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.

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