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.

No comments:

Post a Comment