Monday, September 30, 2013

Vernettie Oscar Ivy (1876-1967)

   Joining New Hampshire's Zatae Longsdorff Straw and Utah's Sunday Cardall Anderson, multi-term Arizona state representative Vernettie Oscar Ivy becomes the third oddly named female political figure to receive a biography here on the site. Due to the distinct lack of interestingly named women who made a career in politics, only the aforementioned trio have had online profiles posted detailing their respective careers. 
  Vernettie O. Ivy was born Vernettie Oscar Greene in the town of Blackburn in Saline County, Missouri on January 1, 1876. She removed to Arizona in 1895 when she was nineteen and later attended the Tempe Normal School. She married on August 4, 1897, to James Pleasant Ivy (1864-1939, an Arizona territorial representative) and later had one daughter, Elizabeth Ivy McCreight (born June 1901). 
  Prominent in many Arizona women's clubs, Vernettie Ivy became president of the Rebekah Assembly of Arizona in the late 1900s and later served as President of the Central Arizona District Federation of Women's Clubs and chairwoman of the State Child Welfare Board. In November 1922 Ivy was elected as one of Maricopa County's representatives in the Arizona General Assembly, taking her seat in 1923. During her time in the legislature, Ivy took great strides to help usher through legislation that would be beneficial to both women and children. She and fellow Arizona representative Louise Boehlinger co-sponsored a bill aimed at developing a child state welfare law, and their legislation eventually passed and "mandated state money" to be used for county welfare boards that had been developed to aid widowed women with young children. 
  Her six years in state government saw Ivy serve as chairwoman of the Public Welfare and Public Health and Statistics committee and in 1924 served as part of the Arizona delegation to the Democratic National Convention in New York City. After leaving the legislature in 1929 Ivy continued to be active in many fraternal organizations for the remainder of her life, holding memberships in the Phoenix Women's Club, the Fowler Women's Club and was a past matron of the Order of the Eastern Star Lodge. She died at age 91 on July 15, 1967 in Phoenix and was later interred alongside her husband James at the Greenwood Memory Lawn Cemetery in Phoenix.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fairfax Stuart Landstreet (1861-1931)

From the Redemption of New York, published 1902.

   A native son of Virginia who made his political and business fortunes in both West Virginia and New York state, Fairfax Stuart Landstreet accumulated a fortune through his being a past director and General Manager of the Davis Coal and Coke Company. While well-known in business circles during the early part of the 20th century, Landstreet also had minor involvement in political affairs of the time, being a delegate-at-large to the Republican National Convention of 1904 from West Virginia.
  Fairfax S. Landstreet was born in Fauquier County Virginia on June 17, 1861, a son of the Rev, John Landstreet, a former Confederate Army chaplain who had been in the service of Gen. Jacob Ewell Brown Stuart. Fairfax attended schools local to his place of birth and as an adolescent was sent by his parents to finishing school in Baltimore, Maryland. After the completion of his schooling, Landstreet took on a position as clerk with the Davis Coal and Coke Company of West Virginia, owned by former U.S. Senator and 1904 Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Henry Gassaway Davis (1823-1916). Landstreet married in December 1886 in Piedmont, West Virginia to Mary Davis (Senator Davis's niece), and the couple later had two children, Fairfax Stuart Jr. (1895-1929) and Mary Davis (birthdate unknown).
   Throughout the 1880s and early 1890s, Landstreet climbed the ranks of the Davis Coal and Coke Co., and in 1893 assumed the position of General Manager, with the company headquarters being located on Broadway in New York City. While holding high rank with the aforementioned business, Landstreet also served as General Manager of the West Virginia, Chesapeake and Potomac Railway's Company coal department. Prominent in banking in addition to his railroad and coal interests, Landstreet held the presidencies of the National Bank of Davis, West Virginia and the Tucker County Bank, also located in West Virginia.
  Landstreet's long-term connection with the Davis Coal and Coke Co. (amongst other endeavors) gained him a wide circle of acquaintances in both West Virginia and New York, and the 1904 Redemption of New York notes that his "eminently successful management of this, as well as other properties, has served to bring him into prominence, and to achieve for him a place in the foremost rank of New York's business men."

                                The 1904 West Virginia delegation to the Republican National Convention.

  In June 1904 Landstreet served as part of the West Virginia delegation to the Republican National Convention in Chicago that nominated Theodore Roosevelt for the Presidency. Following his service as an RNC delegate, Landstreet continued his successful career in business, becoming chairman of the board of the New York Dock Company, as well as the Pennsylvania Coal and Coke Company. He held both of these positions until his death on February 5, 1931, at the Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore. He was 69 years of age and his cause of death was due to heart disease, as per the 1931 edition of the Mining Congress Journal. He was later entombed at the Landstreet family mausoleum at the Southampton Cemetery in Southampton, Long Island.

From the New York Sun, February 6, 1931.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Amatus Robbins Bigelow (1853-1906)

From Taylor's Legislative History and Souvenir of Connecticut, 1903.

   A distinguished son of New London County, Connecticut, Amatus Robbins Bigelow was a resident of the town of Colchester, and during his short life of 52 years was one of that town's prominent public men, being elected to numerous local offices and later represented his town in the Connecticut State House of Representatives.
  Born on September 18, 1853, Amatus R. Bigelow was the son of David Skinner (1829-1905) and Abby Mandana Usher Bigelow (1833-1913). Amatus is believed to have been bestowed his unusual first name in honor of Dr. Amatus Robbins (1789-1854), a native son of Colchester who later became a physician of note in Troy, New York, practicing medicine here for over forty years. Amatus Bigelow's education commenced in schools local to Colchester and he later went on to attend the Glastonbury Academy. He married in June 1877 to Ms. Lina Cone Brown (1857-1924) and later had three children, Abby Elizabeth (1879-1941), Leon Ray (died in infancy in 1888) and Ruth Lina (1891-1944).
   Bigelow's life prior to service in the Connecticut legislature was centered mainly in the private sector, and Taylor's 1903 Legislative History and Souvenir of Connecticut notes that he "cultivated a small farm, and is engaged in mechanical pursuits" in addition to holding  a number of town offices in Colchester, including being town assessor, constable, grand juror and was a notary public for over a decade. In November 1902 he was elected by the citizens of Colchester to be their representative in the Connecticut General Assembly and took his seat in January of the new year. During his one term in the legislature, Bigelow held a seat on the committee on Insurance, and his service was later remarked by Taylor's Legislative Souvenir as one that was "very satisfactory to his constituents."

The Connecticut House Insurance Committee of 1903, Amatus Bigelow pictured on the extreme left.

 Bigelow's term in the legislature concluded in January 1905 and he died a little over a year later at age 52 on April 1, 1906 in Colchester. He was survived by his mother, wife and two daughters and was interred at the Westchester Cemetery in Colchester. Also buried in Colchester (albeit at a different cemetery) is another oddly named Connecticut Representative, Hoxie Brown (1819-1906) who served in the legislature in the session of 1879.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Whitehead Kluttz (1881-1960), Whitehead Hicks (1728-1780)

From the Kansas Liberal Democrat, July 21, 1916.

   The name would be Whitehead Kluttz. What's that you say? That sounds like a made-up name? Not so!! While you probably wouldn't guess that a man with a name like "Whitehead Kluttz" would go on to a stellar career in public service, that is exactly what he did. While his funny name may give people a case of the giggles here in 2013, Mr. Kluttz was a prominent figure in Tar Heel State politics during the early 20th century, and by the time he turned 25 years old in 1907 had won a term in the North Carolina State Senate. Despite his gaining prominence in both politics and in other walks of life, Kluttz's name is all but forgotten today, and the following biography will try and shed light on the life of this obscure public official.
   Kluttz's story begins with his birth in Salisbury North Carolina on September 27, 1881, a son of Theodore Franklin Kluttz (1848-1918) and the former Sallie Caldwell. A three-term U.S. Representative from North Carolina from 1899-1905, Theodore Kluttz was also a distinguished civic leader and lawyer who practiced in Rowan County for over three decades. The fourth born son in a family of five children, Whitehead Kluttz attended the Presbyterian High School in Salisbury and graduated from the Church High School in 1898. He continued his schooling at the University of North Carolina, and during his four years at this school gained a reputation as one of its brightest pupils. 
   An exemplary debater and student, Kluttz is remarked by the Kansas Liberal Democrat newspaper as garnerinstatewide notoriety during his time at the University of North Carolina for "his remarkable talents as an orator, debater and journalist." This same paper further tells of Kluttz's "classic eulogy at the William McKinley Memorial Service, his successful debate against Vanderbilt University, his Washington's Birthday oration, and his leaders when editor in chief of the Tar Heel are all vital and stimulating memories in the minds of his classmates."

Portrait from the Delta of Sigma Nu Fraternity, Vol. 18, August 1900.

   Kluttz completed his schooling at UNC in 1902 and graduated with his bachelor of laws degree in that year. Following his graduation, Kluttz was employed as a U.S. Senate correspondent for a New York-based newspaper, The Americana, and in 1904 formed a law partnership with another lawyer, T.F. Hudson, in his native city of Salisbury. His law practice here extended until 1906, and in that year was nominated for a seat in the North Carolina Senate. He won the election in November of that year and took his seat in January 1907 at age 25, one of the youngest men ever to be elected to that body. He represented the 26th senate district of Rowan County and was reelected to the senate in 1908. During his second term Kluttz became senate president pro tem, and with this honor enjoyed "the enviable distinction of being the youngest man who ever filled this position in any state."
   Kluttz's two terms in the state senate saw him chair the committee on Counties, Cities and Towns, and he also held a seat on the committees on Congressional Apportionment, Education, Judiciary, Mines and Mining, and Trustees of the State University. The 1909 Pocket Manuel of North Carolina gives note that Whitehead Kluttz was "especially interested in legislation affecting good roads, guaranty of bank deposits, fire protection in public buildings, pensions for Confederate soldiers and public high schools.
   Whitehead Kluttz refused to be a candidate for another term in the senate in 1910 and in the final year of his term married on April 22, 1911 to Margaret A. Linn (1884-1914). Their marriage proved to be short-lived, as Margaret died of an undisclosed cause at age 29 on February 4, 1914. Both before and after his senate service Kluttz gained a reputation as an orator of national repute, and is remarked by the 1916 edition of the Lyceum Magazine as giving a "Fourth of July address to 10,000 people in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, when he was said to have received the greatest ovation ever tendered a Southern speaker in the North" , this occurring in 1912.
   Kluttz's impressive resume as a lawyer, state senator, and orator eventually caught the eye of President Woodrow Wilson, who appointed the then 32-year-old North Carolinian to the post of Secretary of the International Joint Boundary Commission between the United States and CanadaA prominent booster for Wilson's campaign for the presidency in 1913, Kluttz's position on the commission was as secretary to the commission which had "exclusive jurisdiction over all controversies between the United States and Canada along the great waterways which form much of the boundary." Following his service on this commission, Kluttz was appointed by Wilson as Assistant Commissioner and Secretary of the United States Board of Mediation and Conciliation in 1920.

From the Ocean Grove Times, July 9, 1910.

   After leaving the aforementioned board in the mid-1920s Kluttz took on a very different kind of work, becoming a national representative of the Playground and Recreation Association of America. In 1924 he made a speaking tour on behalf of that association, visiting Illinois, Iowa and Kentucky, "where he completed the work preliminary to the establishment of a year-round municipal playground and recreation system." At some point following his work with the aforementioned group, Kluttz relocated to Miami, Florida, where he was an attorney for an unspecified length of time.
   Kluttz's life after the 1930s has proven to be difficult to research, with little information being found on what he may have been up to during that time. At some point prior to his death he removed to Manhattan, New York and died there on May 11, 1960. He was 78 years old at the time of his death, and this same book gives note that he was interred somewhere in Washington, D.C. area, with an exact location being unknown at this time.

  Long before Whitehead Kluttz made his name in politics there was Whitehead Hicks, undoubtedly one of the oddest named men ever to serve as Mayor of New York City. Mr. Hicks served as Mayor from 1766-1776 and during this period had to contend with a great amount of anti-British sentiment that was prevalent throughout the colonies.
   Born on August 24, 1728 in Flushing, Long Island, Whitehead Hicks was the son of Judge Thomas and Margaret Hicks. As a young man he began studying law and was admitted to the bar around 1750. He went on to serve as clerk for Queen's County, New York from 1752-1757 and in 1766 was appointed as Mayor of New York City.
  Hicks' decade long tenure as Mayor saw a number of now notable New York institutions come to fruition, including the King's College (opened in 1767) and the New York Chamber of Commerce (established in 1768). Hicks' term in office also saw a great number of  protests from colonists against British officials, whom they ridiculed with "effigy processions" throughout the city. After leaving the mayor's office in 1776 Hicks became a Judge of the New York State Supreme Court, and served on the bench until his death on October 4, 1780 in Flushing.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Newcomb Spoor (1852-1935)

From the 1917 Wisconsin Blue Book.

   A multi-term member of the Wisconsin State House of Representatives, Newcomb Spoor (and his rather odd name) left a memorable mark on Wisconsin law when in 1913 he introduced a bill in the legislature that prohibited frogs and toads from being hunted out of season. An ardent conservationist and outdoorsman, Spoor was a New Yorker by birth, being born in the city of Oswego on March 27, 1852, one of five children born to Cornelius VanWormer (1823-1891) and Charity Delia Huntsinger Spoor (1830-1892). The Spoor family removed from New York to Wisconsin shortly after Newcomb's birth and eventually settled in Waushara County. 
   Spoor's education took place in the Berlin, Wisconsin school system and he graduated from the Berlin High School in 1874. He married on December 20, 1878, to Jennie Sherman (born 1859) and the couple are recorded as being childless throughout the duration of their marriage. Despite a lack of biographical material on Mr. Spoor, it appears that he spent a good majority of his life engaged as a machinist and farmer in Green Lake County area, as well as spending time in the wilderness of Silver Lake, where he owned a cottage. 
  The Wisconsin Blue Book notes that Spoor held a number of local town offices prior to his service in the state assembly, but fails to elaborate on what they may have been. He was elected to his first term in the legislature in November 1910, defeating Democratic nominee Charles Boettage by a vote of 1,593 to 1,397. During this term, Spoor held a seat on the house committees on Agriculture exhibitions, Banks and Elections. In 1912 he won a second term in the house, again defeating Charles Boettage by a slim margin, 1,425 votes to 1,393. 

Newcomb "Newt" Spoor, pictured in the 1913 Wisconsin Blue Book.

   It was during the 1912-1914 session of the legislature that Newcomb Spoor left his imprint on Wisconsin history. A man with a keen knowledge of environmental affairs and conservation, Spoor had for nearly three decades prior to his legislative service pursued the study of the frog, learning of its spawning habits, the creature's diet, and "the frog catching industry of the region, with its headquarters in Oshkosh, Wisconsin". During his years of study on the frog, Spoor took careful note that wherever the frog lived in abundance, crops grew well, as the insects that usually hampered crop growth were the frog's primary food source. Spoor also found that wherever the frog population had been destroyed by hunting, "grasshoppers and bugs had ruined everything."
   After his decades of research, Spoor was in the midst of his second term in the assembly when he first drew up his bill for the protection of frogs and toads. As Spoor himself related in an interview in the 1921 edition of the American Magazine
"I drew up my frog bill for the legislature in 1913. For five weeks it lay at my desk before I dared introduce it; I knew I'd be laughed at. The night of the hearing the galleries of the assembly chamber were chock-full--with people who had come to laugh. I decided to give them what they wanted. A bunch of my friends in the assembly were supplied with wooden rattlers, and after I had made my speech they started them going. The whole place sounded like it was full of frogs and it brought down the house. There was only one vote against me."
  Although his bill was denounced by some people as a piece of "freak legislation", Spoor and his green friend got the last laugh. The bill passed the legislature and in the months after its passage, Spoor's legislation received substantial press in the literature of the time, including the below caricature in the Milwaukee Journal. In the 1921 write-up on Spoor in Volume 92 of the American Magazine, it was noted that many farmers "have renewed cause to thank the 'father of the frog law" due to his foresight in keeping the frog population at a level where it could be of use in the elimination of insects.

This caricature of Newcomb Spoor appeared in the March 5, 1913 edition of the Milwaukee Journal.

   With his becoming the "father of the frog law", Newcomb Spoor continued to represent the county of Green Lake in the Wisconsin assembly, being reelected in 1914 and 1916, in the latter year defeating local Judge Herman Megow by a vote of 1,685 to 413. At the conclusion of his fourth term in 1919, Spoor chose not to be a candidate for reelection. Three years following his leaving the legislature, Spoor chose to reenter politics, mounting what would be his last campaign for public office. In November 1922 he won re-election to the Assembly for his fifth term, this time representing the county of Waushara. During the 1923-25 term, Spoor held the position of chairman of the committee on Fish and Game, and also served on the committee on Rules. During his stewardship of the Fish and Game committee, the Milwaukee Journal noted that Spoor was "influential in obtaining state appropriations for fish hatchery programs and enforcement of laws to protect fish and game."

From Volume 92 of the American Magazine, 1921.

    At the conclusion of his final term in the legislature, Newcomb Spoor retired to private life in his native town of Berlin. During his twilight years, he spent a good majority of his time at his cottage in Silver Lake, Wisconsin, pursuing life in the great outdoors. Remarked by the American Magazine as an "ardent and philosophical fisherman", the knowledgeable Spoor is recorded as having acted as a tour guide and counselor to many visiting city dwellers who vacationed in the wilderness area of Silver Lake, even helping to rescue endangered swimmers and boaters. In 1927 Spoor received the honor of having eight acres of wilderness near his home in Silver Lake named in his honor. Dubbed "Newcomb Spoor Park", this protected area was a fitting tribute to a man who had devoted so much of his private and public life to conservation and environmental causes.
  Newcomb Spoor died at age 83 in September 1935. A burial location for both Spoor and his wife is unknown at the time of this writing, but seeing that both his mother and father are interred at the Oakwood Cemetery in Berlin, it may not be a foregone conclusion that Spoor and his wife may be buried there.

From the July 10, 1927 edition of the Milwaukee Journal.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Corbus Plummer Gardner (1868-1925)

From "The Breaking of the Deadlock" published in 1904.

   We continue our stay in Illinois to highlight the life of another oddly named Prairie state political figure, Mr. Corbus Plummer Gardner of the city of Mendota. Described in Volume II of the 1916 Courts and Lawyers of Illinois as "a vigorous and ambitious lawyer" and "one of the best known men in Northern central Illinois", Mr. Gardner represented LaSalle County in the Illinois State Senate for three terms beginning with his election in 1898.
   Corbus P. "Busty" Gardner was born in Mendota, Illinois on September 2, 1868, the youngest of nine children born to George Washington and Margaret Gardner, both natives of Pennsylvania. Corbus worked on the family farm during his youth and attended the Blackstone High School in Mendota. In the late 1880s, he enrolled at the University of Michigan's Law School and graduated in the class of 1890. Following his graduation, Gardner read law in the office of Mayo and Wilder for a short period and in 1891 opened his own law practice in Mendota.
   Although he was only in his mid-twenties at the time of its opening, Gardner's law practice grew exponentially, branching out to include other areas in LaSalle, Bureau and Lee County. The Courts and Lawyers of Illinois give note that Gardner became affiliated with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad in 1897 and served as that railroad's attorney for a number of years. He would later take on a position as an attorney for the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad in 1904, and following that year was primarily based in Chicago. Gardner married on December 11, 1901 to Georgia Smith (1873-1963) and later became the father of two children, Margaret Wilda (1904-unknown) and Robert Bruce (1908-1925).

From the St. Louis Republic, February 6, 1903.

   Noted as being a "staunch Democrat" throughout his life, Corbus P. Gardner had never served in elected office prior to his election to the Illinois Senate. In November 1898 Gardner won election to that body for the first of three terms. He won reelection in November 1902, defeating Republican candidate P.J. Lucey by a vote of 7,919 to 7,347 and during his second term (1903-1907) Gardner served as chairman of the Appropriations committee. Gardner etched his name into the history books in 1905 when he introduced a bill in the senate that proposed $150,000 to provide for the construction of an Illinois Supreme Court Building. Gardner's bill was passed by both houses of the legislature and was approved by Governor Charles S. Deenan on May 18th of that year.
   Gardner's third term in the senate commenced in 1907 and during this session chaired the committee on Revenue and also held a seat on the following committees: Appropriations, Chicago Charter, Education, Judicial Department and Practice, License and Miscellany, Parks and Boulevards, Primary Elections, Sanitary District Affairs, State Charitable Institutions and Waterways. As one of the most influential Democratic senators serving in the legislature, Corbus Gardner was noted for his "fair dealing and honesty", but in his last year in the senate his sterling reputation took a significant hit when allegations of graft were leveled against him.

From the Indianapolis Daily Sun, June 25, 1910.

    As the Indianapolis Daily Sun related in its June 1910 edition, Senator Gardner was accused of "offering a $10,000 jackpot contribution" for securing the passage of a bill through the legislature. The bill in question (referred to as "a bill to permit the damming of rivers for power purposes") had been killed during the last session of the legislature, and Gardner's ethics were called into question when he appeared before a grand jury in Springfield to explain his involvement. This jury also heard testimony from H.S. Green, the manager of a power company in Morrison, Illinois who had mentioned that a "demand" concerning the bill  "was bluntly made of him by the Senator". 
   Gardner vehemently denied the charges against him, and despite being in the hot seat, had little to worry about politically. An article in the Rock Island Argus in February 1910 noted that a number of incumbent senators "had no desire to be returned" to office in November and that Corbus Gardner was among them. The Argus also related that it was Gardner's wish to "engage permanently in the practice of law in Chicago" after the conclusion of his third term. From what newspaper articles of the period have indicated, Gardner appears to have weathered the scandal, although the same cannot be said for state representatives Lee O'Neil Browne, Robert Wilson, Frank Traut and Louis Hersheimer, who were indicted by the grand jury in June 1910 on a conspiracy to bribe. 

From the Rock Island Argus, June 25, 1910.

   Despite his leaving the senate under a black cloud, Corbus P. Gardner spent the remainder of his life actively following politics, and in 1912 became affiliated with U.S. Senator Shelby Moore Cullom's campaign for reelection. Cullom established his political headquarters at the Hotel LaSalle and Ex-Senator Gardner was named as its head. In the end, however, Senator Cullom did not run for a fifth term and left office in March 1913 after serving 30 years in the U.S. Senate.
   Gardner continued to practice law in Chicago and Mendota for the remainder of his life and is also noted as having been a member of the LaSalle, Illinois, and American Bar Associations, the Bethany Commandery No. 28 of the Knights Templar Masons and the Medinah Temple of the Mystic Shrine. He died at his home in Mendota on May 3, 1925 at age 57 and was later interred at the Restland Cemetery in that town. Gardner's son Robert Bruce died one week later, aged just 17, and was interred alongside his father. Georgia Smith Gardner was also buried here following her death in 1963 at age 90.

Corbus Plummer Gardner,  from "Ottawa in Nineteen Hundred".

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Epler Cadwell Mills (1893-1984)

 From the 1931-32 Illinois Blue Book.

   The Illinois General Assembly has had its fair share of oddly named individuals serve amongst its ranks over the past two centuries, and following on the heels of the September 11th profile on DeGoy Bowman Ellis (a state representative from Kane County) another funny named Illinois legislator gets accorded his due: Mr. Epler Cadwell Mills of Cass County. A two-term member of the state senate, Mills had earlier distinguished himself during the First World War and was first elected to the Illinois senate at age 27.
  Born in Virginia, Illinois on March 16, 1893, Epler C. Mills was the son of local attorney Richard Watson Mills and his second wife Nellie Epler, and was bestowed the odd first name "Epler" as it was his mother's maiden name. He attended schools in the Virginia, Illinois area and also studied at the Montclair Academy in Montclair, New Jersey. He continued his education at the University of Illinois Law School and later graduated from here with his bachelor of laws degree.
  Following his graduation Mills began the study of law and continued his studies until the beginning of American involvement in WWI. In May 1917 he signed on for military service and in the following month married Helen Odiorne (1895-1984) and later had two daughters, Jane and Elizabeth (1922-2012). Mills began his military training at the Fort Sheridan Training Camp in Lake County, Illinois and after being commissioned was assigned to the Co. H., 19th U.S. Infantry. He served with this outfit for the duration of the war and eventually rose to the rank of Second Lieutenant, being stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He resigned from the Army in January 1919 and after returning home returned to studying law.
   In 1920 the then 27-year-old Mills was nominated for a seat in the Illinois State Senate and in November of that year defeated Democratic incumbent Walter Manny by a vote of 22, 432 to 15, 718. Taking his seat in January of the new year, the freshman senator was named to seats on the committees on Agriculture and Live Stock, Appropriations, Civil Service and Dairying during his first term.
A youthful looking Epler C. Mills, from the 1921-22 Illinois State Blue Book.

   Epler C. Mills represented Cass County in the senate for a four-year term (1921-1925) but wasn't a candidate for reelection in 1925. He was elected to a second term in the senate in November 1928 and served another four years in office. During this session of the senate Mills served on 22 different committees, which are listed as follows: Agriculture, Livestock and Dairying; Apportionment; Appropriations; Canals and Waterways; Civil Service; Community Welfare, Corporations and Industrial Affairs, Criminal Procedure, Efficiency and Economy, Elections, Fees and Salaries, Forestry, Fish and Game, Harbors, Insurance, Judiciary, License and Miscellany,  Military Affairs, Municipalities, Parks, Boulevards and Playgrounds, Public Utilities, Railroads, and Roads and Highway Transportation.
  After leaving the senate in January 1933, Mills returned to his hometown of Virginia to practice law with his brother Myron. In 1934 Mills mounted a candidacy for the Republican nomination for U.S. Representative from Illinois, and during the April primary placed a distant fifth behind winning nominee C. Wayland Brooks, who had garnered 479, 479 votes. Following his primary loss, Epler Mills continued practicing law for forty more years and was also affiliated with numerous fraternal clubs in Illinois, being a member of the Masonic Order, the Modern Woodmen, the Hamilton Club of Chicago, and the American Legion. 
  Epler C. Mills died in Illinois on June 5, 1984, at age 91 and was shortly thereafter interred at the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois. Helen Odiorne Mills survived her husband by only a few weeks, dying on July 3rd of 1984 at age 89, and was buried alongside her husband at the Oak Ridge Cemetery. One of the most prominent cemeteries in Illinois, Oak Ridge is also the burial location of former Illinois senator Shelby M. Cullom, Illinois Governor Ninian Edwards, American labor leader John Llewellyn Lewis, President Abraham Lincoln, and oddly named Springfield mayor Rheuna Drake Lawrence, profiled here back in March of 2012.

Epler C. Mills, from the 1922-1923 Illinois Blue Book.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

DeGoy Bowman Ellis (1876-1949)

DeGoy Bowman Ellis, from the 1915-16 Illinois Blue Book.

   A three-term member of the Illinois state House of Representatives, DeGoy Bowman Ellis was a prominent figure in the city of Elgin, being a successful attorney and past master in chancery of the city court of Elgin. Born on November 27, 1876, in Boone County, Illinois, Ellis was the only child born to William DeGoy (1845-1935) and Sophia Bowman Ellis (1846-1906). He inherited his unusual first name from his father and attended the Belvidere High School in Belvidere, Illinois, later graduating from the Dixon College in 1897. Ellis continued his schooling at the Illinois Law School and after graduating in 1899 relocated to Elgin to open a law practice, "giving special attention to insurance and corporate law."
  In 1903 Ellis won election as city attorney for Elgin and served in this capacity until 1905. He married in 1904 to Ms. Ina Ames (1879-1964) and later became the father to two children, Eloise (1906-1961) and DeGoy Bowman Ellis Jr. (1908-1929). Shortly after leaving the office of Elgin city attorney, Ellis was named as master-in-chancery of the Elgin court system, holding this post from 1906-1914. In 1910 he established the law firm of Ellis and Western and four years later became a Republican candidate for a seat in the Illinois State House of Representatives.
  In November 1914 Ellis won election to the house with a vote of 11,939 and after taking his seat in January 1915 was named to a seat on the house committee on Fees and Salaries. He was subsequently reelected to the Illinois legislature in 1916 and 1918 and during these later terms served as Chairman of the Judicial Department and Practice Committees. Ellis wasn't a candidate for a fourth term in 1920 and at the conclusion of his term returned to his law practice in Elgin.
                                       Ellis' official legislative portrait from the 1919-20 Illinois Blue Book.

   At the conclusion of his service in the legislature, Ellis continued with his work as an attorney in Elgin and in 1920 took on an important position in the Illinois State Bar Association, being a member of the Law Reform committee for the 1920-21 year. In 1925-26 Ellis held a seat on the Association's Enforcement of Criminal Law Committee, and three years after concluding his work on the above committee experienced personal tragedy with the sudden death of his only son, DeGoy Bowman Ellis Jr.
  DeGoy Jr. was a standout track athlete at the Lawrence College in Appleton, Wisconsin, and is recorded as holding the school's broad jump record at 22 feet 2 inches. Ellis was active in a number of other campus activities, winning "letters in basketball and swimming" in addition to success in academics. Ellis's bright future ended in tragedy on September 20, 1929, when he succumbed to injuries he had sustained in a car accident a few days prior. A substantial write up on the loss of the popular college student appeared in the September 20, 1929 edition of the Lawrentian and is shown below.

   In spite of the loss of their only son, DeGoy and Ina Ellis pressed on, and in June of the following year honored their son's memory with the DeGoy B. Ellis Jr. Memorial Award, a bronze plaque to be given out annually to the high point winner on the Lawrence College track squad. 
  During the latter period of his life DeGoy Ellis Sr. continued to be a prominent fixture in Illinois law circles, being a special master in chancery for the U.S. District Court of Illinois' Northern District from 1942-1949 and was past director of the Fraternal Reserve Life Association. On January 16, 1949, DeGoy B. Ellis died at age 72 at the St. Joseph's Hospital in Elgin. He was buried in the same plot as his son in the Bluff City Cemetery in Elgin and was survived by his daughter Eloise and wife Marian, who were interred here in 1961 and 1964 following their respective deaths.

DeGoy Ellis, from the 1917-1918 Illinois Blue Book.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Oval Pirkey (1861-1923), Oval Sethal Hatler (1892-1956)

From Shuck's History of the Bench and Bar of California, 1901.

   Certainly, one of the funniest named jurists ever to be elected to office in the United States, Judge Oval Pirkey of California held a seat on the Superior Court of Glenn County during the early years of the 20th century. He was born in Alexandria, Tennessee on February 22, 1861, and inherited his odd name courtesy of his father, also named Oval Pirkey. Pirkey senior (1833-1912) was a prominent figure in educational circles, being a professor at the Christian University in Canton, Missouri and former president of both the Lawrence College in Tennessee and the Abingdon College in Illinois. He married in 1859 to Sallie McClelland and later had several children, of which Oval Pirkey II was the second born. Young Oval attended college at the Christian University at Canton, Missouri and graduated from here in the class of 1883. 
  Pirkey embarked upon a career in law after the completion of his schooling and was admitted to the Washington Territorial bar in 1885. He later removed to California to continue his law practice and married here in 1900 to Marion Moore Rice (1871-1948), and the couple is recorded as having at least one son, Oval Jr. (1901-1986) who was later involved in vaudeville. In 1898 Pirkey won election to the Superior Court of Glenn County, California and took his seat on the bench in 1899. 
  His service on the court lasted only a few years (1899-1905) but was not without controversy. In 1903 Pirkey became the judge in the case of Swan vs. Talbot in Willows, California. During the trial proceedings, attorneys for the defense leveled charges of bias against Judge Pirkey, which he vehemently denied. Pirkey went as far as to file affidavits denying all of the charges, as did attorneys for the plaintiff, who noted that Judge Pirkey had never appeared biased or had shown favoritism during past cases. An article on the brouhaha concerning the trial appeared in the June 6, 1903 edition of the San Francisco Call and is shown below.

   In the 1904 election season, Pirkey was defeated for re-election to the Superior Court, losing to Democratic candidate William Finch by a vote of 875 to 623. Following his loss, Pirkey removed to Washington state and resided here for the remainder of his life. Although a resident of Washington, notice is given as to his practicing law in Portland, Oregon and serving as city librarian in Vancouver, Washington, later being succeeded in that office by his wife Marion. Pirkey died at the St. Joseph's Hospital in Vancouver County on August 29, 1923, at age 62 and was later buried at the Blaine Cemetery in Blaine, Whatcom County, Washington. Marion Rice Pirkey survived her husband by many years, dying in Washington in 1948 at age 77. A burial location for her is unknown at this time.

Judge Oval Pirkey, from the Glenn County Superior Court website.

From the Havre Daily News, October 29, 1951.

  Longtime Havre, Montana resident Othal Sethal Hatler is another "Oval" that ran for public office, in his case serving multiple terms as mayor of Havre. A yardmaster for the Great Northern Railway and a former Havre city alderman, Hatler died in office in 1956 after undoing an operation at a Seattle, Washington hospital. The son of Leonard Pendleton and Lydia Jane (Elsea) Hatler, Oval Sethal Hatler was born in Moberly, Missouri on February 17, 1892.
  Hatler removed with his family to Havre, Montana in 1902 and in 1907 began work with the Great Northern Railway, in the road and freight service. By 1913 he had worked his way to the post of switchman and in 1924 succeeded to the post of yardmaster, which he would continue to hold during his tenure as mayor. In June 1915 Hatler married to Mary Garnet Dry (1894-1995), and the couple's near four-decade marriage saw the births of six children, Caleb (1914-1967), Jeanette (1915-2001), Francis Oval (1917-2008), Mary Louise (birthdate unknown), Carol Lynn (birthdate unknown) and Kenneth (1924-1990).
   Oval S. Hatler first entered Havre politics late in his life, winning election to the Havre city council in 1947. He was reelected in 1949 and became president of the council in 1950 in the wake of the resignation of Mayor Harry Soderberg. With Soderberg's resignation, Hatler became acting mayor of Havre, and in 1951 was elected to a term in his own right, garnering 1, 173 votes in the April 3rd city election. In total Hatler would serve three terms as mayor (1950-56) and during this time the city built new sewer and water lines and "lights were added to the newly developed south and west sections of the city".
  In early 1956 Hatler traveled to Seattle, Washington to undergo an unspecified operation and on March 9, 1956, died in that city while recuperating. He was later returned to Havre for burial at the Highland Cemetery. Hatler was survived by all his children and his wife Garnet, who lived to become a centenarian, dying shortly before her 101st birthday on August 8, 1995.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Vendome Pierce Ticknor (1902-1985)

Mayor V.P. Ticknor cutting the ribbon at a furniture store opening in Corinth, 1953.

   Following the September 7th write up on Geneva, New York mayor Castner E. Rapalee we continue our stay in the Empire State to profile another interestingly named mayor, Mr. Vendome Pierce Ticknor of Corinth, New York. Ticknor served as Mayor of this Saratoga County town for ten years and despite my best attempts at doing so, little information could be found on him. The above picture of Mayor Ticknor was located via a 1953 edition of the Saratoga, New York Saratogian, one of four small portraits of him that I've been able to locate. All of these pictures are (unfortunately) of very low quality and when scanned online lost most of their resolution. With all that being said, I'm quite glad to have found at least a few pertinent facts on this distinguished Saratoga County resident, as well as the picture shown above!
   Vendome P. Ticknor was born in the city of Manitowoc, Wisconsin on September 27, 1902, one of eight children born to Frank Barton and Elizabeth Genevieve Haggerty Ticknor. It can be safely said that interesting names ran in the Ticknor family, as the 1919 history of The Ticknor Family in America notes that three of Vendome's siblings were bestowed the names Laviere Barton (1899-1977), Exter Lionel (born 1906) and Naopia Ruth (1908-1990). An alternate spelling of Ticknor's middle name is given as "Perce", although this is presumed to be a spelling error. Vendome attended the Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids and graduated from that school in the class of 1920. 
   Following his graduation, Ticknor married his first wife Ruth Van Sickle and later had one daughter, Fern (born ca. 1922), according to a listing on the Rootsweb genealogical website. Following Ruth Van Sickle's death in 1935 Ticknor married Helen Hayes (1905-1999) in Mackeyville, Pennsylvania and later had two sons, Donald and Arthur Robert. Ticknor's eldest son Donald (1941-1959) was tragically killed in a car accident in Corinth when he was just eighteen years old. 
   Vendome Ticknor removed from Wisconsin to Corinth sometime in the 1920s and later became an employee of the International Paper Company for over forty years, and was eventually promoted to mill superintendent. He first became active in Corinth village politics in the early 1940s when he was elected as a village trustee, and as such was a member of the Corinth village board. He served as a trustee until 1949 and in November of that year was elected as Mayor of Corinth. He succeeded outgoing mayor Victor Parmenter, who had declined to run for another term. Ticknor's decade-long tenure as Mayor saw him take part in numerous civic activities and programs within the town, including declaring the last week of January 1952 as "National VFW Week" in Corinth. In addition to this, Ticknor later served as marshal of the first division in the Corinth Labor Day Parade held every year.
   Ticknor resigned as mayor in February 1960 due to what the Saratoga Springs Saratogan called "business pressures" and later returned to his work as a day superintendent at the International Paper Co. He retired in 1964 and in the following year became a candidate for village assessor. He was successful in his candidacy, defeating Democratic nominee Joseph St. John by a vote of 1,12 to 675. 

Vendome Ticknor shortly after his election as Corinth mayor in 1950.

    In addition to his political activities in Corinth, Ticknor was a prominent local mason, being a longstanding member of the Corinth Lodge #987 of Free and Accepted Masons, and served as secretary of that lodge from 1974-75. Ticknor is also listed in his obituary as being a past trustee of the Corinth Rural Cemetery Association. Little information could be found on Ticknor's later life, although it is known that he passed away at a hospital in Glens Falls, New York on November 25, 1985, at age 83. His wife Helen survived him by fourteen years, dying at age 94 in December 1999 at a nursing facility in Wheeling, West Virginia. Both were interred at the Corinth Rural Cemetery following their deaths.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Castner Emmet Rapalee (1884-1976)

From the Geneva Daily Press, November 5, 1947.

    A distinguished business and political figure in the city of Geneva, New York, Castner Emmet Rapalee served as Mayor of that city for one term beginning in the late 1940s. In its century-plus history, this moderately sized city in the Finger Lakes region has elected over thirty persons as its head, and of those individuals, the name of Castner Emmet Rapalee is by far the strangest.
   Castner E. Rapalee was the son of native New Yorkers Hugh and Eva Rapalee, and was born in the town of Bath, New York on December 29, 1884. He relocated with his family to the towns of Dundee and Gorham, New York as a child and attended school in both villages, later studying at the Barclay's Business Institute in Geneva. Following the completion of his education, Rapalee settled in Geneva in 1900 and in that year became employed at the Phillips and Clark Stone Co. for a short time. He married in 1908 to Lancaster, Pennsylvania native Elizabeth Williams and later had one son, Castner E. Rapalee Jr. (1910-1975).
  Rapalee later left the employ of the Phillips and Clark Stone Co. and joined another coke distributor, the Empire Coke Co. He was connected with this company for over thirty years and eventually became its sales manager for a number of years. A notice for the Empire Coke Co. and Mr. Rapalee appeared in the April 4, 1921 edition of the Geneva Daily Times and is shown below.

   Castner Rapalee left the Empire Coke Co. in 1934 to stake his own claim in the fuel business, founding the Rapalee Coal and Fuel Corp. He operated this business until it was sold in 1945, whereafter he began a lengthy career as a real estate broker. Through his many business dealings throughout the 1920s, 30s, and 40s Rapalee garnered a reputation as one of Geneva's most prominent business leaders and proved to be a man of many hats when it came to his involvement in Geneva civic affairs. Rapalee was a former President of the Geneva Real Estate Board, a director of the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, a past director and president of the Geneva Industries Inc., as well as a member of the Geneva Board of Public Works from 1928 to 1933. Following his service on the Board of Public Works, Rapalee was elected as Ontario County Supervisor in 1938 and subsequently held this post until 1942.
   As a popular citizen in Geneva, Rapalee's prominence eventually led to his nomination as the Republican candidate for Mayor in 1947. Rapalee became a candidate for that office in mid-1947 and in the lead up to election day was quoted by the Geneva Daily Times as promising "businesslike methods in City Hall" and made note that he would take "no dictation from any group or individual". His reputation as a distinguished local businessman obviously resonated with voters, as he emerged victorious on election day 1947, besting incumbent four-term Mayor Charles F. Nieder by a vote of 3, 840 to 2, 586.
   Rapalee's term as Mayor lasted from 1948-1950 and towards the conclusion of his term received lavish praise from Geneva finance committee chairman Franklin Toole, who noted that the average citizen "would never know the full extent of Mayor Rapalee's contribution to the operation of our city."Rapalee had chosen not to be a candidate for reelection during the 1949 election year, and on December 31, 1949 (Rapalee's last official day in office) his name appeared in the following humorous newspaper snippet in the Geneva Daily Times, under the title "Ex-Mayor Wants Job". It obviously shows that Rapalee left the mayor's office with his sense of humor intact!

  Throughout the latter part of his life, Castner Rapalee held memberships in a number of local fraternal organizations, including the presidency of the Geneva Shrine Club, and was a longstanding member of both the Geneva Elks and Moose Clubs. He was also a distinguished Mason, being a member of the St. Paul Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons and the Geneva Chapter of Royal Arch Masons. Rapalee celebrated his 90th birthday in 1974 and died at age 91 on February 6, 1976 at the Geneva General Hospital. He had outlived both his wife and son and following funeral arrangements was interred at the Glenwood Cemetery in Geneva.

Rapalee in his later years, from the March 27, 1969 Geneva Daily Times.

Rapalee's obituary from the Syracuse Herald American, February 8, 1976.