Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cola De Rienzi Meacham (1838-1907), Cola Byron Streetman (1907-1991)

   The second Vermonter to be profiled here in as many days, Cola De Rienzi Meacham served in his state's House of Representatives from 1902-1904, representing the  county of Caledonia. Interestingly, Meacham served in the same legislative session as yesterday's site honoree, Pearl Castle Abbey. In an even more intriguing coincidence, both of these politicians were Baptist clergymen! 
  Looking more like a mad scientist than a pastor/public official, Cola De Rienzi Meacham was born to Vermont parents in Shefford, Province of Quebec, Canada on October 10, 1838Meacham's parents eventually resettled in Newport, Vermont in 1844, six years after their son's birth. Meacham received his unusual name in honor of the famed Roman politician and tribune Cola Di Rienzo (also spelled as Rienzi) who was assassinated in the year 1354. 
  As a youth, Meacham studied at the Derby Academy and (in another similarity to Pearl C. Abbey) later attended the New Hampton Institute in Fairfax, Vermont. Meacham graduated in 1870 from the Newton Theological Seminary and was ordained as a minister that same year in Barre, Massachusetts. He married on June 14, 1870 to Ms. Electa Dustin Grow (1834-1902). The couple later became the parents of three sons, Willis Grow (died aged one in 1872), Cola Winn (born 1872) and Alfred Bertrand (born 1874).
  Throughout the latter part of the 19th century, Meacham served as pastor in many churches, mainly in the New England area. In 1886 he accepted the pastorate of the Baptist church in Ashland, Massachusetts, where the portrait below was taken. You'll notice the impressive facial hair that Meacham had during his younger years, and is a far cry from what he looked like during his tenure in the Vermont legislature.

                     This portrait of Cola DeR. Meacham appeared in the book "Ashland", authored by 
                            Edward A. McGuire and R. Marc Kantrowicz in 2001.

  Meacham left Ashland in 1889 and accepted a pastorate in Long Pine, Nebraska, and preached here until 1891. He returned to Vermont that same year, settling in the village of Townshend. Meacham became pastor here in 1892 and was later appointed as the Townshend Superintendent of Schools in 1897. 
  Several years after settling in Townshend, Meacham removed again, this time resettling in the town of Barnet. It was here that he was elected to his first political office, a seat in the Vermont State House of Representatives. He served in the legislature from 1902 to 1904, and during his term of service held a seat on the house Committee on Temperance. After his legislative service, Meacham returned to his earlier duties as a pastor and continued in this position until his death on June 3, 1907 at age 68. The portrait of Meacham shown at the top of this article was found in Vermont, A Souvenir of its Government, 1902-03, the same book in which the portrait of Pearl Castle Abbey was discovered. The below obituary for Meacham appeared in the June 7, 1907 edition of the Brattleboro, Vermont Phoenix.

   Mr. Cola Byron Streetman served a brief term as Mayor of the city Vero Beach and was for many years a potent force in the citrus industry in the Sunshine state. The son of George Sinclair (1872-1960) and Savannah Kilpatrick Streetman (1876-1943), Cola B. Streetman was born in Alabama in September 1907 and later married to Ms. Myrtle Hogan (1911-2000), with whom he would have two sons.
 Streetman removed to Vero Beach, Florida in 1929. Once settled, he joined his father in law in the local citrus industry and during the 1930s was successfully engaged in this business throughout the counties of Indian River and St. Lucie, serving as the general manager of the Hogan and Sons Citrus Co. As a founder of the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, Streetman was at the forefront of the Florida citrus industry becoming known worldwide, and his involvement with this organization wasn't limited to being a founder. He served on the FFVA Board of Directors for thirty-five years and was named as director emeritus two years before his death.
  In addition to his active involvement with the FFVA, Streetman also was a leading light in Vero Beach civic affairs, being elected as the Mayor of Vero Beach in December 1952. He served one term in this office, with his tenure concluding in December 1953. In his later years, Streetman continued to be an active force in the FFVA, serving as its President in 1969 and 1970. He died in January 1991 at age 83 and was interred at the Crestview Cemetery in Vero Beach. Streetman was survived by his wife Myrtle, who died nine years after her husband in February 2000 at age 89.

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