Friday, February 28, 2014

Fountain Land Thompson (1854-1942), Fountain Fox Beattie (1878-1956), Fountain Gardner Hollabaugh (1864-1930), Fountain Pitts Shrader (1871-1945)

From the Turtle Mountain Star, November 25, 1909.

   Having a name that conjures up images of a mystical land populated with fountains, Fountain Land Thompson gained the distinction of representing North Dakota in the United States Senate for a two-month period between 1909 and 1910, owing to the death of a previously sitting senator. Prominent in business circles in the city of Cando, North Dakota both before and after his brief senate term, Thompson was a native of Illinois, being born near the village of Scottville on November 18, 1854, a son of Leonard Joshua and Phoebe Salina Thompson. Fountain began his primary schooling in the nearby town of Girard and would later graduate from that town's high school. He married at age nineteen on June 18, 1874, in Girard to Fannie Walker (1853-1920), later becoming a father to three sons, Harry H., Lester J., and Roy Towner Thompson.
   The son of a merchant, Fountain L. Thompson followed the example of his father and established a general store in the Girard area, whilst also doing business in the neighboring settlement of Palmyra. He took an interest in local politics, serving as Girard's treasurer, and was later elected to the Macoupin County, Illinois Board of Supervisors. In 1887 he relocated to Cando, North Dakota with his family and once settled engaged in real estate, establishing the Thompson Realty Company. He served as the president of that realty company and occupied the same position at the Cando Elevator Co. Thompson also took an active interest in financial affairs of Towner County, being the vice president of the First National Bank of Cando and the president of Rock Lake, North Dakota's First National Bank.
  Fountain L. Thompson continued involvement in politics after relocating to North Dakota, serving on the Cando school board, was the judge of Towner County from 1890-1898, and in 1902 won election as Mayor of Cando. After leaving the mayor's office in 1906 Thompson returned to his business dealings, and in November 1909 was appointed to a vacancy in the United States Senate. This vacant senate seat had been occasioned by the sudden death of Martin Nelson Johnson on October 21, 1909, only seven months after being elected. 

A notice on Thompson's senate appointment, from the Jan. 3, 1910 Daytona, Florida World News.

  Thompson's senate appointment received wide press in newspapers of the time, some as far away as Daytona, Florida. The Wenatchee Daily World's January 17, 1910, edition published a short snippet on Thompson's public life, noting that:
"In a recent interview Senator Thompson said that, while he had always been a Democrat and had held local political offices, he had never sough political preferment. As to politics, he declared that the manner in which it had been conducted in recent years had cultivated in him a distaste for it."
   In the days after receiving his senate appointment, many pieces of period literature lauded Thompson, noting his extensive business dealings in Cando, as well as his previous stints as mayor and county judge. However, Thompson's senate career ended as quickly as it began, as he resigned from office on January 31, 1910, two months after taking his seat. The Ward County Independent reported on his resignation, noting that soon after traveling to Washington D.C. Thompson's health took a turn for the worse, suffering a "number of hemorrhages".  Out of concerns for his health Thompson resigned, and after leaving the senate journeyed South in the hopes that his health would be restored. 
   Thompson eventually recuperated and returned home to Cando, continuing to be involved in business dealings in that area until 1921, when he moved to Los Angeles, California. He resided here until his death at age 87 on February 4, 1942, having attained the distinction of being the oldest living ex-senator at the time of his decease. He was interred alongside his wife Fannie at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Fountain L. Thompson, from the Wenatchee Daily World, January 17, 1910.

From "The History of South Carolina, Volume 3", 1920.

   Born into a distinguished Greenville, South Carolina family, Fountain Fox Beattie's birth occurred in Greenville on July 29, 1878, a son of John Edgeworth Beattie and Mary Mays, the former being the president of the First National Bank of Greenville. Fountain Beattie attended Furman University, the University of Michigan, and George Washington University in Washington, D.C., graduating from the last-named school in the class of 1902 with his degree in law
  Shortly after attaining his degree, Beattie returned to Greenville to begin a law practice, and in November 1905 was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives at the age of just 27. He served in the legislative term of 1906-1908 and later married Jane Cobb Arnold (1888-1983) and had three children: Fountain Fox Jr. (1913-2001), Dannite Mays (1917-1994), and Janell Arnold Beattie (birth-date unknown). 
  Following the death of his father in 1916 Fountain Fox Beattie succeeded to the Presidency of the First National Bank of Greenville, serving in this post for a number of years. He died aged 78 in Greenville on July 29, 1956 and was survived by his wife and three children. Both Beattie, his wife, and two sons were interred at the Christ Episcopal Church Cemetery in Greenville.

From the Arkansas legislative composite portrait, 1909.

  Another Fountain that attained political prominence was Fountain Gardner Hollabaugh of Searcy County, Arkansas. A one-term member of the Arkansas House of Representatives for the 1909-1911 session, Hollabaugh succeeded his oddly named brother Shem Easley Hollabaugh in the legislature, the latter having represented Searcy County from 1907-1909. 
  The son of Emanuel Fountain (1840-1936) and Frances (Hatchett) Hollabaugh (1842-1916), Fountain Gardner Hollabaugh was born in Arkansas on April 22, 1864. Unlike his brother Shem, there is a dearth of information concerning Fountain Hollabaugh's life. Sources denote his being a teacher in the Valley Springs, Arkansas area, and he also taught summer school in the neighboring town of Leslie. Hollabaugh married Dora F. Pass (1877-1958) sometime in the 1890s and had at least two children, Lily Mae (1899-1928) and Ira Frances (1910-1956)
  A leading Mason in his region, Hollabaugh served an eighteen-year tenure as secretary for the Marshall, Arkansas Masonic Lodge. After serving one term in the legislature Hollabaugh was appointed by President Wilson as U.S. Postmaster at Marshall, Arkansas in 1915 and would be reappointed to that post in 1919. Little else is known of his life after this date, except notice of his death on December 5, 1930, at the home of his daughter in Capps, Boone County, Arkansas. He was survived by his wife and was interred at the East Lawn Cemetery in Marshall.

From the McKinney, Texas Examiner, July 20, 1939.

   Frisco, Texas resident Fountain Pitts Shrader's political claim to fame extends from his several terms as Mayor of Frisco between 1912 and 1930. Following his last term as mayor Shrader would be named as U.S. Postmaster at Frisco, serving until shortly before his death. A native of Arkansas, Fountain Pitts "Fount" Shrader was born in Carrollton on January 26, 1871, the son of George and Mary (Gibbs) Shrader
  Removing to Collin County, Texas with his family in childhood, the Shrader family later settled on a farm near Frisco.  By 1900 Fount Shrader was residing in McKinney, Texas, and married in that town to Sue Hume (1870-1940), with whom he had one daughter, Audrey (1903-1923). Following their marriage, Shrader and his wife relocated to Frisco, where they resided for the remainder of their lives. While information regarding Shrader remains scant, mention is given as to his being one of three men who established the first cotton gin in Frisco. Shrader was also affiliated with the grain elevator business, being the vice president of the Frisco Grain and Elevator Company.
  Shrader made his first move into local politics with his election as Mayor of Frisco in April 1912. He served consecutive terms until April 1916 and would be returned to that office in April 1917, serving until 1920. By 1922 Shrader was again in the mayor's chair, and after another four-year stint was succeeded by F.H. Anderson. Anderson's brief tenure extended from 1926-27, and in April of the last-named year, Shrader was again elected, this time serving until 1930.
   In October 1937 Shrader was named U.S. Postmaster at Frisco, succeeding his younger brother Daniel Booker (1874-1937), who had died October 1. After serving in an interim capacity for several months Fount Shrader was confirmed as postmaster and served until his resignation in January 1945. Following the death of his wife Sue in 1941, Shrader remarried to Artie Ragan Vardy (1877-1962), a widow. The couple was wed until Shrader's death at his Frisco home on February 14, 1945.  He was later interred alongside his wife at the Ridgeview West Memorial Park in Frisco. 

From the McKinney Examiner, February 22, 1945.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ai Noah Boynton (1845-1911), Ai Baker Thompson (1833-1890), Ai Gray Miller (1885-1950), Ai Stephen Russell (1857-1929)

From Successful Vermonters: A Modern Gazetteer of Lamoille, Franklin and Grand Isle Counties.

   This multi-part posting highlights the lives of three men who were bestowed the peculiar first name "Ai", which can certainly be considered as a candidate for the shortest first name in history. While the reasons behind each of these men being given this odd name have been lost to the pages of time, the name "Ai" is worth mentioning, as it is of biblical origin. In ancient times "Ai" (pronounced Eh'-aye) was one of the royal cities in the ancient region of Canaan and was later invaded and captured by the Israelites, who later burned the city to the ground.
  First up is Mr. Ai Noah Boynton, active in the affairs of business and politics in Lamoille County, Vermont. The eldest of 11 children born to Noah and Abagail Boynton, Boynton's birth occurred in Amherst, New Hampshire on November 3, 1845. His early years were marked by the Successful Vermonters as being of limited education and moved with his family to Vermont at age 9. Four years after his removal Boynton was "bound out" to a farmer in the town of Walden, where he worked at farming and attended school, later returning to his parent's farm after three years away. As Noah Boynton had enlisted for service during the Civil War, it was young Ai who would take over the reins of the family's 50-acre farm.
   Boynton continued farming throughout the 1860s and in November 1867 married Parmelia Campbell, with whom he would have one daughter, Effie (died 1887.) In the year following his marriage, he purchased a sawmill in the village of North Wolcott, Vermont and began what would become a three-decade-long career as a dealer in lumber. His mill at North Wolcott was said to churn out "a capacity of 2,500 feet of lumber per day." Active in local politics as well as business, Boynton served as a justice of the peace and town selectman, and in November 1897 was selected as one of Lamoille County's representatives to the Vermont General Assembly, subsequently holding a seat on the grand list committee.
   Ai N. Boynton served one term (1898-1900) in the house of representatives and in 1902 sold his lumber business and removed from North Wolcott to Morrisville, Vermont. In the same year as his removal, he was elected as an assistant judge for Lamoille County and in 1905 became a member of the Morrisville Board of Trustees. He later served as street commissioner of the town and later overseer of the poor, occupying the latter post until his death on November 25, 1911. The Burlington Weekly Free Press obituary for Ai Boynton notes he had recently contracted "bilious grip" around his birthday (November 3) and died of complications of the illness. This same obituary later notes that Boynton was returned to Wolcott for burial at the Fairmount Cemetery.

From the November 30, 1911 Burlington Weekly Free Press.

From the "History of the Second Regiment, New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry", 1896.

  Another "Ai" who made his name known in state politics was Ai Baker Thompson, a lifelong resident of New Hampshire who logged thirteen years of service as the Secretary of the State of New Hampshire. Born and raised in Holderness, Ai B. Thompson was born on August 25, 1833, the son of John and Charlotte Baker Thompson. Thompson graduated from Dartmouth College in the class of 1858 and three years later was admitted to practice law by the New Hampshire bar.
  In the early days of the Civil War Thompson enlisted as a private, and in August 1861 received an appointment from President Lincoln as a captain in the Eighth U.S. Infantry. He participated in the Battle of Bull Run and on New Year's Eve 1862 was promoted to brevet major, "for gallant and meritorious conduct at the Battle of Stone's River." Thompson received grievous wounds at this particular engagement, including a fractured humerus. which "rendered the arm practically useless". Following some recuperation Thompson returned to duty as an inspector in the provost marshal's department in Ohio, later serving as an assistant provost marshal for New Hampshire until the conclusion of the war. Decades after his service Thompson served as the Department Commander for New Hampshire G.A.R. in 1888.
   Thompson had married during wartime on May 13, 1863, to Matilda R. Smith (1835-1912) and this couple became the parents to four children, of whom two survived into adulthood: James B. (died aged one in October 1865), Joseph Smith (died aged seven months in 1867), Laurien (born 1869) and Marion (born 1871). 
   After being placed on the military's retired list, Thompson continued to be involved in post-war reconstruction, being appointed (under the authority of the military) as the Sheriff of Richmond, Virginia in June of 1869. After returning home to New Hampshire he established a law office in the city of Concord and in the mid-1870s took on the position of Deputy Secretary of State for New Hampshire. In 1876 he was a delegate from Concord to the New Hampshire State Constitutional Convention, and in the following year was elected as New Hampshire Secretary of State.
  Thompson's tenure as secretary extended from 1877 until his death at age 57 on September 12, 1890. He was later interred at the Franklin Cemetery in Franklin, Merrimack County, New Hampshire, and was survived by his wife Matilda, who died aged 75 in 1912.

 From the 1946 Iowa State Blue Book.

   From New Hampshire, we journey to Iowa and one Ai Gray Miller, a two-term member of the Iowa State Senate. Born on February 4, 1885, and raised in Audubon County, Iowa, Miller attended "rural schools" in that county and was later a student at Drake University in Des Moines. Miller married on February 7, 1907, to Stella Fancher (1885-1991), with whom he would have four children: Frank (birth-date unknown), Lt. Col. Marion Ai Miller (1914-2003), Jessie Yvonne Miller Himelright (birthdate unknown) and Dora Adelaide (birth-date unknown).
   Active for many years in the civil affairs of Audubon County, Ai G. Miller served as the director of the Audubon County Soil Conservation and Improvement Association, was a member of the Audubon County Board of Supervisors, and was a former president of the Audubon County Board of Education. Miller also found prominence in various local businesses in his home county, being affiliated with the Farmer's Mutual Telephone Company for over two decades.
    Ai G. Miller was first elected to the Iowa State Senate in November 1940 and was continually reelected to that body, the last of which occurred in November 1944. Miller was a sponsor of a Senate bill during his first term that pressed for rural electrification to aid Iowa's farmers and retired from the Senate at the end of his second term in January 1949. He died a year later on February 26, 1950, at age 65, due to a heart attack, expiring at a hospital in Carroll, Iowa. He was later buried at the Maple Grove Cemetery in Audubon and was survived by his wife Stella, who lived to become one of Iowa's oldest residents, dying at the grand age of 105 on January 7, 1991.

  Another "Ai" that ventured into politics was Rumney, New Hampshire resident Ai Stephen Russell, who served one term in his state's house of representatives beginning in 1903. A longtime physician in Rumney, Russell was born in Lincoln, New Hampshire on June 29, 1857, a son of Stephen and Eunice (Hanson) Russell. Ai would study medicine at the Eclectic Medical College in Lewiston, Maine, and following his graduation in 1883 settled into a medical practice in Rumney.
  Russell married in Rumney to Celestia Elliott in May 1885 and in November 1902 won election to the New Hampshire House of Representatives as a Democrat, beating Republican nominee Charles Swain by a vote of 131 to 123. Russell served in the session of 1903-05 and was a member of the committee on Insurance during that term. In 1914 he was appointed by the Governor to the New Hampshire Board of Medical Examiners, serving in that capacity for an indeterminate length of time. Russell died in Rumney on December 22, 1929, at age 72, and was survived by his wife Celestia. Both were interred at the Highland Cemetery in Rumney.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Paulinus Mayhew Foster (1811-1861)

Portrait courtesy of the Maine State Archives and

    A resident of the town of Anson in Somerset County, Maine, Paulinus Mayhew Foster was a practicing attorney in that area for nearly three decades and was a past president of the Maine State Senate, serving in this capacity during the session of 1850-51. Born on New Year's Day 1811 in the village of Readfield, Paulinus M. Foster was the son of Benjamin (1784-1860) and Lavinia Hillman Foster. He decided upon a career in law at a young age, and at age twenty-one began to study under David Bronson (1800-1863), a future U.S. Representative from Maine as well as a State Senator. Foster completed his studies under another Maine lawyer, Samuel Wells, who was later to be elected to the Maine Supreme Court and the Maine Governorship. Foster entered into practice in Anson, Maine with David Bronson in the early 1830s and maintained a partnership here for several years. 
   On June 7, 1840 Paulinus Foster married to Lydia Ring Hutchins (1819-1891) and later became the father of ten children, who are listed as follows in order of birth: Flora (born 1841), Ada (born 1842), Carroll (1844-1891), Olive (born 1846), Carlos (born 1848) and Charles (born 1850), Benjamin (1852-1926), William (born 1854), Fanny (born 1857) and Arthur (1860-1924).
   Paulinus Foster was elected to the Maine Senate in 1849 and during the 1850-51 term served as its President. At the conclusion of his term, Foster returned to Anson and in 1860 removed with his family to Richmond in the county of Sagadahoc. Foster died at his home there on September 6, 1861, having recently contracted rheumatic fever. The two-volume Foster Genealogy (published in 1899) notes that both Foster and his wife were buried in Richmond following their deaths, but were later re-interred at a cemetery somewhere in the village of Anson, an exact cemetery location being unknown at this time.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Western Starr (1854-1940)

From the Land and Freedom: An International Record of Single Tax Progress, Vol. 3, 1904.

    A distinguished figure in Illinois public life during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the mysterious Western Starr was one of those obscure political figures who remained without a face to place with his name for over a decade-- that was until the discovery of the above portrait! A candidate for the Illinois state senate as well as for the U.S. House of Representatives, the distinct lack of information regarding Mr. Starr's life and public exploits kept me from compiling a biography for him here for the past three years, and if it hadn't been for the discovery of a biographical passage in Vol. 3 of the Land and Freedom Single Tax Review the following write-up would not have been possible. 
   However obscure he may be, the number of newspapers and period literature that give passing mention to Mr. Starr proves that in his day he was a remarkable figure. Active as a farmer, attorney, public speaker, writer, politician, and civil service reformer, Starr's humorous name will certainly give people a case of the giggles in this day in age, and it's quite interesting to note that many of his contemporaries also found it odd, with sources referring to the name as "harmonious", "luminous and heavenly" and even "unlikely but colorfully appropriate", frequently making references to celestial subjects like the stars and the solar system. 
    The life of this intriguingly named man began in the then-burgeoning city of Davenport, Iowa, where he was born on September 14, 1854, one of three children born to James Comfort Starr (1824-1895) and the former Cynthia McKoon (1832-1899). The Starr family removed from Davenport around 1859 and settled in Rock Island, Illinois, where young Western would first attend school. He went to high school in the city and during adolescence took on a position as a farmhand, and in the late 1870s worked construction on a bridge, later traveling to Colorado to stake a claim in mining. 
   Returning home in 1877, Starr used personal funds to put himself through school, enrolling at the Oberlin College in that year. After studying here for a time he attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and graduated in the class of 1880. He continued his studies at Columbia University, being a classmate of future President Theodore Roosevelt, and earned his law degree from this institution in 1882. 
  After being admitted to practice Starr moved to Chicago, where for a year he practiced law, and in 1883 he relocated to Dickinson, North Dakota to continue his practice. During his residency, he was appointed as a territorial assessor and magistrate. While residing in North Dakota Starr re-encountered his old Columbia classmate Roosevelt, who, while ranching in the Bad Lands, had captured three horse thieves and, with the help of two companions, brought the outlaws to Dickinson to be arraigned, where, by coincidence, Starr was serving as a justice of the peace!
   Western Starr continued to reside in North Dakota until 1889 when he returned to Chicago to both practice law and start up a real estate brokerage firm. He married here on December 29, 1897, to Edith Hammond (1870-1968), with whom he would have two children, James Hammond Starr (1898-1978) and Martha Starr Larson (1901-1987). Within a few years of settling into family life, Starr became connected with the Civic Federation of Chicago's civil service reform committee, serving as the secretary of this body for two years. In 1901 he became chairman of that committee and also took on a position as legal counsel for the Civil Service League of Chicago. 
   Starr's involvement with the civil service reform committee saw him become a veritable watchdog for the group, being a "fighter for honest legislation", as well as trying to route out corrupt political practices then rampant in Chicago. While Starr tried to be an advocate of honest government and "clean" politics, newspapers of the time often had a field day with his name, and the snippet below (stemming from Starr's accusation of incompetency on the part of John J. Sloan, then Superintendent of the Chicago House of Correction), proves that Chicago newspaper editors didn't pass up a chance to chide Starr on his funny name!
"That legal luminary, Western Starr, has again peeped above the horizon of the Civil Service Commission, this time in an attempt to throw some light on certain proceedings in the house of correction."----The Chicago Eagle, October 5, 1901
  While he may have refrained from running for public office, Western Starr was by no means politically naive, and a search of Google Books shows that between 1883 and 1920 Western Starr lent the tip of his pen to numerous periodicals centering on hot-button political issues of the day, including giving advice on crime ("A Radical Cure for Crime", published in the Liberal Review in 1906), and was a fervent advocate of the establishment of a single tax. While a frequent contributor to newsletters like the "Single Tax Review" and the "Public: A Journal for Democracy", Starr gained further prominence on the lecture circuit, traveling throughout Illinois and elsewhere speaking on such topics as "The Ethics of Conservatism". During the 1900 election year, Starr was described by the Chicago Daily Herald as hitting the campaign trail, "doing considerable platform work for the Democratic National Committee" and stumped for the party in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Ohio.

From "The Public: A Journal for Democracy", 1903. 

    In the 1902 election year, Western Starr made his first attempt at elected office, being a candidate for a seat in the Illinois State Senate from Cook County. Stating in the Chicago Daily Herald that the "nomination was not one of my seeking", Starr further related that:
"This is a case where the nomination sought the man and not the man the nomination. In response to the urgent solicitations of the eminent gentlemen who are the representatives of all political parties, and shades of political thought in this district, I consented to accept this nomination with the hope that I might be able to crystallize in this campaign all of those political forces which are tending toward the elevation of political standards, and the character of public service and public life. In the strictest sense the campaign in which I am engaged cannot be regarded as a political or partisan campaign."
   Running against Starr in that year's campaign was one John Humphrey (1838-1916), a native-born Englishman who had first been elected to the state senate in 1886. As the incumbent Republican, Humphrey's decades-long career in state politics was targeted by Western Starr in the November 1, 1902 edition of the Chicago Daily Herald, noting:
"I oppose Senator Humphrey because he has for 30 years been a personal representative of a political philosophy, which I do not agree and which, I am convinced the people of this district will not support, once its true inwardness is once understood."
  Rallying against "Humphreyism", Starr stumped throughout his district in support of votes in the latter part of 1902, and, as in years past, newspapers picked up on his peculiar name, with the Chicago Eagle using some very clever wordplay to describe the contest between John Humphrey and Starr, noting:
"His opponent is one Western Starr, and if Humphrey's sun is to suddenly set now in the declining days of his life, it is a question if the new luminary is one which will shed a more beautiful light on the political horizon of the Seventh district. Mr. Humphrey's opponent is not a "Starr" of the first magnitude, as everybody who knows him is aware, but there is a large and young element of the community in the Seventh Senatorial district composed of bright people who are sick and tired of 'Old John' and his ways and who would put up with anything for a change."
From the Chicago Inter Ocean, April 5, 1903.

   Western Starr's political platform touted "equal rights for all, special privileges for none, Municipal Home Rule, public ownership of public utilities and honest assessment and equal taxation", and he was widely considered to be a shoo-in at the polls. However, on election day 1902, John Humphrey eked out a win over Starr, besting him by a vote of 7,013 to 5,834. Despite a loss margin of nearly 1200 votes, Starr was not one to let a loss get the best of him. Between 1903 and 1908 he continued to be a forceful voice on the lecture circuit and in political newsletters, and in 1908 re-entered the political area, announcing his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois. His opponent was George Edmund Foss (1863-1936), a six-term Republican incumbent who, like Starr, had been a graduate of Columbia University. Starr's congressional candidacy received a write-up in the Single Tax Review that year, which touted his longstanding membership in the Single Tax movement and his willingness to be a "force in the war for economic righteousness." 
   Unfortunately, when the votes were tallied in November 1908, Starr was dealt another loss, losing to Foss, 31,130 votes to 14,840. An electoral result from that contest was published in the 1910 Tribune Almanac and Political Register and is shown below.

   A few years following his congressional loss, Western Starr removed with his family to Baltimore, Maryland, where he was active in both agriculture and the Farmer-Labor Party. In 1918 he gave a statement in front of Congress in connection with the Revenue Act of 1918, and during his testimony gave examples of land monopoly and the effects of taxation on farm owners. Starr later appeared in front of Congress once again in July 1921 on behalf of the Farmer-Labor Party, speaking to the Joint-Commission of Agricultural Inquiry.
  Around 1919 Starr relocated once again, this time to Washington, D.C. During his residence here he was a contributing writer to The Searchlight, a journal on Washington politics and congressional proceedings. In addition to being a contributor to this journal, Starr also served as Treasurer of the Searchlight Publishing Company for a time, resigning this office in 1921. Starr continued to be active in public service well into his seventh decade, with notice being given as to his service as a "special investigator in the investigation of contributions and expenditures of senatorial candidates" in August of 1930
   The remaining years of Western Starr's life post-1931 are largely a mystery, as is his burial location. He is recorded in the 1940 census as being an 85-year-old patient at the Washington Home for Incurables in Washington, D.C., and per his 1940 obituary, was stricken blind sometime in the mid-1930s. Starr died in Washington, D.C. in May 1940, aged 85. His wife Edith Hammond Starr lived on for nearly three more decades, being a resident of Wilmington, Delaware, and died there at age 97 in 1968. 

From the Davenport Daily Times, May 18, 1940.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Rutilleous Britt Basford (1836-1916)

Portrait from the St. Paul Globe, January 11, 1897.

    A New Englander by birth, Rutilleous Britt Basford later resided in Wisconsin where he was a merchant in the Jefferson County area. In the mid-1860s he relocated to Minnesota, where he was subsequently elected to a number of local political offices in Winona County, and in November 1896 was elected to one term in the Minnesota State House of Representatives.
  Born in Guilford, Maine on June 2, 1836, Rutilleous Basford was the son of Pliny Britt (1808-1890) and Sarah Stephens Basford (1806-1896). His unusual name has a variation in spelling, being listed by more than one source as "Rutillus Brett Basford", while also being abbreviated as "R.B. Basford". However, both the Minnesota Historical Society and the Minnesota Death and Burial Index give the spelling as it is given in the title to this profile. Whichever spelling is the correct one, it certainly doesn't change the fact that Basford's name is one of the more intriguing ones to be found amongst the annals of past Minnesota legislators!
   Removing to Watertown, Wisconsin with his family while still a child, Basford attended common schools in that area and in March 1858 married Jennie Snow (1839-1916). The couple is recorded as being childless through the duration of their nearly sixty-year marriage. In the early 1860s, he did his patriotic duty and became a sutler (civilian merchant) to the 16th Wisconsin Infantry, providing various provisions to soldiers of the regiment. While still a resident of Wisconsin Basford served as a U.S. Revenue Agent for the county of Jefferson, continuing in this post until removing with his wife to Winona, Minnesota around 1866.
  Early in his Winona residency Basford became involved in real estate dealings as well as the sale of insurance, continuing along this route until 1875. In that year he was elected as the Treasurer of Winona County, serving two terms in office. In 1880 he won election as county auditor and later occupied the office of Fire Inspector for Minnesota's southern district for thirteen years. Active in fraternal clubs in addition to his civic doings, Basford became a member of the Coeur de Leon Commandry, No. 3 of the Knights Templar in 1874 and served as the group's Captain General in 1879 and its treasurer four years later. Basford is also the first strange name political figure to have been a druid, being a charter member of the Oak Grove Lodge, No. 15, Ancient Order of Druids in Winona in August 1877.
  After retiring from the position of Fire Inspector in the mid-1890s Basford continued in his real estate dealings, and in 1896 was nominated by his fellow Winona county citizens to be their representative in the Minnesota State Legislature. Running as a Republican, he went on to defeat his Democratic opponent John Nagler in the November election, 1,295 votes to 963. Taking his seat at the start of the 1897-99 term, Basford was named to the following standing committees of the house: Appropriations, Railroads, Insurance, Banks, and Legislative Expenses. He served as chairman of the Committee on Manufacturers and left office in January 1899.
This portrait of Rutilleous Basford is in the collection of the Minnesota State Historical Society.

    After leaving the legislature Basford returned to his early business interests and in 1907 is recorded as opening another insurance office in Winona with W.E. Stanton, operating under the name of Basford and Stanton. Basford died three months before his eightieth birthday on March 3, 1916, in Winona. His wife of 58 years Jennie followed him to the grave two months later on May 15th, and both were presumably buried somewhere in the Winona County vicinity, an exact place of burial being unknown at this time.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Colonel Ellsworth Rudesill (1861-1944), Colonel Ogden Swayze (1859-1922), Colonel Isham Wood (1887-1983), Colonel Manfred Johnson (1854-1928)

From the "Progressive West Virginians", 1905.

  If you've followed this site for any length of time you may remember reading about General George Oleander Pence, an Ohio representative and state senator who was given a military title as a first name. As it turns out, there happens to be another political figure, born nearly two decades before Mr. Pence, who also lucked into getting a military title for his first name! That man, Colonel Ellsworth Rudesill, was also an Ohio native but would go on to find success in politics in West Virginia during the early 20th century.
   The son of Columbus Jacob and Frank Bentley Rudesill, Colonel Ellsworth Rudesill was born in Medina, Ohio on October 10, 1861. He was bestowed his unusual first and middle names in honor of Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, the first Union soldier to be killed during the Civil War, his death occurring in Alexandria, Virginia on May 24, 1861. Rudesill's early education occurred in Akron, Ohio and he was a graduate of that city's high school. Following his graduation, Rudesill removed to Gallipolis, Ohio to join his father's business, that of a crockery and queensware (glazed ceramics) retailer. While residing in Galliopolis Rudesill married to Alice Romain Crowley, with whom he would have three children, including Frank Ellsworth (1890-1922, later to become a newspaper publisher in Ohio), Alice M. (birth-date unknown), and Donald Bentley (1896-1953).
   Around 1886 Columbus Rudesill relocated his business to Charleston, West Virginia, where Colonel E. Rudesill would eventually join him. For over twenty years their business (later to operate under the name of Rudesill and Mead) prospered until shutting its doors in 1909. Successful in other non-business related areas, Colonel E. Rudesill entered state politics in November 1902, winning election to the West Virginia State House of Delegates from Kanawha County. Taking his seat in January 1903, Rudesill served as a member of the house for one term (1903-05), and during his second year in office won election as Mayor of the city of Charleston, serving a two-year term. He had earlier been appointed to the West Virginia State Board of Asylums in 1901 for an eight-year term and served as the president during the entirety of his service.
   Following his time in public service, Rudesill served as a census supervisor and in 1911 returned to his business interests, becoming a state agent for the Atlanta based investment firm called the Guarantee, Trust and Banking Company. He later served as the director of the United Savings and Annuity Company of Charleston, and was a longtime member of the Charleston Elks Lodge, serving as the lodge's exalted ruler on three occasions.

From the Charleston Gazette, February 13, 1944.

  Colonel E. Rudesill continued to serve the city of Charleston well into his eighth decade, being connected with the "city collectors office." He died of pneumonia on February 12, 1944 at a Charleston hospital and following funeral services was interred at the Mountain View Cemetery in that city.

From the Charleston Gazette, February 13, 1944.

Portrait from the Standard Atlas of Genesee County, Michigan, 1907.

   Another non-military "Colonel" who made his name known politically is Colonel Ogden Swayze, a Flint, Michigan attorney who served several years as Judge of Probate for Genesee County in that state. A native of New Jersey, Colonel O. Swayze was born in Warren County on September 15, 1859, the son of Daniel and Sarah Angle Swayze. Colonel Swayze would remove with his family to Michigan as a child and would attend the public schools of Lapeer County. He later studied at the Northern Indiana Normal School at Valparaiso, and following his graduation returned to Lapeer to begin teaching. Swayze later served as a school principal in Ritzville, Washington for a time and again returned to Michigan after two years away.
   Soon after his return to Michigan Swayze entered into law studies in Flint, Michigan, beginning study in the law office of Wisner, Lee, and Atkin. He was admitted to the Michigan bar in 1891 and shortly afterward was elected to his first public office, that of police justice for the city of Flint. He continued in that role for twelve years and in 1896 married Edith Alma Kurtz (1869-1962), a native of Erie County, New York. The couple later had three sons: Colonel Kenneth (1899-1989), Karl Ogden (born 1901), and Donald K. (born 1909).
   In November 1908 Colonel O. Swayze was elected as the probate judge for Genesee County and officially took office at the beginning of the new year. He would win a second term on the bench in 1912 and left office in 1916. Following his term as probate judge Swayze returned to practicing law in Flint and was also affiliated with the Young Men's Republican Club in that city, serving as its president for a time. Swayze died in August 1922 and was interred at the Glenwood Cemetery in Flint.

Portrait from the 1943 Tennessee legislative composite.

   In a February 9, 2017 update, another politically inclined "Colonel" has been located, Colonel Isham Wood of Warren County, Tennessee. In another case of someone being bestowed a military title for a first name, Wood was a farmer and school principal for a good majority of his life and had fleeting involvement in politics, being elected to one term in the Tennessee House of Representatives from his native county of Warren.
  The son of Obadiah and Elizabeth (Orrick) Wood, Colonel Isham Wood was born on August 2, 1887. Little is known of his early life, except his marriage to Hilda Irene Wimberly (1897-1989) in the mid-1910s. The couple were wed for over sixty years and later had one son, Randolph Clay (born 1917.)
   Colonel I. Wood was for over forty years a teacher and principal, teaching throughout middle Tennessee and the town of Lobelville. Elected as Warren County's representative to the Tennessee legislature in 1942, Wood served one term (1943-45) and during that session sat on the committees on Commerce, Education and Common Schools and Public Health and Sanitation.
  Colonel I. Wood died in Warren County on July 10, 1983, a few weeks short of his 96th birthday. He was survived by his wife Hilda, who, following her death at age 92 in 1989, was interred alongside her husband at the Morrison Cemetery in Morrison, Tennessee.

  On April 30, 2018, the name of Colonel Manfred Johnson was located in a 1922 history of McHenry County, Illinois, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was Colonel his first name (and not a title) but that he had fleeting political involvement, as he served as mayor of Harvard, Illinois. While he lacks a picture, enough information has been found to give him a mention here.
  Born in Kenosha, Wisconsin on May 2, 1854, Johnson was the son of Horace and Adeline LaToure Johnson. Relocating to Harvard, Illinois with his family during his youth, Johnson attended school in that town and, after deciding on a career in the medical profession, would further study at Notre Dame University and the University of Michigan. Johnson would graduate from the latter school in 1875 and did post-graduate medical work at the Bellevue Hospital in New York.
  Following his relocation back to Harvard, Colonel M. Johnson began construction on a hospital for Harvard, one that once finished could accommodate 32 patients and several nurses. Sources relate to Johnson's non-medical prominence in Harvard, including stints as city treasurer and alderman, as well as city physician. He would serve as mayor of Harvard, though no source gives note as to his dates of service. John resided in Harvard until his death on June 24, 1928 and he was later interred at the Mount Auburn Cemetery in that city.