Monday, December 31, 2018

Creswell Archimedes Calhoun Waller (1839-1920)

Portrait from the Greenwood Evening Index, March 3, 1910

   As has become the custom the past five years, the final posting of the year is devoted to an especially odd named political figure, and of the hundred or so names featured here over the past year, Creswell Archimedes Calhoun Waller is by far the most unusual. Odd name notwithstanding, Waller was for over five decades a business and political power player in Greenwood, South Carolina, eventually seeing that city become the county seat of Greenwood County in 1897. A one-term member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, Waller won election as the first state senator from Greenwood after it became a county and later was elected to a second term. In addition to politics, Waller also had a lasting impact as an educational benefactor, being a prime mover in the Lander Female College's move to Greenwood, and was a member of that institution's board of trustees.
  The son of Albert and Jane Elizabeth (Creswell) Waller, Creswell Archimedes Calhoun "Criss" Waller was born in Greenwood on June 22, 1839. Receiving his first name as it was his mother's maiden name, Waller was given his two middle names in honor of Greek mathematician and academic Archimedes and former Vice-President John C. Calhoun, who at the time of Waller's birth was serving as U.S. Senator from South Carolina. One of eleven children, Waller wouldn't be the only child in the family blessed with a curious name, with his brothers Peleus Augustus, Codrus, and Cadmus Garlington Waller receiving unusual names of their ownReferred to by family and friends as "Criss", Waller's formative education took place in Greenwood (then a part of the Abbeville district), and in the late 1850s enrolled at Furman University in Greenville. 
  "Criss" Waller would graduate from Furman in 1860 with his Master of Arts Degree, and in the year following volunteered for service in Co. F. (Secession Guards) of the 2nd South Carolina Regiment. His time with that unit saw him in action "through the campaigns of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and North Georgia, as a member of McLaws division and Longstreet's corps, up to and including the battle of Chickamauga." Waller's war service from 1861-1863 saw him in action at several of the war's most heated battles, including the First Battle of Manassas, Antietam, Fredericksburg, both battles of Chancellorsville, Brandy Station, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, the Battle of the Crater, Deep Bottom, and Mechanicsville. Nearly killed by an unexploded shell at Mechanicsville, Waller carried the bullet with him for the remainder of his life and was put out of service for six weeks of recuperation. 
  Having been promoted to captain following meritorious service at the battle of the Crater, Waller was later made a second lieutenant in the 64th Georgia Infantry, with which he would serve through the remainder of the war. In February 1864 Waller took part in the Battle of Ocean Pond in Florida and during that engagement lost his elder brother, Peleus Augustus Waller. Criss Waller was subsequently promoted to first lieutenant in his brother's stead, and in December 1864 was made commander of Co. G of the 64th Georgia Infantry. In April 1865 Waller surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse with the remainder of his company, and in addition to his brother Peleus, suffered the death of two other brothers during wartime, Robert Aurelius and James Leonard.
  After his discharge from service, Criss Waller married on February 1, 1866, to Mary Elizabeth Vance (1845-1927), to whom he was wed for over fifty years. The couple would remain childless. Returning to Greenwood in the year of his marriage, Waller found the town markedly changed from when he last saw it, with the "community depressed and conditions unfavorable for business enterprises." Resolving to make his name in local business, Waller joined with his brother Cadmus and I.V. Gaillard in establishing a mercantile firm in Greenwood, and after purchasing Gaillard's interest in the business the firm (now called Waller and Waller) "was the first to buy a car of South Carolina fertilizer here." 
   In addition to merchandising Waller was a real estate broker in Greenwood and held a keen interest in the layout of Greenwood's roads and landscape. A firm adherent to the original town square/plaza layout for the town, Waller saw the need for an improved road system, advocating for the opening of new streets, which in turn would connect to the "bigger field of railroads." This, in turn, would lead to a railway route between Greenwood and Augusta, Georgia, with the eventual construction and opening of the Knoxville and Augusta Railroad, which was completed in 1882.
   Creswell A.C. Waller began his political career at the local level, being elected as intendant (mayor) of Greenwood in 1872. He would serve at least three more terms in that office in 1879, 1886, and 1887, and in 1888 was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives from the Abbeville District. Waller's service in the 1889-91 session saw him sit on the committee on Railroads and in 1890 made an unsuccessful run for the state senate, being defeated by Confederate veteran and incumbent senator Robert Reid Hemphill by just 75 votes. Though his senate candidacy may have come to naught, his previous service in the house was lauded in the April 9, 1890 issue of the Abbeville Press and Banner, which notes that:
"Since his election, his work in that honorable body has fully developed that fact. His untiring efforts in behalf of reform and retrenchment were commendable in an eminent degree and should be rewarded with the highest County position. He is a close observer, deep thinker, good reasoner, hard worker, liberal in his views of economy and fearless in giving vent to his thoughts for the good of the whole people."
From the Abbeville Press and Banner, April 9, 1890.

   With his boosting for improved roads and the overall layout of Greenwood, Criss Waller was a firmly established figure in that town in 1897 when it was officially made the county seat of then recently formed Greenwood County, developed from portions of Abbeville and Edgefield Counties. With the establishment of Greenwood County (and three other counties) in early 1897, the citizens of these new areas were allowed to elect their first senators and representatives to the state legislature, and that year Creswell A.C. Waller was the man selected by the Greenwood citizenry as their first state senator.
  Elected for a session that initially began in January 1897, Waller took his seat during the start of the second session of the Senate which began in January 1898, and served until 1900. Named as chairman of the committee on Enrolled Bills, Waller also sat on the committees on Claims and Grievances, Finance, Immigration, and Privileges and Elections. During his first senate term, Waller proved invaluable when it came to the field of local education, serving as chairman of the board of trustees for the Greenwood graded schools, and is remarked as "really the founder of the present graded school system of Greenwood."
   Waller's dedication to education saw his name forever connected to the history of the Lander College, originally named the Williamston Female College. This all-female university in Williamston, South Carolina had been established in 1872, and during his term, Waller became a prominent booster for the relocation of the college to Greenwood, to aid in "educational opportunities for women" in the still young county. With the backing of other distinguished Greenwood citizens, Waller's work paid off, and in the early 1900s college founder Samuel Lander agreed to the move, with the college, now called Lander College, opening its doors in 1904. A member of that college's board of trustees for a number of years, Lander's Waller Hall was named in his honor. Lander College (now Lander University) is still in existence today and in 1943 became a co-ed institution.
   In 1908 Waller was returned to the state senate for a second term, and during the 1909-13 session chaired the Federal Relations committee and was a member of the committees on Claims and Grievances, Contingent Accounts, and the Dispensary. Criss Waller continued residence in Greenwood following his last Senate term and would have a popular thoroughfare in the city, Waller Avenue, named after him. Curiously, Waller is also recorded as having fancied cats, reportedly keeping 30 or so cats on his propertyShortly before his death, Criss Waller was discovered unconscious in his room and was admitted to the Greenwood Hospital, where he succumbed, "following an attack of urina", on May 5, 1920, aged 80.  He was survived by his wife Mary "Molly" Vance Waller and was interred at the Magnolia Cemetery in that city.

Waller's birthdate is misgiven in his obit from the Abbeville Press and Banner, May 7, 1920.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Fredus Moses Case (1856-1925)

Portrait from the Hartford Courant, December 26, 1926 (courtesy of Findagrave.)

   One in a long line of unusually named Connecticut state representatives profiled here over the past several years, Fredus Moses Case was a resident of the towns of Milford and Windsor and established a reputation as a leading citizen in both those towns, being a prominent booster for the YMCA, a Mason, first selectman, and one term state legislator. The son of Richard D. Case, Fredus Moses Case was born in Windsor on April 25, 1856. His early education occurred in Hartford County and after reaching maturity joined the trucking and transportation firm that had been established by his father. 
   In 1878 Fredus Case married his first wife Minnie D. Smith, to whom he was wed for only six years. The couple had one son, Herbert S., and following Minnie's death in 1884, Case remarried in 1895 to Nathala Parsons Merwin (1867-1959), who would survive him. The couple had one further child, Nathala Merwin (1906-1910). Case began his political career at the youthful age of 26, winning election to the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1882. Remarked as the youngest legislator to serve in the session of 1883-84, Case was a member of the committee on New Towns and Probate Districts. Following his term he continued to serve Windsor politically, holding the office of selectman in 1889-90 and was for many years first selectman, an office that saw the town get:
"Many dollars of valuable and concientious service from him for every dollar it pays him. Whatever he does is done thoroughly and with all his might and the willing personal service and assistance he gives to the many Town enterprises that appeal to him constantly is appreciated by more people than he will ever realize."
From the Windsor Town Crier, April 1916.

  A former president of the New Haven County chapter of the YMCA, Fredus Case was also instrumental in establishing the Mohawk YMCA camp in Litchfield. A longstanding member of the Washington Lodge of Masons in Windsor, Case would move to Milford, Connecticut late in his life and died in that town on December 25, 1925, aged 69. He was survived by his wife Nathala and son Herman and later was interred at the Milford Cemetery.

From the Windsor Locks Journal, January 1, 1926.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Elymus Hackett (1822-1915)

Portrait from

    One-term Pennsylvania state representative Elymus Hackett served in the same legislative session as that of Pennell Coombe Evans, who was profiled here a few days ago. A New Yorker by birth, Hackett moved to Potter County while still a child and after attaining maturity operated a mercantile firm, lumbering business, and a foundry. Late in his life, Hackett removed from Pennsylvania to Washington state, where he died aged 93. Born on April 8, 1822, in Broome County, New York, Elymus Hackett was the son of John E. and Ruth (Baker) Hackett.
   At age six Hackett relocated with his family to the town of Ulysses in Potter County, Pennsylvania, and would receive his education in schools local to that area. Little is known of Hackett's formative years, except notice of his residing on a farm during his youth. In the late 1840s, he is recorded as operating a mercantile business in Potter County with Daniel Baker, who would later become his brother-in-law. Elymus Hackett married in 1849 to Mary Monroe (1823-1868), and the couple would remain childless.
   Towards the end of the Civil War, Hackett enlisted for service in Co. F., 210th Reg., Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, which had been organized at Harrisburg in September 1864. Over forty years old at the time of his enlistment, the particulars of Hackett's service with this company remain largely unknown, although it is known the 210th Regiment took part in the Siege of Petersburg, and several lesser battles.
  Honorably discharged in 1865, Hackett would suffer the death of his wife Mary in 1868 and in the succeeding years was engaged in the mercantile business in several different Potter County towns, including Genesee, Sweden Valley, and Borie. In 1873 he was awarded his first patent (for improvement in water wheels) and in 1884 made his first entrance on the Pennsylvania political stage, becoming a Republican candidate for the state house of representatives from Potter County. Hackett won the election in November of that year and during the 1885-87 session was a member of the house committees on Centennial Affairs, Elections, the Geological Survey, and Vice and Immorality. He would also have some oddly named company during this term, serving alongside Symington Phillips, Mungo Montgomery Dick, and Pennell Coombe Evans, the latter two being profiled here in years past.
   Hackett left the legislature in 1887 and would attempt one further political candidacy in 1895, being the Populist candidate for Associate Judge of Potter County. In a Potter Enterprise writeup concerning his candidacy, Hackett took to riding a bicycle around the county to court voters, and was remarked as "an old soldier and deserves, and will have, the support of every battle scarred veteran in the county." He was defeated in that contest and around 1900 relocated to Washington state, later residing in North Yakima. While a resident of that town he was awarded a second patent in 1907 for an "amalgamator", and celebrated his 90th birthday in 1912. 
  A resident of the Washington Soldier's Home during his final years, Elymus Hackett suffered a debilitating fall in July 1914, breaking his shoulder. He survived for a year following this accident, dying at age 93 on August 2, 1915, in Orting, Washington. He was later interred at the Washington Soldier's Home Cemetery in Orting.

From the Whitehill Allegany County News, August 19, 1915.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Pennell Coombe Evans (1848-1919)

Portrait from

  A prominent son of Easton, Pennsylvania, Pennell Coombe Evans represented that city for two terms in the Pennsylvania General Assembly and later served as its postmaster for four years. In addition to those posts, Evans was a three-time delegate to the Democratic National Convention and would also be an aspirant for Northampton County Judge and an unsuccessful candidate for Congress in the 1914 Democratic primary. Born in Easton on May 31, 1848, Pennell Coombe Evans was the son of John and Mary Isabella (Horn) Evans
  Pennell C. Evans was a student in Northampton County public schools and later enrolled at the Millersville State Normal School. He went on to study at the Lafayette College (graduating in 1874) and for two years following his graduation taught school in Easton, and by age twenty had assumed the role of assistant principal for the county's grammar schools. During this time Evans read law locally and was admitted to the bar in 1876. In that same year, he married Caroline Wolslayer (1850-1936), and the couple later had two daughters, Emily (1877-1950) and Ida (1879-1956).
   In 1882 Pennell Evans took his first steps into Keystone State politics, winning election to the Pennsylvania House of  Representatives that November with 8,738 votes. The 1883-85 session saw him serving on the committees on Constitutional Reform, Corporations, General Judiciary, and Legislative Apportionment. Evans won his second house term in 1884 and during the 1885-87 session sat on three new committees, those being Iron and Coal, Local Judiciary, and the Library. Evans wasn't a candidate for reelection in 1886 and after his term returned to practicing law in Easton.
   Eight years following his time in state government Pennell Evans was called back to public service when he was appointed as U.S. Postmaster at Easton by then-President Grover Cleveland. During his tenure, he served as part of the Pennsylvania delegation to the Democratic National Convention of 1896, which saw William Jennings Bryan nominated for the Presidency. Evans would subsequently serve as a delegate to the Democratic Conventions of 1900 and 1912, both of which saw Bryan again nominated as the party standard-bearer. Evans' time as postmaster extended until 1898, and in 1903 was elected as a solicitor for the board of the Northampton County Commissioners, serving until 1907

From the Pike County Dispatch, September 26, 1907

    In 1907 "Pen" Evans received the nomination for Judge of the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas, this occurring due to the previous nominee, Parke H. Davis, withdrawing from the contest. Evans would lose that contest to Republican candidate Russell C. Stewart, and in 1909 joined with Clarence Beck to found the law firm of Evans and Beck. In 1914 Evans launched a campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives from the 26th congressional district but failed to get his candidacy to extend beyond the Democratic primary. Pennell Coombe Evans died in Easton on March 18, 1919, aged 70. He was survived by his wife Caroline, who, following her death in 1936, was interred alongside her husband at the Easton Cemetery

Monday, December 17, 2018

Hardman Petrikin Harris (1864-1950)

Portrait from the Biographical Survey, Centre County, Pennsylvania.

   Another oddly named Pennsylvanian who made an impact through public service was Hardman Petrikin Harris, a lifelong resident of Centre County. A prominent figure in the business and political life of Bellefonte, Harris served as Burgess (mayor) of that town for two decades, retiring from that post in the year of his death. A lifelong Bellefonte resident, Hardman Petrikin Harris was born on March 22, 1864, the son of local undertaker Henry Petrikin Harris and the former Mary Tonner
  Young Hardman would be a student in the Mary Petrikin School in Bellefonte and during his youth began to learn the undertaking trade under his father. The two would operate that business as a partnership until Henry Harris' retirement in 1900, whereafter Hardman and his mother took over operations. He would continue in that business for a number of years and in addition to operating and owning the town's oldest funeral parlor is also accorded the curious distinction of "being the undertaker to bury three Pennsylvania governors", those men being Andrew Gregg Curtin, James A. Beaver, and Daniel H. Hastings.
   Throughout his life, Harris experienced further distinction in several additional business endeavors, including being a director of the White Rock Quarries of Pleasant Gap, director of the Sutton Engineering Co., and the owner of the Curtin Sand Co. of Curtin, Pennsylvania. Active in the civic life of Bellefonte, Harris was a longstanding member of the local Elks Lodge, chairman of the Bellefonte Red Cross Society, and a member of the Bellefonte Fire Co.  
  In addition to his business dealings, Harris held several local political offices in Bellefonte, including an eight-year stint on the borough council and nine years as a member of the town school board. In 1926 he began a twenty-four-year tenure as Burgess of Bellefonte, a tenure that saw him as a "very liberal mind in matters concerning the best interests of his city and community." Harris's final term as Burgess concluded in January 1950 and was succeeded by Hugh M. Quigley. A lifelong bachelor, Hardman Petrikin Harris died several months after leaving office on November 4, 1950, aged 86. He was later interred at the Union Cemetery in Bellefonte.

From the Altoona Mirror, November 6, 1950. 

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Teter Dimner Beeber (1854-1930)

Portrait from the Phi Gamma Delta, 1899.

"He is a soundly read lawyer and is a man of scholarly literary attainment. In 1898 when his name was recently considered for the office of District Attorney of  Philadelphia, he received an endorsement of 700 names from the Bar of his own city, and his appointment to the Superior Court Bench has been everywhere received with unmixed satisfaction and enthusiasm even to an unusual degree. Beyond question, he carries with him to his new station, not only the affection of his brethren, but their unqualified confidence."
  Such was the description of Teter Dimner Beeber, one of the standout names of the late 19th-century Pennsylvania bar. Long a leading attorney in Philadelphia, Beeber was appointed to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania and served for a brief period, declining reelection. The son of Teter Dimm and the former Mary Jane Artley, Teter Dimner Beeber was born in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania on March 8, 1854. A student in the public schools of Muncy, Pennsylvania, and the Selinsgrove Academy, Beeber later enrolled at the Pennsylvania College in Gettysburg, graduating in the class of 1874.
   After his graduation, Beeber began reading law under the tutelage of his brother J. Artley in Williamsport, and in 1876 was admitted to the Lycoming County bar. He soon after relocated to Philadelphia, where for several years he practiced alone. In 1884 he joined the law firm of Carson and Jones, partnering with former state attorney general Hampton Lawrence Carson. With this firm Beeber gained "large experience as a trial lawyer", and through the 1880s and 90s gained additional repute as a Republican campaign speaker, first taking to the stump in the 1880 presidential election year.
    In 1898 Dimner Beeber's name was brought forward as a potential candidate for District Attorney of Philadelphia, an act that received the endorsement of 700 members of the city bar. Despite being passed over for that post, Beeber achieved a measure of consolation in January 1899 when he was appointed as Judge for the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, this appointment occurring to the death of Judge Howard J. Reeder on December 29, 1898. Taking his seat on the court on January 9, 1899, Beeber's time on the bench proved to be brief, as he served through the remainder of 1899 and declined to be renominated for a full term of his own, a term that would have extended ten years.

From Pennsylvania and Its Public Men, 1909.

  After leaving the bench Dimner Beeber married in Philadelphia in June 1906 to Blanche McGovney Gray (1870-1949), to whom he was wed until his death. The couple remained childless. Several business successes came Beeber's way in addition to his law practice, as he served as president of the Commonwealth Title Insurance and Trust Company, director of the Tradesman's National Bank and of the Fire Association, vice president of the Midland Pennsylvania Railroad, and was a member of the Union League of Philadelphia, of which he served as vice-president and president. Beeber would briefly return to political life in 1911 when he consented to have his name forwarded as a candidate of the William Penn Party for Mayor of Philadelphia, an election that would see reform candidate Rudolph Blankenburg (1843-1918) win the mayoralty.
   Further honors were accorded to Beeber late in his life when he was bestowed an honorary LL.D. degree from his alma mater, Pennsylvania College, in 1915. He began a long stint on the Philadelphia City Board of Education in 1910 and at the time of his death in 1930 was serving as that board's finance committee chairman. Dimner Beeber died at his Philadelphia home on June 28, 1930, aged 76, succumbing to heart failure after a day spent playing golf at the Philadelphia Country Club. He was survived by his wife and later was interred at the West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer, June 29, 1930.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Brace Sloan Knabenshue (1896-1985)

From the Warren Times Mirror, December 1955.

  In our first posting for 2018, it was announced that U.S. Postmasters for major American cities would have biographies featured here, the first such inclusion being Indiana's Cecilius Risley Higgins. Nearly a year following Higgins' write-up, Warren, Pennsylvania's Postmaster Brace Sloan Knabenshue receives a long-overdue article, and it is worth noting that in addition to his service as postmaster Knabenshue's Warren residency saw him residing just a short drive from where this author currently resides! 
  A native of West Virginia, Brace Sloan Knabenshue was born on July 13, 1896, in Upshur County,  the son of Edward H. and May Knabenshue. The majority of Knabenshue's early life was spent in the state of his birth and is recorded in the 1920 census as a resident of Fork Lick, Webster County, West Virginia. By 1930 Knabenshue was residing in Warren, Pennsylvania, and had married Inez Blair, to whom he was wed until her death in 1966. The couple would remain childless. 
  Following his resettlement in Warren Knabenshue operated that city's Motor Lighthouse Esso Service station in the 1930 and early 40s. So named due to a large gas tank shaped like a lighthouse, this curious bit of gas station advertising came from one of Knabenshue's own ideas, noting that "tankage could be put up in this type structure." He would operate the business with a partner, James Chapman, until the latter died in 1932, and in 1946 the business was turned over to brothers Bill and John Timmis
   In the early 1940s, Brace Knabenshue entered into his first government service role, that of Warren County Rent Director. He remained in that role for an indeterminate length of time and in 1951 was put forward as one of several potential candidates to succeed acting Warren postmaster Paul Gray. Following the narrowing of the candidates, it was Brace Knabenshue whose name was forwarded to President Harry Truman to be nominated, and he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on October 20, 1951.

From the Warren Times Mirror, October 1951.

   Knabenshue's tenure as postmaster extended until 1965 when he retired after fourteen years. He was widowed a year following his retirement and in 1968 remarried in Palm Beach, Florida. Little else could be located on the remainder of Knabenshue's life, except his time as a member of the board of directors of the Warren County Red Cross chapter from 1972-73. Brace Knabenshue died in Orlando, Florida on December 24, 1985, aged 89. A burial location for him remains unknown at this time.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Chartley Artell Pitt (1878-1966)

Portrait from the 1939Washington legislative composite.

   One of the more colorful political figures to warrant a write-up here, Chartley Artell Pitt rose from humble beginnings in Wisconsin to serve a decade as a Washington state representative, but not before time spent as a vagabond, assistant lighthouse keeper, poet, and published author. While resources on his life remain hard to come by, Pitt was the Portage County, Wisconsin-born son of William C. and Jennie (Eaton) Pitt, being born on April 17, 1878. "Chart", as he was familiarly known, himself gives the following summation of his early life in a brief autobiography published in 1919 in the Chicago Ledger, a periodical he regularly contributed to:
"I am a product of the Wisconsin woods, vintage 1878. My life cord has twisted a bit in the unwinding--and, God willing, I'll tangle it a bit more before I die. There are a few of my footprints scattered around in the Alaskan snows--and several fish in the sea that know the taste of my hook. Been a hunter and trapper all my life --began on rats. Of late it's editors I'm baiting. I have hunted gold, and had the pleasure of not finding it. Took a close up look at the cow camps; and got so that I knew a thousand sheep by their first names."
  With a picturesque early life that saw him widely traveled, Chart Pitt's own vivid writings of riding the rails with hoboes and spending time in hobo camps sound fanciful, with Pitt himself remarking that "Some of my richest adventures have come from the road and its riding." By 1909 Chart Pitt was residing in the Pacific Northwest and on August 18th of that year married in Westminster, British Columbia to Emma May McLeod (1885-1949). The couple would have three children, Lotus Jean Pitt Pasternak (1912-2007) and sons Donald and Gordon.
  A resident of Joseph, Idaho following his marriage, Chart Pitt was published for the first time in 1910, when a poem he'd written, "The Watcher", was featured in the Modern Woodman, a periodical published by the Modern Woodman of America fraternal group. Pitt would win a $10 prize for his efforts (beating out over 1,300 poems) and was acclaimed in both the Modern Woodman and the Steven's Point, Wisconsin Gazette as "a real poet." This same year saw another of Pitt's poems, entitled "Back to the Night", be published in Liberty, a newsletter issued by the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

From the Steven's Pont Gazette, June 15, 1910.

   In 1911 Chart Pitt entered the U.S Lighthouse Service as a  second assistant lighthouse keeper, being stationed at Tree Point Lighthouse near Ketchikan, Alaska. He would remain here with his family until at least 1913 and was afterward stationed at the Destruction Island Lighthouse (where he was a first assistant), and in 1917 was named assistant keeper at the Mukilteo Lighthouse, where he was stationed until 1922. These solitary hours provided Pitt with ample time for writing, and in the late 1910s and early 1920s contributed several articles to the Chicago Ledger, a weekly story paper that featured adventure stories, romance, and poems. The accompanying picture of Chart Pitt in his lightkeeper's uniform and the Mukilteo lighthouse appeared in the Ledger on September 20, 1919.

   Through the 1920s Pitt contributed a number of short stories and prose to then-popular pulp magazines, including Action Stories, Thrilling Adventures, and Outdoor Stories. Pitt's full-length novel, entitled The Bootlegger's Brat, appeared in 1931, dealt with rum-running in Oregon, and even warranted a review in the Sydney, Australia Morning Herald. Still a resident of  Snohomish County at the time of that book's publishing, Chart Pitt was long an advocate of Prohibition and made his debut on the Washington political stage in 1936 when he entered into the race for the Washington House of Representatives from the 38th district, which comprised part of Snohomish and Island County. Running as a Democrat, Pitt won the September 1936 primary and that November was elected to his first term, polling 13,424 votes
   Chart Pitt won his second house term in 1938 and would follow that with three more legislative victories, serving ten years in total (1937-47), and was at various times a member of the committees on Elections and Privileges, and Fisheries. His decade-long tenure in the statehouse saw Pitt continue his early advocation for temperance and during the 1939 session spoke on the house floor to "oppose a bill to permit sales of liquor by the drink on trains within the state." Pitt's time in the legislature also saw him aid imprisoned Communist Party political leader Earl Russell Browder, joining 134 other activists, politicians, and intellectuals in sponsoring the Call for the Free Earl Browder Congress in February 1942.

From the 1937 Washington legislative composite.

  In addition to advocating for the prison release of one of the most controversial political leaders in the United States, Chart Pitt was not above theatrics to get his point across on the floor of the Washington legislature, including thumbing his nose at house speaker Jack Sylvester after asking to make a motion, and, during his final term, took to "thumping a baseball bat on boxes and desks" to get a chairman's attention during a raucous debate on the house floor.
  The July 1946 Democratic primary saw Chart Pitt lose in his bid for a sixth term, but he wasn't done politically, as he would launch another campaign for his old house seat in 1948, this time on the Progressive Party ticket. He would poll just 1,405 votes that November, and in the September 1952 Democratic primary was again a losing candidate. Pitt would continue to seek his old seat in the legislature well into his eighties, running candidacies in the 1958, 1960, and 1962 Democratic primary elections. Chartley A. Pitt died at age 87 at an Everett, Washington hospital on February 3, 1966. Widowed in 1949, Pitt was survived by his three children and was interred alongside his wife May at the Evergreen Cemetery in Everett.

From the Washingon legislative composite of 1943.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Truitt Kendall Robe (1869-1949)

From the 1915 Washington legislative composite.

   A pioneer businessman and lumber dealer in the Granite Falls, Washington area, Truitt Kendall Robe was a native Missourian who first removed to the Washington Territory in 1886.  Earning a place here on the site due to his two terms in the Washington house of representatives, Robe is also one of the few odd name political figures to have a settlement named after him, the unincorporated community of Robe, Washington. Born in Cass County, Missouri on January 16, 1869, Truitt Kendall Robe was the son of William Restine and Mary Jessimah Robe.
  Removing to Adams County, Ohio with his family at an early age, Robe attended school in that state, being a student at the North Liberty Academy. He began a brief career as a school teacher in Manchester at age 17 before moving with his family once again, this time to Auburn in the Washington Territory. Following their settlement, young Truitt took employment as a clerk in a local store and later resigned to help his family run a hop farm they'd rented
  Beginning in 1889, Truitt Robe and his brother Campbell partnered with E.A. Stevens to form a shingle manufacturing business in Marysville, Washington, continuing in that business for nearly a year. Following a brief flirtation with railroad contracting, Robe joined the mercantile firm operated by Mark Swinnerton in Marysville, and by 1891 had been given the green light by Swinnerton to establish a branch of his store in the settlement of Granite Falls.
  The life of Truitt Robe is intertwined with the early history and success of Granite Falls, and following his settlement there operated Swinnerton's store, the first of its kind in the settlement. Robe would further aid the still young settlement by purchasing forty acres of land and "platting the original townsite of Granite Falls", which by the fall of 1891 consisted of 18 blocks, a two-story hotel, a grocery store, and a nearby railroad-tie mill. Truitt Robe married in Granite Falls in November 1891 to Ella Daisy Turner, then just seventeen years old. The couple's fifty-eight-year marriage saw the births of two daughters, Mildred Mary (1895-1975) and Doris Martha (1897-1977). 
  After leaving the employ of Mark Swinnerton, Robe made his first entrance into the lumber industry, erecting a sawmill with two partners, C.P. Last and W.H. Harding. After selling his interest to his partners, Robe went into business for himself, and after establishing his own mill along the Everett and Monte Cristo Railroad saw it develop into a major manufacturer of lumber and shingles. This flurry of activity also saw the town of Robe spring up around his mill, and by the turn of the 19th century was home to nearly 200 residents, as well as a post office. This area still exists today as an unincorporated community in Snohomish County.
  Following the dissolution of the sawmill operated by Last and Harding, Robe purchased that mill's machinery and received a work-related injury that necessitated a year-long recuperation. After regaining his health, Robe joined with Henry Menzel to form the Robe-Menzel Lumber Co., which would eventually consist of a sawmill, planing mill, and "30,000,000 feet of lumber." The business also added a railway for logging and transportation purposes. This firm would continue until 1910, and after Henry Menzel left the business, Robe followed him into a new business endeavor, the Coast Ice and Storage Company, a dealer in ice, ice cream, and dairy products. Robe would serve that business as its vice president, his full dates of employment being unknown at this time.

From the History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties, 1906.

   A longtime Republican, Truitt Robe entered politics in Washington as a member of the Snohomish County Republican Central Committee and was a delegate to various Republican conventions in the state. In 1912 he announced his candidacy for the Washington House of Representatives on the Progressive Party ticket and that November was elected. The 1913-15 session saw Truitt named to the committees on the Miscellaneous; Municipal Corporations Other than the First Class; the State School for Defective Youth, Reform School and Reformatory; and Township Organization. Robe won a second term in November 1914, polling 2, 861 votes and at the start of the 1915-17 term was named to several new committees, those being Counties and County Boundaries, Dairy and Livestock, Engrossed Bills, Federal Relations and Immigration, Internal Improvements and Indian Affairs, and Mines and Mining.
  After leaving the legislature Truitt Robe was a resident of San Juan Island, Washington, where he raised sheep for a number of years. His final weeks were spent battling rectal cancer and he died in Seattle on November 29, 1949, at age 80. His wife Ella survived her husband by well over a decade, and following her death in 1966 at age 92 was interred at the Wenatchee City Cemetery alongside her husband.