Saturday, April 4, 2015

Heverington Eugene Wassell (1884-1979)

Portrait courtesy of the Texas Legislative Reference Library.

    Today marks a return to the Lonestar State and yet another oddly named member of the Texas General Assembly, Heverington Eugene Wassell of Navarro County. A one-term legislator from 1927-29, little exists online in regards to this obscure man, and his date of birth is also under scrutiny, occurring on January 28th of 1882, 1884 or 1892. Of these dates, 1884 appears to be the correct one, as Wassell himself records this date on both his World War I and World War II Draft Registration cards.
   A native son of Illinois, Wassell's place of birth is given as New Hartford (as per his draft registration card), located in Pike County. His family is mentioned as having been "prominent in business and social circles" in that area and Wassell himself would begin his schooling in the public schools of that county. He would embark upon a career as a school teacher at age seventeen and would begin attending Brown's Business College (located in Jacksonville, Illinois) shortly thereafter.  Stints as an accountant, clerk and book-keeper followed, and he continued his higher education at both the Eureka and Gem City Business Colleges.
   In the early 1900s, Wassell began teaching at the Drake Business College located in Newark, New Jersey, remaining there until late 1906, whereafter he took work on the Panama Canal. Little is known of his work in this area, but the Texas Bar Journal (which published an obituary for Wassell in 1979) lists him as having been awarded a "Roosevelt Medal for his three years work" on the project. 

The Blue Book: Containing Photographs and Sketches of a Few Commercial Teachers, 1907.

    After returning to Illinois Wassell began employment as a Junior Clerk in the offices of the Interstate Commerce Commission. He would later decide to study law and earned his degree from Georgetown University. Around 1911 he married to Lila Aurora McClellan (1887-1984), daughter of a prominent Navarro County, Texas attorney John Jacob McClellan (1856-1920). The couple would later become parents to three children, James McClellan (1911-1997), John W. (1914-2003) and Patricia Wassell Kirby (born ca. 1917).
   Following their marriage the Wassells' relocated to California and in the late 1910s removed to Texas, where in 1920 he was admitted to the state bar. Wassell and his father-in-law would operate the law practice of McClellan and Wassell until the latter's death in July 1920, and in that year became a candidate for City Attorney of Corsicana, Texas. After an unsuccessful candidacy for the state legislature in 1924, Wassell was elected to represent Navarro County in the Texas State House of Representatives in November 1926. Taking his seat at the start of the 1927-29 term, Wassell was named to the house committees on Common Carriers, Constitutional Amendments, Federal Relations and Privileges, Suffrage and Elections. 
    H. Eugene Wassell's one term in the state house concluded in January 1929. Despite his long life after leaving office little else could be found on him, excepting his death notice in the Texas Bar Journal, which notes that he served as Judge of Winkler County, Texas for a time, as well as being a "project manager of Camp Swift at Bastrop".  Prior to his retirement from public life, Wassell was affiliated with the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation
   After many years of public service Heverington Eugene Wassell died on September 2, 1979, being aged either 87, 95 or 97 at the time of his passing. He had remarried sometime prior to death to Mary Naomi Jackson (1912-1996) who survived him. Both Wassell and his second wife were subsequently interred at the Texas State Cemetery at Austin.

H. Eugene Wassell, from the December 1979 Texas Bar Journal.

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