Monday, December 5, 2011

Germanicus Young Tigner (1856-1938), Germanicus Kent (1790-1862)

From Georgia's Public Men of 1902-04, by Thomas W. Loyless.

   Certainly one of the oddest named individuals to be elected to the Georgia State Assembly, Germanicus Young Tigner was born into a long-established Georgia family on December 3, 1856 in the city of Haralson. His father, William Archelaus Tigner (1832-1894), had been a prominent attorney and educator in both Georgia and Alabama, and in 1884 was elected to a term in the Georgia senate, representing the 35th district. William Archelaus and his first wife Eugenia Dozier Tigner (1834-1872) had three children, of which Germanicus Young was the eldest. Tigner is believed to have been given his unusual first name in honor of the like-named Roman General, who also happened to be the father of the infamous Roman Emperor Caligula!
   Being born into an affluent family Germanicus Tigner received the benefit of an excellent education, attending private schools in the Atlanta area as well as the Jonesboro Academy in Jonesboro, Georgia. Remarked by the History of Savannah and Southern Georgia Vol. II as a "young man of excellent mental attainments, eminently capable and intelligent", Tigner was named as the official court stenographer of the Chattahoochee County Circuit Court when he was barely out of his teens, and subsequently held this post from 1876 to 1892. 
   In 1887 Germanicus Tigner was elected to his first term in the Georgia State House of Representatives, serving in the legislative session of 1888-1890. During this term, Tigner served on the house committees on Enrollment, the Penitentiary, Railroads, Public Property and Ways and Means. While an incumbent legislator Tigner married in June 1889 to Johnny Lindsay (1864-1942), with whom he would have two children, Helen Slade (1891-1920) and John Lindsay (1894-1911). Following the conclusion of his term Tigner was appointed to the position of stenographer of the Georgia Supreme Court, and after holding that post for two years resigned to resume the practice of law in Columbus, having been admitted to the state bar in 1889.
   In the November 1901 election, Tigner won a second term in the Georgia State House of Representatives, serving on the committees on the Judiciary, Manufactures, and Military Affairs during the session of 1902-04. In 1909 he was appointed by then Governor (and former U.S. Secretary of the Interior) Hoke Smith as judge of the city court of Columbus, Georgia. Tigner was elected to a term of his own as Judge in 1912, being noted by the History of Savannah and South Georgia Vol. II as winning the election "by an overwhelming majority, receiving a flattering vote that proved his popularity with all classes of people." It is unknown how long Tigner served as a judge, although he is still listed as the incumbent office-holder in the 1927 edition of the Georgia Official and Statistical Register.
   Germanicus Young Tigner died at the age of 81 on May 1, 1938, and was later buried in the Tigner family plot at the Linwood Cemetery in Columbus, Georgia. Both of Tigner's children had died at young ages (John Lindsay of typhoid fever in 1911 and Helen Slade of influenza in 1920) and Johnny Lindsay Tigner survived her husband by four years, dying in 1942 at age 78 and also was interred at Linwood Cemetery.

Portrait courtesy of "The Rockford Blog".

   The second Germanicus to be profiled is one Germanicus Kent, a pioneer and founder of Rockford, Illinois. He was born in Suffield, Connecticut on May 31, 1790, and before his migration to Rockford had been a resident of Blacksburg, Virginia and Huntsville, Alabama. Kent married in 1827 to Arabella Amiss (1808-1847) and later had one daughter, Mary Irby Kent Black (1835-1911).
   Imbued with the pioneer spirit of the time, Germanicus Kent, Lewis Lemon (one of Kent's slaves) and Maine resident Thatcher Blake banded together in 1834 and began preparations to explore the area later to become Rockford. Traveling by "democrat wagon" as well as canoe, the party reached their destination in August of that year and within a few months had established a burgeoning town that was later known as Kentsville. Under Kent's supervision the area eventually saw the erection of a sawmill, blacksmith shop and general store, and after a competing settlement named "Haightsville" arose nearby, the vicinity became known as Midway, and later, Rock Ford (Rockford). 
   Germanicus Kent was instrumental in Rockford becoming a bustling hub of activity along the banks of the Rock River, and in 1836 established a ferry on that river that further increased the area's population. Two years later Kent was elected to the Illinois State House of Representatives, the first representative from Rockford to serve in the General Assembly. During the late 1830s a financial panic ruined Kent's finances and in 1844 he relocated to Blacksburg, Virginia. It was here that he died on March 1, 1862, at age 72. He and his wife were both interred at the Westview Cemetery in that city.

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