Thursday, September 28, 2017

Minthorne Dyckman Tompkins (1841-1904)

Portrait courtesy of Find-A-Grave.

   A descendant of one of New York's prominent political families, Minthorne Dyckman Tompkins' story is one of the more interesting ones you'll read about here, as he is the first political figure featured on this site to have been a fireman by occupation. A member of Hook and Ladder Engine Company No. 1 in New York City, Tompkins etched his name into New York fire department history when he became the first man to be award a medal of valor, this award extending from his heroic actions a year prior while rescuing a woman from a burning hotel building. Following his retirement from the department in 1883 Tompkins and his family removed to Connecticut, and in 1885 was elected to that state's house of representatives from Stonington.
   The son of George Clinton and Sarah Minthorne (Watson) Tompkins, Minthorne Dyckman Tompkins was born in New York City on July 20, 1841. A member of one of New York's most prestigious families, Tompkins' uncle was none other than Daniel D. Tompkins (1774-1825), former New York Governor, Congressman and Vice President of the United States under James Monroe. In addition to the Vice President, the family could count Westchester County Judge and U.S. Representative Caleb Tompkins amongst their ranks and sported another odd name politician in Mangle Minthorne Tompkins (1807-1881), a former state senator and candidate for Governor in 1852.
   Young Minthorne's early education occurred at Grammar School No. 13 in New York City and he later attended the Forsyth Academy at White Plains. After leaving that school in 1860 Tompkins began a five-year clerkship in the Quartermaster's Department in New York City, from which he resigned in 1865. In that year he was appointed to the New York City Fire Department, which had become a paid force just three years prior
  By 1868 Tompkins had attained the rank of assistant foreman for the Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, and on November 14th of that year he and other department members were dispatched to combat a rapidly spreading fire that had broken out at the Stewart House, a restaurant and hotel located at 480 Broadway in lower Manhattan. Fourteen of the hotel's occupants had become trapped by the flames, with no escape routes possible. After ladders had been positioned against the building, Tompkins began a trek to the building's upper floors. Hearing screams and seeing a woman trapped by flames above him, Tompkins reached the top rung of the long wooden ladder and amongst the smoke, steadied himself on the top rung. After positioning his frame against the side of the building, Tompkins directed the woman out of the window and onto his shoulders, after which he precariously made the climb downward to the street
   After seeing that the woman had been attended to, Tompkins led his fellow firefighters back into the building to continue search and rescue operations, while hose teams contained the fire to the "rear portion of the building." Their efforts led to several more people being rescued and extracted from the building, with Tompkins himself continuing work even though he had received injury early in the rescue operation. 

Tompkins as he appeared in the New York Herald in November 1910.

   Several months after the Stewart House fire New York Herald publisher James Russell Bennett Sr. (1795-1872) endowed fifteen hundred dollars to be used towards the striking of a medal to be issued annually to a fire department member who had exhibited an exemplary act of heroism. The then recently established FDNY Board of Merit, knowing of Tompkins' actions, awarded him the Bennett Medal in April 1869, making Tompkins the first FDNY officer to be so honored
   Promoted to Lieutenant in 1868, Tompkins attained the rank of Captain three years later and in November 1871 married in Groton, Connecticut to Ellen Wilcox (1846-1889), a resident of Stonington. The couple would have at least one son, Odell Dyckman (1872-1962). In 1883 Tompkins was honorably discharged from the fire department due to physical disability. In the following year he and his family removed to Mystic, Connecticut, and within a short period of his resettlement had become a leading figure in the area, becoming a Grand Juror for the city of Stonington and a founder of Mystic Hook and Ladder Company No. 1. 
   In 1885 Tompkins was elected to the Connecticut General Assembly as a representative from Stonington and during the 1886 session would be named to the committee on claims. Widowed in 1889, Tompkins died in Stonington on March 15, 1904, at age 62. He and his wife (as well as their son Odell) were all interred at the Elm Grove Cemetery in Stonington. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Minotte Estes Chatfield (1859-1952)

Portrait from the Commemorative Biographical Record of New Haven County, 1902.

    New Haven, Connecticut resident Minotte Estes Chatfield is another in a long line of distinguished Nutmeg State businessmen/state representatives profiled recently, and, like his oddly named contemporary Plumb Nichols Fairchild, made his fortune through the manufacture of paper. During a long life that extended from the administrations of Buchanan to Truman, Chatfield branched out into other walks of New Haven life (being a newspaper company and bank president) and served terms in both houses of the Connecticut legislature.
   Born in Centerville, Connecticut on March 13, 1859, Minotte Estes Chatfield was one of four children born to George Wooster and Cornelia Andrews (Ford) Chatfield. Descended from a family with roots in Connecticut dating back to the early 17th century, Chatfield's education took place in the public school system of New Haven, as well as the Hopkins grammar school. Upon reaching age sixteen Chatfield entered the workforce, assuming a clerkship under New Haven postmaster Nehemiah Day Sperry (1827-1911), who would later represent Connecticut's 2nd district in Congress for eight terms. In 1880 Chatfield married Stella Rowe Russell (1858-1916), to who he was wed for thirty-six years. The couple had three children, Russell Estes (1884-1962), Sterling Russell (1891-1973) and Helen Russell (1893-1988). 
   Chatfield's postal clerkship extended from 1875 to 1882, when he resigned. He soon found employment with the F.S. Bradley and Co., one of New Haven's premier dealers in hardware supplies and paper. Chatfield's tenure at that company saw him placed in the paper department, and through seven years of diligent work learned the ins and outs of the papermaking trade, and "acquainted himself with every branch of the department." By 1889 Chatfield, now equipped with extensive knowledge of the paper business, resolved to go into business for himself. In that year he purchased the Bradley Co.'s paper and twine departments, and within a short period, the Chatfield Paper Company was born. This business (incorporated in 1895), grew to be "among the largest concerns of the kind in New England" and Chatfield himself served as its president and treasurer
   Minotte Chatfield continued to expand his business savvy through the remainder of the 1890s, becoming affiliated with the New Haven Pulp and Board Co. He would hold the presidency of that company (as well as being a large stockholder) and branched out into the publishing world when he assumed the directorship of the Evening Leader Co., publishers of the New Haven Times Leader, a popular city newspaper. Chatfield also added the title of bank director to his resume when he became a director of the Yale National Bank in early 1918. In addition to banking and business Chatfield loomed large in city civic affairs and social clubs, being a director of the New Haven Public Library, as well as a member of the Quinnipiac Club and the New Haven Country Club.
   Acknowledged as one of New Haven's leading young Republicans, Chatfield was a member of that city's Young Men's Republican Club and served on the New Haven city council and board of aldermen. In November 1902 Chatfield won election to the Connecticut General Assembly, garnering 9, 247 votes on election day. It can safely be said that Chatfield had plenty of oddly named company amongst his fellow legislators in the 1903-05 session, as he served alongside such men as Fessenden Leverett Ives, Allerton Cushman Kibbe, Maltby Gaylord Gelston, Scovill McLean Buckingham, Urban Todd Harrison, Aretas Frederick Kibbe and Mayro Keeney. 

Portrait from the Legislative History and Souvenir of Connecticut, 1903.

   Chatfield's term in the house saw him sit on the committee on constitutional amendments and in 1905 sought election to the state senate. He was elected to that body in November of that year with 3,270 votes and during the 1906-08 term chaired the committee on cities and boroughs. During the waning months of his Senate term Chatfield was put forth as the Republican candidate for Mayor of New Haven, and in September 1907 accepted the nomination, remarking
"The honor of heading the ticket has fallen to my lot. That it will be my endeavor to fill the office to the best of my ability, all who know me will understand. If elected mayor it will be my pleasure to advocate such improvements as will, in my judgement, cause city betterments."
   Chatfield's opponent that year was Democrat James B. Martin, a former member of the city council and city clerk. On election day in October it was Martin who emerged victorious, and following his win served as mayor until his defeat in 1909. Following his loss Chatfield remained prominent in New Haven, being an active Mason and commissioner of the city's sinking fund from 1921-1930. Widowed in 1916, Chatfield remarried in June 1920 to Charlotte Snider (1874-1947). Widowed for the second time in 1947, Chatfield celebrated his 90th birthday in 1949 and died at his summer residence "Pine Orchard" in Branford, Connecticut on August 19, 1952, at age 93. He was interred at the Evergreen Cemetery in New Haven, the same resting place as that of his wives Stella and Charlotte.

From the New Haven Journal-Courier, September 25, 1907.

From the New Haven Evening Register.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Plumb Nichols Fairchild (1809-1892)

Portrait from "A History of the Old Town of Stratford", 1886.

   Possessing some impressive chin whiskers, Plumb Nichols Fairchild was long prominent in Fairfield County, Connecticut business circles, being both a co-owner of his family's paper mill and a bank director. A one-term member of the Connecticut House of Representatives, Fairchild also farmed and was a justice of the peace. The son of Lewis and Martha (Nichols) Fairchild, Plumb Nichols Fairchild's birth occurred in Trumbull, Connecticut on November 12, 1809. 
   Fairchild's youth saw him attend the common schools and work the family farm, continuing in the latter until age 18. Upon reaching that age he began work at his family's paper mill, which had been established in Trumbull a number of years prior by his father and uncles Eben and Reuben. In 1836 he and his brother Daniel were admitted to the firm and eleven years later purchased the business, which was then renamed the D. and P.N. Fairchild Co. The brothers' were later joined by Daniel's son Horace, and Plumb himself continued to be active in the mill's operation until its sale in 1886In May 1856 Fairchild married to Jennett H. Lewis (1825-1892) and the couple's near four-decade union is noted as childless. 
  In addition to co-owning his family's paper mill, Fairchild branched out into other areas of Fairfield County life, including farming, serving as a justice of the peace and was the director of the Bridgeport National Bank for twelve years. In 1846 he followed in his father and uncles' stead when he was elected to the Connecticut General Assembly as a representative from Trumbull. Serving in the 1847 session, Fairchild held a seat on the committee on Federal Relations and in 1854 saw his brother Daniel win election as Trumbull's representative to the legislature.
  Plumb Fairchild remained prominent in Fairfield County life well into his twilight years, being elected as a member of the county historical society in 1883. In early 1892 Fairchild fell ill and by March of that year newspaper reports noted that he was in a "state of unconsciousness." Sometime earlier Fairchild had willed a good majority of his estate (amounting to nearly $250,000) to his wife, who, in a strange twist, died four days before him on March 10, 1892. Fairchild (who had been unconscious at the time of his wife's passing) died on March 14, having never recovered consciousness. 
  The deaths of both Fairchild and his wife within days of one another left a quandary in regards to his estate, with both Fairchild's siblings and his wife's family making cases for receiving it. Newspapers of the time fail to record the outcome of whatever legal proceedings may have occurred, and both Plumb and Jennett Fairchild were interred at the Nichols Farm Burying Ground after their passing.  

From the New York Times, March 29, 1892.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Scovill Merrill Buckingham (1811-1889), Scovill McLean Buckingham (1876-1965)

Portrait from the Town and History of Waterbury, Connecticut, Vol II, 1896.

  This two-part write-up takes us to Connecticut and an oddly named grandfather and grandson pair who both served terms in their state's legislature, whilst also attaining notoriety in a number of other non-political areas. The first of these men, Scovill Merrill Buckingham, was born in Watertown, Connecticut on August 10, 1811, being the son of John and Betsy (Scovill) Buckingham. Young Scovill was a student in schools local to Watertown and also studied under Deacon Simeon Hart.
   Early in his life Buckingham was prepared to enter the business world, joining the mercantile store of his uncles James Mitchell Lamson Scovill and William H. Scovill in 1827. Their firm, later to be titled the Scovill Manufacturing Co., would gain fame throughout the United States as a manufacturer of rolled brass, wire, lighting, buttons, and silver plated copper sheets used in the production of daguerreotypes. After several years of work Buckingham advanced to superintendent of the firm's button manufacturing department, and in 1839 he and fellow employee Abraham Ives were given an interest in the business. Buckingham and Ives' partnership led to the development of Scovill and Co., a separate business devoted solely to the manufacture of brass buttons.
   Scovill M. Buckingham married in May 1835 to Charlotte Ann Benedict (1810-1887). The couple's fifty-two-year union saw the birth of one son, John Aaron (1836-1899). Through the 1840s Buckingham's business profile continued to rise and by the time of his uncles' retirement and the formation of the Scovill Manufacturing Co. in 1850, the "responsibility of the business devolved largely on him." From 1850 until his death in 1889 Buckingham was a director of that company and served as its secretary from 1850-58 and treasurer from 1855-62. He held the presidency of the company from 1857-1861.
  In addition to his stewardship of the aforementioned company, Buckingham was also heavily involved in several other business endeavors in Connecticut, including service as president of the Plymouth Granite Co. and president of the Waterbury National Bank. Buckingham also had large holdings in both the Naugatuck Railroad and the Wheeler and Wilson Sewing Machine Co., and "took pride in building houses", culminating in the building of the Buckingham block on Willow Street in Waterbury.
  Buckingham's lone involvement in political life came in 1843 when he was elected as one of New Haven County's representatives to the Connecticut General Assembly, and his one term in office saw him sit on the committee on claims. Active in the St. John's Episcopal Church of Waterbury, Buckingham succeeded his uncle as senior warden of that church and also donated funds for the construction of a new church building and to the building fund for Trinity College at Hartford. Sources also attest to his being an avid outdoorsman and being a crack shot with a hunting rifle.
  Scovill M. Buckingham lost his wife of fifty-two years in January 1887 and he himself died at his Waterbury home on April 27, 1889 at age 77. Both he and his wife were later interred at the Riverside Cemetery in that city.

A death notice for Buckingham from the Waterbury Evening Democrat, April 29, 1889.

Portrait from the Legislative and Souvenir History of Connecticut, 1903.

   Public service continued in the Buckingham family in Scovill McLean Buckingham, the grandson of the preceding gentleman. A Harvard educated lawyer, Buckingham served terms in the Connecticut house of representatives and senate, and in the late 1920s was appointed as state commissioner of agriculture.
  The son of John Aaron and Anne McLean Buckingham, Scovill McLean "Mac" Buckingham's birth occurred in Brooklyn, New York on October 3, 1876. He removed with his family to Watertown, Connecticut in 1892 and would attend the Taft School in that city. He continued his studies at both Yale and Harvard, graduating from the latter's law department in the class of 1902. In December of that year, he was admitted to practice law in Litchfield County and in 1906 wed Margaret McConway (1883-1940), to whom he was married until her death. The couple would have four children, Mary (1907-1967), Margaret McLean (1909-2007), Scovill McLean Jr. (1911-1994) and Josephine Alden (1919-1995).
   In the same year as his admittance to the bar, Mac Buckingham began his political career, winning election to the Connecticut House of Representatives. Just 27 years old at the time of his election, Buckingham was one of the youngest members of the legislature during that session and served on the committee on Cities and Boroughs. Following this term, he would occupy several political offices in Watertown (including first selectman and town clerk) and for a time served as Chief of the Watertown Fire Department.
   Active in agricultural circles in Litchfield County, Mac Buckingham would purchase Mount Fair Farm from Horace Taft (President William H. Taft's younger brother) in 1913. Under Buckingham's watchful eye the farm became widely known for its dairy and poultry production, and his work with agriculture continued well into his later years, as he held the presidency of both the Litchfield County Farm Bureau and the Connecticut Farm Bureau Federation. He would also hold a seat on the executive committee of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Buckingham (and fellow odd name representative Minotte E. Chatfield) in 1903.

   Twenty-two years after serving his first term Buckingham won a second term in the state house, serving in the 1925-27 sessionFollowing his second term in the legislature, Buckingham won election to the state senate in November 1926. Representing the 32nd senatorial district, he sat on the committees on agriculture and state parks and reservations. In 1928 Buckingham was selected as Connecticut State Commissioner of Agriculture, succeeding outgoing commissioner Leonard Holmes Healy
  Buckingham's time as commissioner extended until 1932, and three years later was returned to government service when was appointed by then Governor Wilbur Ross as State Milk Administrator, a post he would hold until 1937. Widowed in 1940, Buckingham resided in Watertown until his death at age 88 on May 15, 1965. Both he and his wife (as well as his son Scovill) were interred at the Evergreen Cemetery in Watertown. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Janus Sumner Sweet (1859-1939)

Portrait from Vermont, A Souvenir of its Government, 1902.

  The 1902-03 session of the Vermont legislature could count a number of oddly named men amongst its ranks, including state senators Orien Smith Annis, Quimby Silas Backus and representatives Justus Dartt, Cola Di Rienzi Meacham, Pearl Castle Abbey, Origen Allen Blanchard; the latter three having profiles here. Also serving in that session was Huntington resident Janus Sumner Sweet, who is in all likelihood the only political figure ever named after the Roman god we're all familiar with.
   A lifelong resident of Chittenden County, Janus Sumner Sweet was born in Huntington on June 23, 1859, being the son of Justin O. and Rebecca (Sprague) Sweet. Bestowed the wonderfully odd name Janus upon his birth, this name extends from the two-faced Roman god Janus, known as the god of beginnings and ends, passages, transitions, time and duality. Despite numerous listings of this name (amongst Vermont vital records, legislative histories, and Sweet's own death certificate), some sources incorrectly identify Sweet's first name as Jamus and James.
   Little information exists on Sweet's early life, excepting notice of his attending the common schools of Huntington. He married on August 30, 1884, to Calista A. Miller (1858-1907) and the couple's twenty-plus year union is believed to have been childless. Two years following the death of his wife Sweet remarried in September 1909 to Jennie Belle Palmer (1868-1937), whom he also survived.
  Sources relate that Janus Sweet worked as an appraiser and speculator prior to his legislative service and also served as a school director and selectman for the town of Huntington, holding the latter post from 1899-1901. Elected to the Vermont state house in 1901, Sweet served one term and sat on the committees on Federal Relations and Mileage and Debentures
  Following his term, Sweet returned to Huntington and in 1921 is recorded as serving as a justice of the peace. His 80th birthday in June 1939 was celebrated with a card shower and he died just one month later on July 24. Sweet was later interred alongside his wives at the Maplewood Cemetery in Huntington.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Peabody Webster Ladd (1805-1891)

Portrait from the History of Newbury, Vermont, 1902.

    This rather gloomy looking gentleman is Peabody Webster Ladd, a curiously named 19th century resident of Orange County, Vermont. During a long life that extended nearly nine decades, Ladd's name grew to be a familiar one in the town of Newbury, where he was prominent in church and civic affairs. A former justice of the peace, Ladd warrants inclusion here on the site due to his brief tenure as Associate Judge of the Orange County Court in the mid-1860s.
   One of thirteen children born to Joseph and Sarah (Ring) Ladd, Peabody Webster Ladd was born in Haverhill, New Hampshire on August 15, 1805. His education occurred in schools local to Haverhill and in 1826 he left New Hampshire for Vermont. Settling in the town of Newbury, Ladd established himself as a blacksmith and later entered into both tinsmithing and hardware merchandising, following these occupations "till old age." 
   Peabody W. Ladd married in August 1827 to Elizabeth Lowell Johnson (1805-1880), a resident of Massachusetts and a cousin of famed poet James Russell Lowell. The couple's fifty-three year marriage saw the births of five children, John Johnson (1828-1889), Mary Elizabeth (1830-1894), Ezra (1832-1856), Hallam (1834-1842) and Harriett Luella (1842-1861). 
   Early in his Newbury residency, Ladd proved himself to be a man of great heart, when he took as an apprentice young Alvi Tabor Twing (1812-1882). Ladd took a shine to Twing and after introducing him to the Episcopal church paid the young man's way through college. Twing would become a minister and later advanced to the post of Secretary of the Protestant Episcopal
Conference for Domestic Missions.
   In the years following his settlement in Newbury the name of Peabody Ladd grew to be prominent, as he became a justice of the peace, a longtime church chorister and for fifteen years served as town Sunday School superintendent. In 1863 he was selected as a member of the Orange County Temperance Society's executive committee and from 1865-66 was Associate Judge of Orange County, serving alongside fellow judge James Hutchinson Jr.  
  Ladd continued to be an active citizen in Newbury well into his eighth decade, being acknowledged as a man 
"Of clear head and sound judgement, and held decided opinions upon all matters of town, state and national interest, as well as upon mechanical, economic, moral and scientific questions, which he never hesitated to express, without regard to whatever others might think or say."
  Widowed in 1880, Peabody Webster Ladd continued to reside in Newbury until his death at age 85 on June 30, 1891. A burial location for both Ladd and his wife remains unknown at the time of this writing.  

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Gates Bezaleel Bullard (1829-1901), Gates Markham Minckler (1875-1958)

Portrait courtesy of the Vermont Historical Society.

   Dartmouth graduate Gates Bezaleel Bullard is another oddly named Vermont Civil War veteran who went on to a career in public office, in his case being elected to both houses of the Vermont legislature. Following his legislative service Bullard would gain further distinction when he was named as state surgeon general, and later held the post of state commissioner for the insane.
  Born in Plainfield, New Hampshire on February 1, 1829, Gates Bezaleel Bullard was the son of Jonathan and Rebecca Gates Bullard. His early education occurred in Plainfield and he would also be a student in several academies located in Vermont. Bullard decided upon a career in medicine and in 1851 began to study in Newbury, Vermont. His education continued in Hanover, New Hampshire, and the Woodstock Medical College, and in 1855 graduated with his degree from the medical department of Dartmouth College
   Gates B. Bullard operated his first medical practice in Canaan, Vermont, residing in that town for three years.  He later removed to East St. Johnsbury and in 1860 married to Lefie Permelia Wheeler (1839-1879), with who he had four childrenCarlisle (1862-1864), Harry Gates (1866-1915), Rebecca (1869-1937) and Agnes Marion (1872-1958).
   At the dawn of the Civil War in 1861, Bullard was selected to be an assistant surgeon for the 15th Reg., Vermont Volunteers, serving under the command of future Vermont Governor and U.S. Senator Redfield Proctor. Two years after taking the above position Bullard was promoted to surgeon of that unit, due to the resignation of Carleton Frost. 1863 proved to be an important year for Bullard, as he began a term in the Vermont House of Representatives, having been elected the previous November. During the 1863-65 session, he sat on the committee on Roads and later returned to his medical practice in St. Johnsbury.
   Bullard continued his ascent in Vermont politics in 1866 when he won election to the state senate from Caledonia County. Bullard's one term in that body (1867-68) saw him sit on the committees on Education and Rules, and in the year following the conclusion of his term was named as Vermont state surgeon general. Holding that post from 1869-70, Bullard would advance to the post of state commissioner of the insane, serving in that capacity from 1871-72. Sources also note that for Bullard was a delegate to county and state Republican conventions on several occasions.
  In addition to politics Bullard also left a lasting mark in New England medical circles, being a member of the Vermont Medical Society, and held the presidency of both that group and the White Mountain Medical Society of New Hampshire. Widowed in 1879, Bullard himself died on September 4, 1901, at his home in St. Johnsbury, and was subsequently remembered as having been 
"Long ranked among the most influential in state affairs as well as the political life of his own town and county. For more than 20 years he was a leader in everything the pertained to the social and political life of St. Johnsbury."
  Shortly after his death, Bullard was interred alongside his wife Lefie at the Grove Cemetery in St. Johnsbury, with their three children also being buried here through the succeeding years. 

From the St. Johnsbury Caledonian.

From the Livingston Democrat, October 8, 1919.

  Nearly two years (May 16, 2019) following the publishing of the above article on Gates Bezaleel Bullard, another "Gates" that entered politics has been located, Gates Markham Minckler of Livingston County, New York. An unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the New York State Assembly from his home county, Minckler later rebounded politically and was elected as the first mayor of Geneseo, New York in the 1920s. Born on August 14, 1875, in Mexico, Oswego County, New York, Gates Markham Minckler was the son of David L. and Elizabeth (Markham) Minckler.
  A student in schools local to the area of his birth, Minckler attended the Mexico High School and Academy. Following graduation he worked in a pharmacy and began a teaching career that extended several years. Deciding upon a career in the druggist's trade in the early 1900s, Minckler enrolled at the University of Buffalo's Department of Pharmacy and in 1905 graduated with his degree. Soon after he relocated to Brockport, where he briefly worked for pharmacist Roland Chandler, and later removed to Holly, New York where he operated a pharmacy with H.B. Fisk until 1909. In November of that year Minckler purchased a Rexall pharmacy in Geneseo, New York, and after permanently relocating in that town continued in its operation until its sale in January 1948
   In the years following his settling in Geneseo, Gates Minckler became a leading name in the town, and in addition to his chosen profession was a member of the local school board and was a founder of the Genesee Valley Automobile Club, of which he would serve as president. Aspiring for higher political honors, Minckler gained the Democratic nomination for state assemblyman from Livingston County in 1919. In a write-up concerning his candidacy, Minckler was touted as a "vigorous advocate of woman suffrage" and a "most ardent advocate of good roads", and in that year's contest faced off against four-term incumbent Republican George F. Wheelock. On election day that November it was Wheelock who emerged victorious, besting Minckler by a vote of 6,657 to 4,057.

From the Dansville Express, October 16, 1919.

 After his legislative defeat Minckler continued with his pharmacy and in October 1922 was selected to the head the Livingston County Democratic Committee. In March 1927 Minckler was elected as Geneseo village president, "without opposition", for a two-year term. This post saw him serve in an additional role as a member of the village board of trustees, and during his term became the first mayor of Geneseo, the post of village president being dropped in favor of the title of mayor. Minckler was narrowly defeated for reelection in March 1929 by Republican William Milliman, who won the mayoralty by a majority of 21 votes. 

From the Livingston Democrat, March 16, 1927.

  Three years following his mayoral loss Gates Minckler established an additional drug store in Canandaigua, New York, which he would continue to own until its sale two years prior to his death in 1958. The 1940s would see Minckler serve as president of the Geneseo school board and in 1950 suffered the death of his wife Emma. On October 28, 1958, Gates Markham Minckler died at his Geneseo home at age 83. He was survived by his son, Gates Jr. (1910-1987), and daughter Helen, with burial occurring at the Temple Hill Cemetery in Geneseo.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Paphro Ditus Pike (1835-1917)

Portrait from the "Successful Vermonters".

   September is upon us and following the write-up on oddly named Oregonian MacBeth A. Milne we journey to Vermont to examine the life of Paphro Ditus Pike, a man whose first and middle names hearkens back to the name Epaphroditus (see the July 2012 article for comparison). Paphro D. Pike was a veteran of the Civil War and for a number of years following his service engaged in manufacturing in both Stowe, Vermont and Brooklyn, New York. Pike warrants inclusion here on the site due to his service in both houses of the Vermont legislature.
  The son of William and Nancy (Hitchcock) Pike, Paphro Ditus Pike was born in Morristown, Vermont on December 1, 1835. Pike's early schooling commenced in Morristown and he later attended the Johnstown Academy, whereafter he taught school for a short period. Pike later took employment in several local mill-works, and while still a young man became the proprietor of a sawmill. He married in 1860 to Abigail Towne (1841-1925), to who he was wed for over five decades. The couples lengthy union would see the births of three sons, Arba Adolphus (1861-1951), Lewis A. and Fred Morrison. It should be noted that strange names and political service would continue in the Pike family with Arba Adolphus Pike, who, like his father, attained prominence in manufacturing and business in Lamoille County. Arba A. Pike would represent Stowe in the Vermont House of Representatives from 1896-98.
   In 1862 Pike put his business interests on hold to serve the Union war effort, enlisting in Co. D. of the 11th Reg., Vermont Infantry. Pike would later be deployed to defend Washington, D.C. with that regiment and continued to serve with it through the "last grand advance on Richmond", having attained the rank of 2nd Lieutenant at the time of his discharge. Following his return to Vermont, he resumed milling and carpentry and in 1871 began a new business endeavor, the manufacturing of butter tubs. Pike continued along this route for fourteen years, during which time he also held several political offices in Stowe, including stints as school director, town supervisor, town lister and justice of the peace.
   In 1879 Paphro Pike won election to the Vermont State House of Representatives and during the 1880-81 term sat on the committee on manufactures. In 1885 he left Vermont for a four-year residency in Brooklyn, New York, where he was employed by the Hatter's Fur Cutting Company. In 1889 Pike returned to Stowe and after repurchasing the mill he had sold four years previously joined with his son Arba in the firm of Pike and Son, which manufactured butter tubs, round boxes, and veneer packages. Pike's work in these trades saw him be awarded three patents related to manufacturing, including one for a 
"Machine for cutting veneer packages from steamed logs, at the same time imparting a finish to them."
Paphro Ditus Pike.

  Through the 1890s and into the early 20th century Pike's manufacturing concerns continued to expand, and in addition to employing between fifteen to twenty workers could boast of manufacturing over seventy thousand butter tubs and nearly a quarter of a million round butter packages
   In 1899 Paphro D. Pike was returned to public office, winning election to the Vermont Senate from Lamoille County. Serving in the session of 1900-01, Pike sat on the committees on temperance, military affairs, and general and manufactures. During his term, Pike also gifted four acres of land to the town of Stowe that would become known as Palisades Park. Following his Senate term, Pike continued with his business interests in Stowe and died at his home there of paralytic shock on August 22, 1917, at age 82. He was survived by his wife Abigail, who, following her death in 1925, was interred alongside her husband at the Riverbank Cemetery in Stowe. 

Pike's name is misspelled in his August 1917 obituary from the Burlington Weekly Free Press.