Friday, January 13, 2017

Czerny Roberts Newland (1891-1973)

Portrait from the Texas Bar Journal, May 1973.

  The city of Linden, Texas received extensive mention in January 7th's write-up on Shields Ivans Cornett, a former Linden mayor and Cass County Judge. As it turns out, Linden lucked into the good fortune of electing two oddly named mayors, and the man that preceded Cornett in that office, Czerny Roberts Newland, is profiled today. Like Mr. Cornett, C.R. Newland (as most sources list him) was a long time Linden based attorney and in the early 1940s these two oddly named men operated a law firm together in that city. 
   Born on May 30, 1891 in Garland, Texas, Czerny Roberts Newland was the son of Neal Stone and Mary Alice (Roberts) Newland.  The origins behind Newland receiving the name "Czerny" have been lost to history, and one can only speculate as to why his parents would bestow this unusual name upon their son. Newland received his education at public and private schools in the Dallas County area, including the St. Matthew's School for Boys.
   Prior to practicing law Newland worked as a telegraph operator, and after a period of study was admitted to practice law in February 1917. Newland would briefly operate a firm with Judge M. L. Robertson in Dallas before removing to the city of Burkburnett in Wichita County. It was in that county that Newland took an interest in oil related litigation and leases, and remained there until resettling in Linden, Texas in the 1920s.  Newland had married in the mid 1910s to Hettie Emily Henderson (1893-1939), with whom he had several children, including sons Czerny II (born 1919), Roy Henderson (1923-1977), Charles Hardin (1926-1973) and daughters Frances, Mary Kate, Nannie and Alice Nell. The couple would separate in the early 1930s and in 1931 Newland remarried to Elizabeth McCary Scott (birthdate unknown), to whom he was wed until his death in 1973.
   Following his settlement in Linden Newland operated a joint law practice with G.E. Bartlett, and in the late 1920s was elected as the Mayor of Linden. He would serve twelve years in that office, but the exact dates of his terms (and whether they were consecutive or non-consecutive) remain a mystery. Several newspaper reports denote Newland first served as Linden's mayor in 1929 and was still serving in that post from 1934 to 1937, this according to numerous newspaper mentions of him in office during that time. 
   In 1937 C.R. Newland formed the law partnership of Newland, Cornett and Whitworth, taking as his partners future Linden Mayor Shields I. Cornett and attorney B.F. Whitworth. The last named man would leave this firm in 1940, whereafter Newland and Cornett would continue operations under the title Newland and Cornett.

From the Citizens Journal, January 25, 1940.

   After leaving the mayor's office C.R. Newland continued to be politically active, being a member of the Texas Democratic Committee for over a decade and in 1944 served as part of the Texas delegation to that year's Democratic National Convention being held in Chicago. Newland would also be affiliated with the Sells Petroleum Corp. in Gladwater, Texas, being the head of that company's legal and land departments.
   In the twilight of his life C.R. Newland traveled widely and is also recorded as having been an "avid hunter and fisherman" and member of the local Lions Club. He died in Marshall, Texas on January 4, 1973 and was later interred at the Linden Cemetery #1, the same location as that of his law partner Shields I. Cornett.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Shields Ivans Cornett (1893-1950)

Portrait from the Texas State Bar Journal, Vol. 6, 1950.

    Shields Ivans Cornett was for many years a leading citizen and attorney based in Linden, Cass County, Texas. In addition to practicing law he served Cass County as its County Judge and County Attorney, and in 1940 was elected as Linden's Mayor. Born on January 3, 1893 in Cornett, Texas, Shields Ivans Cornett was the son of George Thomas and Frances Holston Cornett. He would attend the public schools of Cornett and graduated from the local high school. In 1911 he married to Stella Vida Harrell (1895-1974), with whom he would have two children, Woodrow Wilson (1913-1994), and Frances (1918-2010).
   In the late 1910s Cornett began reading law in his spare time and also worked at farming. Admitted to the Texas bar in 1925, Cornett quickly rose to the top of his profession in Cass County, and just one year after being admitted to practice was elected as Cass County Attorney, an office he would hold until resigning in 1931. For the next two years he would practice law in Daingerfield, Texas and in 1932 was an unsuccessful candidate for Cass County Judge, being defeated by S.L. Henderson.
   Following his return to Linden in the early 1930s Shields I. Cornett continued with his practice and in the succeeding years established a reputation as one of that city's prominent public men, being a past president of the Linden Chamber of Commerce and a member of the board of stewards of the Linden Methodist Church. Returning to political life in the early 1940s, Cornett would serve as the chairman of the Cass County Democratic Committee for a decade and in 1940 won election as Mayor of Linden, serving until 1945
   During Cornett's tenure as Mayor of Linden he pulled double duty, chairing the county's selective service board during WWII. In 1945 Cornett became Cass County Judge, and served on the bench for two terms, leaving office in 1949. He returned to private practice after leaving that judgeship and continued until his death at age 57 on March 21, 1950. The Texas Bar Journal notes that Cornett had suffered a heart attack and was later transferred to a hospital in Texarkana, Texas, where he subsequently died. Cornett was survived by his wife and two children and was later interred at the Linden Cemetery.

From the Citizens Journal, March 23, 1950.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Elzo Francis Been (1883-1970)

From the Abilene Reporter News, Sept. 20, 1964.

   It's just a few days into the new year and the Lonestar State yields yet another interestingly named public official, Judge Elzo Francis Been of Eastland County. A practicing attorney for over fifty years, Been migrated to Texas at a young age and after being admitted to the state bar built up a substantial law practice in Eastland. A holder of several local offices in the 1910s and 20s, Been was elected as Judge for Texas' 88th Judicial district in 1924, and over two decades later briefly served as Eastland County Attorney.
   The son of Zachariah Huston and Julia Ann (Ownby) Been, Elzo Francis Been was born in Greenwood, Arkansas on November 9, 1883. Relocating to Texas at an early age, Been would attend school in the town of Gorman and began his college education at the Howard Payne College at Brownwood, Texas. Been earned his bachelor of laws degree from the Cumberland University Law School in the class of 1913 and in the following year married to Fannie Pearl Cannon (1888-1979). The couple were wed for fifty-five years and their union would see the births of two children, Truett Elzo (1915-2003) and Ruby Nell (1920-2011).
   Following his admittance to the Texas bar Elzo Been briefly practiced law in the town of Rising Sun, residing there from 1913-14. in 1915 he removed to Eastland County, where he would reside for the remainder of his life. After building up his law practice in that county he began to dabble in local politics, serving as a deputy tax collector and county clerk, holding the latter office from 1915-17. Been would later advance to the post of Eastland County Attorney, and from 1923 to 1924 was assistant county attorney. 
  In 1924 Elzo Been was elected as Judge for Texas' 88th Judicial district and served eight years on the bench. He retired from the bench in 1932, citing a distaste for the office, as well as noting that he "worried too much about other people's problems--whether or not I had made the right decision in a case." 
  After leaving the bench Been continued with his law practice and built up a large farm in Long Branch, where he would raise cattle. He returned to political life in 1950 when he agreed to serve as Eastland County Attorney for a term of one year, filling a vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Nathan E. Gresham. Been retired from that post in December 1951 and returned to private practice. He died in Elgin, Texas on September 24, 1970 at age 86 and was survived by his wife Fannie and two children. Following her death in 1979 Fannie Been was interred alongside her husband at the Murray Memorial Cemetery in Carbon, Texas.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Frethias Jefferson Netherton (1865-1897)

                                                              F.J. Netherton during his time as State Superintendent.

    2017 is upon us and with a new year comes an intriguing new name discovery from Arizona, Frethias Jefferson Netherton. Sporting a highly unusual first name (which, as of this writing, is of indeterminate origin), "F.J" Netherton was a California native who found his calling in educational matters in the Arizona Territory. At the age of just 28 he was named as Superintendent of Public Instruction for that territory and served one term. Netherton would meet a sudden end in 1897 when he was thrown from his horse while on a cattle drive, dying of his injuries a short while later.
   A native son of Contra Costa County, California, Frethias J. Netherton's birth occurred in that county on March 7, 1865, being one of several children born to John Smith and Matilda Estes Netherton. As a youth he worked the family's "ranch-farm" near Martinez, California and attended the public school in Point of Timber, California. Young Frethias also studied at the Oakland High School (graduating in 1887) and would take the reins of the family farm in the mid 1880s due to his father being stricken blind
   Following his graduation Netherton saw a future for himself in newspaper work, and for a short time was employed at the Oakland Enquirer. After several months in their employ, Netherton relocated to Mesa, Arizona in 1888, where he took on the position of principal of the Mesa public school. His time as principal extended five years and in 1893 reached his highest degree of public prominence when he was named as Arizona Territorial Superintendent of Public Instruction, an office that he would fill for two years.
   As the highest ranking educational figure in the Arizona Territory, F.J. Netherton would be called to serve in several other capacities by virtue of his office, including memberships on the Board of Directors of the State Normal School, the Territorial Board of Education, regent of the Arizona University and the Territorial Board of Examiners. Netherton would also hold the presidency of the Arizona Teacher's Association in 1893 and 1894, and in the last named year was a delegate to the National Editorial Association. One should also note that Netherton accomplished all of the above before reaching the age of thirty!


F.J. Netherton during his youth, courtesy of Find-A-Grave.

   Netherton's time as Territorial Superintendent was widely lauded and received prominent mention in the 1896 Historical and Biographical Record of the Territory of Arizona. Remarked as a "genuine Jeffersonian Democrat", Netherton:
"Succeeded, to a great extent, in raising the standard of excellence in the teaching force in the Territory, and in arousing an interest in educational matters generally. His policy on matters of school economy, etc., is ably given in his addresses before the Arizona Teacher's Association and the biennial report to the Governor."
   After leaving the post of superintendent Netherton continued to be actively involved in educational matters in the territory, becoming principal of the Yuma public schools. In 1897 he branched out into the butchery business, purchasing an interest in a meat market in Mesa, Arizona. In June of that year he and several other men embarked on a cattle drive near Mesa, during which several cattle became separated from the rest of the herd. As the Arizona Sentinel later reported, Netherton rapidly dashed after them on horseback, only to be thrown over the horse's head when it suddenly halted due to the cattle stopping. The Sentinel later reported that:
"He struck the ground on his forehead and face, smashing the bones of the forehead, breaking his nose and terribly lacerating both eyes." 
   Following the accident Netherton was taken back to Mesa, where he was recorded as being insensible for a short time. He would briefly regain consciousness but lived only a few hours after the accident, dying on June 30, 1897. Just thirty-two years old at the time of his death, Netherton's passing was widely reported throughout the territory, with many newspapers noting that  "a young life, with so many bright prospects before it has been so suddenly extinguished." A lifelong bachelor, Frethias J. Netherton was survived his father John and several siblings. His body was later returned to California for burial in the Netherton family plot in the Union Cemetery in Brentwood.


Netherton's obituary from the Graham Guardian, July 9, 1897.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Florentius Merrill Hallowell (1852-1937)

Portrait from S.D. Butcher's Pioneer History of Custer County, Nebraska, 1901.

    For the past four years I've traditionally devoted the last article of the year to an especially odd named political figure, and this year's final posting takes us to Nebraska and one of that state's most unusually named public officials, Florentius Merrill Hallowell of Buffalo County. A transplant to Nebraska from Maine, Hallowell was an attorney based in the city of Kearney and later served a decade as Buffalo County Judge. Late in his life he resided in New Jersey and California, dying in the latter state in 1937.
   Born in Augusta, Maine on August 12, 1852, Florentius Merrill Hallowell was the son of John (1820-1901) and Elizabeth Gaslin Hallowell (1814-1890). Hallowell's early life in Maine saw him attend the Waterville Classical Institute and the Maine State Normal School. In 1873 he enrolled at the Colby College and would graduate in the class of 1877 with his A.B. degree. Hallowell's time at Colby proved to have had a profound influence on him, and never forgot his Alma mater, as he later established the Hallowell Public Speaking Prize as a gift for the school. This prize (totaling $100) was made available for the encouragement of public speaking.  
   Both prior to and following his graduation Hallowell taught school at several locations in Maine, including Vassalboro and the Oak Grove Seminary in Bath. On Christmas Day 1876 Florentius M. Hallowell married to Etta Kilbreth (1850-1918), to whom he was wed for over forty years. The couple's union would see the births of five children, Florence (1881-1961), Marion (1883-1965), Amy (1887-1968), Bertha Lillian (1888-1978) and Howard Haynes (1892-1934).
  A year following his marriage Hallowell and his wife removed from Maine to Kearney, Nebraska. Soon after his arrival he began reading law in the office of his maternal uncle William Gaslin and was later admitted to the Nebraska bar. In 1878 Hallowell was named as official court reporter for Nebraska's 5th judicial district and held that post until 1892. During this time Hallowell also made his first foray into Buffalo County's business community, serving as the President of the 1st National Bank of Elm Creek and vice president of the Kearney National Bank. 
  Through the latter portion of the 1890s Florentius Hallowell continued to practice law in Kearney and first entered local politics in 1892 when he was elected as Secretary of the Kearney Board of Education. In 1900 he won election as Judge of Buffalo County and officially took on judicial duties at the beginning of the following year. His first term as judge extended until 1905, when he was succeeded by Ira Marston.  
   Hallowell was returned to the bench in 1907 and continued to serve until news reports broke that did momentary damage to Hallowell's reputation. In October 1911 the Omaha Bee published a report from a Kearney based newspaper that leveled charges against Hallowell, noting that "excessive fees have been collected by him from litigants in his office." 

From the Valentine Democrat, November 2, 1911.

   The affects of the Bee's October 1911 report continued to snowball through the coming year, and by March 1913 further reports had been leveled at Hallowell, with the Buffalo County Attorney and board of supervisors charging him with 
"practicing law in his own court and unlawfully preparing papers for cases and accepting fees for such work."
   Ouster proceedings were launched against Hallowell in March 1913 and a later report by a referee assigned to the case noted that the only count with substantial proof was that of practicing law in his own court. On June 15, 1913 Hallowell was removed from the office of judge, with a Nebraska district court declaring the office vacant. A short while later the Buffalo County Board of Supervisors appointed J.E. Morrison to the vacant judgeship.
  Understandably irked at being removed from office (as well as having the aforementioned charges made against him), Hallowell took action, bringing suit against Buffalo County on the basis that he was wrongly removed from office. Hallowell's appeal later resulted in his ouster being held void, and he was reinstated as judge. Despite being reinstated, Hallowell would bring further suit against Buffalo County, "seeking payment of his salary for the time he was removed from office", wages that totaled $1,053.85.  A later court finding denotes that J.E. Morrison, the man who had been appointed to succeed Hallowell as judge, had been the rightful holder of that office, and had rightfully earned the salary entitled to being judge. The court found that Buffalo County could not be compelled to pay the same salary to the de jure officer (Hallowell).
   Florentius Hallowell served as Buffalo County Judge through the remainder of 1914 and later retired from the practice of law. Widowed in 1918, he was later resident of Cranford, New Jersey and is also recorded as having spent "a number of years in Maine." In the twilight of his life he resettled in Placerville, El Dorado, California, where he died on March 26, 1937 at age 84. He was later interred at the Placerville Union Cemetery

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Baptista Maynard Tognoni (1914-1955)

Portrait from the Handbook of the Nevada Legislature, 1953.

   Hailing from a state that has been severely underrepresented here on the site, Nevada state representative Baptista Maynard Tognoni packed an incredible amount of activity into a life that ended at just 40 years of age. A veteran of WWII and an assayer and freight agent with several Nevada based businesses, Tognoni would serve two terms in the Nevada legislature from Eureka County, dying in office in February 1955.
  Born of Italian descent on March 6, 1914 in Eureka, Nevada, Baptista M. Tognoni was the son of Giovanni Antonio and Bernardina Caviglia Tognoni. Little is known of his early life in Eureka, excepting notice of his graduating from the Eureka County High School in 1931
  Tognoni entered into the Army in 1942 and would serve with distinction during the Second World War. He would attend the Radar School at Camp Davis, North Carolina and after receiving his certificate of proficiency served over two years in the South Pacific, being stationed in Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines
   By the time of his discharge in December 1945, Baptista M. Tognoni had attained the rank of Staff SargentFollowing his return stateside he worked as a freight agent for the White Pine Fuel Co. and as an assayer for the Standard Oil Company from 1948-49. He would later be employed with the Nevada State Highway survey crew from 2951-1953. In November 1952 he was elected as one of Eureka County's representatives to the Nevada legislature and took his seat at the start of the 1953-55 session. 
  During his brief service in state government Tognoni held seats on the house committees on Fish and Game, Mines and Mining, Veterans Affairs and Roads and Transportation. He would win reelection to the legislature in November 1954 and served until his death in Carson City on February 3, 1955, a few weeks short of his 41st birthday. Details on Tognoni's sudden death remain sketchy at best, with a legislative memorial resolution noting that he had "for many months" been in a state of impaired health and was apparently "stricken with a fatal ailment until a comparatively short time before the end came." This ailment was later revealed to have been a sudden heart attack.
   Tognoni's sudden death resulted in a vacant seat in the assembly, and shortly after his passing former state senator John H. "Jack" Murray was appointed to fill the vacancy. Following his death Tognoni was buried with military honors at the St. Brendan's Catholic Cemetery in Eureka.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Krat Cecil Spence (1872-1923)

Portrait from the Official Manual of Missouri, 1905-06.

     As 2016 slowly winds to a close we return to Missouri to examine the life and political career of Krat Cecil Spence, a three term member of that state's house of representatives during the early 1900s. Possessing a truly unique first name (he happens to be the only "Krat" I've located thus far), Spence had  served as Prosecuting Attorney for Stoddard County, Missouri prior to his election as a state representative.
    One of twelve children born to John Alexander and Cynthia (Leathers) Spence, Krat Cecil Spence was born in White County, Illinois on February 12, 1872. His education occurred at the Northern Indiana School and after a period of studying law was admitted to the Illinois bar. Little is known of Spence's early life in Illinois, and by July 1895 he had relocated to Bloomfield, Stoddard County, Missouri.
   Following his resettlement Spence established a law practice in Bloomfield and around 1900 was elected as Prosecuting Attorney for Stoddard County. He would serve four years in that post and in 1904 received the Democratic nomination for state representative. In November of that year Spence would defeat Republican nominee Ralph Bailey by a vote of 2,271 to 2,095 and took his seat at the start of the 1905-06 session. 
   Described by the Official Manual of Missouri as being "one of the best orators on the floor" during the 1905-06 legislative term, Spence was also remarked as having an interest in good roads and was an "active committee worker", serving on the house committees on Criminal Jurisprudence, Roads and Highways and Elections. Interestingly, this session of the Missouri legislature proved to be one of the most unusual in terms of oddly named representatives, with Pross Tid Cross, Abra Claudius Pettijohn, Emelius Pope Dorris, Goldburn Hiram Wilson and Littleton T. Dryden joining Krat C. Spence at the Missouri capitol!
   Reelected to the legislature in 1906, Krat Spence would serve one further term in the Missouri legislature (being reelected in 1908) and during this final term served on the committees on the Clerical Force, Revision, Roads and Highways. After leaving the state house Spence returned to practicing law and  in 1917 was an organizer of the Stoddard County Bar Association, of which he would serve as vice-president. 
  Krat Cecil Spence died at age 51 in Bloomfield, Missouri on September 5, 1923. He had married sometime prior to his death to Ms. Fannye E. Lockhart (1878-1959), who would later remarry to Dr. Tolman W. Cotton. Both Spence and his wife were interred at the Bloomfield Cemetery

Portrait from the 1909-10 Official Manual of Missouri.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Reau Estes Folk (1865-1948)

Portrait from the Chronicle, 1903.

   A prominent political office holder in late 19th and early 20th century Tennessee, Reau Estes Folk served several years as chief clerk of the Tennessee House of Representatives prior to his election as Tennessee State Treasurer in 1901, an office he would hold for over a decade. Born in Brownsville, Tennessee on September 21, 1865, Reau Estes Folk was the son of Judge Henry Bate and Martha Cornelia Estes Folk
  One of several children, Reau E. Folk wasn't the only member of the Folk family to attain public prominence, as his younger brother Joseph Wingate Folk (1869-1923) went on to serve a term as Governor of Missouri and later was an unsuccessful aspirant for the U.S. Senate. Another brother, Edgar Estes Folk (1856-1917), became a noted Baptist minister and prohibition advocate, and still another brother, Carey Albert Folk (1867-1944), served as the President of Boscobel College in Nashville. 
   Young Reau attended the public schools of Brownsville and would begin study at Wake Forest University in North Carolina in 1881. He studied law under his father for a short period before finding an interest in journalistic work. Folk would subsequently take on a position as reporter for the Nashville American and later was the city editor for the Memphis based Daily Scimitar. He continued work on the latter paper until 1891, when he returned to Nashville to rejoin the staff of the American.
  Reau E. Folk entered the political life of Tennessee in 1893 when he won election as chief clerk of the Tennessee House of Representatives. Folk would be returned to that office on three more occasions (1895, 1897 and 1899) and while still serving as chief clerk pulled double duty as managing editor of the Nashville Daily Sun from 1895-97. 

Reau E. Folk, from the 1895-96 Tennessee legislative composite.

   After eight years of service as chief clerk of the Kentucky legislature Reau Folk was elected by the legislature to fill a vacancy in the office of Tennessee State Treasurer, that vacancy coming about due to the resignation of E.D. Craig. Folk's popularity at the state capitol proved to be so large that shortly before Craig's resignation, over ninety Tennessee state legislators lobbied then Governor Benton McMillin to appoint Folk to fill the vacant post!
   Folk's decade long tenure as state treasurer also saw him fill the role of state insurance commissioner, and in that post Folk was particularly successful. During his stewardship of that department Folk took strides to:
"Bar out of the state all unsafe companies, and in pursuit of this object he has revoked the licenses of a number of concerns that had already secured a foothold within those lines." 
  In addition to his service as state treasurer and insurance commissioner, Folk was delegate to the National Insurance Commissioners convention on several occasions, and served on its executive committee. His time there also saw him chair a special committee designed to press Congress to outlaw fraudulent insurance companies from using the U.S. mail system.  
  Reau Folk married on February 6, 1901 to Nannie Dudley Pitcher (1877-1954), to whom he was wed for over forty years. The couple would have at least two sons, Winston Estes Pilcher (1901-1994) and Reau Estes Jr. (1917-1973). Of these sons, Winston E.P. Folk would go on to prominence through his service in the U.S. Navy, being a deputy director of Civil Relations as well as a Rear Admiral.
   After leaving state government Reau Folk maintained memberships in several fraternal groups, including the Knights of Pythias and Elks Lodges. He would serve as a trustee for the Ladies Hermitage Association (a group devoted to the preservation of Andrew Jackson's home "The Hermitage") and during his time with that organization chaired a special committee that undertook a detailed study of the Battle of New Orleans. This study was later written up by Folk and published in book form in 1935 under the lengthy title "Battle of New Orleans, Its Real Meaning: exposure of untruth being taught young america concerning the second most important military event in the life of the republic."
  Reau Estes Folk died in Nashville on February 8, 1948 at age 82. His wife Nannie survived him by six years, and following her death in 1954 was interred alongside her husband at the famed Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville.

Portrait from the Notable Men of Tennessee Vol. I, 1905.