Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hobdy Greer Rains (1912-1988)

Portrait from the Gadsden Times, April 2, 1966.

  Gadsden, Alabama resident Hobdy Greer Rains distinguished himself in a number of civic and political endeavors in his native city, being an attorney, bank director and Democratic Executive Committee chairman. He earns a place here on the site due to his service as a delegate to the 1952 Democratic National Convention, as well as for his tenure as Judge of the Etowah County Circuit Court.
  Born in DeKalb County, Alabama on March 29, 1912, Hobdy Greer Rains was the son of Will Green and Ola Hamrick Rains. The Rains family resettled in Gadsden in 1916 and Rains' early education occurred in the schools of that county. He briefly studied at Stamford University in Birmingham before enrolling at the University of Alabama, where he earned  his bachelor of laws degree. Shortly afterward he would join his uncle Albert McKinley Rains (later to be a ten term U.S. Representative from Alabama) in the law firm of Rains and Rains.
   Hobdy G. Rains married in 1945 to Constance Novetta Goldman (1924-2005). The couple were wed for over forty years and would remain childless. Long active in Democratic Party proceedings in Alabama, Rains served as part of the Alabama delegation to the 1952 Democratic National Convention in Illinois that nominated Adlai E. Stevenson for the Presidency.
   In addition to his service as a delegate Rains was a longtime member of the Alabama State Democratic Executive Committee and was its secretary for twenty-eight years. In 1960 he advanced to the State Democratic Steering Committee and prior to his appointment had been selected as one of three attorneys to conduct voter fraud hearings in Phenix City, Alabama in connection with the assassination of Albert Patterson (1894-1954), the Democratic nominee for Alabama Attorney General.  Rains would also hold the directorship of the First City National Bank in Gadsden upon its admission to the Federal Reserve System in 1966.
   Rains continued service on the Democratic Executive Committee into the mid 1970s and in August 1976 was appointed as judge of the Etowah County Circuit Court. He entered into his duties on August 22nd of that year and served until his retirement in 1983, whereafter he held the position of supernumerary judge for the Etowah County Circuit for a short period. Hobdy Greer Rains died in Gadsden on April 18, 1988 at age 76. He was survived by his wife Constance, who, following her death in 2005, was interred alongside her husband at the Forrest Cemetery in Gadsden.

From the Gadsden Times, April 19, 1988.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Osuld Torrison Bredesen (1893-1958)

Portrait courtesy of Find-A-Grave.

   For many years a distinguished figure in the city of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, Osuld Torrison Bredesen was a decorated veteran of the First World War who served as Judge of the Municipal Court of Manitowoc for fifteen years. Born in Stoughton, Wisconsin on August 16, 1893, Osuld T. Bredesen was the son of the Rev. Adolph (1850-1913) and Inanda Torrison Bredesen (1857-1914). Bredesen would inherit his unusual first and middle names courtesy of his maternal grandfather Osuld Torrison (1828-1892), a prominent merchant in the early days of Manitowoc.
   Osuld T. Bredesen removed with his family to Manitowoc in 1911 and was later employed by the O. Torrison Co. as a credit manager. A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps Second Division during WWI, Bredesen was wounded in action at the Battle of Belleau Wood in June 1918. His injuries proved so severe he was unable to return to active duty, and he was subsequently hospitalized at Camp Barry in Great Lakes, Illinois. During this period of recuperation Bredesen married to Mary Estelle "Stella" Engeldinger (1897-1985) in April 1920. The couple were wed for nearly forty years and became the parents to five children, including Robert Louis Bredeson (1921-1978). 
  Following his military service Bredesen studied at the Luther College in Decorah, Iowa for a short period before resuming his studies at the Marquette University Law School. He graduated with his law degree in the class of 1924 and shortly thereafter removed to Manitowoc to establish his law practice. He continued in this practice until his election as Judge of the Municipal Court of Manitowoc in April 1933, having been elected to the bench following the retirement of Albert H. Schmidt, who had served as judge for nearly three decades.
  Entering into his duties in May 1933, Bredesen served on the bench until his retirement in 1951. After leaving office Bredesen and his wife removed to Venice, Florida, where they resided until returning to Manitowoc a year prior to Osuld Bredesen's death, which occurred at the Maplecrest Sanitarium in Whitlelaw, Wisconsin on November 10, 1958. He was survived by his wife Stella, who, following her death in 1985, was interred alongside her husband at the Evergreen Cemetery in Manitowoc.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Octer Ludwig Beck (1899-1957)

Portrait from the Legislative Manual of Minnesota, 1953. 

   A one term member of the Minnesota House of Representatives from the county of Kanabec, Octer Ludwig Beck was born in Renville County, Minnesota on December 8, 1899. The son of Gustaf and Maria (Larson) Beck, Octer L. Beck received a public school education and was later a resident of Mora, Minnesota, where he worked as an auctioneer and farmer. He married Lillian Lindstrom (1900-1944) sometime in the 1920s and later had at least three children, those being Wayne, Robert and Margaret.
   In November 1950 Octer L. Beck was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives from that state's 55th legislative district. His one term saw him serve on the following house committees: Banking, Game and Fish, Highways, Markets and Marketing, Motor Vehicles and Municipal Affairs. Beck was defeated for reelection in November 1952, losing out to Axel A. Anderson, who garnered 6,535 votes to Beck's 5,217.
   Little is known of Octer L. Beck's life following his legislative defeat in 1952. He died on May 17, 1957 in Kanabec County and both he and his wife were interred at the Oakwood Cemetery in Mora, Minnesota. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Gancelo Stansfield Wing (1851-1923)

Portrait from the Men of Mark in Virginia, Vol. III, 1907.

    A recent discovery as far as strange names are concerned, Gancelo Stansfield Wing was a noted Virginia based attorney as well as the first Mayor of the incorporated town of Blackstone, Virginia. Despite the dearth of sources mentioning him at great length, a small biography of Wing was featured in volume three of the Men of Mark in Virginia, published in 1907. Curiously, this work gives no mention of his service as Blackstone's mayor, and after locating Wing's name via the above work I was quite certain that Wing had no political involvement whatsoever. I continued to believe this until the discovery of a certain "G.S. Wing", who was listed in the Richmond Times in January 1901. In this newspaper write-up, G.S. Wing is recorded as a former Mayor of Blackstone who attended his brother J. Norris Wing on the latter's deathbed at Greenbriar, Virginia. Upon further research, I found that Gancelo S. Wing did indeed have a brother named Josiah Norris, confirming that the Blackstone Mayor and the man listed in the Men of Mark of Virginia were one and the same!!
   A son of Ephraim Norris and Almira Robins Wing, Gancelo Stansfield Wing was born in Bedford County, Virginia on February 1, 1851. A student in the country and village schools of Bedford County, Wing would go on to study at the University of New York for three years and during his Empire State  residency was employed as a clerk at the "Mercantile library of New York". He later turned his attention to the study of law and after being admitted to practice in Virginia was involved in suits against various railroads and other businesses.
   Gancelo S. Wing married in Virginia in July 1879 (or 1877, depending on the source) to Ada Gilliam, The couple were wed until Gancelo's death in 1923 and are believed to have remained childless.
   The owner of a 1,000 acre farm, Wing was a parishioner at the St. Luke's Church of Blackstone, Virginia and in 1888 saw an act passed by the Virginia General Assembly that formally incorporated Blackstone as a town. Following its incorporation Gancelo Wing was elected as the town's first mayor and served a term of indeterminate length. He would continue in the practice of law following his mayoralty and was later a resident of the town of Green Bay in Price Edward County, Virginia. 
    Gancelo S. Wing's date of death originally couldn't be found, but, with luck, ancestry.com fielded a copy of his death certificate, giving his date of death as October 4, 1923 and the cause as valvular heart trouble. He and his wife were interred at the Lake View Cemetery in Blackstone.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Esba Lincoln Groves (1861-1939)

Portrait from the Twentieth Century History of Findlay and Hancock County, 1910.

   A six term Mayor of Findlay, Ohio, Esba Lincoln Groves was a lifelong native of the Buckeye State, being born in Blanchard township on February 6, 1861. The only child of Savadra and Lucinda Fisher Groves,  E. Lincoln Groves (as most sources list him) engaged in farm work as a child and received his education in the "country schools" of Hancock County. 
   Following his removal to Macomb, Ohio in the 1880s Groves ran a butchery for a short period and in December 1885 married to Mary Alice McKinnis (1864-1937), to whom he was wed for fifty-one years. The couple would have a total of five children: Florence Fern (1886-1970), Carl LeRoy (1888-1980), Ruth (born ca. 1890), Albert Dean (1897-1968) and Leland Stanford (1899-1986). After his marriage Groves returned to farming and is recorded by the 1886 History of Hancock County as being the owner of "100 acres of land."
   After many years of farming in the Macomb area E. Lincoln Groves made his first move into the political life of Hancock County in 1904 when he was elected as County Sheriff. He entered into that office in January 1905 and a short while later relocated permanently to Findlay, Ohio (the Hancock County seat.) He would serve two terms as sheriff and had previously held several local political offices, including the presidency of the Blanchard town school board
   In 1909 E. Lincoln Groves received the Republican nomination for Mayor of Findlay. He would win election in the fall of that year and took office in January 1910. Groves won reelection in 1911 and following another two year term (1912-14) was affiliated with the Bryant Basket Factory, which he had purchased in 1914. Groves would subsequently add improved machinery to the factory and increased its personnel to 25 workers
  After several years away from city politics E. Lincoln Groves was returned to the office of Mayor in November 1923. His third term commenced in January of the new year and he would serve a further three terms, the last of which concluded in 1932. During the latter period of his mayoralty he dedicated the newly constructed city waterworks, which had been completed in 1930. Groves was defeated for reelection in the fall of 1931 by Democratic candidate Homer O. Dorsey, who would go on to serve four terms as Findlay's Mayor.
  Widowed in 1937, Esba Lincoln Groves died in Findlay on September 26, 1939 at age 78. Both he and his wife were interred at the Maple Grove Cemetery in that city following their deaths.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Boaz Walton Long (1876-1962), Boaz Willard Williams (1817-1880)

Portrait from the Denison Iowa Review, March 17, 1920.

    The life of career diplomat Boaz Walton Long is highlighted today, and it is worth noting the above portrait of him (featured in an Iowa newspaper) marks the first time I've seen a picture of the man in the several years I've known of him. Shortly after discovering the above portrait (via the newspaper archive Chronicling America), three further pictures of Walton were located, along with a treasure trove of information detailing his early life in Indiana and the New Mexico Territory, as well as his diplomatic career as U.S. Minister to Salvador, Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador.
   Born in Warsaw, Indiana on September 27, 1876, Boaz Walton Long was the son of Judge Elisha Van Buren (1836-1928) and Alice Rebecca (Walton) Long. Bestowed the name "Boaz" upon his birth, Long's biblical namesake was a prominent figure in the Book of Ruth, where he is mentioned as being a"wealthy landowner of Bethlehem" who later married Ruth and became a "model of piety, generosity and chastity." Long's family resided in Indiana until 1885, when Elisha V. Long (a circuit court judge) received the high profile appointment as Chief Justice of the New Mexico Territory. Named to that post by President Cleveland, Elisha Long moved his family to the New Mexico Territory in that year and settled in Sante Fe.
    Elisha V. Long served as territorial Chief Justice until 1889 and later relocated his family to Las Vegas, New Mexico. It was here that Boaz Long graduated from high school and soon after his graduation was enrolled at the Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Missouri. He would continue his schooling at St. Michael's College in Sante Fe and in the late 1890s clerked in his father's law office
   Around 1900 Boaz Long experience a case of wanderlust and for the next decade traveled widely throughout the United States, Mexico and Central America. Employed in the commission business during this time period, Long is listed as being a resident of Mexico City in 1909, where he was a "prosperous merchandise broker" with offices located in both Mexico City and Chicago. 
   In October 1909 Boaz W. Long was engaged to be married in San Francisco to Winifred May Pollock, a daughter of U.S. Army Major Otis Wheeler Pollock. Curiously, their marriage was later indefinitely postponed due to what the Las Vegas Optic referred to as "a serious illness in the family of the bride." Even more curiously, Winifred Pollock is recorded as marrying in 1909 to a Lt. Col. John Lyle Fairfax, a decorated officer of the Spanish American War. One can only wonder if there's more to this failed engagement than what newspaper reports let on!
   Following his failed nuptials Boaz Long continued to travel widely and his knowledge of the business affairs, customs and languages of Central and South America caught the attention of William Jennings Bryan, then U.S. Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson. In May 1913 Bryan selected Long to serve as Chief of the Division of the Latin American Affairs for the U.S. State Department, and in his selection of Long, Bryan believed him to be "thoroughly  qualified for his new work."

From the Hopkinsville Kentuckian, August 14, 1913.

    Within a year of his appointment, Boaz Long had proven himself to be a valuable asset to the state department, advising Secretary Bryan on the movements of General Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution, as well as meeting with President Wilson to discuss aiding American citizens then preparing to flee the Mexican capital due to the ongoing hostilities.   
   In 1914 Long continued to advance diplomatically, being appointed as U.S. Minister to Salvador. Entering into his duties in July of that year, Long served in Salvador until November 1917 and two years later was named by President Wilson as Minister to Cuba. Arriving in Havana in January 1920, Long presented his credentials to Cuba's President Mario Garcia Menocal and later stated that his time in Cuba would be:
"Dedicated to the continuence of the cordial relations that have always existed between the two countries."
   Boaz W. Long's tenure in Cuba concluded in 1921 and in March 1930 married to Eleanor Lenssen (1889-1970). The couple are believed to have remained childless through the entirety of their marriage. From 1922 to 1934 Long is mentioned as having been engaged in "work of private character" and in the last named year returned to diplomatic service, serving as a deputy head of the National Recovery Administration in Puerto Rico. He remained in that post until 1935 and in the next year was selected by President Franklin Roosevelt to be Minister to Nicaragua. Long's ambassadorship in Nicaragua extended from 1936-38 and early in his term had to contend with rebels that attacked the presidential palace in an attempt to overthrow President Juan Batista Sacasa.

From the Daily Missoulan, June 15, 1913.

   Within a few days of leaving the ministry in Nicaragua, Long was named by FDR as U.S. Minister to Ecuador, an office he would continue to hold until 1942. In that year he was reappointed to the post at Ecuador under the title "Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary" and served until May 1943. Long's final diplomatic mission began in March 1943 when he accepted the Ambassadorship to Guatemala, a post he would occupy for two years. During his mission in that country Long made a rather poor decision to vacation at his home in Missouri in 1944, despite receiving reports of civil unrest and possible revolutionGuatemalan President Jorge Ubico was eventually overthrown in June 1944 and succeeded by Frederico Vaides, who in turn was overthrown a few months later. The overthrow of Viades occurred during Long's vacation at his Missouri home, and he was later forced to explain to President Roosevelt his surprise that the government of Vaides was overthrown so quickly.
   Boaz W. Long left Guatemala in April 1945 and for the remainder of his life resided in New Mexico. In 1948 he began a near decade long tenure as Director of the Museum of New Mexico, leaving that post in 1957. After many years of service abroad, Boaz W. Long died in Las Vegas, New Mexico on July 30, 1962 at age 85. He was survived by his wife Eleanor and was later buried at the Masonic Cemetery in Las Vegas.

Boaz W. Long as he appeared late in life. Courtesy of nmstatehood.unm.edu. 

Portrait from the 1869 Kansas legislative composite.

    Another "Boaz" that made his name known politically was Boaz Willard Williams, an obscure resident of Washington County, Kansas. A two term state representative and one term state senator, Boaz W. Williams was the son of James and Julia Willard Williams and was born in Forsyth County, North Carolina in 1817.
   Left parentless at an early age, Williams received a limited education during his youth and later taught school for a time "as a means of aiding him in educating himself." During the the late 1830s Williams removed to Danville, Indiana, where he established himself in the mercantile business. He married in that state in April 1841 to Nancy Long (died 1850), with whom he would have three children. Remaining here until 1851, Williams remarried that year and later went into business with his brother Isaac before resettling in Iowa, where he continued in merchandising until permanently relocating to Kansas around 1859.
  Boaz W. Williams first decade in Kansas saw him reside in both Leavenworth and Atchison County, engaging in farming in the latter area. In 1864 he was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives from Atchison and won a second term in 1868. He would continued his rise in state politics in 1873 when he was elected to the Kansas Senate from the senatorial district of Washington and Marshall County. This four year term (1874-78) saw Williams serve on the senate committees on Emigration, Education and Insurance as well as chairing the committee on Engrossed Bills. 
  In addition to his political doings Boaz Williams was for many affiliated with the Central Branch Union Pacific Railroad Company, serving on its board of directors. Williams died in Washington County on February 23, 1880 at age 62 and was later interred at the Washington Cemetery in that county.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Amanzel DeForest Whitford (1846-1921)

Portrait courtesy of the Whitford family at Rootsweb.

   Hailing from a state that hasn't been featured here since November 2014, Nebraska state representative Amanzel DeForest Whitford is the newest edition to the Strangest Names In American Political History. While Whitford's brief tenure in the Nebraska legislature is the primary reason he's profiled today, I can't help but point out his connection to my home county of Chautauqua, New York, where Whitford's family resided early in his childhood.
  One of eleven children born to Nathaniel and Rebecca (Brown) Whitford, Amanzel DeForest Whitford's birth occurred in Warren County, Pennsylvania on October 23, 1846. Shortly following Amanzel's birth the Whitford family removed to Chautauqua County, New York and settled in the town of North Harmony. They continued to reside here until 1854, whereafter they relocated to Waverly, Michigan. It is presumed that Whitford received his education in that town, and he was still a resident of Waverly when he enlisted for service in the Civil War in December 1863.
   Joining the ranks of Co. A in the Michigan Volunteer Infantry's 13th Regiment, Whitford later was stationed in Tennessee and here contracted both measles and mumps, necessitating four months of bed confinement. Following this period of recuperation, Whitford's company joined Gen. William T. Sherman in his "March to the Sea" and on July 25, 1865 he and fellow soldiers were mustered out of service. 
   After leaving the army Amanzel Whitford returned to his family in Waverly. They continued to reside there until about 1871 (or 1873, depending on the source) when they removed to Dixon County, Nebraska. In October 1880 he married to Mary Emily Allen (1861-1922), to whom he was wed until his death. Their four decade long union saw the births of twelve children, who are listed as follows in order of birth: Matthew (born 1881), Ruth (1883-1957), Mary (1885-1977), Sarah (died in infancy in 1886), Eva (1888-1967). Alma (died in infancy in 1890), Arthur DeForest (1891-1975), Faye (born 1892), John (died in infancy in 1895), William McKinley (1896-1898), Ruby (1898-1985) and Alice (1901-1944).
   Described in the 1896 History of Dixon County as "a prosperous farmer of Springbank", Whitford is recorded as being the owner of a 240 acre farm located south of Allen, Nebraska. In 1888 he was elected as Dixon County's representative to the Nebraska State legislature and in February 1889 received a small write-up on his service in the Omaha Bee. In this brief snippet, the Bee relates Whitford's early life in Pennsylvania and New York and further notes that:
"Mr. Whitford is another quiet member, but his vote may always be relied upon by friends of wise and economical legislation."
From the Omaha Bee, February 18, 1889.

   Amanzel Whitford served just one term in the house (1889-1891) and afterwards returned to private life at his home in Dixon County. In the early 1900s he and his family pulled up stakes once again and this time relocated to Wisconsin. Settling in Washburn County, Whitford resided here until his death at age 74 on February 28, 1921. His wife Mary survived her husband by only a year, dying in 1922. Both were later interred at the Shell Lake Cemetery in Shell Lake, Wisconsin. 
   Curiously, Whitford's gravestone records his name as "DeForest A. Whitford". This is presumed to be an error on the part of the carver, as all other documents (including the Omaha Bee and the History of Dixon County) record him either by the initials "A.D." or under the name Amanzel. This is further strengthened by the 1860 U.S. Census, which records him as a 13 year old residing in Waverly, Michigan under the name "Amanzel D. Whitford",

Friday, August 12, 2016

Menzus Raynard Bump (1838-1913)

Menzus R. Bump, from the Spokane Spokesman Review, May 7, 1913.

   The Wisconsin State Assembly has had several of its members profiled here over the past five years and that list of oddly named assemblymen grows ever larger with the addition of Menzus Raynard Bump, an outstandingly named resident of Dunn County. Earning a place here on the site due to his serving one term in the Wisconsin legislature, Bump later removed to Spokane, Washington, where he gained further distinction in that city's Masonic community. 
   A native of New York, Menzus Raynard Bump was born in Washington County on May 28, 1838. One of several children born to Charles W. (1803-1843) and Almira Ruth (Bullock) Bump (1807-1864), Menzus R. Bump looks to have received his unusual first and middle names in honor of Menzies Rayner (1770-1850), a prominent clergyman in the Universalist church who held pastorates in New York, Connecticut and Maine. 
   Menzus Bump received a "common school and academic education" in his native state and relocated to Dunn County, Wisconsin in 1856. Settling in the town of Mondovi, Bump signed on for service in the 25th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment in 1862 and would see action at the battles of Vicksburg, Atlanta and Lookout Mountain. Following fighting at Chattanooga in 1863 he was promoted to first sergeant and later served under General William T. Sherman until being honorably discharged in June 1865.
   Following his return to Wisconsin Bump entered the flour milling business, which he would continue in until his removal to Spokane, Washington around 1890. In 1868 he purchased a mill at Rock Falls, Wisconsin that he continued to operate until 1878, when it was washed away in a flood. A few months following its distruction a "new, superior mill" was established in its place, with The History of Northern Wisconsin describing it as having been:
"The best in all the county; patent rollers, purifiers, and all the latest mill machinery. Capacity a day is fifty barrels of flour, 350 bushels of feed."
  In November 1868 Menzus R. Bump married to Elma A. Crocker (1843-1911), to whom he was wed for over forty years. The couple would later have four children: Maude Alice (1869-1916), Grace (born 1873), Bessie and Milan Raynard (1881-1924). Of these children, Milan Bump would gain prominence in the electrical industry, serving for a time as chief engineer of the Henry L, Doherty Co. of New York. He later gained further distinction as President of the National Electric Light Association, being named to that post in 1921.
   Active in the the political life of Rock Falls, Menzus Bump held a number of local offices and for three years served as chairman of the Board of Supervisors. In November 1875 he was elected as Dunn County's representative to the Wisconsin State Assembly and during the 1876 session served on the committees on Assessment and Collection of Taxes and the Militia. Bump's service in the state assembly lasted but one term and afterwards returned to private life in Rock Falls. He briefly reemerged on the political scene in 1881 he was one of 47 petitioners that lobbied the assembly to pass an amendment to the Wisconsin state constitution that prohibited the sale and manufacture of alcoholic beverages.
   After three decades of residence in Dunn County, Wisconsin, the Bump family relocated to Spokane, Washington in 1889. Following his removal Menzus Bump dabbled in real estate and for over two decades was an active member of the Masonic order in Spokane, having joined the order early in his Wisconsin residency. A member of the Spokane Lodge No. 34 of Free and Accepted Masons, Bump also held memberships in the Electa chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star and the Sedgwick Post of the Grand Army of the Republic.
  Menzus R. Bump died of complications of pneumonia on May 6, 1913, shortly before his 75th birthday. He had been ill only a few days and expired at his home. His wife Elma had predeceased her husband two years prior and both were interred at the Greenwood Memorial Terrace in Spokane following their deaths.

From the Spokane Spokesman Review, May 9, 1913.