultural College at Brookings. By 1895 he was residing in Redfield, and in that year was awarded a patent for "a combined tongue and thills", utilized in farming equipment. Blain married in the early 1890s to Alberta Estella Bull (1872-1942), with who he had two daughters, Gleva Lucille (1894-1964) and Gladys Augusta (born 1896).
  Blain made his first foray into local politics in 1890, when he assumed the post of deputy clerk of courts for Spink County. He served until January 1895 and continued in public service with his appointment as assistant engrossing and enrolling clerk of the state house of representatives.
  Active in banking concerns in his region, Blain became cashier of the First State Bank of Ashton, South Dakota in December 1901, and was for many years a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen. His membership in that organization saw him designated receiver for its grand lodge in South Dakota, a post he occupied for several years. 
  In November 1904 Blain was elected as one of two Spink County representatives to the South Dakota state legislature, and during his term became vice president of the state bank of Ashton. In his last year in office, Blain announced his candidacy for state treasurer. Hoping to garner the nomination at the Republican state convention in June 1906, Blain's candidacy didn't extend past the June primary, with victory going to Charles H. Cassill. Cassill went on to win the general election and served as treasurer from 1907-09.
  In the years following his defeat for treasurer Blain continued in business in his native Redfield, being secretary of both the Blain Lumber Co. and the Blain Automobile Co. In 1912 he was an unsuccessful candidate for alternate delegate to that year's Republican National Convention, with little else being known of his life after this date. Blain died aged 49 on June 10, 1918, in Minnesota, and was survived by his wife and children. He was returned to South Dakota for burial at the Greenlawn Cemetery in Redfield.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Karelius Nelson (1868-1937)

From the Sisseton Weekly Standard, October 23, 1914.

  From North Dakota, we journey to that state's southern neighbor to highlight the life of Karelius Nelson, a Swedish native who was elected to three terms in the South Dakota House of Representatives. Following his resettlement in the United States, Nelson resided in Minnesota, where he farmed, and later engaged in railroad work. After migrating to Roberts County, South Dakota he entered into the grain elevator business and before his legislative service was elected as Roberts County clerk of courts. The son of Nils and Karin Nelson, Karelius Nelson was born in Varmland, Sweden on May 2, 1868. 
  Nelson's formative years were spent in Sweden, where he attended public school. He later took a special course in mathematics. At age eighteen he left Sweden for a new life in the United States, and first settled in Minnesota. For the next several years he worked at farming and on the railroads, and in 1892 removed to Roberts County, South Dakota. Here he established a farm, which, by the turn of the 19th century consisted of "three hundred acres of fine land." Nelson returned to Minnesota in October 1894 to marry Maria Sophia Erickson (1863--1941), to who he was wed for forty-three years. The couple would have seven children, Cora (1895-1987), Mamie Edith (1897-1988), Carl Arthur (1898-1962), Ruth Mabel (1900-2001), Agnes (1902-1929), Karin (1905-1921), and Nels Gottfred (1909-2000).
  For the majority of his life, Nelson followed farming in Roberts County and entered the business sector of his community with his time as secretary of the White Rock Telephone Company. He also entered the grainery business, being the secretary of the Farmer's Elevator Company in Rosholt. He was active in the Lutheran Church and entered local politics when he was elected as a township supervisor. He later won terms as a school clerk and justice of the peace, and in 1914 entered into the race for Roberts County clerk of courts. He proved successful at the polls and was elected that November, and went on to win a second term in 1916.

From the 1919 South Dakota Legislative Manual.

    In 1918 Karelius Nelson announced his candidacy for the South Dakota House of Representatives, and in November was elected. Taking his seat at the start of the 1919-21 term, he was named to the committees on Appropriations, Dairy Products, and Statistics. In November 1920 Nelson won a second term, and from 1921-23 served on the same four committees from the previous session.
  Following his second term, Nelson was affiliated with the Rosholt Community Bank as a director, and in 1930 won a third term in the statehouse. Little else is known of Nelson's life after the completion of his term in 1933, except notice of his death on February 15, 1937, in Breckinridge, Minnesota. Nelson was survived by his wife Maria, who, following her death in 1941, was interred alongside him at the St. Joseph Cemetery in Rosholt, South Dakota.

From the South Dakota State Manual, 1931.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Thorstein Hartvig Haugen Thoreson (1885-1956)

From the Bismarck Tribune, September 23, 1933.

  An important name in North Dakota politics in the first half of the 20th century, the plentifully named Thorstein Hartvig Haugen Thoresen was a native of Norway who, following immigration to the United States, found distinction through public service in his adopted state of North Dakota. A former state's attorney, state tax commissioner, and candidate for attorney general and governor, Thoresen would serve one term as Lieutenant Governor and for four years was the mayor of Grand Forks. In the twilight of his career, Thoreson re-emerged on the political stage, announcing his candidacy for U.S. Senator from North Dakota in the 1950 Republican primary.
  While largely consigned to history's dustbin in the decades since his death, Thoresen's political career extended over four decades and was frequently featured in editions of the Bismarck Tribune, amongst other state newspapers. His life began in humble circumstances in Horten, Vestfold, Norway on December 9, 1885, one of nine children born to Thor Henrik (1843-1894) and Maren (Pedersdotter) Thoresen (1841-1904). He removed to the United States with his family while still a child and settled in Stoney Creek township in Grant County, Minnesota. His early education was obtained at St. Olaf's Academy in Northfield, Minnesota. He graduated in 1909, and in the following year relocated to Dunn County, North Dakota, where he farmed and taught school for a time. 
  Wanting to pursue a career in law, Thoresen enrolled at the University of North Dakota Law School in 1911. He continued there until the death of a brother necessitated his leaving school, and afterward took over management of his brother's farm in Ottertail County. He reentered the University of North Dakota in 1914 and graduated in the class of 1916. Thoresen had earlier married in Grant County, Minnesota on July 31, 1912, to Inga Mendine Vigen (1888-1951), to who he was wed for nearly forty years. The couple's union produced seven children, Cynthia Miranda (1913-1999), Theresa (born ca. 1915), Hans Vigen (1916-1979), Aurelia Mendine (1918-2003), Valborg A. (1922-2007), Thordis (1923-2012), and Shirley Lamoine (1924-1989). 
  Establishing his law practice in Dunn County, Thoresen quickly became active in the affairs of his community, being a member of the board of education and a trustee of the Normanna Lutheran Church. In 1916 he helped to found a 16 piece band in Dunn Center, of which he served as president. In the year following he was elected as treasurer of the Dunn County Bar Association, and in 1918 made his first move into politics when he announced his candidacy for state's attorney for Dunn County. He was elected that November and served two terms, 1919-1923.

From the Bismarck Tribune, February 26, 1925.

  By 1924 Thoreson had aspired to higher office, and at the Nonpartisan League convention held that February he received the nomination for state attorney general. Like other league candidates that year, Thoresen took to the campaign trail, giving addresses throughout the state touting the party's platform. On May 21, 1924, he delivered what was called the Nonpartisan League keynote address at McClusky, North Dakota, declaring "Let us clean our government of graft and corruption." In an address chronicled in the Bismarck Tribune, Thoresen further related that:
"Come join us in our fight for Democracy...Let businessmen, laborers, farmers and professional men join hands in this fight. It is a fight where all good citizens belong. Let us put this program over and demonstrate once and for all that we are going to rid ourselves of the shackles of industrial slavery which is sinking down thousands, yes millions, of good Americans every year."
  Throughout the year Thoresen continued to address large crowds, including a joint address with U.S. Senator Lynn Frazier at the Bismarck Auditorium that June. Opposing Thoreson that year was Republican nominee George Shafer (1888-1948), a former state's attorney for McKenzie County. On November 4 it was Shafer who emerged the winner, besting Thoreson by a vote of 95,638 to 70,022. Despite his defeat, Thoresen's name was later bolstered for state tax commissioner in the early part of 1925, and after being offered the post by Governor Arthur Sorlie, accepted.

From the Bismarck Tribune, July 1, 1929.

  Following conformation, Thoreson threw himself into his duties, and his four-year tenure in that post saw him acknowledged as "an indefatigable worker for the interests of the state." Thoresen and his staff were responsible for "the assessment of all state property, the collection of the state income tax and the state inheritance tax, in addition to the state, county, and local taxes." Upon his retirement from office in 1929, Thoreson reflected on his tenure, remarking:
"The first task I met, and the first thing that I saw needed, was to arouse the people generally and the officials of the state to get equality of assessment. There must be equality between taxpayers...The people are beginning to realize there is such as thing as far treatment between individuals. My idea was, and still is, that all taxpayers must pay, and that they will pay more willingly if they know all are paying alike. The work of the tax commission has doubled since I took office, probably because we have been too willing to work."
  While still the incumbent commissioner in February 1928, Thoreson attended the Nonpartisan League state convention, where his name was put forward for governor. He quickly led in the vote count, and after the third round of balloting, won the party's endorsement. Early in his candidacy Thoresen gained a firm backer in another oddly named political figure, state treasurer Chessmur Arlen Fisher, who was profiled here in September 2019. As both were serving in state government at the same time, the men grew to be friends and following Thoresen's nomination Fisher accompanied him to a campaign banquet in Lunds Valley, where both were guests of honor. Thoresen also made his first address there since winning nomination two months prior. 
  In June 1928, Thoresen (again accompanied by Fisher) joined with then-Governor Arthur Sorlie in a massive rally held in Rice Lake. Attended by over 6,000 people, Thoresen and Fisher spoke on "reviewing the state industries", and were both endorsed by Governor Sorlie, a fellow Nonpartisan League politician. Thoresen's gubernatorial opponent in that year's primary was George Shafer, the same man who had bested him four years previously for attorney general. Both candidates continued to stump the state through the next few weeks and on election day (June 27) it was Shafer who again won out, polling 9,000 more votes than Thoreson. Shafer went on to win the governorship in the general election and won a second term in 1930.

A Thoresen for Governor advertisement from the Bismarck Tribune, June 21, 1928.

   After Shafer was elected governor, Thoresen continued with his duties as state tax commissioner until his resignation in July 1929. He was succeeded by Shafer-appointee Iver Acker, and following his resignation continued residence in Bismarck, where he practiced law. In 1930 he and his family removed to Grand Forks, and in that year was briefly considered as a gubernatorial candidate, but withdrew his name from nomination during the February Nonpartisan League (NPL) convention. 
  Although not an elected official, Thoresen remained active in the affairs of the NPL, and in a June 1930 party address assailed the Shafer administration's handling of state financesIn 1932 Thoresen again announced a gubernatorial bid, beginning his candidacy that February in Grand Forks. Taking the Shafer administration and the legislature to task over wasteful spending, Thoresen remarked that "through legislation, the masses have been taxed for the benefit of the few and this brought on the depression." Unlike his 1928 candidacy, Thoresen's campaign didn't extend past March, when the NPL nominating convention chose William Langer as its gubernatorial nominee. Langer subsequently won the governorship that November.
  Not one to let a loss get the best of him, Thoresen launched a fourth gubernatorial bid in 1934. With William Langer in the hot seat due to alleged illegal campaign contributions, the camp of anti-Langer NPL delegates formally endorsed Thoreson for governor that March. He would hit the campaign trail once again in preparation for the June primary, and on election day lost out to Langer in a very lopsided contest, polling 47,380 votes to Langer's 113,027. Langer was subsequently removed from office a few weeks later by an act of the state supreme court, this extending from the financial impropriety that had dogged him throughout the campaign.

The Thoresen family, from the 1934 Bismarck Tribune.

    Thorstein H.H. Thoresen's political fortunes improved with his 1936 candidacy for Lieutenant Governor of North Dakota. That March he received the NPL endorsement for the nomination and that June won the primary. In November, Thoresen emerged the victor, beating Democratic nominee P.H. Costello by over 11,000 votes. Thoresen served from 1937-39 under Governor William Langer, who had been returned to the governor's chair in 1936, having been acquitted of the charges against him.
  Thoresen's political career continued on the upswing after his term as lieutenant governor concluded. Having returned to his law practice in Grand Forks, he successfully ran for mayor of that city in April 1940, defeating Democrat Ralph Lynch by a margin of 432 votes. His mayoralty extended until 1944, and during term served as both vice president (1942) and president (1943) of the Grand Forks County Bar Association
  In 1950 Thoresen made a final attempt at elective office when he entered the Republican primary race for U.S. Senator from North Dakota. Hoping to oust one-term incumbent Milton R. Young (1897-1983), Thoresen was dealt a 58,653 vote loss margin in the June primary. Young would go to win in the general election and was returned to the senate on four more occasions, retiring in 1981 after three decades of service.
  Following his senatorial defeat, Thoreson removed back to Bismarck and in 1951 suffered the death of his wife of nearly 40 years, Inga. He would remarry the following year to Elizabeth B. Earl, a native of Minneapolis. Thoresen continued prominence in his region during the final years of his life, being a member of the legislative department in the Office of Price Stabilization (1951-52), and in 1952 was appointed as an assistant attorney general for North Dakota. He continued residence in Bismarck until his death at a city hospital on April 16, 1956, at age 70. He was survived by his second wife and all of his children and was interred at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Grand Forks.

From the Bismarck Tribune, April 17, 1956.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Gaius Sibley Wooledge (1880-1966)

From the Ward County Independent, November 3, 1910.

  Remarked as one of the "most brilliant young lawyers in the state" at the time of his candidacy for Ward County judge, Gaius Sibley Wooledge was a native of Wisconsin who found prominence at the North Dakota state bar. Settling in that state in the early 1900s, Wooledge would be a candidate for Ward County judge and state's attorney but lost out at the polls. Following an unsuccessful run for state attorney general in 1916 and 1918, Wooledge's political fortunes changed, as he was elected as a delegate to the Republican National Conventions of 1920 and 1932, and in 1922 became chairman of the North Dakota State Democratic Committee.
  The son of Braman Henry (1848-1887) and Emma (Dillon) Wooledge (1856-1937), Gaius Sibley "Gay" Wooledge was born in Neenah, Wisconsin on July 22, 1880. A student in the public schools of Antigo and Madison in that state, he continued to study at the University of Wisconsin, where he earned his B.A. degree in 1904. He later attended that university's law school and undertook private study before being admitted to the state bar in 1905.
  After being licensed to practice Wooledge left Wisconsin for North Dakota and established himself in the town of Anamoose. He resided there until 1907 when he removed his practice to Kenmare in Ward County. He was a member of the firm Murphy and Wooledge and first entered public life in the late 1900s with his time as city attorney for Kenmare. His full dates of service remain unknown, though it is known that he was "deposed from office" by Kenmare mayor E.C. Tolley in 1909.
  Success came quickly to Wooledge at the state bar, and by October 1910 had become a rising figure in local Democratic circles. This would lead to his being chosen to introduce the great William Jennings Bryan during the latter's visit to Minot, North Dakota on October 27th, where he gave an address before 3,000 people. 1910 proved to be a busy year for Wooledge, as he had announced his candidacy for Ward County Judge earlier in the year. After winning the Democratic primary that July, Wooledge faced off against incumbent judge Nehemiah Davis, who'd first been elected in 1904. That November Wooledge placed second in the vote count, with Judge Davis continuing to serve until 1912. 
  A year following his defeat Wooledge left Kenmare for Minot, where he partnered with state representative Arthur Thompson in the law firm of Thompson and Wooledge. In June 1912 Wooledge married in Minot to Alice Metheny (1880-1940), a resident of Brookings, South Dakota. The couple subsequently honeymooned in the twin cities, and took "a trip down the great lakes." The couple were wed until Alice's death and had one son, Read Matheny Wooledge (1913-1934).
  In 1914 Wooledge re-entered politics when he announced his candidacy for president of the Minot city commission. One of three candidates vying for the office, Wooledge polled third, with victory going to local lumber merchant Chris H. Rudd. Undeterred by the loss, Wooledge announced his candidacy for State's Attorney for Ward County later that year. Notices touting his candidacy appeared in several editions of the Ward County Independent in the fall of 1914, where Wooledge outlined his platform including curtailing unnecessary expenses in the state's attorney office. These expenditures included the salary of an assistant state attorney, the abolition of special prosecutors, and "no private practice at County's expense." He would go on to remark:
"Lastly, the states attorney should take care of all county business before any private business. He should stay on the job the year round and at all times remember that he has been hired and paid by the taxpayers of this county to take care of the county business, promptly and efficiently, and yet with little expense as possible."
From the Ward County Independent, October 2, 1914.

  As with his two previous candidacies, Wooledge went down to defeat that November, being defeated by incumbent Republican Ragnvald A. Nestos (1877-1942), 1,784 votes to 1,172. Nestos' later political career saw him enter the Republican primary for U.S. Senator, and from 1921-25 served as Governor of North Dakota. 
  Two years after his run for state's attorney Wooledge set his sights on a lofty goal, the attorney generalship of North Dakota. After winning the June Democratic primary, he opposed Republican candidate William Langer (1886-1959). That November Wooledge lost out in a lopsided contest, polling 21,113 votes to Langer's 79,783, with Langer carrying every county in the state. Wooledge was dealt another loss to Langer in 1918 when he was again a candidate for attorney general, garnering 31,973 votes to 55,339.  William Langer's political career continued to soar following his two terms office, serving terms as Governor of North Dakota and from 1941-59 represented that state in the U.S. Senate.
  Following these losses, Wooledge continued with his law practice in Minot, and in 1917 entered into a four-year term as Minot city attorney. He would partner with former Minot mayor Daniel Greenleaf in the firm of Greenleaf and Wooledge, specializing in "Corporation, Real Estate, and Banking Law." From 1918-21 Wooledge held the additional role of legal representative for North Dakota under Alien Property Custodian A. Mitchell Palmer, who would later be named as U.S. Attorney General under President Wilson.
  Wooledge's political fortunes improved in 1920 when he was elected as chairman of the North Dakota delegation to the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, where James M. Cox was nominated for the presidency. Wooledge would announce his candidacy for the state supreme court in the spring of 1922, and following his defeat for that office achieved a measure of consolation that September when he was elected as chairman of the North Dakota Democratic Executive Committee. 
  Two years into his tenure Wooledge clashed with committee secretary Henry Holt, and in February 1922 was ousted from the chairmanship at a meeting of state committee members. Following his removal, James Campbell was designated the new state chairman. Crying foul and calling the vote invalid, Wooledge saw the North Dakota democrats split into two camps, a pro-Campbell group and a pro-Wooledge group. These camps continued their split through the early part of that year, with newspaper reports designating both Wooledge and Campbell as chairman. On April 29, 1924, both camps attended the state democratic convention, where party harmony prevailed, with Wooledge (with the consent of James Campbell) calling the convention to order and naming the credentials committee. He would designate Campbell as chair of that committee, and continued as democratic state chairman into the latter part of 1924.

From the Ward County Independent, June 27, 1922.

  After leaving the chairmanship, Wooledge continued to be politically active, serving as an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention of 1932, and in that year was named temporary chairman of the North Dakota Democratic Convention held in New Rockford. He continued membership on the state democratic committee and held the post of Ward County democratic committee chairman well into the 1950s. Wooledge died at his home in Minot on July 31, 1966, shortly after his 86th birthday. His wife and son predeceased him, and all were interred at the Riverside Cemetery in Fargo, North Dakota.