Monday, February 29, 2016

Buchel Beaumont Gibbs (1886-1961)

A 1933 campaign poster for B.B. Gibbs (author's collection).

   Seeing that February 29th is a day that only comes along once every four years, I figured that an especially interesting write-up was needed for today, and that is precisely what I aim to accomplish with the following article on one B.B. Gibbs of Arizona. 
   As a political memorabilia collector of many years standing, I'm always happening across interesting items to purchase both at antique shops and online, and in the case of today's "honoree", it was a chance peek at the online marketplace website Etsy that led to a very intriguing discovery! In December of last year I happened across the above-pictured poster while browsing political-related items for sale on Etsy, and, intrigued by the mysterious initials "B.B.", set to work finding out more on this bespectacled candidate for Arizona State Auditor. 
   After several false leads and dead ends, I was rewarded with an mention of a "Buchel Beaumont Gibbs" of Texas. A few searches later I happened across a small newspaper write-up on B.B. Gibbs' candidacy for state auditor, including a mention of his being a native of Texas who removed to Arizona in the early 20th century. After this discovery, I knew that the two men were one in the same person and just a short while later I became the proud owner of the poster shown above!
   Despite my owning an interesting piece of strange name political history, details on Gibbs's life remain difficult to come by. It is known that he was born in Eagle Pass, Texas on April 17, 1886, being the son of Jeptha Milton and Iraetta Camp Gibbs. He removed to Bisbee, Arizona in 1905 and is recorded by the Phoenix Arizona Republic as having "studied business methods and accounting practices" after graduation from college. This same paper notes that Gibbs' skill as an accountant brought him notice from two "nationally known" accounting firms, both of which would later employ Gibbs to travel to South America "to handle the auditing of their operations there."
  During his Arizona residency Gibbs worked as a public accountant "licensed by the Arizona State Board" and in 1927 resettled in Phoenix. He had married some time in the late 1910s to Ms. Constance Alt and had at least one son, Milton Churchill Gibbs (1921-1977). In 1934 B.B. Gibbs entered into Arizona political life when he announced his candidacy for state auditor in that year's Democratic primary. In the Arizona Republic newspaper article covering his candidacy, Gibbs announced that if elected he would:
"Conduct the office along strict economic lines consistent with my expert training. Co-operation with other state departments will be maintained at all times in an effort toward better accounting practices. Harmony will be prevail so long as a sincere desire is demonstrated to operate within the budget, and in accord with the statutes enacted governing expenditures of public funds."
    As one of two Democratic candidates vying to wrest the nomination from incumbent auditor Ana Frohmiller (1891-1971), Gibbs faced an uphill battle. On election day he placed third with 16,380 votes, polling behind George A. Fleming and Frohmiller, who would go on to win another term as auditor that November. All told  Ana Frohmiller served as Arizona state auditor for 24 years (1926-1950), the longest tenure of any holder of that office.
  Following his defeat for the state auditorship, B.B. Gibbs largely disappeared from public life. He removed to California some years later and died in Los Angeles on October 18, 1961, at age 75. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Amandus Delos Risdon (1837-1924), Amandus Brackman (1884-1972)

Portrait from "The History of Adair County", 1911.

  Our write-up for today takes us once again to Missouri, a state that has been very well represented here on the site over the past five years. Today's oddly named duo both possess the unusual first name "Amandus" and both were prominent practitioners of law in their respective counties. The first of these men, Amandus Delos Risdon, lived to be nearly ninety years old, and during that long life rose to become a standout citizen in Adair County. He would serve for many years as prosecuting attorney of that county and for a time was also city attorney of Kirksville, the Adair County seat. 
   A native of the Buckeye State, Amandus Delos Risdon was born in Tiffin, Ohio on July 12, 1837, the son of David and Elizabeth Batzell Risdon. Amandus left his home in Ohio at a young age and resettled in Iowa, later attending college at Weston, Iowa, and the Grinnell College at Grinnell. Early in the Civil War Risdon enlisted in Co. I of the 13th Iowa Volunteer Infantry and during his service took to reading law in his spare time. 
  At the conclusion of his service in 1864 Risdon was admitted to the Iowa bar at Marengo and married in Iowa City, Iowa in January 1865 to Frances Butler (1846-1878). The couple would have one son born to them, Ernest (1868-1949). Following Frances Risdon's death in May 1878 Risdon remarried in Adair County on December 22, 1881, to Julia Ella Mitchell, with whom he would have another son, Audrey (1883-1951), later to serve as Kirksville city clerk.
   Shortly after being admitted to the Iowa bar Amandus Risdon relocated to Kirksville, Missouri, where he would build up a law practice. In 1877 he was elected to his first term as Prosecuting Attorney of Adair County and would serve in that capacity for a total of ten years (1877-79, 1881-87 and 1895-97.) Sources also relate that Risdon served Kirksville as its city attorney as well as a city councilor and president of the Board of Education.
   From 1891-93 Risdon served as a regent for the Kirksville Normal School and in September 1917 received the honor of being elected president of the Missouri Association of Elks for a one-year term. He died on September 18, 1924, at age 87 and was later interred at the Forest-Llewellyn Cemetery at Kirksville.

Portrait from the Official Manual of the State of Missouri, 1953.

    Lifelong Missouri native Amandus Brackman served as a judge for the Thirteenth Circuit Court of Missouri for over a decade, first being appointed to the bench in 1929. Born on January 14, 1884, in Ceder Hill, Missouri, Amandus Brackman was a student in the public school system of Jefferson County and for two years taught school in the Jefferson County area. In 1905 he graduated from the law department of the Washington University at St. Louis and afterward practiced law in both St. Louis and Clayton, Missouri.
   Following his graduation, Brackman not only practiced law but also worked as a reporter for the "St. Louis daily newspapers" from 1905-1909. He married in December 1909 to Ms. Lillian Ruehl (1890-1955). The couple was wed for over forty years and their union saw the births of three children, Roy (1910-1992), Lois (birth-date unknown), and Paul (birth-date unknown).
   Amandus Brackman first entered Missouri political life in 1911 when he was appointed as assistant prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County. He served in that capacity for two years and in 1915 began a two-year stint as city attorney for Maplewood, Missouri. Several years later Governor Arthur M. Hyde selected Brackman to serve as a "special attorney general" in charge of investigating fraud charges arising out of the St. Louis County election primary. Brackman's time investigating those alleged frauds extended five months and in August 1929 was appointed as the judge for the newly created division No. 4 of the 13th Circuit Court of Missouri. His term extended until 1931 and in 1936 served as part of the Missouri delegation to that year's Republican National Convention being held in Cleveland, Ohio. 
   In 1942 Amandus Brackman was elected to a full six-year term on the Thirteenth Circuit Court of Missouri and in November 1948 won another six-year term, serving on the bench until January 1955. Widowed in the last-named year, Brackman was given the Award of Honor from the St. Louis Lawyer's Association in 1967 and died in March 1972 at age 87. A burial location for him remains unknown at the time of this writing.

From the 1929 Official Manual of  Missouri.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Rednor Pitcher Coombs (1873-1942)

Portrait from the 1908 Massachusetts Legislative Souvenir.

    Another curiously named New England political figure is profiled today, Massachusetts state representative Rednor Pitcher Coombs. Sadly, information on Mr. Coombs has proven to be scant, hence why his article here will be on the short side!
   Born in Isleboro, Maine on June 27, 1873, Rednor Pitcher Coombs was the son of Pilsbury and Mary Coombs. No information could be found on the location of Coombs' schooling or the date of his removal to Massachusetts. He married in Chelsea, Massachusetts on April 30, 1895, to Mary Riley (birthdate unknown), with whom he would have two sons, Paul and John. Both before and after his term in state government Coombs worked as a "wholesale provision dealer" based in Quincy. He was also a member of the local Elks club.
   Prior to his service in the state legislature, Rednor P. Coombs was a member of the Quincy City Council, representing the city's sixth ward. In November 1907 he was elected as one of Norfolk County's representatives to the Massachusetts General Court. Serving during the 1908-1909 session, Coombs sat on the house committee on insurance and would lose his reelection bid the following year to Louis F.R. Langelier, who defeated him, 1,209 votes to 982.
   Little else could be located on Coombs following his defeat for reelection. gives notice as to his death sometime in 1942, when he would have been around 69 years of age. A burial location for both Coombs and his family remains unknown at this time. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Armentus Boyden Bixby (1834-1909)

Portrait from the "Men of Vermont, published 1894.

   With Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders making his presence felt on the American political landscape, I thought it was high time for a return to the Green Mountain State to profile an oddly named man who in 1888 was the nominee of the Prohibition Party for Vermont State Treasurer--Armentus Boyden Bixby! Descended from a family with its roots in New England extending back several generations, Armentus B. Bixby was born in Mt. Holly, Vermont on June 26, 1834, the son of Armentus William and Hannah Stoddard Bixby. Soon after his birth, the Bixby family removed to Shalersville, Ohio, where in 1841 both parents died of typhoid fever one day apart. The Bixby children would be taken in by relatives back in Mt. Holly and during his childhood engaged in farm work during the summer months and attended local schools in the winter. 
   After reaching his late teens Bixby decided upon a career in medicine, beginning his studies at the Black Rock Academy and later the Kimball Union Academy. From there he went on to attend the Castleton Medical College in Meriden, Connecticut, graduating in the class of 1858. A year before his graduation Bixby married on St. Patrick's Day 1857 to Annie French (died 1860), with whom he had one daughter, Lola Anne. Following his first wife's death, Bixby remarried in October 1862 to Elnora E. Howard (1837-1901). This marriage would see the births of three more children,  Salome Eliza (1873-1953), Maud (died in infancy in 1877), and Howard A. (died in infancy in 1880).
   In 1860 Armentus Boyden Bixby settled in Londonderry, Vermont, where he established a medical practice. His practice would grow to be "large and extensive" and in 1862 joined in the ongoing war effort, becoming an assistant surgeon in the 4th Reg. Vermont Volunteers. Discharged in October 1864, Bixby returned to practicing medicine in Londonderry and in 1882 retired on "account of ill health". Shortly after his retirement he and his family removed to the neighboring town of Poultney, where he resided until his death. 
   An avowed Republican for the majority of his life, Bixby changed his political leanings in 1884 when he joined the ranks of the Prohibition Party. A member of the state Prohibition Party committee and former chairman of the state Prohibition convention, Bixby was the Prohibition candidate for Vermont State Treasurer in 1888, squaring off against Republican nominees William Dubois and Democrat William Peck.  On election day Bixby polled a distant third, garnering only 1, 375 votes compared to Dubois' winning total of 48, 387.

From the St. Johnsbury Caledonian.

   Following his candidacy for state treasurer Bixby was nominated for Rutland County judge of probate in 1892, again being the nominee of the prohibitionists. He was again dealt a loss on election day and after this defeat was never again a candidate for public office. Bixby's second wife Elnora died in January 1901 and three years later he remarried to Mary Helen Hosford (1869-1963), who was over thirty years his junior. The couple was married until Bixby's death at age 74 in Poultney on May 3, 1909. He was later interred in the Bixby family plot at the Poultney Cemetery. 

Armentus Bixby, from the Genealogical Lines of Salome E. Bixby Ross, 1902.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Hedding Anderson Caswell (1851-1913)

Portrait from the Rome Daily Sentinel, April 14, 1913.

    Long distinguished in the business and political life of Rome, New York, Hedding Anderson Caswell served a three-year term as mayor of that city beginning in the early 1900s. A lifelong New Yorker, Hedding Anderson Caswell was born in the town of Herkimer on June 13, 1861, being the son of William and Harriett Harter Caswell. The Caswell family removed from Herkimer to Camden, New York when Hedding was a child and from there resettled in Rome when he was nine. Caswell would attend the public schools of that city and also studied at the Rome Free Academy.
   Having entered his teenage years Hedding Caswell left Rome for the big city, traveling to New York City to begin work in a "large boot and shoe store." This line of work proved to have a lasting influence on Caswell, who, after returning to Rome, joined the shoe store operated by Jerome Dillenbeck. After several years in his employ, Caswell and another partner, Fred Marriott, purchased Dillenbeck's interest in the store and began new operations under the name of Caswell and Marriott. Hedding Caswell married on November 24, 1875, to Ms. Arletta Tiffany (1854-1934). The couple would later have four children: Eva (died in infancy in 1879), Tiffany (1880-1906), G. Frederick (1882-1940), and Pauline (1891-1933).
  After a year operating in the aforementioned partnership, Hedding Caswell sold his interest in the firm to Fred Marriott and launched a new career for himself by entering into the flour and feed business, being joined in this endeavor by his father-in-law, Erastus Tiffany. The firm of Tiffany and Caswell would continue until Tiffany sold off his interest to a friend, M.J. Wentworth, whereafter the firm underwent a name change to Caswell and Wentworth. Sometime later Caswell would operate this business alone and eventually sold it to his son Frederick.
   Caswell became active in city politics in the late 1880s when he was elected as a member of the Rome Board of Supervisors for the city's fifth ward. In 1895 he was appointed to the city's Board of Aldermen to fill a vacancy and six years later became the Republican nominee for Mayor of Rome. In the election of 1901, it was Caswell facing off against incumbent Democratic Mayor Abner White, who had been in office since 1899. On election day it was Caswell who emerged victorious, receiving a "majority of 189", and in addition to winning the mayoralty the Republicans swept a number of other city offices, in what was referred to as a "real Waterloo for the Democrats."
  Shortly after being told of his election, Caswell gave a brief address to his constituents, stating that: 
"Gentlemen: I am pleased to meet you as Republicans and Democrats of this city, this evening, for you chose to stand up for a man in any spot and place. If fortune spares my life, I will serve all to the best of my ability. You have won a great victory, for not only have we beaten the ring, but a double ring, and I have made the canvass single handed and alone. I will try to give you an administration that you will feel proud of."
   Entering into office in March 1901, Caswell's original term of two years was extended to three by a provision of the city charter in 1903. His term concluded in January 1904 and he was succeeded by Thomas Gill Nock Jr. (1859-1910). Following his tenure as mayor, Caswell would never again be a candidate for public office but did continue to "keep in touch" with city political happenings for the remainder of his life. 
  Caswell's final years were marred by periods of ill health and in April 1913 underwent an operation for "adhesion of the peritoneum and intestines". Following this surgery prognosis for Caswell's recovery appeared to be good, but this changed a few days later, and by Sunday the former Mayor of Rome was dead, being just 61 years old at the time of his passing. He was survived by his Arletta and two of his children, all of whom were interred in the Caswell family plot at the Rome Cemetery in Rome, New York.

Mayor-elect Caswell, from the March 8, 1901 edition of the Rome Citizen.