Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Hooker Austin Doolittle (1889-1966)

From the Foreign Service Journal's 1936 photographic supplement.

  While the word "hooker" most likely conjures up images of ladies of the night plying their trade in the big city, you probably would have never figured on an American public official with it as a first name! Career diplomat Hooker Austin Doolittle was an Empire State native who went on to represent the United States as Vice Consul and Consul General in locations in Russia, Spain, France, Canada, North Africa, and Pakistan. During the latter portion of his career abroad Doolittle would develop a special fondness for Tangier in Morocco, and, following his retirement from the foreign service continued to reside in that country until his death in 1966. The son of Frank Hooker and Minnie Katherine (Schall) Doolittle, Hooker Austin Doolittle was born in Mohawk, New York on January 27, 1889.
  A student at the Utica Free Academy, Doolittle continued his studies at Cornell University, graduating with his A.B. degree in 1911. Following graduation, he was engaged in clerical work in Rahway, New Jersey until 1913, and in the next year resettled in Atlanta, Georgia, where he worked in the auto accessories business. Doolittle's residency in the south later saw him employed with the Retail Credit Co. of Atlanta and New Orleans. By 1916 he had returned to New York, where he took his first steps into international affairs, working as a commercial agent with the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce. After deciding upon a career in the foreign service, Doolittle passed an examination and in January 1917 was named to his first diplomatic post, that of Vice Consul in Tiflis (now known as Tbilisi), the capital of Russian Georgia.

From the Canajoharie, New York Courier.

   Entering into his duties in February 1917, Doolittle's time in Georgia extended until 1921, and would "organize the evacuation of American citizens from Russia" that year. Doolittle would meet his future wife, Veronica Bergmann (1893-1976) during this time, and following their marriage in Batum, Russia in March 1921 had two daughters, Katherine Elena (1922-2003) and Natalia Marie Louise Doolittle. 
  In April 1921 Doolittle was transferred to the U.S. Consulate in Madras, India, and in addition to serving as vice consul in that area later held the post of acting consul in Calcutta. In December 1921 Doolittle was attacked and bitten by a rabid dog while serving in Calcutta, an incident that was written up in several American newspapers. The Utica Herald-Dispatch relates that Doolittle underwent "the Pasteur treatment" for his injuries, and in 1923 left India to take on the Vice Consulship in Marseilles, France.
  Through the 1920s and early 1930s, Doolittle continued to advance through the diplomatic ranks, moving from foreign service office class seven to class five by 1930. This period saw him stationed as Consul at Bilbao, Spain from 1926-32 and Consul in Sarnia, Ontario from 1932-33. In the last named year, he was transferred to Tangier, Morocco, beginning a long period of service in that country. His time in Tangier saw him designated as first secretary of ligation in 1937 and in that year briefly held the acting consulship in Seville, Spain. Doolittle would remain in North Africa through the 1940s, and in 1941 was transferred from Tangier to Tunis, Tunisia. 
   As U.S. Consul General in Tunis, Doolittle had a front row seat to the existing conflict between the French and native Tunisians (Tunisia then being a protectorate of France.) Among Doolittle's contacts in Tunis was Habib Bourguiba (1903-2000), a lawyer and independence activist who had been imprisoned by the French on two occasions in the 1930s. Following his return to his native country in 1943, Bourguiba made his first contact with Doolittle, in the hope that he and the United States would be of aid in the struggle for Tunisia's freedom from French occupation. Still viewed as a threat by French colonial administrators, Bourguiba was aided by Doolittle in his relocation to Egypt in March 1945, and with Doolittle's later role as U.S. Consul General in Alexandria, further aided him with a U.S. Visa so that Bourguiba could travel to the United States to attend the opening session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City. Tunisia would finally win independence in 1956, with Bourguiba serving as its president from 1957-1987. Grateful for Doolittle's input in the struggle for Tunisian independence, Bourguiba later acknowledged him as "my great friend Hooker, who saved my life" during trips abroad to the United States.

Doolittle as he appeared late in his diplomatic career.

  While serving in Tunis Hooker Doolittle served as acting Consul in Morocco's capital of Rabat in 1943 and in April 1944 succeeded to the post of Consul General in Alexandria, Egypt. He remained here until 1947 when he was designated Consul General in Lahore, Pakistan, which had achieved independence from Great Britain that year. Doolittle's final years in the diplomatic service saw him as the United States representative on the United Nations Committee to Indonesia in 1950, and, following his resignation from that body retired from the foreign service in December 1950.
  Doolittle and his wife later returned to Tangier, Morocco where they would reside for the remainder of their lives. This period of Doolittle's life saw him as the director of the Tangier Gazette (a city newspaper), serve as the first president of the American School of Tangier, and until 1956 sat as a member of the legislative assembly of the International Zone of Morocco. Doolittle died in Tangier on November 30, 1966, aged 77, and later was interred at the St. Andrew's  Church Cemetery in that city.

Hooker Doolittle in Tangier.

From the Foreign Service Journal, January 1967.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Charlemagne Tower Jr. (1848-1923)

Portrait from "The World's Work", Nov. 1902-April 1903.

  Any person (public official or otherwise) that shares a name with the famed Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne is worthy of more than just a passing glance, and Charlemagne Tower Jr., the scion of a wealthy Pennsylvania family, is certainly a man worth profiling. Well educated, well-to-do, and well connected, Tower was attached to the University of Pennsylvania when he first entered the diplomatic service, being named by President McKinley as U.S. Minister to Austria-Hungary. A stint as Minister to Russia followed that post and lastly held the ambassadorship to Germany, being appointed by President Roosevelt. A popular man in his day, Tower could count Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany as a personal friend and is a far from forgotten historical figure, with an abundance of information available on his life online and elsewhere.
  The son of Charlemagne Tower Sr. (1809-1889) and the former Amelia Marvin Bartle, Charlemagne Tower Jr. was born in Philadelphia on April 17, 1848. A distinguished figure in his own right, Charlemagne Tower Sr. was a lawyer and businessman who accumulated a vast fortune through mining and railroad enterprises in both Pennsylvania and Minnesota and was later a member of the board of overseers for Harvard University. So prominent was Tower that in the years before his death three towns were named for him, in Pennsylvania, Minnesota and North Dakota.
  As the son of one of America's leading financiers, Charlemagne Tower Jr. had the benefit of an excellent education, first attending schools local to Philadelphia, and, later, a military academy in New Haven, Connecticut. Following enrollment at the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, Tower began study at Harvard University, graduating in 1872. Tower was afforded the luxury of continuing his education in Europe, and from 1872-76 traveled and studied foreign languages, history, and literature. From 1872-73 he "attended lectures at the university" in Madrid and gained his first taste of diplomatic service in 1873 when, at the request of then U.S. Minister to Spain Daniel Sickles, he accepted the post of attache on the staff of the American legation in Madrid. Tower would later leave Spain to spend time in Paris and Tours, France, and in 1874 made a stopover in Frankfurt, Germany, where he undertook further study. Tower would later visit Denmark, Sweden, and Russia in 1875, and in the winter of that year resided in Egypt. In his final year abroad, Tower ventured out on horseback, traveling from Jerusalem to Damascus, Syria before returning to the United States in July 1876.

From the National Cyclopedia of American Biography, Volume 5, 1894.

  Upon his return to the United States, Charlemagne Tower Jr. began law studies in Philadelphia under the tutelage of leading trial attorney William Henry Rawle (1823-1889), and also attended lectures at the University of Pennsylvania. Admitted to the bar in 1878, Tower would put a potentially lucrative career in law on hold in 1882 to remove to Minnesota, where, at the behest of his father, he took on the post of president of the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad Company. In connection with his father's friend, George C. Stone, Tower saw Minnesota's vast iron deposits opened to begin a substantial new industry in the vicinity and became a founding organizer of the Minnesota Iron Company, of which he would be a managing director.
  Tower resided in Minnesota until 1887, and after his return to Philadelphia continued success in business, taking on the vice presidency of the Finance Company of Philadelphia. He later held that company's presidency and, following a trip to California, met and later married Oakland native Helen "Nellie" Smith (1858-1931) in February 1888. The couple would have five children, Charlemagne III (1889-1964), Geoffrey (1890-1957), Roderick (1892-1961), Helen (1894-1964) and Gertrude (1895-1916). With the death of his father in 1889 Tower inherited a sizeable portion of the latter's wealth, and in the years following Charlemagne Sr.'s death Tower devoted himself to scholarly pursuits and for several months in 1891 vacationed in Europe.

From the New York Herald, March 27, 1897.

  With a keen interest in history and his wide educational attainment, Tower began work on his first book in the early 1890s, entitled "The Marquis de Lafayette in the American Revolution". Published in two volumes in 1895, the book was later remarked as having "taken high rank as a historical work and whose literary merit was at once conceded." A trustee of the University of Pennsylvania as well as a member of the Pennsylvania State Historical Society, Tower further aided his alma mater in the early 1890s when he became affiliated with the University's Department of Archaeology and Paleontology. As president of that department's board of managers, Tower was also a member of the department committees on Asia and General Ethnology, Babylonian, Building, Casts, Egyptian and Mediterranean, Glyptology, and the Museum.
  Not yet fifty years old in 1897, Charlemagne Tower Jr. could boast of a varied and colorful life, but other than his brief service as an attache in Madrid had yet to fully immerse himself in American diplomatic affairs. That changed in spring of 1897 when recently inaugurated President William McKinley wished to "recognize the splendid service of the Republican party in the Keystone State", and vowed to name a Pennsylvanian to a diplomatic post. With the backing of U.S. Senator Boies Penrose of Pennsylvania, Charlemagne Tower Jr. was the man selected. Recognized for his familiarity with languages, studiousness, and character, Tower was given the diplomatic plum of Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Austria-Hungary. Residing in Vienna with his wife and children, Tower's time in Austria saw he and his family occupy a Grand Duke's palace in the city. His tenure in Austria extended until January 1899 when President McKinley designated him as Minister to Russia, and he arrived at St. Petersburg several weeks later.

From the El Paso Daily Herald, January 16, 1899.

  Tower's ascension to the ambassadorship to Russia came at an interesting time in American-Russian relations, with the Bering Sea claims still a hot button issue. These claims extended from the seizure of three American whaling ships by Czarist vessels off the coast of Siberia in 1892. One of these ships, the Cape Horn Pigeon, was then "forcibly destrained" and taken to Vladivostok, where it remained impounded until the conclusion of the whaling season. After several years of claims between the two nations, Russia agreed to an arbitration, with the end goal being a settlement for the seizure of the American ships. A Dutch jurist, Dr. Tobias M.C. Asser, was chosen to arbitrate the proceedings, which came as a relief to Tower, who remarked:
"The relations between Russia and the United States were never more close or friendly than to-day. The only difference existing between the two nations is now sure of settlement on lines similar to the Venezuela arbitration. I will return to St. Petersburg on Saturday and the finishing touches will then be put upon the agreement."
  Following President McKinley's assassination in 1901 Charlemagne Tower concluded his service in Russia and in 1902 was designated as U.S. Ambassador to Germany by President Roosevelt. He officially entered into his duties in December of that year and his six-year stay in that country saw both he and his wife become popular members of German society. Kaiser Wilhelm II would also take a shine to the new American ambassador, and frequently invited Tower to sit next to him at state functions and dinners. In addition to favor from the Kaiser, Tower and his family lived in opulence during their residence in Berlin, with the Philadelphia Inquirer noting:
"At an expense far more lavish than any previous representative of the United States at the German court ever dreamed of, he lived in a magnificent palace, entertaining on a scale of unequaled splendor."
    To the dismay of the Kaiser, Charlemagne Tower Jr. announced his resignation as Ambassador in 1908 and in June of that year was feted with a lavish farewell dinner in Potsdam. After their return to Philadelphia, Tower and his wife resided in a thirty-nine room brownstone home complete with footmen and in the succeeding years entertained lavishly, having brought back with them "sumptuous and formal habits" from the courts of Europe. Tragedy would strike the Tower family in 1916 with the death of their twenty-year-old daughter Gertrude in a car accident, and shortly thereafter left their Philadelphia home
  Tower's final years were spent residing at the Green Hill Farms hotel in the Overbrook section of Philadelphia, and in early February 1923 was, due to ill health, removed to the Pennsylvania Hospital in that city. He died there on February 24, aged 74, and was thereafter interred at the Waterville Cemetery in Waterville, Oneida County, New York. This cemetery is also the burial location of Charlemagne Tower Sr. and his wife, as well as the former's father and mother. In addition to those burials, Tower's widow Helen, son Geoffrey and daughter Gertrude are interred here.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer, February 25, 1923.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Ilo Clare Funk (1889-1978)

From the Foreign Service Journal's 1936 photographic supplement.

  What of the name Ilo? Very likely the only American public servant (let alone diplomat) endowed with this strange first name, Ilo Clare Funk was a Colorado native who served as a career diplomat, being stationed as a Vice Consul and Consul in several different countries over three decades time, including Milan and Florence, Italy; Lucerne, Switzerland; Barbados; and Veracruz and Guadalajara, Mexico. The son of Zolman Edgar and Mabel (Nefsker) Funk, Ilo Clare Funk was born in Trinidad, Colorado on October 30, 1889.
  A student in public schools local to Cripple Creek, Colorado, Ilo Funk later attended the State Preparatory School at Boulder and in 1912 graduated with his B.A. degree from the University of Colorado. Prior to joining the foreign service Funk was employed by various mining companies in Colorado and Mexico between 1907-1911, and in the last named year began his first steps into a diplomatic career. 
  After a period of study and passing his examination in April 1912, Ilo Funk was named as a consular assistant that September and by August 1913 had advanced to the post of Deputy Consul at Milan, Italy. He would begin service as Vice Consul in Milan in February 1915 and upon further promotion in 1919 achieved the rank of vice consul class three from the state department. In October of that year, Funk was transferred to the U.S. Consulate in Lucerne, Switzerland and held the vice-consulship there until September 1921, when he was again transferred, this time to Genoa, Italy. Funk remained in Genoa from 1921-25 and during this time achieved the rank of foreign service officer class seven in July 1924. 
  Ilo Clare Funk would marry on June 26, 1923, in St. Pancras, London, England to Margery Nellie Elizabeth Zund (1898-1971). The couple was wed for nearly five decades would have two daughters, Elizabeth (1927-2013) and Margaret Helen Funk Hutchinson (1928-2011). Following his marriage he continued to serve the state department in Italy, being named as Consul at Catania in 1925 and at Florence in February 1928.
  In 1935 Funk left Italy to assume the consulship at Hull, Great Britain, where he was stationed until early 1940. In July of that year he was named to his first non-European diplomatic assignment, that of U.S. Consul in Barbados. Having set sail from New York City, Funk assumed his duties that July and remained in Barbados until 1944, when he entered into the post of Consul in Veracruz, Mexico.
  
From the Foreign Service Journal, June 1942.

  Based in Veracruz until 1946, Funk entered into his final diplomatic post in May 1947 when he was named Consul in Guadalajara, Mexico. He retired from the foreign service in 1949 and in the years following his retirement, resided in Sante Fe, New Mexico and later California, where in 1971 he suffered the death of his wife of forty-eight years, Margery. Funk's final years were spent in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he died on February 19, 1978, aged 88. A burial location for both he and his wife remains unknown at the time of this writing.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Halvern Lamar Norris (1896-1955)

From the Decatur Daily Review, April 9, 1941.

   If you are a follower of this site's Facebook page you'll remember that June begins a month-long theme of unusually named American diplomats, and the first to be profiled is Halvern Lamar Norris, an Illinois native who served several years as U.S. Vice Consul in Bangkok, Thailand and Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Following his return stateside Norris began a new career as an oil industrialist in California and continued to do business in that state until his death from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in 1955. The son of Ernest Norwood and Elizabeth (Foster) Norris, Halvern Lamar Norris was born in Patoka, Illinois on March 20, 1896.
  Little is known of Norris' early life in Illinois, excepting that he was later a resident of Effingham and would attend both the University of Illinois and Washington University in Missouri. Following the completion of his studies, Norris worked at the U.S. Veteran's Bureau in Des Moines, Iowa and in Washington. D.C. for an eight-year period. He first entered the foreign service in the early 1920s and by 1926 had entered into his first diplomatic assignment, that of consular clerk in Tokyo, Japan. He remained in Tokyo for several years, working under U.S. Ambassadors Charles McVeagh, William Castle, W. Cameron Forbes. 
  In 1932 Norris was designated as Vice Consul at Bangkok, Thailand and during his near six years of service in that country took special note of the humid weather, local architecture, lack of window glass, trade relations, and the declining tourist trade. This time abroad also saw Norris accumulate further knowledge in his study of languages, and by the conclusion of his diplomatic career was, in addition to his native tongue, fluent in Japanese, German, Italian, French, Spanish, and Serbian.

From the Foreign Service Journal's 1936 photographic supplement.

   Returning to his old home at Effingham, Illinois in May 1938, Norris gave an interview on his career and his upcoming transfer to Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now in Serbia.) Sailing for Europe on June 1, Norris served as vice consul in Belgrade until early 1941, and after his return to Illinois made note of Hitler's preying upon "the weaker nations of Europe". Remarking that the Yugoslavs would put up a fight if invaded by Nazi Germany, Norris stated:
"They are a sturdy and hardy people and will probably fight just as violently as the Greeks. Economically, the country has experienced great difficulties since its organization under the Versailles treaty. It is not as well equipped with armament as could be hoped."
  After he returned stateside Norris continued government work in California, where he taught Japanese language classes at military camps in the state. In the mid-1940s he became interested in the possibility of oil discovery in the Cuyama Valley, and, with two partners, began drilling oil wells in that area in 1946. The trio struck black gold, and within a few years time Norris founded the Norris Oil Co., and could boast of an oil field that produced "about 45,000 barrels a day." With his business office in Ventura, Norris continued to reside in that city until his death on January 11, 1955, at age 58. On that date, Norris was found dead in his office, a victim of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning which occurred due to a burning gas stove in his office, where all windows and doors were closed. Found slumped over a chair in his office, Norris' death was ruled accidental by the local coroner. A lifelong bachelor, Norris was interred at the Ivy Lawn Memorial Park in Ventura.

From the Decatur Daily Review, January 12, 1955.

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 Jude 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.

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.