Friday, February 28, 2014

Fountain Land Thompson (1854-1942), Fountain Fox Beattie (1878-1956)

From the Turtle Mountain Star, November 25, 1909.

   Having a name that conjures up images of a mystical land populated with fountains, Fountain Land Thompson gained the distinction of representing North Dakota in the United States Senate for a two month period between 1909 and 1910, owing to the death of a previously sitting senator. Prominent in business circles in the city of Cando, North Dakota both prior to and after his brief senate term, Thompson was a native of Illinois, being born near the village of Scottville on November 18, 1854, a son of Leonard Joshua and Phoebe Salina Thompson. Fountain began his primary schooling in the nearby town of Girard and would later graduate from that town's high school. He married at age nineteen on June 18, 1874 in Girard to Fannie Walker (1853-1920), later becoming a father to three sons, Harry H., Lester J. and Roy Towner Thompson.
   The son of a merchant, Fountain L. Thompson followed the example of his father and established a general store in the Girard area, whilst also doing business in the neighboring settlement of Palmyra. He took an interest in local politics, serving as Girard's treasurer and was later elected to the Macoupin County, Illinois Board of Supervisors. In 1887 he relocated to Cando, North Dakota with his family and once settled engaged in real estate, establishing the Thompson Realty Company. He served as the president of that realty company and occupied the same position at the Cando Elevator Co. Thompson also took an active interest in financial affairs of Towner County, being the vice president of the First National Bank of Cando and the president of Rock Lake, North Dakota's First National Bank.
  Fountain L. Thompson continued involvement in politics after relocating to North Dakota, serving on the Cando school board, was judge of Towner County from 1890-1898 and in 1902 won election as Mayor of Cando. After leaving the mayor's office in 1906 Thompson returned to his business dealings, and in November 1909 was appointed to a vacancy in the United States Senate. This vacant senate seat had been occasioned by the sudden death of Martin Nelson Johnson on October 21, 1909, only seven months after being elected. 

A notice  on Thompson's senate appointment, from the Jan. 3, 1910 Daytona, Florida World News.

  Thompson's senate appointment received wide press in newspapers of the time, some as far away as Daytona, Florida. The Wenahatchee Daily World's January 17, 1910 edition published a short snippet on Thompson' s public life, noting that:
"In a recent interview Senator Thompson said that, while he had always been a Democrat and had held local political offices, he had never sough political preferment. As to politics, he declared that the manner in which it had been conducted in recent years had cultivated in him a distaste for it."
   In the days after receiving his senate appointment, many pieces of period literature lauded Thompson, noting his extensive business dealings in Cando, as well as his previous stints as mayor and county judge. However, Thompson's senate career ended as quickly as it began, as he resigned from office on January 31, 1910, two months after taking his seat. The Ward County Independent reported on his resignation, noting that soon after traveling to Washington D.C. Thompson's health took a turn for the worse, suffering a "number of hemorrhages".  Out of concerns for his health Thompson resigned, and after leaving the senate journeyed South in the hopes that his health would be restored. 
   Thompson eventually recuperated and returned home to Cando, continuing to be involved in business dealings in that area until 1921, when he moved to Los Angeles, California. He resided here until his death at age 87 on February 4, 1942, having attained the distinction of being the oldest living ex-senator at the time of his decease. He was interred alongside his wife Fannie at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.


Fountain L. Thompson, from the Wenahatchee Daily World, January 17, 1910.



From "The History of South Carolina, Volume 3", 1920.

   Born into a distinguished Greenville, South Carolina family, Fountain Fox Beattie's birth occurred in Greenville on July 29, 1878, a son of John Edgeworth Beattie and Mary Mays, the former being the president of the First National Bank of Greenville. Fountain Beattie attended Furman University, the University of Michigan and the George Washington University at Washington, D.C., graduating from the last named school in the class of 1902 with his degree in law
  Shortly after attaining his degree Beattie returned to Greenville to begin a law practice, and in Nove,ber 1905 was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives at the age of just 27. He served in the legislative term of 1906-1908 and later married Jane Cobb Arnold (1888-1983) and had three children: Fountain Fox Jr. (1913-2001), Dannite Mays (1917-1994) and Janell Arnold Beattie (birth-date unknown). 
  Following the death of his father in 1916 Fountain Fox Beattie succeeded to the Presidency of the First National Bank of Greenville, serving in this post for a number of years. He died aged 78 in Greenville on July 29, 1956 and was survived by his wife and three children. Both Beattie, his wife and two sons were are interred at the Christ Episcopal Church Cemetery in Greenville.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ai Noah Boynton (1845-1911), Ai Baker Thompson (1833-1890), Ai Gray Miller (1885-1950)

From Successful Vermonters: A Modern Gazetteer of Lemoille, Franklin and Grand Isle Counties.

   This multi- part posting highlights the lives of three men who were bestowed the peculiar first name "Ai", which can certainly be considered as a candidate for shortest first name in history. While the reasons behind each of these men being given this odd name have been lost to to the pages of time, the name "Ai" is worth mentioning, as it is of biblical origin. In ancient times "Ai" (pronounced Eh'-aye) was one of the royal cities in the ancient region of Canaan, and was later invaded and captured by the Israelites, who later burned the city to the ground.
  First up is Mr. Ai Noah Boynton, active in the affairs of business and politics in Lamoille County, Vermont. The eldest of 11 children born to Noah and Abagail Boynton, Boynton's birth occurred in Amherst, New Hampshire on November 3, 1845. His earlier were marked by the Successful Vermonters as being of limited education, and removed with his family to Vermont at age 9. Four years after his removal Boynton was "bound out" to a farmer in the town of Walden, where he worked at farming and attended school, later returning to his parent's farm after three years away. As Noah Boynton had enlisted for service during the Civil War, it was young Ai who would take over the reigns of the family's 50 acre farm.
   Boynton continued farming throughout the 1860s and in November 1867 married Parmelia Campbell, with who he would have one daughter, Effie (died 1887.) In the year following his marriage he purchased a sawmill  in the village of North Wolcott, Vermont and began what would become a three decade long career as a dealer in lumber. His mill at North Wolcott was said to churn out "a capacity of 2,500 feet of lumber per day." Active in local politics as well as business, Boynton served as a justice of the peace and town selectman, and in November 1897 was selected to as one of Lamoille County's representatives to the Vermont General Assembly, subsequently holding a seat on the grand list committee.
   Ai N. Boynton served one term (1898-1900) in the house of representatives and in 1902 sold his lumber business and removed from North Wolcott to Morrisville, Vermont. In the same year as his removal he was elected as an assistant judge for Lamoille County and in 1905 became a member of the Morrisville Board of Trustees. He later served as street commissioner of the town and later overseer of the poor, occupying the latter post until his death on November 25, 1911. The Burlington Weekly Free Press obituary for Ai Boynton notes he had recently contracted "bilious grip" around his birthday (November 3) and died of complications of the illness. This same obituary later notes that Boynton was returned to Wolcott for burial at the Fairmount Cemetery.

From the November 30, 1911 Burlington Weekly Free Press.


From the "History of the Second Regiment, New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry", 1896.


  Another "Ai" who made his name known in state politics was Ai Baker Thompson, a lifelong resident of New Hampshire who logged thirteen years of service as the Secretary of the State of New Hampshire. Born and raised in Holderness, Ai B. Thompson was born on August 25 1833, a son of John and Charlotte Baker Thompson. Thompson graduated from Dartmouth College in the class 1858 and three years later was admitted to practice law by the New Hampshire bar.
  In the early days of the Civil War Thompson enlisted as a private, and in August 1861 received an appointment from President Lincoln as a captain in the Eighth U.S. Infantry. He participated in the Battle of Bull Run and on New Year's eve 1862 was promoted to brevet major, "for gallant and meritorious conduct at the Battle of Stone's River." Thompson received grievous wounds at this particular engagement, including a fractured humerus. which "rendered the arm practically useless". Following some recuperation Thompson returned to duty as an inspector in the provost marshal's department in Ohio, later serving as an assistant provost marshal for New Hampshire until the conclusion of the war. Decades after his service Thompson served as the Department Commander for New Hampshire G.A.R. in 1888.
   Thompson had married during wartime on May 13, 1863 to Matilda R. Smith (1835-1912) and this couple became the parents to four children, of whom two survived into adulthood: James B. (died aged one in October 1865), Joseph Smith (died aged seven months in 1867), Laurien (born 1869) and Marion (born 1871). 
   After being placed on the military's retired list, Thompson continued to be involved in post-war reconstruction, being appointed (under the authority of the military) as the Sheriff of Richmond, Virginia in June of 1869. After returning home to New Hampshire he established a law office in the city of Concord and in the mid 1870s took on the position of Deputy Secretary of State for New Hampshire. In 1876 he was a delegate from Concord to the New Hampshire State Constitutional Convention, and in the following year was elected as New Hampshire Secretary of State.
  Thompson's tenure as secretary extended from 1877 until his death at age 57 on September 12, 1890. He was later interred at the Franklin Cemetery in Franklin, Merrimack County, New Hampshire and was survived by his wife Matilda, who died aged 75 in 1912.

 From the 1946 Iowa State Blue Book.

   From New Hampshire we journey to Iowa and one Ai Gray Miller, a two term member of the Iowa State Senate. Born on February 4, 1885 and raised in Audubon County, Iowa, Miller attended "rural schools" in that county and was later a student at Drake University at Des Moines. Miller married on February 7, 1907 to Stella Fancher (1885-1991), with whom he would have four children: Frank (birth-date unknown), Lt. Col. Marion Ai Miller (1914-2003), Jessie Yvonne Miller Himelright (birthdate unknown) and Dora Adelaide (birth-date unknown).
   Active for many years in the civil affairs of Audubon County, Ai G. Miller served as the director of the Audubon County Soil Conservation and Improvement Association, was a member of the Audubon County Board of Supervisors and was a former president of the Audubon County Board of Education. Miller also found prominence in various local businesses in his home county, being affiliated with the Farmer's Mutual Telephone Company for over two decades.
    Ai G. Miller was first elected to the Iowa State Senate in November 1940 and was continually reelected to that body, the last of which occurred in November 1944. Miller was a sponsor of a senate bill during his first term that pressed for rural electrification to aid Iowa's farmers, and retired from the senate at the end of his second term in January 1949. He died a year later on February 26, 1950 at age 65, due to a heart attack, expiring at a hospital in Carroll, Iowa. He was later buried at the Maple Grove Cemetery in Audubon, and was survived by his wife Stella, who lived to become one of Iowa's oldest residents, dying at the grand age of 105 on January 7, 1991.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Paulinus Mayhew Foster (1811-1861)

Portrait courtesy of the Maine State Archives and www.mainememory.net.

    A resident of the town of Anson in Somerset County, Maine, Paulinus Mayhew Foster was a practicing attorney in that area for nearly three decades and was a past president of the Maine State Senate, serving in this capacity during the  session of 1850-51. Born on New Year's Day 1811 in the village of Readfield, Paulinus M. Foster was the son of Benjamin (1784-1860) and Lavinia Hillman Foster. He decided upon a career in law at a young age, and at age twenty-one began study under David Bronson (1800-1863), a future U.S. Representative from Maine as well as a State Senator. Foster completed his studies under another Maine lawyer, Samuel Wells, who was later to be elected to the Maine Supreme Court and the Maine Governorship. Foster entered into practice in Anson, Maine with David Bronson in the early 1830s and maintained a partnership here for several years. 
   On June 7, 1840 Paulinus Foster married to Lydia Ring Hutchins (1819-1891) and later became the father of ten children, who are listed as follows in order of birth: Flora (born 1841), Ada (born 1842), Carroll (1844-1891), Olive (born 1846), Carlos (born 1848) and Charles (born 1850), Benjamin (1852-1926), William (born 1854), Fanny (born 1857) and Arthur (1860-1924).
   Paulinus Foster was elected to the Maine Senate in 1849 and during the 1850-51 term served as its President. At the conclusion of his term Foster returned to Anson and in 1860 removed with his family to Richmond in the county of Sagadahoc. Foster died at his home there on September 6, 1861, having recently contracted rheumatic fever. The two volume Foster Genealogy (published in 1899) notes that both Foster and his wife were buried in Richmond following their deaths, but were later re-interred at a cemetery somewhere in the village of Anson, an exact cemetery location being unknown at this time.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Western Starr (1854 - ?)

From the Land and Freedom: An International Record of Single Tax Progress, Vol. 3, 1904.

    A distinguished figure in Illinois public life during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the mysterious Western Starr was one of those obscure political figures who remained without a face to place with his name for over a decade-- that was until the discovery of the above portrait! A candidate for the Illinois state senate as well as for the U.S. House of Representatives, the distinct lack of information regarding Mr. Starr's life and public exploits kept me from compiling a biography for him here for the past three years, and if it hadn't been for the discovery of a biographical passage in Vol. 3 of the Land and Freedom Single Tax Review the following write-up would not have been possible. 
   However obscure he may be, the amount of newspapers and period literature that give passing mention to Mr. Starr prove that in his day he was a remarkable figure. Active as a farmer, attorney, public speaker, writer, politician and civil service reformer, Starr's humorous name will certainly give people a case of the giggles in this day in age, and it's quite interesting to note that many of his contemporaries also found it odd, with sources referring to the name as , "harmonious", "luminous and heavenly" and even "unlikely but colorfully appropriate", frequently making references to celestial subjects like the stars (quite appropriate!) and the solar system. 
    The life of this intriguingly named man began in the then burgeoning city of Davenport, Iowa, where he was born on September 14, 1854, one of three children born to James Comfort Starr (1824-1895) and the former Cynthia McKoon (1832-1899). The Starr family removed from Davenport around 1859 and settled in Rock Island, Illinois, where young Western would first attend school. He went to high school in the city and during adolescence took on a position as a farm hand, and in the late 1870s worked construction on a bridge, later traveling to Colorado to stake a claim in mining. 
   Returning home in 1877, Starr used personal funds to put himself through school, enrolling at the Oberlin College in that year. After studying here for a time he attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and graduated in the class of 1880. He continued studies at Columbia University, being a classmate of future President Theodore Roosevelt, and earned his law degree from this institution in 1882. 
  After being admitted to practice Starr removed to Chicago, where for a year he practiced law, and in 1883 he relocated to Dickinson, North Dakota to continue his practice. During his residency he was appointed as a territorial assessor and magistrate. While residing in North Dakota Starr re-encountered his old Columbia classmate Roosevelt, who, while ranching in the Bad Lands, had captured three horse thieves and, with the help of two companions, brought the outlaws to Dickinson to be arraigned, where, by coincidence, Starr was serving as a justice of the peace!
   Western Starr continued to reside in North Dakota until 1889, when he returned to Chicago to both practice law and start up a real-estate brokerage firm. He married here on December 29, 1897 to Ms. Edith Hammond (1870-1968), with whom he would have two children, James Hammond Starr (1898-1978) and Martha Starr Larson (1901-1987). Within a few years of settling into family life Starr became connected with the Civic Federation of Chicago's civil service reform committee, serving as the secretary of this body for two years. In 1901 he became chairman of that committee, and also took on a position as legal counsel for Civil Service League of Chicago. 
   Starr's involvement with the civil service reform committee saw him become a veritable watchdog for the group, being a "fighter for honest legislation", as well as trying to route out corrupt political practices then rampant in Chicago. While Starr tried to be an advocate of honest government and "clean" politics, newspapers of the time often had a field day with his name, and the snippet below (stemming from Starr's accusation of incompetency on the part of John J. Sloan, then Superintendent of the Chicago House of Correction), proves that Chicago newspaper editors didn't pass up a chance to chide Starr on his funny name!
"That legal luminary, Western Starr, has again peeped above the horizon of the Civil Service Commission, this time in an attempt to throw some light on certain proceedings in the house of correction."----The Chicago Eagle, October 5, 1901
  While he may have refrained from running for public office, Western Starr was by no means politically naive, and a search of Google Books shows that between 1883 and 1920 Western Starr lent the tip of his pen to numerous periodicals centering on hot button political issues of the day, including giving advice on crime ("A Radical Cure for Crime", published in the Liberal Review in 1906), and also was a fervent advocate of  the establishment of a single tax. While a frequent contributor to newsletters like the "Single Tax Review" and the "Public: A Journal for Democracy", Starr gained further prominence on the lecture circuit, traveling throughout Illinois and elsewhere speaking on such topics as "The Ethics of Conservatism". During the 1900 election year Starr was described by the Chicago Daily Herald as hitting the campaign trail, "doing considerable platform work for the Democratic National Committee" and stumped for the party in Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio.

From "The Public: A Journal for Democracy", 1903. 

    In the 1902 election year Western Starr made his first attempt at elected office, being a candidate for a seat in the Illinois State Senate from Cook County. Stating in the Chicago Daily Herald that the "nomination was not one of my seeking", Starr further related that:
"This is a case where the nomination sought the man and not the man the nomination. In response to the urgent solicitations of the eminent gentlemen who are the representatives of all political parties, and shades of political thought in this district, I consented to accept this nomination with the hope that I might be able to crystallize in this campaign all of those political forces which are tending toward the elevation of political standards, and the character of public service and public life. In the strictest sense the campaign in which I am engaged cannot be regarded as a political or partisan campaign."
   Running against Starr in that year's campaign was one John Humphrey (1838-1916), a native born Englishman who had first been elected to the state senate in 1886. As the incumbent Republican, Humphrey's decades long career in state politics was targeted by Western Starr in the November 1, 1902 edition of the Chicago Daily Herald, noting:
"I oppose Senator Humphrey because he has for 30 years been a personal representative of a political philosophy, which I do not agree and which, I am convinced the people of this district will not support, once its true inwardness is once understood."
  Rallying against "Humphreyism", Starr stumped throughout his district in support of votes in the latter part of 1902, and, as in years past, newspapers picked up on his peculiar name, with the Chicago Eagle using some very clever word play to describe the contest between John Humphrey and Starr, noting:
"His opponent is one Western Starr, and if Humphrey's sun is to suddenly set now in the declining days of his life, it is a question if the new luminary is one which will shed a more beautiful light on the political horizon of the Seventh district. Mr. Humphrey's opponent is not a "Starr" of the first magnitude, as everybody who knows him is aware, but there is a large and young element of the community in the Seventh Senatorial district composed of bright people who are sick and tired of 'Old John' and his ways and who would put up with anything for a change."
   Western Starr's political platform touted "equal rights for all, special privileges for none, Municipal Home Rule, public ownership of public utilities and honest assessment and equal taxation", and he was widely considered to be a shoe-in at the polls. However, on election day 1902, John Humphrey eked out a win over Starr, besting him by a vote of 7,013 to 5,834. Despite a loss margin of nearly 1200 votes, Starr was not one to let a loss get the best of him. Between 1903 and 1908 he continued to be a forceful voice on the lecture circuit and in political newsletters, and in 1908 re-entered the political area, announcing his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois. His opponent that year was George Edmund Foss (1863-1936), a six term Republican incumbent who, like Starr, had been a graduate of Columbia University. Starr's congressional candidacy received a write-up in the Single Tax Review that year, which touted his longstanding membership in the Single Tax movement and his willingness to be a "force in the war for economic righteousness." 
   Unfortunately, when the votes were tallied in November 1908, Starr was dealt another loss, losing to Foss by a wide margin, 31, 130 votes to 14,840. An electoral result from that contest was published in the 1910 Tribune Almanac and Political Register and is shown below.



   A few years following his congressional loss, Western Starr removed with his family to Baltimore, Maryland, where he became active in both agriculture and the Farmer-Labor Party. In 1918 he gave a statement in front of Congress in connection with the Revenue Act of 1918, and during his testimony gave examples of land monopoly and the effects of too much taxation on farm owners. Starr later appeared in front of congress once again in July 1921 on behalf of the Farmer-Labor Party, speaking to the Joint-Commission of Agricultural Inquiry.
  Around 1919 Starr relocated once again, this time to Washington, D.C. During his residency here he was a contributing writer to The Searchlight, a journal on Washington politics and congressional proceedings. In addition to being a contributor to this journal, Starr also served as Treasurer of the Searchlight Publishing Company for a time, resigning this office in 1921. Starr continued to be active in public service well into his seventh decade, with notice being given as to his service as a "special investigator in the investigation of contributions and expenditures of senatorial candidates" in August of 1930
   The remaining years of Western Starr's life post 1931 are a mystery, as are his date of death and burial location. He is recorded in the 1940 census as being an 85 year old patient at the Washington Home for Incurables in Washington, D.C. Starr's name is not listed in the 1950 census, so one can deduce that he died some time between 1940 and 1950. His wife Edith Hammond Starr lived on for nearly three more decades, being a resident of Wilmington, Delaware, where she died at the great age of 97 in 1968. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Rutilleous Britt Basford (1836-1916)

Portrait from the St. Paul Globe, January 11, 1897.

    A New Englander by birth, Rutilleous Britt Basford later resided in Wisconsin where he was a merchant in the Jefferson County area. In the mid 1860s he relocated to Minnesota, where he was subsequently elected to a number of local political offices in Winona County, and in November 1896 was elected to one term in the Minnesota State House of Representatives.
  Born in Guilford, Maine on June 2, 1836, Rutilleous Basford was the son of Pliny Britt (1808-1890) and Sarah Stephens Basford (1806-1896). His unusual name has a variation in spelling, being listed by more than one source as "Rutillus Brett Basford", while also being abbreviated as "R.B. Basford". However, both the Minnesota Historical Society and the Minnesota Death and Burial Index give the spelling as it is given in the title to this profile. Whichever spelling is the correct one, it certainly doesn't change the fact that Basford's name is one of the more intriguing ones to be found amongst the annals of past Minnesota legislators!
   Removing to Watertown, Wisconsin with his family while still a child, Basford attended common schools in that area and in March 1858 married Jennie Snow (1839-1916). The couple are recorded as being childless through the duration of their nearly sixty year marriage. In the early 1860s he did his patriotic duty and became a sutler (civilian merchant) to the 16th Wisconsin Infantry, providing various provisions to soldiers of the regiment. While still a resident of Wisconsin Basford served as a U.S. Revenue Agent for the county of Jefferson, continuing in this post until removing with his wife to Winona, Minnesota around 1866.
  Early in his Winona residency Basford became involved in real estate dealings as well as the sale of insurance, continuing along this route until 1875. In that year he was elected as the Treasurer of Winona County, serving two terms in office. In 1880 he won election as county auditor and later occupied the office of Fire Inspector for Minnesota's southern district for thirteen years. Active in fraternal clubs in addition to his civic doings, Basford became a member of the Coeur de Leon Commandry, No. 3 of the Knights Templar in 1874 and served as the group's Captain General in 1879 and its treasurer four years later. Basford is also the first strange name political figure to have been a druid, being a charter member of the Oak Grove Lodge, No. 15, Ancient Order of Druids in Winona in August 1877.
  After retiring from the position of Fire Inspector in the mid 1890s Basford continued in his real estate dealings, and in 1896 was nominated by his fellow Winona county citizens to be their representative in the Minnesota State Legislature. Running as a Republican, he went on to defeat his Democratic opponent John Nagler in the November election, 1,295 votes to 963. Taking his seat at the start of the 1897-99 term, Basford was named to the following standing committees of the house: Appropriations, Railroads, Insurance, Banks, Legislative Expenses. He served as chairman of the committee on Manufacturers and left office in January of 1899.
  
This portrait of Rutilleous Basford is in the collection of the Minnesota State Historical Society.

    After leaving the legislature Basford returned to his early business interests and in 1907 is recorded as opening another insurance office in Winona with W.E. Stanton, operating under the name of Basford and Stanton. Basford died three months before his eightieth birthday on March 3, 1916 in Winona. His wife of 58 years Jennie followed him to the grave two months later on May 15th, and both were presumably buried somewhere in the Winona County vicinity, an exact place of burial being unknown at this time.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Colonel Ellsworth Rudesill (1861-1944), Colonel Ogden Swayze (1859-1922), Colonel Isham Wood (1887-1983)

From the "Progressive West Virginians", 1905.

  If you've followed this site for any length of time you may remember reading about General George Oleander Pence, an Ohio representative and state senator who was bestowed a military title as first name. As it turns out, there happens to be another political figure, born nearly two decades before Mr. Pence, who also lucked into getting a military title for his first name! That man, Colonel Ellsworth Rudesill, was also an Ohio native, but would go on to find success in politics in West Virginia during the early 20th century.
   The son of Columbus Jacob and Frank Bentley Rudesill, Colonel Ellsworth Rudesill was born in Medina, Ohio on October 10, 1861. He was bestowed his unusual first and middle names in honor of Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, the first Union soldier to be killed during the Civil War, his death occurring in Alexandria, Virginia on May 24, 1861. Rudesill's early education occurred in Akron, Ohio and he was a graduate of that city's high school. Following his graduation Rudesill removed to Galliopolis, Ohio to join his father's business, that of a crockery and queensware (glazed ceramics) retailer. While residing in Galliopolis Rudesill married to Alice Romain Crowley, with whom he would have three children, including: Frank Ellsworth (1890-1922, later to become a newspaper publisher in Ohio), Alice M. (birth-date unknown), and Donald Bentley (1896-1953).
   Around 1886 Columbus Rudesill relocated his business to Charleston, West Virginia, where Colonel E. Rudesill would eventually join him. For over twenty years their business (later to operate under the name of Rudesill and Mead) prospered until shutting its doors in 1909. Successful in other non-business related areas, Colonel E. Rudesill entered state politics in November 1902, winning election to the West Virginia State House of Delegates from Kanawha County. Taking his seat in January 1903, Rudesill served as a member of the house for one term (1903-05), and during his second year in office won election as Mayor of the city of Charleston, serving a two year term. He had earlier been appointed to the West Virginia State Board of Asylums in 1901 for an eight year term, and served as the president during the entirety of his service.
   Following his time in public service Rudesill served as a census supervisor and in 1911 returned to his business interests, becoming a state agent for the Atlanta based investment firm called the Guarantee, Trust and Banking Company. He later served as the director of the United Savings and Annuity Company of Charleston, and was a longtime member of the Charleston Elks Lodge, serving as the lodge's exalted ruler on three occasions.

From the Charleston Gazette, February 13, 1944.

  Colonel E. Rudesill continued to serve the city of Charleston well into his eighth decade, being connected with the "city collectors office." He died of pneumonia on February 12, 1944 at a Charleston hospital and following funeral services was interred at the Mountain View Cemetery in that city.

From the Charleston Gazette, February 13, 1944.


Portrait from the Standard Atlas of Genesee County, Michigan, 1907.

   Another non-military "Colonel" who made his name known politically is Colonel Ogden Swayze, a Flint, Michigan attorney who served several years as Judge of Probate for Genesee County in that state. A native of New Jersey, Colonel O. Swayze was born in Warren County on September 15, 1859, a son of Daniel and Sarah Angle Swayze. Colonel Swayze would removed with his family to Michigan as a child and would attend the public schools of Lapeer County. He later studied at the Northern Indiana Normal School at Valparaiso, and following his graduation returned to Lapeer to begin teaching. Swayze later served as a school principal in Ritzville, Washington for a time and again returned Michigan after two years away.
   Soon after his return to Michigan Swayze entered to law studies in Flint, Michigan, beginning study in the law office of Wisner, Lee and Atkin. He was admitted to the Michigan bar in 1891 and shortly afterward was elected to his first public office, that of police justice for the city of Flint. He continued in that role for twelve years and in 1896 married to Edith Alma Kurtz (1869-1962), a native of Erie County, New York. The couple later had three sons: Colonel Kenneth (1899-1989), Karl Ogden (born 1901) and Donald K. (born 1909).
   In November 1908 Colonel O. Swayze was elected as the probate judge for Genesee County and officially took office at the beginning of the new year. He would win a second term on the bench in 1912 and left office in 1916. Following his term as probate judge Swayze returned to practicing law in Flint and was also affiliated with the Young Men's Republican Club in that city, serving as its president for a time. Swayze died in August 1922 and was interred at the Glenwood Cemetery  in Flint.

Portrait from the 1943 Tennessee legislative composite.

   In a February 9, 2017 update, another politically inclined "Colonel" has been located, Colonel Isham Wood of Warren County, Tennessee. In another case of someone being bestowed a military title for a first name, Wood was a farmer and school principal for a good majority of his life and had fleeting involvement in politics, being elected to one term in the Tennessee House of Representatives from his native county of Warren.
  The son of Obadiah and Elizabeth (Orrick) Wood, Colonel Isham Wood was born on August 2, 1887. Little is known of his early life, excepting his marriage to Hilda Irene Wimberly (1897-1989) in the mid 1910s. The couple were wed for over sixty years and later had one son, Randolph Clay (born 1917.)
   Colonel I. Wood was for over forty years a teacher and principal, teaching throughout middle Tennessee and the town of Lobelville. Elected as Warren County's representative to the Tennessee legislature in 1942, Wood served one term (1943-45) and during that session sat on the committees on Commerce, Education and Common Schools and Public Health and Sanitation.
  Colonel I. Wood died in Warren County on July 10, 1983, a few weeks short of his 96th birthday. He was survived by his wife Hilda, who, following her death at age 92 in 1989, was interred alongside her husband at the Morrison Cemetery in Morrison, Tennessee.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Clesson Selwyne Kinney (1859-1913)

 
From The Irrigation Age, Volume 17, published in 1902.

    A distinguished figure in Utah legal circles during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Clesson Selwyne Kinney also served one term in the Utah State House of Representatives, representing the county of Salt Lake beginning in 1905. Both before and after his time on the political stage Kinney maintained an avowed interest in a rather unusual non-political subject, irrigation and water rights. Viewed by many of his contemporaries as a true scholar on the history of irrigation in both ancient and modern times, Kinney authored many irrigation-related articles in agricultural periodicals of his time, and is honored today as the newest biography to be added to the site.
    Born and raised in Ohio, Clesson Selwyne Kinney's birth occurred in the town of East Townsend on December 5, 1859, a son of Edwin and Elizabeth Godden Kinney. His education began in the Huron County school system and as a young adult studied at both the Dennison University and Oberlin Colleges. After spending a four year period (1877-1881) in the employ of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad Company he enrolled at the University of Michigan and graduated in the class of 1887, having earned his bachelor of arts degree. Following his graduation Kinney spent several months teaching 
mathematics at a high school in Leavenworth, Kansas and later decided upon a career in law, being admitted to the Kansas bar in 1888. He married in Chicago, Illinois in December of 1889 to Antoinette Brown (ca. 1862-1946), with whom he would have one son, Selwyne Perez Kinney (1890-1976), later to become notable as an engineer and inventor. 
   Removing to Salt Lake City, Utah soon after his marriage, Kinney established a law office in that city and over the succeeding decades would devote himself not only to the practice of law, but to the "law of irrigation and water rights." Kinney became interested in the study of irrigation shortly after settling in the arid climate of Utah, and after years of study developed a reputation as one of the nation's foremost experts on water rights and irrigation properties. 
    Not content to just specialize in water rights as an attorney, Kinney also authored a four-volume masterwork on irrigation and water management, "Kinney on Irrigation and Water Rights", first published in 1894. Kinney's work gained him wide praise and it became "a standard, and is cited as an authority in all the courts of the West, and also the U.S. Supreme Circuit and district courts." He also authored numerous articles related to this subject for the Irrigation Age illustrated journal between 1896 and 1912, and in 1903 completed "Kinney's Digest of the Utah Reports" an extensive index for the twenty-six volume law reports of the Utah State Supreme Court. Active in the Utah State Bar Association for many years, Kinney served as the Secretary of that organization beginning in 1894.
  Kinney took no part in politics until November of 1904, when he was elected as a Republican to the Utah State House of Representatives. Taking office in January of 1905, Kinney served as the chairman of three house committees during his one term, those being the Judiciary, the St. Louis Purchase Exposition Commission, and the committee on Rules. 

From the Irrigation Age, Volume IX, published 1896.

   After the conclusion of his term in 1907 Kinney returned to his law practice and continued to write, beginning work on the second edition of "Kinney on Water Rights and Irrigation" which was eventually published in late 1912. His later years were marked by his memberships in the Knights Templars and Shriners lodges, while also serving as Masonic Grand Master. In October of 1912 Kinney was a featured speaker at the National Irrigation Congress, where he would give his last public address. 
   Burdened by years of overwork writing and revising his manuscripts, Kinney left Utah in December 1912 out of concerns for his health, vacationing in Honolulu, Hawaii. He spent the first two months of 1913 here and on February 17th died at age 53, being felled by illness at a dinner that was being given in his honor at the home of a local judge in Honolulu. After being cremated, Kinney's ashes were brought home to Salt Lake City by his wife Antoinette, and following her death in 1946 was buried along with her husband at the Mt. Olivet Cemetery in that city.

From the Salt Lake Tribune, February 19, 1913.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Telesphore LeBoeuf (1881-1946)

 From "The Souvenir of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention".

  Hailing from the city of Webster in Massachusetts, Telesphore LeBoeuf's political claim-to-fame rests on his service as a delegate to the Massachusetts State Constitutional Convention of 1917-19. A lifelong resident of Massachusetts, LeBoeuf was born in Webster on August 18, 1881 (or 1880, according to some sources), a son of Melchoir (1854-1942) and Noemi Cabana LeBoeuf (1854-1946), who were both natives of Canada. He attended schools local to the Webster area and as a young adult enrolled at the Boston University Law School, where he earned his bachelor of laws degree in 1907.
   Establishing a law practice in Worcester County, LeBoeuf later married Demerise Dufour (1879-1921), and had the following children: Norman T. (1910-1984), Joseph (died in infancy in 1911), Lucille (born 1912) and Jeannette (born 1914). Laboeuf would continue to practice law in Webster for many decades and in 1917 was elected to represent Webster at the Massachusetts State Constitutional Convention, being held at Boston. During his time at the convention Leboeuf took an active part in debate proceedings and served on the committee on Military Affairs.
   Following his service as a delegate LeBoeuf continued to serve his community of Webster in a number of different areas, holding the offices of town counsel, water commissioner and Secretary of the Webster-Dudley, Massachusetts chapter of the Red Cross. He maintained memberships in the Worcester County Bar Association and the Massacusetts Republican Club, and served as the Vice President of the South Worcester County Bar Association for a time. As a man of French Canadian descent, LeBoeuf was active in groups devoted to French-American heritage, including serving as the vice president of the Franco-American Club and the Franco-American Foresters.
   In 1923 Telesphore LeBoeuf became a special assistant U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, serving under Emerson W. Baker, who had recently been elected as U.S. District Attorney for Massachusetts. After many years of plying his trade in the field of law, Leboeuf made the jump into national politics, announcing his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts' 3rd district in mid 1938. In a Fitchburg Sentinel article on his candidacy, Leboeuf noted that he would dedicate himself "to legislation that will contribute to the greater welfare of our workers, to the acceleration of our industries, and to the progress of our farmers."
   Running against two other Republicans in that year's primary, Leboeuf and fellow candidate William P. Constantino were defeated by one J. Walton Tuttle, who went on to become the Republican congressional nominee that November. Tuttle was later defeated for Congress by incumbent Democrat Joseph E. Casey (1898-1980), who served in the U.S. House until 1942

From the Acton Concord Enterprise, September 7, 1938.

  Eight years following his defeat for a seat in Congress, Telesphore Lebeouf died at age 65 on April 18, 1946 while attending a meeting of the directors of the Webster National Bank. Notice is given as to his being nominated for bank president at the meeting, but due to his death never was able to serve in that post. Following his death he was interred at the Sacred Heart Cemetery in Webster.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Romanzo Norton Bunn (1829-1909)

From the "Notable Men of Wisconsin", published 1902.

    A New Yorker by birth, Romanzo Norton Bunn later removed to Wisconsin in the 1850s and shortly after his resettlement began what would become a lengthy career in Wisconsin political circles, serving a term as district attorney of Trampealeau County and later was elected to the state legislature. He would gain further prominance as U.S. District Judge for Wisconsin's Western District, serving on the bench for nearly three decades. 
   The son of Peter and Polly Ann Jackson Bunn, Romanzo N. Bunn was born in the village of South Hartwick in Otsego County, New York on September 24, 1829. He removed with his family to Cattaraugus County, New York at age three, where they established a home in the village of Mansfield. Young Romanzo engaged in farm work as a young man and later began attending the Springville Academy at age sixteen, while also teaching school during the winter time, plying his trade at schoolhouses in the villages of East Otto, Yorkshire and Waverly, New York. He would go on to enroll at the Oberlin College in Ohio and studied here for one year. While in Ohio he began the study of law in the city of Elyria and later returned to Cattaraugus County to complete his studies in the law office of William H. Wood of Ellicottville, who was later to serve a term in the New York State Assembly.
  After practicing law with William Wood in Ellicottville for about one year, Bunn experienced a case of wanderlust and removed west in 1854, settling first in Sparta, Wisconsin and a few months later relocated to Galesville in Trampealeau County. Shortly before his removal to Wisconsin Bunn had married in New York to Sarah Purdy (1832-1918) and this couple later became the parents to six children, who are listed as follows in order of birth: Charles Wilson (born 1855), Mary (1857-1919), Channing Bunn (1861-1864), George Lincoln (1865-1918), John Marshall (1867-1924) and Fannie Bunn (born 1870). Of these children, George Lincoln Bunn and John Marshall Bunn followed in their father's stead, going on to distinguished careers in public service, with George serving as an Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court (1911-1917) and dean of the St. Paul School of Law. John Marshall Bunn would eventually become a prominent attorney in the Spokane, Washington area.
   Despite being a resident of Wisconsin for a short period Romanzo Bunn quickly advanced to prominence in local law circles, being elected as District Attorney for Trampealeau County. He served from 1857-58 and in the following year won election as one of that county's representatives to the Wisconsin General Assembly, where he served for one term. After leaving the legislature Bunn returned to private practice and removed back to Sparta, where he had first settled after coming to Wisconsin with his wife. He continued along this route until 1868, when in that year he was elected as Judge for Wisconsin's Sixth Judicial Circuit. He served a term of six years and was reelected in 1874, holding his seat until 1877. In 1872 Bunn served as a Presidential Elector on the Republican ticket, casting his vote for Ulysses Grant.

                                 Romanzo Bunn, from the"History of the Bunn Family of America", 1928.

   Bunn's reputation as one of Wisconsin's foremost legal figures reached its apex in 1877 when he was selected by President Rutherford Hayes to fill a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. This vacancy had come about with the death of sitting judge James Campbell Hopkins, who had died in September of that year. Bunn's name had been put forward for the post by both of Wisconsin's U.S. Senators, as well as a number of state attorneys and fellow judges. Confirmed in October of 1877, Bunn would serve on the bench until his retirement at age 76 in 1905, having logged 28 years of service on the court.
  Aside from his judicial service to Wisconsin, Judge Bunn was described by the Historical Gazetteer and Biographical Memorial of Cattaraugus County as well-read man with a penchant for reading Shakespeare, noting that he was:
"A man of fine literary taste and culture, and spends many leisure hours in his carefully selected private library of several thousand volumes. Perhaps his greatest pleasure is in studying and comparing the different versions of plays of his favorite writer, Shakespeare, of whose works he is exceedingly fond and has more than a dozen editions. He is frequently invited to lecture before the students of Madison University and the literary societies of Madison on some literary subject, and always responds with something interesting to the most cultivated listener."
   Romanzo Norton Bunn  spent the remainder of his retirement residing in Madison, where he died on January 25, 1909 at age 79. He was interred at the Forest Hill Cemetery in that city and was survived his wife Sarah, who, following her death in 1918, was buried at the same cemetery as her husband.