Friday, June 24, 2016

Woodland Page Finley (1851-1923)

From the Portrait and Biographical Record of the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

   A two term member of the Maryland State Senate, Woodland Page Finley is the first Maryland political figure to be profiled here since Truly Hatchett's write up in February of last year. Born in Queen Anne's County, Maryland on March 15, 1851, Woodland P. Finley was one of sixteen children born to Washington Finley and the former Sarah A. Harrison. A prominent figure in his own right, Washington Finley was a physician and three term member of the Maryland House of Delegates, as well as a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention of 1867.
   Bestowed the odd name "Woodland" upon his birth, Woodland P. Finley's early years were spent upon the family farm in Queen Anne's County and he would attend school at the West Nottingham Academy. He took charge of the family homestead in 1875 and married in that same year to Catherine O. Coppedge, with whom he had four children. A farmer by occupation, Finley owned a "landed estate" that comprised 450 acres devoted to farming and stock raising. In addition to the above Finley dabbled in banking for time, serving as a director for the Queen Anne's National Bank of Centerville
   In 1893 Woodland Finley was thrust into the political life of his native state when he was elected to a vacancy in the Maryland State Senate, this vacancy coming about due to the resignation of John Brewer Brown (1836-1898), who had been elected to fill a vacancy in the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland's 1st Congressional district. Finley's ascension to the state senate was highlighted in the Baltimore Herald, which acknowledged him as "a modest, but able man."

From the Baltimore Sunday Herald.

    In 1894 Woodland Finley was elected to a term of his own in the state senate, beginning a four year term that extended from 1895-99. During this term he served as chairman of the committees on Agriculture and Labor, and also held seats on the committees on Pensions, Public Institutions, Public Buildings at Annapolis and Roads and Bridges. 
   Little is known of Finley's life following the conclusion of his senate term. He died at his home at "Locust Hill" on February 4, 1923 at age 71. He was survived by his wife Catherine and was interred at the Church Hill Cemetery in Church Hill, Maryland.

                                                         Portrait courtesy of the State Archives of Maryland.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Winchester Greenwood Lowell (1843-1922)

Portrait from the Lewiston Evening Journal, March 7, 1892.

    Long prominent in the business and political life of Auburn, Maine, Winchester Greenwood Lowell sports a name that immediately conjures up images of an affluent, high-society gentleman of prominent standing. True to that description, Mr. Lowell was  a successful merchant in Auburn and for two years served as a member of the Auburn Board of Aldermen. He would later win election as Mayor of Auburn in the early 1890s and also served that city as its Postmaster, occupying that office for sixteen years.
   Born and raised in West Minot, Maine, Winchester Greenwood Lowell's birth occurred on February 1, 1843, a son of William and Atosa Greenwood Lowell. Lowell would attend school in the town of his birth and later graduated from the Hebron Academy. In 1866 he established himself in that town's business life, becoming the owner of a general store. In December 1868 he married in West Minot to Ann Sylvinia Atwood (born 1845), to whom he was wed for over fifty years. The couple would become parents to five daughters, listed as follows in order of birth: Ethel (died 1872), Eliza Anne (born 1873), Hannah (born 1874), Florence Winchester (born 1878) and Julia Long (born 1880).
   Several years following his marriage Winchester Lowell and his family removed from West Minot and settled in Auburn, where he would reside for the remainder of his life. Soon after his resettlement he entered into a partnership with John Quincy Adams Atwood, and together the two established a grocery business under the name Atwood and Lowell. The firm would continue on for a number of years and in 1890 Lowell entered the political life of Auburn when he won election to the city's Board of Alderman from Ward 2. 
   Lowell would serve two years as an alderman and during his service played a prominent role in the development and construction of the Dennison Street bridge. In early 1892 Lowell became the Republican candidate for Mayor of Auburn, and was touted in the Lewiston Evening Journal as having been:
"A prudent capable man of affairs, and a great master of details of city government business."
    On March 7, 1892 Winchester G. Lowell won the mayoral election, defeating Democratic candidate Frank Bigelow by a vote of 1,063 to 513. He served one term as mayor and in 1893 was defeated for reelection by William Wheeler Bolster (a former state senator), who coasted to an easy victory, besting Lowell by over 1300 votes! Five years following his loss Lowell returned to public life when he was selected by President William McKinley to serve as U.S. Postmaster at Auburn. Lowell would hold that post for sixteen years, retiring in 1914. 
   For several years prior to his death Winchester G. Lowell was afflicted with total blindness, an "affliction that he bore with courage." He died at his home in Auburn on March 23, 1922, one month following his 79th birthday. He was survived by his wife Ann and was later interred at the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Auburn.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Omen Nervig (1868-1948)

Portrait from the 1921-22 Iowa State Redbook.

    A one term member of the Iowa State House of Representatives from Humboldt County, Omen Nervig was a transplant to Iowa from Wisconsin, being born in the town of Moscow on November 22, 1868. A son of Ole and Ingeborg Nervig (both Norwegian immigrants), Omen Nervig resided in Wisconsin until the age of fourteen, whereafter he removed with his family to Faulk County, South Dakota. In 1893 the family relocated to Iowa, settling in Lake township in Humboldt County. 
    In March 1905 Omen Nervig married in Eagle Grove, Wright County, Iowa to Sophie J. Smith. The couple would be married for over forty years and had four children born to their union: Irma (1906-1982), Ethel Nyline (1908-1990), Orville James (1913-2004) and Mildred Ileace (1916-2002). 
   Remarked as being a "farmer by occupation", Omen Nervig was a member of the local farm bureau and in 1920 became the Republican candidate for the Iowa State House of Representatives from Humboldt County. In November of that year he defeated his Democratic opponent Lorenzo William Housel (a former Connecticut state representative and future candidate for Iowa Governor) by a wide margin, 3,183 votes to 996. Taking his seat at the start of the 1921-23 session, Nervig would serve on the following house committees: Agriculture, Compensation of the Public Officers, Constitutional Amendments, County and Township Organizations, Dairy and Food, Horticulture, Institute for the Feeble Minded and Motor Vehicles and Transportation.
   Following his one term in the state house Nervig returned to Humboldt County and in 1933 began service as the treasurer of the Lake Township Board of Education. Shortly before his death Nervig was admitted as a patient at the Lutheran hospital in Fort Dodge, Iowa, where he died on January 2, 1948. His wife Sophie survived him by eleven years and following her death in 1959 was interred alongside him at the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Hardy, Iowa.

Portrait courtesy of

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Ten Eyck Olmstead Burleson (1854-1926)

From the Steuben Advocate, November 1, 1939.

    The proud possessor of a truly unusual first name, Dr. Ten Eyck Olmstead Burleson was a native of Steuben County, New York for the entirety of his 72 years, and during that time cultivated a reputation as a prominent physician and man of affairs. A past president of the Steuben County Medical Society, Burleson was also a life-long Democrat, and was nominated by that party for a seat in the New York State Assembly in 1908.
  Born in the Steuben County town of Howard on July 21, 1854, Ten Eyck Olmstead Burleson was the son of Hiram and Catherine (Willis) Burleson. His unusual first and middle names were likely given to him in honor of Ten Eyck Gansevoort Olmstead (1833-1878), a former Steuben County resident who found notoriety in Wisconsin, where he would serve as a newspaper editor and Judge of Manitowoc County, holding the latter post from 1874 until shortly before his death.
  The early life of Ten Eyck O. Burleson was spent in his hometown of Howard, where he attended the local school. He would go on to attend Alfred University and later enrolled at the University of Buffalo, where he studied medicine. Burleson graduated in the class of 1880 and soon after resettled in the village of Pulteney (near Bath, New York) where he began his medical practice. He would marry in Pulteney in November 1886 to Lily Bennett and in the succeeding years became:
"Recognized as a physician of considerable skill and readily one the esteem and confidence of his patients.
   After several years of practice in Pulteney Ten Eyck Burleson removed to Bath, New York to accept the position of surgeon at the State Soldiers and Sailor's Home.  He and his wife would occupy a small cottage located on the hospital grounds and for ten years resided there. Around 1900 Burleson relocated to Syracuse, but returned to Bath two years later, continuing to practice medicine there until his retirement.
  A former President of the Steuben County Medical Society, Burleson was active in a number of non-medical areas in Steuben County, including memberships in the local Grange chapter, the Masons, a local pension examiners board and the Presbyterian Church at Pulteney. Remarked as being a "staunch Democrat", Burleson received the Democratic nomination for the New York State Assembly in 1908 from Steuben County, His opponent that year was Republican John L. Miller, a physician and former Mayor of Corning, New York. On election day 1908 it was the Republicans who claimed victory, with Miller besting Burleson by over a thousand votes (6,104 to 4,686).
  Ten Eyck Olmstead Burleson died in Bath on May 12, 1926 at age 72. He is noted as having been in state of failing health for at least two years prior to his death and was survived by his wife Lily. Both were interred at the Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Howard, New York.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tennis Seaborn Mason (1885-1972)

Tennis S. Mason, from the 1913 Mercer University "Cauldron" Yearbook.

   Sporting a name that's also a well known sport, Hartwell, Georgia based attorney Tennis Seaborn Mason served multiple terms in both houses of the Georgia state legislature. A resident of Georgia for nearly all his life, Tennis S. Mason was born in Bowersville on January 6, 1885, being one of twelve children born to Elijah (1837-1917) and Sarah Walters Mason (1850-1918).  He attended schools local to the Bowersville area and later studied at the Locust Grove Institute. Mason continued his studies at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, where he studied law. He would serve as the President of the school's 1913 law class and graduated with his Bachelor of Laws degree in that same year.
   Tennis S. Mason married in Bowersville in November 1917 to Bernice Gaines (1894-1942), and the couple are believed to have remained childless through the entirety of their marriage. In 1918 Mason was elected as one of Hart County's representative in the Georgia State Assembly. Serving during the 1919-21 session, Mason was returned to that body for a second term in 1920 and two years was elected to the Georgia Senate. His time in that body coincided with his service on the Georgia Library Commission, and he resigned during this term, moving "his place of residence from Hartwell, Georgia to North Carolina."
   By the early 1930s Tennis S. Mason is recorded as having moved back to Hart County, Georgia, and in 1937 served as part of a delegation to Washington, D.C. to advocate for the construction of an "electric line" in Hart County. This delegation later led to the establishment of the Hart County Electric Membership Corporation, of which Mason would serve as attorney and general manager in the mid 1950s.
   Mason would return to politics in 1940 when he was reelected to the Georgia Senate. He would win a third term in 1946 and is listed as a "lawyer and farmer" in the 1945-50 Georgia State Register. Widowed in 1942, Tennis S. Mason died at age 87 in August 1972. Both he and his wife were buried at the Northview Cemetery in Hartwell, Georgia.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Olinthus Ellis (1840-1905)

Portrait courtesy of

   Hailing from Lavaca County, Texas, Olinthus Ellis is yet another example of an oddly named member of the Texas State Legislature (and believe me, there are many!!) A one term member of the Texas Senate, Ellis was also a veteran of the Confederate Army and an attorney based in the cities of Hallettsville and Uvalde.
   Although a resident of Texas for a good majority of his life, Olinthus Ellis wasn't born in the Lonestar State; his birth instead occurring in Henry County, Kentucky on May 5, 1840. One of nine children born to James Parrish Ellis and the former Jane Berryman, Ellis' early life and education remain uncertain, and he is recorded as having been a "bookkeeper in Louisville" until the dawn of the Civil War. In 1862 he enlisted in the Confederate Army and after relocating to Texas joined the ranks of Co. C. of the 13th Texas Volunteer Infantry. Ellis would later be promoted to sergeant major of the 8th Regiment Texas Infantry, serving under General John G. Walker.
   Olinthus Ellis served with the 8th Regiment Texas Infantry until the conclusion of the warand at the conclusion of the hostilities sought out his brother Volney, a lawyer in Hallettsville, Texas. He followed in his brother's stead and after a period of study was admitted to the Texas bar in 1865. Ellis began the practice law in Hallettsville soon afterward and two years later married to Martha Ann "Mattie" Dibrell (1844-1879), with whom he would have three children: Elizabeth (1868-1929), Ben Dibrell (1873-1943) and Katy (1876-1880).
   Several years after establishing himself in Hallettsville Olinthus Ellis made his first move into politics, becoming a candidate for the Texas Senate from the 25th district in 1873. He would win election to that body and took his seat at the start of the 1874-76 session. His time in the senate saw him chair the committee on the Militia, as well as serving on the following committees: Blind Asylum, Comptroller and Treasurer's Accounts, Immigration, the Judiciary, Mexican Border Troubles, the Penitentiary, Retrenchment and Reform, Roads, Bridges and Ferries and State Affairs.

Portrait from the 1874 Texas legislative composite.

   Tragedy struck Olinthus Ellis in 1879 when his wife Mattie died at the age of 35. A few years following her passing Ellis removed to Uvalde, Texas and following his resettlement remarried to Sarah Grace Oglesby (1855-1919), and their union would produce five further children: Jane Berryman (died in infancy in 1884), Olin Oglesby (1884-1968), Paul Roscoe (1892-1960), Juliet (died aged one in 1897) and a son who died in infancy in 1898.
   Ellis's later life in Uvalde saw him continue to practice law, and in the early 1890s took as a junior law partner a young lawyer named John Nance Garner (1868-1967), later to gain nationwide distinction as both Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and as Vice President of the United States under Franklin Roosevelt (1933-1941). Ellis died shortly after his 65th birthday on May 11, 1905 and was subsequently interred at the Uvalde Cemetery.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Humboldt Hunter Cummins (1873-1961)

Portrait courtesy of the Legislative Library of Texas.

  Today marks a return to the Lonestar State to highlight the political doings of another oddly named Texas state legislator. Humboldt Hunter Cummins (nicknamed "Hum") was for over four decades a practicing attorney in Grayson County, Texas. Cummins would serve Grayson as its County Attorney for four years and later served a term in his state's house of representatives.
  Born in Denison, Texas on March 12, 1873, Humboldt Hunter Cummins was one of several children born to James Hunter (a former Judge) and Helen Morrison Cummins. "Hum" Cummins would attend the public schools of Grayson County and in the early 1890s began the study of law at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a member of the school's baseball and football teams. He earned his bachelor of laws degree in the class of 1894 and shortly after his graduation returned to Denison to establish a law practice.
  Cummins first entered Denison political life at the age of just 24,  being elected as Denison City Attorney. He would serve in that post until 1902 and two years later was named as assistant county attorney for Grayson County. In September 1904 Cummins married in Denison to Nellie Moore (1874-1959), to whom he was wed for over fifty years. The couple would remain childless through the entirety of their marriage.
  After several years away from elective office in his native county "Hum" Cummins was elected as Grayson County Attorney, a post he would continue to hold for four years. An ardent Democrat, Cummins is remarked by the "History of Texas and Texans" as having been "one of the influential party men of his section", and continued his political ascent in 1920 when he was elected as one of three representatives from Grayson County to the Texas state legislature.

"Hum" Cummins, from the History of Texas and Texas, 1914.

   Taking his seat at the start of the 1921-23 session, Cummins proved to be busy as a freshman representative, serving on a total of six committees during his term, those being: Banks and Banking, Constitutional Amendments, Insurance, Judiciary, and Oil, Gas and Mining. Cummins' time in the state house also saw him sit on the "Neinast Investigating" committee, responsible for examining evidence related to the contested election of Washington County representative Henry J. Neinast. 
  Following his brief time in state government Cummins returned to his law practice in Denison. A longstanding member of the local Elks Lodge, Cummins was also a member of the Grayson County Chamber of Commerce as well as a charter member of the Denison Lions Club. Widowed in 1959, Humboldt Hunter Cummins died in Denison on October 3, 1961 at age 88. Both he and his wife were interred at the Fairview Cemetery in Denison, Texas.

Humboldt H. Cummins, from the October 1961 Texas State Bar Journal.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Manliff Jarrell Wrenn (1858-1934)

Portrait from the History of North Carolina: North Carolina Biography, 1919.

   Very likely the only "Manliff" ever to to be elected to public office in the United States, Manliff Jarrell Wrenn was for many years a leading figure in the business and political life of High Point, North Carolina. A wealthy furniture manufacturer, banker and telephone company executive, Wrenn served four years as Mayor of High Point and in 1928 was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention held in Houston, Texas.
   The son of Merritt and Nancy Jarrell Wrenn, Manliff Jarrell Wrenn was born in Randolph County, North Carolina on August 25, 1858.  A descendant of a family long prominent in the history of Randolph County, Manliff J. Wrenn's unusual first name also has a variation in spelling, being recorded as "Manleff" in addition to the spelling given here. 
  Left fatherless at a young age, Wrenn removed with his mother and siblings to High Point, North Carolina in 1865 and until the age of twenty-one resided with his maternal uncle and namesake, Manliff Jarrell. Wrenn would attend school in that city and as a youth worked in his uncle's hotel. He would later leave that employ to take work as clerk in a grocery store and for two years continued in that profession, eventually accumulating enough money to go into business for himself.
   Wrenn's grocery business later saw his brother Thomas join as a partner, and this partnership continued on for nearly a decade. Thomas Wrenn would later turn his attention to establishing a furniture store in High Point, a business venture that greatly interested Manliff, who would join his brother in the High Point Furniture Company, a business noted for being the first of its kind in the city. After become "financially interested" in that company, Manliff Wrenn bought out the shares of the business's other partners and saw the company expand significantly, seeing the original buildings replaced by "modern brick structures" outfitted with then state of the art machinery. Wrenn would also serve the company as it's nightwatchman during its formative years.
   By 1900 Manliff Wrenn had become the sole owner of the High Point Furniture Company and in the succeeding years had mad his name known in other commercial areas of High Point, including service as a director for the Atlantic Bank and Trust Company, the owner of the Union Brokerage Co. and was a half owner of the Wrenn-Columbia Furniture Company, established in the early 1900s.
  While a leading figure in High Point business circles, Manliff Wrenn also made substantial headway in that city's political life. He would serve as a member of the city's Board of Aldermen for several years and in 1904 was elected to the first of two terms as Mayor of High Point; his four years in office being noted as ones of "substantial municipal progress" for the city. 
   In the years following his time as Mayor Manliff Wrenn continued with his earlier business pursuits and married on June 11, 1918 to Elise Louise Clinard (1880-1948). In 1921 he took on the position of President of the North State Telephone Company, continuing in that office until his death. Around this same time Wrenn became active in the construction of the Southern Furniture Exposition Building, being both a stock-holder and vice president (holding the latter until his death.) In the 1928 election year Wrenn served as part of North Carolina's delegation to the Democratic National Convention that nominated former New York Governor Alfred E. Smith for the Presidency.
   After many years of prominence in High Point, Manliff Jarrell Wrenn died in Florida on February 18, 1934. He was survived by his wife Louise, who succeeded him as head of the High Point Furniture Company.  In 1937 Louise donated funds to establish the M.J. Wrenn Memorial Library, located on the campus of High Point College. Following her death in 1948 Louise Wrenn was interred alongside her husband at the Oakwood Cemetery in High Point. 

Manliff J. Wrenn, from the High Point Enterprise, Sept. 4, 1938.