Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Moroni Orson Litz (1874-1955), Moroni Lundby Jensen (1912-1980), Moroni Price (1842-1921), Moroni Heiner (1877-1948), Moroni Skeen Jr. (1873-1958)

   Today's triple profile highlights the lives of three political figures with the unusual first name "Moroni". For those of you who know your history, you may remember that the name Moroni stems from the like-named prophet and angel prominently featured in the Book of Mormon, and is the same angel who presented the golden tablets to Joseph Smith (1805-1844), founder of the Latter Day Saint movement and publisher of the Book of Mormon. 
  The first of these men to be profiled is West Virginia native Moroni Orson Litz. Born on August 13, 1874, in Burkes Garden, Virginia, Moroni was the tenth of fourteen children born to John Tiffany Huddle (1834-1901) and Elizabeth Emily (Thompson) Litz. He attended schools local to the Tazewell County area and continued his education at the Tazewell College from 1896-1897. Litz later enrolled at the University of Virginia, graduating from this institution in 1902 with his Bachelor of Laws degree.
  Around the same time of his college enrollment, Litz began teaching school, eventually being named as Principal of the local high school in Graham, Virginia. In 1902 he was named to West Virginia state bar, and married in October 1908 to Judith Effler (1885-1920), with whom he would have two sons (Moroni Orson Jr. and Rawle) and three daughters.
  After attaining his law degree, Litz established a practice in the city of Welch, West Virginia, operating here for nearly two decades. In 1920 Judith Effler Litz died after twelve years of marriage and in 1922 Moroni remarried to Ms. Mabel Cain. In that same year, Virginia Governor Ephraim Franklin Morgan appointed Litz as an Associate Justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state.  Litz's tenure on the court lasted until 1936 when he was defeated for reelection.

  After leaving the court Litz continued to practice law, having an office based in Charleston, West Virginia for a number of years. He died at a hospital in Huntington, West Virginia on December 1, 1955, at age 81, and was shortly thereafter interred at the Maplewood Cemetery in Tazewell. The portrait of Moroni O. Litz shown at the top of this profile was featured in the 1929 edition of the West Virginia Blue Book.

Jensen as he appeared in a 1970s edition of the Deseret News.

  Hailing from Sevier County, Utah, Moroni Lundby Jensen was an educator and politician who served over a decade in the Utah State Legislature. Despite having a lengthy tenure in Utah state government, little information could be found online that details the life of this obviously prominent Utahan, with an exception being a brief write-up on the Brigham Young University's Harold B. Lee Library Manuscript Collections Page.
  Born in the city of Ogden on January 10, 1912, Moroni L. Jensen was a son of Hans Simon and Kristiane Graversen Jensen. Moroni spent the majority of his adolescence engaged in farming and is recorded as driving a school bus while in high school as a means of income. He received his schooling at the Sevier County High School and went on to attend Brigham Young University from 1929-1930. Jensen later continued his schooling at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, graduating with his diploma in 1931. He married on March  8, 1934, to Ms. Vivian Nelson (1911-2010) with whom he would have two sons, Moroni Leon and Jerold. 
  After leaving school Jensen worked with the Red Cross, serving overseas during the mid-1940s as a field director in the South Pacific. Once back in the United States, Jensen began a lifelong involvement in Utah educational affairs, serving as a principal in the Salina area. He also began treading the political waters during this time, serving as a Salina city councilman and was later elected to a term as Mayor. During the 1960s Jensen served as vice-president of the Utah Secondary Schools Association and also was President of the Utah Education Association. He is also recorded as being actively involved in Mormon church affairs, being a past president of the Wilford Stake mission in Salt Lake City.
  Jensen was elected to the Utah State House of Representatives from Sevier County in 1964 and served in this body until 1968. In that year he ran for and was elected to the Utah Senate, where he served with distinction for over a decade. During his lengthy Senate service, Jensen continued an active interest in educational matters in Utah, holding a membership in the Educational Commission of the States. In 1977 Jensen became President of the Senate, and in 1980 mounted a campaign for Lieutenant Governor of Utah on the Democratic ticket. In the November election, Jensen was defeated by Republican incumbent David Smith Monson by a vote of 257, 460 to 125, 092. Shortly after his election loss, Jensen was felled by a fatal heart attack on November 8, 1980, at age 68. His wife Vivian survived him by nearly thirty years, dying at age 98 in February 2010. Both were interred at the Redmond Cemetery in Redmond, Sevier County, Utah.

   We continue our stay in Utah to focus on the obscure life of Moroni Price, a one-term state representative from the county of Cache. Price was born in the small village of Oswestry, Shropshire, England on February 24, 1842, the son of William Daniel and Mary Jane Price. The Price family migrated to the United States when their son was an infant, and after his father's death removed to the Utah Territory in 1854 with his mother and siblings.
  His early years in the territory were spent in Salt Lake City,  and in the early 1860s moved to the town of Smithfield in Cache County. Price married here in March 1865 to Mary Elizabeth Raymond (1848-1910) with whom he would have four children: Alonzo Harmon (1865-1917), Tura May (1867-1874), Moroni Jr. (1869-1936) and Mary Jane (died aged one day in 1871).
   The few documents that mention Price denote that he was a longtime farmer in the Cache County area and also held the office of justice of the peace for many years. In 1896 he was elected to the Utah State House of Representatives from Cache County and served one term that concluded in 1899. In 1903 Price served as one of two Utah delegates to the National Irrigation Congress. Moroni Price's wife Mary died in 1910 at age 62 and he himself died on April 17, 1921, at age 69. Both were interred at the Smithfield City Cemetery in Smithfield Utah. The portrait of him above was featured in the March 10, 1897 edition Salt Lake City Herald shortly after his election to the legislature.

From the Men of Affairs in the State of Utah, 1914.

  Another Utahan with this odd first name is Mr. Moroni Heiner, a distinguished businessman who served two terms as Utah State Dairy and Food Commissioner. Born in Morgan City, Utah on February 17, 1877, Heiner was of German extraction and studied at Brigham Young University from 1895-1899. 
  Following his graduation from BYU, he married to Ms. Eva Purcell (1878-1964) with whom he would have nine children. Prior to his involvement in state political affairs, Heiner made his name in a number of important businesses in and around Morgan City, holding the directorship of the First National Bank of Morgan, the Granite Furniture Company, and the Utah Coal Sales Agency. Heiner was also actively involved in coal and railroad interests in the area, serving as the director and vice president of the Castle Valley Railroad Company.
  In the early 1900s, Heiner was appointed by Governor Heber Manning Wells as Dairy and Food Commissioner of Utah, serving in this post for two terms, 1901-1905. Heiner continued to be active in the Utah coal industry late into his life and died on June 25, 1948, at age 71. He was later buried in Salt Lake City's Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park, which is also the resting place of one Nephi United States Centennial Jensen, a Utah State Representative and judge profiled here in February 2012.

From the Ogden Standard Examiner October 31, 1920.

  Weber County, Utah native Moroni Skeen Jr. is another Utahan endowed with an unusual first name. Born on July 28, 1873, and raised in Palm City Utah, Skeen was the son of Moroni and Martha Skeen. A realtor by trade, Moroni Skeen Jr. attended Weber County schools and graduated from the University of Utah. He was the owner and operator of the Skeen Realty Company and for 14 years served as a member of the Weber County Board of Commissioners. In addition to this office, Skeen also served as the chairman of the Weber County Republican Party. He died in April 1958 at age 84 and was later interred at the Ogden City Cemetery.

Friday, March 1, 2013

LeDoux Elgee Smith (1856-1917)

From a 1902 Annual Report of the Louisiana Department of State.

   A prominent man of affairs in turn of the century Louisiana, LeDoux Elgee Smith served eight years as Louisiana State Treasurer. Despite being a notable figure in the Louisiana state government, little information exists online that details Smith's life and exploits, with an exception being a small write-up in volume three of the 1914 work Louisiana: Comprising Sketches of Parishes, Towns, Events, Institutions and Persons, Arranged in Cyclopedic Form.
   A lifelong resident of the Bayou State, LeDoux E. Smith was one of five children born to Dr. Stokes Anderson and Clarissa Scott Smith, being born in Rapides Parish on July 25, 1856.  It is unknown why Smith was endowed with the unusual name of "LeDoux Elgee", but he may have been named in honor of one Charles LeDoux Elgee (1836-1864), a former Adjutant General and Brigadier General, as well as a prominent former resident of Rapides Parish.
  LeDoux E. Smith received his education in schools local to Rapides Parish and spent the majority of his adolescence working as a farmer. He married on September 14, 1896 to Virginia native Mary Diggs Fitzhugh (1854-1929) and the couple are recorded as being childless throughout the duration of their marriage.
   Little is known of Smith's life before his nomination for state treasurer, but it has been found that he served as a justice of the peace for the Alexandria Ward in Rapides Parish during the 1880s. Due to his personal popularity and keen awareness of state politics, Smith was nominated for the position of state treasurer in 1899 and was elected the next year. Serving until 1904, Smith was unable to serve a second consecutive term as treasurer due to a then-existing Louisiana state law that forbade him from running again. However, Smith is recorded as having "went before the people" in 1912 and was nominated once again for treasurer. 
   In that year's election, Smith faced off against Republican nominee Baxter Simeon Braswell (1883-1951). On election day Smith emerged the victor, besting Braswell by nearly 20,000 votes. An electoral result from that election appeared in the St. Martinville Weekly Messenger and is shown below.

   Smith's second term as treasurer concluded in 1916 and he died of pneumonia on January 25th of the following year at age 60. His death occurred at the Rapides Hotel in the city of Alexandria and he was shortly thereafter interred at the Rose Hill Cemetery in the Parish of Iberia, Louisiana. His wife Mary survived her husband by thirteen years, dying in 1929 at age 75 and was buried in the same cemetery as her husband. The portrait of LeDoux Elgee Smith shown above was featured in a 1902 Louisiana Department of State Report to then Louisiana Governor William Wright Heard.

A death notice for Smith that appeared in the February 3, 1917 edition of the Abbeville Progress.