Anyone sporting an illustrious sounding name like "Champion" can be considered to possess a truly strange name, and in the case of today's honorees (Champion S. Chase, Champion B. Mann and Champion I. Hutchinson) their unusual first names carried them into success in the realm of public service, with all three being elected as mayors of large cities in their respective states (Chase being Mayor of Omaha, Nebraska, Mann Mayor of Olympia, Washington and Hutchinson Mayor of Sacramento, California.)
A native of New Hampshire, Champion Spalding Chase's birth occurred in the town of Cornish on March 20, 1820, the son of Clement Chase (1776-1867) and his second wife, Plainfield, New Hampshire native Olive Spalding (1790-1823). Bestowed the unusual name "Champion Spalding" in honor of his maternal grandfather, Chase's early education took place in the town of his birth, and he would later attend the Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire. During his adolescence, he taught school during the winter months in Cornish and around 1840 removed to New York to continue teaching.
From 1841-1842 Chase taught at the Academy at Amsterdam, New York and in 1843 relocated to Otsego County to serve as vice principal of the West Hartwick Seminary. Chase continued to reside in New York through the remainder of the 1840s and would enter into the study of law in Buffalo. Admitted to the bar in 1848 at Canandaigua, he would pull up stakes and move to Racine, Wisconsin around 1849. He married in Racine in 1849 to Mary Sophronia Butterfield (1827-1882) and later had one son, Clement, who would become a prominent Omaha based newspaper publisher.
Within a few years of his Wisconsin resettlement Champion S. Chase had branched out from his law practice into politics, serving as part of the Wisconsin delegation to the first-ever Republican Nation Convention in 1856. In November of that year he was elected to represent Racine in the State Senate, and following his two-year term here was selected as District Attorney for Wisconsin's 2nd judicial district in 1859. His term in this office ended in 1861 and in the following year received the appointment as a paymaster in the Union Army, mainly due to the influence of his famous cousin, then Secretary of the Treasury Salmon Portland Chase (1808-1873).
Although he was past forty years of age, Champion Chase's time in the Union Army saw him attain the rank of Major of Calvary, and the 1894 "Genealogy of Champion Spalding Chase" notes that he "was at the sieges of Knoxville, Mobile and Vicksburg and entered the latter city upon its surrender, with General Grant's staff, July 4, 1863." In the latter period of the war, he would be headquartered in New Orleans, and would also receive a commission as Lieutenant Colonel from President Andrew Johnson in late 1865.
Chase would be honorably discharged from service in January 1866 and later that year visited Omaha, Nebraska for the first time. He would resettle here permanently in 1867 and after Nebraska was admitted as the 37th state that year was elected as the new state's first Attorney General. He would serve in this capacity until 1869, whereafter he was appointed as a regent for the University of Nebraska, holding his seat until 1875. In addition to those posts, Chase was also one of the original incorporators of the Omaha Street Railway Co., which came into being in 1867.
Portrait courtesy of www.pima.edu
A year prior to his leaving the Board of Regents Champion Chase was elected as Mayor of Omaha, and in 1875 was elected for another term of two years. He would be returned to the mayor's office for two further terms (1879-1881 and 1883-1884) and during his time in office was recorded as having "favored extensive public improvements", and in 1876:
"He outlined to the City Council a plan of public improvements for the city, including parks and boulevards, and a system of waterworks, of both direct and gravitation power, all of which, with the necessary permanent street improvements, have been carried out or are in course of construction."While civic improvements to Omaha were of concern during Chase's administration(s), there were other matters that would later cast a slight tinge on his mayoralty. During the wild and woolly days of 1870s Omaha, "cheap theaters", saloons and gambling were rampant, and those engaging in such businesses were for the most part given a free pass by Mayor Chase, who was memorably described in Edward Morearty's "Omaha Memories" as a "genial whole souled man, but very pompous and determined in having his own way."
During his final term in office in 1884 impeachment proceedings were leveled against Chase, and on June 30, 1884 he was removed from office by a vote of the city council due to allegations of "drunkenness, incompetence by reasons of drunkenness, derangement of the nervous system and neglect of duty." Despite being put out of office in such an abrupt fashion, Chase gained some measure of closure in 1887 when he launched "quo warrento proceedings" in the Omaha district court, alleging that he had been illegally removed from office, as well as having been deprived of his mayor's salary. A jury would later render a verdict in his favor, with the salary involved being recorded as "nearly one thousand dollars."
Following his ouster, Champion Chase continued to serve Omaha in a number of other capacities, including being a past commander of the U.S. Grant Post of the G.A.R., an organizer of the Omaha Real Estate Owner's Association and president of the Nebraska State Humane Society. In the mid-1890s he gained further distinction when he was selected as the chairman of the International Pan-Republic Congress on Plan and Scope. In one of his last acts of public service Chase was appointed as Collector of Customs for the Port of Omaha and died in office on November 3, 1898 at age 78. He had been widowed in 1882 and following his death was interred alongside his wife Mary at the Prospect Hills Cemetery in Omaha.
Champion S. Chase in old age, from "The Spirit of '76", Vol. 5, 1898-1899.
Champion Bramwell Mann, from the Druggist's Circular, Vol. 51, 1907.
An Olympia, Washington based druggist and merchant for over four decades, Champion Bramwell Mann was a native son of Pennsylvania, being born in Crawford County on November 2, 1844, the son of Methodist minister Sylvester Hill and Anne Whipple Mann. The Mann family would leave Pennsylvania and relocate to Salem, Oregon in 1864, where Champion would attend Willamette University. He would graduate from the Portland Business College in the late 1860s and in 1870 moved to Olympia, where he would reside for the remainder of his life.
In March 1870 Mann saw his father sworn in as Oregon Territorial Librarian, but his term in office would prove to be short-lived. In August of that year the Rev. Mann was called to religious work in an another area and had to resign, and shortly after this his twenty-five year old son was appointed to succeed him. Champion B. Mann's tenure as territorial librarian lasted for four months, as he left office in November of 1870, whereafter he taught school in Olympia for several years.
During the early 1870s Mann became a partner in the druggist firm of Mann and Willard with local physician Rufus Willard. In 1873 he would buy out Mr. Willard and continue in business alone. He would remain in operation for nearly four decades, and was even bestowed the title "dean of Washington druggists" in the 1907 "Druggist's Circular." On December 16, 1873 Mann married in Olympia to Evangeline St. Clare Brewer (1855-1934), with whom he would have six children: Avis Sparks (1875-1948), Helen Whipple (born 1878), Ida Scott (1880-1902), Claude Brewer (1882-1929), Anna Viola (born 1884) and Gladys Margaret (born 1891.)
While still active as a druggist Mann began seeking local political office in Olympia in the latter period of the 19th century. He would serve as Thurston County treasurer for a period of eight years and later was Olympia city treasurer for two years. In 1893 he was elected as Mayor of Olympia and served one term, 1894-95. Following his brief stint as mayor Mann returned to his business and in 1909 turned his attention from pharmaceuticals to the"seed and paint trade". Mann would return to political life in 1909 when became chairman of the Thurston County Board of Commissioners, serving here until 1911.
Champion B. Mann died shortly before his 85th birthday on October 19, 1929, and, in a strange twist, his son Claude Brewer died on the very same day at age 47 in Montana. Both Mann and his son were interred at the Odd Fellows Memorial Park and Mausoleum.
A death notice for Hutchinson from "The Chronicle" Volume 34, 1884.
Arguably the most obscure of the three men profiled today, Champion Israel Hutchinson served as Mayor of California's capitol city for one term beginning in 1851. Despite his prominence in California business and politics in the mid 19th century he is little remembered today, and, coupled with the minuscule amount of information available on his life, Mr. Hutchinson is also a "faceless" politician, with no photographs of him being available to post at this time.
Born in Gilead, Connecticut on December 9, 1815, Champion Israel Hutchinson (name often abbreviated as "C.I. Hutchinson) was the son of Israel and Mary Warner Hutchinson. Little is known of his early life or education, although it is recorded that he resided in a number of different states prior to his removal to California, including Maine, Georgia and Wisconsin. During his time in the latter state Hutchinson is known to have engaged in merchandising in the village of Southport, and was noted by his Sacramento Daily Union obituary as having built "the first pier extending out into Michigan."
Hutchinson married in 1844 to Catherine Hatch, later having five children. In 1848 he entered into politics for the first time, serving as part of the Wisconsin delegation to the Democratic National Convention which nominated Zachary Taylor for the Presidency. He would also serve as a U.S. Marshal for Wisconsin, and in 1850 he began a long journey to California, joining a party which left Council Bluffs, Iowa for Sacramento. Their trek was accomplished in 117 days, and once at his destination was confronted by a cholera epidemic then sweeping the city. Hutchinson would soon begin to establish his name in his new locale, being the proprietor of the general store/mercantile firm Hutchinson, Green and Co. The cholera epidemic would claim the life of his business partner (a Capt. Green) and following his death became "active in promoting water works" in the city, and was eventually elected to the Sacramento city council.
In the year following his election as a councilman Hutchinson was elected as Sacramento's mayor, being the sixth man to occupy the post. Shortly after his election a large fire swept through the city, claiming numerous lives as well as destroying a good portion of the city's business district. The Sacramento Daily Union notes that Hutchinson's home was spared by the fire, and "he at once kept open house herein for all in distress."
Hutchinson left office in 1853 and in that year took ownership of a large farm/ranch located in Yolo County. In 1863 he relocated to San Francisco, where he would continue to be active in business concerns for several more years, being a partner in the insurance firm of Hutchinson and Mann. Champion I. Hutchinson died on September 22, 1884 at age 78 and was later buried at Colma, California's Woodlawn Memorial Park. He was subsequently memorialized in the Sacremento Daily Union as:
"Having died with his harness on. A man with many friends, few enemies and a fame free from scandal or misdeed. His example is a legacy to the commonwealth."
Portrait from the 1954-55 South Carolina Legislative Manual.
Nearly two and half years after this article was originally published another politically inclined "Champion" has been located, Champion Moore Edmunds of Sumter County, South Carolina. Born on July 29, 1907 at Sumter, South Carolina, Champion M. Edmunds was the son of Dr. Samuel and Ella Davis Edmunds.
A graduate of the University of South Carolina in the class of 1932, Edmunds earned his bachelor of laws degree in that year and in June 1937 married to Elizabeth Walker (1913-2005), with whom he would have several children. A lawyer for over forty years, Edmunds served Sumter as its city attorney and was a longstanding member of both the Sumter County and South Carolina Bar Associations.
In 1952 Champion M. Edmunds was elected to represent Sumter County in the South Carolina legislature. He would serve one term in that body (1953-55) and during his term sat on the house committee on the Judiciary. Edmunds died on March 23, 1978 in Sumter and was later interred at the Sumter Cemetery.