Sunday, January 26, 2014

Primus Jones Comes Alive!

    After two years of compiling and posting over 350 articles on all of these oddly named political figures I can honestly state that I continue to be surprised by the amount of people engaged in genealogical work who drop by to "like" our Facebook page, as well as to leave comments and feedback in the message boxes below each article, relating their thanks for my profiling one of their relatives. Even more so, there have been a number of instances where I've inadvertently aided complete strangers to fill in some of the "missing branches" in their family trees....truly amazing how such obscure subject matter can take on a life of its own!! 
   Today I have the honor of relating a story that stems from my April 23, 2013 write-up on Primus (or Priamus) Walter Jones (1844-1890), a prosperous cotton planter from Baker County, Georgia who represented that county in the Georgia State Assembly's House of Representatives in the 1880s. Before late last year, Mr. Jones was just another odd-named political figure whose name I'd stumbled across in some outdated legislative manual, but as fate would have it, the life of this obscure man meant a great deal to more than a few people, and now, more than 120 years after his death, a number of fascinating details have come to light on Jones' personal life, so read on to find out more!
   First, a brief backstory--A lifelong resident of Georgia, Primus Jones was born into an established family of cotton planters in Baker County and after reaching adulthood took over the day-to-day operations of the family's 2,500-acre cotton plantation. Over the succeeding years, he became known as the "first bale man" or "first bag man" for producing and bringing to market the first "bag" or "bale" of cotton every season. Jones' prominence in Baker County eventually led to his nomination for the Georgia State Assembly and was elected to the State House of Representatives for the legislative sessions of 1880-81, 1886-87, and 1888-89. Jones died aged only 45 on February 10, 1890 and was widely lamented throughout Georgia not only for his reputation as an "advanced farmer" but also for his tenure in the legislature. Sources of the time also relate that he was a lifelong bachelor, which, as it so happens, proved not to be the case!
   In mid-August of last year, I received a comment on Jones' article from one Mickey Bambrick, who later related that she was writing on behalf of her friend Janet O. Johnson, who, as it turns out, happens to be the great-granddaughter of Primus W. Jones! As Mickey explained, Primus' status as a bachelor proved to be false, as he fell in love and had at least one daughter with one of his slaves, a family cook named Moriah Cauley, who died in 1908. Cauley, (whose first name is also spelled as Mariah), was several years older than Primus and the couple had one daughter, Ida Maude Jones (1872-1922). Mickey noted her message to me that Primus was listed as Ida's father on her death record from 1922 and was regarded as a kind man who, being a well-to-do cotton planter, left a substantial sum of money to help support Moriah and Ida after his death in 1890.
  Primus and Moriah/Mariah's daughter Ida went on to marry Albert Williams (1868/69-1909) and later had a total of nine children, who are listed as follows in order of their birth:

1.) Randolph Williams of Albany, Georgia: (June 1, 1903-July 4, 1947)
2.) Dorothy Mabel Williams of Albany, Georgia: (July 11, 1895-February 21, 1917)
3.) Maria Mary Williams of Albany, Georgia: (November 28, 1893-October 31, 1975)
4.) Isadore Williams of Albany, Georgia (and later Chicago, Illinois): (September 9, 1896-April 1983)
5.) Wayman S. Williams of Albany, Georgia: (February 9, 1898-November 8, 1976)
6.) Agnew W. Williams of Albany, Georgia: (September 1, 1900-April 22, 1971)
7.) Colleen (Carlean) M. Williams of Albany (and later Decatur, Georgia): (February 23, 1905-May 1977), mother of Janet O. Johnson.
8.) Ida Maude Williams of Albany (and later Greensboro, North Carolina): (October 23, 1907 - April 27, 1976)
9.) Albert Williams of Albany, Georgia, (died ten days after his birth on November 14, 1909)

  The preceding information regarding the lineage of Primus Jones and Moriah Cauley was sent to me via Mickey Bambrick, who also noted (to my great surprise) that the photograph of Primus Jones above (also featured in his article from last year) marked the first time that Mrs. Janet Johnson had seen a photograph of her great-grandfather! All in all truly fascinating history that would have remained unknown to me had Mickey not contacted me on behalf of Janet!

From the Atlanta Constitution, February 8, 1890.

    Shortly after Mickey sent me the extensive lineage of Primus Jones' descendants I began to look more into Jones' later life and managed to stumble across a few articles relating to the last days of his life that I'd been previously unaware of. Of these new snippets of information, the fact that Jones had a watermelon named in his honor has proven to be the most unique. The "Primus Jones" melon is described by the 1914 edition of Melon Culture as being "a large, quite late melon, dark green, with light stripes and oblong in shape" and further notes that it was "highly prized in the South."
   In addition to having a melon named after him, an obituary for Jones has also been located, via the February 19, 1890 edition of the Manning Times from South Carolina. The Times notes that he had arrived in Atlanta a few weeks previous to his death and had been staying at the Hotel Weinmeister in that city. Shortly afterward he took ill with a severe case of pneumonia, which led to his death at the hotel on February 10, 1890. 
   The Times gives an alternate year of birth for Jones  (1846 instead of 1844) and also tells of his service in the Confederate Army, at age sixteen joining Company F, 41st Georgia Regiment, which eventually saw action under General Braxton Bragg. Prominent notice is given as to Jones' career as a farmer, as well as his record for having "distanced all competitors" by bringing in the first bale of cotton for sale, year after year.

   As stated in the opening passages to this "addition", without Mickey Bambrick stumbling across my write-up on Primus Jones I would have never become privy to so many of these fascinating details about Primus that were related to me months after the original article's completion. Many thanks for all of your input, help, and research!! 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Amalphus Pinkney Mays (1862-1947)

From the 1913-14 Tennessee General Assembly composite portrait.

    An obscure resident of the county of Davidson in Tennessee, Amalphus Pinkney Mays represented that county in the Tennessee General Assembly for one term during the early part of the 20th century. Details on his life and work in Tennessee have proven difficult to come by, but the discovery of the above portrait of him (featured on the 1913-14 legislative composite photograph) managed to keep my disappointment to a minimum!
   The son of Andrew J. and Mary Pratt Mays, Amalphus Pinkney Mays was born on October 1, 1862, in Brentwood, Tennessee. Little information could be located on his early life, although it has been found that he was appointed as postmaster of Paragon Mills, Tennessee during the early 1890s and continued to serve in that post through the latter portion of that decade. Amalphus Mays married in 1885 to Fannie Patterson and later had two children, Mabel Clare Mays Welch (born 1890) and Amalphus P. Mays Jr., (1897-1945.) 
   A grocer for many years in Nashville, Mays is recorded as having owned two stores in the Nolensville Road area of the city and was a past director of the Broadway Bank and Trust Company of Nashville. In November 1912 he was elected as one of Davidson County's representatives to the Tennessee General Assembly and took his seat at the beginning of the 1913 term. The Tennessee legislative journal for that session notes that he was a real estate dealer as well as a Methodist.
  Mays' term in the house concluded in 1915 and little is known of his life after this date. He died three decades later on February 15, 1947, at age 84, and was survived by his wife Fannie. Both were later interred at the Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Usco Alonzo Gentry (1888-1976)

From the Arkansas Insurance Department Annual Report, 2009.

   Continuing on our theme of oddly named political figures from Arkansas, state representative and senator Usco Alonzo Gentry can lay claim to being one of the more peculiarly named men to win election to the Arkansas legislature. A practicing attorney for over sixty years, Gentry later went on to further distinction when he served as Arkansas State Insurance Commissioner on two nonconsecutive occasions. Despite being a figure of distinction on the Arkansas political stage for over four decades, details on Gentry's life are murky at best, as are the origins of his unusual first name.
   Born on May 2, 1888, in Brownstown, Sevier County, Arkansas, Usco A. Gentry was one of two sons born to William David and Louise Deaubois Estes Gentry. Listed by most sources under the initials "U.A.", Gentry decided upon a career in law while a young man and later attended the University of Arkansas, earning his Bachelor of Laws degree from this school in the class of 1912. He had earlier married in Howard County Arkansas in April of 1906 to Lora A. Bittick (1885-1932), and over the course of their twenty-six-year marriage had three children, Thadie, Gray, and Claude Leffel Gentry (1907-1988), who, like his father, became a distinguished lawyer and public servant, being a close adviser and confidant to Arkansas Governor Francis Cherry.
   Shortly after receiving his law degree Usco A. Gentry relocated to Hope, Arkansas where he established a law practice. Two years after beginning the practice of his profession Gentry made his first step into state politics, winning election to the Arkansas State House of Representatives in November 1914. Taking his seat at the beginning of the new year, the freshman legislator was one of two representatives from Hempstead County, and just a few weeks into his tenure was appointed to a special committee designed to "audit, investigate and examine the books, records, and files of the several departments of state government", as well as "the University of the State, the four Agricultural High Schools, the State Normal, Branch State Normal, the Penitentiary and the State Medical School." 
   Usco A. Gentry was reelected to the Arkansas House in the November 1916 election and during his second term sat on the house committee on Corporations. In 1917 he was talked of as a potential candidate for Speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives, vying for the position against Johnson County representative William Lee Cazort (later to serve as Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas.) Gentry later withdrew from the race for the speakership and following the conclusion of his term in 1919 returned to the practice of law, and during the 1920s served as an attorney for the Hope Municipal Plants as well as being a representative for the Arkansas Public Ownership League. Sources of the time also denote that Gentry served as a municipal judge for the city of Hope, his exact dates of service being unknown at this time.
  In November 1926 Gentry returned to political life when he was elected to the Arkansas State Senate, serving two terms there (1927-1931.) During his second term, he served as chairman of the Committee of the Whole and two years after leaving office relocated to Little Rock to begin work as a legislative secretary to Junius Marion Futrell, who had been elected as Governor of Arkansas in November 1932. Gentry attained his highest political office under Futrell when he was appointed Arkansas State Insurance Commissioner during his administration and was confirmed by the senate in March of 1933.
From the Camden News, March 7, 1933.

    Gentry's time as insurance commissioner was not without controversy, however. Newspaper reports of the time note that he had been appointed by Governor Futrell to serve a six-year term as commissioner, which meant that his term would have expired in 1939. However, his term did not last the full six years due to Futrell being defeated for reelection in 1936. Governor Futrell's successor, Carl Edward Bailey, sought out the Arkansas legislature to abolish the post of Insurance Commissioner, and a short while afterward both houses of the legislature voted to do just that. Refusing to resign, Gentry was later removed from office after the post of insurance commissioner was abolished.
   Understandably irked by being put out of office in such an abrupt fashion, Gentry had even more reason to be peeved when Governor Carl Bailey recreated the post of insurance commissioner, subsequently choosing his own pick for the post, former commissioner M.J. Harrison. Gentry then took action, filing a suit in the circuit court of Pulaski County against Harrison, with the end goal being to have himself declared as the rightful holder of the office. A substantial write-up on this governmental fracas appeared in the Camden Times on March 11, 1937, and is shown below.

    Despite a valiant effort on his part, Gentry later lost the suit, and M.J. Harrison remained in the commissioner's post until leaving office in 1941. Gentry gained some measure of justice over a decade later in December 1952, when then-Governor Frank Cherry reappointed him as Insurance Commissioner. His second term as commissioner proved to be short-lived, as he resigned from office in April 1953, and was succeeded by Harvey G. Combs, who had served as Secretary of the Arkansas Senate during the 1952 legislative term. 
    Shortly after his resignation, Gentry continued service in state government, serving as an attorney for the Arkansas Public Service Commission. He spent the latter period of his life in the practice of law with his son Leffel and is remarked in his death notice (published in the January 1977 edition of the Arkansas Lawyer) as "a fierce watchdog against the abuse of state funds by legislators." Widowed in 1934, Gentry later married Bernice Crafton while serving as Insurance Commissioner and the couple later divorced.  Gentry married for a third time to Mary Ellen "Mayme" Clements (1901-1992), who survived him upon his death at age 88 on September 30, 1976. The Arkansas Lawyer noted that Gentry had been an active lawyer until a few days before his death, even arguing a case before the Arkansas Supreme Court on September 17, 1976.
   Following his death, Usco A. Gentry was interred alongside his wife Lora at the Pinecrest Memorial Park and Mausoleum in Alexander, Saline County, Arkansas. Usco and Lora B. Gentry's son Claude Leffel was also interred at this cemetery following his death in 1988.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Thornesberry Anderson Gray (1871-1950)

                                                     From the Hayward Daily Review, March 17, 1936.

   Following on the heels of Thursday's write-up on Cleburne County, Arkansas resident Geanie Philander Houston, we continue our stay in Arkansas and journey from Cleburne County to its neighboring county of Independence to spotlight one Thornesberry Anderson Gray, a "Democrat for Forty Years" who served two terms in the Arkansas State House of Representatives. Little exists online in regards to Gray's life and career in Arkansas politics, and the following profile has been piecemealed together from any and all sources that give mention to him.
   One of fourteen children born to former Arkansas state representative Elisha Columbus Gray (1830-1909) and the former Anne Meacham (1836-1906), Thornesberry A. Gray was born on March 25, 1871. Details on his early life and education are sorely lacking, as are the origins of his unusual first name, which has also proven to have several spelling variations floating around, "Thornberry", "Thorneberry" and "Thornsberry" being among them. However, Gray's tombstone at the Oak Lawn Cemetery in Batesville, Arkansas records the spelling as "Thornesberry", and it is that spelling that is listed here. Gray married Effie Adeline Hargrove (1882-1962) and later had three children,  Enid Gladys Gray Larson (1902-1970), Vera Jean Gray (1905-1992), and Troy Ancel Gray (1915-2006.)
    An attorney based in Batesville, Arkansas for many decades, Thornesberry Gray first sought public office in the early 1920s, being elected as the judge of Independence County from 1921-1923. In November 1924 Gray was elected as one of Independence County's representatives to the Arkansas General Assembly, serving in the legislative session of 1925-27. Gray was later returned to the house of representatives for a second term in November 1928, serving in the session of 1929-31.
  Earlier, during his first House term, Thornesberry Gray etched his name into the history books when, "while exploring the Arkansas constitution", he discovered that Arkansas had legally adopted a state constitutional amendment that would provide for the popular election for a Lieutenant Governor. This amendment had been created in 1914 but was not filled until over a decade later, and in 1926 Gray, noting this previously neglected amendment, filed papers announcing his candidacy to fill the office. In that year's contest, Gray was unsuccessful, losing to one Harvey Parnell, the same man who would later beat him for the Democratic nomination for Governor four years later!
   In 1930 Gray announced that he would be seeking the Democratic nomination for Governor of Arkansas in that year's primary, and his platform (published in in the June 5, 1930 Gentry Journal Advance) noted that: 
"Taking care of Arkansas' business is paramount to all other business in the state and that it is too great for one man, Therefore it would be my pleasure to call at least twelve good honest men with business ability to help solve some of Arkansas' knotty problems and it may be that we can restore industrial faith in our state, and, too, we may be able to make proper recommendations to the legislature."
   In the end, however, Gray's gubernatorial dreams came to naught, as incumbent Governor Harvey Parnell (1880-1936) won the primary. In February of 1936 Gray once again campaigned for high office, announcing that he would be running in that year's U.S. Senate primary. Noting that he would "not become a tool of any faction", Gray was one of a few candidates vying to replace 23-year incumbent senator Joseph Taylor Robinson (1872-1936.) Gray's candidacy ended up gaining little traction, and he later withdrew from the race in May 1936. Following Gray's withdrawal, Joseph Robinson achieved victory, winning the senate primary, and later, the November election with over 80% of the vote.

From the February 11, 1936 Fayetteville Democrat.

  Following his unsuccessful campaigns, Thornesberry Grey returned to practicing law in Batesville, continuing to operate his law practice until a few months prior to his death, which occurred in Batesville on June 15, 1950 at age 79. He was later interred at the Oaklawn Cemetery in that city and was survived by his wife Effie and his three children. Gray later received posthumous distinction by having an addition to Oaklawn Cemetery named in his honor, with the Thornesberry Gray section of the cemetery being purchased and created in August of 1993.

                                                                From the Blytheville Courier, June 16, 1950.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Geanie Philander Houston (1897-1968)

From the Shrader Photography collection on

   The following profile highlights the life and public career of Geanie Philander Houston, an unusually named Arkansas state representative and senator whose name could bring to mind, well, a philandering genie! I'll admit that when I first stumbled across today's subject in an Arkansas state legislative manual (where his name is abbreviated as "Gean P. Houston"), I was under the assumption that it belonged to a female state representative! To to my surprise, after clicking on the above link via (which led to the discovery of the above portrait) I was greeted by the smiling face of the above-pictured gentleman gazing back at me--Geanie Philander Houston of Cleburne County!
   A resident of the county of Cleburne in Arkansas for nearly his entire life, Geanie Philander Houston was born in the settlement of Heber Springs on January 23, 1897, one of several children born to Joseph Green (1874-1933) and Cora Leiah Cousins Houston (1877-1964.) His early education took place in the public schools of Heber Springs and at the dawn of American involvement in the First World War signed on for service, and is mentioned in the first volume of Carl Barger's 2008 History of Cleburne County and Its People as being  "secretary of a regimental headquarters from 1918-1919."
   Before his service in state government, Houston worked at several different vocations, being a school teacher and farmer, and while engaged in farming raised cattle and dealt in cotton sales. In the late 1920s, Houston recommenced with his education, beginning the study of law at the Cumberland University Law School located in Lebanon, Tennessee. He graduated from this school with his Bachelor of Laws Degree in the class of 1930 and shortly afterward was admitted to practice in both the Tennessee and Arkansas court systems.

Geanie P. Houston's 1930 Cumberland University "Phoenix" Yearbook portrait.

    Geanie P. Houston married in Arkansas on April 20, 1935, to Lorene Gladys Smith (1912-2006) with whom he would later have one daughter, Loredia Gean Houston, who died in infancy in August of 1937. 
   In November 1934 Houston was elected to his first term in the Arkansas State House of Representatives and served in this body during the 1935-37 term. In 1939 he won a seat in the state senate and served a total of three terms here, 1939-41, 1941-43, and 1943-45. In 1951 he was returned to the state house (serving until 1953) and was again elected in 1959, serving two more terms. Houston's extensive service in state government was chronicled in Cleburne County and Its People, which notes that he was a co-author of an Arkansas state welfare bill, as well as being a firm believer in the abolition of the death penalty in the state.
   Active in civic affairs in addition to politics, Geanie P. Houston served as a member of the Tuberculosis Sanitorium Board and in the latter portion of his life was named by then-Governor Orval Faubus to the Arkansas State History Commission, serving here until his death. An active Mason, Houston was also a founding member of the Heber Springs Chamber of Commerce, a board member of the Methodist Church of Heber Springs, and a past state commander of the Disabled American Veterans organization.

Houston's 1950 legislative portrait,  from the Shrader photograph collection on

   Geanie Philander Houston died three days after celebrating his 71st birthday on January 26, 1968. He was later interred at the Heber Springs City Cemetery and was survived by his wife Lorene, who died in February 2006 at age 94, and after her death was interred at the same cemetery as her husband.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Skapti Brynjolfur Brynjolfson (1860-1914)

From the Minneapolis Journal, May 21, 1904.

   The first Icelandic native to warrant a profile here on the site, Skapti Brynjolfur Brynjolfson also resided in Nova Scotia before his eventual removal to the United States in the mid-1880s, settling first in Minnesota and later in the town of Beaulieu in North Dakota. During his residency in the latter state Brynjolfson worked at farming for a short period of time, and in 1890 was elected to represent the county of Pembina in the North Dakota State Senate for one term.
   The fourth of seven children born to Brynjolfur and Thorun Alifsdotter Brynjolfson, Skapti B. Brynjolfson's birth occurred in Forsealudal, Valley of Shade, Iceland on October 29, 1860. He is recorded by the 1900 History and Biography of North Dakota as having received his education "under his father's guidance" and "in his own tongue." For the first 14 years of his life Brynjolfson resided in Iceland, and in 1874 joined with his family in a "colony of emigration" of 352 native Icelanders readying themselves to seek a new life in North America. This contingent of Icelanders left their homeland on the ship "St. Patrick" and arrived in Quebec, Canada in October 1874. Soon after their arrival, the Brynjolfson family relocated first to Kenmount (near Toronto) and later to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Brynjolfson resided on a farm with his family. During his time there he is mentioned as being a gold miner by a 1904 edition of the Minneapolis Journal
   In 1881 the Brynjolfson family left Nova Scotia and moved to Duluth, Minnesota, where Skapti found employment in "the elevators and flour mills" in that city. While residing here Brynjolfson is noted by the 1900 History and Biography of North Dakota as having:
"Applied himself to the study of the English language, gleaning his knowledge from books and papers and made remarkable progress in that direction, and as is the characteristic of the nationality, acquired a pure pronunciation and thorough understanding, with a good grammatical style, although paying little attention to the study of grammar."
   Skapti Brynjolfson later removed from Duluth to North Dakota in 1885, settling in the township of Beaulieu in Pembina County. He took over the daily operations of his father's farm in that town and during the succeeding years, both Skapti and his brother Magnus went on to distinguished careers in the state, with Magnus Brynjolfson serving as state attorney for Pembina County for a time. In 1889 Skapti Brynjolfson launched an unsuccessful candidacy for a seat in the North Dakota State House of Representatives but proved successful in the following year in his bid for the state senate.
  Brynjolfson's term in the senate extended from 1890-1894 and during the 1893 senate term served on the committees on Federal Relations, Immigration, Military, Ways and Means, Cities and Municipalities, and Agriculture. He served as chairman of the committee on Public Health and while an incumbent senator married on November 21, 1892, to Groa Johanneson (died 1940.)  The couple is recorded as being childless throughout their marriage.

                         A portrait from the Compendium History and Biography of North Dakota, 1900.

     Leaving the senate in 1894 after one term, Brynjolfson and his wife removed back to Canada in 1902, settling in Winnipeg in the province of Manitoba. His later years were spent engaged in religious work, with his obituary in the Winnipeg Free Press noting that he had been a devout Unitarian, as well as being an organizer of the Icelandic Unitarian Conference of Manitoba and the Northwest, later serving as the organization's first president. He served in this capacity until he died in Winnipeg on December 21, 1914. He was just 54 years old and had died shortly after having undergone an unspecified operation at a local hospital. Brynjolfson was survived by his wife Groa and both were interred at the Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg. 

From the Winnipeg Free Press, December 23, 1914.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Abalino Cutler Bardwell (1844-1920)

From the Memorials of Deceased Companions of the Commandery of the State of Illinois.

   A native son of Crawford County, Pennsylvania, Abalino Cutler Bardwell migrated to Illinois with his family during childhood and as an adult grew to become a man of prominence in the county of Lee, being a veteran of the Civil War, a newspaper publisher, and an attorney. In the mid-1870s, he was elected as State's Attorney for Lee County, and in the twilight of his life was appointed as master in chancery for the circuit court of Lee County.
   Abalino C. Bardwell was the son of Dr. George and Julia A. Bardwell and was born in Conneautville, Pennsylvania on October 23, 1844. The 1904 history of Lee County, Illinois relates that the Bardwell family was removed from Pennsylvania to Prophetstown, Illinois in 1853, and the then nine-year-old Abalino Bardwell received his primary schooling in Whiteside County. He would later begin the study of law in Dixon in 1864, and in that same year was called upon for military service, later raising a company of men (Company G.) for the 147th Volunteer Infantry regiment. Bardwell was elected as captain of this company and during his service was appointed as "Provost Marshall of the First Brigade, Second Separate Division, Army of the Cumberland", occupying this post in the towns of Resaca, Americus, and Savannah, Georgia. While stationed in Savannah Bardwell was connected with the Department of Georgia's  "Bureau of Freedman, Refugees and Abandoned Lands".
   Abalino Bardwell was mustered out of service in January of 1866 and returned home to Illinois. Soon after his return, he recommenced with his law studies and in September of 1867 was admitted to practice by the Illinois bar. Shortly afterward he began a practice in the town of Rochelle, but "owing to impaired health shortly after abandoned it", according to the 1897 Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois. Bardwell returned to Dixon, Illinois sometime later and in February of 1868 entered into publishing, establishing a weekly newspaper entitled the "Dixon Weekly Herald", which was later merged with another city paper in 1869. This paper continued under Bardwell's stewardship until 1871 when he relinquished control of it to return to practicing law.
  On November 16, 1871, Bardwell married in Dixon to Clara Utley (died 1897), and this couple later became the parents to three children: Henry Utley (1873-1920), Edward Cutler (died in infancy in 1876), and William M. (birth-date unknown.) Five years following his marriage Bardwell won election as State's Attorney of Lee County, Illinois, serving in this office from November of 1876 to 1880. He would later be appointed as a Master in Chancery of the Lee County Circuit Court, beginning in 1899. In the early 1900s, Bardwell served as the editor of a lengthy work entitled The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Lee County, eventually seeing the book published in 1904. 
  During the latter portion of his life, Bardwell spent the winter months in Florida and in December 1919 fell ill. Henry Utley Bardwell later brought his father back to Illinois, where he died on January 30, 1920, at age 75. Although an exact burial location for both Abalino and his wife could be found, it is presumed they were buried at a cemetery somewhere in the confines of their native Lee County, Illinois.

From the Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Lee County, 1897.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Xelpho F. Beidler (1862-1929)

A rare Xelpho Beidler campaign postcard, recently featured in an Ebay auction!

    Anyone with an unusual first name like "Xelpho" is worthy of more than just a passing glance, and in my case locating the name of Xelpho F. Beidler via a 1908 edition of the Rock Island Argus has helped uncover the life of this historically neglected Logan County, Illinois resident, a man who in 1908 was a candidate for Secretary of the state of Illinois. Aside from a few brief newspaper reports on his candidacy, little else is known of Beidler's life, including his burial location.
   In its September 23, 1908 write-up on his candidacy, the Rock Island Argus relates that Xelpho F. Beidler was born on April 13, 1862, in Lincoln County, Illinois, his parent's names being Dr. John Hoke and Rebecca Forsythe Beidler (1839-1923). Xelpho's mysterious middle initial "F." remains unknown at this time, but seeing that his mother's maiden name was Forsythe, the "F." may, in fact, stand for this name. Xelpho removed to Adrian, Michigan with his family while still a child and his early education took place there.
  The Beidler family would later relocate back to Illinois, settling first in Peoria, and later, Mt. Pulaski. Xelpho attended school in both of these cities and as a young man took on a job at his uncle's drugstore, located in Mt. Pulaski. The 1911 History of Logan County (which records Beidler under the initials "X.F.) gives mention that he was later a traveling salesman for a time, and in 1890 married Pennsylvania native Anna B. Martin. It is unknown at this time if the couple had any children at any point during their marriage.
  In the early 1890s, Xelpho Beidler became engaged as a cigar manufacturer in Mt. Pulaski and continued in this vocation until 1894, when he was appointed as Mt. Pulaski postmaster, holding this position until 1898. In that same year Beidler began a successful campaign for Logan County clerk, and following his victory was subsequently reelected to two further terms in 1902 and 1906. 

From the "Broad Ax", October 31, 1908.

    Xelpho F. Beidler attained his highest degree of public prominence in 1908 when he was nominated by the Democratic Party as their candidate for Secretary of the State of Illinois. After successfully winning the Democratic primary in mid-1908 Beidler became of several candidates vying for the office, including incumbent Republican James Albert Rose. The outcome of the November 1908 election found Xelpho Beidler in a second-place finish, polling a respectable 448, 925 votes to James Rose's winning total of 621, 371. Rose continued to serve as State Secretary until 1912, dying in office at age 63, having served as secretary for fifteen years, the longest-tenured Secretary of State in Illinois history.
   In 1912 Beidler was once again a candidate for Secretary of State but failed to make his candidacy last beyond that year's Democratic primary. Little is known of the life of Xelpho Beidler following his candidacies, except a notice on the genealogical website, which notes that he died sometime in 1929. An exact date of death for Mr. Beidler is unknown at this time, as is his place of burial. However, burial locations for both his mother Rebecca, and sister Gracia have been located (via Find-A-Grave) which lists both mother and daughter as being interred at the Hanford Cemetery in Hanford, Kings County, California.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Peveril Ozroe Settle Sr. (1889-1969)

From the 1970 Texas State Bar Journal.

    In possession of a truly unusual name, Fort Worth, Texas attorney Peveril Ozroe Settle Sr. was a practitioner of law for over fifty years, and late in his life was elected as the Mayor of Westover Hills, Texas, serving a decade in that office. Although few sources could be located detailing his life, a small obituary for him published in the 1970 Texas State Bar Journal helped to furnish a good majority of the information contained herein.
    Peveril O. Settle was the son of Robert Hannibal (1865-1946) and Tennessee Oxford Settle (1867-1961), being born in Stephenville, Texas on Valentine's Day 1889. He attended public schools and went on to enroll at the University of Texas, graduating from that institution's Law School in the class of 1914. On September 17, 1917, he married Helen Hetzler in New Orleans, Louisiana, and later had two sons, Peveril O. Settle Jr. (1918-1995) and R. Daniel Settle. Following his marriage Settle signed on for service in the First World War, being a member of a field artillery unit in the U.S. Army.
   Following his army service Settle established a law practice in Houston, operating here from until 1926, being a member of the law firm of Kennerly, Williams, Lee, and Hill. Sometime later he left this firm and became engaged as counsel in the law department of the Gulf Production Company, the Gulf Refining Company, and the Gulf Pipeline Company. In 1930 Settle became the legal department head of the Gulf Oil Corporation and was later transferred to that corporation's general office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the Texas Bar Journal notes that "he was elected secretary and associate general counsel for Gulf and its major subsidiaries."
   In 1954 Settle retired from the Gulf Corporation and returned to Texas to practice law. In 1958 he was elected as the mayor of the small suburban community of Westover Hills, Texas, and continued to serve in this capacity until a year before his death. A member of both the Tarrant County and American Bar Associations, Settle was also a parishioner at the First Presbyterian Church. Peveril O. Settle died at age 80 on Christmas Day 1969 and was survived by his wife and two sons. Helen Hetzler Settle survived her husband by a decade, and following her death at age 93 in 1979 was interred alongside Peveril at the Greenwood Memorial Park and Mausoleum in Fort Worth, Texas.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Suggett Louis Edwards (1906-1944)

From the Official Manual of Missouri, 1939-1940.

   A distinguished citizen in Audrain County, Missouri, Suggett Louis Edwards accomplished much in his short life of 38 years, including involvement in newspaper publishing, being a Democratic club man, and serving two terms as a representative in the Missouri General Assembly. Edwards, like so many other young men of the time, volunteered for military service during WWII, and, like a great many of those soldiers, did not live to see the conclusion of the war, losing his life in a B-29 crash in the Northern Mariana Islands in December 1944. Although few details exist online in regards to Edwards' life, a small biographical snippet in the 1937-38 and 1939-40 Missouri State Manual aided in constructing the following summation of the life of this heroic Missouri political figure.
  Although a resident of Audrain County, Missouri for a good majority of his life, Suggett Louis Edwards was born in Callaway County in that state on July 23, 1906, one of six children born to Isham (name also spelled Isom) Lewis (1874-1947) and Janette Edwards. His education took place in public schools and he later attended the Missouri Valley College in the city of Marshall and the Washington University located in St. Louis. Edwards later removed to Mexico, Missouri to begin work in the publishing field, and is remarked as "being connected with the Globe-Democrat in St. Louis", as well as holding "various newspaper and publication positions." 
   Suggett L. Edwards first became politically active in 1934, when in that year he became a prime mover in the establishment of the Young Democrats Club of Audrain County. He served as the first chairman of this organization and in 1936 continued to rise amongst the ranks of the party when he was elected to the Missouri State House of Representatives, defeating Republican nominee John W. Ellis by a vote of 7, 309 to 2, 542. His first term in the assembly saw Edwards sit on the house committees on Appropriations, Federal Relations, Fish and Game, Penitentiary and Reform Schools, Purchasing Supplies, and the committee on the University of Missouri. In 1937 Edwards was selected by then Missouri Governor Lloyd Stark to sit on a special house committee that made "a study of Social Security legislation."

                                                  From the 1937-38 Official Manual of the State of Missouri.

    In November 1938 Suggett Edwards won his reelection bid for the assembly, soundly defeating Republican nominee John W. Ellis for a second time, winning by a vote of 3, 197 to 951. During his second term in the legislature, Edwards served as chairman of the House Committee on Probation and Parole, whilst also being a member of the committees on Appropriations, the Judiciary, Revisions, Municipal Corporations, Private Corporations, and the Committee on Justice of the Peace and County Courts. 
    Edwards' second term concluded in 1941 and in the following year signed on for military service, eventually becoming a Sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Forces. He is recorded as being a member of the "878th Bomber Squadron, 499th Bomber group", noted for being active in the Pacific Theater of Operations in late 1944. The 499th Bombardment Group was made up of the gigantic B-29 Superfortress heavy bomber, one of the largest planes ever to be manufactured for use during WWII. Suggett Edwards's service in this group is quite sketchy, as little information could be found detailing his war service. What is known is that he lost his life in the crash of a B-29 bomber near Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands on December 13, 1944. Originally listed as "missing in action", the Moberly Monitor reported in its January 10, 1945 edition that Edwards had been killed in action in the December 13th crash, and gave no other details as to the plane's mission or how many other crewmen lost their lives when the plane went down. Edwards himself was survived by his mother and five siblings and is recorded as never having married. 
   In May 1946 Suggett Edwards was honored in a special memorial service in the Missouri House of Representatives. The Moberly Monitor, which reported on the event, noted in its May 23rd edition that Edwards "was believed to be the only member of Missouri's house ever to have died while in active military service."

From the Moberly Monitor, January 10, 1945.

From the Moberly Monitor, May 23, 1946.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Elvington Palmer Spinney (1868-1952)

From the "Album of the Attorneys of Maine", published 1902.

    A distinguished figure in Maine law circles for over forty years, Elvington Palmer Spinney (recorded by most sources as "E.P. Spinney") was a well-known attorney in the village of North Berwick whose law practice extended into parts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Aside from practicing law Spinney was also briefly active in politics, serving as a Municipal judge and in 1928 was a Republican aspirant for a Congressional seat from Maine. Born on June 30, 1868, in Georgetown, Maine, Elvington P. Spinney was the second of five children born to Palmer Oliver (1839-1920) and Mary Todd Spinney (1841-1924).
  Descended from an established New England family, Elvington Spinney received his early schooling in the towns of Brunswick and Lewiston, going on to study at Bowdoin College, graduating from here in the class of 1890 with his Bachelor of Arts degree. Spinney married in October of 1895 to Grace Burbank (1871-1951) and later had two children, Dorthy Gillette Spinney (1899-1930) and Leon L. Spinney (1903-1991), who later served as a judge for the Brunswick municipal court.

A young Elvington P. Spinney, courtesy of the George J. Mitchell Department of  Special 
Collections and Archives at the Bowdoin College Library.

    Following his graduation from Bowdoin Spinney began a teaching career in the state of Wisconsin, being a science teacher at the Hillside Seminary. He later returned to Maine to take on a position of principal at the Paris Academy and after a year in this post resigned to accept the same position at the Alfred Seminary in Alfred, Maine. During his time as a teacher, Spinney is noted as devoting his spare time to law study, eventually being admitted to the York County, Maine bar in 1895. In that year he established a law office in the town of North Berwick, and in the succeeding years this practice is recorded by Coe's "Maine Biographies" Volume I  as being "widely extended, often to the remote parts of the State of Maine, as well as in New Hampshire and Massachusetts."
   After nearly two decades as an attorney, Elvington Spinney served as a municipal judge for Yorkshire, Maine, holding a seat on the bench for two terms, 1911 to 1919. Nine years after leaving the bench Spinney became the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Maine's first district in 1928. Spinney's opponent in that year's congressional contest was three-term incumbent Republican Carroll Lynwood Beedy (1880-1947) of Cumberland County, and in the September election, he bested Spinney by a comfortable margin, 40,255 votes to Spinney's total of 19,219. Beedy would go on to serve a further three terms in Congress, being defeated for reelection in 1934.
   Spinney's congressional candidacy was his only attempt at the national office and in the remaining years of his life maintained memberships in the York County Bar Association, the Maine State Bar Association, and the American Bar Association. A past leader of the Eagle Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Spinney also occupied a leading position in the Negutaquit Lodge of the Improved Order of Red Men, serving the organization as Grand Sachem. 

From the Sanford Tribune, October 25, 1945.

  In October 1945 Spinney and his wife Grace celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and were feted at a reception in their honor at the Bauneg Beg Grange Hall. Widowed in April 1951, Spinney survived his wife by less than a year, dying at age 83 on February 27, 1952, at his home in North Berwick Maine. He was survived by his son Leon and was later interred in the Spinney family plot at the Pine Grove Cemetery in Brunswick.

               Spinney's obituary (with mislabeled initial), from the Portsmouth Herald, February 28, 1952.