Sunday, April 23, 2017

Maltby Gaylord Gelston (1847-1917)

From Taylor's Legislative History and Souvenir of Connecticut, 1903.

   Connecticut state representative Maltby Gaylord Gelston represented his hometown of Sherman in his state's legislature for one term in the early 1900s and had earlier served in several local offices, including stints as town assessor and school board member. A lifelong resident of Sherman, Gelston was born on February 9, 1847, being the youngest of four children born to Hugh and Cornelia Gaylord Gelston. A grandson of the Rev. Maltby Gelston (1766-1856), a pastor of the Congregational Church at Sherman for nearly sixty years, Maltby G. Gelston attended the public schools of Sherman, New Milford, and the Naples Academy. 
   Gelston married on his 28th birthday in 1875 to Sophia Giddings (1849-1936), with whom he had one daughter, Cornelia (1879-1940). A farmer and active churchgoer in Sherman, Gelston was a past treasurer, trustee, deacon and clerk of the local Congregational Church, as well as its Sunday school superintendent. A holder of several political offices in Sherman, Gelston served at various times as town assessor, Relief Board member, and school board member.
  Elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 1902, Gelston served in the session of 1903-04 and was a member of the committee on education. Following his term, Gelston served once again as a member of the Sherman board of assessors (1907-08) and as a school committee member (being elected in 1916). Gelston died in Sherman on June 2, 1917 at age 70. He was survived by his wife and daughter and was interred at the North Cemetery in Sherman.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Lotie Irenus Minard (1837-1913)

Portrait from the History of the City of Nashua, New Hampshire, 1897.

   Snappily dressed and sporting a fine example of a 19th-century mustache, three-term New Hampshire state legislator Lotie Irenus Minard was a lifelong resident of Nashua, being born in that city on April 7, 1857, the son of Charles F. and Sarah (Gay) Minard. He would attend the public schools of Nashua and the Crosby Academy and as a young man went into railroad work, which he would follow for four years.
  In the late 1870s Minard entered into the shoe-making trade, and after several years of private work joined the manufacturing firm of Moody, Estabrook and Anderson in Nashua. Minard would be employed there for seven years and in the mid-1890s was involved in the concrete business in his native city. On October 1, 1884, Lotie Minard married in Nashua to Josephine Hebert (1858-1934), to whom he was wed for nearly thirty years. The couple would remain childless.
  Remarked as having a keen interest in the political life of Nashua, Lotie I. Minard' s first run at public office came in 1884 when he was elected to represent Ward 6 on Nashua's Common Council. In 1885 and 1886 he sat on the Nashua Board of Aldermen and in 1890 was elected to his first term in the state legislature, serving in the session of 1891-92. Minard would be returned to the legislature in November 1896, garnering 316 votes on election day. During the 1897-99 session, he would serve on the committee on the Revision of Statutes and won his third term in the house in November 1898.

From the Souvenir of New Hampshire Legislators, 1897.

   At the conclusion of his third term in 1901, Minard returned to his business interests in Nashua, serving as the treasurer of the Nashua Concrete Co. He returned to political life in 1908 when he began service as a Hillsborough County Commissioner, serving in that post for an indeterminate length of time. Minard died in Nashua on February 24, 1913, at age 63. He was survived by his wife Josephine, who, following her death in 1934, was interred alongside her husband at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Nashua.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Atwood Bond Meservey (1831-1901)

From the History of Merrimack and Belknap Counties, New Hampshire, 1885.

   New Hampshire clergyman Atwood Bond Meservey is yet another example of a New England based minister who also carved out a career in politics, in his case being a one-term member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Like Silenus H. Fellows, Pearl Castle Abbey and Cola Di Rienzi Meacham, Meservey walked the line between the ministry and politics, and also gained distinction as an educator, serving as principal of the New Hampton Literary Institution for three decades.
    A native of Appleton, Maine, Atwood Bond Meservey was born in that town on September 30, 1831, being the son of William and Elvina Bond Meservey. Atwood Meservey resided on his family's farm until age nineteen and attended both the Kent's Hill Seminary and the New Hampton Literary Institution. He continued his studies at Andover University and Brown University (from which he received his A.M. degree in 1862) and later received his Philosophy and Divinity doctorates from the Bates College.
   Ordained as a minister in the Free Baptist church in 1861, Meservey accepted a pastorate at the Free-Will Baptist church in Meredith, New Hampshire. He remained there for one year and in 1862 left his pastorate to join the faculty of the New Hampton Literary Institution, where he would be a professor of mathematics and natural sciences. After a five year stint at that school, Meservey spent one year as principal at the Northwood Seminary before returning to New Hampton. In 1868 he was named as New Hampton's principal, continuing in that role until his retirement thirty years later.
   Atwood B. Meservey married his first wife Elizabeth Bean in 1861, with whom he had one daughter, Lizzie. Following Elizabeth Meservey's death in 1862 he remarried to Loanna Meade in 1871. The couple would have one child, John Edwin, who died in infancy. Widowed for the second time in 1880, Meservey remarried in 1883 to Clara Bell Fall, who, prior to her death in 1887, bore one son, Arthur Bond (1884-1952). Arthur Bond Meservey would follow his father into a career in academics, being a Professor of Physics at Dartmouth University for over forty years.

The New Hampton Literary Institution as it looked during Meservey's tenure.

   In addition to his lengthy tenure at New Hampton Atwood Meservey was the author of several textbooks, dealing with subjects such as banking, book-keeping, and political economics. Of these works, "Meservey's Book Keeping" proved to have the widest influence, as it was "In use in over five hundred schools in various towns and cities of New England and in over ninety academies and seminaries." Meservey would also author two works of non-fiction, "Through Struggle to Victory" and "Drifting and Resisting".
   Meservey's one instance in involvement in politics occurred in 1866 when he was elected as New Hampton's representative to the New Hampshire state legislature. Serving during the 1867-1868 house session, Meservey sat on the house committee on education. After leaving the legislature Meservey continued his work at the New Hampton Institute until his retirement in 1898. He resided in New Hampton until his death at age 69 on February 20 1901, having succumbed to a "complicated disease of the kidneys." Meservey was interred at the New Hampton Village Cemetery and later was acknowledged by the Granite State Monthly as
"A man of marked ability, of sound judgement, of phenomenal tact in school management, and of affable disposition, he will be remembered and revered by the thousands of students who have come under his tuition."
From the Centennial Souvenir of the New Hampshire Yearly Meeting of Free Baptists, 1892.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Patricius Harvey Casey (1844-1913)

Portrait from the Boston Sunday Post, January 27, 1907. 

    Following on the heels of Judge Loranus E. Hitchcock, another odd named Bay State jurist receives a write-up...Patricius Harvey Casey of Suffolk County! So far the only political figure named "Patricius" that I've managed to locate, Casey was for many years a leading legal light in Holyoke and Lee, Massachusetts, operating a law practice in both those cities. An unsuccessful candidate for state representative and state senator, Casey was later appointed as Judge for the Police Court at Lee, serving a total of eighteen years on the bench.
   A native of Ireland, Patricius Harvey Casey was born in County Sligo on March 22, 1844, a son of Patricius and Elizabeth O'Gara Casey. The Casey family immigrated to the United States when their son was two years old and would settle in Massachusetts. Casey attended school in Massachusetts and in 1863 was left fatherless due to his father being killed in battle at Chancellorsville. In January 1864 Patricius Casey enlisted in Co. I, 31st Massachusetts Infantry and served with that unit until March 3, 1864. The Boston Sunday Post denotes that Casey was "severely wounded" during his brief military service, but fails to mention at what battle his injuries occurred.
  Patricius Casey married in Lee on October 26, 1867, to Joanna Reardon (also from Ireland), with whom he had one son, Austin, born in 1873. In 1870 Casey and his wife removed to Holyoke, Massachusetts and during his residency there was named as a state police deputy constable for Hampden County, an office he'd continue to hold until 1875. In the mid-1870s he decided to pursue a career as a lawyer and began reading law in the offices of Judge Henry W. Bishop, and was admitted to the bar at Springfield in 1877.
  After establishing his law office in Holyoke Patricius Casey formed a partnership with Robert Dwight, which extended about five years. During this time Casey entered politics for the first time, serving as clerk for the Holyoke Common Council and in 1876 was nominated for a seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, but was ultimately defeated due to the "active efforts of the antiprohibitionists."
   Following the dissolve of his partnership with Robert Dwight, Patricius Casey removed to Springfield, Massachusetts, but resided there only a short while. He would remove back to Lee in the mid-1880s where he continued his practice and in 1886 was again a candidate for high office, this time campaigning for a seat in the Massachusetts Senate. Casey would go on to lose that election to incumbent Republican Henry M. Phillips but achieved a measure of consolation two years later when he was appointed as a special justice for the Police Court at Lee.
  In 1891 Casey advanced to full justice of the Lee Police Court and served on the bench until his retirement in September 1909. Having been widowed three years prior to his leaving the bench, Casey remarried in 1907 to Louise Hoskins (1852-1924), whom he had met after giving a memorial address in honor of President McKinley. Shortly after their wedding, the couple would travel to southern California, and following an extended trip through that area permanently resettled in San Diego. Patricius H. Casey died in that city on September 29, 1913, and was later interred at the Mt. Hope Cemetery in San Diego.

From the Lowell Sun, September 17, 1909.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Loranus Eaton Hitchcock (1851-1920)

From the Delta Upsilon Quarterly, Vol. 27, 1908.

   After several write-ups centering on oddly named members of the Maine state legislature, we journey to Maine's neighbor to the south, Massachusetts, to profile Loranus Eaton Hitchcock, a man long prominent in legal circles in that state. A former city solicitor and police court judge for the city of Chicopee, Hitchcock would later be appointed as an Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court, serving on the bench for nearly two decades.
   A native of Vermont, Loranus Eaton Hitchcock was born in the town of Rochester on February 3, 1851, being one of three children born to Rev. Harvey Hitchcock (a Methodist minster) and the former Mahala Ward. Of these three children, Loranus was the only one to live to adulthood and was left motherless when still in infancy. At age two he and his father removed to Chicopee, Massachusetts, where Hitchcock would attend school. Following his graduation from that city's high school in 1868, he enrolled at Amherst University, where he was a member of the Delta Upsilon fraternity. Graduating in the class of 1872, Hitchcock continued his studies at the Columbia Law School, earning his degree in 1874.
  On October 5, 1875, Loranus Hitchcock married to Ella Asenath Goldthwaite, to whom he was wed until his death in 1920. The couple would have two children, Raymond Harold (born 1876) and Bessie Mahala (born 1878). 
   Following his graduation from Columbia Hitchcock returned to Chicopee, where he underwent further law reading in the office of George Dexter Robinson (1834-1896), a future Massachusetts Governor and U.S. Representative. Hitchcock would join Robinson's practice as a clerk and was later admitted as a partner, practicing law in both Chicopee and Springfield. In 1881 he entered public office for the first time, being appointed as Police Judge for Chicopee. Hitchcock's time on the bench extended over two decades (1881-1903), and he later held the posts of city auditor (serving from 1882-1890) and city solicitor (serving from 1892-1903).

                                                            From the Boston Daily Globe, September 17, 1903.

   In 1903 Loranus Hitchcock was elevated to the Superior Court of Massachusetts, being appointed to that court by Governor John L. Bates. Acknowledged as having had "the unanimous endorsement of the Hampden County bar" leading up to his appointment, Hitchcock served on the bench until his death at age 69 on March 15, 1920. In the weeks preceding his death, Hitchcock had been residing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, presiding over a session of the Suffolk Superior Court. He was survived by his wife Ella and was interred at the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge

From the Cambridge Tribune, March 20, 1920.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Trealy Vinton Pennington Sr. (1898-1981)

From the Bluefield Daily Telegram, May 2, 1948.

   Following on the heels of West Virginia state senator Leoma Ord Curtis, another oddly named Mountain State native gets accorded his due...Trealy Vinton Pennington Sr. of McDowell County. A former U.S. Postmaster at Powhatan, West Virginia, Pennington was also a two-time Democratic candidate for the West Virginia House of Delegates. 
   The son of James Abraham and Celia (Hagey) Pennington, Trealy Vinton "T.V." Pennington's birth occurred in either Ashe County, North Carolina or Marion, West Virginia on April 22, 1898. Removing to McDowell County during his youth, Pennington would work in the coal mines as a young man and later was employed in the offices of the Powhatan Coal Company. He married to Wilma Rachel Lowe (1910-1963) in the early 1930s and later had two sons, Trealy Vinton Jr. (1932-2002) and Wallace Lee. 
   Following his marriage T.V. Pennington was appointed as U.S. Postmaster at Powhatan, West Virginia in 1937, continuing in that post for over twenty-five years. He would also operate a grocery store in that town and made the jump into politics in early 1948 when he announced his candidacy for the West Virginia House of Delegates in that year's Republican primary. A substantial write-up on his campaign platform was published in the Bluefield Telegram in May of that year, in which Pennington stated
"I am going into this race to wage an active, honest, clean campaign for the nomination and if nominated and elected I pledge myself to conduct the office in an efficient and business-like manner and with complete fairness to all the people of McDowell County."
   Pennington would go on to be one of five Republican McDowell County legislative candidates that year but would lose the general election that November. In August 1954 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the McDowell County Board of Education and in 1956 made another run for the state house of delegates, but lost out in the vote count that November.  
  After his two losing legislative candidacies, Pennington continued to be active in McDowell County business circles, operating his grocery store and serving as a member of the board of directors of the First National Bank of Northfork. Widowed in 1963, Pennington remarried to Tennessee Odell Eastep (1900-1983), to whom he was wed until his death. T.V. Pennington died at age 82 on February 22, 1981 in Welch, West Virginia. He was later interred at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Bluewell

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Leoma Ord Curtis (1879-1946)

From the Charleston Daily Telegram, February 11, 1937.

   The Mountain State yields another strange name political figure in Leoma Ord Curtis, a one-term member of the West Virginia Senate from Roane County. Listed by many sources under the initials "L.O. Curtis", a fair amount of digging had to be done to discover Curtis' full name! Thankfully, his 1942 draft registration card revealed his full name of "Leoma Ord", putting to rest the mystery!
   Born on September 7, 1879 in Roane County, Leoma Ord "L.O." Curtis was the son of Nathaniel and Sarah (Lucas) Curtis. Little information exists in regards to Curtis' education or early life, excepting notice of his marriage on August 21, 1905, to Sarah Virginia Ingram (1885-1969), to whom he was wed until his death. The couple would have three children, Helen Virginia (1909-1986),  Hal Lorimer (1906-1951) and Elizabeth Anne (1918-1922).  
   L.O. Curtis first entered into government service in the late 1900s, being named as a clerk for the West Virginia House of Delegates committee on Private Corporations and Joint Stock Companies. He later succeeded to the post of clerk with the Roane County Circuit Court, serving in that capacity until 1921, when he began a twelve-year tenure as chief clerk in the office of the West Virginia State Auditor
   In April 1934 Curtis announced that he'd be seeking the Republican nomination for state senator from West Virginia's 4th district. Hoping to succeed senator Charles Weissenburger, Curtis won the Senate election that November and took his seat at the start of the 1935-37 session. 

From the May 15, 1935 Charleston Gazette.

   Curtis' tenure in the Senate saw him sit on the following committees: the Judiciary, Temperance, Agriculture, Public Printing, Forestry and Conservation, Labor and Federal Relations. In February 1937 Curtis launched an attack against then-President Franklin Roosevelt's court-packing plan, authoring a resolution taking the president to task for attempting to "circumvent legal and constitutional rights which have been guaranteed to the people for their safety and welfare." Curtis's resolution would further note that:
"It is a matter of common knowledge that the purpose of reorganization of the kind proposed is not to strengthen the court but rather to insure a favorable action upon a type of legislation which heretofore has been held unconstitutional."
From the February 15, 1935 Charleston Gazette.

   A year after the conclusion of his Senate term L.O. Curtis entered into the post of clerk with the geological department of the United Fuel Gas Company in Raleigh. He continued in their employ for eight years, and in the latter portion of his life was reported to have "been in bad health for some time." This state of ill health later led Curtis to take his own life via gunshot in the washroom of the Atlas building in Raleigh on March 14, 1946. In a Raleigh Register report on the incident, Curtis was 
"observed to remove his glasses shortly after 11 a.m and go to the washroom whence a shot rang out. The body, a pistol beside it, was found by a fellow employee who rushed to the scene."
  Curtis' spectacles, wallet and other personal effects were subsequently found on his desk, as well as note addressed to his wife. He was survived by his wife and children and following funeral arrangements was interred at the Sunset Memorial Park in South Charleston, West Virginia.

From the Charleston Gazette, March 16, 1946

Monday, April 3, 2017

Plantville Preston Larrabee (1851-1924)

Portrait courtesy of the Sebago Historical Society.

   Sebago, Maine received extensive mention in March 27th's profile on Vinal Garfield Good, a Sebago resident and former Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives. As it turns out, Sebago was represented in the Maine legislature by another oddly named man (several decades prior to Mr. Good) and I think you'll agree that he possesses one of the most unique first names imaginable! Plantville Preston Larrabee was a lifelong native of Cumberland County, Maine and, while a farmer for all his life, also occupied a number of local political offices in addition to serving in the legislature.
   While Mr. Larrabee's obscurity initially hampered my wanting to author a small biography for him, my feelings changed when I developed a correspondence with Sherrill Brown of the Sebago Historical Society. Through Sherrill's diligent searching, the accompanying photographs of Larrabee were found to include in his article here, and she was also kind enough to send along a portrait of Vinal G. Good and his wife (featured in his write up several days ago). I want to extend a hearty thank you to Sherrill for her help in tracking down the portraits of Mr. Larrabee, as well as the one for Mr. Good. Many, many thanks for your help!
   One of four sons born to Thomas Wells (1816-1890) and Olive Ayer Larrabee (1816-1896), Plantville Preston Larrabee was born in Cumberland County, Maine in March 1851. The origins of Larrabee's peculiar first name have been lost to history, and despite the mysteriousness surrounding it can safely be said that both Thomas and Olive Larrabee had a "green thumb", as it were, as they not only named two of their sons Plantville (an earlier child with that name dying in 1849) but also named their last born son Greengrove! Greengrove Larrabee died in infancy in 1853, and one can only wonder why Thomas and Olive would bestow these botany type names upon their sons!
   Little information is known about Plantville P. Larrabee's early life or education, excepting notice of his marriage in Naples, Maine on Independence Day 1875 to Etta Maria Shaw (1858-1944). The couple was wed for nearly five decades and their union would see the births of six children, Ethel May (1877-1959), Winifred (1878-1968), Evetta (born 1881), Elmer Francis (1883-1969), Percy Vernon (born 1885) and Marjorie Ella (born 1888)..
   A farmer in Sebago for all his life, Larrabee was also active in a number of agricultural concerns in that area, serving as secretary of the Baldwin and Sebago Farmer's Club and held the post of treasurer of the Cumberland and Freeport Agricultural Society from 1909-1910. In the late 1880s, he also joined Sebago's local health board, serving as its secretary for three years. 
  Plantville Larrabee first entered the political life of Sebago in the late 1870s, serving as a member of the school committee from 1876-77. In 1883 he served as town assessor and two years later was elected as Sebago town treasurer. Larrabee would also occupy the office of town selectman on several occasions, serving in 1889-90, 1892, 1895-96, 1900, 1902 and 1904-05. 

 Plantville P. Larrabee in 1902, courtesy of the Sebago Historical Society.

   Larrabee reached his highest degree of political prominence in 1896 when he was elected as Sebago's representative to the Maine State legislature. As one of several Cumberland County representatives serving in the session of 1897-99, Larrabee was named to the house committees on Indian Affairs and Public Buildings
   Following his one term in the legislature, P.P. Larrabee returned to farming in Sebago and in 1907 began another stint on the Sebago school committee. In May 1918 he became a founding member of the North Sebago Lakeside Cemetery Association and in the following month was named as its first president. After many years of service to Sebago at the local and state level, Plantville P. Larrabee died in 1924 at age 73. He was survived by his wife Etta and his children and was interred at the Lakeside Cemetery.
  Public service would continue in the Larrabee family with Plantville's son Elmer Francis, who, like his father, occupied a number of local political offices, including Sebago town clerk, road commissioner and selectman. In the year prior to his father's death, Elmer was elected to the Maine House of Representatives from Sebago, serving there for two terms (1924-1928).

Elmer F. Larrabee in 1914, courtesy of the Sebago Historical Society.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Active Irving Snow (1849-1938)

Portrait from the January 3, 1911 Kennebec Daily Journal.

   Certainly one of the more humorous names you'll find amongst the vast annals of the Maine legislature, Active Irving Snow was a Brunswick based grocer and merchant who served three terms in the Maine House of Representatives. Born in Harpswell, Maine on November 16, 1849, Active I. Snow was the son of Active and Mary Ann Toothaker Snow. Sadly, I have no interesting tidbits as to how (or why) both Snow and his father were given the name "Active", and, if you were like me, the name Active Snow immediately conjured up images of a severe blizzard!
   Mentioned as having been educated at schools in both Harpswell and Portland, "A.I." Snow (as most sources list him) removed to Brunswick, Maine in 1880. He would spend the rest of his life in that city, excepting a three-year stay in California (his dates of residence being unknown at this time.) Snow married in Brunswick on June 28, 1892, to Emma Florence Brigham (1868-1921) and later had four children, May (died in infancy in 1893), Austin Irving (died in infancy in 1895), George Active (born 1896) and Raymond (1902-1974.)
    In the years following his removal to Brunswick A.I. Snow established himself as a grocer, and in the succeeding years, his store would become a hub of activity in that town. Snow's store received prominent mention in Marjorie Standish's 1996 work Keep Cooking--the Maine Way, which notes that his business employed several clerks. This same work also relates that Snow was an inveterate checker player, and could often be found deeply engrossed in a game, a habit that sometimes necessitated a wait for customers in the event Snow's clerks were busy!
   As a man "deeply loved and respected" within the Brunswick community, Snow was eventually induced by his fellow townspeople to venture into politics. In 1898 he made his first attempt at public office, being nominated by Brunswick Democrats for a seat in the Maine legislature. Attesting to his being an "honest, upright citizen", the Bath Journal noted that Snow was
" In every respect worth of the position. He is a temperance man and no doubt will poll a large vote for the political party he represents."
From the Bath Independent Journal, July 20, 1898.

   Although unsuccessful in his 1898 legislative run, Snow made another run for the Maine state house in 1910 and was this time successful. Taking his seat at the start of the 1911-12 session, Snow would serve on the committees on Mercantile Affairs,  Insurance and Inland Fisheries and Game. Curiously, Snow's fellow Cumberland County representative during this session was Alvah Snow (1851-1921), who, coincidentally, also hailed from Brunswick. The men aren't believed to have been related, as Alvah Snow had been born in Penobscot County.
   At the conclusion of his term Snow returned to his grocery business in Brunswick, and in 1924 won a second term in the legislature, serving in the session of 1925-26. Snow was elected to his third term in the house in 1926, and by the conclusion of that term in 1928 was nearing 80 years of age. Widowed in 1921, Snow continued to reside and work in Brunswick until his death at age 88 on July 20, 1938. He was later interred along with his wife Emma at the Cranberry Horn Cemetery in East Harpswell, Maine.

From the Kennebec Daily Journal, January 11, 1909.