Saturday, January 24, 2015

Duryea Beekman (1840-1924)

Portrait from the Historical Souvenir of Middleburgh, N.Y., 1894.

   Oddly named Schoharie County, New York resident Duryea Beekman was born into a prominent family with its origins in Schoharie County dating back to the 18th century. The son of former New York State Assemblyman Nicholas Beekman and a grandson of William Beekman (the first judge of Schoharie County), Duryea Beekman was born in Seward, New York on August 9, 1840. Being one of twelve children, Beekman's early life is noted by the Grip's Historical Souvenir of Middleburgh, N.Y. as having been "devoted to hard study" upon the family farm, from which he cultivated a "conscientious and persevering character." His family had relocated from Seward to Middleburgh, New York while he was still a child and his early education would take place in that town.
   For a good majority of his 83 years Beekman followed in his father's stead and worked at farming in Middleburgh, New York, where he was "successful in his calling."  In October 1859 Beekman married in Middleburgh to Elizabeth Richtmyer (1834-1915) and would become the father to three sons: Charles (died aged eight months), Dow (1863-1945) and William G.
   In the years following his marriage the name of Duryea Beek grew to be one of the most prominent in business and political circles in Middleburgh. In November 1878 he was elected as Schoharie County's representative to the New York State Assembly, defeating Republican nominee Nathan Stratton by a vote of 4, 480 to 2, 974. Serving in the session of 1879, Beekman was named to three assembly committees, those being Internal Affairs, Roads and Bridges and Agriculture.
   At the completion of his term Beekman returned to Middleburgh, where in 1880 he was named as the president of the recently organized First National Bank of Middleburgh. He would serve in that capacity until his death four decades later, and in addition to being bank president held the directorships of both the Davenport, Middleburgh and Durham Railroad Co. and the Merchant's and Farmer's Mutual Fire Insurance Co. Active in the local Masonic lodge, Beekman was a longstanding member of the Middleburgh Lodge #663 of Free and Accepted Masons. 
  Duryea Beekman celebrated his 80th birthday in 1920 and even after reaching that milestone continued service as president of the First National Bnak of Middleburgh. Four months prior to his passing he suffered a "fall from the steps" in front of that bank, the affects of that injury claiming his life on January 6, 1924 at age 83. Widowed in 1915, both Beekman and his wife were interred at the St. Paul's Lutheran Cemetery in Schoharie, New York. Political service continued in the Beekman family in one Dow Beekman (Duryea's son), who would serve at as both District Attorney of Schoharie County and County Judge.
  
Duryea Beekman, from the 1879 N.Y. Assembly composite portrait in my possession.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Odd Eide (1883-1952)

Portrait from the 1931 Minnesota State Legislative Manual.

    Polk County, Minnesota was featured recently in the write-up on Thrond Torsteinsen Morken, who represented that county in the legislature from 1913-1917. That Minnesota county again takes center stage with another odd named state legislator---Odd Eide! If that name immediately conjures up images of a cross eyed man à la Ben Turpin or Marty Feldman, you are not alone! I'll admit that when I first stumbled across Mr. Eide's name a year or two ago in a Minnesota legislative manual I got quite the laugh out of it, and since that time I've always remembered him as that funny named legislator with the name that could be misinterpreted as "cross-eyed." Aside from having a name that will make you laugh out loud, Eide was a prominent figure in Polk County, Minnesota for a number of years, serving as that county's representative in the state legislature on three consecutive occasions.
   Like several other oddly named Midwestern political figures who've been featured here, Odd Eide's story begins "across the pond" in Voss, Norway, where he was born on February 16, 1883. He would attend the Middel-Skolen (high school) in Voss and following his graduation in 1899 relocated to the United States. In 1901 he settled in Fertile, Polk County, Minnesota, where in that year he took work as a clerk in the general store/druggist shop of his uncle, Andrew Opheim. Following his uncle's death in 1915 Eide took over the day-to-day management of Opheim's business and also acted as the administrator of his estate. Eide also attended college shortly after arriving in Minnesota, graduating from the Park Region Luther College (located in Fergus Falls) in the class of 1902.
   Odd Eide married on November 30, 1910 to Clara Nelson (1884-1965), with whom he would have eight children: Knute Arne (born 1913), Anna Bessie (birth-date unknown), Anders Opheim (birth-date unknown), Clara Alfhild (1918-2001), Odd Arvid (1920-2009), Alf Rognald (1922-2012), Roald (1924-1976) and Agnes (1926-2009). Following his marriage Eide continued with his business pursuits in Fertile and would become active in the civic and political life of that town, serving at various times as a member of the village council, clerk of the Fertile school district and was a member of the Board of Directors of the National Bank of Fertile. In November 1928 the citizens of Polk County elected Odd Eide as their representative to the Minnesota State Legislature, garnering 6,787 votes.
   Taking his seat in January of the new year, Eide served on the house committees on the Board of Control and State Institutions; Commerce Manufacture and Retail Trade, Drainage; Markets and Marketing; Municipal Affairs; and State and County Fairs during the 1929-31 session. He was reelected as representative in November 1930 and in the 1931-33 session served on two new committees, those being Appropriations and Banks and Banking. Eide won his third term in the house in November 1932 and retired from political life at the end of the 1933-35 session.
    In the latter period of his life Odd Eide continued to be active in Fertile public life, being a parishioner at the Concordia Lutheran Church, of which he served as president. Acknowledged as a "good mixer" with a penchant for gardening and stamp collecting, Eide also earned a reputation as a man who:
"Stood for his convictions and treated everyone equal. A staunch supporter was Mr. Eide, and he was untiring in his efforts to improve the village. He was a Republican with great force and sound judgement."
   On July 21, 1952 Odd Eide died in Fertile at age 69. His wife Clara survived him by over a decade, and after her death in 1965 was interred alongside her husband at the Concordia Cemetery in Fertile. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fiori Leander Palarine (1905-1982)

Fiori L. Palarine, from the 1937 Minnesota State Legislative Manual.

   Another curiously named state legislator receives a write-up today, and the following profile will be extremely brief, as I could locate next to nothing on the life of Minnesota native Fiori Leander Palarine. A resident of Ramsey County, Palarine served one term in the Minnesota State House of Representatives in the late 1930s and following his term promptly disappeared from the pages of history. Other than a Find-A-Grave listing denoting his death in 1982, little else could be located on Palarine after he left political life in January 1939.
  Fiori Leander Palarine was born on February 17, 1905, his place of birth being given as Italy in the 1940 census. No information could be found regarding his early life or education. He married sometime in the early 1930s to Lorayne G. Burgan (1905-1975) and later had two daughters (listed as being ages five and one in the 1940 census) and a son, John R. (born 1948).
   A successful attorney based in St. Paul prior to his service in state government, Palarine became a candidate for the Minnesota State House in mid 1936, and in the November election defeated his opponent, Arthur T. Gibbons,  by a vote of 1,954 to 1,783. Despite attaining such high office the dearth of resources mentioning Palarine are so lacking that even his Minnesota legislative manual biography amounts to just one line! 

Palarine's "biography" from the 1937 Minnesota Legislative Manual.

   The lack of biographical material not withstanding, it is known that Palarine was quite busy as a first term legislator, serving on several committees during his term, including: Appropriations; Banks and Banking; Cities of the First Class; Civil Administration; Commerce, Manufacture and Retail Trade; General Legislation; Insurance and the Judiciary. Palarine would also make the pages of the Moorhead Daily News in September 1937, when he alleged that "erroneous statements" had been made in regards to state housing act benefits.
   Palarine had taken exception to comments made by Arthur Eggert, the public affairs secretary for the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce, whom Palarine claimed made "erroneous statements regarding the Wagner Housing Act, which appropriates $526,000,000 for low cost housing and slum clearance projects." Palarine charged that Eggert's statements minimized the benefits of the housing act, and that these benefits would "far exceed the cost to city and state". Palarine even went as far as to "urge" then Governor Elmer Benson to call a special legislation to enact a housing bill.
   In 1938 Fiori L. Palarine was a candidate for reelection, and in that year narrowly lost (1,755 votes to 1,741) to Arthur T. Gibbons, the man whom he had defeated two years previously. Gibbons would represent Ramsey County in the legislature for fifteen more years, leaving office in 1954.

Palarine's unsuccessful bid for reelection, from the 1938 Minnesota Legislative Manual.

   Very little could be found on Fiori Palarine after his defeat in 1938. His term in the house concluded in January 1939 and afterwards he returned to practicing law. In 1952 he is listed as being "the successful bidder on the Grant Mine near Butte", a mine noted as having "stockpiles containing more than a 1,000,000 tons of lean ore and paint rock." Widowed in 1975, Fiori Palarine died on September 16, 1982  at age 77, his death occurring in Ramsey County. Both Palarine and his wife were interred at the Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery in Minneapolis.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Thrond Torsteinsen Morken (1852-1932)

Portrait courtesy of the Minnesota Digital Library.

   Two term Minnesota state representative Thrond Torsteinsen Morken joins a shortlist of oddly named Norwegian natives who've had a profile posted here, the last of whom, Marthinus F. Hegge, being featured back in December. A probate judge prior to his legislative service, Morken had previously served as County Commissioner for Polk County, Minnesota in the early 1900s.
   The son of Torsten and Carrie Lunde Morken, Thrond T. Morken was born in Norway on July 8, 1852. Little is known of his early life in his native country, excepting that he was "educated in the common schools" of Norway. In 1874 Morken immigrated to the United States, settling in Goodhue County, Minnesota, where he would engage in farming. He would also farm in Nelson County, North Dakota for a period of about ten years and in 1883 married to Bertha Karene Strandsness (1859-1947), later having one son, Thorsten (1888-1971).
   Morken continued to reside and farm in North Dakota until 1892, when he removed back to Minnesota, settling in Polk County. Eight years after his resettlement Morken was elected as a member of the Polk County Board of Commissioners, subsequently holding that post from 1901-1905. Two years after leaving that office he was appointed as Judge of Probate for Polk County, and would later be elected to a term of his own, serving a total of seven years on the bench (1906-1913). Towards the end of his term as probate judge Morken was elected as one of Polk County's representatives to the Minnesota state legislature in November 1912, taking his seat at the beginning of the January 1913 term.
   Morken's first term as a state representative saw him serve on the committees on Claims, Labor and Labor Legislation, State Hospitals, Telephone and Telegraph, Temperance Legislation, Workmen's Compensation, and was chairman of the committee on Logs and Lumber. As a candidate for reelection in 1914, Morken faced off against John Clementsen, and on election day triumphed in the vote count, garnering 2,597 votes to his opponent's 2,096. During the 1915-17 term Morken held seats on the house committees on Claims, Elections, Forestry, Labor and Labor Legislation, Reapportionment, State Normal Schools and Workmen's Compensation, and is also recorded as having supported the " county option and all temperance laws, equal suffrage, repeal of the Elwell law and semi-monthly pay day."
   Little else could be found on Morken's life after leaving the legislature. He died a week after his 80th birthday on July 15, 1932 at his home in Crookston and was later buried at the Oakdale Cemetery in that town. Morken's wife Bertha was also interred here following her death in 1947. 

Morken's legislative portrait from 1915-16.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Zern Mitchell Hiner (1899-1940)

Zern M. Hiner, from the 1921 Purdue University "Debris" Yearbook.

    Following on the heels of yesterday's profile on U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg Allingham Burks Summers, another oddly named diplomat joins the ranks of the "Strangest Names In American Political History", one Zern Mitchell Hiner of Indiana. Despite his lack of years (he died aged 41 in 1940) Mr. Hiner was tapped to serve as U.S. Vice Consul in Ottawa, Canada in the early 1930s, later being transferred to Riga, Latvia to serve in the same post.
   While information regarding Mr. Hiner remains scant at best, it is known that he was born in Peru, Indiana on May  12, 1899, a son of John and Carolina Emma Zern Hiner. Inheriting his odd first name from his mother's maiden name, Zern M. Hiner was a veteran of the First World War and following his service was a student at Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana, being a member of the school Agricultural Society. He graduated from that university in 1921 and would be employed as a stenographer, book department manager and accountant after leaving Purdue.
  In 1931, Hiner, then barely into his thirties, was appointed as clerk in the District Accounting and Disbursing Office in Ottawa. In November of that year he was promoted to assistant district accountant and disbursing officer in Ottawa, and in January 1932 advanced to U.S. Vice Consul at Ottawa. Hiner remained in Ottawa until 1938, whereafter he was transferred to Riga, Latvia, where he continued service as clerk and U.S. Vice Consul. He remained in Riga until his death on June 3, 1940, just a few weeks after his 41st birthday. Death was attributed to peritonitis and Hiner's funeral arrangements were "conducted at the American legation at Riga."
  A few days following his death Zern Hiner's body was returned to the United States for burial, which took place at the Mount Hope Cemetery in Peru, Indiana. Hiner was survived by his mother and sister Harriet (1898-1989), the former dying a few months after her son in July 1940.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Allingham Burks Summers (1898-1977)

                                                                   Portrait courtesy of the Baltimore Sun, 1964.

   The life of distinguished businessman and diplomat A. Burks Summers is highlighted today, and in this case it appears that history's dustbin has claimed yet another victim. Although prominent in his day as a financier and diplomat (serving briefly as U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg), the passage of history has made details on Mr. Summers life difficult to come by. While no substantial biography exists in regards to Summers, there are a few small mentions of him here and there in periodicals of the time, all of which aided in the construction of his profile here.
   Born into a family with its roots in Illinois, Allingham Burks Summers was born in Mattoon, Illinois on June 27, 1898, the son of John William and Virginia Burks Summers. The Summers family would later remove to Walla Walla, Washington in 1908, and in the succeeding years John Summers built up a distinctive political career, serving a term in the Washington state legislature and in 1919 began the first of six terms as a member of Congress from Washington. The Summers family could also count an actress in their family, Allingham's sister being one Hope Summers (1896-1979), perhaps familiar to you Andy Griffith Show fans as Ms. Clara Edwards, appearing in a total of 36 episodes in that series.
   Little is known of Allingham's early life in Illinois and Washington. Mention is given as to his attending the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1922 he earned his Bachelors of Science in Economics degree from that institution. Summers had previously attended the University of Washington, where he met his future wife, Helen (1900-1976). The couple married in the mid 1920s and Helen Summers would subsequently find success in her own right, being the organizer of the "Lincoln Day Box Suppers", an idea that would later become a "GOP institution" by the early 1960s. 
   After entering the business world following his college graduation, Summers relocated to Washington, D.C., and in the late 1930s was serving as the President of the General Credit, Incorporated, a firm  that specialized in "automobile financing." Aside from being a financier, notice is given as to Summers being an "international economist" and "industrial consultant", his business expertise being sought out across the world. His small death notice in the Phi Delta Theta 1976-77 Scroll relates that:
"From 1930 to 1948 he assisted in the industrial and development studies of Latin America, South and East Africa, the Near East, Greece, Finland, France, Spain and Portugal." 
 In addition to the above notes, Summers also traveled with future U.S. Secretary of Commerce Maurice Stans on a "scientific and research expedition to Chad" in 1966. Summers status as a big game hunter was well known by his contemporaries, and in the mid 1960s took part in advertising a new type of grill that ran solely on newspaper fuel. As Summers himself related in the February 14, 1968 edition of the Milwaukee Journal:
"Four years ago I was in Africa on a big game safari. The people down there, the Zulus, use beaten up old oil cans (for cooking.) This engineer picked this idea up and patented it.......They're an awful lot of fun and they do a really good job. Why should people pay for fuel when they don't have to? Why carry it?"


From the Milwaukee Journal, February 14, 1968.

   The grill, marketed under the name "Swaniebraai Safari Grill", was remarked by the Philadelphia Inquirer as coming about due to Summers' "personal grudge against charcoal", and after returning to South Africa on business met up with a British engineer named Derek Davis, who would become the actual inventor of the grill. Summer would later "fall in love" with Davis' invention and also "arranged for full U.S. patent rights." 
   After many years of involvement in national and international business, A. Burks Summers was tapped by President Eisenhower to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg in 1960, succeeding outgoing Ambassador Vinton Chapin (1900-1982). Summers officially entered into his duties as Ambassador on September 16, 1960 and served only a few months in that post, leaving office on April 1, 1961. 
   Following his return to the United States Summers continued with his earlier business interests and in 1964 took on an active role in the campaign of U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater, who was the Republican candidate for President that year. Summers served as head of the "Sportsmen and Women for Goldwater Committee" and took to the stump in the latter portion of the campaign season, even being expected to "round up golfers, polo players and mountain climbers for Barry."
   In the remaining years of his life Summers was a prominent booster for his old fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, and in 1968 was inducted by his brother Paul into the fraternity's "Golden Circle." That same year Summers also took part in Washington, D.C.'s Founders Day Observances, serving as toastmaster. In April 1976 Helen Summers died of heart attack at age 76. Allingham survived her by only a few months, dying in Rockville, Maryland on January 19, 1977 at age 78. A burial location for both Summers and his wife is unknown at this time.

From the 1976 Phi Delta Theta "Scroll".

Monday, January 12, 2015

Kumen Snow Gardner (1900-1983)

Portrait from "The Mayors of Cedar City", 1986.

   Cedar City, Utah resident Kumen Snow Gardner was long prominent in the civic and political affairs of his community, being a farmer, city councilman, two term state representative, one term Mayor of Cedar City. In addition to his time in elected office Gardner was active in the Church of Latter Day Saints, serving as bishop of the Newcastle ward as well as having a ten year tenure as President of the Cedar Stake. 
    Born in Grass Valley, Utah on April 21, 1900, Kumen Snow Gardner was one of twelve children born to Royal Joseph and Chloe Snow Gardner. His early life in Grass Valley was spent helping his father at a sawmill located near the Gardner home, as well as attending the "district school" in Pine Valley. Gardner and his family would remove to Iron County during his adolesence and he continued schooling at the Cedar City High School.
    Following the completion of his high school education Gardner enrolled at the Branch  Agricultural College, where he would be a standout basketball player, helping the college team attain "first place in state competition in both 1918 and 1919." Sanders graduated from Branch in 1919 and continued study at both the Utah State Agricultural College and the National Automobile School of America, graduating from the latter school in 1922. 
   In the same year as his graduation from the National Automobile School of America Kumen Gardner relocated to New Castle, Utah, where he took work with the New Castle Reclamation Company, a farming/land investment concern. Within a few years Gardner had purchased various pieces of arable land and built up a "successful livestock business, with summers in Grass Valley and winters in New Castle." Gardner would be affiliated with livestock and agricultural concerns for the rest of his life, being a past president of Iron County's Cattlemen's Association for six years and is also recorded as being the organizer of the Southern Utah Livestock Show.

A Gardner election notice from the Iron County Record, October 26, 1944.

   In 1932 Kumen Gardner married in New Castle to Naida Gillies (1915-2012), to whom he was wed for over fifty years. The couple would have a total of five children: Sheila, Dayne, Paul, Neil and Eric. A longstanding member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Gardner was selected as Bishop of the New Castle ward in 1938 and served in that position until 1943. In that year he and his family removed to Cedar City, Utah, where he would continue in church work, entering into the Presidency of the Cedar Stake of the Mormon Church, where he would serve until 1955.
   Kumen S. Gardner first entered local politics while he was a residing in New Castle. From 1930 to 1939 he was the president of the New Castle Town Board and following his removal to Iron County was a candidate for County Commissioner in 1944 (his election notice being shown above). Three years later Gardner won election to the Cedar City Council for a two year term, garnering 1054 votes
   In 1958 he was elected as one of Iron County's representatives to the Utah State Legislature, and despite having had no previous legislative experience, made headlines a first term legislator in June 1959 when he was named as "Utah's All American Father of the Year". Gardner won reelection to the state house in November of 1960 and after leaving office in 1961 continued his political ascent, winning election as the Mayor of Cedar City. He was sworn in as Mayor on January 2, 1962 and within two months of entering office had to contend with the largest fire to occur in the city's history, the burning of the Leigh Block. 
   Kumen Gardner left the office of mayor in January 1966, being succeeded by L.A. Whetten. Gardner continued to be a major force in Iron County civic affairs for many years afterward, being the President of the Escalante Valley Electric Company and Chairman of the State Board of Land Management, and in 1976 he was named as Utah's "outstanding cattleman" by the Utah Association of Future Farmers of America. 
  On November 15, 1983 Kumen Gardner was injured in a truck accident in Southern Utah. He succumbed to his injuries two weeks later at a Las Vegas hospital on November 28, 1983 at age 83. Gardner's wife and children survived him, with Naida Gillies Gardner being interred alongside her husband at the Cedar City Cemetery upon her death at age 97 in 2012.

From the Salt Lake Tribune, December 21, 1958.



Saturday, January 10, 2015

Billington McCarter Sanders (1789-1854)

                                           From the Discourse on the Life of the Rev. Billington M. Sanders, 1854.

   Lifelong Georgia resident Billington McCarter Sanders was one of the most prominent clergymen residing in the Peach State in the early 19th century. A Baptist minister for over thirty years, Sanders is still remembered today as having been the first principal of the Mercer Institute (now Mercer University),  helping to guide the school along during its infancy. While prominent in religious and education circles, Sanders also had fleeting involvement in politics, being a representative to the Georgia State Assembly for one term beginning in 1817.
  The eldest child born to Columbia County, Georgia residents Ephraim and Nancy Sanders, Billington M. Sanders was born in that county on December 2, 1789. Before reaching the age of ten young Billington was left parent-less and following their passing was taken in to the home of Mr. Ambrose Jones and his family. Sanders began his schooling in the Kiokee Seminary and was later described by an acquaintance as a student who was "apt to learn, high tempered, a little proud and quite spirited." He continued his education at the Franklin College in Athens, Georgia and in 1808 enrolled at the South Carolina College, from which he graduated the following year.
   Shortly after his graduation Sanders began a teaching career in Columbia County, Georgia and continued in this vocation for a period of about two years. He would operate a plantation in that county for nearly two decades and married his first wife, Martha Lamar, in 1812. The couple would have a total of nine children over the course of their ten year marriage, and following her death in 1822 remarried to Cynthia Holliday (1804-1887), with whom he would have a further thirteen children. In all, Billington Sanders fathered a total of 22 children during his lifetime, nine of whom would survive him upon his death in 1854.
    In 1817 Billington Sanders was elected as one of Columbia County's representatives to the Georgia State Assembly, where he would serve for one term. Despite ably representing his district in the state house, Sanders' time in the legislature left him with a disdain for politics, and was later recorded as stating to then Governor William Rabun that "This is no place for a Christian, and I shall never come here again." True to his word, Sanders never  again served in the legislature, but would serve as a "Judge of the Inferior Court" for several years.
    A few years following his legislative service Sanders began service as clerk of the Union Church at Warren County, Georgia, and during his time in that post felt called to the ministry, and was licensed to preach in Warren County around 1823. Sander was officially ordained two years later and would serve as a pastor at several Baptist churches,  including those at Williams Creek, Pine Grove, Shiloh, Greensboro and Powelton, Georgia. 
   During the mid 1820s Sanders resided in a large log cabin in Penfield, Georgia, devoting one room in said cabin to a "place of worship." Around 1831 the Baptist Convention of Georgia began laying the groundwork for a "classical and theological seminary"near Penfield, and Billington Sanders was sought out to serve as its principal. The Mercer Institute, as the school was then referred to, was officially established in 1833 and during his several years as school head also doubled as a financial agent and teacherThe guiding hand of Billington Sanders saw Mercer Institute through its early years of existence, and after the school was granted its university charter in 1837 he was elected as college president. Sanders continued to serve as president until his resignation in 1839, but would be affiliated with Mercer for the remainder of his life, serving as the secretary and treasurer of the Mercer University Board of Trustees.


From the National Cyclopedia of American Biography, 1896.

   In the latter portion of his life Sanders continued to be active in church work, serving as the moderator of the Georgia Baptist Association for nearly a decade and was clerk of that same body for seven years. For six years Sanders held the presidency of the Georgia Baptist Convention as well as being a delegate to the Southern Baptist Convention on numerous occasions.
   The final years of Sanders' life saw him plagued by ill health, including attacks of vertigo and a "general prostration of his system." In the last four months of his life Sanders was confined to his home in Penfield, dying there on March 12, 1854 at age 64. He was survived by his wife and children and was interred at the Penfield Cemetery in Penfield, Greene County, Georgia. One should also note that Sanders' middle name is sometimes given as "McCarthy". This is presumed to be a spelling error, as period literature gives the spelling as "McCarter", as does his biography in "Who Was Who In America" and the Georgia Biographical Dictionary.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Vernoy Brownie Tate (1894-1964)

Portrait courtesy of the Narrative History of Wise County, Virginia, 1988.

   A prominent native son of Wise County, Virginia, Vernoy Brownie Tate served as Commonwealth's Attorney for that county and was later elected to the Virginia House of Delegates for one term in the late 1940s. A lifelong resident of Wise County, Vernoy Brownie Tate was born on July 30, 1894, one of ten children born to Benjamin Franklin and Margaret Lydia Stewart Tate. He would be a student in the public schools of Appalachia, Virginia and graduated from that town's high school in 1912. Tate later decided upon a career in law and began study at the Richmond College's Law School, earning his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1918.
   At the dawn of American involvement in WWI Tate signed on for service and would see action overseas with the Ninth Infantry, U.S. Second Division, participating at the Argonne Offensive in August 1918. In 1922 Tate married at Lynchburg to Alpha Mae Gough, with whom he would have two children, Franklin Glover (1927-2003) and Nancy Stewart (born 1929).
   In the early 1920s Tate began the practice of law in Wise County, and over the succeeding years "established himself as a lawyer of ability and one well fitted to the office of commonwealth attorney". In 1924 Tate announced his candidacy for the aforementioned office and in November defeated Republican nominee David F. Kennedy by a "good majority." Tate served one term as commonwealth attorney for Wise County and was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1927, losing the race to "independent democrat" William W.G. Dotson by just 24 votes!
   After his 1927 defeat Vernoy Tate continued to operate his law practice in Wise, Virginia and reentered political life in 1943 when he was elected as Wise County's representative to the State House of Delegates. His two terms in office (1944-48) saw him sit on the house committees on Appropriations, Courts of Justice, Manufactures and Mechanic Arts, Mining and Mineral Resources, and Special Private and Local Legislation, and, as it turns out, was one of several oddly named incumbent delegates during the the 1944-48 sessions. One of those delegates, Cralle Fauntleroy Blackwell (1897-1976), received a profile here back in October of 2013.

                                                   Vernoy Tate, from the 1946 House of Delegates composite.

   Tate's life following his legislative service saw him continue in the practice of law, as well as maintaining memberships in several fraternal groups, including the Masons, Shriners and Kiwanis Clubs. Tate also held the presidency of the Wise County Bar Association, his exact dates of service in that office being unknown at this time. After many years of public service to Wise County at both the local and state level, Vernoy B. Tate died on January 21, 1964 at age 69. His wife Alma survived him by nearly a decade, dying in 1973 at age 74. Following her passing she was interred alongside him at the Wise Cemetery in Wise, Virginia.

                                               Tate's obituary from the Kingsport Times, January 22, 1964.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Iullus Greenleaf Denny (1859-1925)

Judge I.G. Denny, portrait from the Nov. 30, 1941 Butte, Montana Standard.

    The inaugural posting for 2015 takes us out west to Montana and one "I.G." Denny of the city of Butte. After discovering that his rather hard-to-find initials stood for "Iullus Greenleaf", I immediately set to work trying to locate a picture of the man. After what seemed like hours of searching a 1941 edition of the Butte, Montana Standard yielded the above portrait of Mr. Denny, looking quite intense and grumpy! Facial expression not withstanding, "I.G." Denny (as most sources refer to him) was a prominent lawyer and political figure in Montana during the early years of the 20th century, serving as Missoula County prosecuting attorney. Shortly before his passing in 1925 Denny served one term in the Montana House of Representatives and in 1924 was an unsuccessful aspirant for Governor of Montana.
   Denny's story begins with his birth on May 19, 1859 in Bethel, Polk County, Oregon, being one of seven children born to Aaron (1823-1903) and Almyra King Denny (1826-1892), who had migrated to the Oregon territory from Indiana. As mentioned earlier, nearly every available source on Denny's life records him by his initials, excepting his biography in 1913's A History of the Montana Vol. 3, which denotes his first and middle names as "Iullus Greenleaf." His first name also has a slight variation in spelling, being given as "Iulius".
    As the son of pioneer settlers in the Oregon territory, I.G. Denny was "reared to the study discipline of the pioneer farm" and commenced his education in the village school of Bethel, Oregon. After unsuccessfully applying for enrollment at West Point Denny enrolled at the University of Oregon, where he studied for one year. He would leave that school to begin the study of law in the offices of Daly and Butler, where he remained for about a year. Denny would decide upon a career in law during this time and would earn his law degree from Willamette University at Salem, Oregon in the class of 1888.
    Soon after graduating Denny was admitted to the Oregon bar but within a short period decided to remove to Montana. He first settled in Ravalli County but later removed to Missoula, where he would enter "vigorously upon the practice of his profession." In the succeeding years Denny would gain a "substantial and lucrative practice" in his new home town and in 1889 made his first attempt to gain public office, being the Democratic candidate for Missoula County prosecuting attorney. He would be defeated for that office by Republican Frederick Webster by just two-hundred votes. 
   Denny made another run for Missoula County prosecuting attorney at the next election and was successful. He would serve a few more terms as county attorney (1899-1901 and 1901-1903) and was also headhunted by Montana Democrats to be a potential nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives from his district. Denny had married in February 1892 to Beatrice Reynolds, to whom he was wed until her death in 1906. Two sons were born to them, Robert M. (born 1892) and Thomas R. (born 1894)
   Sometime after his time as Missoula County attorney Denny relocated to Butte, Montana,. where he continued to practice law. Sources of the time also give note to the "I.G. Denny Law School" located in Butte. Sadly further information regarding this school remains at a minimum, although it receives prominent mention in a November 30, 1941 article on Denny featured in the Butte, Montana Standard. The Standard notes that he:
"Established what was believed to be the only private law school in the northwest, from which many Butte young men graduated and later were admitted to practice by the Supreme Court. His school was in his law offices on the Silver Bow block. Most of the classes were at night due to the fact that most of his pupils were employed during the day."
   Despite the scant information available on the I.G. Denny Law School, it is known that it produced one notable graduate from its ranks, Dimitre A. Batchoff (1888-1968), who served as U.S. Marshal for the district of Montana from 1949-1953.
   Late in his life Denny won election as one of Silver Bow county's representatives to the Montana General Assembly, serving in the session of 1923-24. He is recorded by the Big Timber Pioneer as having been one of the legislators to introduce a bill providing for the "appropriation of $15,000 for the construction of a tannery at the state penitentiary at Deer Lodge."
   In the 1924 election year I.G. Denny threw his hat in the ring in the race for Governor of Montana. As one of five candidates vying for the Democratic nomination during the primary season, Denny faced an uphill battle, and on primary election day placed fourth, garnering 6, 340 votes. The winner of the Democratic primary, John Edward Erickson (1863-1946), would go on to defeat Republican incumbent Joseph Dixon in November and began the first of three terms as Governor, later serving a short stint as U.S. Senator from 1933-34.
   Following his unsuccessful bid for Governor Denny continued to practice law in Butte, and in early May 1925 became afflicted with appendicitis, which in turn necessitated an operation. Denny died shortly after undergoing the operation on May 16, 1925 at age 67. He had been preceded in death by his wife Beatrice and following his passing he was interred alongside her at the St. Patrick's Cemetery in Butte (note the misspelled first name on Denny's Find-A-Grave page!)


From the Billings Gazette, May 19, 1925.