Friday, August 28, 2020

Atlas Thomas Uzzell (1854-1911)

From the Raleigh News and Observer, March 9, 1905.

  Sharing a first name with the famed Greek mythological figure that was responsible for bearing the heavens on his shoulders, Atlas Thomas Uzzell was a leading Wayne County, North Carolina farmer who was elected to two consecutive terms in his state's house of representatives. The son of Thomas and Tirzah (Smith) Uzzell, Atlas T. Uzzell was born in Wayne County on October 21, 1854.
  A student in schools local to Wayne County, Uzzell married in December 1879 to Eliza Peel (1863-1929), to who he was wed until his death. The couple had two sons, Floyd Harold (1881-1957) and Robert Peel (1884-1929). A farmer in Wayne County for the majority of his life, Uzzell later owned and resided in his family's ancestral home following the death of his father Thomas (1814-1875), who is mentioned as a wealthy plantation and slave owner prior to the Civil War.  During his life, Atlas Uzzell accumulated 600 acres of land and entertained neighbors and friends with lavish dinners and barbecues at his home, including a 1907 gathering for the Goldsboro Tobacco Association.
   Active in local politics, Uzzell would win election to two terms as county treasurer and was a member of the Wayne County Democratic Executive Committee. Nominated for a seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives in 1902, he won the election that November and during the 1903-05 session was named to the committees on Agriculture, Engrossed Bills, Internal Improvements, and Propositions and Grievances.  This term also saw Uzzell introduce the Land and Tenant Bill, later remarked by the Goldsboro Weekly Argus as "one of the best measures ever passed to protect the farmers of Wayne County."
  Reelected in November 1904, the 1905-07 session saw Uzzell as a member of the committees on Appropriations; Counties, Cities, and Towns; Fish, Oyster, and Oyster Interests; Liquor Traffic; Propositions and Grievances; and Public Roads and Turnpikes. Uzzell's and in March 1905 represented Wayne County at the State Farmer's Convention held in Raleigh

From the Goldsboro Weekly Argus, July 26, 1906.

  In 1906 Uzzell's name was put forward for a third term by the Goldsboro Weekly Argus, which noted his previous service, remarking:
"Mr. Uzzell is better fitted for the place than a new man because he has served in this capacity before, and as the old saying goes, "knows the ropes", and our people would make no mistake in again electing him to office."
 Ultimately Uzzell would be passed over for renomination, and in November 1906 J.M. Edgerton was elected as one of two Wayne County representatives. Little is known of the remainder of his life, excepting note of his death in 1911. He was survived by his wife and sons and was interred at the Uzzell-Peel Cemetery in Goldsboro, North Carolina.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Dascar Octavius Newberry (1869-1928)

From the Elizabeth City Independent, July 29, 1921.

   North Carolina resident Dascar Octavius Newberry was, like many previously profiled politicians, without a face to place with his name for several years. A chance browsing through past digitized editions of the Elizabeth City Independent recently yielded the above portrait of Newberry, the first of which this author has seen. A figure of distinction in Tyrell County, "Dack" Newberry entered politics at an early age, first winning election to local office at the age of just 20. He would later mount a campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican and was selected by President Roosevelt as U.S. Collector of Customs for Elizabeth City in 1906. An alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1912, Newberry later underwent a change of political faith and was appointed as Judge of the Tyrrell County Court in 1921, as a Democrat.
  The son of Marquis De La Fayette (1836-1897) and Victoria (Patrick) Newberry (1844-1909), Dascar Octavius "Dack" Newberry was born in Tyrrell County on October 26, 1869. Newberry suffered a hardscrabble existence during his youth, and resided on "one of the poorest farms in the county." Although his education was limited, Newberry took work as a surveyor early in his life, and "grew to know his county like a book." At the age of twenty, he was elected as Tyrrell County Register of Deeds, where he served consecutive terms from 1890-1898. In the late 1890s, Newberry married Harriet Patrick (1873-1965), to who he was wed until his death. The couple would have three children, Lillian (died in infancy in 1898), Mildred (1901-1934), and Harriett (1906-2000).
  As County Register of Deeds Newberry resided in the town of Columbia, where he would have a considerable impact in civic affairs. He proved instrumental in establishing the town's first daily mail service, a telephone system, an express service, a branch of the U.S. Weather Bureau, and was an educational benefactor to the county school system. 
   Newberry's time as register of deeds also saw him serving in the additional role of justice of the peace in Tyrrell County, and in 1904 set his sights on a seat in Congress. Hoping to represent North Carolina's 1st Congressional district, Newberry won the Republican nomination and that November was opposed by three-term Democratic incumbent John Humphrey Small (1858-1946). On election day it was Small who triumphed at the ballot box, polling 13,065 votes to Newberry's 3,167. Small would subsequently win reelection to seven further terms in Congress and in June 1920 lost his seat in that year's Democratic primary.
  Despite his congressional defeat Newberry continued to advance politically and in 1906 was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as U.S. Collector of Customs at Elizabeth City. He served through the remainder of Roosevelt's administration and through the Taft presidency before stepping down in 1913. One year previous to leaving office Newberry was named an alternate delegate from North Carolina to the Republican National Convention in Chicago, where William Taft was renominated for the Presidency.
  Upon leaving the customs house in 1913 Newberry joked that the position should be abolished, and later saw a Democrat appointed to replace him. Newberry could take solace in the fact that the salary of the post was cut from $1,800 to a mere $150, and with that decrease in salary, a limited number of men applied for the post!
  In 1913 Newberry removed from Elizabeth City to Norfolk, Virginia, where he took on the post of legal advisor for the Richmond Cedar Works, then a major manufacturer of cedarwood washbasins, pails, and washing machines. Following his removal back to his old home in Columbia in 1919 Newberry served as president of the Albemarle Telephone and Electric Co. and was the president of the Merchant and Farmer's Bank, which during his stewardship had "resources of more than $200,000.00".  All told, Newberry proved modest about his numerous civic accomplishments, with the Elizabeth Independent remarking that:
"And many of the things he did he never got credit for. He was that rare sort of man who cared little for the praise he got out of doing a thing."
From the Elizabeth City Independent, December 21, 1928.

  With his return to Columbia Newberry felt called to politics once again, and underwent a change of political faith. This change from Republican to Democrat was reported on extensively in the Elizabeth City Independent, which noted Newberry's change in politics was due to the Republican party's stance on racial issues in the South. This paper also remarked on Newberry's other possible motives, including "business reasons" extenuating from a fracas between the Tyrrell County Board of Commissioners and the Merchant and Farmer's Bank.
  Whatever the reasoning behind Newberry's transfer of allegiance to the Democratic party, by the early 1920s he had helped build up its ranks in Tyrrell County, eventually seeing nearly all but one Republican officeholder voted out on election day. Rejuvenated politically, Newberry began speaking out on the pronounced liquor traffic in Columbia, calling a mass meeting of female citizens in the summer of 1921. Speaking on bootlegging and how to curb drunkenness in the town, Newberry was soon after named Tyrrell County judge, this office being created by a vote of the Board of Commissioners.
  His time on the bench saw Newberry imposing "heavy penalties" on those that broke the liquor laws. Proving to be a stern judge, Newberry also took steps to curtail vagrancy, and, with it, gambling and theft. His length of service on the bench remains undetermined at this time, and by August 1922 had been elected as Mayor of Columbia. His time in that office also remains indeterminate and on December 9, 1928, Newberry died in Norfolk, Virginia at age 59. He was survived by his wife Harriet and children and was interred at the Oakwood Cemetery in Columbia, North Carolina.

From the Elizabeth City Independent, December 14, 1928.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Trice Cowan Bennett (1886-1944)

From the Crittenden Recorder Press, November 6, 1913.

  Kentucky native Trice Cowan Bennett found distinction at the county bar at a young age, being just 26 years old when he was elected as County Attorney for Crittenden County. After serving four years in office, Bennett briefly worked for the federal government in Washington, D.C. before returning to political life, winning election as Commonwealth's Attorney for Kentucky's 4th Judicial District. A member of several fraternal groups in his region, Bennett continued prominence in Crittenden County until his death in a one-vehicle accident in February 1944.
  The youngest son of Adoniram Judson and Bettie (Wallace) Bennett, Trice Cowan Bennett was born near Tolu, Kentucky on December 11, 1886. His early education was obtained in the public schools of Tolu and Marion, Kentucky, and graduated in 1904 from the Marion High School. Deciding to pursue a career in law, Bennett enrolled at the Central University of Kentucky and in 1907 graduated with his bachelor of laws degree. Bennett married in Kentucky in June 1908 to Mildred Haynes (1886-1912). The couple was married only briefly before her death from tuberculosis, and this marriage produced two children, Mary Elizabeth (born 1910) and Mildred (1912-1988).
  Following graduation, Bennett relocated to Marietta in the Oklahoma Territory to begin practice, and for four years (1907-11) operated in the territory's southern district. He removed back to Crittenden County in late 1911 due to his wife's illness and established his practice in Marion. After his wife's death in 1912 Bennett pressed on and in the following year announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Crittenden County Attorney. News of his candidacy reached his former home in Love County, Oklahoma, which remarked that Bennett:
"Was considered one of the brightest young lawyers in the state and enjoyed a large practice. He was employed in some of the most noted civil and criminal cases ever tried in the county and always won out. He was ademocrat of the truest southern type and was always amongst the first of the democratic ranks."
From the Crittenden Recorder Press, October 23, 1913.

  On election day in November 1913 Bennett won the post of County Attorney with a majority of 261 votes "the largest ever given any democrat in the history of County's politics." Taking office in 1914, Bennett served until 1918, and remarried during his term in 1915 to Ida Lou Ramage (1888-1935), who he also survived. In 1918 Bennett left Kentucky for Washington, D.C., where for a brief period he was in the service of the federal government's "legal division."
   Bennett's non political activities include his directorship of the Pinnacle Leasing and Development Co. in Marion and was a leading club-man in his region, holding memberships in the Bingham Lodge No. 256 of Free and Accepted Masons, the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, and the Rosewood Camp No. 22 of the Woodmen of the World. He was also a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Marion.
  In November 1921 Trice Bennett was elected as Commonwealth's Attorney for Kentucky's 4th judicial district, an area comprising the counties of Caldwell, Crittenden, Hopkins, and Livingston. Bennett's six year tenure (1922-28) saw him serving alongside another oddly named political figure, circuit court judge Ruby Laffoon (1869-1941), who would go on to win election as Governor of Kentucky in 1930. In June 1935 Trice Bennett suffered the death of his second wife Ida Lou, who died at home of a stroke. Sometime later Bennett married for a third time, taking as his bride Lula Ellen Sherfield Tackwell (1891-1974), a widow with two children from a previous marriage. 
  Bennett continued in the practice of law until his death in an automobile accident on February 16, 1944. While en route to Louisville, Bennett lost control of his vehicle on an icy stretch of highway near Waverly, Kentucky. The car subsequently left the road and crashed into a nearby ditch, with Bennett's body being discovered in the back seat. He succumbed to his injuries a few hours later at a hospital in Morganfield, Kentucky. He was later interred at the Mapleview Cemetery in Marion, the same resting place as his first and second wives.

From the Princeton Leader, February 17, 1944.

From the Danville Adocate Messenger, February 21, 1944.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Ricklef Ulrich Ricklefs (1843-1899)

From the Monticello Express, August 24, 1899.

  I can always count on Iowa to offer up a previously unknown mayor with an amusing name, and I think you'll agree that one term Monticello mayor Ricklef Ulrich Ricklefs fits the bill perfectly! Sporting a name that's guaranteed to give you a case of the giggles, Ricklefs was a native of Germany who, following his removal to Iowa in 1869, became a leading business figure in the town of Monticello. The operator of a mercantile store and grocery, Ricklefs entered local politics in the late 1880s when he was elected to one term as Monticello's mayor. 
  Born in Sandel, Duchy of Oldenburg, Germany on November 25, 1843, Ricklef U. Ricklefs was the son of Johan Dietrich (1808-1885) and Elizabeth Ricklefs (1809-1879). He received "religious instruction" during his youth in Germany and was confirmed in the local Lutheran Church. His formative years saw him apprenticed to a mercantile business owner, and after five years removed from Oldenburg to Stade in the province of Hannover. He would be employed as a business manager in that city, and in 1869 married to Augusta Margretha Reitzen (1846-1935), daughter of a Stade sea captain. 
  Following their marriage, Ricklef and Augusta Ricklefs immigrated to the United States. Settling in Monticello, Iowa, their three-decade-long marriage produced nine children: Charlotte (1870-1910), August John Diedrich (1873-1940), Emma Henriette (1874-1945), Julia (died in infancy in 1877), Rudolph Ulrich (1879-1932), Clara Marie (1883-1943), Henrietta Elise (1884-1887), Emil (1889-1975), and Rex Helmuth (1892-1977).
  After establishing roots in Monticello Ricklefs took work as a clerk under grocery owner William Schodde, where he continued until 1877. In that year Schodde sold his business to Ricklefs and a partner, with the two men continuing operations under the firm name of Ricklefs and Houser. Their partnership extended until 1887, and their decade-long business as Ricklefs remarked as a "good and careful buyer", even going as far as Chicago to purchase goods to sell in his store. Amongst other grocery items and dry goods, the business also sold clothing like gloves, mittens, caps, and hats, as evidenced by the advertisement below.

A Ricklefs business advertisement from the Monticello Express, March 31, 1881.

  With his name firmly established in the Monticello business community, Ricklefs parted ways with his partner J.C Houser in 1887 and afterward continued in business alone. In addition to his store, Ricklefs added a mill to his business operations in the early 1890s, operating it until his death in 1899. In the mid-1880s he made his first foray into local politics with his election to the Monticello city council, where he served from 1885-87. He would be elected as Mayor of Monticello in 1887 and served a one year term in 1888. He would leave office with a disdain for politics, with the Monticello Express later remarking:
"But while he  took an interest in public affairs, he did not care to be a participant, and was only too glad to leave office to those who preferred its petty annoyances to private affairs."
  Several months prior to his death Ricklefs health began to fail but continued operations with his store until a few weeks before his death. The last weeks of his life saw him confined to his home, gradually weakening and losing over thirty pounds. Ricklefs died at his home on August 18, 1899, aged 55, of "ulceration of the bowels." Memorialized as one of Monticello's "most prominent, best known and successful business men", Ricklefs was survived by his wife and children and was interred at the Oakwood Cemetery in Monticello.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Romanus Rudolphus Bour (1860-1931), Romanus James Downey (1896-1947)

From the Ohio Manual of Legislative Practice, 1914.

   A leading county official and citizen residing in Tiffin, Ohio at the turn of the 19th century, Romanus Rudolphus Bour served several years as Seneca County auditor prior to his election to two consecutive terms as a state representative. A lifelong resident of Tiffin, Romanus R. Bour was born in that city on January 19, 1860, the son of John and Elizabeth (Swope) Bour. A student at the St. Mary's Parochial School in that city,  Bour went on to attend the Tiffin High School and for two years enrolled at the Heidelberg College in Tiffin. 
  Bour briefly followed a teaching career and joined his father in the former's business in Tiffin before taking a clerkship in the Seneca County auditor's office in 1882. The next year saw Bour enter into the role of deputy county auditor, which he would fill for many years afterward. In May 1884 he married to Ida Matilda Strauss (1864-1938), with who he had seven children: Emery George (1887-89), James Norton (born 1889), Bertha (born 1892) Charles R. (born 1894), Elmer William (1896-1974), Margaret Louisa (1900-1998), and Paul Herbert (1902-1973). 
  In 1903 Romanus Bour was elected as Seneca County auditor and would serve two terms, leaving office in 1909. In 1910 he announced his candidacy for the Ohio House of Representatives and was elected "by an 857 majority" that November. The 1911-13 session saw him sit on the committees on Mines and Mining, the Soldiers and Sailors Home, and Taxation and Revenues. He would win a second term in 1912 and during the 1913-15 term chaired the committee on Public Buildings and Lands.
  After leaving the legislature Bour continued prominence in Tiffin, being named as teller for the Commercial National Bank in that city. A longstanding member of the Knights of Pythias and the Knights of Columbus, Bour died of a heart attack at his home in Tiffin on February 9, 1931, aged 71. He was survived by his wife Ida and children and was interred at the St. Mary's Cemetery in Tiffin. In addendum to this article, Bour's middle name is variously spelled as both Rudolph and Rudolphus by genealogical webpages, such as, MyHeritage and FamilySearch.
Romanus Bour, from Tiffin's Seventy-Fifth Anniversary, 1897.

From the Bismarck Tribune, June 9, 1941.

  Another "Romanus" that made an impact through public service was Romanus James Downey of  North Dakota. A one-term member of the state house of representatives from Ramsey County, Downey would later be tapped to serve as State Commissioner of Veterans Affairs. He served in that capacity until his death a decade later, losing his life in a bizarre "elevator mishap" at a Fargo hotel. Born in Barnesville, Minnesota on August 6, 1896, Romanus James Downey was the son of Thomas W. and Sarah A. Downey.
  Removing with his family to Devil's Lake, North Dakota in 1909, Downey attended the local high school and later enrolled at the University of North Dakota. He would put his studies on hold to enlist in WWI, and served overseas with Co. D, 2nd North Dakota Infantry from 1917-1919. Following his return to Devil's Lake in the last-named year, Downey recommenced with his studies and later relocated to Washington, D.C., where he was a student at the Georgetown Law School. His time in the nation's capital saw him enter government service for the first time when he took a clerkship in a "senate committee that was investigating the Teapot Dome scandal."
  Earning his law degree in 1924, Downey established himself in practice in Devil's Lake and in 1934 was elected as a Democrat to the North Dakota House of Representatives. He served in the session of 1935-37, and in August 1937 was named by then-Governor William Langer as State Commissioner of Veteran's Affairs, with Langer himself referring to Downey as "the most qualified candidate". His decade long tenure in that post also saw Downey flirt with a congressional bid, and in November 1940 was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, polling over 63,000 votes.
  On April 22. 1947 the 50-year-old Downey was staying at the Gardner Hotel in Fargo, North Dakota when he entered into an elevator to ride to his room on the fourth floor. He was "stricken by either a dizzy spell or a heart attack and fell against a floor while it was being passed by the elevator." Downey died of a crushed skull received from the accident and was survived by his wife Frederica (1897-1973). Both were later interred at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Fargo.

From the Bismarck Tribune, April 23, 1947.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Renah Fearing Camalier (1890-1978)

From the Washington Evening Star, June 8, 1952.

  The Strangest Names In American Political History makes its second stop in the nation's capital for 2020 with a look at the life of Renah Fearing Camalier, who possesses an exotic-sounding name. Active in Democratic party circles in Washington, D.C., Camalier was an attorney who had served as secretary to Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Roosevelt and Senator Alva Adams of Colorado. Camalier later was retained as counsel for the Senate District Committee and in 1952 was appointed by President Truman as a member of the Washington, D.C. Board of Commissioners, a body that comprised three members who governed the district following the dissolve of the territorial government in 1874.
   A lifelong resident of Washington, D.C., Camalier was born in the district on October 8, 1890, the son of George Alexander (1848-1906) and Irene (Fearing) Camalier (1857-1941). His early education was obtained in the district's Abbott Elementary School, the Business High School, the Temple Secretarial School, and the Emerson Institute. He first entered into government service at the age of just sixteen, taking work as a clerk in the District Water Department. He later advanced to the position of chief of the water survey division, and for a time was a reporter and chief clerk to the district's Public Utilities Commission. Renah F. Camalier married on November 27, 1916 to Helen F. Edwards (1892-1975), to who he was wed for nearly sixty years. The couple would remain childless.
   Camalier's first experience in federal government service came in 1917 when a young Democratic politician, Franklin D. Roosevelt, assumed the post of Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President Wilson. Once confirmed, Roosevelt named Camalier as the department secretary, a role he would fill until September 1920. Camalier would also accompany Roosevelt on the latter's nationwide speaking tour in 1920 when he was nominated for Vice-President of the United States with presidential nominee James M. Cox.
   After leaving the naval department Camalier dabbled in real estate and in 1923 entered into the post of secretary in the office of U.S. Senator Alva B. Adams of Colorado. He turned his attention to law studies during this period, and in 1925 earned his degree from the National University. From 1925-26 Camalier served in the capacity of investigator for the Federal Trade Commission and in 1929 began service as an assistant U.S. Attorney, and would pursue "prohibition case persecutions".
  From 1930-33 Camalier engaged in private practice and again served under Alva B. Adams after the latter was reelected to the senate in 1933. Camalier would be appointed an assistant U.S. Attorney for Colorado and argued cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. He continued in federal government service with his appointment as clerk of the U.S. Senate Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation from 1935-37, and from 1937-40 was named clerk of the committee on Public Lands and Surveys. 

From the Washington Evening Star, November 9, 1952.

   By 1941 Camalier had advanced to the post of counsel for the Senate District Committee, and in the following year was named chairman of the Commissioner's Board of Visitors to Municipal Hospitals, where he served until 1951. During World War II Camalier was tapped to serve as a consultant to the District Office of Price Administration, where he was tasked "with solving a confused oil problem" on a volunteer basis.
 In addition to government service, Renah Camalier was long an active Mason in the district, serving as district Grand Master from 1952-53. He was named an honorary 33rd degree Mason, was a deputy of the Scottish Rite of the District of Columbia, and in 1949 served as Potentate of the Almas Temple Shriners. Camalier and his wife were parishioners of the Metropolitan United Methodist Church for many years and for over four decades he served as a member of its board of trustees. 
  A member of the law firm of Camalier and McDonald in the early 1950s, Camalier achieved his highest degree of public prominence in April 1952 when he was appointed by President Truman to the Washington, D.C. Board of Commissioners. A body that had first come into being in 1874 (following the dissolution of the territorial government of the District of Columbia), the Board of Commissioners became a three-man commission in 1878, with each of the members being appointed by the president. These men (one Republican, one Democrat, and one civil engineer with no political affiliation) would then choose one of their own as board president. This board also functioned as the city council during its existence.
  Succeeding outgoing board member John Russell Young, Camalier took his seat in June 1952. He would serve a three-year term and his service was:
"Marked by his efforts to increase welfare payments to the needy, to improve services at D.C. General Hospital and other health facilities, and his strong support for home rule for the District and representation for its residents in Congress."
Camalier during his service on the D.C. Board of Commissioners.

   During his term, Camalier was honored with the 1954 Deborah Humanitarian Award, due to his:
"Long and illustrious service and his devotion to the highest American ideals in behalf of less fortunate citizens regardless of race, color, creed or standing in society."
  Though wanting to reappointed to a second term on the board, Camalier was passed over by Republican president Dwight Eisenhower and left office in June 1955. He continued to reside in Washington, D.C., and from 1963-69 was a member of the American University Board of Trustees.  He also continued prominence in the masonic order and just months prior to his death Camalier was bestowed the Grand Master's Award at the Grand Lodge Banquet on December 21, 1977. Widowed in 1975, Renah Fearing Camalier died at his home in Washington on June 14, 1978, aged 87.  He was later interred at the Cedar Hill Cemetery in Silver City, Maryland and one should also note that an alternate middle name for Camalier is given amongst the rolls of deceased district grandmasters, "Franzoni". 

From the April 16, 1952 edition of the Washington Evening Star.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Rentfro Banton Creager (1877-1950)

Portrait from the National Magazine, 1922.

   The name of Rentfro Banton Creager stood prominent in Texas Republican party circles during the early years of the 20th century. An attorney and former U.S. Collector of Customs at Brownsville, Creager achieved his highest degree of political prominence in 1916 when he received the Republican nomination for Governor of Texas. Although unsuccessful at the polls, Creager later went on to represent Texas on the Republican National Committee for over twenty years. A delegate from Texas to every Republican National Convention from 1916-1944, Creager was touted as a potential nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Mexico in the administrations of Harding and Coolidge but declined the honor.
  A lifelong Texan, Rentfro Banton "R.B." Creager was the son of Francis Warwick (1835-1912) and Katherine (Rentfro) Creager (1850-1928), his birth occurring in Waco on March 11, 1877. At age seven he removed to Brownsville with his family, and as a resident of a city that was predominantly Mexican-American, attended public schools and learned to speak and write Spanish fluently. Following graduation, he continued his studies at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and at the University of Texas, graduating from the latter in 1900 with his LLB. degree. 
   Creager returned to Brownsville in 1900 and established his law practice. He would cultivate a leading role at the Cameron County bar, being characterized by the National Magazine "as a lawyer he ranks amongst the ablest in Texas and represents many financial and development interests along the Mexican border." Creager married in February 1904 to Alice Terrell (1878-1958), to who he was wed until his death. The couple's near five-decade marriage produced four children, Katharyn Nina (1905-1999), Elizabeth (1908-1959), Frances (1915-1989), and Rentfro Banton (1920-2005).
  Rentfro Creager began his political ascent in 1909 with his appointment as U.S. Collector of Customs at Brownsville. Appointed by outgoing President Theodore Roosevelt, Creager was confirmed in March 1909 and served through the administration of President Taft, leaving office on June 30, 1913, when the post was abolished
   With his name firmly established in Texas Republican circles with his time in the customs office, Creager made headway in other areas of Cameron County life, including a long tenure as director of the First National Bank of Brownsville, "and had other extensive business interests, including real estate developments and bridges over the Rio Grande." In August 1916 Creager's name was put forward at the Texas state Republican convention as its candidate for Governor, and after clinching the nomination addressed his fellow delegates, remarking:
"I will say never in the history of Texas has such an opportunity been offered for a vigorous and effective campaign by the republicans. Never has the democratic party in state and nation been so vulnerable. Never has the democratic party so strikingly lived up to and exemplified the salient characteristics of the longeared animal which stands as its party emblem as during the last four years. The disclosures as to corruption mismanagement and utter ineffiency in state affairs made during the campaign preceeding the recent democratic primaries were sufficient to convince any honest and impartial citizen that there should be a radical change in out state government, and it is my belief, gentlemen of the convention, that there are scores of thousands of democrats in Texas that the interests of their state should come before the interests of any political party."
From the Mercedes Tribune, November 2, 1916.

  Through the late summer and fall of 1916 Creager hit the campaign trail and also had his campaign platform boomed throughout various Texas newspapers. In one such instance, the Bryan Daily Eagle published a lengthy list of where Creager stood on the pertinent topics of the day, including the following:
  • Favored the retention of the Robertson Insurance Law.
  • Favored the abolition of many useless state offices and a halt on "junketing trips" paid at the expense of the taxpayer. 
  • Favored women's suffrage--"as a matter of justice".
  • Amendment of the delinquent tax law.
  • Favored the lowering of taxes and advocated placing "all public officers on strict salary basis."
  • Was against candidates accepting campaign donations from corporations.
  • Was against "the appointment of incompetents for political reasons."
  • Was against the excessive collection of back tax penalties.
From the Amarillo Daily News, October 18, 1916.

  Opposing Creager in his bid for governor was incumbent Democrat James Edward Ferguson (1871-1944), who had first won election in 1914. Despite a campaign slogan touting "Honesty First, Party Politics Afterward" Creager was trounced in the general election, polling 49,118 votes to Ferguson's 296,667. While he may have won in a landslide, Ferguson was later impeached by the Texas legislature in August 1917,  extending from "misapplication of public funds", amongst other charges.
  While his gubernatorial aspirations were dashed, Creager wasn't through politically, and in the same year of his defeat, he served as part of the Texas delegation to the Republican National Convention in Chicago. All told, Creager would be a Texas delegate-at-large to the conventions of 1916, 1920, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1940, and 1944, and in 1921 was named chairman of the Texas State Republican committee. During the 1920 election year, Creager lobbied hard for the nomination for Ohio senator Warren Harding for president, and even invited Harding to Texas for a fishing trip prior to the Republican National Convention that year.
  Having developed a firm friendship with the presidential candidate, Creager and other Harding supporters continued to map his election strategy at the convention, and after journeying to Chicago Creager:
"Took over, leading the dickering for the Harding forces in rooms 404, 405, and 406 of the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago."
   Creager later took to the convention floor and delivered a rousing address seconding the nomination of Harding, who, after receiving the presidential nod, was a guest of the Creagers at their home in Brownsville. Following his win in November 1920, Harding returned the favor and invited Creager and his wife to the White House. In 1921 Creager's name was bolstered for U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and was offered the post by both presidents Harding and Coolidge, but ultimately declined the honor.

From the Indianapolis Times, June 11, 1928.

  Creager's stature in Texas Republican circles continued to rise in 1923 with his appointment to the Republican National Committee, where he represented Texas until 1944. He would boom the presidential candidacy of Herbert Hoover in 1928, and eight years later was one of five Republican "board of strategy" members that mapped the campaign of presidential nominee Alfred M. Landon of Kansas. 
  Well into the 1940s Creager continued to wield influence in his party, and in 1948 fought off a challenge from fellow Texas Republican George Hopkins, who believed Creager held too much sway in state Republican affairs. In the summer of 1950, Creager attended the Texas Republican state convention held in Galveston, and in early September began to suffer ill health. This necessitated a hospital stay in Brownsville, and on October 28, 1950, Creager died in hospital at age 73. He was survived by his wife and children and was interred at the Old City Cemetery in Brownsville. 

From the Gladewater Daily Mirror, October 29, 1950.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Adna Marcellus Utterback (1860-1951), Adna Romulus Johnson (1860-1938), Adna Balch Jones (1857-1917), Adna Bradway Leonard (1837-1916), Adna Bemis Cobleigh (1877-1948)

Portrait from the Genealogical and Biographical History of Keokuk County, Iowa.

   An oddly named quartet is profiled on the site today, featuring the curious first name Adna. A biblical name, Adna is a figure mentioned in the Books of Nehemiah and Ezra and is also defined as meaning pleasure or delight. Adna Marcellus Utterback of Iowa is the first to be profiled, and in addition to his being a lumber dealer and farmer in that state entered politics early in the 20th century, winning election to one term in the Iowa House of Representatives from Keokuk County. The son of Josiah and Frances Emily (Dyer) Utterback, Adna Marcellus Utterback was born in Lancaster township, Iowa on April 9, 1860. 
  Raised on a farm in Keokuk, Utterback was a student in the common schools of that county and married in Hayesville, Iowa in December 1879 to Julia Esther Hayes (1860-1934). The couple were wed for over fifty years and had five children, Hubert Sylvester (1880-1942), Blanche (1882-1975), Alta (born 1886), Fred (born 1890), and Ruth Frances (born 1893). 
  Following his marriage, Utterback followed farming until 1882, when he entered into the lumber business in the town of Delta. He continued along that route after relocating to Martinsburg, Iowa in the 1880s, and during his residency held the post of railway and express agent.  Around 1885 Utterback resettled in Hedrick, located in Keokuk County. He farmed there for nearly two decades and until his retirement was a partner with the Cecil Brothers in livestock purchasing. Utterback would further influence the business life of his community with his affiliation with the Hedrick Kite track, beginning in the 1890s.
   A kite-shaped raceway that furnished "amusement for thousands of strangers each year", this mile-long race track was owned and managed by Utterback for several years. The track provided a financial boost to the community and for over a decade ran a horse racing program in August that not only brought in hundreds of horses but filled the stands in the amphitheater with thousands of spectators. Despite its popularity, Utterback later sold his interest in the business, and the track would be defunct by about 1903.
  Beginning in 1902 Adna Utterback was an organizer of the Hedrick State Bank, of which he served as president. He made his first move into Keokuk County politics as a member of the county board of supervisors, and in 1901 announced that he'd be seeking the Democratic nomination for the Iowa House of Representatives. Hoping to represent the 24th legislative district, Utterback won out at the polls in the general election and took his seat in January 1902. During this term he was named to the following committees: Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, the Board of Public Charities, Building and Loan, Congressional Districts, Domestic Manufactures, and Military Affairs.  
  After leaving the legislature Utterback returned to his business and livestock interests and in 1932 saw his son Hubert begin a political career of his own, as he served a short term on the Iowa Supreme Court and in 1934 won election to the U.S. House of Representatives for the 1935-37 session. Widowed in 1934, Adna Utterback remarried in 1936 to Martinsburg resident Florence Graves Taylor (1875-1963), who would survive him. Utterback celebrated his 90th birthday in April 1950 and died on October 11, 1951, at a nursing facility in Sigourney, Iowa. He was later interred at the Pennington Cemetery in Sigourney.

From the Hedrick Journal, October 17, 1951.

Portrait from the Waverly News, October 8, 1908.

  Another in a long line of oddly named U.S. Representatives that peopled the halls of Congress in the early 20th century, Ohioan Adna Romulus Johnson is also the only "Adna" to win election to that body. A once-prominent attorney in Ironton, Ohio, Johnson served one term in Congress and, like many of his fellow one term representatives, has been largely ignored by future generations. A schoolteacher and former prosecuting attorney for Lawrence County, Johnson went on to further distinction in the decades following his term, being elected as president of the Ohio State Bar Association in the 1930s.
  A native of Missouri, Adna Romulus Johnson was born in Sweet Springs, Saline County on December 14, 1860, the son of Spencer and Persis (Stivers) Johnson. Left fatherless at an early age, Johnson removed with his mother to Lawrence County, Ohio in 1864. In a campaign notice that mistakenly records his birth as having occurred in Ohio, Johnson was noted as aiding his mother in the raising of his five siblings, and in addition to farm work obtained his education in the common and "select schools" of the county.
  In his youth Johnson joined the workforce and in the 1870s engaged in railroad construction, being employed as a laborer on the Cincinnati, Hamilton, and Dayton Railway. This period later saw Johnson haul wood and work at an iron furnace in Alabama. After returning to Ohio Johnson focused his efforts on a teaching career, and after obtaining his teaching certificate followed that vocation for several years. 
  By the mid-1880s Johnson had refocused his career path and began reading law. In 1885 he enrolled at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, graduating with his degree in 1887 He had been admitted to the Ohio bar in 1886 and in 1888 established himself in practice in Ironton, Ohio. The 1889 election year saw Johnson nominated and elected to his first political office, that of Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney. His term was later lauded by the Waverly, Ohio News during his congressional run in 1908, noting:
"His conduct of the office was characterized by strict attention to duty and a high sense of official obligation. Like so many men who have risen to high rank as lawyers from the office of public prosecutor, his rise in his profession has been rapid and without precedent in Southern Ohio."
From the Marion Daily Mirror, May 18, 1910.

  Adna Romulus Johnson married in Ohio in October 1890 to Dora Ricketts (1865-1914). The couple was wed until Dora's death and had three sons, Adna Romulus Jr. (1893-1952), Newton Halsey, and Donald. A veteran of the Marine Corps during WWI, Adna R. Johnson Jr. practiced law with his father and attained prominence of his own in the early 1920s, being named a special assistant in the U.S. Attorney General's office, "in charge of alien property cases."
  Johnson's term as prosecuting attorney concluded in 1894 and until his congressional run continued practice in Ironton. Remarked as a teetotaller, Johnson was also acknowledged by the Waverly News as being the proud owner of one of the largest private libraries in the country, "numbering in the thousands of volumes." 
  In 1908 Johnson announced his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio and after winning the Republican primary faced off against Democrat Thomas H.B. Jones, a fellow resident of Lawrence County. Johnson proved successful at the polls on election day, besting Jones by a vote of 23,687 to 18,918. He took his seat in January 1909 and was named to the committees on Coinage, Weights, and Measures; Elections No. 3; and Immigration and Naturalization. 
  In the 1910 election year "Rom" Johnson was overwhelmingly renominated for a second term, but in July of that year issued a formal letter declining the honor. In a Marion, Ohio Daily Mirror writeup concerning his bowing out of the race, John remarked to an Ironton newspaper reporter his disgust with party politics, saying:
"My duties as a congressman to my constituents entailed almost the loss of one's manhood and principles for in order to get even the slighest legislative or appointive concession at Washington, it was necessary to bow and scrape to all the powers up to the president. I am thoroughly disgusted with the whole business and am of the opinion that any other man would be if he went through it."
  At the conclusion of his term, Johnson returned to his law practice in Ironton and through the remainder of his life was affiliated with various banking and manufacturing enterprises in Southern Ohio. He reemerged into the public eye in 1933 when he was elected as president of the Ohio State Bar Association, serving a one year term. Widowed in 1914, Adna Romulus Johnson died in Ironton on June 11, 1938, at age 77. He was survived by his three sons and his second wife, Elizabeth Schrader Johnson (1884-1967), and was interred at the Woodland Cemetery in Ironton.

From the Western Kansas World, March 27, 2014.

  Another obscure "Adna" that entered politics was Adna Balch Jones, a WaKeeney, Kansas-based physician who served two consecutive terms in his state's house of representatives. A native of New Hampshire, Adna B. Jones was born in Grafton on March 21, 1857. He removed with his family to Iowa while a child and his early education was obtained in that state. He enrolled at the Grinnell College in the mid-1870s and there met Clara Gibson (1857-1950), who he would marry in September 1877. The couple were wed for nearly forty years and had two sons, Guy Gibson and Glen Morgan Jones (born 1890).
  After completing his schooling at the Grinnell College Jones enrolled in the Iowa State College's medical department, and furthered his studies at Rush Medical College. He graduated in the class of 1882 and soon after removed with his wife to WaKeeney, Trego County, Kansas. Here he established a surgical and medical practice that continued until his death in 1917. For three decades Jones also was affiliated with the Union Pacific Railroad Company, being retained as its district surgeon. His long period of practice saw him gain distinction throughout Trego County and outlying areas, being remarked as "one of the very few qualified physicians in Western Kansas. His sterling character was further attested to in his Kansas Medical Society Journal obituary, which notes:
"His prepardness, combined with a strong genial personality, assured him the confidence and loyalty of his patronage. Other physicians called him in consultation more than any other physician."
   Even a century after his death, the bedside manner and professional candor of Adna B. Jones remains strong in Trego County, with Jones having received an extensive profile in the January 10, 2019 edition of the Western Kansas World. In this write-up Jones is recorded as having braved inclement weather to attend to patients, sometimes having to travel through the night to reach their bedside. Jones is also reported to have braved a flood to visit a sick patient, and:
"When tending to patients Jones always left them in better spirits then what he had found them in, with a kind word or funny anecdote."
From the 1905 Kansas legislative composite

   Jones first entered the political life of WaKeeney with his election as that town's mayor, serving in 1886. In November 1904 he was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives from Trego County, and during his first term (1905-07) was a member of the committees on Horticulture and Forestry, Immigration, Irrigation, and Private Corporations. He won a second term in November 1906 and during the 1907-09 session was named to four new committees, those being Charitable Institutions, Hygiene and Public Health, Judicial Apportionment, and Railroads.
   In addition to medicine and politics Jones was a financial contributor to the construction of the First United Presbyterian Church of WaKeeney in the late 1880s, and from 1890-91 was a Worthy Master of the Masonic Lodge No. 148 of WaKeeney. Jones was also a substantial landowner in Trego County, owning a 2,000-acre ranch where he farmed alfalfa and raised horses, cows, and "200 head of hogs.
  Adna Balch Jones's health began to fail in 1917 and by October of that year had been transported to Missouri for treatment at the University Hospital at Kansas City. He died there on October 26, 1917, aged 60, "due to complications of an enlarged heart." He was survived by his wife and sons and was interred at the WaKeeney City Cemetery. Far from a forgotten figure in Trego County, Jones's memory was introduced to a new generation of WaKeeney residents in 2014 when he was voted the "Famous Trego County Citizen" and was honored by having his portrait displayed in the Hall of Fame at Wichita during the Kansas Diamond Jubilee celebration.

Portrait from "The Stone of Help", 1915.

  Arguably the most obscure of the four men profiled, Adna Bradway Leonard was a prominent name in the affairs of the Methodist church during the 19th and early 20th centuries. A minister who held pastorates in Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, Leonard's long career saw him serve as a delegate to the Methodist General Conference on eight occasions and for over twenty years was corresponding secretary of the Missionary Society. Leonard earns placement here on the site due to his 1885 candidacy for Governor of Ohio on the Prohibition Party ticket.
  The son of John and Nancy Leonard, Adna Bradway Leonard was born in Mahoning County, Ohio on August 2, 1837. He was a student in schools local to Alliance, Ohio and after graduating from that city's high school married Carolina Amelia Kaiser (died 1899) in 1861. The couple had seven children, including Adna Wright Leonard (1874-1943), who also attained distinction through ministerial work, being a Methodist Bishop for nearly 30 years. Leonard would lose his life in a plane crash in Iceland in 1943, while on a visit to Methodist chaplains and American servicemen.
  A year prior to his marriage Leonard was ordained a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church. He held his first pastorate in Marlboro, Ohio until 1861, and from 1861-63 ministered in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. In 1863 he was transferred to Butler, and in the year following was made pastor in Alliance, Ohio. In 1866 Leonard transferred to the Kansas Conference, and for several years held a pastorate in Leavenworth, where he was a district elder. He resided there until 1870 when he was transferred to the Pittsburgh Conference in Pennsylvania, where he held a pastorate until 1873.
  In 1873 Leonard began a lengthy pastorate in Ohio, first being centered in Cincinnati. His time with the Cincinnati Conference extended until 1877 and followed this with a transfer to Dayton, and in 1879 named a Presiding Elder in the Cincinnati Conference. In 1883 he was transferred to Springfield, Ohio, and in 1886 began a pastorate in Piqua. 
  Adna B. Leonard was called to political life in 1885 when he was accorded the Prohibition Party nomination for Governor of Ohio. Despite having no previous background in elective office, Leonard accepted the nomination and was one of four gubernatorial candidates that year. On election day in October Leonard polled 28,081 votes but was swamped by the overwhelming turnout for Republican and Democratic candidates George Hoadley (incumbent) and Joseph Foraker, the latter winning with a vote of 359,281.

Portrait courtesy of

  Removing to Brooklyn, New York in 1888, Leonard was appointed as the corresponding secretary for the Missionary Society and Board of Foreign Missions for the Methodist Episcopal Church that same year. His time in that post extended until 1912 and afterward was designated corresponding secretary emeritus. Leonard's later years also saw him undertake missionary visits to Asia, the West Indies,  Europe, and Mexico between 1893 and 1904. 
 In 1915 Adna Leonard published his autobiography, titled the Stone of Help. He died at his home in Brooklyn one year later on April 21, 1916. As a testament to his notoriety, Leonard's death notice was published in newspapers as far away as Minnesota, and following funeral arrangements was interred at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Springfield, Ohio.

From the Duluth, Minnesota Herald, April 22, 1916.

From the Newport Daily Express, June 28, 1948.

   In an April 30, 2021 update to this article, it's Adna Bemis Cobleigh, a prominent public servant in Orleans County, Vermont for over forty years. Cobleigh served terms in both houses of the Vermont state legislature and held the additional post of district highway commissioner for nearly three decades. The son of Freedom and Laura Cobleigh, Adna Bemis Cobleigh was born in Vermont on July 1, 1877. Little is known of his early life or schooling, and by the late 1890s was employed at the Spaulding Brothers grocery in St. Johnsbury. He left that employ in June 1898, and in September of that year married Carrie Deland (1874-1959), to who he was wed for nearly fifty years. The couple had two daughters, Laura and Lota.
  After leaving St. Johnsbury Cobleigh clerked in the store of W.E. Tripp in East Charlton, and in 1902 purchased the Cheney Grocery in West Derby. Following his departure from Tripp's store, Cobleigh and his family were feted with a party, attended by one hundred citizens, who gifted him a parting gift of "a purse of $42." In November 1902 he was named U.S. Postmaster at West Derby, and in 1906 entered into the race for state representative from Orleans County. Running on the Republican ticket, Cobleigh was elected that November and during the 1907-09 session was a member of the committee on claims.
  During his term, Cobleigh held local office in Derby, being a town selectman, and after leaving office joined the freight office of the Boston and Maine railroad. In 1915 he began a long tenure in the state highway department when he became an assistant to Orleans County road commissioner Stoddard Bates. In 1917 Cobleigh was appointed as district road commissioner for Orleans and part of Essex County, and was continually reappointed to that post for the next 28 years. He retired in December 1945 and was remarked as being "the engineer with the longest service in the highway department" at the time of his retirement.
  In November 1926 Cobleigh won a second term in the house of representatives, this time representing Newport. He chaired the committee on Highways and Bridges, and in 1932 again sought elective office, announcing his candidacy for state senator. He won out at the polls that November, defeating fellow Republican Charles Barrows, 1009 votes to 895. Sworn into office in January 1933, Cobleigh served one term and was named to the following committees: Agriculture, Finance, Highways and Bridges, State and Court Expenses, Sufferage and Elections (chairman). 
  Active in several fraternal groups prior to and after his time in state government, Cobleigh was a member of the International Order of Oddfellows, the Order of the Eastern Star, and the Masons. Additionally, he was a "devoted member" of the Main Street Baptist Church of Newport. Following retirement from the highway department, Cobleigh continued residence in Newport and died at a local hospital on June 27, 1948, a few days shy of his 71st birthday. He was survived by his wife and daughters and was interred at the Pine Grove Cemetery in Newport.

From the Newport Daily Express, June 29, 1948.