Monday, May 2, 2016

Helmus Wells Thompson (1867-1918)

Portrait from the March 4, 1908 Oregon Morning Post.

   From the city of Yakima and Reidar Dare Rovig we journey to Washington's neighbor to the south to profile Helmus Wells Thompson, who made his name (politically speaking) in Oregon. Removing to Oregon from Wisconsin in the late 1890s, Thompson practiced law in Eugene for many years and was later appointed as Judge of Lane County, Oregon. Born in New York City on December 14, 1867 (or 1868, depending on the source), Helmus Wells Thompson was the second of five children born to Col. Clark W. and Rebecca Wells Thompson.
  A former member of both the Minnesota and Wisconsin legislatures, Clark W. Thompson moved his family to La Crosse, Wisconsin around 1870 and it was in that city that his son Helmus would attend school. He graduated from the La Crosse High School and in the mid 1880s entered upon the study of law at the University of Minnesota, graduating with his B.A. degree in 1888. Following his graduation Thompson continued study in the St. Paul based law of office of Clark, Ellar and Howe and later enrolled at the Harvard Law School, from which he would graduate in 1892.
   Helmus W. Thompson returned to La Crosse after leaving Harvard and for several years practiced law in that city. During his Wisconsin residency Thompson became a primary organizer of the Waukon Electric Light Company located in Waukon, Iowa. He was joined in that venture by his brothers Clark and Mackay and following the construction of this municipal lighting comoany served as its Secretary.
   In 1897 Helmus Thompson removed to Eugene, Oregon, being admitted to practice law in that state in that same year. Soon after his arrival he joined Charles Hardy in the law firm of Thompson and Hardy, a partnership that would extend seventeen years. In the years following his resettlement in Eugene, Thompson's name grew to be one of the most prominent in the vacinity, being both a "leader in patriotic and public movements" as well as a distinguished club-man. Thompson held memberships in a number of local fraternal groups, including the Knights Templar, the Elks, the Knights of Pythias and the University Club of Portland.

Portrait from the Bench and Bar of Oregon, 1911.

  In 1909 Helmus Thompson received the appointment as Judge of Lane County, Oregon. He later won a four year term on the bench and during his five years of service saw "the first macadam roads" built in the county. Thompson left the bench in 1914 and towards the end of his life took part in the ongoing war effort by serving as chairman of a Red Cross civilian relief committee for Lane County.
   Ill health marred Thompson's last year of life, and a trip to the South Sea Islands in the months before his death did little to improve his condition. Thompson died in Eugene on August 10, 1918 at age 50. A lifelong bachelor, he was survived by two brothers and was interred at the Masonic Cemetery in Eugene.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Reidar Dare Rovig Sr. (1877-1943)

Portrait from The Rotarian, February 1943.

    Norwegian native Reidar Dare Rovig is yet another in a bevy of new strange name discoveries, and despite attaining high political office (that of Mayor of Yakima, Washington), little information could be located on him! 
  Born on November 26, 1877 in Namsos, Norway, Reidar Dare Rovig was the son of Olaf and Petra Rovig. Little is known of Rovig's early life or education, as well as the date of his immigration to the United States. Beginning in 1892 he began a lengthy connection with the Chicago, Milwaukee, Saint Paul and Pacific Railroad, being employed as a telegraph operator. He would continue to be affiliated with that railroad until 1910, last being a "northwestern passenger agent" based in Bismarck, North Dakota. Rovig married in 1905 in Minnesota to Jane M. Matthews (1883-1964) and later had four sons: Walter Dare (1906-1973), John Forsyth (1909-1993), George Virtue (1912-1919) and Reidar Dare Jr. (1913-1945).
  Upon leaving railway work Reidar Rovig migrated to Washington to make a name for himself in the retail lumber business. Settling in North Yakima, Rovig would establish the Rovig Lumber Co., which in 1916 could boast of having "$100,000 capital". He held the post of manager of that company and around this same time became affiliated with the Superior Lumber Company, of which he would serve as vice-president.
  After gaining a firm foothold in the Yakima business community, Reidar Rovig turned to politics, announcing his candidacy for Mayor of Yakima in 1920. Running under the slogan of the "business man's candidate", Rovig won the election on December 6th of that year, defeating Earle J. Barnes by a vote of 2,327 to 2,073. Rovig would serve one term of three years and was defeated for reelection in the November 1923 primary by William B. Dudley, who would go on to win the general election that December.
   Following his time as mayor Rovig continued to be active in the business and commercial life of Yakima, serving as the secretary of that city's Rotary Club. He would hold that post for over twenty years and in the late 1930s also served as a member of the Yakima County Advisory Welfare Board. Reidar D. Rovig died at age 66 in Yakima on March 27, 1943. He was survived by three of his sons and his wife Jane, who would later remarry to Milford Roy Knauft. Both Rovig and his wife were interred at the Terrace Heights Memorial Park in Yakima.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Celestino Moreno Jones (1865-1938)

Portrait from the Bench and Bar of Florida, 1935.

   A figure of distinction in Pensacola, Florida for over four decades, Celestino Moreno Jones was a native Texan who would hold a number of political offices in Florida, including service as assistant U.S. attorney, state representative and Mayor of the city of Pensacola. In 1917 he would be elected as Judge of the Escambia County Court of Record and would serve in that capacity until his death two decades later.
  Born in San Antonio. Texas on June 26, 1865, C. Moreno Jones (as most sources refer to him) was the son of Joseph Pickett (1833-1895) and Victoria Moreno Jones. A prominent figure in his own right, Joseph Pickett Jones was a Confederate veteran and lawyer who would serve as Mayor of Pensacola from 1875-76. C. Moreno Jones removed to Pensacola with his family while still a child and attended the public schools of that city. He would begin the study of law under the tutelage of his father and was admitted to the Florida bar in 1886. Jones began the practice of his profession in Pensacola soon after receiving his law degree He married in Pensacola on June 15, 1898 to Rose May McHenry (1874-1968), with whom he would have three sons, Joseph Pickett (1899-1950), Lou Epler  (died in infancy in 1902) and J. McHenry (1903-1996). 
  Described as a "staunch Democrat", C. Moreno Jones first entered Florida political life in the mid 1890s when he began service as assistant U.S. District Attorney for Florida. In 1900 he was elected as one of Escambia County's representatives in the Florida legislature. Jones' term extended from 1901-1903 and during this term pulled political "double duty" as it were, as he had taken office as Mayor of Pensacola in 1901! Jones served one two year term as mayor and in 1907 was boosted for a second term, even being the subject of a petition "urging him to run."  Jones would decline to be a candidate however, citing attention to his law practice.

                                                       Portrait from the Pensacola Journal, February 19, 1912.

   C. Moreno Jones returned to political life in 1912 when he announced his candidacy for State Attorney for Florida's 1st judicial circuit. Jones would lose that election to fellow Pensacola native John P. Stokes and continued to practice law in Pensacola until 1917, when he won election as Judge of the Escambia County Court of Record, a court responsible for hearing "civil, chancery and criminal cases." 
  Jones would serve on the bench until his death on July 5, 1938, shortly after his 73rd birthday. Acknowledged as a lawyer of "admirable record and achievement", he was survived by his two sons and wife Rose, who died in 1968 at the age of 93. Both Jones and his wife were interred at the St. Michael's Cemetery in Pensacola.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Stealie Monroe Preacher (1891-1971)

Portrait from the 1935 Bench and Bar of Florida.

   We continue our stay in Florida for a look at the life of Stealie Monroe Preacher, a representative in the Florida legislature from Walton County. Nearly two decades following his time as a representative Preacher was returned to public office, being elected to two terms as the Mayor of his home city of DeFuniak Springs, Florida. Born in Darlington, Florida on July 17, 1891, Preacher's unusual first name "Stealie" is the first such instance of that name that I've seen, and after first finding it I was under the assumption that it was a nickname! As it turns out, a nickname it is not, and this is reinforced by Preacher himself writing it in full on his 1917 draft registration.
   Little is known of Preacher's early life or education. He was a veteran of WWI, serving with the 31st Division of the American Expeditionary Forces and is recorded by the 1935 Bench and Bar of Florida as having attended the Blackstone Institute in Pennsylvania. Preacher first entered Florida political life in 1925 when he began a seven year stint as Tax Assessor of Walton County, Florida. He was admitted to the Florida bar around 1930 and in 1931 established his law practice in DeFuniak Springs.
   Stealie M. Preacher married in 1934 to Ella Brannon (1902-1994). The couple are believed to have remained childless through the entirety of their marriage. In the same year as his marriage Preacher was elected as one of Walton County's representatives to the Florida State House of Representatives and served during the 1935-37 session. During that session Preacher and fellow representative D. Stuart Gillis worked for the passage of an act:
"Creating the Walton County bridge authority, providing for it's powers and duties authorizing it to construct a bridge or bridges and approaches thereto, across the Choctowatchee Bay or Choctowatchee River, connecting State Road Number 10 and State Road Number 115."
   Following his time in the Florida legislature Preacher was elected as the Mayor of DeFuniak Springs in the early 1950s and won a second term as mayor in July 1954. Preacher would continue to be active in Walton County political life well into his seventh decade, and in January 1959 began a four year term as Prosecuting Attorney of Walton County, Florida. Stealie M. Preacher died in DeFuniak Springs on August 12, 1971, just a few weeks following his 80th birthday. He was survived by his wife Ella and a burial location for both Preacher and his wife remains unknown at this time.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Cheever Lewis Shine (1872-1960)

Portrait from the 1935 Bench and Bar of Florida.

    A prominent attorney based in Escambia County, Florida, Cheever Lewis Shine earns a place here on the Strangest Names In American Political History due to his 1905 candidacy for Mayor of Pensacola, Florida. Born in Tallahassee, Florida on October 24, 1872, Cheever L, Shine was the son of Richard Alexander and Laura Shine. Cheever Shine would attend the University of Virginia and in 1895 graduated with his Bachelor of Laws degree. Prior to his graduation Shine had worked on the staff of then Florida Governor Henry Laurens, under whom he served as "official court reporter."
  In the same year as his graduation Shine was admitted to the bar and established a law practice in Tallahassee. He removed to Pensacola around 1899 and would continue in the practice of law, while also entering into the political life of that city in the early 1900s. Shine would serve as referee in bankruptcy and in 1905 is recorded as serving as Pensacola City Clerk. In that same year he received the nomination of the Citizens Good Government League as Mayor of Pensacola, being one of four candidates vying for that office. Shine's opponent in that year's contest was Charles Henry Bliss, a publisher running on the "White Democratic" platform that strongly advocated white supremacy in municipal affairs. 
   Shine's campaign platform (highlighted in his campaign notice below) advocated "Good and Progressive Municipal Government", as well as a "Continuation and Extension of Public Improvement". On election day, June 6, 1905, it was Charles Bliss who won election as Mayor, besting Shine by over 400 votes (1, 229 to 801.) Bliss would subsequently win a second term in 1907 and died two months into his new term.
   In the year following his loss for mayor Cheever L. Shine was again a candidate for public office, this time running for justice of the peace for Escambia County's second district. He would later "retire" from that race and in 1907 received the honor of being named as President of the Pensacola Bar Association. In October 1922 Cheever Shine married to Pensacola native Lillian Fannie Taylor (1861-1945). The couple would remain childless through the entirety of their marriage.

A Shine campaign notice from the Pensacola Journal, May 17, 1905.

  Four years following his marriage Shine entered the business life of Pensacola when he became the district manager of the Gulf Power Company, his length of service in that post  being unknown at this time. Widowed in 1945, Cheever L. Shine died in Pensacola on October 15, 1960, just a few days shy of his 88th birthday. He was later interred at the St. John's Cemetery in Pensacola, the same resting place as that of his wife.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Vaughnam Adolphus Sims (1891-1950)

From the 1935 Bench and Bar of Florida.

  A fairly recent discovery as far as strange names are concerned, Polk County, Florida resident Vaughnam Adolphus Sims was a veteran of WWI who would later become a prominent figure in Lake Wales, Florida. An attorney based in both Georgia and Florida, Sims served as City Attorney for Lake Wales for a number of years and would also be elected as that city's mayor.
   Born in Gwinnett County, Georgia on May 3, 1891, Vaughnam Adolphus Sims was the son of Alfed and Neoma Sims. Vaughnam Sims would attend the University of Georgia, graduating in the class of 1917 with his Bachelor of Laws degree. He would begin the practice of law in Winder, Georgia and later moved his practice to Greensboro, Georgia, remaining here from 1919-1923. 
   A veteran of the First World War, Sims would serve with the 82nd American Expeditionary Forces. He married in the early 1920s to Ruth Jackson (1897-1989), with whom he would have three children: Neil B. (1925-2014), Barbara and Thalia. Neil B. Sims would go on to prominence in his own right, being a Major in the U.S. Army Reserve, a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a past President of the Alabama Psychological Association.

Vaughnam Adolphus Sims, from the 1917 Pandora yearbook.

   In 1923 Vaughnam Sims removed to Lake Wales, Florida, where he would reside for the remainder of his life. In the year of his removal he took office as Lake Wales City Attorney, an office he would continue to hold well into the 1930s. From 1926 to 1929 Sims served as the Mayor of Lake Wales and in 1933 is recorded as secretary of a Lake Wales School District Board of Trustees.
   A member of the Masons and the Knights of Pythias lodges, Sims was also active in the American Legion, serving as chaplain of the Lake Wales American Legion Post 71 in the early 1940s. Vaughnam A. Sims died in Lake Wales on July 19, 1950 at age 59. He was survived by his wife and three children and was later interred at the Lake Wales Cemetery.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Sedgwick Rusling Leap (1886-1979)

Portrait from the Bench and Bar of New Jersey,1942.

   Hailing from the same New Jersey county that produced the esteemed A.M.P.V.H. Dickeson, Salem County resident Sedgwick Rusling Leap was a practicing lawyer for many years and also made a name for himself on the New Jersey political scene, serving as a state assemblyman, state senator and common pleas judge. Born in the borough of Penns Grove on July 16, 1886, Sedgwick R. Leap was the son of John and Julia Ware Leap
   Young Sedgwick attended schools local to Penns Grove and went on to study at the West Jersey Academy at Bridgeton. He would further his education at the Wharton School in Philadelphia and graduated with his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1910. Following his graduation Leap spent one further year of study in the law office of Judge Maja Leon Berry (profiled here in October 2014) and in 1911 was admitted to the New Jersey bar.
  From 1911 to 1913 Leap practiced law in Camden with a partner, William Darnell. Leap would later leave that firm and operate a solo practice for three years, and in 1916 joined the firm of Leap, Sharpless and Way as a senior partner. Leap was also a veteran of the First World War, serving in the U.S. Army. In January 1921 he married to Bridgeton, New Jersey native Mary Dennis, with whom he would have one daughter, Mary Jane (born 1923).
  Active in Republican Party circles in Salem County, Sedgwick Leap represented that county in the New Jersey State Assembly from 1927-1929 and in 1930 began a six year stint in the New Jersey State Senate, during which time he gave:
"His aid and support to many measures which he has deemed vital to the upbuilding of the state and has just as earnestly opposed those which he believed to be inimical to the welfare of the Commonwealth."
   In his last year in the state senate Sedgwick Leap became Judge of the Salem County Court of Common Pleas, serving on the bench until 1941. In May of the following year he was reappointed as judge, an office he would continue to hold well into the 1950s.  A member of the Salem County, New Jersey State and American Bar Associations, Sedgwick Leap was a longstanding parishioner in the Methodist Church and for a time served as a member of the board of managers of the Vineland, New Jersey Soldiers Home. 
   Little else could be found on the life of S. Rusling Leap, excepting notice of his death in New Jersey in November 1979 at age 93. A burial location for both Leap and his family remains unknown at the time of this writing.


S. Rusling Leap, 1886-1979.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Hurlburt Lloyd Phillips (1856-1903)

Portrait from the Centennial History of Chautauqua County, 1902.

   Once in a great while I receive the pleasant surprise of discovering an oddly named political figure with connections to my home county, and that is precisely the case with Hurlburt Lloyd Phillips, a businessman and "active Republican" in Jamestown, New York. While not an office holder per se, Mr. Phillips earns inclusion here on the site due to his being a two time delegate to the Republican National Convention from New York. 
   Although a resident of Chautauqua County, New York for a majority of his forty-six years, Phillips was a native of Ohio, being born in the town of Geneva on December 7, 1856.  One of seven children born to Robert and Augusta Bartholomew Phillips, Hurlburt removed with his family to Northfield, Minnesota while still a child and attended school in that city.  In 1872 Phillips removed to Jamestown, New York and completed his education at the Jamestown High School
   Following his graduation Phillips entered the business life of Jamestown, joining local farmer Austin Heath in the buying and selling of cattle. In 1883 he entered the employ of a prominent local furniture manufacturer, J.M. Beman, in the firm of Beman, Breed and Phillips, a business which underwent a name change in 1886 to Phillips, Maddox and Company. Their company, located at 22 Steele Street in Jamestown, is notable for being amongst the first "to develop and manufacture the polished wood top table for the parlor and library" and was also acknowledged as having been:
" A pioneer in the 10 or 12 table factories of the present day, which have made Jamestown famous as the most important market in the country for goods of this character."
   In 1887 Hurlburt L. Phillips sold off his interest in the aforementioned company and for a time "went west to engage in business." He returned to Jamestown early in 1888 and in that year joined the Jamestown Lounge Company. This company continued as a co-partnership for one year, and in December 1889 incorporated, with Phillips being made the company's president. Earlier, in February 1888, Phillips had married to Nellie Buchanan (1856-1895). The couple would be married for only seven years, with Nellie dying at age 39 in 1895. Two children would be born to their union, Parmelee (a daughter who died aged 4 in 1894) and an infant child who died in 1889.
  Under Phillips' stewardship the Jamestown Lounge Company became a producer of high quality upholstered furniture, specializing in hardwood frame lounges, couches, sofa/davenports and "library and living room furniture." The company would experience rapid growth and following Phillips' death in 1903 continued to expand, and was profiled in the 1918 Furniture Manufacturer and Artisan as being:
"Rated with the largest and most important manufacturers of upholstered furniture in the United States, and there are only two or three factories in the country with a larger output; perhaps none specializing strictly on living room and library furniture."
Portrait from the Jamestown Evening Journal Trade edition, 1895.

   Active in a number of other business ventures both local to and outside the Jamestown area, Hurlburt Phillips served as a director of the Union Trust Company and was also affiliated with the Interstate Consolidated Mining Company of Canada, serving as its director. Phillips would also maintain a longstanding connection to both the Jamestown Hose Company and the Jamestown Fire Department, serving as both a foreman and acting chief. 
  Acknowledged as an "active Republican" in Jamestown, Phillips refused to be a candidate for elected office, but this aversion to any potential candidacies didn't stop him from representing New York's 34th district as a delegate to both the 1892 and 1900 Republican National Conventions. During the 1892 convention proceedings Phillips served as an alternate delegate and in 1900 journeyed with the rest of the New York delegation to Philadelphia, where William McKinley was renominated for a second term as President. In addition to his time as a delegate, Phillips was also a member of the Jamestown Board of Education, his dates of service being unknown at this time.
  Phillips continued to actively involved in the business and civic life of Jamestown until shortly before his death. A few weeks prior to passing he had contracted pneumonia, which was later compounded with "articular rheumatism".  Phillips visited New York City in the spring of 1903 and in early May became very ill at the Hotel Victoria. Despite having only days to live, Phillips' married on his deathbed to Mary Lamberton, to whom he was engaged to be married the following month. Two days following his marriage Hurlburt Phillips died at the Hotel Victoria. Just 46 years old at the time of his death, Phillips' passing was acknowledged as a "distinct loss" to the Jamestown community, and he was later interred beneath a modest headstone at Lakeview Cemetery.
  As Mr. Phillips is buried locally, his gravestone wasn't that difficult to locate when it came time to search for it! Also interred in the Phillips family plot are Nellie Phillips and the couple's two children.  



The graves of Hurlburt and Nellie Phillips.