Friday, November 29, 2013

Farlin Quigley Ball (1838-1917)

From the Oak Park, Illinois  "Oak Leaves",  April 4, 1902.

    The Illinois Judicial system of the late 19th and early 20th century can be considered a veritable treasure trove of oddly named public servants. A quick glance at the Illinois Blue Book's roster of the state Judiciary Department of the early 1900s brings up such strange names as Mancha Bruggemeyer (1865-1949, a Chicago Municipal Court Judge), Mazzini Slusser (1853-1922, a Circuit Court Judge), Colostin DeKalb Myers (1847-1920, a Circuit Court judge), Kickham Scanlan (1864-1955, a Circuit Court judge), Lockwood Honore (1865-1917, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court) and Sain Welty (1853-1920, a Circuit Court judge). With all of these oddly named jurists peopling the benches of Illinois's courtrooms, one can wonder if criminals of the time period ever had a good laugh when they were sentenced by a judge with a name like "Sain Welty"!
   All humor aside, the above assemblage of funnily named jurists grows ever wider with the addition of today's write-up on Farlin Quigley Ball, a decorated Civil War veteran and attorney who went on to serve nearly two decades as an Illinois Superior Court Judge. A native son of Ohio, Farlin Q. Ball was born in Shelby County on the 28th of March 1838, one of four children born to James Moores (1812-1897) and Keturah Ford Ball (1813-1860). At a young age, Farlin removed with his family to Wisconsin where he attended high school in the city of Monroe. In 1858 he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin and graduated with his B.S. (Bachelor of Science) degree in the class of 1861.
   During the early days of the Civil War, Farlin Ball enlisted in Co. G of the 31st Regiment Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry and served with this outfit from mid-1862 until the hostilities ceased, and was brevetted as a Major towards the end of his service. After leaving the military Ball returned to Wisconsin and decided upon a career in law, and following his studies was admitted to practice by the state bar. In 1866 he was elected to the first of two terms as Dane County attorney, holding this post until 1868. In the latter year, he married to Elizabeth Hall (1842-1920), and the couple became the parents of three children, Robin (died in infancy in August 1871), Farlin Herbert (1872-1942), and Sydney Hobart (1877-1949). Of these children Farlin Herbert followed in his father's footsteps and became a distinguished lawyer, later serving as a Circuit Court judge for Cook County beginning in 1920.
   In August 1869 the Ball family left Dane County, Wisconsin, and resettled in Chicago. Shortly after his removal Ball was admitted to the Illinois state bar and began a law practice. In the succeeding years, he gained recognition as a lawyer of repute and in 1878-79 served as Treasurer of the Chicago Bar Association. Ball would later serve a term as president of this organization, and also held the presidency of the Chicago Law Institute for a time.  Ball also became an author during this time period, publishing "Ball on National Banks" in 1880.
From the Oak Park Vindicator, September 21, 1900.

  In the November 1895 Illinois election, Farlin Quigley Ball won a seat on the Superior Court of Cook County, succeeding Judge George Blanke, whose death some months prior had created a vacancy on that court. Ball won reelection to a term of his own on the court in 1900 and continued to serve on both the Superior and Appellate Courts until his retirement a decade later. During his tenure on the bench, Judge Ball served as the court's Chief Justice for a time and also held court as a Judge Advocate of the Illinois National Guard's 1st Brigade. Ball retired from judicial service in 1911 and was widely praised by his contemporaries, being referred to in sources of the time as "the ideal jurist." Ball was even honored with a banquet in his honor, and his 1917 Oak Park Oak Leave obituary notes that:
"He has always been correct in his judgement of the law, always patient and of the judicial temperament. His record as a man, a soldier, a lawyer and a judge is without a blemish."
  Following his retirement, Judge Ball remained a prominent public figure in his neighborhood of Oak Park in Chicago and is remarked as belong to a number of fraternal clubs, including the Masons, Knights Templar, and the Oak Park Club. Sources of the time note that although advanced in age the retired judge remained the picture of health until a few days before his death, which occurred at the West Suburban Hospital in Chicago on August 29, 1917. He was later buried at the Forest Home Cemetery in Chicago. He was survived by both his sons and his wife Elizabeth, who followed her husband in death in 1920 at age 79.

From the Carbondale Illinois Daily Press, April 3, 1908.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Clarendon Witherspoon Ervin (1882-1959)

From the 1947 North Carolina Manual.

    If you've followed the Strangest Names In American Political History for any length of time you may have noticed that the state of North Carolina has been very well represented here on the site, with nine oddly named political figures from the Tar Heel State receiving a profile. From Fleetus Lee Gobble to Ippie Purvis Graham and Arris Idyl Ferree, one can see that North Carolina had no qualms about electing an oddly named  state representative.     With that introduction, another strangely named Tar Heel politician gets a write-up here, and one may also notice that he bears a remarkable resemblance to the pitch-fork holding farmer from Grant Wood's famous artwork "American Gothic" (see link for comparison). Mr. Clarendon Witherspoon Ervin was for many years a highly regarded Presbyterian clergyman active in the Allegheny County area, and fter many years of religious work as well as teaching, Ervin was elected to represent Alleghany county in the North Carolina State Legislature for one term beginning in 1947.
   A descendant of a prominent family who could count among their ancestors a signer of the Declaration of Independence (The Rev. John Witherspoon), Clarendon Witherspoon Ervin was born on April 4, 1882 in Henry, South Carolina, a son of Lawrence Nelson Ervin and the former Gotea Wilson. He attended the Davidson College in the early 1900s and is remarked as being a standout member of the school track team and editor of the "Quips and Cranks" class magazine. Ervin would graduate from this school in the class of 1905 with his A.B (bachelor of arts) degree and in 1908 graduated from the Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. He later did post-graduate work at Duke University and the University of North Carolina. 
  He married in June of 1905 to Lizette Gessner Carson and became the father to five children, who are listed as follows in order of birth: John Shearer (1906-1990), Louisa Jeanette (1909-1920), Elizabeth Akers (1910-1963), Lillie (born 1911) and Clara Witherspoon Ervin Snowden (1915-1996).

                           A young Clarendon W. Ervin, from the 1905 Davidson College Yearbook.

    Following the completion of his college work, Ervin became a teacher and Presbyterian minister, serving as a pastor in churches located in Cannonville, Pattersonville, Whitehall, Concord, Amity and Mulberry, North Carolina from 1908-1913. After his service in the above towns, Ervin was an "evangelist in the Stokes County field" from 1913-1918 and the "Alleghany County field" from 1919-1924. In 1919 Lizette Ervin died aged just 36 and after a decade as a widower, Ervin remarried in January 1930 to Ruth Devene Cox (1902-1990).
    Little is known of Clarendon Ervin's life between 1930 and his election to the North Carolina State House of Representatives in November 1946, and prior to his election had never held elective office, excepting a brief tenure as a member of the Alleghany County Welfare Board in 1925. Taking his seat at the opening of the 1947-49 legislative term, Ervin proved to be busy as a first-term legislator, being named to the house committees on Appropriations, Commission and Institutions for the Blind, Federal and Interstate Cooperation, Game, Mental Institutions, Institutions for the Deaf, Public Welfare, Enrolled Bills, Library and Printing. 
   Clarendon Witherspoon died a decade after leaving the legislature on September 14, 1959 in Sparta, South Carolina. He was 77 years old and was later interred at the Shiloh Cemetery in Sparta. He was survived by four of his children as well as his second wife Ruth, who died in 1990 at age 88.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Kalita Elton Leighton (1871-1928)

 From the Duluth Herald, January 16, 1911.

  The following write-up takes us to the midwestern portion of the United States and one Kalita Elton Leighton, who logged a decade of service as a U.S. District Court Judge for North Dakota. Despite being all but forgotten in this day in age, Leighton was regarded as one of the foremost legal minds in North Dakota during his lifetime, being described by the Bismarck Tribune as a "splendid jurist" and "one of the best judges that North Dakota has known". 
   The life of this strangely named North Dakota judge began in the county of Putnam, Missouri on September 13, 1871, the only child born to Jacob Leighton and the former Laura Anderson. The Leighton family removed from Missouri to Wayne County, Iowa when their son was around six years of age and he received his primary schooling in the village of Allerton, Iowa. He went on to attend the Highland Park Normal College, located in Des Moines. Following his graduation from the latter institution, Leighton taught school during the winter months whilst preparing to enter the University of Iowa's Law School in 1894.
   Kalita Leighton graduated from the University of Iowa in 1896 with a degree in law and shortly afterward established his first law practice in Allerton. His stay here was short-lived, however, as he removed to the town of Mystic, Iowa sometime later and remained there two years. In 1900 Leighton moved to the city of Minot, North Dakota and opened a law practice with Daniel "Dank" C. Greenleaf (1873-1923), who later served as Mayor of Minot. The firm of Greenleaf and Leighton is recorded as having specialized in "real estate investments" and Leighton's skill as an attorney garnered glowing press in the literature of the time, including the following passage from the North Dakota History and People, Volume II:
"Few lawyers have made a more lasting impression upon the bar of the state both for legal ability of a high order and for the individuality of a personal character which impresses itself upon a community. The zeal with which he devoted his energies to his profession, the careful regard evinced for the interest for his clients, and an assiduous and unrelaxing attention to all the details of his cases brought him a large business and  made him very successful in its conduct."
   Kalita Leighton married on Christmas Day 1901 to Deaksville, Iowa resident Belle Lockman (1878-1968) and the couple became the parents of four children, Roy (born 1902), Will (born 1905), Inez (born 1908) and Barbara (born 1911). 

From the Williston Standard, January 12, 1911.

   In addition to practicing law in Minot, Leighton is mentioned in his Bismarck Tribune obituary as engaging in farming, and it was in January 1911 that he received the high profile appointment as district judge for North Dakota's Eighth District. Leighton's appointment to the bench was occasioned by the resignation of district judge Evan B. Goss (1872-1930), who had been elected to the North Dakota State Supreme Court the previous November. Then Governor John Burke selected Kalita Leighton to fill the vacancy, and in doing so "could not have made a wiser appointment". Leighton served out the remainder of Goss's unexpired term and in 1912 was elected to a term of his own as judge.

From the Ward County Independent, June 8, 1916.

   In 1916 Leighton ran for reelection and in that year's election faced Minot attorney F.E. Lambert. On election day Leighton bested Lambert by a vote of 885 to 396 and went on to serve another four-year term, leaving the bench in 1920 to return to the practice of law in Minot. Although he may have resigned from the court, Leighton was by no means finished being a public servant, and after a few years devoted to his law practice was appointed by North Dakota Attorney General George Schafer as Assistant Attorney General of the state. Leighton served in this capacity for the next three years and during this time was also active in a number of local fraternal organizations, being a longstanding member of the Modern Woodmen of America and the Minot Elks Lodge.
  In the latter period of his life, Leighton suffered from heart disease, and it was this affliction that eventually lead to his death. As the Bismarck Tribune related in its January 11, 1928 obituary for him:
"Mr. Leighton had returned home about 11 o'clock after spending an evening with friends in the city and complained of not feeling well. He went to the basement to fix the furnace for the night, and a few minutes later, when Mrs. Leighton received no response to repeated calls, she found him dead."
  Kalita Leighton was 56 years old at the time of his death and a funeral service was held at his home as well as at the Minot Elks Lodge. He was later interred at the Rose Hill Cemetery in Minot and was survived by his wife and four children. 

                                        From the January 12, 1911 edition of the Ward County Independent.

From the Bismarck Tribune, January 11, 1928.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

McKendree Hypes Chamberlain (1838-1914)

From the 1928 McKendrean Centennial Yearbook.

     A prominent son of Illinois, McKendree Hypes Chamberlain gained distinction as the President of McKendree College during the late 19th century, and during his decade-plus tenure in that office took great strides to help the school succeed both academically and financially. While his time as President of McKendree college is undoubtedly the most important aspect of his life, Chamberlain had earlier been a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois in 1872, earning him a write-up here.
   It can rightly be said that McKendree Hypes Chamberlain's connection with McKendree College extended back to his birth, which occurred on the college grounds on November 17, 1838. McKendree's father, the Rev. David Chamberlain (1788-1880), is recorded as having been "one of the original subscribers to the fund for the founding of the institution" and at the time of his son's birth was head of the college's boarding department. Chamberlain's unusual name also has a connection to the college that he later oversaw, as he was bestowed the name "McKendree" in honor of the school's namesake, Bishop William McKendree (1757-1835), the first Methodist bishop to be born in the United States. Chamberlain's middle name Hypes came about from one Benjamin "Uncle Ben" Hypes (1805-1896), a prominent citizen who resided in Chamberlain's hometown of Lebanon.
   Recorded as having grown up in the "college atmosphere", McKendree Chamberlain attended McKendree College for six years and graduated in the class of 1859 with an A.B. (bachelor of arts) degree. Shortly afterward he began pursuing the study of law at Harvard University and after graduating in 1861 relocated to Kansas City, Missouri to begin his career in law. His stay here proved to be short-lived, as he removed back to Illinois, settling in the village of Beardstown. Once settled, Chamberlain established a law practice in town and is mentioned by the 1905 edition of the McKendree Pigskin yearbook as developing an interest in newspaper publishing. His newfound interest led him to the Beardstown Illinoisan, where he served as an editor. In 1862 Chamberlain was awarded a master of arts degree by his alma mater and in June of 1869 married in Kansas City, Missouri to Helen Lemira Dana (1841-1928) and later had two children, Clifford Dana (born 1870) and Ellen, who died aged two months in 1876. Shortly following his marriage Chamberlain became engaged in the railroad industry and later was named to the Illinois Railroad Commission for a five-year term. 
   In 1872 Chamberlain was selected "without his knowledge or consent" as a Presidential Elector for the Springfield district of Illinois and was accorded further honors later in the election year when he "was removed from the electoral ticket, and despite his earnest protest, was made the congressional candidate from this district." While having the Republican nomination for Congress quite literally fall into his lap, Chamberlain accepted the offer tendered to him and in the November 1872 election faced incumbent Democrat James Carroll Robinson (1823-1886). As a Republican nominee in an overwhelmingly Democratic district, Chamberlain lost out on election day by a slim margin of only 934 votes. A result from that contest appeared in the Tribune Almanac and Political Register of 1872 and is shown below (with the candidate's names abbreviated.)

    Chamberlain's 1872 candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives marked the beginning and the end of his involvement in politics, and after his defeat migrated west, where he entered the mining industry. After several years he moved to St. Louis and was still a resident of this city in 1894, the year that he became the President of McKendree College. Elected to this post by the college board, Chamberlain was faced with the daunting task of heading a college that was badly in debt, and within a few months of becoming president had instituted a plan that would help the college out of financial stress. As the 1928 McKendree College Centennial yearbook detailed, President Chamberlain noted that "the college must have at least $100,000 of new endowment to make its foundation safe" and after some deliberation made the announcement that "he would expect the people of Lebanon to pay for the debt, then he would ask a wider constituency to furnish the endowment."
   While his plan may have been ambitious, it did succeed. After a year or so of constant work on college finances the debt was paid off, and in the succeeding years Chamberlain continued to make advances for the college, including having college professor's salaries increased "from seven hundred dollars annually to one thousand two hundred,  paid in full" and had "buildings repaired and steam heat installed, and the curriculum has been changed, until to-day it is second to none." Chamberlain's presidency extended from 1894-1908 and at the time of his retirement in 1908 was honored with the position of President-Emeritus and college trustee. 
   Around 1910 Chamberlain and his wife removed from Lebanon, Illinois to Los Angeles, California, where they would reside for the remainder of their lives. McKendree Hypes Chamberlain died at his home in Los Angeles on July 28, 1914, at age 76 and was later cremated. His ashes were later returned to Lebanon for burial at the College Hill Cemetery, located a short distance from McKendree College. Chamberlain's widow Helen continued to reside in California following her husband's death and after her passing in 1928 was also interred at the College Hill Cemetery.

From the 1905 McKendrean Yearbook.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mohler Devore Temple (1891-1971)

From the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, August 25, 1946.

   Today's write-up takes us to Texas and highlights the life of Mohler Devore Temple, long prominent in Republican circles in the county of Lubbock. Bestowed a rather "toothy" sounding first name (a misspelled version of "molar", if you will), Mr. Temple resided in Kansas, New Mexico, and California before his resettlement in Lubbock, Texas, where he was active in business circles and politics. A three-time Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas in 1946, 1948, and 1950, Temple was also a delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1948.
   Born on October 6, 1891, in Pawnee County, Kansas, Mohler Devore Temple was one of eleven children born to David Devore and Mary Serena Mohler. Given the unusual names "Mohler Devore" in honor of his mother's maiden name and his father's middle name, Temple spent a good majority of his childhood moving around the southwestern United States with his family. The Temple Genealogy website gives notice of his residing in Enid, Oklahoma, and New Mexico during his youth, and in the late 1910s is recorded as a corporal in the New Mexico National Guard. In addition to his National Guard service, Temple helped with the construction of the Elephant Butte Dam in El Paso, Texas, and was a veteran of the First World War, according to his 1971 Lubbock Avalanche obituary. 
   Mohler Temple married his first wife Myrle J. Davis around 1918 and the couple later had one son, Earl Davis, who died days after his birth in January 1920. Myrle Davis Temple died sometime prior to 1923 and shortly afterward Temple remarried to Lula J. Goode (1893-1975), with whom he had two daughters, Jane (birth-date unknown) and Sally Temple Whiteley (1925-2010).  The early 1930s saw Mohler D. Temple residing in California where he was a "grape products distributor" and around 1936 removed with his family to Lubbock, Texas, where he resided for the remainder of his life. Based as a real estate agent in Lubbock for many years after his resettlement, Temple also owned and operated the "College Inn," a dormitory for the Lubbock Red Raiders football team. 
   Active in politics in the Lubbock County area in the late 1930s, Temple held the position of Chairman of the Lubbock County Republican Committee for a number of years and later served as a member of the Texas Republican State Executive committee. In August 1946 Temple announced his candidacy for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas's Nineteenth district. As the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal noted in its August 25th edition, Temple's congressional candidacy marked "the first time in history that the Republicans have had a candidate for Congress from this district" and that his candidacy "was based solely on the desire for a large GOP vote over the area in the fall election." Running as a Republican in an overwhelmingly Democratic district, Temple opposed five-term incumbent George H. Mahon (1900-1985) and on election day lost in a landslide by a vote of 6,608 to 357.
   In spite of that overwhelming loss Temple pressed on and in 1948 launched another campaign for Congress. In this campaign Temple struck out at the local Democratic establishment and its bid to keep Republican candidates off the ballot. In an October 31st writeup on his candidacy, Temple decried ballots that failed to record Republican nominees, remarking:
"However, since the Democratic party, which controls the printing of the ballot, has again illustrated that it has no particular concern in complying with the law which was designed to afford the voter the opportunity to cast the ballot of his choice, and is determined to force the voters to vote only for the Democratic candidates, it is time that something be done that will force the party to obey the law and afford the voters in each county the right to a free ballot."
  Temple's opponent that year was again George Mahon. That November Mahon won out, with the electoral results being even more lopsided than they were two years previously, 58,585 to Temple's total of 2,724. The congressional election of 1950 brought more of the same, with Temple losing for a third time to Mahon, who coasted to an easy victory with 17, 828 votes to his opponent's 1,162Following this victory George Mahon would go on to serve a further fourteen terms in Congress, serving a total of 44 years in all (1935-1979), retiring from office in January 1979.
   Following his defeat for Congress Mohler Temple continued to be a leading Republican figure in Lubbock, serving as part of the Texas delegation to the 1948 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia that nominated Thomas E. Dewey for the Presidency. Little is known of Temple's later life excepting notice of his death at the Lubbock Methodist Hospital on January 31, 1971, at age 79. His wife and two daughters survived him and both Mohler and Lula Temple were interred at the Resthaven Memorial Park in Lubbock following their deaths.

From the February 1, 1971 edition of the Lubbock Avalanche.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Girvease Almeron Matteson (1857-1935)

From the 1897 New York Red Book.

    An unusually named member of the New York State Assembly, Mr. Girvease Almeron Matteson represented Cattaraugus County's 2nd district in the assembly for three terms in the late 19th century. A lifelong resident of the Empire State, Mr. Matteson has been for many years one of my favorite oddly named political figures to point out to people, not only for his odd first and middle names, but also for his being buried in close proximity to my home (his cemetery plot in East Otto, New York is within short driving distance!)
   Although a lifelong New Yorker, Matteson wasn't born in Cattaraugus County. The life of Girvease Almeron Matteson began in the small village of Russia in Herkimer County on December 28, 1857, being the son of Almeron B. (1815-1888) and Jane E. Matteson (1828-1905). Bestowed the odd first name "Girvease" upon his birth, this name is recorded as being spelled in several different ways, "Gervease", "Gervase" and Girvase" being among them. However, the New York Red Book (as well as Matteson's gravestone) gives the spelling as "Girvease", and as I usually consider a gravestone to be the final arbiter in regards to a person's name, it is that spelling that looks to be the correct one.
   The Matteson family resided in Herkimer County until 1867, and in that year removed to East Otto in Cattaraugus County. Here young Girvease attended public school and as an adolescent studied at the Griffith Institute in the nearby village of Springville. His time at this institute extended two years, during which time he took "the college preparatory course in Mathematics for Civil Engineering". Matteson's 1935 obituary in the Ellicottville Post relates that following his graduation he "began teaching at the age of 18 years and taught successfully for ten years" and later notes that he found additional work as a land surveyor.
  Girvease Matteson married in East Otto in March of 1880 to Nellie Perkins (1862-1925) and the couple later became the parents to three children, John P. (1880-1937), Deforest Almeron (1890-1984) and a daughter, Mrs. F.W. Smith of Sardina, New York. Following his marriage Matteson became engaged in real estate transactions in Cattaraugus County, joining up with Edson Beach to form the partnership of Edson and Matteson. This partnership later dissolved and Matteson continued operations on his own, and "succeeded very well in his undertakings."
   Attentive to politics as well as business, Girvease Matteson occupied a number of local political offices prior to his service in the state assembly, serving at various times as East Otto town clerk, justice of the peace and postmaster. He was a two-term supervisor of East Otto and was serving his second term in that office when he was nominated by the Second Cattaraugus District Assembly Republican Convention to be a candidate for the New York State Assembly. Chosen on the second ballot, Matteson went on to win the election in November 1895, defeating Republican nominee Frank Campbell by a vote of 3,420 to 1,268. 
   Taking his seat at the beginning of the 1896 session, Matteson was named to the house committees on Revision, Insurance and Printed and Engrossed Bills during this term of the legislature. During his first term in the assembly, the New York Red Book notes that as a first-term legislator Matteson proved to remarkably busy, introducing a number of pieces of legislation, some of which centered on his home county of Cattaraugus. Among these were a bill "providing of the payment of the claims of counties whose insane asylums are no longer of use" and a bill "making for an appropriation for the reservation highway of the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation."
From the 1898 New York Red Book.

   Girvease Matteson was subsequently re-elected to the assembly November 1896 and won a third term in November 1897, in the latter year defeating Democratic candidate Benjamin Franklin Willis by a vote of 3,211 to 1,672. During his third term (which began in January 1898), Matteson served on the house Insurance and Ways and Means committees, and chaired the committee on Indian Affairs.
   Following his service in the assembly, Matteson remained a familiar figure in the New York State Capitol, holding the post of postal clerk of the assembly for several years. After returning to the Cattaraugus area he operated a farm, was a charter member of the East Otto Grange chapter, was East Otto town supervisor, and chaired the Cattaraugus County Board of Supervisors for a decade. His September 1935 obituary in the Ellicottville Post notes that Matteson was also a prime mover in the establishment of the East Otto Cemetery Association, and served as that group's director and president. The Post also relates that Matteson was a gifted singer, noting that
"He was prominent in the choir, acting as chorister, and was active in the choral union, a musical organization following Salem Parker's class. He was also a member of the famous male quartet that was active in Republican political rallies more than forty years ago."

Girvease A. Matteson, from the 1912 New York Red Book.

   In 1925 Matteson suffered a personal tragedy when Nellie, his wife of over forty years, died at age 63. A year following her death he remarried to Delevan, NY resident Emily Murphy Knight, and following their marriage resided in both Delevan and Buffalo. Matteson continued to be active in civic affairs well into his seventh decade, serving as president of the Bank of Cattaraugus until his death, which occurred on September 18, 1935. The 77-year old former assemblyman's funeral took place at the East Otto Methodist Episcopal Church and he was later interred at the East Otto Cemetery. 
   Earlier today I sought out Girvease Matteson's gravesite at the East Otto Cemetery and after a quick scope out of the surrounding stones found the Matteson family plot. Some photos from that excursion conclude his article. All in all, an excellent way to spend a birthday!

The Matteson family headstone.

The graves of Girvease and Nellie Matteson.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Nation Oliver Mather (1875-1938)

From the Biographical Annals of Ohio, 1906-1907-1908.

   A successful lawyer and two-term Ohio state senator, Nation O. Mather was for a short time one of the leading lights in Ohio politics, later being elected as President Pro Tempore of the Ohio Senate in 1909. Judging from his unusual given name and later success in politics, "Nation" certainly proved to be a very apt first name! Despite being a figure of prominence in Ohio government during the early years of 20th century Mather is little remembered today, and a quick Google search on him only reinforces this point. While facts on Mather's life and career in the public forum remain rather difficult to come by, the following lines will hopefully fill in the existing void when it comes to this life of this oddly named Buckeye State politician!
   Born on December 1, 1875 in Union County, Ohio, Nation Oliver Mather was one of five children born to John (1846-1909) and Ruth Tallman Mather (1845-1918) and was also mentioned by the 1938 Ohio Bar publication as being "a direct descendant of Increase Mather", the famed Puritan clergyman and president of Harvard University. He received his early education in the public schools of his home county and later studied at the Northern Indiana Normal School. 
   Following his graduation Mather returned to Union County and taught school for a few years before enrolling at the Chicago Law School, graduating from here in the class of 1898. Mather opened a law office in Akron, Ohio sometime after his graduation and in February 1902 formed a partnership with Henry Marcellus Hagelbarger in the firm of Hagelbarger and Mather. This partnership dissolved after three years and Mather later  joined the firm of Grant, Sieber, and Mather, also located in Akron.
   In the mid 1900s, Mather entered the political field, becoming secretary of the Republican County Executive committee of Summit County. In November 1905 he won election to the Ohio Senate as a Republican, defeating his opponent Charles Lawyer by a vote of 22,575 to 21, 478. Representing the 25th and 26th Senatorial district, Mather's brief biographical snippet in the Biographical Annals of Ohio 1906-1907-1908 denotes his public career with the following lines:
"Attorney. Lucrative law practice. Successful advocate. Close student of public affairs. Careful and investigating legislator. The welfare of his people his chief concern. Unmarried."
   Taking his senate seat in 1906 Mather held a seat on the committees on the Judiciary, Manufactures and Commerce, Medical Colleges, Municipal Affairs, Roads and Highways, and also chaired the committee on the Soldiers and Sailors Home. During his first senate term, Mather married in Akron on December 31, 1908, to Adeline Hoover (born 1889) and later had two daughters, Betty Jane (birth-date unknown) and Mary Ann (1911-1985). Described in the Ohio Manual of Legislative Practice as a "ready debater and parliamentarian of unusual ability", Mather won re-election to the senate and during his second term was elected by his fellow senators as President Pro Tempore of the Senate for the 1909-10 term. 
   Nation O. Mather left the Ohio senate in 1911 and in the years following his service formed another law partnership, this time with Roy H. Nesbitt. The firm of Nesbitt and Mather is listed by the American Bar Journal of 1918 as being counsel for a number of important companies, the Northern Ohio and Traction and Light Co, the Western Union Telegraph Co., the Erie Railroad Co. and the Wells Fargo Express Co. being among them. In 1921 Mather and Nesbit later added a third name to their firm, an up and coming corporate lawyer named Wendell Lewis Willkie (1892-1944), who went on to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States in 1940! 
   Nation O. Mather continued to practice law through the remainder of his life, and in November 1937 filed a substantial libel action suit against the Time, Inc. publishing company, well known as publishers of both the Time and Fortune magazines.  Fortune magazine had earlier ran a story mentioning Mather which he claimed was "defamation of his reputation", and although little else could be located on the particulars of the lawsuit, the Sandusky Star Journal article below notes that the "suit was transferred from the Summit-co courts to federal court here."

                                                       From the Sandusky Star Journal, November 16, 1937.

  Within a year of filing the aforementioned law suit, Nation O. Mather was dead, passing away shortly before his 63rd birthday on November 9, 1938. He was survived by his wife Adeline and his two daughters and was later interred at the Rose Hill Cemetery in Akron.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Drengman Olsen Aaker (1839-1894)

Portrait from the Iowa State Legislature Historical database.

    Born of humble origins in a small village in Norway, Drengman Olsen Aaker migrated to the United States with his family when still a child and upon reaching manhood became a highly regarded figure in Winneshiek County, Iowa, where he was a lumberman and creamery operator. Aaker was later honored by his adopted state by being elected to two terms in the Iowa State House of Representatives in the early 1880s.
    One of several children born to Ole Drengmansen and Aslaug Gunleiksdatter Moen Aaker, Drengman O. Aaker was born in Hjartdahl, Telemarken, Norway on September 29, 1839 and in 1848 immigrated to the United States with his family via the ship "Lolland". A genealogical website denoting the history of the Aaker family notes that the "Lolland" reached New York in August of 1848 and Drengman and his family later settled in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. The family resided here until around 1854, whereafter they removed to Iowa, settling near the town of Burr Oak Springs. 
   Despite being a recent transplant to the United States, Drengman Aaker proved that his patriotism ran high, and in 1862 enlisted in Co. G. of the 12th Iowa Volunteer Infantry. He served throughout the Civil War's duration and was mustered out of service in 1866. Following his return home Aaker removed to the town of Ridgeway in Winneshiek County and married in 1869 to Christina Andersdatter Turvold (1849-1922). Aaker and his wife later later became the parents of four children, Lena (1870-1944), John Theodore (1873-1947), Adolph Oscar (born 1878) and Casper Drengman (1883-1960).
   In the years following his marriage, Drengman Aaker grew to become a successful business figure in Winneshiek County, being the operator of a lumber yard. Later he was a member of the mercantile firm of Galby and Aaker, dealing in grain throughout the 1870s. In the latter part of that decade, Aaker sold his lumber yard and became the owner of the Ridgeway Creamery, which later burned to the ground in March 1884. 
   Active in Winneshiek County political affairs, Aaker served in a number of local public offices prior to his election to the Iowa Legislature. He had earlier been an unsuccessful candidate for clerk of the Winneshiek County court in 1880, being defeated by Myron Hardin. In November 1881 Aaker was elected to the State House of Representatives as a Democrat and after taking his seat in the new year was named to the house committees on Constitutional Amendments, Elections, Railroads, the Asylum for the Insane and the Soldier's and Orphan's Home.

                                                                    From the 1884 Iowa Legislative Roster.

    Aaker was reelected to the house in November 1883 and during his second term sat on the committees on Schools, State University, Engrossed Bills and the Soldier's and Orphans Home. In the 1885 election year, Aaker ran for a seat in the Iowa Senate but was defeated by Republican Theodore Weld Burdick (1836-1898). During the latter period of his life Aaker's business as grain merchant encountered financial trouble due to a "wheat blight", and his death notice in the 1894 Reunion of the Twelfth Iowa V.V. Infantry notes that "from this Mr. A. never recovered."  Suffering from ill health and a "broken down constitution" Drengman Aker died at his home in Ridgeway, Iowa on March 30, 1894 at age 54 and was later memorialized in his obituary as being
"Socially and personally always genial; more than usually intelligent, "D.O" was always popular before the people. He had his faults, as all have. His antagonisms were all political, not personal; and the grave covers them all with a mantle of love and oblivion. Peace to his ashes."
  Following his passing a lengthy funeral possession consisting of "nearly 100 teams" carried Aaker from his home to his burial site at the Lincoln Cemetery in Ridgeway. He was survived by his wife Christina and all four of his children. Caspar Drengman followed in his father's stead and went on to become prominent in his own right, being a lawyer and delegate to the 1940 Republican National Convention from North Dakota.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Kerfoot Weightman Daly (1874-1938)

From the November 7, 1938 edition of the Charleroi Mail.

   Come and listen to a story 'bout a man named Kerfoot...What was that? A man whose first name is Kerfoot? Yes, indeed it is! There were few men more prominent in early 20th century Charleroi, Pennsylvania than the intriguingly named Kerfoot Weightman Daly, long a leader in civic affairs in this Washington County borough. As a well-known banker in Charleroi, Daly was also named to various positions of the public trust, serving as a Presidential Elector in 1916 and later as a delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1924. The life of this intriguingly named Pennsylvanian came to end in a tragic automobile accident in November 1938, and although he is little remembered today, the following biography will hopefully restore some measure of prominence to Mr. Daly, seventy-five years after his passing.
   A lifelong native of the Keystone State, Kerfoot W. Daly was born on April 24, 1874, in Gibsonton, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, the last of five children born to Thomas Lafayette and Caroline Wilson Daly. A successful businessman in Gibsonton, Thomas L. Daly (1839-1922) was a past manager of the Gibsonton whiskey distillery (known as the Gibsonton Mills) and late in life was a founder and president of the First National Bank of Charleroi, serving in the latter position until his death. As the son of such a distinguished figure, Kerfoot Daly was afforded a fine education and began his "preliminary" studies under the tutelage of a governess, this according to the 20th Century History of Washington and Washington County, PA., and Representative Citizens. As a young man, he was a student at the Trinity Hall Military Academy in the city of Washington and later attended the Park Institute in Pittsburgh. 
   In 1898 Daly relocated to Charleroi, where he became engaged as a clerk in the Bank of Charleroi, serving under his father Thomas, who was then the bank president. Kerfoot Daly married in Pittsburgh on June 6, 1900, to Mary Elizabeth Thompson, with whom he would have one daughter, Mary Violet Daly McFarland (1904-2002). Shortly after his marriage Daly was named as cashier of the Bank of Charleroi and subsequently served in this capacity for two decades. During his lengthy tenure as bank cashier Daly rose to further prominence in other areas of local business, including a period as treasurer of the West Side Street Railway Company in Charleroi and was a director of the Monongahela Trust Company. In addition to the above posts, Daly was also a longtime member of the Charleroi Chamber of Commerce and the Washington County, Pennsylvania Banker's Association. 

Kerfoot W. Daly in his younger days, pictured in the "Banks and Bankers of the Keystone State", 1905.

    As a distinguished citizen in Charleroi, Kerfoot Daly was sought after to serve in a number of areas not related to banking, including being the chairman of the Liberty Loan Drive in Washington County, as well as the War Savings Stamps campaign during the First World War. Active in Republican party circles in his native county, Daly represented Washington County on the Pennsylvania Republican State Committee for sixteen years and in 1916 was selected as a Republican Presidential elector for Pennsylvania's 24th congressional district, casting his ballot for candidates Charles Evans Hughes and Charles W. Fairbanks. Although he was a leading figure in the Republican party in Washington County, the Charleroi Mail noted that Daly "was never a candidate for public office," noting that he "thrust aside many times pressure to be the party's candidate for several high offices."  In 1924 Daly served as part of the Pennsylvania delegation to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland that nominated Calvin Coolidge for the Presidency.

From the July 7, 1916 edition of the Charleroi Mail.

   In 1922 Thomas L. Daly died and upon his death Kerfoot W. Daly succeeded to the position of President of the National Bank of Charleroi, serving until his death in 1938. While the position of bank president gained him additional notoriety in his home state, Daly continued to advance in other non-financial areas, being a member of numerous fraternal organizations, including the following: the Charleroi Lodge #615 of Free and Accepted Masons, a past exalted ruler of the Charleroi Elks Lodge, the Duquesne Club, and the Nemacolin and Monongahela Country Clubs. Along with his being a prominent club man in Charlerloi, Daly is remarked by sources of the time as being an avid sportsman and hunter, and it was the latter activity that would inadvertently lead to his death.
   In early November 1938, Daly and his friend, Dr. John McNaughton (a Charleroi dentist) embarked on a hunting trip to West Virginia, driving there in Daly's sedan. On November 5, 1938, the pair began the drive back to Charleroi and it was on the return trip home that tragedy struck. As the Charleroi Mail noted in its November 7th edition, Daly and Naughton were traveling down Route 50 on Cheat Mountain (in the Allegheny Mountain range) near the settlement of Red House when they came upon a stretch of curved road. The Mail later related that:
"The car moved into a long steeply banked curve with a deep ditch on the driver's side. At this point it is believed that the driver's door, which opened from the front, suddenly unlatched and that Mr. Daly reached to close it. When he did the car went into the ditch, the opened door caught against the hillside and pulled him out of the seat. Impact was such that it pulled the front and rear doors, attached to the center post, from the machine. These evidently hurled him under the car in the small clearance."
  During the course of the accident, Dr. McNaughton was thrown from the vehicle but was uninjured. A hunting dog also in the vehicle was killed, and a report of the accident later noted that Daly "died a moment or so after the crash of a fractured skull and hemorrhage" caused by being crushed between the car and mountainside. Reports of the accident reached Charleroi a few days after the accident and the outpouring of grief was immediate. The Charleroi Mail lamented the untimely passing of Charerloi's "foremost citizen" and devoted the front page of its November 7th edition to Daly's numerous contributions to the community, as well as testifying to his integrity of character. Amongst the many attributes given to Daly in the wake of his passing, the following excerpt from the Charleroi Mail details how great of a loss Daly's death was to the Charleroi community:
"He will be missed, not only in his home town but in the county and state, as well as for his activities carried him beyond the borders of this community, activities which took him into the worthwhile things of life, which made him a real leader, one of the commanding figures of this district. In fact to say that he was a leading citizen is inadequate in expressing the real position he held.......His work took him beyond the confines of his banking institution however. In both civic and business affairs, his motto was to do all things well, that no stone should be left unturned in his zeal to better the conditions for his fellow men. He stood for the right, and fought for the principles he believed might aid his family and community." 
  Daly's funeral took place at his home in Charleroi and he was later interred at the Monongahela Cemetery in Monongahela, Pennsylvania, located a few miles from his home. He was survived by his wife Mary Elizabeth and his daughter Mary Violet Daly MacFarland, who died in February 2002 at age 97.

From the Charleroi Mail, November 8, 1938.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Altamont Moses (1846-1905)

From the December 13, 1905 edition of the Watchman and Southron.

   Born into a prominent Jewish family in Sumter, South Carolina on August 5, 1846, Altamont Moses rose to become a distinguished political leader in this historic southern city, holding the offices of state representative and senator, and was also a prominent local masonic figure, serving as a past master of the Claremont Free and Accepted Masons Lodge. A son of Montgomery and Catherine Phillips Moses, the origins of Moses' unusual first name are shrouded in mystery. While many may remember the infamous "Altamont Free Concert" held at the Altamont Raceway in California in December 1969, it's somewhat funny to think that there was once a state legislator with "Altamont" as a given first name!
   A student in Sumter schools and the South Carolina Military Academy, little could be located on Altamont Moses' early life in Sumter, although it is known that during the early days of the Civil War he signed on for military duty, serving amongst the Confederate ranks as a military telegraph operator. Following the conclusion of the Civil War Moses returned to Sumter and over the following decades became an established merchant in the city, and is recorded as being a cotton grower. He married in Sumter to Octavia Cohen on September 26, 1870 and later had several children: Katherine (1874-1954), Herbert Altamont (1876-1969), Vivian Mordaunt (born 1878), Emile Phillips (born 1880), Armida (born 1884), Henry Phillips (1886-1945) and Altamont Jr. 
  Three years before his marriage to Octavia Cohen Altamont Moses joined the local Masonic chapter and within a short time had become prominent amongst its ranks, being elected as a Worshipful Master. Moses later went on to hold the position of Master the Claremont Lodge #64 and was also an influential figure in a number of other fraternal clubs, serving as Chancellor of the Game Cock Lodge of the Knights of Pythias, Grand Chancellor of the Grand Lodge of the Knights of Pythias of South Carolina and was a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen. In addition to the above, Moses was also active in Jewish affairs in his native county, holding the position of President of the Sumter Hebrew Benevolent Society as well as the Sumter Society of Israelites. 
   While his name was known throughout Sumter as one synonymous with civic affairs, Moses was also a leading figure politically, having a career in public service that extended back to 1868, when he served as a delegate from Sumter County to the South Carolina Democratic State Convention. Following service on the Sumter City Council, in 1886 Moses was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives "at the earnest solicitation of his fellow citizens" and during a portion of his eight years here held the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee.  In addition to his legislative service, Moses was also a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions of 1888, 1896 and 1904 as part of the South Carolina delegation.
   In 1894 Moses was elected to the state Senate and served there until 1898 when he narrowly lost his Senate seat to Richard Irvine Manning (a future South Carolina Governor). As luck would have it, Moses' career on the political stage wasn't over yet, due to a verdict rendered by the state supreme court. As Moses' obituary in the Sumter Watchman and Southron relates: 
"A few weeks after the legislature convened the supreme court rendered as decision adverse to the establishment of Lee County, and thus creating a vacancy in the legislative delegation from this county, he was nominated for the house by the people of Sumter County who had been included in the proposed Lee County, and was elected without opposition." 
   After being returned to the legislature through what could only be described as serendipity, Altamont Moses began what the Watchman and Southron referred to as a "life tenure as a representative of Sumter County" noting that "his services in that body to Sumter County and the state at large being too valuable to be dispensed with." The Jews of South Carolina (which contains a brief synopsis of Moses' time in the legislature) notes that in the latter part of his legislative tenure Moses served on the special committee on Tax Laws, the Sinking Fund Commission, the Hampton Monument Commission and the Commission for Repairs to the State House. 
  In early 1905 Moses' health began to fail and some weeks before his death illness confined him to his home. He died on December 8, 1905, at age 59 and was widely mourned throughout the state, his passing even warranting a notice in the New York Times. Moses' Manning Times obituary of December 13, 1905, remembered the popular legislator and his successful career in politics and in masonry, noting that 
"Death loves a shining mark, and in laying his icy hands upon Altamont Moses he removed from this midst a most lovable character, a man devoid of selfishness, and who's work for mankind was a part and parcel of his daily existence."
  Following his death, Altamont Moses was interred at the Jewish Cemetery in Sumter, South Carolina and was survived by his wife Octavia, who died in March of 1936 at age 91. 

Altamont Moses, from his Manning Times obituary, published December 13, 1905.