Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Omicron Pi Lockhart (1900-1955)

From the May 28, 1948 edition of the Bartlett, Texas Tribune.

    Out of the fifty states in the Union, Texas has managed to accumulate some of the most peculiarly named political figures in the nation's history, and if you've followed the "Strangest Names In American Political History" for any length of time you'll remember that the Lonestar State has been very well represented here, with men such as Copenitus Bannister Maynard (a state representative from 1929-31), Dethloff Willrodt (a state representative from 1899-1901) and Boniface Juvenal Leyendecker (a state representative from 1937-1947) receiving write-ups on their political service and outstandingly different names. 
    As the following article will illustrate, the bar of unique names has indeed been raised, and this author must state that you'd be hard-pressed to find a name stranger than the one that belongs to Austin, Texas native Omicron Pi Lockhart! Bestowed a truly bizarre name, Mr. Lockhart didn't let it keep him from pursuing a distinguished career in Texas state government. Despite his lack of years (he died aged only 54), Mr. Lockhart served as Texas State Life Insurance Commissioner and Chairman of the Texas State Board of Insurance Commissioners. In addition to those positions, Lockhart was an alternate delegate to the 1940 Democratic National Convention and later launched a candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives for Texas' 10th district in the 1948 Democratic Primary. 
    Briefly described in Robert Caro's 1990 work Means of Ascent: The Years of Lyndon Johnson II as a "minor state official", this small assessment of Lockhart couldn't be further from the truth, and the following passages aim to shed more light on Omicron Pi Lockhart's life and public career in the Lonestar State, and will hopefully restore some measure of prominence to a sadly forgotten Texas political figure with a very memorable name.
   Born in Milam County, Texas on June 18, 1900, Omicron Pi Lockhart was the son of Baptist minister and "classical scholar" Thomas Jefferson Lockhart (1859-1934) and his wife, the former Martha Louisa Hurt (1865-1919). At some point before his children's births, Thomas Lockhart came into the possession of a bible written in the Greek alphabet, and for reasons known only to him named several of his children after letters in the Greek alphabet, and they are listed as follows in order of birth: Alpha Omega (1886-1971), Beta Gamma (1888-1962), Lewis Buckner Hightower (born 1891), Delta Epsilon (1889-1933), Zeta Eta (born 1893), Theta Lota (1896-1925), Lambda Mu (born 1898), Omicron Pi (1900-1955), Rho (or Rhoes) Sigma (1903-1904) and Upsilon Phi (1908-1988)--truly some interestingly named offspring!
    Mentioned in the Bartlett Tribune as having "been reared on a Texas farm", Omicron P. Lockhart attended schools in Rogers, Bell County, Texas and later studied at Texas A & M University. He was a graduate of the San Marcos Teachers College and after the completion of his college education became a school teacher, being listed as Superintendent of Schools for Rowena, Texas in a 1922 Texas Educational Bulletin under the initials "O.P. Lockhart" (his abbreviated name has proven to be a prevalent theme during research for this article.)
   Despite having scant information detailing his early life, the Lubbock Morning Avalanche details that Lockhart taught school for about three years and during the 1920s became connected with a "chain bakery firm", eventually moving to Austin with this business, "which he later purchased and operated 17 years." Lockhart married on June 5, 1921, to Ms. Helen Corine Prinzing (1903-1989) and later had one daughter, Kathleen Lockhart Hutchens (1927-2007).
   Following his removal to the Texas state capitol, O.P. Lockhart became active in Democratic political circles, eventually becoming a close friend and confidant of Wilbert Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel (1890-1969), a future Governor of Texas and later, a U.S. Senator. Lockhart's immersion in Democratic politics led him to serve as a member of the Texas State Democratic Committee beginning in 1938, and in 1940 was an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention that nominated Franklin Roosevelt for an unprecedented third term. Lockhart's friendship with Pappy O'Daniel eventually grew to such an extent that he served as a campaign manager for O'Daniel during the latter's successful run for Texas Governor in 1939. Taking into account his friend's past service and connection to the Austin business community, O'Daniel appointed Lockhart to be Texas State Life Insurance Commissioner, to which office he was sworn in June of 1941. In addition to serving in this capacity, Lockhart served as chairman of the Texas State Board of Insurance Commissioners during his term, which extended from 1941-1945.

O.P. Lockhart being sworn in as Insurance Commissioner in June 1941, with Texas Governor Pappy O'Daniel at his left. Picture courtesy of the Portal to Texas History website.

  The early portion of Lockhart's term as insurance commissioner was highlighted by the 1942 edition of the Lubbock Morning Avalanche, which noted that he "had attracted attention to himself in both insurance and legal circles due to his war on insurance racketeers." The Avalanche further related in its report on Lockhart's work that:
"He has recently been pressing investigation and prosecution of those men selling policies which are deceptive in their wording or which are presented in a fraudulent manner, such as the so called "single premium policy." The buyers of this policy are often led to believe that they will not have to pay for over three of the notes given in payment for the policy. Investigation and prosecution have resulted in the jailing of four of these salesmen, Mr. Lockhart has declared."
  Lockhart had similar concerns about fraudulent insurance practices in August of 1944 when the Claude News reported on the Texas Insurance Board's warning of "bad life insurance policies" being advertised and sold in Texas by out-of-state insurance companies that weren't licensed in the state. Lockhart is quoted in the Claude News as taking great concern with the actions of these companies, stating that:
"The polices issued by many of such companies are policies that would not be approved for the use of companies licensed to operate in this State, because they are couched in misleading terms and seem to provide more benefits than can be collected."
Hard at work at the commissioner's desk, this portrait of Omicron P. Lockhart was taken early in his term. Picture courtesy of the Portal to Texas History website.

    Lockhart left the office of insurance commissioner in 1945 and three years later announced that he'd seeking the nomination for U.S. Representative from Texas' 10th district. This primary election had been occasioned by a vacancy in the house caused by then-Congressman Lyndon B. Johnson being elected to the U.S. Senate, thereby vacating his seat in Congress. As one of six Democratic candidates vying to fill Johnson's seat, Lockhart's candidacy was profiled in the May 1948 of the Bartlett Tribune and News, which contained a substantial column devoted to Lockhart's campaign. Noting his past experience as a Democratic state committeeman and Life Insurance Commissioner, the Bartlett News touted Lockhart's political platform, noting that:
"Mr. Lockhart stated that the principle things he will work for in Congress are the expansion of Rural Electrification, the extension of Soil Conservation to all farms, bringing small industries into towns in the district, the simplification of government procedure for financing homes, and creating guaranteed markets for farm products." 
A Lockhart election notice from the Bartlett Tribune, July 9, 1948.

  Following the announcement of his candidacy, Lockhart gave a radio address on May 27, 1948, and also made a whirlwind tour of the district he hoped to represent in Congress, and by July of that year had concluded "that he had personally met and talked with over 10,000 people in his campaign for Congress." Lockhart had earlier mentioned that he would: 
"Conduct a people's campaign. During the next two months I am going to go from store to store, farm to farm and house to house to meet as many of you as I personally can. I need your help and I want your help. If you can give me a little of your time or wish to tell me of some issue that you are interested in, please write to me at Austin, Texas. I intend to be YOUR Congressman."
   Texas newspaper reports of 1948 relate that each of the six Democratic congressional candidates crisscrossed the 10th district espousing their political stances to their constituents, hoping to ensure their vote. As one of these candidates, Omicron Lockhart took time to "press the flesh" throughout the district and on June 24th attended a "rally of citizens" meeting at the 126th district courtroom in Austin, where he was a featured speaker. The purpose of this meeting (the plight of poor senior citizens in Texas state asylums) garnered a large write-up in the Caldwell News, which quoted much of Lockhart's rally address. Speaking out for seniors who had sought "refuge in the insane asylums" because of inadequate pensions, Lockhart also had harsh words for big government and politicians who were slaves to big interests, along with those who didn't take the welfare of their constituents seriously. Cautioning that one should "Choose your Congressman wisely", Lockhart intoned that:
"America is not getting the job done, either at home or abroad, because the people are being fed patriotic speeches and extravagant promises to cover up inactivity and double dealing. The people should look behind the scenes to see who is supporting the candidates for office, and more particularly the candidates for Congress. Beware of the candidates who makes a big show of money support. He gives you promises, but he takes orders from the men who back him."
                        This Lockhart campaign advertisement appeared in the Caldwell News, July 16,1948.

   Unfortunately for Lockhart's campaign, competing against five other men for a seat in Congress proved to be an uphill battle, and on the election day primary (July 24, 1948), placed fifth in the vote count, garnering only 5,386 votes compared to Homer Thornberry's winning total of 23,256. Thornberry would later go on to win the congressional seat in the November 1948 election and served in the House of Representatives until 1963. In a rather interesting twist, two other oddly named men, Creekmore Fath (1914-2009) and Magnesse Louwayne Foster (1909-1972) were also candidates in the July 1948 primary, with Fath polling higher numbers than O.P. Lockhart!
   Despite his loss, Lockhart spent the remainder of his life active in civic affairs in Austin, and in the years before his death was the president of both the O.P. Lockart Insurance Company and the Home Savings Life Insurance Company of Austin. The Lubbock Morning Avalanche notes that Omicron Pi Lockhart died of an apparent heart attack at the Austin Country Club on April 17, 1955, just two months shy of his 55th birthday, and was survived by his wife and daughter. Following their respective deaths in 1989 and 2007, Helen Lockhart and Kathleen Lockhart Hutchens were interred alongside Omicron at the Austin Memorial Park Cemetery.

From the Lubbock Morning Avalanche, April 19, 1955.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Hinkle Cain Hays (1890-1957)

From the Terre Haute Star, November 29, 1957.

    For many years a leading light in Sullivan County, Indiana law circles, Hinkle Cain Hays was an attorney for nearly forty years and later found additional distinction when he served as part of the Indiana delegation to the 1936 Republican National Convention. Born and raised in Sullivan County, Hinkle Cain Hays was born on November 12, 1890, the son of John Tennyson (1845-1919) and Mary (Cain) Hays
  The younger brother of the more famous Will Harrison Hays (1879-1954), a former U.S. Postmaster General and the man behind the Motion Picture Production Code (popularly known as the "Hays Code"), Hinkle Hays's peculiar first name is given passing mention in his brother's memoirs (published in 1955), which notes that he was bestowed his first name in honor of local physician James Reid Hinkle (1832-1914), and further relates that "My parents had such affection for the good doctor that they named my younger brother after him--Hinkle Cain Hays." Hays's middle name "Cain" stemmed from it being his mother's maiden name.
   Being born into a distinguished Sullivan County family (his father John Tennyson Hays was a past Prosecuting Attorney, farmer, and bank director), Hinkle C. Hays attended Sullivan County public schools and was a graduate of the Sullivan County High School. He was later enrolled at Wabash University and during his time here was viewed as one of the school's outstanding young orators, being a member of the Inter-Collegiate Debate team and the Student Debate Council. Hays was awarded first place in the Baldwin Oratorical Contest held during the 1911-12 school year and also took part in the varsity debate proceedings on May 12, 1912, when Wabash University defeated Indiana University.

From the 1912 Wabash College Yearbook.

Hinkle Hays (pictured left) on the Wabash debate team, from the 1912 Wabash Yearbook.

   Following his graduation from Wabash in 1912 Hays began the study of law under his father. After being admitted to the Indiana bar he joined his father's firm, which his brother Will Hays had joined some years previously. 1912 proved to be an important year in Hays' life and following his graduation and law study married Lucile Benefield (1891-1975). The couple's near five-decade union saw them become parents to two sons, John Tennyson Hays (1913-1983) and Charles Edward (1916-1970).
  The 1920s and 30s saw Hinkle Hays practicing law in Sullivan County whilst also being active in other aspects of civic affairs, being a member of the Sullivan County School Board as well as the Sullivan Public Library Board. In 1925 Hays's native county of Sullivan was beset by tragedy when on the morning of February 20th a spark ignited an explosion that claimed the lives of 51 miners at the City Coal Mine at Sullivan City. The outpouring of grief was immediate, and in the weeks following the disaster, Hinkle Hays played a prominent role in aiding the families of those lost in the tragedy. Hays's 1957 Terre Haute Star obituary notes that he: 
"Directed the effort which successfully raised over $100,000 for the relief of families deprived of livelihood in the City Mine disaster in February of that year."
    A decade following his fundraising efforts for the families of the City Mine disaster, Hinkle Hays served as part of the Indiana delegation to the 1936 Republican National Convention held in Cleveland that nominated Kansas Governor Alf Landon for the Presidency. After completing his service as a delegate Hays was appointed as a member of the Indiana Flood Control and Water Resources Commission during the first administration of Governor Henry F. Schricker (whose term extended from 1941 to 1945). He was reappointed to that commission by Schricker's successor, Henry Fesler Gates, and served during administration, 1945-49.
    In addition to law and politics, sources of the time denote Hays as a prominent fixture in the social scene in Sullivan County, belonging to several civic organizations and clubs. He maintained a life membership in the Sullivan Elks Lodge and Murat Temple Shrine of Indianapolis, as well as being a member of the Sullivan County, Indiana State, and American Bar Associations. Hays was for nearly all his life connected with the First Presbyterian Church of Sullivan, serving as a trustee and ruling elder late in his life. His connection to church work wasn't just limited to his native county, however, with the Terre Haute Star noting that he was a member of various church extension committees as well as the Historical Society of the Presbyterian Church of the United States. Hays also remained connected to his alma mater, the Wabash College, serving as the president of its National Association of Wabash Men alumni group from 1937-38.
   Hinkle C. Hays died at the Hays family home in Sullivan a few weeks after his 67th birthday on November 29th, 1957. His brother Will had preceded him in death and both were interred at the Center Ridge Cemetery in Sullivan. Hinkle Hays was survived by his wife Lucile, who died in 1975 at age 81. Both she and her two sons were interred at Center Ridge following their deaths.

A portion of Hays' obituary from the Terre Haute Star, November 29, 1957.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Dillaplain Harrison Wright (1875-1945)

From the Rochester Motorist, August 1918.

    The following write-up highlights the life of one Dillaplain Harrison Wright, an oddly named resident of Webster, New York who served his native town for three terms as Village President.) In addition to political service, Wright was also a well-known local businessman and amateur inventor, and in 1919 secured a patent for a new style of quickly detachable dust cap for automobile tire valves. Despite the somewhat daunting task of finding biographical information for Mr. Wright, an obituary for him (published in the May 4, 1945 edition of the Webster Herald) helped out significantly in terms of information!
   Born in New York in 1875, Dillaplain Harrison Wright was the son of William H.H. and Kate Wright. His early life was centered in the Niagara County town of Wilson, and as a young man was employed as a telegraph operator in that town. He later relocated to Webster, where he was an agent "for the Old Rome, Watertown, and Ogdensburg Railroad". Wright married Leo Anna Norton on July 2, 1896, in Webster and later became the father of four children, Dewey, Carroll, Francis, and Lois. 
   In the years following his resettlement in Webster Dillaplain Wright left his employment as an agent and took on the position as a bookkeeper and office manager with the J.W. Hallauer and Son Evaporated Fruit Company. Sources of the time note that during the early part of the twentieth century, Wright was an important figure in the dried fruit industry, being instrumental in the founding of the Evaporation Publishing Company, which was responsible for the production of a periodical entitled  "The Evaporator", a "monthly journal devoted to the interests of Evaporator Men, Evaporator Equipment Crop conditions, Models and Designs, Markets, Horticulture Comment, Gasoline Engine Power, etc." Wright served as editor and publisher of this journal for several years, and in addition to this was involved in the brokerage business in Rochester for more than two decades.
   While being prominent in the production of dried fruit in Monroe County, New York, Wright found additional distinction as an automobile enthusiast and inventor, being a member of the Rochester Automobile Club. He was accorded a substantial write-up in the August 1919 edition of the Rochester Motorist, which highlighted his invention of a "Quick Detachable Dust Cap" for use on car tire air valves. The Motorist noted that his invention:
"has been thoroughly tested out in a practical way the past year not only by Wright himself but by the experimental departments of some of the largest tire manufacturers in this country and pronounced 100 percent. One of these concerns in Akron, Ohio, stated it to be the best Q.D. cap ever produced."
   Dillaplain Wright's success in business and being a reputable citizen in Webster eventually culminated in his election as Mayor (Village President) of that village in 1925. Serving three terms in office (1926, 1927, and 1928), Wright is recorded by his Webster Herald obituary as being:
"Largely responsible for the extension of heating gas service to Webster in 1928. He also initiated important street improvements as well as being instrumental in bringing mail delivery to Webster."
   The title of village president of Webster changed to Mayor after Wright left office, and he was succeeded by Mayor William F. Kittleberger. Wright remained an active citizen in Webster after his term(s) in office concluded, maintaining memberships in the local Methodist Church choir, the Webster Fire Department, the Webster Republican Club, the Chamber of Commerce, the Masons, and the Odd Fellows and Moose Lodges. Wright also served as a member of the Webster Village Board, his exact dates of service being unknown at the time of this writing.

From the Webster Herald, April 23 1980 edition.

   Wright is recorded as suffering from ill health during the last few years of his life, with the Webster Herald noting in his 1945 obituary that he had been "ill for some time" prior to his passing. Dillaplain H. Wright died at his home on May 1, 1945, at age 69, and following funeral services was interred at the Webster Rural Cemetery in Webster.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Alvarado Erwin Funk (1895-1954), Alvarado Brown (1809-1882), Alvarado Alonzo Coburn (1855-1933)

From the Whitesburg Mountain Eagle, October 28, 1943.

   The state of Kentucky has been sadly underrepresented here on the site, with only five odd-named political figures receiving a write-up here over the past two years. That list grows slightly with the addition of Mr. Alvarado Erwin Funk, a distinguished Bullitt County attorney who in 1947 won election as Attorney General of Kentucky. Despite attaining such a lofty office, little could be found on Funk's life, except an obituary for him published in the July 21, 1954 edition of the Middlesboro Daily News.
   A lifelong resident of the Bluegrass State, Alvarado Erwin Funk was the son of Alvarado E. (1859-1920) and Eugenia Holsclaw Funk (1861-1932), being born at Brooks Station, Kentucky on June 14, 1895. His early education was attained at the Bullitt County Grade School and later, the Louisville Training High School and the "high school at Beechmont."
   In 1917 Funk embarked upon the study of law at the University of Louisville's Law School and in August of that year married Myrtle Childers (1900-1989), later becoming the father to four children, Eleanor Lorraine (1919-2004), Loretta Eugenia (1920-1995), Alvarado Erwin Jr. (1922-2001) and Betty Funk Gonnella (1927-2008). The year 1917 proved to be a busy one for Funk, for in July of that year he began military training at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana, and after completing his training served throughout WWI, attaining the rank of First Lieutenant. 
   After being discharged in 1919 Funk returned to Kentucky and took up farming for a few years, and in 1923 began the practice of law in the small town of Sheppardsville, operating under local judge Charles Preston Bradbury (1875-1964). Funk's practice here extended until 1929, and in that year won election as Bullitt County attorney. Serving five years in this post, Funk left office in 1934 and shortly thereafter formed a law practice with Cassius M.C. Porter. This practice continued until 1936 when Funk took leave to accept the appointment of the assistant attorney general of Kentucky. He was reappointed to this post in 1937 and 1940 and at the time of his leaving office had served in the administrations of Governors Albert Benjamin "Happy" Chandler and Keen Johnson. 
   In 1943 Funk launched a candidacy for Attorney General of Kentucky, but in that year's contest came up short in the vote count, losing the election to Republican nominee Eldon S. Dummit. Four years following his loss Funk began another candidacy and was this time successful, officially taking office in 1948. His tenure in this office extended until 1952, and after leaving office returned to practicing law in Frankfort, being the senior partner in the law firm of Funk, Chancellor, and Marshall. He continued to actively practice law for the remainder of his life and was at his office the day before his death, which occurred on July 21, 1954, at age 59. His obituary in the Middlesboro Daily News records him as having suffered a fatal heart attack at his home and he was later discovered by his wife in the bathroom of their home in the early morning hours of July 21st. 
  A burial location for Funk is unknown at this time. However, one has been located for his son Alvarado Erwin Jr. at the Frankfort Cemetery so it may not be a foregone conclusion that both Alvarado and Myrtle Funk may also be buried here. 

                                                         From the History of Branch County Michigan, 1879.

   Another "Alvarado" who made his name known in political circles is Alvarado Brown, a native son of Herkimer County, New York who later moved to Michigan. Born on January 15, 1809, in the aforementioned county, Brown married in 1833 to Almina Ridgway and later had three children. A few years following his marriage, Brown and his family resettled in Indiana. After a four-year stint at farming in this state, he and his wife relocated to Michigan, settling in the town of Quincy.
  In the years following his relocation to Michigan Brown served as Quincy town clerk from 1841-1847 and later represented the county of Branch in the Michigan State House of Representatives from 1847-1848 and two years following served as a delegate to the Michigan State Constitutional Convention, again representing Branch County. Brown died at age 73 on May 4, 1882, in Quincy and was, presumably, buried at a cemetery in this town.

Portrait from the Historic Homes and Institutions of Worcester, 1907.

    In a new update (June 22, 2016), a third "Alvarado" has been located... Alvarado Alonzo Coburn! The son of prominent Worcester, Massachusetts businessman and developer Jesse Johnson Coburn, Alvarado A. Coburn was born in West Boylston, Massachusetts on June 8, 1855
   During his youth, Alvardo Coburn resided with his grandparents in West Royalton, Vermont, and also attended school here. He would continue his education at the Friend's School in Providence, Rhode Island, and at age fourteen returned to his father in Worcester, Massachusetts. He studied at the local high school but left to work for his father at Lake Quinsigamond, home to a then-burgeoning lakefront community. Coburn would learn the boat-letting business, and in 1876 went into business for himself, taking ownership "of four keelboats with smooth seams."
   In 1881 Alvarado Coburn married Addie Jane Booth (1855-1954), to whom he was wed for over fifty years. The couple would later have two sons, Alvarado Booth (who died in infancy in 1883) and Charles Jesse, who was killed in a sledding accident in January 1899.
  Through the succeeding years, Coburn would become the operator of the largest boat livery on Lake Quinsigamond, and in 1904 the A.A. Coburn Company was incorporated. Over a decade later he is reported to have owned a total of 238 boats and canoes, as well as having "a boat building department that was prosperous and active." In addition to the above site, Coburn owned and operated a similar facility at Lake Whalom in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, remarked as being a "resort for canoeing and boating.

   In 1893 Coburn made his first and only foray into politics, becoming the Republican candidate for the Massachusetts General Court from Worcester's 3rd ward. He would lose that election to Democrat Eugene Moriarty, who garnered 676 votes to Coburn's 422. Following this defeat, Coburn continued with his business endeavors and is also known to have been a member of several fraternal groups, including memberships in the Worcester Chapter of the Royal Arch Masons, the Montacute Lodge of Free Masons, the Order of the Eastern Star, the Elks, and the Wachusett Boat Club.
  Alvarado A. Coburn died on November 21, 1933, at age 77. His wife of 52 years survived him and following her death at age 98 was interred alongside him at the Worcester Rural Cemetery.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mederique Raoul Maynard (1869-1943)

                                             From the New Hampshire Legislators Souvenir, Vol. I, 1897.

   Being bestowed an unusual name like Mederique Raoul Maynard should entitle someone to more than just a passing glance, and while Mr. Maynard's service as a New Hampshire state representative is obviously noteworthy, only one biographical snippet exists that gives any sort of background on Maynard's life, that being a few lines in the 1897 edition of the Souvenir of New Hampshire Legislators, Volume 1. Despite the lack of information on Maynard, genealogical websites such as ancestry.com and family search have helped fill in some of the blanks when it came to compiling the following piece.
  A native son of Massachusetts, Mederique Raoul Maynard was a son of Joseph B. and Melina Blais Maynard, being born in the city of Lowell on March 31, 1869. An alternate birth date for him is given as March 30, 1870, and his early education was obtained in the Lowell public schools. He later moved with his family to Manchester, New Hampshire in 1881 and continued his schooling there. The Souvenir of New Hampshire Legislators gives note that Maynard became employed in "the mills for a time, being employed first on the Amory, then on the Stark, in the carding department, passing from one grade to another until he occupied the position of third hand."
   Following his stint as a millhand, Maynard began to learn the trade of gas and pipe fitting, later forming a plumbing business under the name of Maynard and Hevey. In November 1896 the 27-year-old Maynard was elected to represent Manchester's Ninth ward in the State House of Representatives. Taking his seat at the beginning of the 1897 term, Maynard was named to the committee on the Agricultural College and married during his term on November 9, 1898, to Marie Ann (also given as Marion) Gadbois and had one son, Eugene J. Maynard (recorded as age 17 in the 1920 U.S. Census.)
   After his term concluded in 1899 Maynard returned to private life in Manchester and was also a member of the Lafayette Guards in the First Regiment of the New Hampshire National Guard. Sources of the time also record Maynard as being a fireman, and a 1901 Manchester Directory notes that he was a Captain with Engine and Ladder Co. No. 6. In the early 1900s he was elected to the Manchester Board of Aldermen, and in 1907 became one of the founding members of the National League of Manchester.
   Sometime after 1930, Mederique Maynard removed from New Hampshire to California, where he resided for the remainder of his life. A California death index listing reveals that he died in Los Angeles on October 6, 1943, aged either 73 or 74. A burial location for Maynard is also unknown at this time.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Wrendo Marion Godwin (1896-1976)

From the 1938 Virginia House of Delegates composite photograph.

    The Virginia state legislature (the House of Burgesses and later, the House of Delegates) has existed in one form or another for nearly 400 years, and, as one of the oldest existing legislative bodies in world history, has yielded a bevy of interestingly named political figures. The man profiled today, Accomack County delegate Wrendo Marion Godwin, is yet another example of a curiously named individual to be elected to Virginia's legislature.
   The first of two sons born to William P. and Susan Poulson Godwin, Wrendo Marion Godwin was born on September 22, 1896, in Poulson, Virginia. Bestowed the unusual first name "Wrendo" upon his birth, Godwin received his schooling at the Hargrove Military Institute in Chatham, Virginia, and later attended the University of Richmond. In November  1917 Godwin married Elsie May Houchins and later had three children, William (1919-1991), Richard A. (1920-2001), and Betty Jane Godwin Crockett (deceased.) 
    Following his graduation from the University of Richmond, Godwin operated a grocery store in Waynesboro from 1918-22. He later moved to Pocomoke, Virginia, where for a five-year period he and his father operated the Godwin Department store. Godwin's residency in Pokomoke also saw him serve as secretary for the Pocomoke Chamber of Commerce for a year, and by 1928 had removed to Bloxom, Virginia, where he and his father founded a produce business
   By the early 1930s Wrendo Godwin had decided to pursue a career in law, and after a period of study at the University of Virginia was admitted to the state bar in 1936. An attorney for over forty years in the Accomack County area, Godwin also found distinction in several areas not related to politics or law, including service as moderator of the Accomack Baptist Association, the Elks and Lions Club, the Parksley Virginia Lodge No. 166 of the Order of the Eastern Shrine, and the Parksley Three Arts Club. Godwin is also recorded as a 32nd-degree Mason, being a member of the Parksley Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons.
   In the late 1930s, Wrendo M. Godwin began treading the political waters, being elected to the Virginia State House of Delegates from the county of Accomack. Serving in the legislative session of 1938-1939, Godwin was named to the house standing committees on the Chesapeake and its Tributaries, Officers and Offices at the Capitol, Public Property and Roads, and Internal Navigation. 
  After leaving the legislature after the 1939 term Godwin returned to practicing law in Accomack County and continued with his practice until 1947 when he was reelected to the House of Delegates. During the 1948-50 session he sat on the committees on Agriculture, General Laws and Enrolled Bills, and during the first-named year became a member of the Virginia State Democratic Committee, as well as serving as an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention held in Philadelphia.

Wrendo M. Godwin, pictured on the 1954 Virginia House of Delegates composite portrait.

   The years 1950-1955 saw Wrendo Godwin continuing to represent Accomack County in the House of Delegates, and during these terms continued service on the previously mentioned committees, being the chairman of the House Committee on Enrolled Bills. During his final legislative term in 1955, Godwin announced his candidacy for a seat in the Virginia State Senate, and during the Democratic primary faced off against former Accomack County Commonwealth Attorney and Democratic County chairman Edward Almer Ames Jr. (1903-1987).

                Godwin's 1955 senate  platform from the Virginia Beach Sun-News (click to enlarge.)

   Running on a campaign platform touting his experience "in the serious business of lawmaking" Godwin's senate candidacy received a substantial write-up in the Virginia Beach Sun News's July 7th edition (shown above.) In said write-up Godwin himself gave a lengthy statement explaining his past legislative experience and political convictions, noting that:
"My experience as a member of the House of Delegates from Accomack County for the past eight years wil be of great value to the people I seek to represent if elected to the senate. It takes just about that long to get your hand in, so to speak, to make your friends and contacts, and learn the "know how" of getting legislation passed. I feel that I am better qualified than my opponent who has had no experience whatsoever with law making. His lack of experience will be a definite disadvantage to the people of Princess Anne County, though he may be qualified in every other way.....Many important issues and grave matters will come before the next legislature requiring the best thought and talent of our most experienced legislators. Those men with the greatest past experience in the Legislature will be more qualified and better able to deal with these most perplexing problems. My past experience will serve me well and result in a greater benefit to the people I seek to represent. I will earnestly and sincerely appreciate your vote."
   While the above newspaper article played to Godwin's political experience and prior terms in the legislature, he came up short in the vote count, losing in the July 13th primary to Ames, who went on to serve in the state senate until 1967. Following his defeat, Godwin continued the practice of law in Accomack County and later was elected as the president of the Accomack County Bar Association, serving from 1963-64. Wrendo M. Godwin died at age 79 on January 8, 1976, at his home in Virginia. He was survived by his wife Elsie and his three children and was later interred at the Parksley Cemetery in Parksley, Virginia.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cardinal Richelieu Coleman (1878-1963)

                             From the 1912 Virginia House of Delegates composite photograph.

   It isn't often that one finds an American political figure named in honor of a prominent figure in French history, and the man shown above, Cardinal Richelieu Coleman, is a definite exception. Named in honor of Armand Jean du-Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642), the eminent 17th-century French clergyman and statesman, this interestingly named man was a figure of note in Virginia political circles during the early 20th century (he served two terms in the state house of delegates), but unfortunately this notoriety did not carry over into the years following his death, as scant biographical information could be found on Mr. Coleman or his career in public service.
   A lifelong resident of Virginia, C. Richelieu Coleman, as most sources list him, was the first of two sons born to former Virginia state legislator Solon Thomas and Nancy Elizabeth Blaydes Coleman, his birth occurring on November 19, 1878. Recorded in his Fredericksburg Daily Star obituary as being "educated in private schools", Coleman later "assumed management responsibilities of the family estate", Alta Vista, after completing his education. He married in October of 1900 to Sallie W. Davis (1877-1979) and later had two children, Solon Bernard (1901-1974) and Lorene Coleman Saunders (1907-1986). Solon Coleman would later follow his father into politics, being elected as a member of the Virginia State Senate in 1935 for one term. He would later serve as a circuit court judge for a total of ten years, retiring in 1972.
   C. Richelieu Coleman first entered the political forum around 1902, when he became a member of the registration board for Spotsylvania County. In November 1909 Coleman announced his candidacy for a seat in the Virginia State House of Delegates and in the November election defeated the Republican nominee, Henry Warden. Representing the city of Fredericksburg in the county of Spotsylvania, Coleman took his seat at the beginning of the 1910-12 legislative term and was later named to the House Committee on Enrolled Bills, Executive Expenditures, and Labor and the Poor. 

From the 1910 Virginia House of Delegates composite portrait.

  Despite having been a state delegate for only a few months in 1910, C. Richelieu Coleman had made a lasting impression, as the following quote will illustrate. An anonymous "letter from Lahore, VA" published in the Fredericksburg Daily Star's September 27, 1910 edition remarked that:
"I was pleased to shake the hand of the Hon. Richelieu Coleman, the safe and sound representative of Spotsylvania in the House of Delegates. He is popular wherever known and his course in the legislature commends him to the confidence and support of all lovers of clean, good government."
   Coleman's first term in the legislature saw him introduce several pieces of legislation, including a bill to "divide Spotsylvania County into four revenue districts" and another to "permit Spotsylvania County to select any road law of any county in whole or in part of this state." Coleman's popularity eventually led to his reelection to the Virginia State House in 1911, defeating Republican candidate C.B. Massie by "a large majority." During his second term Coleman held a seat on the committees on Schools and Colleges, Labor and the Poor, Executive Expenditures, and Enrolled Bills, and during this session was chosen by then Governor William H. Mann as Virginia's delegate to the Southern Commercial Congress being held at Nashville in 1912. 

From the Fredericksburg Daily Star, January 14, 1910.

   After leaving the legislature Coleman became engaged with the Virginia Office of Internal Revenue, becoming a deputy collector of internal revenue, subsequently serving in this capacity from 1913 to 1920. A stint with the Virginia Attorney General's office followed from 1922 to 1933, and in 1922 he was elected as a member of the Virginia State Democratic Committee. 
   Coleman continued to be politically active well into his twilight years, seeing service on the Spotsylvania County School Board and the School Trustee Electoral Board. He was a longtime area inspector for the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Commission (retiring in 1953 at age 75) and throughout the 1950s and the early 60s sat on the Spotsylvania County Elections Board, holding a seat here until his death, which occurred on May 8, 1963, as the result of a stroke he had suffered a week previously. A year before his passing the then 83-year-old Coleman had seen his son Solon (then 61 years of age) installed as a Virginia Circuit Court judge.
   Popularly known in Spotsylvania County as "Mr. Democrat", Coleman's death at age 84 ended a lengthy career in public service that extended until the year of his death. Following funeral services, Coleman was interred at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and was survived by Sallie, his wife of over sixty years. Sallie Davis Coleman celebrated her 100th birthday in 1977 and died a few months before her 102nd birthday in August 1979, later being buried in the same cemetery as her husband.

From Coleman's obituary in the May 8, 1963 edition of the Fredericksburg Daily Star

From the Fredericksburg Daily Star, May 8, 1963.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Archalene Mitchell Doke Henrickson (1850-1908)

 From the 1903 Legislative and State Manual of Indiana.

   Sporting a plentiful name, Archalene Mitchell Doke Henrickson had fleeting involvement in Hoosier state politics, being a representative in the Indiana State legislature for one term in the early 1900s. A native of Tennessee, Henrickson was born in the town of Springfield on December 8, 1850, a son of physician Archalene Mitchell Doke and Margaret Jamison Henrickson. Archalene and his family are recorded by the 1903 Indiana Legislative Manual as removing from Tennessee to Kentucky when he was a child and he would go on to attend the Union University at Murfreesboro, Tennessee and later was a graduate of the Nashville Medical College in the class of 1872.
   Following in his father's footsteps as a physician, Henrickson later removed to Indiana, eventually settling in the county of Perry. He married in 1875 to Mollie Stephenson (1847-1915) and later fathered four children. Henrickson continued to reside in the town of Magnet in Perry County throughout the remainder of his life, and in November 1902 was elected to the Indiana State House of Representatives. Representing the counties of Crawford and Perry during his service, Henrickson served one term in the house (1903-1905) and held a seat on the committees on State Medicine, Health and Vital Statistics, Congressional Apportionment and the State Soldiers, Sailors and Orphan's Home.
  Unfortunately, very little could be found in regards to Archalene M.D. Henrickson's life after 1903, and he died five years after leaving the legislature on December 31, 1908, shortly after his fifty-eighth birthday. A burial location for both Henrickson and his wife is unknown at this time.

From the 1903 Indiana Legislature composite portrait.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Weedon Simpson Chelf Sr. (1858-1913)

From the 2005 book "Elizabethtown", by Meranda Caswell.

    Dying shortly before his 54th birthday in 1913, Kentucky circuit court judge and attorney Weedon Simpson Chelf Sr. may have lacked length of years but for two decades was a man of distinction in Hardin County. Despite his obscurity, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Judge Chelf did have a picture tucked away in the vast archive of Google Books. The above portrait of him (featured in the 2005 book on the history of Elizabethtown, Kentucky entitled "Elizabethtown") is listed in said work as being "courtesy of Mike Sisk", and I'm grateful that there were at least a few people who took the time to examine the life of this oddly named Kentucky jurist.
   Weedon S. Chelf Sr. is recorded as being born in Green County, Kentucky on March 15, 1858, a son of Judge William Hobart and Melissa Patton Chelf, and it is unknown at this time why the couple bestowed the unusual first name "Weedon" upon their son. Weedon Chelf married for the first time in 1882 to Ella Winterbower, who died within a few years of their marriage.
   Shortly after Ella Winterbower Chelf's death "Weed" Chelf remarried in 1887 to Hallie Wrather (1865-1908) and later became the father to several children, including Wrather (born 1889), Lloyd Newman (1891-1952), Glovie (1892-1954), Weed Simpson Jr. (1894-1996), Henry Lee (1898-1962), Mary (1900-1984) Walter Brengle (born 1903-1945) and Frank Leslie (1907-1982). Of these children, Frank Leslie Chelf became the most well-known, as he followed in his father's footsteps and became a prominent attorney and public official. A decorated veteran of WWII, Frank Chelf was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Kentucky in 1945 and subsequently served 11 terms, losing his reelection bid in 1966.
   Despite having little in the way of biographical material on his life available, Chelf is remarked by the Breckinridge News as having relocated to California to practice law in the mid-1880s, even serving as assistant district attorney of Los Angeles County for a time. He eventually returned to Kentucky, where in 1890 he established a law practice in the city of Elizabethtown. In 1892 Chelf was elected as Commonwealth Attorney for that state's Ninth District. He served in this capacity until 1903, and in that year won election as Circuit Court judge for Kentucky's Ninth Judicial District. 
  Chelf was re-elected as judge in 1909 but is recorded as being in a state of impaired health, causing him to miss a few sessions of court proceedings. A write-up on Chelf's reelection (and health concerns) appeared in the June 30 1910 edition of the Berea Citizen, with the judge himself stating that he "wasn't dead yet and would come around all right." Despite being ill, Judge Chelf maintained an upbeat sense of humor, stating:
"It is all wrong for a man to get sick, in fact, any one who would do a thing like that should be shot, but nature, somehow or other, has so arranged things in this world that we must sometimes lay up for repairs."
  While having a bright outlook on things may have improved his spirits, Judge Chelf's health continued to sink, so much so that the Breckinridge News later reported in his 1913 obituary that during the preceding four years he had been "unable to occupy his place on the bench as a circuit court judge" and that "a number of other judges throughout this district have held this court, having been designated by the governor." The end came in February 1913, when Chelf was struck down by a "stroke of apoplexy" and died a few days later on the morning of February 5. He was later interred at the Elizabethtown City Cemetery and was survived by his wife and seven children.

From the Breckinridge News, February 5, 1913

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Dummer Kiah Trask (1860-1914)

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

  Our judicial theme continues and the following write-up examines the life and career of a Judge named Dummer! An odd first name to give a child for sure, but this educator and practitioner of law certainly didn't let his odd name curb his ambitions, as he carved a distinguished career in California public life, holding a seat on the Superior Court of Los Angeles for nearly a decade. Dummer Kiah Trask was a native son of Ohio, born in Cincinnati on July 17, 1860, a son of Kiah Bailey and Mary Jane (Dunton) Trask. The Trask family are recorded by the Shuck's 1901 Bench and Bar of California as removing from Cincinnati to Lewiston, Maine when their son was about a year old, and as an adolescent "taught school at age seventeen" and attended school in Lincoln County, graduating from the Waterville Classical Institute in the class of 1881.
   In the year following his graduation, Trask left Maine and resettled in San Joaquin County, California, where he taught school for a short time.  He became active in educational affairs in this area and served as principal of the Business College and Normal Institute in the city of Stockton. Trask was later a member of the San Joaquin County Board of Education for one year (1886-1887) and later occupied the same position on the Los Angeles Board of Education, serving from 1893-1894. He married in 1887 to Ida C. Folsom (1860-1922) and had four children Ida Mary (1889-1975), Dummer F. (died in infancy in 1891), Dorothy Trask Goodrich (birth date unknown) and Walter Folsom (1896-1919).
   In 1890 the Trask family moved to Los Angeles, and here Dummer established a law practice, having commenced studying in San Joaquin County. He was recorded as doing a "fine law business" throughout the 1890s and in 1898 was appointed by then Governor James Herbert Budd to a vacancy on the Superior Court of Los Angeles, succeeding Walter Van Dyke (1823-1905), who had been elected to the California Supreme Court. 

 From the History Bench and Bar of Southern California, 1909.

   Following his appointment Dummer Trask gained distinction on the bench, with the Bench and Bar of California noting that as a judge, Trask "showed much impartiality and industry, and brought such general ability to the discharge of his duties, that, at the general election of November 1900, although he was a Democrat and his party in a hopeless minority, was elected as his own successor for a full term of six years." 
   Following the 1900 electionTrask resumed his duties on the bench and in December 1905 was even talked of as a potential candidate for Governor of  California in the upcoming gubernatorial election. His potential candidacy was announced (to his great surprise) in a statement by Capt. George M. Cake at a California Tammany Club banquet on December 20, 1905, and within a day or two of Cake's speech advocating Trask's nomination the Los Angeles Herald had picked up on the story. In its December 22nd edition the Herald quoted Los Angeles attorney E.L. Hutchinson as stating:
"I don't know how we could do better than nominate Judge Trask for Governor of California. His has been the ripe experience that makes for capable officials and he is well qualified for the position. He would undoubtedly be elected  if given the nomination, as I believe he is one of the strongest and best known men in California."
   Despite being boosted for the post, Trask himself is reported as smiling and stating that he " certainly wouldn't refuse the office." The thought of a Trask gubernatorial candidacy appears to have been a "nine-day wonder", as nothing else could be found mentioning it after December of 1905. A few weeks after his gubernatorial dreams came to naught, Trask (while still serving on the bench) accepted the presidency of the Consolidated Realty Company, which had been "organized for the purchase of business property" in the city of Los Angeles. In the 1906 election, Trask refused to run for another term on the Superior Court and retired from service in January 1907, noting that he would recommence with his law practice in Los Angeles.

Dummer K. Trask (with fancy hat), pictured in the Nov. 19, 1906 Los Angeles Herald.

   After retiring from the bench Trask formed the law firm of D.K Trask and Co. and was also active in several non-political areas, being a longstanding member of the Knights of Pythias Lodge ( serving as Grand Chancellor in California in 1902-03), and in 1910 was elected as president of the Jefferson Club of Los Angeles. Trask also held a seat on the Los Angeles Police Commission, entering into that office in 1909. He continued to practice law in Los Angeles until being felled by a fatal stroke while "engaged in trying a lawsuit" in probate court on March 12, 1914. He was recorded in the San Bernardino County Sun as having "died without regaining consciousness" in almost identical circumstances as that of his younger brother Walter (1862-1911), a Los Angeles attorney who died of apoplexy while speaking at a Los Angeles club. 
   Following his death Dummer Trask was interred at the Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles, and was later memorialized in the Official Record of Proceedings of the Knights of Pythias Lodge in the accompanying passage:
"In the passing away of Dummer Kiah Trask we have impressed upon us the truth that ''life is confined within a space of a day''. Only fifty-three years, as time is measured, was his allotted stay on earth. Then came the summons; not unexpected, but still unwelcome, and now the places that knew him only to love him ''shall know him no more forever."
From the History of the Bench and Bar of California, 1912.