Sunday, December 31, 2023

Texas Angel (1839-1903)

From the Idaho Statesman, April 6, 1903.

  December 31 is upon us and with that comes our Strangest Name of the Year. As is the custom over the past decade, the final posting of the year is dedicated to an especially odd-named figure, and the following profile takes us to Idaho to examine the life of Texas Angel, a transplant to that state from Wisconsin. A New Yorker by birth and a Civil War veteran, Angel first found political distinction in Wisconsin, where he served as a District Attorney. After a five-year residency in California, Angel settled in Idaho, where he practiced law for over two decades. During his residency, he was an unsuccessful aspirant for the state supreme court and was a candidate for district court judge in the year before his death. 
  Born in Angelica, New York on October 19, 1839, Texas Angel was the son of William Gardner Angel (1790-1858) and the former Clarissa English (1800-1873). A distinguished figure in his own right, William G. Angel was a three-term U.S. Representative from New York and later was elected as the first county judge for Allegany County. Upon the birth of his last son in 1839 he bestowed on him the name Texas, and the origins of that curious name were highlighted in Angel's 1903 Boise, Idaho Statesman obituary, which notes:
"Mr. Angel was named in honor of the then republic of Texas. There has been a good deal of speculation relative to his name, and Mr. Angel on his last visit to Boise told a group of inquiring friends the story of his christening. General Sam Houston, who was then the president of the republic of Texas, was a warm friend of Mr. Angel's father. Mr. Angel was born when the general was at the height of his fame and his father named the boy Texas as an avidence of his esteem and admiration for the gallant old soldier."
  A student in schools local to the Angelica area, Texas Angel enlisted in Co. I, 27th New York Infantry in April 1861. Angel saw action at the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861 and participated with his unit at the Battle of West Point and during the Peninsular Campaign in 1862. Angel and the 27th New York Infantry saw further action at the Battle of Gaines Mill, White Oak Swamp, and Malvern Hill. At some point following the last named battle Angel was hospitalized for an indeterminate period, but recuperated and soon joined his regiment at the Second Battle of Bull Run in August 1862. Following the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam, Angel earned a promotion to "commissary sergeant with the rank of second lieutenant in Co. I." Further particulars of Angel's service include his participation in the march from Antietam to Fredericksburg, and at the end of his enlistment had achieved the rank of quartermaster of his regiment. From May 1863-May 1864 he continued to serve his country in the recruiting service.
  Seeing a bright future for himself in the West, Texas Angel journeyed to California in May 1864 and there began the study of law under local attorney Samuel M. Wilson. Angel was admitted to the bar in April 1866. His stay in California proved to be short, and in that year, he opted to move back to New York, and in late 1866 established his law practice in Jamestown in Chautauqua County. He remained in Jamestown for one year and in 1867 decided to relocate once again, this time to Eau Claire County, Wisconsin.
  Establishing his law practice in Eau Claire, Angel soon developed roots in the community and became active in the politics of that county. During the early 1870s, he sat on the city board of aldermen, and in 1871 announced his candidacy for county district attorney. Described as a "young lawyer with some promise", Angel won the election that November and served from 1872-1874. 

From the Eau Claire Weekly Free Press.

  Angel's time in Eau Claire saw him in a law partnership with Levi Vilas, a future Eau Claire mayor and district attorney. Texas Angel married in Wisconsin in 1870 to Mary E. Goodrich, to whom he was wed for over thirty years. The couple had three children, Richard Marvin (1871-1939), May (1872-1961), and Floyd Dwight (1882-1957). 
  In 1877 the Angel family left Wisconsin to make their home in California, moving to improve Mary Angel's health. Settling in San Francisco, Angel established a law practice there, and in December 1878 received a write-up on his unusual name in the Daily Los Angeles Herald. In 1881 Angel and his family moved to Idaho, where they would permanently make their home. Settling in the nascent community of Hailey, he established his law practice and "identified himself actively with the young town and materially assisted in its upbringing."
  Now firmly established in Hailey, Angel operated a law partnership with Isaac Newton Sullivan, a future chief justice of the state supreme court. Their firm continued for eight years and in the mid-1880s Angel made his first move into Idaho politics, serving as a representative from Alturas County to the Republican Territorial Central Committee in 1884. In the year following Angel was elected as secretary pro tem of that committee, and in 1886 was elected as a trustee of the Alturas Water Company. Angel would be a founding incorporator of the Idaho Electric Supply Co. of Hailey in 1887, and in February of that year journeyed to Chicago to purchase "generators and lamps" for the city's first electric light works. Further business successes were accorded to Angel during the early 1890s with his time as president of the Salt Lake, Hailey, and Puget Sound Railway Company, serving in that capacity for an indeterminate period.
  By the early 1890s, Texas Angel was viewed as one of the leading Republican figures residing in Alturas County, and in the early part of that decade switched political allegiance to the Populist Party. In August 1894 he was nominated "by acclamation" for associate justice of the state supreme court but withdrew his candidacy a few weeks later. However, the Populists later issued a statement on August 30, claiming Angel had not withdrawn from the ticket, and the day following that article Angel himself commented that "he had reconsidered the matter and finally decided to accept in order that there should be no vacancies on the ticket. Angel would lose that contest that November, victory instead going to incumbent judge Joseph W. Huston

From the Idaho Statesman, December 24, 1896.

  Not one to let a loss get the best of him, Angel returned to politics in December 1896 when he announced his candidacy for U.S. Senator from Idaho. Again a candidate of the Populists, mentions of Angel's senatorial ambitions appeared in several Idaho newspapers during the early part of 1897. With the senatorial election being decided by the Idaho state legislature, there were several rounds of balloting to decide the election. On January 16, 1897, a round of balloting saw Angel receive 24 votes (all Populists), with Silver Republican Fred DuBois leading by one vote. Balloting in the legislature continued until January 30, 1897, when Henry Heitfeld, another Populist, was duly elected senator. In the final round of balloting Heitfeld received 39 votes, incumbent senator Fred Dubois 30 votes, and Texas Angel secured one vote.
  While his senatorial ambitions may have been dashed, Angel wasn't through politically, and in the next year announced his candidacy for district court judge for Idaho's 4th judicial district. That September he was officially nominated by the Populists, with several newspapers booming his candidacy following his nomination. Described as an "honest man and a man of marked ability", Angel looked to be a lock a the polls, but was again dealt defeat in November 1898, the judgeship instead going to Charles O. Stockslager.

From the Silver Messenger, October 11, 1898.

  Following that defeat, Angel returned to his law practice in Hailey and reemerged on the political scene in 1900 when his name was again put forward by the Populists for justice of the state supreme court. He remained on the ticket until October when he withdrew his name from the ticket, an act that was met with surprise by newspapers of the period. In his last attempt for public office Texas Angel again was a candidate for judge from Idaho's Fourth Judicial District in 1902, but was dealt yet another loss, with victory going to Republican Lyttleton Price that November.
  The final months of Texas Angel's life were spent in the practice of law in Hailey and in early 1903 took sick, with the Shoshone Journal attributing the cause as a ruptured blood vessel in the brain. Angel suffered two more strokes shortly before his death, which occurred at his home on April 5, 1903. He was survived by his wife and children and was interred at the Hailey Cemetery in Hailey, Idaho.

From the History of Idaho, A Narrative Account of Its Historical Progress, Vol III, 1914.

From the Lewiston Inter-State News, April 7, 1903.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Missouri Hennegar Whaley (1836-1904)

Portrait courtesy of the Legislative Reference Library of Texas.

  An obscure resident of Montague County, Texas, Missouri Hennegar Whaley represented that county for one term in his state's House of Representatives. A native of Tennessee, Whaley was born in Rhea County on February 28, 1836, one of thirteen children born to John and Mary Airhart Whaley.
  A student at the Clinton Academy and the Strawberry Plains College in his native state, Whaley decided upon a law career and in 1854 began study under Judge Frank Locke. Four years later he moved to Texas, and after settling in Cooke County was selected as deputy district clerk. He continued reading law during this period and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1860. At the dawn of the Civil War Whaley cast his lot with the Confederacy and enlisted in Co. B., Eleventh Texas Calvary, with which he served until the war's conclusion. Whaley married in 1861 to Jane Puryear (1841-1918), to whom he was wed until his death. The couple had ten children, Flora Helen, Theodore Ewin, Joe Wheeler, Richard Holder, John Brent, Sallie Florence, Maggie Lea, Cora Belle, James Edgar, and Rufus Edgar.
   Following his military service Whaley was elected as clerk of the district court of Cook County, and in the early 1870s "erected the first steam saw and grist mill in Cook County" with which he was affiliated for several years. In 1878 he and his family moved to Montague County, and in the succeeding years became a leading business figure in the county, being involved in the flour mill and lumber business.
  Described as a "believer in prohibition and a Democrat without reproach", Whaley's highest degree of political prominence came in 1884 when he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives. Serving in the 1885-87 session, he was remarked as one of the "ablest members of the house" and sat on the committees on Agriculture, Finance, and the Public Land Office.
  After leaving the legislature Whaley served two terms as county collector of taxes and two years before his death moved to the town of Calvin in Red River County. He died there on June 10, 1904, aged 67, and was later returned to Montague County for burial at the Mountain View Cemetery.

From the Fort Worth Record and Register, June 14, 1904.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Vermont Marston Finley (1880-1958)

From the Indiana University "Arbutus", 1909.

   A leading attorney based in Kendallville, Indiana, Vermont Marston Finley shares his first name with the Green Mountain State and made his political mark in the Indiana House of Representatives, where he served for one term. The son of Thomas and Effie Lybarger Finley, Vermont Finley was born in Wayne County, Ohio on July 19, 1880. He moved with his family to Indiana during childhood and settled first in Avilla and later in Kendallville.
  A student in schools local to Noble County, Indiana, Finley enrolled at the Tri-State College, where he earned a teaching license, and for several years taught at various schools in the Kendallville vicinity. He later returned to Tri-State College to obtain his A.B. degree and continued study at Indiana University, where he pursued an L.L.B. degree. His time at the school saw him take front rank as a debater, and in December 1908 "won honors" over several other students in an interclass debate on " Centralization, Its Tendencies and Its Evils." Finley graduated in 1909 and shortly after was admitted to the state bar, and began practice in Kendallville.
  Vermont Finley married in Indiana on January 12, 1910, to Carlotta Fisk, to whom he was wed until his death. The couple had two children, Wyman and SylviaIn the same year as his marriage, Finley entered politics for the first time, gaining the Republican nomination for state representative from Noble County that June. Throughout the election season, Finley conducted "a vigorous campaign" and that November triumphed at the polls, besting incumbent Democrat J.T. Stahl by just 42 votes. Finley's victory was one of the few Republican wins in Noble County that year, with the South Bend Tribune remarking on the overwhelming Democratic wins that year.
  Taking his seat at the start of the 1911-13 session, Finley's committee assignments during his term remain unknown and in November 1912 was defeated for reelection by Democrat Marion Franks, 2,942 votes to 2,738
  After leaving the legislature Finley returned to his law practice and around 1923 was named as receiver for the Noble County Bank of Kendallville, where he continued work until the bank's closure in 1930. In 1937 he was joined in practice by his son Wyman, and in the latter portion of his life remained busy in several civic and fraternal groups, holding memberships in the Noble County Bar Association, and the International Order of Odd Fellows. Finley's 1957 obituary also denotes him as a longstanding parishioner at the First Church of Christ, where he was a Sunday School teacher and superintendent.
  Vermont Marston Finley died in Kendallville on February 16, 1957, following a heart attack. He was survived by his wife and children and was interred at the Lakeview Cemetery in Kendallville.

From the Steuben Republican, February 9, 1957.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Nevada Northrop Stranahan (1861-1928)

Portrait from Prominent and Progressive Americans, Vol. II, 1904.
  "Mr. Stranahan's career is distinguished by a series of success achieved by few men of his age...such achievements speak louder than words, and as an expression of regard for his attainments from the people of Oswego County must ever be a gratification of Mr. Stranahan. In the prime of manhood and with a wide experience of finance, he is eminently fitted to cope with the duties of the Collector of the Port."
  Such was the character assessment of Nevada Northrop Stranahan, one of the more unusual names on the New York political stage at the turn of the 19th century. Stranahan served multiple terms in both houses of the New York legislature, was District Attorney of Oswego County, and in 1901 was named as Collector of the Port of New York. The son of Smith and Lucelia Higgins Stranahan, Nevada Northrop Stranahan was born in Granby, Oswego County, New York on February 27, 1861. The origins of Stranahan's first name remain unknown but is believed to be connected to the like-named state, which had come into existence as a U.S. territory around the time of his birth.
  Stranahan's youth was spent on his family's farm and he was a student in schools local to his hometown, including the Valley Seminary. Deciding upon a career in law, Stranahan enrolled at the Columbia College Law School in the early 1880s and in 1884 was admitted to the state bar. Stranahan married in April 1885 to Elsie Merriman, who predeceased him in 1922. The couple were wed for nearly forty years and had one daughter, Louise. 
  After being admitted to the bar Stranahan established his law practice in Fulton, New York, and made his first foray into politics in September 1889 when he was nominated for the state assembly at the Oswego County Republican convention. He was elected that November and after taking his seat in January 1890 was named to the committees on Claims and Privileges and Elections. He was renominated for a second term in August 1890. He was acknowledged by both the Syracuse Standard and Buffalo Courier as a "faithful, competent member" and "one of the most talented young men of the county."

From the New York Red Book, 1892.

  Stranahan won a second term that November and in January 1891 was named to the committees on Codes and Gas and Electricity. He won a third term in late 1891 "with an 825 plurality" over two opponents and throughout the 1892 session authored several pieces of legislation, including "authorizing towns and villages to establish free baths", a bill to prevent diseases in peach trees, and a bill for holding town meetings in Oswego County. The New York Red Book also notes that Stranahan took "front rank as a debater", and during his term held the additional post of vice president of the Fulton and Oswego Falls Railroad.
  After his third term in the assembly, Stranahan was elected as Oswego County District Attorney, serving from 1893 to 1895, during which time "he filled that place to the satisfaction of the county." Stranahan continued his political ascent in 1895 when he was elected to the state senate "by a majority of 9,839" over Democratic nominee William Baker. During the 1896 term, he chaired the committee on Cities and served on the committees on Privileges and Elections, and Taxation and Retrenchment. He won a second senate term in November 1898, polling 16,270 votes, and again chaired the committee on cities. Stranahan coasted to a third term in the Senate in November 1900 when he defeated Democrat Charles Remick by a vote of 18,295 to 10,332. The 1901-02 session saw him chair the committee on cities for a third time and also continued on the Finance and Taxation and Retrenchment committees.

From the Mt. Vernon Argus.

  Late in his third senate term Nevada Stranahan's name was put forward as a possible successor to George R. Bidwell, the retiring Collector of the Port of New York. A coveted federal office, the New York Port Collector had charge of the collection of import duties on foreign goods that entered the United States via the port of New York. In November 1901 President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Stranahan to that post, with his duties to begin in April 1902. Stranahan's succession to that office was met with wide praise by newspapers of the time, with the Troy Times describing him as "one of the ablest and most honorable men in the legislature." Further character praise was given by the Brooklyn Eagle, which remarked:
"He is a politician, whose integrity, liberality and honorableness, as well as whose learning and public service, entitle him to be called a statesman. He is in thorough sympathy with his party on the line of its best intents. He is a scholarly and cultivated gentleman."

  In 1902 Stranahan resigned his senate seat and formally entered into the collector's office on April 1. His tenure extended until December 1907 when he resigned due to health concerns, and in the latter part of that year undertook a trip to Europe in the hope of regaining his health. Following his resignation his service was lauded by Treasury Secretary George Cortelyou, who noted:

"It was with great reluctance that the department accepted this resignation, and only upon his instistance. He retires from this office to the great regret of all, and with the acknowledged reputation of having been one of the best collectors that New York has ever had."

  Stranahan continued residency in New York until 1911, and in March of that year announced that he and his family would be moving to Great Britain, in the hope of bettering his health. On March 29, 1911, he and his wife were feted with a farewell dinner by the citizens of Fulton, and shortly thereafter left for Europe. Little is known of his time in Great Britain. Widowed in 1922, Stranahan resided at the home of his daughter Louise in Peterborough following his wife's death and died in that city on July 6, 1928, aged 67. He was later interred alongside his wife at the Winwick Churchyard, Winwick, Cambridgeshire, England.

From the New York Tribune, April 5, 1902.

From the Brooklyn Times Union, July 12, 1928.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Ohio Whitney Jr. (1813-1879)

From the History of Ashburnham, Massachusetts, 1887.

  For many years a leading resident in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, Ohio Whitney Jr. shares his first name with the Buckeye State, but left his mark in the state of his birth, where he was a banker, civic leader, and member of both houses of the state legislature. A lifelong resident of the Bay State, Ohio Whitney Jr. was the son of Ohio Whitney Sr. and the former Mary Bolton and was born in Ashburnham on June 9, 1813.
  Little is known of Whitney's early years, and at a young age, he was apprenticed to local carpenter Josiah White and later removed to Worcester to continue carpentry for several years. Around 1840 Whitney returned to Ashburnham where for decades afterward he followed a career as a contractor and builder, and gained distinction in a variety of endeavors in that town. A former president of the Worcester North Agricultural Society, Whitney also was a member of the Fitchburg Board of Trade and was affiliated with the Cushing Academy. Prominent in local financial circles, Whitney served an indeterminate period as trustee of the Fitchburg Savings Bank, was a vice president of the Ashburnham Savings Bank, and was a director of the Ashburnham National Bank. 
  Ohio Whitney Jr. married in Massachusetts in 1839 to Mary Brooks (1818-1904). The couple were wed for nearly forty years and had six children, Ellen (1840-1865), Mary Josie (born 1843), Sarah Georgianna (born 1845), Lydia Ann (born 1846), Clinton Ohio (born 1850), and Walton Brooks (1859-1952).
  Whitney began his political career as moderator of the Ashburnham town meetings, serving in that capacity for 18 years. He was also a justice of the peace, township assessor, and selectman, and in 1855 was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Serving during the 1856 session, he was elected to one term in the state senate later that year.
  Following his terms in state government Whitney was a director in the Ashburnham Railroad Company in the 1870s, and died in Ashburnham on February 6, 1879, aged 65. Following funeral arrangements, Whitney was interred in the "family lot" at the New Cemetery in Ashburnham. He was later memorialized by the Fitchburg Sentinel as a leading citizen of Worcester County, noting:
"Ashburnham has lost by the death of Ohio Whitney a worthy citizen, a friend of progress and good order, and one who in many positions of trust has discharged his duties with fidelity and high purpose."
From the Boston Evening Transcript, February 7, 1879.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Wyoming Benjamin Paris (1906-2001)

From the Wichita Beacon, July 31, 1972.

  The name would be Wyoming B. Paris. A curious name at that, and hiding behind that name lies the colorful story of a man who rose from humble origins in Wyoming to become a widely known semipro basketball player of the 1920s and 30s. He later served his country in the Marines during WWII, and following his service was a mausoleum sales manager residing in Pennsylvania and Kansas. After removing to the latter state in the early 1960s he resided in Wichita, and in 1972 was a candidate for U.S. Representative in that year's Democratic primary. 
  Wyoming Benjamin Paris's story begins, appropriately enough, in Wyoming, where he was born on October 3, 1906, the son of Samuel and Rachel Paris. Paris's unusual first name was later explained in his 2001 obituary, which notes:
"His given name stemmed from being the first Jewish baby born in the state of Wyoming, where his parents, Ukrainian immigrants, lived on a sheep farm."

  Little is known of Paris's formative years or education, except a census notice from 1910 denoting his family's residence in Torrington, Wyoming. By the late 1910s he and his family were residing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and in 1921 he was a student at the Franklin School. Paris would soon gain distinction on the basketball court in Pittsburgh, and around 1919 he, his brother, and several other Jewish friends formed the Enoch Rauh Club, which was later highlighted in Paris's 2001 obituary as "the state's premier semipro squad." Paris's time on the court saw him wearing an aluminum face mask following a broken nose (received in a 1927 game) and was bestowed the moniker "the Masked Marvel" by local sportswriters. Following his service in WWII Paris became coach of a group of ex-college players, the Altoona Flyers, in the All-American Basketball League. The duration of Paris's coaching career remains uncertain, and his Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes that he:

"Once spent a night in jail after a brawl in Uniontown precipitated by a diner's refusal to serve one of Mr. Paris's players, who was black."
  Wyoming Paris married in 1930 to Claire Gill (1908-1994), to whom he was wed for over sixty years. The couple's long union produced three children, Barry, Wyoming Jr., and Pamela. Following his marriage Paris served during WWII, "training with the Marines at Parris Island, S.C." in early 1945. After his military service, Paris achieved distinction in the field of mausoleum programming, and was "recognized as one of the nation's foremost sales experts in modern mausoleum operations." Through his work, Paris was connected with the Allegany Cemetery of Pittsburgh, where he aided in the development of "a 6,000 crypt building, including a chapel", and was a consultant and director on the Roosevelt Memorial Park program in Pittsburgh:
"Where plans for the largest mausoleum in the eastern United States has been announced for building of 16,000 spaces and a chapel within a mausoleum to cost approximately $7,000,000."
From the Wichita Beacon, December 19, 1961.

   Paris's work in mausoleum programming eventually took him to Wichita, Kansas, where he and his family settled in the early 1960s. Following his move he became sales manager for the Mission Chapel Mausoleum
  In the years after his resettlement the name of Wyoming Paris grew to be a prominent one in Wichita, and in 1972 made his first move into politics, announcing his candidacy for U.S. Representative from Kansas's 4th district. Running in that year's Democratic primary, Paris was one of several candidates that year, and was remarked as a "Democrat who proposed nationalizing the big oil companies." Throughout the summer of 1972 notices on Paris's candidacy appeared in Wichita newspapers, and in July 1972 he spoke before the local women's political caucus, where he labeled the Nixon administration as one of the most anti-labor presidencies in the country's history. Paris went on to remark:
"His wage controls on labor have been harsh and punitive, while he has put no lid at all on the amount of corporate profits to be earned by the rich, or on interest rates...McGovern is the labor candidate of this country, just as I am the only labor candidate for a U.S. Congressional seat from Kansas."
From the Wichita Beacon, July 31, 1972.

   Further particulars of Paris's campaign note that he found the salary of a U.S. Congressman (then $42,000) excessive, and made a campaign promise that he would donate $5,000 of his own salary "to help needy students go to college."  On primary election day, August 1, 1972, Wyoming Paris placed second in the vote count, polling 7,400 votes to winning candidate John B. Steven's total of 13,911. Stevens, in turn, would go on to lose the general election to six-term incumbent Republican Garner E. Shriver, who had served in Congress since 1960. 
   In the decades following his congressional run Paris continued residency in Wichita and in 1990 was honored with an induction to the Western Pennsylvania Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, due to his basketball career many decades before. Paris and his wife attended the event in Pittsburgh and also celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary during their visit. Widowed in 1994, Paris celebrated his 90th birthday in 1997 and died aged 94 on May 21, 2001, in Wichita. He was survived by his three children and was interred at the Mission Chapel Mausoleum.

From the Wichita Beacon, September 23, 1962.

Friday, December 8, 2023

Montana Wanda Smith (1914-1981)

From the 1945 Year Book of the State of Colorado.

  Our theme of politicians named in honor of states continues with a peek at the life of Montana Wanda Smith, who, while named after the nation's 41st state, achieved political distinction in Colorado. A two-term member of the state house of representatives, the former Montana Wanda French was born, appropriately enough, in Butte, Montana on October 25, 1914, the daughter of F.S. and Thea Plambeck French. Little is known of her early life, except notice of her marriage to Norton Alonza Smith in 1937. The couple had two children, Burton Earle and Byrne C. Smith, and later divorced in 1948.
  Following her removal to Lake City, Colorado, Smith was employed by the Colorado Department of Wildlife. She entered politics in 1946 when she announced her candidacy for the state house of representatives and hoped to represent the counties of Gunnison, Saguache, and Hinsdale. In November she defeated Republican incumbent Robert Tarbell by 242 votes and took her seat in January 1947. 
  During the 1947-49 term Smith was named to the committees on Counties and County Lines, Elections and Appointments, Mines and Mining, and Revision and Engrossment, and won a second term in the legislature in November 1948. She chaired the committee on Fish and Game during this session and held seats on the committees on Constitutional Amendments, Elections and Appointments, Public Buildings, and Roads and Bridges.

From the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, November 25, 1946.

  Following her terms in the legislature, Smith was employed by the Denver Water Board as an engineer and for an indeterminate period worked for Boeing Aircraft Co. of Seattle. Active in several clubs in Colorado, Smith was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star, a former worthy priestess in the White Shrine of Jerusalem, and "a conductress of the Columbine Court No. 15 Amaranth of Aurora." Montana Wanda Smith died at a Colorado hospital on May 30, 1981, aged 66. She was survived by her two sons and was interred at the IOOF Cemetery in Lake City, Colorado.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Maryland Bullard Huggins (1870-1951)

From the South Carolina state legislative manual, 1943.

   A three-term member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, Maryland Bullard Huggins was a lifelong resident of the Palmetto State and prior to his legislative service served on the Timmonsville city council. Born in Florence County on June 23, 1870, Maryland B. Huggins was the son of James Henry Montgomery Huggins (1835-1900) and the former Louisa E.M Jones (1843-1879). Little is known of Huggins's formative years; by 1900, he had established roots in the ton of Timmonsville. Huggins married in South Carolina in December 1895 to Luella Lee Cox. The couple were married for over fifty years and had 11 children.
  In the years following his resettlement, Huggins became a civic leader in Timmonsville, serving terms on the city council, being a Florence County commissioner, and was a longstanding member of the Southern Methodist Church. He is also recorded as a farmer and livestock dealer in his region. In 1930 he announced his candidacy for the South Carolina House of Representatives and in September of that year detailed the tenets of his campaign in the Florence Morning News, noting:
"My principle platform, as I stated on the stump, is economy. I believe in good roads, good schools, but think that these should be put on an economical and business basis."

    In September 1930 Huggins was one of four Florence County legislative candidates to win in the Democratic primary, polling 4,365 votes. He went on to win the general election that November and would resign his seat on the Timmonsville Board of Aldermen. Taking his seat in January 1931, Huggins served until 1933 and was defeated for reelection in the Republican primary in September 1932. In May 1936 he announced his candidacy for a second term, and in a campaign notice promoting his previous service was remarked as having "fought during his legislative career for strict economy in state government."

From the Florence Morning News, May 24, 1936.

  Elected to a second term in November 1936, Huggins was named as a Lieutenant Colonel on the staff of Governor Olin Johnson early in 1938 and later proved "instrumental in passing the law furnishing free textbooks for students in the public schools of the state." In 1942 he won a third term in the legislature and during the 1943-44 session sat on the committees on Accounts, Agriculture, the Legislative Library, Police Regulations, and Social Security. He announced his candidacy for a fourth term in June 1944 but was defeated in that year's primary.
  Maryland Bullard Huggins continued residence in Timmonsville until his death at age 80 on March 17, 1951. His wife Louisa had died the year previously, and both were interred at the Byrd Cemetery in Timmonsville.

From the Columbia, South Carolina "State", March 18, 1951.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Tennessee Chesmond Brister (1896-1976)

Portrait from the Alexandria Weekly Town Talk, January 8, 1944.

    A leading figure in the political and business life of Rapides Parish, Louisiana, Tennessee Chesmond "T.C." Brister was a veteran of WWI who, following his service in France, relocated to Pineville, where he was affiliated with a hardware business for nearly forty years. He entered politics in 1940 with his election to the Louisiana House of Representatives, serving three nonconsecutive terms. In addition to his legislative service, Brister was an aspirant for a state senate seat in 1944 but was defeated. A resident of Louisiana for a good majority of his life, "T.C." Brister was born on May 28, 1896, in Winn Parish, the son of Allen Cicero (1872-1956) and Mary Adams Brister (1869-1944)
  Recorded by most sources under the initials "T.C.", Brister's full name was discovered via the archives of the United States Veterans Administration's master index, which lists his full name as Tennessee Chesmond Brister. Removing with his family to Mount Lebanon, Louisiana during infancy, Brister resided there until 1906, whereafter he resided and attended school in Grant Parish. A graduate of the parish high school in 1915, Brister moved with his family to Pineville, Rapides parish sometime later and during the First World War was stationed in France with the U.S. Army Signal Corps.
  Honorably discharged in May 1919, Brister returned to Louisiana where he was employed with the Gulf Refining Co. as an agent. His work took him to Brookhaven, Mississippi, and during the 1920s was affiliated with a wholesale oil business at Westpoint. He also worked as a traveling salesman. He married in Mississippi in April 1934 to Mary Louise Blum (1906-1990), to whom he was wed for over forty years. The couple's union produced three daughters, Kathleen (1939-2020), Marleen Marie, and Margaret Louise. 
  Residing in Pineville in the late 1920s, T.C. Brister would join his brother Commodore Webster Brister in the Pineville Hardware Co., serving as its secretary and treasurer. By 1938 the business had grown to such an extent it necessitated removal to a larger building, located in Alexandria. Now serving as company manager, Brister and the store were profiled in the February 2, 1938 edition of the Alexandria Weekly Town Talk, which detailed the store's inventory. In addition to nails, barbed wire fencing, tools, and agricultural implements, the store also carried paints, stoves, and "harness and saddlery.
  With his name firmly established in Alexandria's business community, Brister entered politics in 1939 when he announced his candidacy for the Louisiana House of Representatives. Running free of political influence, Brister decried the "crookedness, graft, and waste of public funds" in his state, and in a lengthy announcement laid out the principles of his campaign, including:
  • Favoring 12 months pay for school teachers and a school teacher's tenure law.
  • Favoring repeal of the state sales tax and favoring a tax on Carbon Black and other state minerals.
  • The return of power to local sheriffs, mayors, and assessors
  • Favoring an old age pension of $30.00 a month to every man or woman over age 60.
  • Favoring organized labor, a decent wage, and an eight-hour workday
  • Favoring a $3.00 car license
  • Coming out against a state and parish-wide No Fence law.

A Brister campaign notice from 1939.

  Running in a field of twenty legislative candidates, Brister faced an uphill battle. On primary election day in January 1940, he emerged victorious. He went on to win the April general election, and after taking his seat was named as vice chairman of the committee on public buildings and sat on the committee on registration and election laws. 
  Towards the end of his first term, Brister announced his candidacy for the state senate, and in a write-up on his candidacy noted his successes during the previous house term, remarking:
"I was one of the co-authors of the bill that would have given eight hour working days and an increase in pay to the unpaid at our state institutions."
  On primary election day in January 1944, T.C. Brister polled second to incumbent senator Grove Stafford, who led by over 1,200 votes. Though he lost that election, Brister went on to win a second term in the state house in February 1948, polling 12,876 votes. During the 1948-52 session, he served on the committees on Appropriations, Contingent Expenses, the Penitentiary, and Printing, and wasn't a candidate for reelection. 
  Following his term Brister was a candidate for the Pineville school board in May 1952 and for the next fourteen years devoted "his time to his Pineville hardware and sporting goods business." He would sell his business in 1966 and in the following year reemerged on the political scene, announcing his candidacy for a third term in the house of representatives. In a June 1967 campaign notice, Brister highlighted his previous terms, remarking:
"The office of representative is becoming more and more important and time demanding...If you see fit to select me as one of your four representatives I will give that office full time. I will not engage in any other employment during my term of office. I will be at your service seven days a week for the next four years. Having previous service in the legislature, I will have the know-how to get things done for our district."
From the Weekly Town Talk, December 6, 1967.

   Brister won his third house term in February 1968, polling 11,850 votes, and in April 1968 was profiled in an extensive write-up in the Alexandria Town Talk. Noting that "education and highways are the biggest problems facing the legislature on a statewide level", Brister made further note of the state needing four-lane highways, and his hopes the Louisiana State University at Alexandria would someday become a four-year college "complete with dormitories." On politics, Brister announced himself as a firm backer of Alabama Governor George Wallace (then running for president) but noted that Hubert Humphrey would be the likely Democratic presidential nominee.
  T.C. Brister's third term concluded in 1972 and for the remainder of his life resided in Pineville. A member of the Fist Baptist Church of Pineville, Brister held memberships in the Solomon Lodge No. 221 and Keystone Chapter No. 44 of Free and Accepted Masons, the Trinity Commandry No.8, Knights Templer, as well as the VFW and American Legion. T.C. Brister died on November 26, 1976, at the Rapides General Hospital, aged 80. He was survived by his wife and children and was interred at the Greenwood Cemetery in Alexandria.

From the Alexandria Town Talk, April 7, 1968.