Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Siets DeVries Kamp (1902-1971)

Portrait from the Illinois Blue Book, 1949-50.

    Two-term Illinois state representative Siets DeVries Kamp is certainly one of the more obscure men to serve in the Illinois state house, and his name is also one of the most unique. Born of Dutch extraction in Watseka, Illinois on February 18, 1902, Siets D. Kamp was one of eleven children born to Peter (1857-1940)  and Jennie Dorenbos Kamp (1860-1930). 
  A student in the public schools of Watseka, Kamp is believed to have been a lifelong bachelor. While information regarding Mr. Kamp is sorely lacking online, the Illinois Blue Book notes that for twelve years he operated an insurance agency and was later employed as a personnel officer at the Kankakee and Manteno State Hospitals in Kankakee County.
  An active Republican in Iroquois County, Siets Kamp served as Secretary of the Iroquois County Republican Central Committee and in November 1946 was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives from the 20th district. Taking his seat at the start of the 1947-48 session. Kamp held seats on the following committees: Enrolling, Transcribing and Typing of Bills, Industry and Labor Relations, Motor Vehicles and Traffic Regulations, Public Utilities, Railroads and Aviation, and Personnel and Pensions.
   Siets D. Kamp won his second term in the Illinois statehouse in November 1948 and during the 1949-50 session continued service on the committee on Public Utilities, Railroads and Aviation and was named to two new committees, those being Roads and Bridges and Waterways, Conservation and Fish and Game
  Following his service in state government, Kamp returned to Watseka, where in the early 1960s he was listed as being the owner of a photographic studio. Siets D. Kamp died on January 28, 1971, at age 68. He was later interred at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Watseka, the same resting place as that of his parents.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Grundy Mortimore Brown (1900-1976)

Portrait from the Nampa Idaho Free Press, October 29, 1965.

   Just a few weeks following the profile of U.S. Senator and Judge Kirtland Irving Perky, Idaho yields another odd name political figure in Grundy Mortimore Brown, a four-term state representative from Canyon County. Brown's name was located via the 1967-68 edition of Who's Who In American Politics, a reference work that has led to profiles on three other odd name politicians, Treffle G. Lavesque, Trible Dix Sutton, and Ordner T. Bundlie. While little exists online in regards to Brown's life and career, the aforementioned Who's Who aided immensely in terms of background information! 
   A son of George Mithrio (Mithro) and Elsie Luella (Fenton) Brown, Grundy Mortimore Brown was born in Rich Hill, Missouri on October 12, 1900. He relocated to Idaho with his family while still a child and would graduate from the Mountain Home High School in that state. He married in Caldwell, Idaho in March 1923 to Ruby June Baggerly (1904-1987), to whom he was wed until his death. The couple later had three children, Robert J. (1924-2011), Norma Jean, and George Richard.
   Following his marriage, Grundy M. Brown would purchase a farm near Huston, Idaho, and in the late 1920s, he and his family resettled in Nampa. In the succeeding years, Brown's name became a prominent one in that city's business community. He would be a dealer in International Harvester farming equipment and was the founder of the G.M. Brown Sons Transportation Inc, with which he was affiliated for over three decades. Brown would also serve as President of the Idaho State Transportation Association from 1952-1954. 
  Active in the civic affairs of Nampa, Grundy Brown served as a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Farm Bureau and took part in several fraternal organizations, including the Rotary Club, the Elks Lodge, the Masons, and the El Korah Temple Shrine of Boise.
   In 1960 Grundy Brown was elected as one of Nampa County's representatives to the Idaho State legislature. He served four terms in that body (1961-1968) and during this time held seats on the house committees on Insurance, Finance and Banking, Appropriations, Public Institutions and State Affairs, and chaired the committees on Transportation and Defense.
   Grundy Mortimore Brown continued to reside in Nampa until his death at a local hospital on May 8, 1976. He was survived by his wife and children and was later interred at the Kohlerlawn Cemetery in Nampa. One should also note that Brown's middle name is recorded as being spelled as both "Mortimore" and "Mortimer", the former being listed in the Who's Who In American Politics.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Braswell Drue Deen (1893-1981), Braswell Drue Deen Jr. (1925-2020)

Portrait from the Philadelphia Inquirer, July 17, 1935.

    Three term U.S. Representative from Georgia Braswell Drue Deen was for several years one of a great number of "faceless" congressmen I'd happened across, and despite my many attempts at tracking down a portrait of him, Deen continued to be without a photograph to place with his name. Thankfully, a July 1935 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer was located recently and I now have a portrait to connect to this distinguished Peach State political figure! In addition to his Congressional service, Deen proved to be a man of many hats, being a farmer, teacher, school superintendent and newspaper publisher, and following his time as a representative advanced to the post of director of the Georgia Department of Public Welfare.
   One of twelve children born to Samuel Lee and Mary Victoria (Altman) Deen, Braswell Drue Deen was born in Baxley, Georgia on June 28, 1893. He attended the public schools of Appling County and later studied at the South Georgia Junior College at McRae. Deen would put his studies on hold in the late 1910s to serve as Appling County school superintendent from 1917-18 and during the First World War was secretary of the local Y.M.C.A. He married on July 1, 1917, to Corinne Smith (1898-1962), to whom he was wed for over forty years. The couple's union would see the births of five children, Annie Lois (died in infancy in 1922), Mildred Louise (1924-2008), Braswell Drue Jr. (born 1925), Walter George (1929-2008) and Ralph Lee (born 1940).
   Following his marriage Braswell D. Deen returned to his studies, becoming a student at the Emory University in Atlanta. He would earn a bachelor of philosophy degree in the class of 1922 and in the same year as his graduation entered into the post of superintendent of schools at Tennille, Georgia. He served there from 1922-24 and in the last named year began a three-year stint as president of the South Georgia Junior College.

Braswell Drue Deen, from the 1922 Emory University yearbook.

   In 1928 Braswell Deen entered into the newspaper business, becoming editor and owner of the Alma Times, a weekly paper based in Alma, Georgia. He would also dabble in banking and farming around this time and made his first foray into local politics in 1928, serving as a member of the Bacon County Democratic Executive Committee. In 1932 Deen announced his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia's 8th congressional district. In November of that year, he coasted to an easy victory, trouncing Republican nominee Henry Carswell by a vote of 20,021 to 912.
  Taking his seat at the start of the 1933-35 session, Deen would successfully run for reelection in November 1934, facing no opposition during that year's campaign. The 1935-36 session proved to be a landmark one for Deen, as he would serve on the house committee on education during this term. His service on that committee also saw him author and introduce house bill No. 12120, subsequently referred to as "the Bill for Further Development of Vocational Education in the Several States and Territories." Deen's legislation found an ally in U.S. Senator Walter F. George (also from Georgia), and the "George-Deen Act" (also referred to as the George-Deen Vocational Law) would set aside millions of dollars in federal aid to devote to the training of workers interested in agriculture, home economics, trade and industrial education. This act is notable for being the first instance of federal aid being provided to the states for the "vocational training of distributive workers and sales personnel" and also developed training programs (sponsored by state boards) for any interested citizens. 
   While the George-Deen Act is an integral part of Braswell Deen's congressional legacy, he also made headlines in 1936 when he took to the house floor to lambaste the play "Tobacco Road" then playing on Broadway. The play (based on a novel by Erskine Caldwell) was a farcical story set in rural Georgia and played on rural stereotypes, much to the chagrin of Deen. The Congressman from Georgia regarded the play as a smear on much of Georgia's rural population, calling it "infamous, wicked and damnable" and an "unfair sketch of Southern life." 

From the Thomasville Press, July 12, 1940.

   In November 1936 Braswell Deen was elected to his third term in Congress, besting Republican candidate Ben Ford by over 23,000 votes. He wasn't a candidate for a fourth term in 1938 and shortly after the conclusion of his term in 1939 was selected by then Governor Eurith D. Rivers as Director of the Georgia Department of Public Welfare. Deen's time in that post proved to be short-lived, as he resigned a year later in August 1940. The year 1940 also saw Deen's name mentioned as a potential candidate for Georgia Governor, and during that summer made speaking engagements booming his candidacy. He withdrew from the gubernatorial race in August of that year and later entered the Democratic primary for his old congressional seat. In the September primary election, Deen garnered 7,741 votes, losing out to incumbent representative John S. Gibson.
   For the remainder of his life Braswell D. Deen resided in Alma, Georgia and after leaving politics worked as an insurance broker and cattle raiser in that town. In 1950 he saw his son Braswell Drue Jr. begin the first of four terms as a state representative from Bacon County, and also lived long enough to see him advance to a seat on the Georgia State Court of Appeals.
  Braswell Drue Deen died at age 88 on November 29, 1981, of injuries sustained in an automobile accident near his home in Alma. The former congressman was survived by his children and was later interred at the Rose Hill Cemetery in Alma.

Portrait from the Georgia Official and Statistical Register.

   Public service would continue in the Deen family with Braswell Drue Deen Jr., the second child of Congressman Braswell D. Deen. During an exemplary career in public service that has extended over six decades, Deen served in the Marine Corps during the Second World War and earned his law degree from the University of Georgia. In the early 1950s, he began the first of four terms as a member of the Georgia State House of Representatives and would go on to serve a decade as Bacon County Attorney. In 1965 he was appointed to the Georgia State Court of Appeals, where he would serve until his retirement in 1990. 
   Braswell D. Deen Jr. was born on August 16, 1925 in McRae, Georgia. A graduate of the Bacon County High School, Deen was a congressional page during his youth and during the Second World War served with the First Division, U.S. Marine Corps. Deen was stationed in the Pacific Theater and took part in the invasions of the Peleliu and Okinawa Islands. At the latter invasion he was wounded by a Japanese knee mortar, and later was a recipient of the Purple Heart. 
   Following a period of recuperation in Guam and Hawaii Deen returned to Georgia and began the study of law at the University of Georgia. He would earn his bachelor of laws degree in 1950 and was a member of the firm of Deen and Powell in Alma, Georgia. In 1950 Deen made his first jump into politics, winning election as Bacon County's representative to the Georgia General Assembly. He would serve a total of four terms in that body (1951-52, 1953-54, 1957-58 and 1959-60) and left a lasting mark in the legislature by being the author of the Georgia Women Jurors Bill, a piece of legislation that "doubled the number of citizens available for jury duty."
   Braswell Deen Jr. married in June 1953 to Jean Strickland Buie (1925-2000). The couple were wed for nearly fifty years and would have two sons, Braswell Drue III (born 1959) and Sanders Buie (born 1962).

Braswell Deen Jr., from the 1951-52 Georgia Official and Statistical Register.

   In addition to his terms in the legislature Braswell Deen Jr. served as Bacon County Attorney for a period of ten years and in 1955 was named by the Georgia Jaycees as one of its "Five Outstanding Young Men In Georgia". In the following year he was the recipient of the Kotz Bennett Cup for Outstanding Citizen of the Year and in 1967 received the Citation of Merit from the Georgia Gerontology Society. 
   Further honors were accorded to Deen in June 1965 when he was appointed to the Georgia State Court of Appeals, filling out the term of Judge Robert Lee Russell Jr., who had died a few days previously. One year later Deen was elected to a full term of his own on that court and from 1974-79 served as its Presiding Judge. During the 1979-80 year, he was the court's Chief Judge and in 1981 returned to the position of Presiding Judge, which he would continue to hold until December 1990.
   Braswell Deen Jr. retired from the Georgia Court of Appeals in 1990. Following his retirement he has continued to be prominent in Georgia public life, teaching Constitutional Law classes and for a time was an adjunct professor of "origins" and chess at the Oglethorpe and Emory Universities. A writer and lecturer on a wide range of topics (including the origins of man, biology, criminal justice and the Second World War), Deen's written works include Deen's List: ABC's on ADR, A Handbook On Alternative Dispute Resolution (1995), Trial By Combat (2000) and Roots and Origins (2001).
   Now in his ninth decade, Braswell Drue Deen Jr. is a resident of Kennesaw, Georgia. He maintains a webpage and has an active Twitter account.

In Memoriam--January 11, 2021.

  The Strangest Names In American Political History has received word of the passing of Braswell Drue Deen Jr., which occurred in Marietta, Georgia on December 24, 2020, at age 95. He is survived by his sons Braswell III and Sanders Buie, along with many extended family members. 

Judge Braswell D. Deen Jr.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Algerine Justin Trapnell (1882-1954)

Portrait from the 1952 Georgia Official Register.

   The town of Metter, Georgia received extensive mention in the February 20th write up on former Metter Mayor and judge Weylud Hudson Lanier. In addition to Mr. Lanier, Metter also produced another oddly named political figure, Algerine Justin Trapnell, a three-term state representative and farmer. While ample information was located for Mr. Lanier, the same cannot be said for his political counterpart. With just a brief write up in the Georgia Official and Statistical Register, very little exists online in regards to Algerine Trapnell, hence why his profile here will be on the short side!  
   Born in Metter, Georgia on June 14, 1882, Algerine Justin "Algie" Trapnell was the son of George Robert (1854-1927 and Margaret Ann (Atwood) Trapnell (1859-1907). A descendant of a family prominent in Bulloch County, Georgia, Trapnell's grandfather and namesake, Algerine Trapnell (1828-1906), served as the first acting mayor of Metter, Georgia in the early 1900s. One should also note that Trapnell's first name is spelled in a number of different ways, including Algerine, Aljarine, and Aljerine. While Trapnell's gravestone in Statesboro records the spelling as "Aljarine", the Georgia State Register lists it as "Algerine"....all in all very confusing!
   A student in the public schools of Metter, Algerine J. Trapnell also attended the agricultural school at the University of Georgia, taking a one year course in 1904. He married in Bulloch County in February 1908 to Maggie Lou Allen (1890-1979), with whom he had the following children: Solomon Ray (1910-1988), Algerine Francis (1914-1968), Allen Hamilton (1917-1999) Arthur Lamar (1923-2012) and Joann (born 1927).
   For a good majority of his life, Algie Trapnell worked at farming in Statesboro, Georgia and in 1949 was elected to represent Bulloch County in the Georgia House of Representatives. He would serve three terms in that body from 1949-54 and died in office on January 25, 1954. He was survived by his wife Maggie and was later interred at the Lower Lotts Creek Chruch Cemetery in Statesboro, Georgia

Monday, February 20, 2017

Weylud Hudson Lanier (1888-1979)

Portrait from the 1913 Pandora Yearbook.

  The recent discovery of the University of Georgia's Pandora yearbook archive has fielded photographs of a number of unusually named men who would go on to prominence in Georgia political life, among these being the man highlighted today, Weylud Hudson Lanier. A standout figure in the history of Candler County, Georgia, Lanier was a practicing lawyer for over sixty years and during that time held a number of public offices, including service as Mayor of Metter, Georgia, and Judge of the city court of Metter. In 1937 he entered into the post of Solicitor General (District Attorney) for Georgia's Middle Circuit, holding that office for over two decades.
  One of ten children born to William M. and Adeline (Scarboro) Lanier, Weylud Hudson Lanier was born in Metter on August 21, 1888. Deciding on a career in law early in his life, Lanier enrolled at the University of Georgia and would study at the Lumpkin Law School. Earning his bachelor of laws degree in 1913, Lanier returned to Metter to establish his law practice in June of that year.
  Weylud H. Lanier married on May 10, 1914, to Bernice Bird (1895-1965), to whom he was wed until 1965. The couple later had six children born to their union, Addie Laurie (1915-1981), Weylud Hudson Jr. (1918-1922), Jewel Bird (1923-2004), William Albert (1927-2008), Dan Lambert (1929-1967) and Helen Hudson (born 1936). Following Bernice Lanier's death in 1965 Weylud Lanier would remarry to Patriel May Jones (1905-2002), who survived him upon his death in 1979.
   Lanier entered the political life of his hometown in 1917 when he was elected as the Mayor of Metter. Entering into office on January 1, 1918, Lanier served one two year term and several months after leaving office began service as Judge of Metter's City Court. He would serve on the bench until January 1929 and afterwards returned to his law practice.

Portrait courtesy of Find-a-Grave.

  In November 1936 Weylud Lanier was elected as Solicitor General for Georgia's Middle Circuit, defeating Republican candidate Marvin Gross by a vote of 5, 737 to 5,509. He would subsequently win reelection to that post on five more occasions, and in 1961 received the title of District Attorney Emeritus, a title he would continue to hold until his death eighteen years later.
  Until 1950 Lanier practiced law alone in Metter but later operated a firm with his son Dan Lambert, practicing until the latter's death in 1967. Weylud Lanier celebrated his 90th birthday in August 1978 and died on April 22, 1979. He was survived by his wife Patriel and was interred at the Lake Cemetery in Metter, Georgia.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Tigner Emmett Thrasher (1908-1980)

                                                       Tigner E. Thrasher, from the 1931 Emory College yearbook.

    A Turner County, Georgia based businessman and a one-term member of the Georgia House of Representatives, Tigner Emmett Thrasher was born in Ashburn, Georgia on August 31, 1908, being the son of Clarence Emmett (1875-1936) and Grace Elizabeth (Harwell) Thrasher (1876-1942). A student in the public schools of Ashburn, Thrasher would enroll at the Emory University in the late 1920s and was active on campus, being a member of that school's baseball, basketball and football teams as well as the Glee Club. Thrasher would also excel academically, earning his B.B.A. degree in 1931 and was president of the college's Junior Business Administration Class.
   Following his graduation, Thrasher entered the business life of his community when he became a partner in the firm of Thrasher and Thrasher, a firm dealing in the sale of building materials and cotton gin implements. He would marry in Georgia in October 1937 to Evelyn Thaxton (1913-2001), with whom he had one daughter, Sarah Evelyn (1942-2015).
   In 1934 Tigner Thrasher entered political life when he was elected to represent Turner County in the Georgia State Assembly. He would serve during the 1935-36 session and during his term was a prominent figure in the Lions Club in Georgia, attending that organization's annual convention in Gainesville in 1935.
  Other than a brief write-up on his life published in the Georgia State Register during his term, little else could be found on Tigner E. Thrasher, excepting mention of his death in Macon, Georgia on March 5, 1980. He was survived by his wife Evelyn, who, following her death in 2001, was interred alongside her husband at the Oak Grove Cemetery in McRae, Telfair County, Georgia.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Tuthill Raymond McDowell (1895-1956)

Portrait from the three-volume "Southeastern New York", published 1946.

   For many years a distinguished resident of Wawarsing and Ellenville in New York, Tuthill Raymond McDowell was former U.S. Postmaster at Ellenville as well as a township supervisor of Wawarsing. A real estate broker and banker in addition to his involvement in local politics, McDowell also was an alternate delegate to the 1952 Democratic National Convention from New York.
   The son of John and Margaret Stapleton McDowell, Tuthill Raymond McDowell was born in Woodridge, Sullivan County, New York on December 4, 1895. He would be a student in the schools of the aforementioned county and as during his time in high school was viewed as a standout athlete. McDowell would later become a coach at the Ellenville High School and is remarked as having guided that school's baseball and basketball teams to "several championships" during his time there. A veteran of the First World War, McDowell entered the U.S. Army and would serve with a cavalry unit, his total dates of service being unknown at this time.
   Tuthill McDowell married in Kerhonkson, New York in 1919 to Hilda Myers (1894-1991). The couple were wed for nearly forty years and are believed to have been childless. Following his military service, McDowell entered into business with his father, joining him in the firm of John McDowell and Son. Their business centered on the breeding, raising a sale of horses, and in addition to that firm McDowell also worked as a real estate broker and was a director of the First National Bank and Trust Company of Ellenville.
   Active in the civic life of his community, Tuthill McDowell was for many years a prominent booster in the fight against polio, leading a number of collection drives in Wawarsing to raise money to combat the disease, and for a number of years served as the vice chairman of the Ulster County Chapter, National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.
Tuthill R. McDowell at a 1951 March of Dimes Rally, from the Kingston Daily Freeman.

    As a prominent  Democrat in Ulster County, Tuthill McDowell was often called to serve in various positions of the public trust. A former Democratic town chairman of Wawarsing, McDowell served that town as its supervisor from 1934-1939 and in 1940 began a ten-year tenure as U.S. Postmaster at Ellenville, being named to that post by President Roosevelt. In 1952 he served as an alternate delegate from New York to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago that nominated Adlai Stevenson for the presidency.
   In addition to his political and business doings, Tuthill McDowell was a prominent club man in Ulster County, holding memberships in a number of fraternal groups. Among these were the Shawangunk Country Club, the Wawarsing Lodge No. 582 of Free and Accepted Masons, the Wawarsing Sportsmen's Association, the Noon Day Club and the Cooke-Taylor Post 111 of the American Legion. 
   Tuthill R. McDowell died at age 61 on December 27, 1956, at the Veterans Memorial Hospital at Ellenville, He was survived by his wife Hilda, who died in January 1991 at age 96. Both were interred in the McDowell family plot at the Fantinekill Cemetery in Ellenville.

Obituary from the Kingston Daily Freeman, December 28, 1956.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Gammey Mitchell Hill (1895-1974)

Portrait from the South Carolina Legislative Manual, 1945-46.

   Hailing from Spartanburg, South Carolina, Gammey Mitchell Hill was a restaurateur and one-term member of that state's house of representatives. The first restaurant owner to warrant a profile here on the site, quite a bit of digging had to be done to find out Hill's first name, as nearly every available source mentioning him records him under the name "G. Mitchell Hill". Thankfully, a 1945 edition of the South Carolina Legislative Manual was located that solved that mystery, and one can only wonder the origins of the name "Gammey", the first such instance of the name I've discovered. 
   The son of Thomas and Mary Blackwell Hill, Gammey Mitchell Hill was born in Clifton, South Carolina on March 5, 1895. Little is known of his early life, excepting notice of his move from Clifton to Spartanburg in 1909. A veteran of World War I, Hill served with the 156th Depot Brigade and entered into service at Camp Jackson in  Columbia, South Carolina. 
   Following his military service, G. Mitchell Hill was the owner and operator of Hill's Cafe in Spartanburg. He married in August 1937 to Ruth King (1907-2003), with whom he had one daughter, Ann. In 1944 he was elected to represent Spartanburg County in the South Carolina House of Representatives and during the 1945-46 session served on the committees on Accounts, Labor, Merchants and Mercantile Affairs, Railroads and Veterans Affairs.
   In addition to his business interests and political service, Hill was a past commander of the local American Legion post and a past Noble Grand of the Odd Fellows Lodge No. 19.  Hill died shortly before his 79th birthday on February 25, 1974. He was survived by his wife Ruth, who, following her death in 2003, was interred alongside her husband at Greenlawn Memorial Gardens in Spartanburg.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Kirtland Irving Perky (1867-1939)

Portrait courtesy of the Library of Congress.

  After nearly six years and over six hundred profiles, the Strangest Names In American Political History can point to Idaho as being a state with a very meager amount of representation here on the site. With just Burpee L. Steeves (a former Lieutenant Governor) and Trowbridge C. Egleston (a former Mayor of Caldwell) keeping the flame alive for the Gem State, Idaho gains another profile here due to the political service of Kirtland Irving Perky, who for several months represented that state in the U.S. Senate due to a vacancy.
   A lawyer based in Nebraska prior to his removal to Idaho, Perky briefly served as a state district court judge prior to his short stint in the U.S. Senate. A native of the Buckeye State, Kirtland Irving Perky was born in Smithville, Wayne County, Ohio on February 8, 1867, being the son of Dr. John Firestone and Esther Martin Perky. Young Kirtland's early education took place in the state of his birth and at age thirteen removed with his family to Nebraska. Despite their move, Perky continued his higher education in Ohio. graduating from Ohio Northern University in 1888 with his Bachelor of Science degree. He married in April 1891 to Ella Hunter (1870-1921), with whom he would have one daughter, Esther (1892-1980).
  Returning to Nebraska following his graduation, Perky took up the study of law in Lincoln, first with the law firm of Bryan and Talbot (the Bryan being William Jennings Bryan.) Perky continued to study with the firm of Cornish and Tibbetts and for one year studied law at the University of Iowa, being admitted to the bar in 1890. He established his first practice at Wahoo, Nebraska, where he remained until 1894. He shortly thereafter relocated to Albion, Idaho, and after several years in that location moved his practice to Mountain Home. It was in this city that Perky first entered politics, being appointed as a state district court judge in 1901, filling a vacancy. Perky would briefly serve in that post, declining to run for election in his own right.
   Around the same time as his service as judge, Kirtland Perky took on additional political duties when he was named as chairman of the Idaho democratic central committee, holding that office from 1900-1902. He would continue with his law practice for the next decade and in 1912 achieved national prominence when he was selected by then Governor James Hawley to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate. This vacancy had been occasioned by the death of two-term senator Weldon Brinton Heyburn, who had died shortly after collapsing on the floor of the U.S. Senate in October 1912. 

From the Boise Evening Capital News, November 17, 1912.

   Kirtland I. Perky officially took his seat in the U.S. Senate on November 18, 1912, and would serve in that capacity until the close of the Senate term in February 1913. On February 5, 1913, former Idaho Governor James Henry Brady was duly elected by the Idaho legislature as Heyburn's successor and Perky retired to Boise to resume the practice of law. Following his return, Perky became a senior member of the law firm of Perky and Brinck and in 1916 was part of the Idaho delegation to the Democratic National Convention held in St. Louis. 
  In 1923 Kirtland Perky removed to Los Angeles, California, where he continued to practice law. In 1932 he reemerged on the political scene on behalf of his friend Ralph W. Eckhardt, who was then running for the California state assembly. As both men had known one another from their time in Idaho, Perky took to the stump for his friend, describing him as a "man of staunch loyalty and a Democrat in the truest sense of the word."  
   Perky continued to reside in Los Angeles until his death on January 9, 1939, at age 71. He was preceded in death by his wife Ella, who died aged 51 in 1921 and was buried in Boise. Following his death, Perky was interred at the famed Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, the resting place of such luminaries as L. Frank Baum, Wallace Beery, Humphrey Bogart, Jean Harlow, Aimee Semple McPherson and Michael Jackson.

Perky during his time in the U.S. Senate, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Olger Burton Burtness (1884-1960)

Portrait courtesy of the Library of Congress.

   A six-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives from North Dakota, Olger Burton Burtness was a prominent figure in North Dakota politics for nearly fifty years. A county prosecuting attorney and state legislator prior to his election to Congress, Burtness would later serve as a city attorney and state district court judge after his last term in Congress concluded in 1933.
   Olger B. Burtness' birth occurred on March 14, 1884, in Grand Forks County, North Dakota, being the son of Ole and Mary Anderson Burtness. Raised on a farm in that county, Burtness received his education at a school in Mekinock and later enrolled at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. A member of that school's football team and debating society, Burtness also was head editor of the university yearbook, the Decorah. Earning his bachelor of arts degree in 1906, Burtness received his bachelor of laws degree the following year and in 1907 was admitted to practice law.
   Establishing his practice in Grand Forks, Burtness married in September 1909 to Zoe Ensign (1884-1962), to whom he was wed for over fifty years. The couple's union is believed to have been childless. In 1910 Burtness tested the political waters for the first time, successfully winning election as Prosecuting Attorney for Grand Forks County. Taking office at the start of the new year, Burtness held that post for six years and in 1916 served as part of the North Dakota delegation to that year's Republican National Convention in Chicago that nominated Charles E. Hughes for the presidency.

From the Grand Forks Evening Times, Oct. 31, 1910.

    Olger Burtness set his sights on higher office in June 1917 when he announced his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives from North Dakota's first congressional district. One of five aspirants to file for that office, this was a special election to fill the vacant seat of Henry Thomas Helgeson, who had died some weeks previously. After winning the endorsement of the Republican district convention, Burtness hit the campaign trail, stumping at a number of locations throughout his district. Despite being touted in local newspapers as the son of a pioneer Grand Forks family, as well as a farmer and prominent citizen, Burtness lost out on election day that July, being defeated by Non- Partisan League candidate John M. Baer by a vote of 13, 211 to 8, 969

A Burtness campaign notice from the Grand Forks Herald, 1917.

  Returning to his law practice following his defeat, Burtness announced his candidacy for the North Dakota House of Representatives in 1918 and won election to that body in November of that year. Taking his seat at the start of the 1919-20 session, Burtness was once again a candidate for Congress in 1920 and in November of that year defeated John W. Baer by "an official majority of 11, 458."
  Burtness' first term as a representative saw him serve on the committees on Alcoholic Liquor Traffic, Indian Affairs, and Public Lands. Reelected to Congress by wide margins in 1922, 1924, 1926, 1928 and 1930, Burtness would attempt to win election to a seventh term in 1932 but was not renominated, the nod instead going to North Dakota Attorney General William Lemke (1878-1950).
  After leaving Congress Olger Burtness returned to his Grand Forks law practice. He would continue to be politically active, serving as Grand Forks City Attorney in 1936-37 as well as being a delegate to the Republican National Conventions of 1936 and 1948. Burtness was called to public service once again in 1950 when then Governor Frederick Aandahl appointed him as the judge for North Dakota's First Judicial District, succeeding retiring Judge Peter Swenson. Burtness would subsequently win reelection to the bench in 1952 and 1956 and served until his death four years later.
   In addition to the above Olger B. Burtness gained prominence in several non-political areas, including service as director of the Red River National Bank and as a member of the Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce. Further honors were accorded to Burtness in 1930 when President Herbert Hoover selected him as a member of the U.S. delegation to celebrate the centennial of the Icelandic parliament.
  Olger B. Burtness died in Grand Forks on January 20, 1960, at age 75 and was interred at the Memorial Park Cemetery in that city. Shortly after his death, Zoe Burtness would donate $100,000 in her husband's memory to the University of North Dakota to establish the Burtness Theatre, which was dedicated in April 1963. 

Olger B. Burtness in old age.