Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Rhecha Robert Ross (1907-1980)

Rhecha R. Ross as he appeared in the early 1960s.

  The Strangest Names In American Political History's Black History month theme continues, and in the case of Michigan Republican Rhecha Robert Ross, obscurity again prevails. While he may have run several candidacies for political office in his native Michigan, there is a pronounced lack of sources giving note as to the particulars of Ross' life, including his formative years, education, and marriage. The son of Robert and Anna Ross, Rhecha Robert Ross was born in South Carolina in 1907.
  Ross is recorded with his family as a resident of Spartanburg County, South Carolina in the U.S. Census of 1910. Following his removal to Michigan at an unknown date, Ross was employed as a factory worker for General Motors Corporation for an indeterminate period. Despite the distinct lack of sources regarding Ross, a 1941 edition of the Detroit Tribune shines some light on a decidedly non-political aspect of his life--singing. Remarked as an "outstanding young tenor", Ross performed at the Detroit Insitute of Arts in early 1941, and also gave recitals at several white and black churches in his city. The Tribune would further relate that the:
"Followers of the vocalist say that he possesses a voice of unusual quality and vibrance and that his years of study have not robbed him of his naturalness and interprative ability."
 In addition to performing, Ross was an "announcer, soloist, and music director" for a religious radio program in the mid-1940s, titled "Signs of the Times". Ross would continue his singing career after entering politics, and in 1956 is noted as having a choral group, "the Charioteers", which performed at a homecoming gathering at Detroit's New Testament Baptist Church.


From the Detroit Free Press, August 1, 1954.

  Ross launched his first bid for statewide office in 1954 when he entered into the Republican primary race for state senator from Michigan's 4th senatorial district. In August 1954 he came up short in the vote count, polling 1,329 votes to John McLeod's winning total of 7,986. Undeterred, Ross made another bid for a state senate seat in the August 1960 Republican primary and would place third in the vote count on election day. This year would also see him lose the contest for Republican presidential elector from Michigan.
  With three losing candidacies behind him, Ross was afforded a measure of consolation with his service as a member of the Michigan Republican State Central Committee, of which he was a member for over two decades. In March 1965 he was elected as secretary of the Rules and Regulations Committee for that body, becoming the first of his race to be so honored.
  In 1966 Rhecha Ross announced his bid for a seat in Congress, and won the Republican nomination that year, unopposed. Hoping to oust Democratic U.S. Representative John Conyers (1929-2019), Ross did not fare well on election day, being trounced by Conyers, 89,808 votes to 16,853. Despite this lopsided contest, Ross attempted one further candidacy in 1970, being an unsuccessful aspirant for the Michigan state senate from the 8th senatorial districtLittle else is known of Ross' life after 1970, excepting notice of his death at age 72 on January 5, 1980. A burial location for him remains unknown at this time.


 From the Detroit Tribune, March 27, 1965.

You Can Help!

   I am currently searching for further information on Rhecha Ross and need your assistance!. While information regarding his political candidacies has proven to be plentiful, many other aspects of his life remain a mystery, including his family and later life. If you have any information you'd like to contribute, please contact me via the Facebook page link on the right side of this page! 

Monday, February 17, 2020

Ananias Nicholas Fluker (1870-1949)

Portrait from the Waycross Journal Herald, August 12, 1949.

  A pioneer black business leader in Clinch and Ware County, Georgia, Ananias Nicholas Fluker was the organizer of the first black settlement in Homerville and, following his removal to the city of Waycross, owned and operated a service station. A past president of the Negro Business League in Waycross, Fluker had a brief flirtation with politics with his service as a delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1912 from Georgia. 
  Born in Georgia in September of 1870 or 1871 (dates vary), Ananias Nicholas "A.N." Fluker was the son of Francis and Ellen Fluker. Young Ananias "spent his boyhood days" in Brooks County and later removed to Argyle, Clinch County, Georgia, where he entered into the copper and barrel making trade. He married sometime in the 1900s to Sarah Jewel Taylor  (1873-1946), and the couple became the parents of three sons, Lee France (1909-1967), Taylor R. (1913-1934), and Nicholas (birthdate unknown).
  After settling in Argyle Fluker was active in the local Baptist church and following his father's death established himself in real estate. Fluker also developed an interest in lumber sales in his region, and his work in these fields later led him to organize an early black settlement in the neighboring town of Homerville. In 1912 he was elected as an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention in Chicago, where President William Howard Taft was renominated as the party standard-bearer.
 One of thirteen black delegates from Georgia to represent their districts at that convention, Fluker and the Georgia delegation were involved in a train collision on June 17, 1912, involving their passenger train and several empty train coaches located in the yards of Chicago's Union Station. News reports detailing the collision give varying accounts as to Fluker's injuries, with the Chicago Day Book reporting "serious bruises and cuts", while the Brunswick News (shown below) notes spinal and internal injuries. Following the accident, Fluker was removed to St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago, where he recuperated.

From the Brunswick News, June 18, 1912.

    After the convention proceedings concluded, Fluker continued residence in Argyle and in 1916 served as vice-chairman of the 11th district's Republican convention held in Brunswick. In the early 1920s, Fluker and his family removed to Waycross in Ware County, Georgia, and following a trip through Florida, decided to further his business interests by establishing a service station in Waycross. Fluker's Service Station opened in 1927, not only for the "necessity of negro travelers" but also for the "benefit of his boys attending a high school."
   A.N. Fluker achieved further distinction in Waycross with his time as president of the city's Negro Business League, and in that capacity was instrumental "in the construction of additional buildings at both the Northside and Center High School." Long active in the Friendship Baptist Church in Waycross, Fluker would chair that church's board of deacons until his death in 1949. After many years of prominence in both Clinch and Ware County, Ananias Nicholas Fluker died at a Ware County hospital on August 9, 1949, aged 78. He had been preceded in death by his wife Sarah and son Taylor and was interred at the Hazzard Hill Cemetery in Waycross.

From the Waycross Journal Herald, August 12, 1949.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Onton Stebley Lloyd (1890-1978)

From the Huntsville Mirror, April 4, 1953.

  Obscure Washington, D.C. resident Onton Stebley Lloyd earns a spot here on the site not only for his curious name but for his being an active Republican in his region, serving as an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1956. Despite his prominence in Republican circles and the Improved Benevolent Protected Order of Elks of the World fraternal group, Lloyd's life largely remains a mystery, hence why the following article will be brief! 
  Onton S. Lloyd was born on February 22, 1890, near Fort Royal, Virginia. No information could be located on his early life or schooling, and in February of 1915 married in Washington, D.C. to Cora Austin (died 1947), to who he was wed until her death. Sources denote Lloyd being employed as a chauffeur during the 1910s, with he and his wife residing in Bethesda, Maryland well into the 1940s.
  While a good majority of Lloyd's life remains unknown, mention of his affiliation with the Improved Benevolent Protected Order of Elks can be found in several places online. In the early 1950s, Lloyd began service as a Chief District Deputy and Grand Exalted Ruler for the Columbia Lodge of the IPBOE, continuing in that role into the 1960s. 
  An active Republican in the District of Columbia, Lloyd was elected as an alternate delegate from Washington, D.C. to the Republican National Convention of 1956, where Dwight Eisenhower was nominated for a second term as president. In 1968 Lloyd was again called to service when, at the age of nearly 80, he was elected as a member of the Republican Central Committee of the District of Columbia, holding his seat for an indeterminate period.
   Widowed in 1947, Lloyd resided in the District of Columbia until his death in June 1978, at age 88. A burial location for both he and his wife remains unknown at this time.

Onton Lloyd as he appeared in 1958.

You Can Help!

  With Onton S. Lloyd being one of the more obscure figures profiled here in recent months, a "You Can Help" segment is necessary! If you know of any further information on Lloyd's life and career, please don't hesitate to contact me at this site's Facebook page link, which can be accessed via the above right side of this page.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Pope Barrow Billups (1889-1955)

From the New York Age, August 2, 1924.

  With February being Black History Month, the remainder of this month will be devoted to highlighting curiously named African-American political figures, the first of which is one term New York state assemblyman Pope Barrow Billups. A leading black lawyer in New York's 21st assembly district, Billups' tenure in the legislature may have been brief but his term saw him designated as an "industrious legislator" with an extensive record of proposing legislation. Billups' work included successfully guiding passage of a court bill that provided for additional municipal judges in his district, ushering in the prospect of African-Americans to be elected as judges in the city.
  A native of Athens, Georgia, Pope Barrow Billups was born in that city on October 11, 1889, the son of William D. and Elizabeth (Tucker) Billups. Bestowed the curious names Pope Barrow upon his birth, Billups appears to have been named in honor of another odd named political figure, Middleton Pope Barrow (1839-1903) a former member of the Georgia state assembly and, briefly, a U.S. Senator from that state. Billups' early schooling saw him enrolled at the Florida Baptist Academy in Jacksonville, graduating in the class of 1910. From there Billups began study at the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College, and beginning in 1908 took work as a stenographer in that state.
  After several years as a stenographer, Billups decided to pursue a law degree and relocated to New York. He enrolled at the New York University Law School and one year after his graduation in 1916 was admitted to the New York barPope B. Billups married in Manhattan in April 1919 to Edna Pierre Lartigue, and the couple later adopted a son, William Robinson.
  In the years following his establishing a law practice in Brooklyn, Billups was acknowledged as "one of the most successful accomplished lawyers of the race in the city." He would also gain prominence in fraternal groups in the city, holding memberships in the International Order of Odd Fellows, the Clubmen's Beneficial League, and was a past exalted ruler in the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World. In addition to those clubs, Billups was retained as an attorney for the Supreme Order of Moose and the Knights of Pythias Lodges and was for several years a trustee for the Bethel Baptist Church
   Pope B. Billups was called to the political field in August 1924 when the Republicans of the 21st assembly district put forward his name as their candidate for the state assembly. After receiving the nomination, Billups was accorded an extensive write-up in the New York Age, then one of the most influential black newspapers published in the nation. Acknowledged as a "college and professional man" with "culture and refinement", Billups:
"Typifies the self made man of the newer generation who has successfully forged his way to the front in spite of many difficulties. It is expected that his designation by the organization will serve to unify the several militant factors in the 21st Assembly District because of the general esteem in which he is held by all Republican workers in the district."
  Billups' opponent that year was Democrat Henri W. Shields, the incumbent assemblyman who had first won election in 1922. Like Billups, Shields was a black attorney in New York City and had etched his name into the history books when he became not only the first black Democrat ever elected to the New York State Assembly but the first black Democratic legislator elected in the nation's history. That November it was Billups who emerged triumphant, besting Shields by over 1,100 votes.
  Within a few months of taking his seat in January 1925, Billups had gained press as a proposer of legislation, introducing bills that would amend the state's benevolent orders law, and amend the personal property law. Early in this session, Billups introduced a bill that would have a substantial effect on the city judiciary. This bill (later referred to as the Billups bill) would:
"Amend the New York City municipal court code in relation to change of boundaries of the Seventh district and to provide for additional justices for this district."
  With this bill's passage in March 1925, two new municipal judges were to be provided for the seventh district, as well as the creation of a new judicial district, the 10th. As this legislation would directly affect the majority-black area of Harlem, Billups' bill paved the way for African American lawmakers to be nominated for judgeships in the city. Despite producing a landmark piece of legislation that year, Billups would lose his assembly reelection bid in November 1925, being defeated by Democrat Albert Grossman by a 1,000 vote margin.
  Following his defeat, Billups returned to practicing law and in the late 1920s served as president of the Harlem Life Insurance Company. In 1927 he reemerged on the political scene when he entered the Republican primary race for Judge of the 7th District Municipal Court. Unfortunately for Billups, he would lose out to incumbent Judge Lewis A. Abrams, who'd been elected one year previously. Undeterred, Billups was again a candidate for municipal judge in 1930 and during this campaign was touted as a "fearless lawyer, tireless worker, and noted trial lawyer".

From the New York Age, September 13, 1930.

  Running as an independent candidate, Billups would again go down to defeat in the September primary, polling just 1,830 votes. With two losing judicial candidacies behind him, Billups set his sights on a seat on the New York Board of Aldermen from the 21st district, and in September 1935 won the Republican primary. Billups would go on to lose the general election that November to Democrat Eustace V. Dench, who polled 3,859 votes to his own 3,154.
  Little is known of Billups' life following his defeat for alderman. He continued with his law practice and fraternal memberships, and in 1947 is recorded as a legal advisor for the Independent Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World. Pope B. Billups died on December 6, 1955, and was later interred at the Rosedale and Rosehill Cemetery in Linden, Union County, New Jersey.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Wilhelmus Bogart Robinson (1859-1937)

From the New York Call, October 8, 1918.

   One of a handful of Socialist party candidates to be featured here, physician Wilhelmus Bogart Robinson was a three time candidate for the New York State Assembly who later mounted six unsuccessful candidacies for the U.S. House of Representatives from New York. The son of Leander Van Ess Robinson and the former Catherine Rutgers Conger, Wilhelmus Bogart Robinson was born on November 26, 1859, in Manhattan. A distinguished figure in his own right, Leander V. Robinson (1830-1869)  was elected as District Attorney for Rockland County, New York in 1868, but died in office the following year. 
   As the son of a leading New York lawyer, Wilhelmus Robinson had the benefit of an excellent education, attending the Mountain Institute at Haverstraw, New York. This was followed by tutelage at a French school in New York City and later was enrolled at the Yonkers Military Institute. After deciding upon a career in medicine Robinson studied at the New York Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital in 1885, and following graduation in 1888 relocated to Massachusetts to begin practice. First settling in Easthampton, Robinson later resided in Shelburne Falls and in the early 1890s removed his practice to Brunswick, Georgia, where he remained until 1894.
  Wilhelmus Robinson married in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1885 to Mary Elizabeth Walker (1861-1955), to who he was wed for over fifty years. The couple's long union produced five children, Wilhelmus Jr. (born 1886), Mary Curley (born 1888), George Walker (born 1889), Leander Van Ess (born 1891), and Katherine Rutgers (1892-1962). 
  In 1896 Robinson settled in Brooklyn, New York where he accepted an appointment on the staff of the 26th ward's Homeopathic Dispensary. This was followed by a four-year stint (1897-1901) on the medical staff of the 28th ward's dispensary, and during the Spanish American War was a second lieutenant in the New York Volunteer Infantry. The particulars of Robinson's service remain largely unknown, and it is uncertain if he was deployed outside the United States.
  A Democrat for a good majority of his early life, Robinson first became active in politics during his residency in Massachusetts, where he was a Democratic committeeman for the town of Charlemont. After settling in New York, Robinson was exposed to poor living and working conditions in the city while visiting patients, which eventually led to his change of political faith. He joined the Socialist Party in 1912, and thereafter became an active party worker, being remarked as an "able speaker" and "a first rate storyteller".
  Robinson made his first run for political office in 1917 when he received the Socialist party nomination for state assemblyman from Kings County's 22nd district. One of three candidates vying for the seat, he polled a respectable third on election day, garnering 4,285 votes to winning candidate James Morris' total of 5,825. Undeterred by defeat, Robinson set his sights on a Congressional seat the following year, and after gaining his party's nomination, was profiled in the New York Call in October 1918. Under the headline "Robinson Aids Party By Work And Experience", Robinson's curious first name was also mentioned, with the Call noting:
"Dr. Robinson insists he is not William, nor yet Wilhelm. He is Wilhelmus, and he wants you to understand his Dutch ancestry. He probably can look back to a longer line of American ancestors than the vast majority of Americans."
 Throughout the latter part of 1918 Robinson stumped around his district, giving addresses on his campaign platform, and on election day placed a distant third, polling 6,751 votes, far behind winning Democrat David J. O'Connell's total of 28,882. The years 1919 and 1920 brought more of the same for Robinson, as he ran another losing candidacy for the state assembly in the former year and a failed congressional bid in the latter. In 1922, 1924, 1926 and 1928 he again sought election to Congress from New York's 9th district, and in each came out on the losing end, polling around 4,000 votes at each election.
  In 1927 Robinson was dealt a third loss in his bid for an assembly seat, and in 1930 ran his last campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives, losing out to the man who had bested him on five previous occasions, David J. O'Connell. In an unusual twist, O'Connell died a few weeks following the November election in December 1930, and a special election was held in February 1931 to fill the vacancy.


Robinson as he looked during his political career.

  In 1934 Wilhelmus Robinson retired from practicing medicine and spent the final years of his life in the town of Stony Point in Rockland County. He died at age 77 on January 31, 1937, and was survived by his wife and children. Mary Elizabeth Robinson outlived her husband by nearly two decades and following her death at 93 in February 1955 was interred alongside him at the Herbert Cemetery in Doodletown, New York

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Wordsworth Bryant Matterson (1859-1929)

From the Syracuse Journal, July 26, 1929.

  Lifelong New Yorker Wordsworth Bryant Matterson is likely the only Empire State political figure to share a name with famed English poet William Wordsworth, and during a long career as an attorney in Chenango County carved a career for himself as a "shrewd and tactful" trial lawyer.  Matterson earns placement here on the site due to his being District Attorney for Chenango County, and at the time of his death in 1929 held the record for the longest term of service in that office, having held that post for three consecutive terms. The son of Menzo and Sarah Delilah (Dutton) Matterson, Wordsworth Bryant Matterson was born on July 4, 1859, in South Edmeston, New York.
  Deciding upon a career in law at an early age, Matterson enrolled at the Albany Law School and graduated in the class of 1883. He joined with his cousin, Oscar F. Matterson, in the latter's law practice in New Berlin, New York, and later removed to the neighboring town of Bainbridge to continue practice. Matterson's residence in Bainbridge saw him elected to his first political office, that of township supervisor, and in that capacity represented it on the Chenango County Board of Supervisors.
  Wordsworth B. Matterson married his first wife Ella M. Butts (1857-1898) in the late 1880s and had two children L. Lucile (died in infancy in 1888) and Warren Butts Matterson (1890-1964). Following Ella's death in 1898 he remarried on July 26, 1899, to Helena Susan Curtiss (1875-1940). The couple were wed for nearly three decades and had two sons, Curtis Dutton (1901-1974) and Clarence Hovey Matterson (born 1909).
  In 1892 Matterson won election as district attorney for Chenango County, and soon after relocated to Norwich, New York. Early in his tenure in that post, Matterson was a prosecuting attorney in the case of Edward Tracy, then on trial for the murder of his aunt Minerva. Matterson and fellow attorney D.L. Atkyns proved successful in presenting their case, with Tracy being convicted of the crime and sent to Auburn Prison. Despite this conviction, Tracy developed a record as a model prisoner, and a decade following his conviction gained an advocate in the person of Wordsworth Matterson, the man who helped convict him. Matterson would even travel to Albany in December 1905 to "plead for a pardon" for Tracy, and in January 1907, following the commutation of his sentence, Tracy was freed.
  Matterson would be returned to the post of district attorney on two more occasions, and at the time of his leaving office in 1901 had held that office more times than any other occupant. He later removed to Syracuse and joined in a law partnership with Frank Miller, and following Miller's death took on W.F. Quin as a partner. Matterson was later joined by his son Curtis, with their firm name undergoing a name change to Matterson, Quin, Higgins, and Toumey.
  A member of several civic and fraternal groups in his region, Matterson was active in the Syracuse Elks Lodge, the Chenango and Onondaga Bar Associations, and was long a parishioner in the Presbyterian Church. In the weeks prior to his death, he took an extended visit to his summer home in New London, Connecticut, where he died on July 26, 1929, a few days following his 70th birthday. He was survived by his wife and sons and was later returned to New York for burial at the Riverview Cemetery in Oxford, Chenango County.

From the New Berlin Gazette, August 8, 1929.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Cada Castolas Boak (1870-1954)

Portrait from Who's Who In Nevada, 1907.

  The state of Nevada is a state with meager representation here on the site, with just three political figures from that state being profiled over the past nine years. Despite being a state that consistently refuses to "play ball" when it comes to fielding curiously named folks, this author is proud to unveil the name of Cada Castolas Boak. A ten-term representative in the Nevada legislature from Nye County, Boak is a rarity among Nevada political figures with his outstandingly different name, and in addition to his two-decade tenure in the legislature was a mining broker and served a four-year term as U.S. Postmaster at Tonopah.
  A native son of Iowa, Cada Castolas Boak was born in Hamilton County on March 15, 1870, the son of William Wesley and Samantha (Payne) Boak. The origins behind the name Cada Castolas remain unknown, and during his youth, Boak attended the Webster City High School in his native county. He would undertake further study at the Elliott Business College in Burlington, Iowa, and later flirted with a career in law, taking a year-long course in Burlington. This period of study was followed by a brief residence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Boak took a "special course" in advertising and another in technology.
  After his return to Iowa, Cada Boak's fortunes arrived in the form of several pieces of mining stock that he acquired "for practically nothing." In 1904 he left Iowa to make a go of mining in Nevada, and during his first few weeks of residence in that state made the acquaintance of an executive with the Litchfield Mining syndicate, then in need of an advertising agent. Boak took on the post of advertising agent with that firm and within a short period was dispatched to Tonopah, then a hotbed of mining activity. In the months following his arrival in that area, Boak developed a controlling interest in several mining properties in the vicinity.
  By 1905 Cada Boak had heard favorable reports of gold discoveries in Nevada's Manhattan region and sent a subordinate, Howard Burr, to investigate the claims. After joining Burr, the two men discovered the "great Consolidated ledge", a substantial vein of gold. Following the purchase of this property, Boak organized the Manhattan Consolidated Mines Company, and along with having a controlling interest in the company served as its secretary and treasurer. 
  In April 1906, Boak and attorney Lewis Rogers purchased "the Antelope" mining claim at Round Mountain, Nevada, and soon after organized the Round Mountain Antelope Mining Co. In May of that year a party consisting of Boak, Rogers and several others unearthed from a badger hole what was, at the time, called "the finest specimen of free gold on earth"--a fifty-pound rock carrying a 12X15 gold nugget "one-sixteenth to three-eighths of an inch in thickness." Boak's discovery was big news back in his hometown of Webster City, Iowa, and that city's paper later remarked that Boak would refuse a million-dollar offer to sell his find, which was later exhibited in Tonopah and Goldfield, Nevada.

From the Webster City Daily Freeman-Tribune, May 28, 1906.

  With his fortune made and his business interests secure, Boak would continue to expand his mining interests through the 1900s and 1910s, being a mining broker in Tonopah. In May 1912 he married in Volusia, Florida to Grace Elva Fuller (1878-1944), and the couple's three-decade marriage would be childless. The couple would take an active part in Presbyterian church affairs in their community, and in August 1915 Boak himself organized a sacred church musical comprising pieces by French composer Charles Gounod. This musical saw Boak direct the church choir, with Grace Boak (on cello) accompanied by two other musicians. 
  A founding organizer of the Tonopah Chamber of Commerce in the early 1920s, Cada C. Boak would garner additional press as a "good roads enthusiast" during that decade. Long an advocate for improved roadways in his state, Boak "mapped out a feasible plan" to develop a "splendid road" extending from both Goldfield and Tonopah that would eliminate not only slopes but also 31 miles of bad, flood-prone road in the vicinity of Summit Springs and the Sodaville wash. Boak's long interest in good roadways later saw him named as a national director for the Highway 50 Association, and in that capacity was
"credited in bringing the first interstate highway system to Nevada from Delta, Utah to Ely."
 While spearheading the good roads movement in Nevada, Boak was also a booster for the preservation of Lehman Caves, a natural limestone cave formation located in White Pine County. Through Boak's efforts, President Warren Harding declared the site a national monument in 1922, and in August of that year, Boak himself had charge of the flag-raising ceremonies for the official dedication of the site.
   With an extensive business career and a reputation as a leading civic booster, Boak was called to politics in 1926, when he won his first term in the Nevada House of Representatives from Nye County. His first term (1927-29) saw him chair the committee on Roads and Highways and won a second term in November 1928. The 1929 session saw Boak named to the committees on Corporations and Railroads; Federal Relations; Mileage; and Trade and Manufactures. In September 1929 Boak was appointed by President Hoover as U.S. Postmaster at Tonopah. Following confirmation in October, Boak resigned his seat in the legislature and would serve as postmaster through the Hoover administration, leaving office in November 1933.

Boak in old age, from the 1950 Nevada Legislative Manual.

    Boak was returned to the Nevada House of Representatives in November 1934 and during the 1935-37 session sat on the committees on the Judiciary, Mileage, Public Morals, and Roads and Highways. He would win a fourth term in 1936 and a fifth in November 1940. He would serve consecutive terms from 1941-1953, and wasn't a candidate for reelection in November 1952. At the end of his final term Boak was remarked as being the oldest member of the assembly (being 82 years old) and during that term was a member of the committees on Elections, the Judiciary, Rules and Legislative Functions, and Taxation.
  After the conclusion of his term Boak returned to his native Tonopah and in 1952 was an unsuccessful candidate for the Nevada senate, losing out to Democrat William J. "Billy" Frank. Widowed in 1944, Boak continued to reside in the home he had first purchased in Tonopah in 1910 and died there on August 2, 1954, aged 84. He was interred at the New Tonopah Cemetery in that city, and in the decades following his death remains a far from forgotten figure in that area, with his home in Tonopah being added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

From the Daily Freeman-Journal, August 5, 1954


Saturday, February 1, 2020

Frost Leland Benham (1892-1931)

From the composite portrait of the 10th Arizona legislature. 

   Two-term Arizona state legislator Frost Leland Benham's time on the Arizona political stage was brief, as he lost his life in a car accident in 1931, aged just 39. During his residency in Arizona Benham not only succeeded in politics but also civic affairs, being a utility company executive in the city of Jerome. A native Hoosier, Frost Leland "Frosty" Benham was born on April 1, 1892, in Valparaiso, Indiana, the son of Frost and Tillie Benham
  Benham removed with his family from Indiana to Dayton, Ohio at an unknown date, and from 1911-13 attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree. In 1914 Benham relocated to Arizona and following his resettlement in Jerome (located in Yavapai County), entered into employment with the United Verde Public Utilities Company, serving as its chief clerk. He would later advance to the post of manager of that company and served in that capacity until his death
   "Frosty" Benham married in Tempe in July 1923 to Adah L. Turner (1898-1970), to who he was wed until his death. The couple's brief union saw the births of two children, Marian Lee (born 1927) and Janet Ray (born 1930). In addition to his business dealings in Jerome Benham was active in the fraternal life of his community, being an Elks Lodge member, a member of the Rotary Club, and for a four year period served as treasurer of the Associated Charities of Jerome
  In 1924 Benham began his political career at the local level when he was elected to the Jerome city council. He would serve on that body's license, finance, and sanitation committee, and in November 1928 was elected as one of two Yavapai representatives to the Arizona state legislature. His service in the 1929-31 session saw him named to the committees on Accounting and Business Methods; Mines and Mining; and Public Lands. He would win a second term in November 1930 and in January 1931 was named to four new committees, those being Appropriations; Corporations; Public Health and Statistics; and Ways and Means.
  In June 1931 Frosty Benham undertook a trip to Prescott, Arizona and on June 14th attended a "Smoki" ceremonial presentation in that city. This gathering, which comprised white citizens acting out Hopi Indian rituals and customs, was followed by a dance, which Benham also attended. After returning to his car Benham began the drive back to Jerome but would lose control of his vehicle "after it struck a soft shoulder on the highway". The car then flipped over, with Benham suffering internal injuries and "a fractured right shoulder and hip." He was later transported to the United Verde Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries on June 16, 1931, aged 39.
  Following funeral services, Frost Leland Benham was interred at the Valley View Cemetery in Clarksdale, Arizona. He was survived by his two children and wife Adah, who, following her husband's death, remarried in 1934 to George MacTavish. The couple were later residents of California. Adah Benham MacTavish died there in October 1970, aged 72, and was interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Cypress.