Friday, August 30, 2019

Wainwright Edwin Herd Diehl (1927-1987)

From the Allentown Morning Call, January 11, 1962.

  The plentifully named Wainwright Edwin Herd Diehl carved a notable career for himself in his native Northampton County, Pennsylvania, where he earned distinction as an attorney and civic leader. A former solicitor for the county controllers office, Diehl also was retained as attorney for several townships in that and served as mayor of Nazareth in the 1960s. Born in Bath, Pennsylvania in 1927, Wainwright E.H. Diehl was the son of Willard and Alice (Herd) Diehl.
  A graduate of the Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania in 1951, Diehl entered into law studies at the University of Pennsylvania shortly thereafter and graduated with his law degree in 1955. Diehl had married in 1951 to Catherine Drobot (1928-2013), to who he was wed until his death in 1987. The couple would have three children, Wainwright Jr., Janice, and Patricia. 
  After establishing his law practice Diehl built up a substantial clientele in Northampton County, being retained as counsel for the Nazareth Industrial Development Inc., and served as solicitor for the boroughs of Bushkill, Hanover, Lower Nazareth, and Upper Nazareth. In addition to those posts, Diehl also served as solicitor for the Northampton County Controller's Office for a period of indeterminate length.
   In 1961, Diehl was elected as Mayor of Nazareth, Pennsylvania and took office in January 1962. He would serve in that capacity until 1966 and during his term achieved further distinction when he was named by the Pennsylvania Jaycees as "one of the state's three outstanding young men" in 1963 and two years later garnered a writeup in the Outstanding Young Men of America Alamanac.
  Following his term as mayor Diehl served on the Nazareth borough council and also was a member of the Joint Planning Commission of Lehigh-Northampton Counties in the mid-1970s. Wainright E.H. Diehl died in December 1987 at his Nazareth home, aged 59. He was survived by his wife and children and later was interred at the Greenmount Cemetery in Bath, Pennsylvania.

From the Allentown Morning Call, August 11, 1963.

From the Allentown Morning Call, December 23, 1987.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Plymouth Warren Snyder (1851-1943)

Portrait from the Altoona Mirror, 1943.

  Another standout figure in the history of Blair County, Pennsylvania, Plymouth Warren Snyder was an oddly named contemporary of Tarring Spurgeon Davis, who was profiled a few days ago. A pharmacist in Hollidaysburg for over fifty years,  Snyder served as a member of the Blair County Board of Health and began his political career with his election to the first of two terms in his state's house of representatives in 1910. These terms were followed by three consecutive terms in the Pennsylvania Senate, where he was viewed as a "commanding presence." Like Tarring S. Davis, Snyder lived a long life and was devoted to the history of his native county, being a founding member and past president of the Blair County Historical Society. 
   Born on March 1, 1851, in Hollidaysburg, Plymouth Warren Snyder was the son of druggist Jacob and Sarah Cecilia (Bowers) Snyder. A student at the Hollidaysburg Seminary, Snyder followed in his father's stead and decided on a career as a pharmacist, studying at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy from 1871-72. After the completion of his studies, Snyder returned to Hollidaysburg and joined with his father in the latter's pharmacy, which had been established in 1842. Snyder would take the reigns of this store following his father's death and conducted business for fifty-two years, operating out of a "large and handsome store" on Allegheny Street. Snyder and his pharmacy received extensive mention in the 1887 Industrial and Commercial Resources of Pennsylvania, which relates:
"The prescription department is presided over by Mr. Snyder in person, who learned the science of the apothecary and pharmacist from his able and accomplished father. He exerts the utmost care and most scrupulous accuracy in preparing and compounding even the simplest remedy, and many of the leading physicians prefer to have all their prescriptions filled by this painstaking pharmacist." 
   In  August 1888 Plymouth Snyder married to Cora Eleanor McClellan (1859-1933), and the couple's forty-five-year marriage saw the birth of one daughter, Mabel (birthday unknown). Snyder's 1943 obituary also gives notice to the couple having a foster daughter, Florence. A longtime member of the Pennsylvania Pharmaceutical Association, Snyder attained prominent rank in the Masonic fraternity, of which he was a member for over sixty years. In 1879 he served as a worshipful master of the Juniata Lodge, No 282 and also held memberships in the Mount Moriah Royal Arch Masons, the Mountain Commandry No. 10, the Jaffa Shrine Temple, and the Mountain Council, No. 9., of the Royal and Select Masons. Snyder's status as a leading Presbyterian in Hollidaysburg is also attested to in his 1943 Altoona Mirror obituary, which details his thirty-six-year tenure as a church elder and his past service as treasurer of the Presbytery of Huntingdon in Hollidaysburg.

Snyder during his legislative service.

  A member of the Blair County Board of Public Health for a number of years, Plymouth Snyder's first foray into elective office came in 1910 when he announced his candidacy for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from Blair County's 2nd district. That November he won out at the polls, garnering 3,101 votes, and during his first term (1911-13) held seats on the following committees: Centennial Affairs, Constitutional Reform, Counties and Townships, Pensions and Gratuities, Public Buildings, Public Health and Sanitation, and Public Roads. Snyder won a second term in the house in 1912 and during the 1913-15 session served as chairman of the committee on Pensions and Gratuities.
  In the 1914 election year, Plymouth W. Snyder advanced to a seat in the state senate, where he would have considerable impact. He would serve three consecutive four-year terms (1915-27) and this period of service saw him acknowledged as a stalwart backer of prohibition and an advocate for improved roadways, with the Altoona Mirror remarking:
"He was a sturdy champion of good roads, the public schools, forests, dry law enforcement, pure food, old age pensions, health and sanitation, and he always opposed with great vigor any tampering with the Sunday laws." 
  Snyder's productivity in the senate was marked by his backing of improved highway legislation, and he "ever was a champion of measures designed to promote the cause of education and the upbuilding of the public school system." Both prior to and after his senate terms Snyder was a leader in historic preservation in Blair County, being a charter member and former president of the Blair County Historical Society. Snyder would contribute to Tarring S. Davis' 1931 History of Blair County, authoring a chapter in Volume I of that work devoted to the "History of Presbyterians in the County". Snyder's 1943 obituary further notes his figuring prominently in the historical society's acquisition of the Baker Mansion in Altoona, the former home of local iron magnate Elias Baker, and in 1922 was a featured speaker at the dedication of a memorial marker near the site of Fort Fetter, a Revolutionary War-era fortification in Duncansville, Pennsylvania.
  Widowed in 1933, Plymouth Snyder continued residency in Hollidaysburg following his wife's death and in March 1941 celebrated his 9oth birthday. Remarked as being in fair health even in his ninth decade, Snyder was largely housebound during the final years of his life and died aged 92 on December 19, 1943, at his home. He was survived by his daughters Mabel and Florence and was interred alongside his wife at the Hollidaysburg Presbyterian Cemetery.

Snyder's obituary from the Altoona Mirror, December 20, 1943.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Tarring Spurgeon Davis (1863-1952)

From the Altoona Mirror, January 18, 1952.

    During a long life that spanned the presidencies of Abraham Lincoln to Harry Truman, Tarring Spurgeon Davis was at the forefront of educational, political and religious doings in his native Blair County, Pennsylvania. A teacher for fifty years and a county school superintendent for three decades, Davis also devoted time to preserving the history of his county, editing the two-volume History of Blair County, published in 1931. A former chairman of the Blair County Republican committee, Davis earns a spot here on the site due to his service as a delegate to the 1928 Republican National Convention and his later candidacy for the Pennsylvania state senate on the Prohibition ticket. The son of Samuel and Elizabeth (Watson) Davis, Tarring Spurgeon Davis was born in Logan, Pennsylvania on January 16, 1863.
   A descendant of a family that had first established roots in Pennsylvania early in the 18th century, Tarring S. Davis was a student in the "neighborhood schools" in Logan township and at age sixteen embarked on a teaching career, a vocation he would follow for the better part of sixty years. Davis would later study at the Pennsylvania state college and the Columbia University in New York, his dates of enrollment being unknown at this time. Tarring Davis married to Sarah Elizabeth McDowell (1862-1938) on July 4, 1889, in Altoona. The couple were wed for nearly fifty years and this marriage produced at least eight children, E. Grace (1890-1972), E. Margaret (1891-1943), Fred (born ca. 1894), Edna (1895-1981), Mary (1896-1933), J. Edgar (1898-1954), John T. (1900-1938), and Sarah (1903-1908).
   Davis's teaching career in Blair County saw him employed at three different school buildings in Logan township and in the late 19th century arrived in Altoona, where he took on the post of principal for grade schools in the city. His service extended sixteen years, and in 1902 ran for and was elected to the post of Blair County superintendent of schools. His tenure as superintendent lasted over three decades, retiring at age 70 in 1933. During this long period of service, Davis was a member of both the Pennsylvania State and National Education Associations, and on three occasions he served as Blair County's delegate to the National Education Association's national convention. Further distinction was accorded to Davis when he was selected by Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot as a member of a "commission to make a survey of the rural schools in the state", and in addition to that role also was named to the examining boards of several Pennsylvania-based teacher's colleges. 

From the Altoona Mirror, April 29, 1930.

   Tarring Davis first entered the political life of his state in 1894, when he began a two-year stint as chairman of the Blair County Republican Committee. In 1928 he served as part of the Pennsylvania delegation to the Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri where Herbert Hoover was nominated for the presidency. Following his service at that convention Davis underwent a change of political faith and joined the Prohibition Party, and in 1934 was nominated by that party for the Pennsylvania state senate from the 30th senatorial district. That November Davis polled 1,389 votes, placing third behind winning Republican candidate Charles Mallery.
  A longstanding member and former president of the Blair County Historical Society, Tarring Davis dedicated a substantial portion of his life to chronicling the history of his native county, work that would culminate in the publication of the two-volume "A History of Blair County, Pennsylvania" in 1931. In addition to editing that work, Davis wrote on "the highways of the county and other phases of its history" and in May 1929 delivered an address in Mount Union, Pennsylvania on the "history of the Presbyterian church in the Juniata valley."
   As a parishioner of many years standing in the Presbyterian church, Davis served as church moderator of the Third Presbyterian Church in Altoona and for an indeterminate period held the presidency of the Blair County Tuberculosis and Health Society. In 1925 he and his wife Sarah undertook an extended trip through the American west, and in addition to visiting 19 states also ventured into Canada, visiting three provinces in that country. Widowed in 1938, Davis never remarried following his wife's death and continued to reside in Altoona until his death at a hospital in that city on January 18, 1952, two days following his 89th birthday. He was survived by four of his children and was interred alongside his wife at the Rose Hill Cemetery in Altoona.

From the Altoona Tribune, January 19, 1952.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Melchior Hay Horn (1822-1890)

From Vol. II of the History of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, 1914.

  Lehigh County, Pennsylvania native Melchior Hay Horn attained the rank of Colonel during the Civil War, and after his resettlement in Catasauqua, Pennsylvania became a leading citizen of that town, being at various times a banker, school director, and Sunday School superintendent. Horn gains a spot here on the site due to his election as Burgess (mayor) of Catasauqua, an office he held for one term. The son of Melchior Hay and Isabella (Traill) Horn, Melchior Hay Horn was born in Easton, Pennsylvania on April 9, 1822.
  A student at the Vandeveer School in his native city, Horn followed the mercantile trade during his youth, being employed in the Winter and Yohe general store. After several years in their employ, Horn elected to go into business for himself but later abandoned it to take up the trade of surveying. In October 1845 Horn married in Easton to Matilda Heller (1823-1903), to who he was wed until his death. The couple later had seven children, who are listed as follows in order of birth: Susan Butz (1846-1916), William Heller (1847-1917), Edward Traill (1850-1915), Frank M. (1852-1920), Harry Yohe (1859-1925), Isabella (1861-1882), Charles Robert (1863-1920).
  Horn would leave the trade of surveying behind to take on the post of cashier of the Farmer's and Mechanics Bank of Easton, and continued in that role until his removal to Catasauqua in the late 1850s. Soon after establishing roots in that community he was offered the post of cashier of the Bank of Catasauqua in 1857, an office he would hold until his retirement in 1888. After his retirement Horn advanced to the presidency of that bank, continuing until his death two years later. Horn's early Catasauqua residency also saw him elected as a school director in 1858 and would serve in that capacity well into the 1870s.
  Following the start of the Civil War, Horn served on the military staff of Governor Andrew Curtain, and "aided in forwarding troops to the front." 1862 saw the then forty-year-old Horn elected as a major in the Fifth Pennsylvania Militia, with which he served from September 11-27 of that year. In 1863 Horn was commissioned as a Colonel in the 38th Regiment, Pennsylvania Militia, and served with that unit until his discharge in August of that year.

From "A History of Catasauqua in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania", 1914.

  Following his military service, Horn continued in his banking and educational interests in Catasauqua and later was elected to one term as Burgess of that town, serving in 1874. From 1879-1887 Horn again served as a school director for the borough and aided in the establishment of the English Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity, being engaged as a Sunday School superintendent in that church. Melchior Hay Horn died in Catasauqua on February 28, 1890, aged 67, and was survived by his wife and children. He later was interred at the Fairview Cemetery in West Catasauqua.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Swirles Levi Himes (1907-1975)

Portrait from the 1954 Nornir yearbook, Hanover, Pennsylvania.

  Huntingdon, Pennsylvania yields another curiously named public figure in Swirles Levi Himes, an attorney in that borough who in 1953 was elected as Judge of the state court of common pleas for the 20th judicial district. Joining Chalender Hall Lesher and Loyal Dayne Daubenspeck (both former mayors of Huntingdon), one can see that this area cornered the market in the 1940s and 50s when it came to electing oddly named political figures! Born in the Huntingdon County borough of Shade Gap on February 8, 1907, Swirles Levi Himes was the son of Dr. Bower Edwin and Margaret (Swirles) Himes.
  Inheriting his unusual first name courtesy of his mother's maiden name, Swirles L. Himes attended high school in Orbisonia, Pennsylvania and later was a graduate of the Cumberland Valley State Normal School. Himes continued his higher education at the Juniata College, where in 1927 he earned a B.S. degree in education. After deciding to pursue a career in law, Himes enrolled at the Dickinson College's School of Law and earned his degree in 1931In the same year as his graduation from Dickinson College Swirles Himes married to Orbisonia native Hazel Walls (1909-2001) and later had three children, Sarah Elizabeth, Sydney Swirles (1937-2015), and James E. 
  For a brief period following his marriage, Himes was a teacher at the Orbisonia High School and in 1932 established a law practice in Huntingdon. He continued with his practice until American involvement in WWII, and after enlisting in the Naval Reserves, was stationed in the Mediterranean as a legal officer. Himes' later war service saw him based stateside in Washington, D.C., where he was connected with the Naval Clemency Board
  After returning to his native Huntingdon, Himes recommenced with his law practice and by the time of his death in 1975 was acknowledged as the "Dean of the Huntingdon bar", having been a past president of the Huntingdon County Bar Association and a past member of the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania State Bar Association. In addition to those posts, Himes attained prominent rank in the local Kiwanis Club chapter, serving as president of the Huntingdon chapter for an indeterminate period.

From the Huntingdon Daily Leader, May 16, 1953.

   In 1953 Swirles Himes entered into the primary race for Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for Pennsylvania's 20th judicial district, and on May 20th won that contest, having had the unusual distinction of being the "unanimous choice" of both the Republican and Democratic parties. He would win the general election that November for a ten-year term and was sworn into office in January 1954. Himes first term saw him devote special attention to the prevention of juvenile delinquency, establishing "one of the outstanding probation offices in Pennsylvania."  From 1957-58 Himes held the vice chairmanship of the National Juvenile Court Foundation and is noted as having:
"Founded the Huntingdon County Youth Guidence Council, which was active for many years during the development of a juvinile probation service."
   Reelected to another ten-year term as judge in 1963, Himes was named to the executive committee for the Pennsylvania Council of Juvenile Court Judges in September of the following year. Himes retired from the bench in 1968 to return to his law practice and a year after his retirement was honored by the Huntingdon County Bar Association for his fifteen-year tenure on the bench. He was further remarked as having had all of his decisions upheld by the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court. 
   For the remainder of his life, Himes practiced law in Huntingdon, being the senior member of the firm Himes, Himes and Feltham. Swirles Levi Himes died at a Pittsburgh hospital on December 7, 1975, aged 68. He was survived by his wife and children and later was interred at the Riverview Cemetery in Huntingdon, the same resting place as that of Chalender Lesher and Loyal Daubenspeck.

A rare photo of Loyal D. Daubenspeck and Swirles L. Himes, from the Huntingdon Daily Times.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Loyal Dayne Daubenspeck (1891-1971)

From the Huntingdon Daily News, November 4, 1953.

  Multi-term Burgess (mayor) of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania Loyal Dayne Daubenspeck received a brief mention in the previous posting on Chalender Hall Lesher, who preceded him in office. Daubenspeck was a lifelong Keystone State native and was born on Independence Day 1891 in Bruin, Pennsylvania, the son of the Rev. Richard Perry (1869-1937) and Wilhelmina Daubenspeck (1869-1949).
  While little exists on Daubenspeck's early life, it is known that he married at least twice, his first marriage occurring in 1914 to Edythe Carmon Gage (1896-1984). The couple had one son, Loyal Dayne Jr (1918-2010), who later attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force. This marriage ended in divorce and in January 1938 Daubenspeck remarried to June Hanna Bischoff (1899-1984) who survived him upon his death in 1971. Prior to this second marriage, Daubenspeck entered into the investment and brokerage business, serving as Huntingdon district manager for the brokerage firm of Elkins, Morris and Stroud Co. for over forty years, having entered into that post in 1929. 
  In the early 1940s Daubenspeck served as a member of the Huntingdon borough council, and in 1946 was elected as Chief Burgess (Mayor) of Huntingdon. Daubenspeck would be reelected to that office for several more terms and in November 1953 coasted to another victory, besting Democratic nominee William Smucker by a vote of 1,511 to 936. Ultimately, Daubenspeck would serve fifteen years in office, one of the longest tenures of any mayor in Huntingdon history. He was defeated for reelection in the May 1961 Republican primary by Robert Clark, who polled 1,036 votes to Daubenspeck's 609.
  Daubenspeck's final term concluded at the end of 1961 and in January 1962 was awarded a plaque by the Huntingdon town fathers for his long service to his community. He died at age 80 on December 17, 1971, at the J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital and was later interred at the Riverside Cemetery in Huntingdon, the same resting place as Chalender H. Lesher.

Daubenspeck honored with a plaque after leaving office, January 1962.

From Daubenspeck's 1971 obituary.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Chalender Hall Lesher (1885-1967)

From the Huntingdon Daily Times, August 1967.

  Huntingdon, Pennsylvania has been served in its two-century-plus history by two unusually named mayors, and the first of those men, Chalender Hall Lesher, is profiled today. A man of many hats in this Pennsylvania borough, Lesher was at various times a newspaper publisher, banker, president of the Juniata College board of trustees, president of the Huntingdon Throwing Mills, a Democratic national committeeman, and for four years served as Burgess (mayor) of Huntingdon. Born near Selinsgrove, Snyder County, Pennsylvania on May 19, 1885, Chalender Hall Lesher was the son of Joseph and Mary Ellen (App) Lesher.
  Lesher removed to Selinsgrove with his family at age two, and his early education was obtained there. He would go on to graduate from  Susquehanna University in 1904 and at an early age learned the printing trade in the office of his father. Upon Joseph Lesher's purchase of the Huntingdon Monitor newspaper in 1910, Chalender Lesher joined his father in Huntingdon, and would reside here for the remainder of his life. Father and son would operate J.C. Lesher & Son and  published not only the aforementioned paper but also "conducted a commercial printing establishment." 
  In October 1915 Chalender Lesher wed Maude Logan Simpson (1886-1957). The couple's four-decade marriage produced one son, Chalender Lee Lesher (1917-1943), a student at both the Juniata College and the Carnegie Institute of Technology. An assistant operations officer with the 323rd bomb group, 456th Bomb Squadron during WWII, Lesher would lose his life during a November 1943 bombing raid on a Nazi airfield in Amsterdam, and in the year following his death was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star for his service.
  In the years following his resettlement in Huntingdon Lesher built up a reputation as a leading area businessman, and after leaving the Monitor in 1944 made headway into a number of other areas, including time as president and director of the Mifflinburg-based Huntingdon Throwing Mills, a silk manufacturing business. In 1935 Lesher took office as a director and treasurer of the Huntingdon County Thrift Corporation, an organization that he continued to be affiliated with into the early 1960s. 1940 saw Lesher named as a director of the Grange Trust Company (serving until 1952) and held additional banking interests with his time as a director of the First Grange National Bank and the Penn Central National Bank, holding office until his death in 1967.

From the Huntingdon Daily Times, May 23, 1960.

  Early in his Huntingdon residency Lesher became active in local Masonic circles, and by 1930 held memberships in the Standing Stone  Chapter No. 201 of the Royal Arch Masons and the Mt. Moriah Lodge No. 300 of Free and Accepted Masons. A former president of the Huntingdon Rotary Club, Lesher held additional memberships in the Patriotic Order Sons of America (P.O.S. of A), the Knights Templar, and the Odd Fellows Lodge.
  For many years active in Huntingdon County Democratic circles, Lesher served as chairman of the Huntingdon County Democratic committee and was also a member of the Democratic National Committee for an indeterminate period. Elected as Burgess of Huntingdon in 1941, Lesher served from 1942-46 and during his term was a member of the War Price and Rationing Board for Huntingdon. Lesher was succeeded as Burgess in January 1946 by another oddly named man, Loyal Dayne Daubenspeck, whose mayoralty extended sixteen years.
  Following his term, Lesher was elected to the board of trustees of Juniata College in 1947, where he would serve until his death. He was named as president of that board for the 1961 year, and beginning in 1953 was a trustee for the J.C. Blair Hospital in Huntingdon. Widowed in 1957, Lesher remarried to Beulah Kensinger Repogle (1913-2013), who was nearly thirty years his junior. The couple was wed until Lesher's death at the J.C. Blair Hospital on August 4, 1967, aged 82. After funeral arrangements, Lesher was interred at the Riverside Cemetery in Huntingdon and was survived by his wife Buelah, who died three months following her 100th birthday in November 2013.

From the Lock Haven Express, August 8, 1967.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Zehnder Harry Confair (1906-1982)

Portrait from the Pennsylvania State Manual, 1959-60.

  A prominent name in the business and political history of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, Zehnder Harry Confair was the founder of the Confair Bottling Co. and for fourteen years represented the 23rd and 24th senatorial district in the Pennsylvania State Senate. Long an advocate for improved roadways in his state, Confair was later dubbed the "Father of the Keystone Shortway" due to his advocacy for the construction and completion of Interstate 80 (the Keystone Shortway), a three hundred-plus mile highway that runs across Pennsylvania's northern portion. 
   The son of Charles H. and Rena (Baum) Confair, Zehnder Harry Confair was born on January 11, 1906, in Berwick, Pennsylvania. Bestowed the unusual first name Zehnder, Confair's middle name is recorded as Harry as per his Pennsylvania birth certificate. A graduate of the Berwick High School, Confair went on to enroll at the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania. Following graduation in 1929, he married on November 27th of that year to Arline S. Hoyt (birthdate unknown), who predeceased him. The couple would have one son, Richard "Dick" Confair (1931-2016), who later joined in the family's bottling company.
   Four years following his marriage, Zehnder Confair and his wife founded the Confair Bottling Co. in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Confair would remain connected to this soft drink bottling concern until the 1970s and saw it grow to such an extent that a second warehouse location was established in the town of Wellsboro. Further expansion came with the opening of another branch in Elmira, New York, which in the early 1960s was headed by Confair's son Richard. Confair's longstanding connection to soft drink bottling saw him elected as second vice president of the Keystone Bottler's Association in 1951, and in the following year advanced to the presidency of that organization.
  With his name firmly established in Lycoming County business circles, Confair branched out into county civic affairs through the 1950s, being a member of the board of directors for the Williamsport Chamber of Commerce and the city's First Federal Savings and Loan Association. Confair later chaired the executive committee of the Industrial Bureau of Lycoming County and held memberships in several civic and fraternal groups in his region, including the Moose and Elks Lodges, Masons, the Williamsport Rotary Club, and was a lifetime member of the Consolidated Sportsmen of Lycoming County.
   Zehnder Confair entered Keystone State politics in 1954 when he announced his candidacy for the Pennsylvania state senate in that year's Republican primary race. Hoping to unseat five-term incumbent John G. Snowden (1880-1964), the "upstart" Confair was remarked by the Philadelphia Inquirer as a "lobbyist for the State's soft-drink interests" whose primary aim was to "ward off any move to tax soft drinks". Despite a strong showing early in the campaign season, Confair would lose out to Snowden that May, and that November the latter won election to a sixth and final term in the senate.
   Not one to let a loss get the best of him, Confair was again a candidate for the senate in 1958, and after winning the Republican primary that year faced off against Democratic incumbent Miles Derk, who had represented the 24th district since 1956. On election day that November it was Confair who emerged victorious, besting Derk by a vote of 34, 836 to 31, 317. Taking his seat at the start of the 1959-63 session, Confair's first term saw him named to the committees on Elections; Highways; Law and Order; and Public Health and Welfare.

From the Clearfield Progress, April 5, 1961.

   A candidate for a second term in 1962, Confair defeated Frank Plankenhorn that November, polling 44, 264 votes to his opponent's 29, 964. This term saw Confair chair the committee on Fish and Game, and also served on the committees on Appropriations; Banking; Elections and Reapportionment; Finance; Forests and Waters; and Constitutional Changes and Federal Relations. 
   Prior to and during his first senate terms, Confair had gained press for his advocation for the construction of a 311 mile, four-lane highway system that would extend across Pennsylvania's northern portion, and would form part of an even larger highway system that would extend from New Jersey to California. Confair's lengthy connection to the project saw him as chairman of the Keystone Shortway Association beginning in the 1950s, which bolstered support for the highway's construction. The Pennsylvania portion of I-80, nicknamed the Keystone Shortway, was boosted by Confair as a way to serve northcentral Pennsylvania cities like DuBois, Hazleton, Lock Haven, Sharon, Stroudsburg, as a quicker, alternative route to the New York State Thruway and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. With the completion of the Pennsylvania portion of I-80 in 1970, travelers could drive across the entire state from Monroe County to Mercer County, with no tolls or interruptions along the route. In 1984, two years after his death, Confair was memorialized when the Pennsylvania section of I-80 was designated as the Z.H. Confair Memorial Highway in his honor.

From the 1963-64 State Manual of Pennsylvania.

  Zehnder Confair was elected to further terms in the state senate through the 1960s, and in his final terms (1969-72) represented the 23rd senatorial district, due to redistricting. In January 1972 Confair announced that he wouldn't be a candidate for renomination that year and retired at the end of that year's session. That same year Confair suffered a stroke and retired from business pursuits. Following the death of his wife Arline he remarried to Cleo McLeod Wagner, who would survive him upon his death. Zehnder H. Confair died at a Williamsport hospital on January 26, 1982, aged 75. In addition to his wife, he was survived by his son, Richard, and was interred at the Twin Hills Memorial Park in Muncy, Pennsylvania.

From the Wellsboro Gazette, January 27, 1982.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Calder Buffington Shammo (1873-1943)

From the Harrisburg Daily Independent, May 13, 1916.

  An obscure resident of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Calder Buffington Shammo was for many years a grocer in that city as well as an active Democrat, being a candidate for the state house of representatives from Dauphin County, the Pennsylvania state senate, and a candidate for the Harrisburg city council. The son of grocer Luther and Lydia Ann (Tyson) Shammo, Calder Buffington Shammo was born on November 2, 1873, in Dauphin County. 
  No information could be located on Shammo's early life or education, and at an early age, he followed in his father's stead and entered into the grocery and mercantile trade. In the early 1900s, Shammo and his brothers Charles, Harry, and William operated the Shammo Bros. grocery at 1654 Walnut Street in Harrisburg, and Calder is noted in his obituary as having followed in that line of work until his death in 1943. 
  In 1909 Shammo is recorded as a member of the Governor's Troop in the National Guard of Pennsylvania, being a Quartermaster's Sergeant.  A longstanding member of Harrisburg's Central Democratic Club, Calder Shammo made his first run for the Pennsylvania State Assembly in 1916 but failed to make it past that year's Democratic primary race. Three years later he was an unsuccessful Democratic nominee for the Harrisburg city council. In 1920 Shammo announced his candidacy for the state senate from the 15th senatorial district, and although the losing candidate, he fared better at the polls than four years previous, garnering 9,577 votes to winning candidate Frank R. Smith's total of 24, 640.

From the Harrisburg Daily Independent.

Shammo's 1931 city council announcement.

  Following his senatorial loss in 1920 Shammo was again a candidate for the Harrisburg city council from the 8th ward in the election of 1925, and in 1927 and 1931 made two more unsuccessful bids for that office. Shammo married in his native city in 1929 to Laura E. Witter (1895-1976), who was twenty-two years his junior.
 Little else is known of Calder Shammo's life after 1930, excepting notice of his being named as head of the Governor's Troop Veteran's Association in 1935 and in 1936 was a trustee for Harrisburg's East End Democratic Club. Calder Buffington Shammo died at age 69 on January 7, 1943, at his Harrisburg home. He was survived by his wife Laura, as well as a son, Calder Richard, whose birthdate remains unknown. Following funeral services, Shammo was interred at the Harrisburg Cemetery

From the Harrisburg Evening Times, August 8, 1936.

From the Harrisburg Telegram, January 8, 1943.

You Can Help!
  I am currently looking for further information on Calder B. Shammo and need your assistance! While the man is certainly obscure, there may be descendants of his out there than can help with further details regarding his life and career in Harrisburg. Please leave a message at the site's Facebook page if you have anything to contribute!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Esdras Fellows Howell (1910-1962)

From the Scranton Tribune, November 2, 1953.

   Another Pennsylvania attorney who lacked length of years was Esdras Fellows Howell of Clark's Summit, who, in addition to the practice of his profession was a delegate to the  Republican National Convention of 1948 and in 1953 was an unsuccessful aspirant for District Attorney of Lackawanna County. Born on May 1, 1910, into a prominent political family of Welsh descent, Esdras Fellows Howell was the son of John William Howell (1879-1943) and the former Nellie I. Fellows. John W. Howell served as Lackawanna County tax collector and went on to represent Pennsylvania's 22nd district in the state senate for four terms between 1931-1939. John W. Howell's father, Esdras Howell (1832-1908) and namesake of our subject served Scranton as its city controller, and political service extended into the maternal side of Howell's family, with Nellie Howell's father, John Fellows, service as Mayor of Scranton from 1890-1893.
  A student at the Central High School in Scranton, Howell went on to attend both the Wilbraham Academy and Wesleyan University before deciding to pursue a law degree. He enrolled at the Dickinson Law School in the early 1930s and graduated in 1936. In the last-named year, Howell married Florence Lydia Kehrli (1912-2003), who survived him upon his death in 1962. The couple would have three children, including a son, Esdras Jr. (1937-1959).
  After establishing his practice in Scranton Howell would serve during WWII in the Navy, being stationed in the Pacific. He attained the rank of Lieutenant and following his return from service continued with his law practice, serving as First Assistant District Attorney for Lackawanna County from 1942-47. Howell would later figure prominently in Republican Party circles in Lackawanna County, and in 1948 served as part of the Pennsylvania delegation to the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia that saw Thomas Dewey nominated for the Presidency. 
  In 1948 Esdras Howell began a five-year tenure as director of the Clarks Summit Mental Hospital. Five years after his attending the Republican National Convention Howell entered into the race for District Attorney of Lackawanna County. After winning the Republican primary, his extensive legal qualifications were profiled in the Scranton Tribune. In a campaign notice signed by nearly thirty members of the Lackawanna bar, Howell was touted as having:
"All the qualifications of a well rounded lawyer. He is careful and foresighted in his preparation of lawsuits, he gives a full measure of attention to all his clients. His devotion to the principles of law is only matched by his understanding of the human interests at stake in every lawsuit. Above all the hallmark of his character is integrity; in dealing with him we recognize his word is his bond."
 Despite being bolstered by many leading figures in the Lackawanna County legal establishment, Howell would be defeated that November by Democrat Carlon Martin O'Malley. After his loss at the polls Howell continued with his law practice and in February 1959 suffered the loss of his son Esdras Jr., who was killed in a car accident in Londonderry, Vermont at the age of 21. A student at Wesleyan University at the time of his death, Esdras Howell Jr. was one of two university students to perish in the accident, the other being Carl Robert Ahrens.
  Esdras F. Howell survived his son by just three years, and on April 10, 1962, he was admitted to the Hahnemann Hospital in Scranton due to a "lengthy illness." He died eleven days later, just short of his 52nd birthday. He was survived by his son David, a daughter, and his wife Florence, who, following her death at age 91 was interred alongside him at the Hickory Grove Cemetery in Waverly, Pennsylvania.

From the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, April 21, 1962.