Thursday, March 1, 2012

Walpole Gillespie Colerick (1845-1911)

From the Men of Progress of Indiana, 1899.

  Our profile today centers on the life of one Walpole Gillespie Colerick, a Ft. Wayne, Indiana native who served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. A lifelong Hoosier, Colerick was born in Ft. Wayne on August 1, 1845, one of six sons born to David Hoge and Elizabeth Gillespie Walpole Colerick. David H. Colerick was himself a prominent Indiana public official, serving two terms in the state legislature and later was a Ft. Wayne judge. The subject of today's article was bestowed his unusual name due to them being his mother's middle and last names. 
   Walpole G. Colerick attended schools local to the Ft. Wayne area and began the study of law under the tutelage of his father. After a period of study Colerick was admitted to the Allen County bar and soon thereafter joined his father in his law practice. The practice of law was a prevalent theme throughout the Colerick family, with each of Walpole's bothers becoming lawyers themselves
   Throughout the succeeding years, Colerick became regarded as a very skilled attorney in the Ft. Wayne area and with his rising public profile came calls for him to run for public office. The 1882 work Public Men of Today gives mention that Colerick was "never particularly an aspirant for political honors, preferring that if any such were in store for him, the office should seek the man, rather than the man the office." 
    In 1878 Colerick had a change of mind on political life and launched a campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives. Hoping to represent Indiana's 12th district in Congress, Colerick's opponent that year was Republican John Studebaker (1817-1912), a prominent banker and merchant. On election day in October 1878, it was Colerick who emerged victorious, besting Studebaker by a vote of 17,067 to 9,712. Taking his seat at the start of the 1879 session, Colerick would serve on the committees on Elections and the joint committee on the Census. In November 1880 he won a second term in Congress, narrowly defeating Republican candidate Robert Stewart Taylor, and during the 1881-82 session served on the committees on the Census and Public Health.

From the Public Men of Today, 1882.

    At the conclusion of his legislative service in 1883, Colerick returned to Ft. Wayne and was appointed to the Indiana Supreme Court Commission in November of that year. He held this post until 1885, and thereafter resumed his earlier law practice, being joined by his nephews Guy Colerick and Kenneth LarwillOn April 11, 1904, Walpole Colerick married to Clemence Carrier (1861-1947), a friend of many years standing. It's interesting to note that Colerick married quite late in life (he was almost 60) and in comparison to some of the other men profiled here (many of whom married when they were barely out of their teens), their marriage is quite unique. 
  The couple was wed only seven years before Colerick's death on January 11, 1911, at age 65. The Ft. Wayne Sentinel notes that he had been in a state of impaired health for several weeks prior to his death, which occurred after undergoing surgery at the Lutheran Hospital in that city. Clemence Colerick survived her husband by over thirty years, dying in 1947 at age 86. Both were interred at the Lindenwood Cemetery in Ft. Wayne, the same resting places as that of Ochmig Bird (1813-1878) an oddly named Indiana State Representative who was profiled here back on December 11!

An aged Walpole G. Colerick, from the January 18, 1911 Ft. Wayne Sentinel.

From the Jan. 18, 1911 Ft. Wayne Sentinel.

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