Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ithamar Conkey Sloan (1822-1898), Ithamar Martindale Howell (1866-1920), Ithamar Warren Beard (1814-1862), Ithamar Francis Conkey (1823-1875)

From a Wisconsin Bar Proceeding report, 1901.

   The first politician to be profiled in today's four-part article is Ithamar Conkey Sloan, a transplant from New York to Wisconsin. Following his resettlement, Sloan established a reputation as a prominent attorney in Janesville and was later elected to two terms in Congress. Born in Morristown, New York on May 9, 1822, Ithamar Conkey Sloan was the son of Henry Scott and Maud McKenney Sloan. He was bestowed his unusual first and middle names in honor of Ithamar Conkey (1788-1862), a distinguished political figure and judge in Pelham, Massachusetts.
   Young Ithamar attended the commons schools of Morristown and early in life began reading law under Timothy Jenkins. Admitted to the New York State bar in 1848, Sloan married in 1852 to Celestia Eliza Spears (born 1831) in the town of De Ruyter, New York. Two sons would be born to their union, Francis and Charles Ithamar (born in 1857). Six years after being admitted to practice law Sloan removed to Wisconsin and established roots in the then-burgeoning city of Janesville. 
   Within a few years of his relocation, Sloan's name became a prominent fixture throughout law circles in Wisconsin, and in 1860 he was elected to the first of two terms as Rock County District Attorney. Three years later he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Wisconsin, defeating Democratic candidate Joshua J. Guppy (1820-1893). Sloan served two terms in Congress (1862-1866) and would serve on the House committees on Public Lands, and Expenses of the War Department.  
  After returning to Wisconsin in 1867, Sloan returned to his earlier career as an attorney and in 1875 became the Dean of the University of Wisconsin's Law Department. In that same year, he was tapped to serve as assistant attorney general of Wisconsin, serving in that capacity for an indeterminate period. His time in office saw him "prosecuting the granger laws on behalf of the state against the railroads violating the laws in Wisconsin, which resulted in a complete triumph for the state"
 Ithmar C. Sloan retired as law school dean in 1889 and spent the remainder of his life in Janesville, where he died on December 24, 1898, at age 76. Sloan was subsequently interred at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Janesville, Wisconsin. He was subsequently memorialized by the Benton Mining Times as a "profound thinker", and that:
"The career of Mr. Sloan while in Congress was alike honorable and useful and he came out of public life in Washington with a splendid record."

  Next up is Ithamar Martindale Howell, an Iowa resident who later became Secretary of the State of Washington. Howell was born in Waukon, Iowa on February 18, 1866, and immigrated to the Washington Territory with his family in 1877. Howell attended Monmouth College in Oregon as a young man and within a few years became an important figure in the burgeoning Puget Sound business community. During the 1890s he became Secretary of the World Printing Company, and during this time also developed an interest in mining. This interest eventually led Howell to become the Secretary and Treasurer of the Peco Free Milling and Mining Company.
   With his name firmly established in the Washington Territory, Howell began to dabble in politics in 1899, winning election as Pierce County Assessor. Ten years later he was named by then Washington Governor Marion Hay as the Secretary of the State of Washington and was twice reelected to that office. Howell served eleven years in this post, dying in office on July 13, 1920, at age 54.

   A prominent resident of Middlesex County, Massachusetts during the mid-19th century, Ithamar Warren Beard was born in the county above on September 3, 1814. Beard studied law in New Hampshire and eventually established a law practice in Pittsfield, New Hampshire in 1842.
  Beard moved back to Massachusetts during the mid-1840s and was nominated by the state Democratic party for a seat in the State Senate. He lost this election but eventually won the Senate seat in November 1851, with his term commencing at the start of the following year. After serving one term in the state senate Beard was named as the Assistant U.S. Treasurer at Boston. He served in this post for seven years, and in 1860 was named as cashier of the custom house of Boston. Beard's tenure in this office was cut short by ill health, and he died at age 48 on October 31, 1862.

   Hailing from the town of Amherst in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, Ithamar Francis Conkey was born in that town on March 23, 1823, the son of Judge Ithamar Conkey and his wife Elizabeth Clapp. He attended schools local to Amherst and went on to study at the Amherst College in 1843, but left before completing his studies. He eventually decided upon a career in law and after a period of study was admitted to the bar and launched his practice in Amherst in 1844. He married in that town on June 15, 1847, to Luthera Cutler (1826-1885), with whom he would have the following children: Jane Cutler (1848-1905), Edward (1850-1919), Lizzie (1853-1855) and Samuel (1856-1857).
   In the succeeding years, Conkey built up a successful law practice, and with it a reputation as one of Amherst's leading men of affairs. In the year of his marriage he was named as a justice of the peace and in 1852 was elected to the Massachusetts State House of Representatives from Hampshire County. He served in the legislative session of 1853-54 and in 1856 was elected as District Attorney for the Northern District of Massachusetts.
   In addition to his time in public office, Conkey was active in several civic organizations, such as the Hampshire Agricultural Society, was secretary of the Amherst Lyceum, the Masonic Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and was a vestryman in the Grace Church of Amherst. Ithamar F. Conkey died in Amherst on August 8, 1875, at age 52 and was survived by his wife Luthera, who died in 1885. Both were interred at the West Cemetery in Amherst. The above portrait of Ithamar F. Conkey appeared in volume one of the History of the Town of Amherst, Massachusetts, published in 1896.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Austerlitz L. Riveire (ca. 1821 - 1860)

  One of the main problems compiling and categorizing some of these oddly named politicians is the occasional lack of information on them. Today's short article is a perfect example of that. The man being profiled (Austerlitz L. Riveire) has absolutely nil when it comes to finding pertinent facts on his life and career.
 What is known is that I discovered Riveire on a historical roster of members of the Florida State House of Representatives and that he was elected from Jackson County and served in the legislative sessions of 1854 and 1855. A further search on Riveire yielded the fact that he died sometime in September 1860 at age 39, leaving behind one son, Leonidas. 
  One might also ponder the uniqueness of Riveire's first name. I can make an assumption that his obvious French ancestry might have had something to do with him being (presumably) named after the famous Battle of Austerlitz, fought between Napoleon's troops and a coalition of Russian and Austrian soldiers. 

You Can Help!

I am currently seeking more information (as well as a possible picture) of Austerlitz Riveire. If any readers/lurkers/amateur historians want an interesting project to fill their time with, see what facts you can dig up on this uniquely named Florida representative! It is also known that there are two different ways of spelling Austerlitz's last name, "Riveire" and "Riviere".

Monday, December 12, 2011

Americus Vespucius Rice (1835-1904), Americus Calvin Daily (1835-1907), Americus Enfield (1847-1931), Americus Columbus Mitchell Sr. (1810-1891). Americus Hodge Woodward (1859-1928)

   Today's multiple postings center on five politicians with the unusual first name Americus. The first of these men, Americus Vespucius Rice, was a prominent Civil War figure in addition to his post-war political activities. Rice was born in Perrysville, Ohio on November 18, 1835, being the son of Clark Hammond Rice (1804-1870) and his wife Catherine (1808-1874). His unusual first and middle names stem from the anglicized version of the name Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer who later lent an alternate version of his first name to two continents, the Americas.   
    As a young man, Americus Rice studied at both the Antioch and Union Colleges, graduating from the latter in 1860. Following his graduation, he took up the study of law and would later abandon it at the outset of the Civil War. Rice entered into military service in April 1861 when he was "elected as a second lieutenant" in Co. E. of the Ohio 21st Volunteer Infantry. Rice would be wounded several times during his service, the first occurring at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862. He received a promotion to Lieutenant Colonel in 1862 and at the Battle of Kenesaw Mountain in 1864 was "severely wounded in the right leg, the left foot and the forehead." He had suffered a terrible injury at Vicksburg some months previously and this most recent wound eventually necessitated the amputation of his right leg above the knee. Despite his grievous injuries Rice pulled through and was later brevetted as a Brigadier General in May of 1865. Although his injuries kept him from active service for the better part of a year, Rice is recorded by the Biographical Encyclopedia of Ohio as having been able to "rejoin his army" in New Bern, South Carolina in April 1865.

                                          Americus V. Rice during his congressional service, ca. 1875.

    Rice was honorably discharged in January 1866 and after returning to private citizenship married Mary Metcalf on October 11, 1866. Their union would later see the births of two daughters, Mary (born 1869) and Katherine (born 1873). Sometime following his marriage Rice journeyed to Arkansas to engage in cotton planting. His stay in Arkansas lasted two years and he returned to Putnam County, Ohio in the late 1860s. Americus Rice joined C.H. Rice and Co., a banking firm operated by his father, and following Clark Rice's death in 1870 Americus took the reigns of the company. 
   In 1872 Americus Rice was elected to his first political office, as a delegate from Ohio to the Democratic National Convention in Baltimore. Two years later Rice was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio and served here for two terms (1875-1879). During his congressional service, Rice is noted as having devoted "a large part of his services" to the affairs of Civil War veterans, even serving as the chairman of the House Committee on Invalid Pensions during his second term.
   Following his congressional service, Rice continued with his earlier banking interests in Ohio. In 1893 he was appointed as a pension agent in his native state, serving from 1894-1898. After moving to Washington, D.C. in 1899, Rice was tapped by then-President William McKinley to serve as a "disbursing clerk" for the U.S. Census Bureau and served in this capacity until his death at age 68 on April 4, 1904. Funeral services for Rice were held at the "Iowa apartment house" in Washington, D.C., and he was later interred with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. 

Americus V. Rice, from his obituary in the April 6, 1904 Washington Evening Star.

From the Indianapolis News, May 8, 1896.

  The second Americus to be highlighted is Americus Calvin Daily of Indiana, whose birth occurred March 10, 1835, in New Carlisle, Ohio. The son of Charles and Mary (Hay) Daily, Americus C. Daily attended public schools local to New Carlisle and later went on to attend the Linden Hill Academy in that town. In 1855 Daily left Ohio for a new life in Indiana, and following resettlement in Boone County resided with his uncle, John C. Daily, then the incumbent county treasurer. In March 1858 Daily married his first wife, Henrietta Blue, who died five years later at just twenty years of age. Daily remarried in 1867 to Maggie McCorkle, to whom he was wed until her death in 1899. The couple would have at least three children, including Charles Earl (1870-1920), Carrie (1873-1880), and a child who died in infancy in 1881.
  Soon after his relocation Americus began service as deputy county treasurer under his uncle, continuing in that role until 1860. In that same year, Daily filled a vacancy in the office of clerk of the Boone County Circuit Court and in 1861 won election as trustee for Center township. He continued his climb through local politics with his service as Boone County Auditor beginning in 1862, and five years later became a primary organizer of the Lebanon Bank. Upon that bank's reorganization in 1882 Daily was named as its president, and also served six years as secretary of the Boone County Agricultural Society. 
  In 1884 Daily served as part of the Indiana delegation to the Republican National Convention in Chicago, where James G. Blaine was nominated for the presidency. Ten years later, Americus Daily achieved his highest level of public service when he was elected as  Indiana State Auditor in November 1894. Taking office at the start of the new year, Daily won a second term in 1896 and served until the completion of his term in 1899. He continued residence in Lebanon after leaving office and died on June 4, 1907, at age 72. Both he and his wife Maggie were interred at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Lebanon.

                                                 A great man with even greater facial hair, Americus Enfield.

   Next is Americus Enfield, who was born in Somerset County, Pennsylvania on April 7, 1847. Although the political offices he held (a candidate for Congress and a National Convention delegate) are comparatively minor to the preceding individuals, Enfield gained most of his notoriety from his career as a physician. He attended Mercersburg College and after graduating, set up a small medical office in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.
  Throughout the coming years, Enfield would continue his medical practice in Maryland and other parts of Pennsylvania. It is mentioned in the 1912 work The Progressive Men of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that Enfield made a "specialty of treating disorders of the stomach, which he treats with devices of his own invention". The book goes on to state that this invention was a brush/sponge/spraying implement which when inserted into the stomach "removes the substances which clog up the digestive machinery, and with this instrument he has treated nearly 300 cases without the loss of one." 
   On the political front, Enfield was a staunch Democrat, and in 1884 was nominated by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He ended up losing the election to the incumbent Republican, Jacob Miller Campbell (1821-1888.) In 1896, Enfield was named as one of the Pennsylvania delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and stumped for the party's presidential candidate, William Jennings Bryan. Enfield would serve as a Democratic delegate again sixteen years later, this time in Baltimore. Dr. Americus Enfield continued his career as a physician after his time in the political arena and died shortly before his 84th birthday on April 2, 1931.

In an addendum to this article, in early February 2012 another politician with the given name "Americus" was discovered.  The man in question, Americus Columbus Mitchell Sr., has very few available sources mentioning him at great length, but enough information is available to write a small article on his life and political career.

   Americus Columbus Mitchell Sr. was born on November 19, 1810, in Hancock County, Georgia. As a young man, he resettled with his family in Alabama and later served during the Mexican-American War. Mitchell's inclusion here rests on his service in the Alabama State Senate, where he served both before and after the Civil War. In addition to his legislative service, Mitchell was named as Captain of the Glenville, Alabama Home Guard during wartime. He died at age 80 on January 21, 1891, and was buried in his native town of Glenville

  In another addition to this article (May 9, 2013), another political "Americus" has been located-- Americus Hodge Woodward of Clearfield, Pennsylvania. A lifelong resident of the Keystone State, Woodward was born in Luzerne County on May 1, 1859, and went on to attend the Normal School at Millersburg, graduating from here in 1878. He later enrolled at the University of Michigan and graduated in the class of 1882.
 After returning to Pennsylvania, Woodward read law and was admitted to the state bar in 1883. He married in June 1884 to Ms. Ella Jane Beistle (1860-1938) and the couple became the parents of three children, Hugh Beistle (1885-1968) Joseph Donald (1887-1949), and Dorothy (1895-1961). In the late 1890s, Woodward joined Co. E. of the 5th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry and saw action in Cuba during the Spanish-American War.
   In addition to his military service, Woodward built up a successful law practice in Clearfield and in 1904 was named as one of Pennsylvania's delegates to the Republican National Convention in Chicago. Twelve years following his service as a delegate Woodward became a candidate for the Pennsylvania State Assembly and in November of 1916 was narrowly defeated at the polls.
  Despite having little information on his life available online, it has also been found that Woodward was elected to two terms as Clearfield County District Attorney in the early 20th century. He died shortly before his 69th birthday on April 24, 1928, in Clearfield and was later interred at the Hillcrest Cemetery in that city.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ochmig Bird (1813-1878)

   Multi-term Indiana state legislator Ochmig Bird was a native of the Keystone State, his birth occurring in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania on March 19, 1813. His early education took place in the state of his birth and at age 23 he relocated to Fort Wayne, Indiana. Bird married in 1840 to Anne Suttenfield (1821-1879). Two children were eventually born to this couple, James Ochmig (1841-1906) and Eliza Jane (1851-1911).
   After his resettlement in Indiana, Bird set about establishing himself as both an engineer and railroad builder. He is also listed as being a prime mover in the construction and development of the Wabash and Erie Canal, and was "prominently identified with its enterprise for about a quarter of a century." In 1842 Bird was elected to his first public office, that of surveyor for the city of Ft.  Wayne. Throughout the succeeding years, the name of Ochmig Bird became familiar to voters in the aforementioned city, as he was elected to the Ft. Wayne city council (serving 1851-1852), and as Allen County treasurer (serving 1856-1860).
   Acknowledged as an "earnest and enthusiastic Democrat all his life", Bird was elected to the first of three terms in the Indiana house of representatives in 1849. During the 1849-51 session, Bird sat as a member of the committee on Canals and Internal Improvements, and a decade later was re-elected to the house, serving two more terms from 1862-66. These terms saw Bird named to three new committees, those being Banks, Railroads, and Ways and Means.
  The election year of 1868 saw Bird elected to the state senate and from 1868-69 sat on the committees on Legislative Apportionment, Military Affairs, and the State Library. He would resign in mid-1869 and in 1871 was elected to another term in the Senate, where he served until November 1874. A longstanding member of the Masonic lodge in his city, Bird died aged 64 on January 21, 1878, in Ft. Wayne and was later interred in the Lindenwood Cemetery in that city. His wife Anne survived him by one year, dying in October 1879 at age 58. The rare portrait of him shown above was discovered in the Pictorial History of Ft. Wayne, Indiana, published in 1917. This work also memorialized Bird's services to Ft. Wayne as ones of "lasting value", and that he:
"Was a man of practical mind, the type of citizen to represent the people at a time when many important public questions forced themselves on the state and county authorities."

Friday, December 9, 2011

Astyanax Mills Douglass (1838-1908)

Portrait courtesy of the Legislative Reference Library of Texas website.

    The politician profiled today is one Astyanax Mills Douglass, a multi-term representative in the Texas legislature from the county of Hill who was later elected to two terms in the state senate in the latter period of his life.  Thanks must be given to the ever-useful website called the Legislative Reference Library of Texas, where the above picture of Mr. Douglass was located. The aforementioned legislative database has done a great job of chronicling the history of the Texas State Legislature and the many men and women who have walked its halls, including the man being profiled today.
  Astyanax M. Douglass was born September 10, 1838, in the county of Sumner, Tennessee, a son of James and Caroline Mills Douglass, and is presumed to have been bestowed his unusual first name in honor of Astyanax, a child mentioned in Greek mythology as being the firstborn son of Hector, the crown prince of Troy. Douglass attended schools local to Tennessee and later went on to pursue the study of medicine in Nashville, earning his degree to practice medicine in 1861. 
   Following his graduation from medical school, Douglass relocated to Mississippi, and it was here that he enlisted in the ranks of the Confederate Army. During his service, Douglass served with Co. I of the Sixth Mississippi Infantry and was promoted to second lieutenant following his actions at the Battle of Shiloh. Douglass later saw action at the Siege of Corinth, Mississippi, where he was injured, necessitating his removal to a military hospital in Bowling Green to recuperate. After a period of convalescence, Douglass returned to active duty, and in 1864 suffered another injury at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, and was later taken prisoner by the Union Army.
   After a period spent as a prisoner of war, Douglass returned to Tennessee and reestablished his medical practice. He removed to Texas in 1866 and engaged in farming, in addition to his career as a physician. In 1868 Douglass married Charlotte Anne Gathings (1840-1904) and later became the father to four children, M. Callie (1869-1877), James Gathings (1874-1949), Bennie (died in infancy in 1881) and Lottie (died in infancy in 1883.) Following his marriage, Astyanax Douglass continued to practice medicine and became active in Democratic political circles in Hill County. His prominence in the area eventually led to his nomination for a seat in the Texas State House of Representatives, to which he was elected in November 1873.
   In early 1874 he began the first of three successive terms in the Texas State Legislature, serving here until 1881. During these terms, Douglass held seats on several House committees, including Contingent Expenses, Counties and County Boundaries, Private Land Claims, Public Lands and Land Office, Internal Improvements, and Indian Affairs. 

            Douglass pictured early in his legislative career, from the Texas Legislative Library website.

  Throughout the 1880s, Douglass busied himself in several local positions, including a stint as Chairman of the Hill County Democratic Executive Committee and was president of the Medical Examining Board for Texas's 18th Judicial district. In 1887 he was named as the second vice president of the Texas State Medical Association and served one year in office.  Douglass was also elected to the permanent post of president of the Confederate Veterans and Old Settlers Association of Hill County, serving until his death.
   Douglass resumed his political career in 1893 when he was elected to the Texas State Senate, where he served a term that concluded in 1895. He was returned to the Senate eight years later, where he served another two-year term. During these terms, Douglass served on the Senate committees on Agricultural Affairs; Internal Improvements; Roads, Bridges and Ferries; State Asylums; and was chairman of the committee on Public Health during both terms.
   In 1904 Douglass suffered the death of his wife of over thirty years, Charlotte (nicknamed "Lottie".) Astyanax M. Douglass followed her to the grave four years later on March 1, 1908, at age 69, and was interred alongside his wife at the Covington Cemetery in Hill County, Texas. In an aside note to the preceding, there happens to be a second man named Astyanax Douglass, who was born in 1897 in Covington, Texas. Astyanax Saunders Douglass (presumably a relative, possibly even a grandson of the above) went on to play Major League Baseball and served as the Cincinnati Reds catcher from 1921-1925. He died in January 1975.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Godolphin Finney Burslem (1855-?)

Portrait from the Representative Men of New York, Volume II, 1898.

  The picturesque life of Godolphin Burslem is examined today, and after reading the following passages on his life, I'm certain you'll agree that the mustachioed man above lived a life of intrigue and mystery! Burslem ran an unsuccessful campaign for the New York State Assembly in 1896, but it is the other aspects of his life (that of a con man and criminal) that will lend quite a bit of color to this article. Godolphin Finney Burslem was born in Great Britain on May 6, 1855, into a family prominent in the English military. He attended the Woolrich Military School in 1870 and the next year began service in the Royal Horse Artillery. 
   In 1874 he journeyed to South Africa and eventually became caught up in the Zulu War, which began in 1879. During his service in that  war, Burslem lost a leg at the Battle of Isandlwana and later had it replaced by one made of cork (and here is where his story starts to get interesting; it was later determined that Finney actually lost his leg in a gun carriage accident during the final months of the war.) While he may have been exposed as a humbug late in his life, it is obvious that Burslem did have a noteworthy military career early on.
  After returning home to Great Britain Burslem began a shadowy career as a swindler and fraudster. A brief snippet of his criminal beginnings was chronicled in the New York Times in 1901 and is shown below.

   In September 1885 he was arrested for securities fraud in Cockerill, England, and subsequently jailed. He was released from prison in 1889 and in January 1890 immigrated to the United States. The 1898 work entitled Representative Men of New York, Volume II, gives a very "clean" overview of Burslem's life (his frauds hadn't been exposed yet) and notes that in 1891 "he entered the publishing business which he followed for some time with great success". Later on, this same work details that after engaging in banking and brokerage pursuits, Burslem "succeeded in incorporating forty-three companies, possessing an aggregate capitalization of $23,000,000." One can pretty much read between the lines here and see that this was likely embellishment on the part of Burslem, who obviously kept his stint in jail a secret from the book's editor, Jay Henry Mowbray. The aforementioned book also relates other factual inaccuracies about Burslem's life, such as his settlement in Buffalo in 1885 and his job as a purchasing agent for the Metropolitan Hotel in New York City.

A Burslem campaign notice from the New York Times, 1896.

   In 1896 Burslem's apparently "sterling" reputation got him noticed by the Democratic Party in New York City, which subsequently nominated him for a seat in the state assembly. The above New York Times snippet for the assembly seat lists Burslem as a member of the ill-reputed Tammany Hall and mentions him as an insurance agent. The results of the campaign (which Burslem lost) were posted in the New York Times a few days after the election. You'll notice that he placed a respectable second out of a field of six candidates, being defeated by Republican nominee Robert Mazet by over three thousand votes.

   Between this election and 1901 little is known of Burslem's life, but what life he had carved for himself was brought to an end in December 1900 when a bench warrant was issued for his arrest on the charge of larceny, having stolen a sum of $40 from Caroline Krager of Elberon, New Jersey. Burslem would escape New York City shortly afterward and was later arrested in Boston in July of 1901. Following his return to New York City, he was incarcerated at the infamous "Tombs" jail, being held on $1000 bail.

  Godolphin Burslem was convicted of larceny in February 1902 and when sentenced, pleaded for clemency. The final New York Times article mentioning him was published shortly after his conviction and is posted in its entirety below. Strangely, none of these articles dealing with his arrest mention his earlier candidacy for the state assembly.

  The end of Godolphin Burslem's life is as mysterious as the rest of the facts presented above. It appears that after his 1902 conviction, Burslem disappeared from the pages of history for the most part. He is recorded as an inmate in the 1905 New York State census, and it isn't conclusively established what happened to him after this date. It can be surmised that he may have died in jail or could have possibly returned to England after serving his sentence. I suppose it will forever remain a mystery, much like the man himself!

  For those who may want to read the "clean" version of Burslem's life (as published in 1898 in the Representative Men of New York mentioned earlier), it has been posted below, as it was originally found on the website

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Vespasian Warner (1842-1925), Vespasian Smith (1818-1897)

  The first part of today's two-part posting centers on Vespasian Warner of Illinois, a man who served in a variety of public offices during his 83 years of life. He was born on April 23, 1842, in De Witt County, Illinois, and served with distinction during the Civil War in the Illinois Volunteer Infantry. In 1865 he was promoted to Major and was mustered out of service the following year. 
   After the war's conclusion, Warner began the study of law and attended Harvard University, from which he graduated in 1868. He was admitted to the bar following his graduation and began the practice of his chosen vocation in his hometown of Clinton, Illinois.  
  In March 1868 Warner married his first wife Winifred Moore and this marriage eventually produced five children, who are listed as follows: Paul (died four days after birth in 1872), John (1873-1945), Clifton (1875-1952), Vespasian (1880-1912) and Winifred (1882-1976). Winifred Moore Warner died in 1894 and four years later Vespasian remarried to De Witt County native Minnie Bishop.
   In the years following the start of his law practice, Warner built a reputation as a lawyer of stern integrity, and during the 1880s served as the judge advocate general of the Illinois National Guards. Later in 1888, Warner was named as a Republican Presidential Elector for Illinois. Warner's political profile continued to rise in 1895 when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served capably for five terms (1895-1905.) During his congressional tenure, Warner was chairman of the Committee on the Revision of Laws for a number of years.

                                   Warner during his tenure as U.S. Commissioner of Pensions.

   While still serving in Congress, Warner was tapped by then-President Theodore Roosevelt to be U.S. Commissioner of Pensions. Warner accepted the position and served in this post until his resignation in November of 1909. After leaving this post he returned to Clinton, Illinois, and began involving himself in banking and realty interests. He died at age 83 on March 31, 1925. Warner was survived by his second wife Minnie, who died at age 81 in 1942 and both are buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Clinton, De Witt County, Illinois.

   A short time ago I discovered the name of Vespasian Smith (the bearded fellow above) in a Google book entitled The Magazine of Western History, Volume 9, published in 1888. Smith was a physician by trade, being born in Ohio on October 21, 1818. He studied medicine in his hometown of Mt. Vernon and graduated from the Western Reserve College in 1851 with a degree in medicine.
  Vespasian Smith spent the next twenty years practicing medicine throughout Ohio, Wisconsin, and eventually Duluth, Minnesota, where he and his family settled in 1870. He retired from his medical practice in 1877 and it was in Duluth that Smith began to venture into the field of politics. He was elected as Mayor of that city in 1873 and served two terms in office. In his later years, Smith was named as a member of the Minnesota State Board of Health. He died shortly before his 79th birthday on October 11, 1897, in his native city of Duluth.
  For those who may be wondering, both of these gentlemen were named after the prominent Roman Emperor and military commander Vespasian (full name Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus), who ruled Rome from 69 to 79 A.D.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Grafton Fleener Cookerly (1815-1885)

  This obscure gentleman is Grafton Fleener Cookerly, whose political fame was found in Vigo County, Indiana during the mid-19th century. The Hoosier State has fielded a great number of oddly named politicians that have been featured here on the site, and Mr. Cookerly's is certainly one of the funnier ones! Little could be found information-wise in regards to this oddly named politician, but enough sources are available online to compile a small article on his life.
   Born in Frederick County, Maryland on February 4, 1815, Grafton Fleener Cookerly was one of eight children born to William and Dorcas Hughes Cookerly, both natives of Frederick County. Grafton migrated to Indiana as an adolescent and attended Indiana University during the 1830s. After receiving his law degree from the Indiana University Law School in 1843, Cookerly set up a small law practice in the city of Terre Haute. In that same year, he married Mary Hitchcock (1822-1872) and this union would eventually produce nine children, who are listed as follows in order of birth: Sarah Sally (born 1844), George McLean (1846-1847), William M. (born 1847), Cornelia Ann (1848-1940), Mary Jen (1850-1946), Thomas Bourne (1853-1929), Elizabeth (1856-1914), Grafton Frank (1858-1871) and Matilda (1863-1941).
  A short while after establishing his name as an attorney Cookerly made his first run at public office, in 1845 winning the first of two terms in the Indiana State House of Representatives from Vigo County. Serving in the legislative sessions of 1845-1846 and 1847-1848, Cookerly was a member of the judiciary committee in the latter session. In the year following his second term in the legislature, Cookerly launched a campaign for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was defeated in November of that year by Whig candidate Edward McGaughey, but eventually gained a spot as a delegate to the 1850 Indiana State Constitutional Convention. Cookerly continued his political ascent in 1856 when he served as part of the Indiana delegation to the Democratic National Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio that nominated James Buchanan for President. 
   In addition to his political activities, Cookerly also entered publishing, serving as the editor and part-owner of the Terre Haute Journal and the Terre Haute Daily Journal for a number of years. He continued in the practice of law and in 1867 was elected as the Mayor of Terre Haute. He served two terms in office, the last of which concluded in 1871. Sources mentioning Cookerly also denote that he was a member of the Ancient Order of United Woodmen. Grafton Cookerly died at age 70 on July 5, 1885, and was later interred at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Terre Haute.

Cookerly's death notice from the July 7, 1885 Sullivan Democrat.

The Strangest Names in American Political History Strange Deaths List.....

   After noticing that I have had over 370 + views on the site here since July, I've decided to do something a little different today (just to keep things a bit interesting.) Some time ago I started compiling a companion list to the "Strangest Names In American Political History" list that is the cornerstone of the site here. This companion list centers around strangely named politicians who have met unfortunate ends, either by accident or by their own hand. When this list was started, it contained only three or four politicians but has since grown to include a great deal more. This list will be continually added to when a new discovery is made, so keep checking back for more updates.

 This interestingly named character is Xenophon Overton Pindall (1873-1935), an Arkansas State representative and senator from Arkansas who later became the Acting Governor of his state from 1907-1909. Pindall was also a prominent criminal attorney in Little Rock and returned to practice after leaving the governorship in 1909. His life came to an end in rather odd circumstances in 1935 when he accidentally fell from a railroad embankment while taking a walk near the Arkansas River. He subsequently struck his head on a pile of rocks during the course of the fall and then had the bad luck of landing in a  "steam exhaust pool near a power plant." Truly a case of a sad and strange demise! The former Governor was 61 years old at the time and a write up on the accident appeared in the Sarasota Florida Tribune a few days following his death and is shown below.

                                           A sad demise for a great man with a great name.

  You can read more about the life of Xenophon O. Pindall (and several other political figures with that odd first name) in the following article which appeared on the site in July 2011.

  Reverdy Johnson (May 21, 1796-February 9, 1876) was a prominent Maryland resident who served as Zachary Taylor's Attorney General, a U.S. Senator from Maryland and U.S. Minister to England.  
  A statesman known throughout the United States, Johnson suffered a rather inglorious end in February 1876 while a guest at the Governor's Mansion in Annapolis, Maryland. At some point in the evening, he either tripped over a piece of coal or suffered an attack of some sort, which caused the 79-year-old to lose his balance. As he fell, Johnson's head struck a sharp granite corner of the base course of the mansion and then struck the cobblestone pavement. The New York Times coverage of the incident states that "death must have resulted almost instantly". Johnson was given a lavish funeral (deserving of a statesman) and was buried in Baltimore.

                                             Part of the NY Times article on Johnson's death.

Fairchild Andrus (1814-1897) of New York also suffered an odd death at an advanced age, albeit a bit more inglorious than Reverdy Johnson. Andrus served as a New York State Assemblyman from 1863-1865. On May 17, 1897, at age 83, the retired politician was milking a cow when it kicked him, causing injuries that proved instantly fatal.


Ximenas Philbrick  (May 25, 1808-September 13, 1863) was a prominent resident of Woodland, Maine who served in the State House of Representatives from 1847 to 1849. In 1863, he was struck by a falling tree and killed outright. No picture of him is known to exist, and a newspaper article concerning his demise couldn't be found to post here.

The man above, Athelston Gaston (April 24, 1838-September 23, 1907) served as Mayor of Meadville, PA as well as a U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania from 1899-1901. While on a moose hunting trip in Canada in 1907 Gaston was accidentally shot and killed by a companion while making his way through the dense underbrush. The news clipping below appeared a few days after the event. Strangely enough, it makes no mention of Gaston being a former Mayor or Congressman.....

Balfour Bowen Thorn Lord (1906-June 16, 1965) pictured above in a 1965 edition of the Utica Observer, served in a variety of public offices throughout his native New Jersey, including U.S. Attorney for New Jersey from 1943-45; delegate to the New Jersey State Constitutional Convention, 1947; chair of the Mercer County Democratic Party, 1949-65; a delegate to the Democratic National Convention from New Jersey, 1956; the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senator from New Jersey, 1960 and the New Jersey Democratic state chair, 1961-65. Lord committed suicide in June 1965 by strangling himself with an electric shaver cord at the home of a friend of his in Princeton, New Jersey.

Hiester Clymer (November 3, 1827-June 12, 1884) was a four-term congressman from Pennsylvania who served as the Chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the War Department during his service. Clymer was also an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania in 1866. He committed suicide in 1884 by taking a massive overdose of morphine due to what the New York Times called "financial embarrassment." A snippet of that obituary is shown below.

 The wonderfully named Spurzheim Derby (1856-1930) was a member of the Kansas State House of Representatives in 1915. Fifteen years after his legislative service, Derby was driving his Ford Model T when it was struck by a train. His injuries proved fatal.

  Savillion W. Longley (1841-1912) was a one-term member of the Massachusetts State House of Representatives in 1910. Two years after his legislative term he suffered a horrific demise due to burns suffered in a fire in his rooming house on January 3, 1912. Longley got out of bed in order to blow out a kerosene lamp when the flame he tried blowing on became trapped under the burner of the lamp. The flame suddenly grew larger and caught his nightshirt on fire, and within moments the room (as well as Longley) were a flame. 
 Longley survived the initial fire but the prognosis wasn't good. He suffered burns over nearly all his body and lost the majority of his hair to the flame. Longley was kept under the influence of morphine to ease his pain, but died a few hours after the fire on the morning of January 4, 1912.

  American diplomat Rounsevelle Wildman (1864-1901) led a very eventful life in his short 36 years. He was named as U.S. Consul in Bremen. Germany in 1893 and in 1897 was appointed by President McKinley as U.S. Consul General in Hong Kong for a term of four years. In addition to his diplomatic activities, Wildman was also a journalist and published author, writing about his experiences in Asia and Indonesia.
 In February 1901, Wildman and his family booked passage back to the United States onboard the steamship City of Rio De Janeiro. This ship would eventually take them to San Francisco, but fate intervened on February 22, 1901, in a very tragic occurrence.
  While steaming into San Francisco Bay, the ship struck a rocky shoal due to dense fog. The ship sank quickly, and it is estimated that more than 120 people perished in the disaster. Rounsevelle Wildman, his wife, and two children were among them.

Reading Wood Black (1830-1867) was a Texas resident who served a term in his state's House of Representatives from 1865-1866. Black is considered the founding father of what is now Uvalde, Texas, and is mentioned as a Unionist during his legislative service.
  Black also engaged in business endeavors with a family member, George Washington "Tom" Wall, opening a livestock/mercantile store. Evidently, Black's political stances and the mismanagement of money Wall had put into the store fractured the two's relationship to such an extent that Wall shot and killed Black in his store on October 3, 1867. It is mentioned that there were numerous witnesses to the shooting, but this didn't stop Wall from escaping by horse, and within days was hiding out in Mexico. He eventually made his way back to Texas and then to Canada. Wall's whereabouts after making it to Canada are unknown.

  This bowler-hatted fellow is Urban East Hicks (1828-1905) a native Missourian who migrated to the Washington Territory in the 1850s. He served as a member of the Washington Territorial legislature and was later named to the post of Territorial auditor, serving from 1865-1867. In his later years, he became a newspaper publisher in the Portland, Oregon area. In 1905, shortly after his 77th birthday, Hicks lost his footing and fell from a railroad car on which he had been traveling. He died of his injuries shortly thereafter in the town of Orting, Washington.

  This obscure politician is Jabez Prior Thompson (1786-1852), a Massachusetts State senator during the early 1850s. On August 10, 1852, Thompson decided to hang himself in a barn located on his property in the town of Plymouth. A newspaper report of the time (shown above) mentions him as being "perfectly sane" at the time of his actions. No picture of him is known to exist at this time.

  Alvarus Eleazer Gilbert represented Waukesha County in the Wisconsin State House of Representatives in 1878 and 1879, having previously served as a member of the county Board of Supervisors and town clerk of New Berlin. Due to an ongoing illness, Gilbert became despondent in 1891 and due to a state of impaired health began behaving erratically, as well as being prone to frequent periods of depression. The Waukesha Freeman notes that in the early hours of August 20, 1891, Gilbert dressed, took his hat and cane, and made his way to a barn located on his property. It was here that he hanged himself from a barn timber, using "a rope halter used in tying stock". His body was found by a family member a few hours later and a certain Dr. Ingersoll concluded that Gilbert's death was caused "by his own hand while in a state of insanity was rendered." Gilbert was profiled here on the site on April 24, 2012, so visit the following link for more information on his life and political career

  Next up is oddly named Virginia legislator (and later senator) Waddy Thompson James, who was struck and killed by a train at age 89 in 1926. James (whose first name is also spelled Waddie and was named after strangely named South Carolina Congressman Waddy Thompson) was born in August 1836 and served with distinction in the Confederate Army as a Lt. Colonel. He is also listed as being wounded/losing his hearing at Seven Pines during the Peninsula Campaign in 1862. James was elected to the Virginia State House of Delegates in 1874 and later served a term in the state senate. The exact lead up to his demise is shrouded in mystery, but he is listed as being struck and killed by a train on May 18, 1926, because he "did not hear it coming". One should note that he was nearly ninety years old at the time, and his loss of hearing certainly was a factor in his demise!

 Next up is oddly named Wisconsin State Insurance Commissioner Zeno Mathias Host, who served in his elected office from 1903-1907. Host was born to German parents in Lyons, Wisconsin on July 1, 1869, and when he was in his twenties helped found the Milwaukee Savings Loan and Building Association. In addition to his tenure as State Insurance Commissioner, Host also served as manager of the insurance department of the Knights of Pythias fraternal organization. 
  In November 1917, Host committed suicide by gunshot at the Hotel Martin in Milwaukee. A revolver is listed as being found near his body, but no available newspaper sources give mention as to why this prominent Wisconsin state official chose to take his own life.

From the 1917 edition of the Indicator.

                                 From the November 20, 1917 La Crosse Tribune and Leader Press.

  Hailing from Decorah, Iowa, Urban F. Hageman represented the county of Winneshiek in the Iowa State House of Representatives for a few months in 1965. Mr. Hageman was born in Winneshiek County in August 1929 and attended school in Calmar, Iowa. Hageman went on to study at the Iowa State University and also served with distinction during the Korean War. He is recorded as engaging in farming for the majority of his life and was elected to the Iowa legislature in November 1964.
  Sadly, a tragic farming accident terminated Hageman's political career in October 1965. A write up on this accident (published in the Mason City Globe Gazette a few days after the accident occurred) makes mention that Hageman was helping a neighbor fill silos when a piece of farming equipment he was adjusting fell on top of him. Hageman was only 36 years old at the time of his death and was survived by his wife and six children.

                                       From the Mason City Globe Gazette, October 11, 1965.

  Proving that roadways were dangerous even back in the 1930s, U.S. Representative Harcourt Joseph Pratt died of injuries sustained in a vehicle rollover in 1934. Mr. Pratt was a notable businessman and politician from Ulster County, New York for many years, serving as a member of the NY State Assembly in the 1890s and as a U.S. Representative from NY from 1925 until the year before his death. Pratt was driving with his wife in Highland New York on May 21, 1934, when his car either blew a tire or encountered a wet patch on the highway, causing it to spin out of control, overturn twice, and then careen into a nearby telephone pole. Mrs. Pratt survived her injuries but Harcourt himself succumbed to his injuries (a fractured skull and internal damage) a few hours after the accident occurred. He was subsequently buried in the Highland Cemetery in Ulster County, New York.

This obituary for Pratt appeared in an Ulster County newspaper a day after the accident.

 Next up is Mr. Flavillus Sidney Goode (1831-1885) a fairly prominent (as well as mysterious) 19th century Louisiana politician. Born in Alabama, Goode attended the University of North Carolina and relocated to Louisiana in the mid-1850s. He served in the Louisiana State Senate from 1857-1858 and also distinguished himself as a Confederate Army captain during the Peninsula campaign. Goode was elected as Louisiana State Attorney General in 1862 and served three years in this post. He was reelected to the state senate in 1874 (serving until 1878) and also was a circuit court judge from 1879-1885. Goode's life came to end in tragic circumstances in late December 1885, and according to the Louisiana Democrat article above, committed suicide "by blowing his head off with a double-barrelled shotgun". Why Goode chose to end his life in this manner is unknown, and a portrait of him could not be found to post here.

  Mayor Archland Miller Best of the city of Hudson is another political figure who met with a tragic demise. Born in 1892, Best served with distinction during the First World War and was elected as Mayor of Hudson, New York in 1931. His brief term as Mayor came to an abrupt end on July 23, 1933, when he was thrown from his speedboat and drowned in the Hudson River. The Albany Times notes that Best's craft overturned when he rounded a buoy located in the river channel and he was subsequently thrown into the water. "Unable to swim, the mayor drowned before help could reach him. He came up twice for air but then sank from sight". The Times goes on to state that Best's speedboat continued on its course until it became stuck in a mud flat a few hundred yards away.
  His body was discovered five hours after the accident when workmen began dragging the river in a quest to find him. Best was honored with a military funeral in Hudson a few days following his death. A burial location for him is unknown at this time.

  Hailing from the county of Blackhawk in Iowa, Cicero Close served two terms in his state's House of Representatives from 1866-68 and again from 1872-74. In addition to his political service, Close was also a prominent farmer in the area, holding the office of trustee of the Agricultural College in Ames, Iowa as well as serving as a  past Director of the State Agricultural Society.
   Close met his end in a rather odd fashion on June 1, 1883. The Waterloo Courier notes that Close and two of his farm hands were readying a team of horses for loading hay at his farm. The team was eventually hitched and Close gave orders to his workmen for the day, whereafter he began venturing towards his house......then tragedy struck. The horse team lurched forward and began galloping towards Close, who then unwisely tried to grab onto their bridles in an attempt to slow them down. 
  The Courier goes on to state that Close hung onto the tongue of the horse bridle and was dragged about twenty feet. The wagon behind the horses eventually stuck a water trough and Close was "thrown violently to the ground,  one of the horses striking him on the head, behind one of his ears, and one of the wheels passing over his head and fracturing the skull, death resulting almost instantaneously."
  Close's funeral was held a few days later and was reported to have had "one hundred and thirty-two vehicles in the funeral procession", a testament to his popularity in Blackhawk County.

  Wyoming resident Hysler Hayden Runyan (1927-1963) represented Fremont County in the Wyoming Legislature from 1959-1960. In 1963 he and friend Floyd Richardson drowned when their fishing boat capsized at the Worth Meadows Reservoir. Runyan was only 35 years old at the time of his death.

   Solider, politician and publisher Datus Ensign Coon (1831-1893) was born in New York in 1831 and later migrated to Iowa, where he became a distinguished figure in newspaper publishing. During the late 1850s and early 1860s, he established a number of Democratic-leaning newspapers in Iowa, including the Cerro Gordo Press in 1858.
   At the dawn of the Civil War, Coon raised a company of men which joined the Second Iowa Calvary and in the succeeding years was promoted to major, colonel and finally, Brigadier General in March 1865. After leaving the military Coon relocated to Alabama, and in 1867 served as a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention and soon after was elected to that states provisional legislature during the days of Reconstruction.  In 1878 President Rutherford Hayes appointed Coon as U.S. Consul in Babaca, Cuba and several years later was serving as a U.S. Consular agent in Baracoa, Cuba. 
    Following his return to the United States, Coon resided in San Diego, California and on December 15, 1893, was accidentally killed in that city. As the San Francisco Morning Call relates, Coon and a friend, J.B. Grovesteen, had just started out on a horse and buggy ride when Grovesteen's pistol accidentally discharged, hitting Coon in the stomach. Coon (who had been seated in the buggy) was returned home and received prompt medical attention, but succumbed to his wound shortly thereafter. Following his death, he was interred with military honors at the Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego.

From the San Francisco Morning Call, December 17, 1893.

   New York state assemblyman Clellan Scales Forsythe served in the New York legislature from 1944-48, representing Onondaga County. Forsythe had earlier gained prominence as an auto dealer in Syracuse, being the owner and operator of the Clellan Forsythe Motors Inc. Forsythe lost his life in an unusual hunting accident that occurred in September 1953. 
  As the Syracuse Times related in its September 19, 1953 edition (shown above), Forsythe had gone hunting at his private hunting area on Fox Island in Lake Ontario near Watertown, N.Y., and while seated in his jeep suffered a heart attack. Sometime during the initial heart attack, Forsythe ended up slumping over in his seat, causing his shotgun to accidentally discharge into his chest. Forsythe had died by the time medical attention was administered and was later interred at the Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse.

  Born in Washington D.C. in 1881, Southard Parker Warner was a Dartmouth College graduate and joined the U.S. Consular service at a young age, first holding a post as U.S. Consular agent in Gera, Saxony, Germany. He would later be named as U.S. Consul at Leipzig, Germany, serving here from 1904-09. At age 27 he was transferred to the consulship at Bahia, Brazil (serving from 1909-11), and beginning in 1912 would serve as Consul at Harbin, China. Sadly, Warner would take his own life via gunshot while still serving as consul, his death occurring at a hospital in Harbin on May 9, 1914. Just 32 years of age at the time of his passing, Warner would later be interred at Washington D.C.'s famed Oak Hill Cemetery.

From the June 9, 1941 edition of the Bismarck Tribune.

    A one term representative to the North Dakota State Assembly in the late 1930s, Romanus James Downey attained further public prominence in that state in 1937 when he appointed as Commissioner of Veterans Affairs for North Dakota. His life ended under peculiar circumstances in April 1947 as the result of an "elevator mishap" (more on that later.)
   Born in Barnesville Minnesota on August 6, 1896, Romanus Downey resided in that state until his removal to Devil's Lake, North Dakota with his family in 1909.  He attended high school in that town and later studied at the University of North Dakota, putting his studies on hold to serve overseas during WWI as a member of Co. D. of the 2nd North Dakota Infantry.   Following his return stateside in 1919 he recommenced with his studies and in 1924 graduated from the Georgetown Law School in Washington, D.C.
   Downey practiced law in Devil's Lake until 1935 when he began service in the North Dakota State House of Representatives, being elected from Ramsey County. He would serve here until 1937 when he was appointed as State Commissioner of Veterans Affairs by then Governor William Langer. Downey would serve in this capacity until his death in 1947. On April 21 of that year, he had entered an elevator to ride to his room on the fourth floor of the Gardner Hotel when he suffered a "dizzy spell or heart attack", which in turn caused him to "fall against a floor as it was being passed by the elevator." Downey died as the result of a "crushed skull" received from the accident and was survived by his wife Frederica.

                                                                    From the Bismarck Tribune, April 23, 1947.

   Two-term Indiana state senator Thollie Wilbur Druley (1879-1952)  received a substantial write-up here in October 2014 and while his time in state government is worth note, his unusual demise in 1952 is also worth mentioning. A long-time farmer in Boston Township in Wayne County, the retired ex-senator was killed on the afternoon of March 27, 1952, when a tractor he was using to remove boulders from a field overturned, pinning him underneath it. His son Byron found him later that day, and Duley's death is recorded as being the result of a "crushed chest."

   Distinguished Vermont attorney Columbus Floyd Clough is yet another odd named political figure who lost his life as the result of a train accident (see Waddy T. James' bio above.) Born in Stowe, Vermont on June 28, 1833, Columbus Clough studied law under Paul Dillingham (1799-1891), a prominent lawyer and former Congressman, Lieutenant Governor and Governor of Vermont. Admitted to the state bar in 1856, Clough built up a substantial law practice in Waterbury, Vermont, where he practiced from 1867-1899.
  Clough was a candidate for public office on two occasions. In 1880 he ran as the Greenback candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Vermont (garnering only 1,580 votes) and in 1896 was the People's Party nominee for State Auditor (polling only 597 votes.) Two years following his candidacy for auditor Clough died in unusual circumstances as the result of being struck by a train.
   As the Vermont Phoenix reported in its July 28, 1899 edition, Clough and a friend were traveling in a horse-drawn carriage when they came upon a rapidly approaching train. The horse became frightened and Clough jumped from the buggy, only to be struck by a train car and ran over. The Phoenix reported that "had Clough remained in the buggy he would not have been injured." The passenger in the buggy, a Mr. G.B. Evans, appears to not have been injured.

From the July 28, 1899 Vermont Phoenix.

 Ruluff White Hollembeak (1851-1911).

    Two-term Iowa state representative Ruluff White Hollembeak was recently featured in an article here (Sept. 5, 2015), a brief part of which centered on his death, which occurred as the result of a train collision in February 1911. A representative from Adair County to the Iowa statehouse beginning in 1904, Hollombeak served as chairman of the house committee on Horticulture during his terms in office. On February 27, 1911 Hollembeak was driving (presumably a horse and buggy) across the tracks at Casey, Iowa when he was struck and killed instantly by a "Rock Island train." The 59-year-old former legislator was survived by a wife and son and was interred at the Oakwood Cemetery at Casey.

Hortensious L. Isherwood.

  Very likely the oddest named man ever to serve in the Missouri House of Representatives, Hortensious Lowry Isherwood was a native of Iowa who relocated to Carl Junction, Missouri, where he would practice medicine for over four decades. He represented Jasper County in the Missouri statehouse from 1893-95 and later served Carl Junction as its Mayor. Dr. Isherwood maintained an active schedule as he grew older, continuing to make medical calls throughout Carl Junction and neighboring areas. Isherwood's devotion to his practice eventually resulted in a tragic accident near Waco, Missouri on March 17, 1924. On that date, the 73-year-old Isherwood was returning from a "professional call" in his automobile when his car was struck at a railroad crossing by an oncoming Kansas City Southern passenger train. 
  According to multiple newspaper reports following the accident, the view of the tracks was partially obscured by an embankment, and that Dr. Isherwood had been traveling alone. Following the accident, Isherwood's body (described as being mutilated almost beyond recognition) was transferred by the train crew to the nearby town of Asbury, and then on to Joplin, and finally to Carl Junction, where funeral arrangements were completed. Isherwood was featured on the site back in May 2014 and you can read more about his life at the following link.

From the November 8, 1938 edition of the Charleroi Mail.

   A well-known banker in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, Kerfoot Weightman Daly was named to various positions of the public trust, serving as a Presidential Elector in 1916 and later as a delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1924. The life of this intriguingly named Pennsylvanian came to end in a tragic automobile accident in November 1938 while on a hunting trip to Virginia. On November 5, 1938, Daly and a companion began the drive back to Charleroi and it was on the return trip home that tragedy struck. As the Charleroi Mail noted in its November 7th edition, Daly and Naughton were traveling down Route 50 on Cheat Mountain when their car came upon a stretch of curved road. The Mail later related that their vehicle 
Moved into a long steeply banked curve with a deep ditch on the driver's side. At this point it is believed that the driver's door, which opened from the front, suddenly unlatched and that Mr. Daly reached to close it. When he did the car went into the ditch, the opened door caught against the hillside and pulled him out of the seat. Impact was such that it pulled the front and rear doors, attached to the center post, from the machine. These evidently hurled him under the car in the small clearance."
   During the course of the accident, Daly’s companion was thrown from the vehicle but was uninjured. A hunting dog also in the vehicle was killed, and a report of the accident later noted that Daly "died a moment or so after the crash of a fractured skull and hemorrhage" caused by being crushed between the car and mountainside. Kerfoot Daly was featured on the site on November 8, 2013, and you can read more about his life and accomplishments at the following link.

  One of the most plentifully named men to serve in the Kentucky legislature, Chadwell Fleming Campbell Nolan (also spelled Nolen) was a Civil War veteran who, following his military service, became a leading citizen in Harlan County, where he was active in local mining and lumber concerns. He represented Harlan, Bell and Perry County in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1904-1906. Following his time in the legislature, Nolan continued to be a figure of distinction in Harlan County, maintaining an active role in his community up until his death via a train accident on December 23, 1923. On that date, Nolan had taken a stroll when he stopped near railroad tracks to let a rapidly moving freight train pass by him. Having "stepped back" to let the train pass, Nolan was unaware of a "switch train" that was following close behind the freight train and was struck in the back by it. The injured Nolan was placed in a caboose on the train and was then taken to a hospital in Lynch, Kentucky, where he later died of his injuries. Nolan was profiled here on the site on July 4, 2016, and you read more about him at the following link.

Portrait courtesy of Find-a-Grave.

   A Confederate veteran and farmer in Ascension Parish, Louisiana, Octavius Alonzo “O.A.” Bullion (1840-1905) represented that parish in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1892-1896 and again from 1900-1904. Bullion suffered a gruesome end on August 29, 1905, at his plantation, “Hope Villa”, when he became entangled in a cotton gin located on his property.  The Opelousas Courier later reported in its September 9, 1905 edition that Bullion’s “arm and leg were severely lacerated, rendering amputation necessary, but the shock was too great for his advanced years, and he died the next morning.”  Bullion was survived by a wife and several children and was later interred at the Prairieville Cemetery in Ascension Parish. 

From the Opelousas Courier, Sept. 9, 1905.

   A resident of Cambridge, Vermont, Zina Goldthwait Chase (1830-1893) served as an orderly sergeant of Co. H, 2d Regt. Vt. Vols. in the Civil War but was later “mustered out for disability.” In 1886 he was elected “by a large Republican majority” to represent Cambridge in the Vermont House of Representatives and served during the 1887-88 session. He is also of note due to his “advance methods in maple sugar making”, even having his work exhibited in Chicago and Paris. On July 8, 1893, Chase was violently thrown from a wagon load of hay and seriously injured. His injuries proved so severe that he died several days following the accident. His loss to the community “was deeply deplored.” 

From the Morrisville News and Citizen, July 20, 1893.

Iraneaus Liter Smith.

   A native of Pennsylvania, Iraneaus Liter Smith later removed to Story County, Iowa following the Civil War. He would serve as the Mayor of Ames, Iowa from 1873-74 and became well known in the abstract and loan business and served twelve years as Clerk of the Story County District Court following his service as Mayor. He was visiting Kansas City, Missouri on business in October 1908 when he was crushed to death in an electric train car collision and was reported to have "died before he could be lifted from the wrecked car". Following his death, he was returned to Iowa for burial in the town of Nevada (located in Story County.)

   A native of Italy, Zefferino Ceria Prina (1862-1922) would become a businessman of wide repute in Graham County, Arizona, first settling there in the late 1890s. In addition to success as the owner of a ranch and ice/creamery business in the city of Safford, Prina would be elected to two terms as mayor of that city, The life of this prominent Safford, Arizona resident came to a tragic end on April 13, 1922, as the result of a vehicle rollover near Tucson. Prina and four others had been en route to Globe, Arizona to attend a Shriner's convention when Prina (the driver of the vehicle) encountered a turn in the road. The vehicle then “Swerved into an embankment on the right hand side and in an attempt to right it, it was thrown too near the edge of the hillside on the left hand side of the road and went over, turning three times as it made it's descent." The Copper Era newspaper notes that Prina was instantly killed in the accident, while two others were injured. Prina was featured here on the site back in May 2015, and you can read more about his life at the following link.

   The father and namesake of Lucius Q.C. Lamar (the famed Mississippi congressman, senator, and jurist) was himself a distinguished figure, being an attorney and superior court judge in Georgia. A student at the famed Litchfield Law School in Connecticut, Lamar was admitted to the Georgia bar in 1819 and soon after set up a law practice in his hometown of Milledgeville. From 1830-1834 he served as a superior court judge for Georgia’s Ocmulgee district and committed suicide via gunshot on July 4, 1834, “allegedly despondent after learning that a man he had convicted of murder and sentenced to death was, in fact, innocent of the crime.” This account is under scrutiny, and other sources relate Lamar had been suffering from depression for several months leading up to his suicide.

Sobieski Ross (1828-1877).

  A two-term U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania, Sobieski Ross was a lifelong resident of Coudersport, located in Potter County. He attended local schools and following the completion of his schooling “engaged in civil engineering and the real estate business.” He was appointed as an associate judge of Potter County in 1852 and in 1872 was elected to Congress. He would serve two terms (1873-77) and declined to be a candidate for renomination in November 1876. On October 24, 1877, Ross committed suicide in his barn by shooting himself through the heart. Sources of the time relate that he had “been despondent for some time past, and has not been enjoying good health. His death has cast a deep gloom over the community in the vicinity.”

From the Somerset Press, Nov. 1, 1877.

Godwin M. Pitman.

Despite living to the age of just 37, Godwin Monterey Pittman (1886-1924) packed an incredible amount of public service into a short lifespan. At the age of 19, he was serving as Deputy Sheriff of San Bernardino County (1905-06) and in 1910 began a term as Police Judge of San Bernardino. He would later serve as a justice of the peace and Deputy Coroner for San Bernardino. Pittman is later reported to have exhibited reclusive tendencies and committed suicide in a cabin near Enterprise, California in August 1924 by “slashing his throat and severing the arteries of his wrists with a small lance.” His remains were later discovered by a neighbor who had tried to seek him out on the basis of legal advice.

   A Shreveport, Louisiana based attorney, Yandell Boatner graduated from the Louisiana State University with an A.B. degree in 1913 and with an LL.B. degree in 1916. While at L.S.U. he worked as a member of the staff of the Baton Rouge State Times. In 1919 he removed to Shreveport and served for two years as assistant United States attorney for the western district of Louisiana and was for a short time ad interim U.S. Attorney for Louisiana’s Western District. Boatner was wounded by an accidental .22 caliber rifle discharge inflicted at his home. “The rifle was discharged into his chest when Mr. Boatner sought to remove clothing from a closet, it was believed.” He later died of his injuries at a sanitarium located in Shreveport.

  A distinguished lawyer and political figure in Tipton County, Indiana, Every Arthur Mock (1870-1916) attended Valparaiso University and was admitted to the Indiana bar in 1894. He made his first attempt at public office in 1898, being an unsuccessful candidate for the Indiana legislature. In 1899 he won election as Prosecuting Attorney for Tipton County (serving from 1900-1904) and in the last named year was elected to the Indiana State Senate, where he sat from 1905-09. Mock met his end on July 26, 1916, due to a collision between his vehicle and an Indiana Union Company Traction car. Mock and his passengers (his brother and sister in law) were on their way to the former’s farm to assist in farming when Mock unwisely tried to cross the tracks ahead of the approaching train car. Mock and his sister in law were killed outright, while his brother Mel expired several hours following the accident.

    A one-term member of the West Virginia State Senate from 1935-37 from Roane County, Leoma Ord “L.O.” Curtis had earlier served as clerk for the Roane County Circuit Court and from 1921-1934 was the chief clerk in the office of the West Virginia State Auditor. A year after the conclusion of his Senate term L.O. Curtis entered into the post of clerk with the geological department of the United Fuel Gas Company in Raleigh. He continued in their employ for eight years, and in the latter portion of his life was reported to have "been in bad health for some time." This state of ill health later led Curtis to take his own life via gunshot in the washroom of the Atlas building in Raleigh on March 14, 1946. In a Raleigh Register report on the incident, Curtis was "observed to remove his glasses shortly after 11 a.m and go to the washroom whence a shot rang out. The body, a pistol beside it, was found by a fellow employee who rushed to the scene." Curtis's life was highlighted here back on April 6, 2017, and further information on him can be obtained there.

    A prominent lawyer who was originally born in Missouri, Lycurgus Homer "Curg" Lingenfelter used that odd nickname throughout his public life, and later migrated to Idaho in the early 1900s. In 1908 he was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as U.S. District Attorney for that state and served in that capacity until 1913. Lingenfelter attempted suicide in Oregon in June 1917 by hanging himself from a window at the Portland Surgical Hospital, where he had been a patient for several weeks. His hanging body (whilst still alive) was discovered by several hospital attendants, who then tried to rescue Lingenfelter by cutting the bedclothes that he had attempted to hang himself with. By doing so the attendants caused Lingenfelter's body to fall fifteen feet down the hospital grounds below. Lingenfelter’s attempted suicide was initially caused by worries over his health, as he left a nearly illegible note relating that "I do this because my eyesight is failing."

 Pringle T. Youmans.

  Pringle Tillinghast Youmans was a son of former South Carolina Attorney General LeRoy Youmans. A graduate of the University of Virginia in the class of 1881 (attending school with future President Woodrow Wilson), Youmans was admitted to practice law in South Carolina and later became a distinguished member of the Richland County bar. He would represent that county in the South Carolina General Assembly from 1910-1914 and during his second assembly term was struck and killed by a car in downtown Columbia, S.C. The driver of the vehicle, Harry L. Davis, was a former chauffeur for the city’s police department. Youmans had married his wife May just three weeks prior to the accident that claimed his life at age 55.

From the Fort Mill Times, March 26, 1914.

Portrait from the Danville Morning News, January 21, 1931.

   A standout citizen in the history of Danville, Pennsylvania, Sharpless M. Dietz was a prominent businessman in this Montour County city for over thirty years, being the proprietor of two hotels as well as a leader in the local Moose lodge. A two-term member of the Pennsylvania State Assembly from Montour County (serving from 1923-27), Dietz died in tragic circumstances in January 1931 in an automobile accident. On January 19th of that year he, former representative J. Beaver Gearhart and Montour County Associate Judge Victor Olsen left the Riverview Hotel and began traveling to the state capitol to attend the inauguration of Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot. The trio made it as far as Liverpool, Pennsylvania and on January 20th the Buick coupe they were traveling in encountered icy pavement, which in turn sent the vehicle plunging into a culvert.
    The force of the crash caused Dietz to be thrown from the vehicle and he was later found in a creek bed near the abutment in an unconscious state. Judge Olsen (who had been thrown into the highway upon initial impact) sustained injured ribs and lacerations. Only J. Beaver Gearhart remained in the vehicle, pinned in the wreckage. The Danville Morning News reported that Dietz showed "no signs of life" following the crash while Gearhart died a short while later. A coroner's report later stated that both men had suffered skull fractures caused by being "thrown against the framework of the interior of the machine with such violence that the tops of their skulls were crushed like eggshells." Only Judge Olsen survived the accident. A full write-up on Dietz's life appeared here on the site on October 25, 2016, and can be viewed at the following link.

Ryland Christmas Musick.

   One of the more humorous names you'll find while perusing a list of Kentucky state legislators, Ryland Christmas Musick (1884-1924) represented the counties of Breathitt, Lee and Magoffin in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1918-1920 and later was an unsuccessful candidate for Kentucky State Attorney General (running in 1919) and U.S. Representative from Kentucky in the 1924 Democratic primary. Just a few weeks following that primary loss Musick undertook a business trip to Virginia and on August 22, 1924, the car in which he was a passenger lost control and turned over several times. Pinned underneath the wreckage, Musick was extricated from the vehicle and later died at a hospital near Lebanon, Virginia, aged just 39. He was survived by his wife Bessie, and the full write-up on his life can be viewed at the following link.

   Frethias Jefferson 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 former president of the Arizona Teacher’s Organization from 1893-94, Netherton served as territorial superintendent from 1893-95. In 1897 he branched out into the butchery business, purchasing an interest in a meat market in Mesa, Arizona. 
  In June 1897 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. A full write-up on Netherton (and the accident that claimed his life) can be viewed at the following link

Hinche Parham Mabry.

   A two-term member of the Texas House of Representatives, Hinche Parham Mabry (1829-1884was a native of Georgia, being born in Carroll County. After migrating to Texas in 1851 he was admitted to the state bar and served in the Texas legislature from 1856-57 and 1859-61. During the Civil War, he was a member of a Confederate volunteer expeditionary force that took command of Forts Washita and Arbuckle located in the Indian Territory. In 1866 he served as a delegate to the Texas Constitutional Convention and later had a brief tenure as a district court judge. While visiting Sherman, Texas in early March 1884 Mabry was injured in the foot due to an accidental pistol discharge, the wounded later being compounded by blood poisoning, which would result in his death on March 21, 1884. Mabry was later interred at the Oakwood Cemetery in Jefferson, Texas. Mabry's full profile (published here in October 2016) can be read here.

Perez Hastings Field.

  A member of the New York State Assembly from Ontario County in the sessions of 1861 and 1863-64, Perez Hastings Field had previously served as township supervisor for Seneca, New York from 1859-60. Field died in the August 1872 sinking of the Metis (of the New York and Providence line), which, during stormy conditions, collided with a schooner while en route to Providence, Rhode Island. Reports on the lives lost during the sinking vary, with most noting that at least fifty persons went down with the ship, including Field. 32 persons were rescued through the efforts of the Life Saving Service and local fishermen. Field’s body was later recovered and interred at the Glenwood Cemetery in Geneva, New York.

From the 1882 "Public Men of To-day".

   A seven-term member of Congress from Tennessee, Leonidas C. Houk represented Tennessee’s 2nd congressional district for over a decade. Despite being from Tennessee, Houk was a staunch Union man and served with Union Army during the Civil War. A Republican presidential elector in 1864, he later was a circuit court judge from 1866-69 and in 1872 began a term in the Tennessee state legislature. Elected to Congress in November 1878, Houk served until his death on May 25, 1891, having accidentally drunk a bottle of arsenic. While visiting the DePue drug store in Knoxville Houk drank a glass of what he believed to be water (it was, in fact, arsenic solution) and died the following day at his home in Knoxville due to the effects of poisoning. He was succeeded as Congressman by his son, John Chiles Houk, who served until 1895.

Kumen Snow Gardner.

  Cedar City, Utah resident Kumen Snow Gardner was long prominent in the civic and political affairs of his community, being a farmer, city councilman, two-term state representative, one term Mayor of Cedar City. A high ranking figure in the local Mormon Church, Gardner served in the Utah House of Representatives from 1958-62 and beginning in January 1962 took office as Mayor of Cedar City. A former winner of Utah “Father of the Year” in 1960, Gardner was also awarded the title of Utah’s “outstanding cattleman” by the FFA in 1976. On November 15, 1983, Kumen Gardner was injured in a truck accident in Southern Utah. He succumbed to his injuries two weeks later at a Las Vegas hospital on November 28, 1983, at age 83. A full profile on Gardner was published here in January 2015 and can be viewed at the following link