Sunday, May 28, 2017

Hamblett Clark Grigg (1872-1964)

Portrait from the Official Manual of the State of Missouri, 1911-12.

  I can always count on the Missouri state legislature to field a strange new name discovery, and after a lapse of several months, we return to the Show Me State to highlight the life of one term state representative Hamblett Clark "Ham" Grigg. Aside from his interesting name, Grigg's life outside of the legislature is worth noting, as he was the younger brother of Charles Leiper Grigg (1860-1940), the creator of the famed 7 Up soda, amongst other soft drinks.
  Hamblett Clark Grigg was born in Price's Branch, Missouri on February 9, 1872, being the son of Charles and Mary Elizabeth Leiper Grigg. He attended public schools as well as the Mexico High School in Mexico, Missouri. Sources also note that Grigg was employed as a clerk in a general store during his youth. Ham Grigg married in Price's Branch in June 1898 to Maude Mason (1876-1962), to whom he was wed for over sixty years. The couple would remain childless and later resided in Bellflower, Missouri. Grigg engaged in mercantile pursuits following his marriage, being the business manager of the Grigg Mercantile Co. in Bellflower.
   In 1910 Ham Grigg became the Democratic nominee for the Missouri State House of Representatives from Montgomery County. On election day he defeated Republican candidate W.C. Goshorn by only 45 votes, and during the 1911-12 session sat on the committees on Accounts, Banks and Banking, Municipal Corporations and Roads and Highways.
   Following his term in the state house Ham Grigg saw his elder brother Charles gain prominence in the St. Louis business community, being a salesman for an advertising company in that city. During this time Charles Grigg created and marketed his first carbonated beverage, "Whistle", and after moving on to another advertising company, developed a orange flavored soft drink called "Howdy". Grigg would subsequently found the Howdy Co. with a partner, and in the succeeding years the company grew to such an extent bottling sites were added to the business. Little information could be found as to Ham Grigg's connection to his brother's business, excepting mention of his being a partner in the Howdy Company in 1921, and a 1930 census mention of his status as an office clerk in a soda water manufacturing concern. In 1929 Charles Grigg would invent 7 Up, and following his death in 1940 the stewardship of his company passed to Hamblett Charles Grigg (1905-1977), the nephew of our subject and the son of Charles Leiper.
   Despite living to the age of 91, little else could be found on the life of Hamblett Clark Grigg. Widowed in 1962 after sixty-four years of marriage, Grigg survived his wife Maude by over a year, dying on February 9, 1964, a month short of his 92nd birthday. Both he and his wife were interred at the New Providence Methodist Church Cemetery in Bellflower, Missouri.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Cortez Perry Hooker (1814-1886), Cortez Ewing (1862-1901)

Portrait from the Past and Present of Macomb County, Michigan, 1905.

  After a lengthy stay in the Washington D.C.-Virginia area, we journey to Michigan to highlight the life of Cortez Perry Hooker, a transplant to that state from New York. A member of both houses of the Michigan legislature and a prominent farmer in Macomb County, Hooker's unusual first name "Cortez" was most likely given to him in honor of Hernan Cortez, the famed Spanish conquistador and Governor of New Spain who overthrew the Aztec Empire in the early 1520s. 
   Born in Hampton, New York on October 14, 1814, Cortez Perry Hooker was the son of Samuel and Elizabeth (Martin) Hooker. Little information could be found on Hooker's early life in New York, and by 1837 he had resettled in Macomb County, Michigan, where he would reside for the remainder of his life. Hooker first established himself in Clinton township, and resided there for three years. In the early 1840s he purchased a farm in Washington township, and during his decade long residency there married in 1842 to Margaret Axford (1819-1861). The couple would remain childless and following Margaret's death he remarried in October 1864 to Sarah Ann Smith (1834-1916), with whom he had two children John C. (1865-1938) and Mary.
  Hooker first entered Macomb County politics in the mid 1840s when he became a Justice of the Peace. He would hold a number of other local offices (including county superintendent of the poor and village alderman) and in 1849 became one of six candidates from Macomb County vying for a seat in the state house of representatives. Hooker would emerge victorious on election day, garnering 1,172 votes, and was one of three Macomb County representatives elected that year
   Serving during the 1850-51 session, Hooker sat on the committee on Enrolled BillsHe continued his political ascent in 1854 by winning election to the state senate, defeating Republican candidate William Canfield by only thirteen votes! During the 1855-56 term Hooker sat on the committees on Manufactures and following his service resided in New Baltimore, Michigan, where he engaged in both merchandising and farming, being acknowledged by the 1882 History of Macomb County as "one of the most extensive, if not the most extensive, farmers in the county.
   Hooker continued involvement in Macomb County politics into the 1860s and 70s, once again serving as a justice of the peace and in 1870 and 1872 was a candidate for county coroner. Cortez Perry Hooker died in New Baltimore on November 7, 1886 at age 72 and was survived by his wife Sarah. Both were interred at the Oakwood Cemetery in that town.

From the Biographical Sketches and Review of the Bench and Bar of Indiana, 1895.

   The political star of Indiana state senator Cortez Ewing shone briefly and brightly in late the late 19th century, being terminated by his death from an epileptic attack in 1901. Remarked as one of the most "adroit young lawyers" ever to practice in Decatur County, Ewing was admitted to the state bar at just 20 years of age and at age 27 was elected as a state senator. Ewing was lifelong native of Decatur County, being born there on September 14, 1862, the son of Abel and Nancy (Patton) Ewing. Bestowed his unusual name in honor of his uncle, attorney Cortez Ewing (1837-1887), the younger Ewing worked the family farm during his youth and would attend school in Greensburg.
   In 1879 the seventeen year old Ewing began reading law under his uncle. He continued his studies for nearly four years, and in February 1883 was admitted to the Indiana bar ex gracia, as he was under age. In September of that year Ewing began a law practice with his uncle, Judge James K. Ewing, a firm that would continue until 1893. Cortez Ewing began involvement in local politics in his early twenties, being a member of the Decatur County Central Committee from 1884-1894. In 1889 he was elected to the Indiana state senate from the counties of Decatur and Shelby and served one four year term. Ewing married during his term on June 18, 1890 to Mary Fletcher Matthews, a daughter of future Indiana Governor Claude Matthews (1845-1898).  The couple would have two children, Claude Whitcomb (1891-1966) and Helen Nan.
   While still an incumbent senator Ewing was selected by then Governor Alvin Hovey to serve on the Board of Managers for the World's Fair for Indiana. Ewing filled that role until the conclusion of the fair in 1893 and continued with his law practice in Greensburg, partnering with lawyer Davisson Wilson in 1895. Ewing would also be retained as counsel for the Big Four Railway Company. 
  Despite being in the prime of his life Ewing grappled with the effects of epilepsy, a malady that eventually claimed his life at age 39 on November 1, 1901. Newspaper reports on his death relate that he had spent a good portion of that day in court and while waiting for a passenger train that evening "dropped dead" at the passenger depot, due to a epileptic seizure. Ewing was survived by his wife and children and was later interred at the South Park Cemetery in Greensburg. 

From the Indianapolis Journal, November 2, 1901.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Green Berry Raum (1829-1909), Green Berry Swango (1846-1926)

From the Phrenological Journal and Science of Health, September 1890.

   One of many hundreds of notable Civil War figures interred at Arlington National Cemetery, Brigadier General Green Berry Raum also left a substantial mark in American politics, being a one term U.S. Representative from Illinois, a  Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service and a U.S. Commissioner of Pensions. In addition to military service and politics Raum also added the title of author to his resume, writing several works relating to the history of the Republican Party, the Civil War, and his home state of Illinois.
   Born on December 3, 1829 in Golconda, Illinois, Green Berry Raum was the son of John and Juliet Field Raum. A prominent figure in Pope County, Illinois, John Raum had been a member of the Illinois state senate and served as county clerk for 34 years. Receiving his unusual first and middle names in honor of his maternal grandfather Green Berry Field, Green Berry Raum attended schools local to Pope County and also underwent private tutoring. During his youth he worked as a clerk in his father's law office as well as a general store. Deciding to follow in his father's stead, Raum began reading law in the early 1850s, studying under local Judge Wesley Sloan. After a period of study Raum was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1853 and for a time resided in Kansas, a stay that proved to be short lived.  
  Green B. Raum had married in Illinois in October 1851 to Maria Field (1831-1915). The couple's near sixty year union would see the births of eight children, including Effie (1854-1938), Maud (1859-1928), Green Berry (1863-1914), Maria (1867-1951) and Frances (1871-1962).
  Following his return to Illinois Green B. Raum established his law practice at Harrisburg, and over the next few years saw his practice expand "into several counties". A Democrat prior to the Civil War, Raum was a firm booster for Gen. John A. Logan in the latter's first run for Congress and also chaired the nominating convention that year. Raum would also accept the post of reading clerk for the Illinois House of Representatives, serving during the 1859 session. In the year following Raum was a delegate to the Illinois Democratic State Convention and in that year's presidential election was an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Baltimore that nominated Stephen Douglas for the presidency.
    At the dawn on the Civil War Raum had a change of political faith and took to the stump, speaking to a crowd in Metropolis, Illinois, where he urged steadfast support of the Union and newly elected President Lincoln. After a number of other speaking appearances booming the Union war effort Raum aided in organizing the 46th Reg. Illinois Volunteer Infantry, in which he was commissioned as Major. Following his promotion to Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel, Raum participated in the siege and Battle of Corinth and also served under the command of Ulysses Grant during the capture of Vicksburg in July 1863. Raum continued service under General William Tecumseh Sherman in the Fifteenth Army Corps and at the Battle of Missionary Ridge in November 1863 was wounded in the left thigh.
   Following medical attention at a field hospital Raum spent the next few months recuperating at his home in Illinois. By February 1864 his health had improved sufficiently enough to return to the battlefield, and Raum soon joined General Sherman on the latter's March to the Sea. Raum would be brevetted Brigadier General in 1864 and was present at the capture of Savannah. Late in his war service Raum was stationed in the Shenandoah Valley, commanding an infantry division under Gen. Winfield S. Hancock. 

Green Berry Raum and his staff.

   Green Berry Raum resigned from service in May 1865 and returned to practicing law after his return home. Having switched political allegiance to the Republican Party, Raum launched a campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1866 and in November of that year defeated Democratic nominee William J. Allen by a vote of 13, 459 to 12, 890. 
   Serving during the 1867-69 congressional term, Raum sat on the house committees on Military Affairs and Mileage. In November 1868 he narrowly lost his reelection bid, being defeated by Republican John M. Crebs by only 500 votes. Raum would attempt two further runs for a congressional seat in 1872 and 1874 but was unsuccessful. Despite these losses, Raum continued to be a standout figure in Illinois Republican circles, serving as the President of the Illinois Republican Conventions of 1866 and 1880, and in 1876 was the convention's temporary chairman. He would also serve as part of the Illinois delegation to the Republican National Conventions of 1876 and 1880 and at the latter convention was one of 306 delegates who lobbied hard for a third term for ex-President Grant.


Portrait courtesy of the Library of Congress.

   In addition to prominence in Illinois politics, Raum's name gained further distinction in 1876 when President Grant (remembering Raum's service to him in the Civil War) put forth his name for U.S. Commissioner of Internal Revenue. Raum accepted the position, and during his seven years in office "collected $850,000,000 and disbursed $30,000,000 without loss." Raum's stewardship of the IRS also saw him utilize new methods in curbing fraud and securing fair tax collection,  and
"Brought into play his army experience, by inaugurating a system of inspection and reports by competent revenue agents as to the entire revenue force of the country. In regard to all officers having financial responsibility, he established a system of periodic evaluation and versification of their accounts. All possibility or partiality or collusion in these reports was avoided by the continuous rotation of the inspecting officers."
  Raum retired from the post of commissioner in 1883 and returned to practicing law. During his time away from politics he authored the "Existing Conflict Between the Republican Government and the Southern Oligarchy" in 1884 and was called to public service one again in 1889, accepting the appointment of U.S. Commissioner of Pensions under President Benjamin Harrison. Raum's term in office continued through the duration of that administration, and he was remarked as being 
"Desirous of taking up and adjudicating at once pending claims found complete in order to place old claimants on the rolls, who, once there, will have something to keep the wolf from the door, and increases and new claims must take a back seat, and cannot outrank those in waiting for years."
   After leaving that post in 1893 Green B. Raum returned to Illinois and would reside in Chicago. His twilight years saw him author a number of articles featured in periodicals of the time, including a history of the Atlanta campaign featured in the Washington National Tribune. Raum would author one further book, the "History of Illinois Republicanism" published in 1900. His final months were marred by ill health and on December 18, 1909 he died at his home in Chicago. Raum was survived by his wife of 56 years and his remains were later brought to Washington for internment at Arlington National Cemetery. Maria Field Raum was also interred here following her death in 1915.
   On May 9, 2017 I was able to photograph Green Berry Raum's gravesite at Arlington (along with several others), and those photos are featured below.


Portrait from the History of Illinois Republicanism, 1900.



From the History of Kentucky: From Its Earliest Discovery and Settlement, 1892.

   Kentucky's Green Berry Swango is another man endowed with the names "Green Berry".   A former doorkeeper of the Kentucky House of Representatives, Swango was elected as County Judge of Wolfe County, Kentucky and served two terms in office. He later was elected as a delegate to the Kentucky State Constitutional Convention of 1890 and in the year following began service as the Register of the Land Office of Kentucky.
   Born on February 8, 1846 near Hazel Green, Kentucky, Green Berry Swango was the son of Stephen and Caroline (Trimble) Swango. His education occurred in schools local to the area of his birth and at age fifteen enlisted in the Confederate Army, serving amongst the ranks of the Fifth Kentucky Infantry. The year 1862 saw Swango serving with Co. E of the Tenth Kentucky Cavalry, and saw action under Gen. John Hunt Morgan. In 1864 Swango was captured while escorting his captain's body home for burial, but later made a daring escape on horseback, snatching a flag from a Union color bearer and dodging a hail of bullets from Federal troops.
   Soon after his escape Swango received a head wound at Cynthiana, Kentucky, but survived his injuries. He would rejoin his fellow soldiers in Virginia and served until the conclusion of the hostilities. Swango married in August 1869 to Eliza Jane Young (1846-1925). The couple's fifty-six year union saw the births of three children, James Hugh (1870-1937), Charles Stephen  (1871-1901) and John Morton.
    After return from military service Swango followed farming and mercantile pursuits and in 1870 was elected to his first political office, that of school commissioner for Wolfe County. From 1877-78 he was doorkeeper of the Kentucky House of Representatives and in 1882 won election to his first term as Judge of Wolfe County, Kentucky. Swango was returned to the bench for another four year term in 1886 and in 1890 was one of Wolfe County's delegates to the Kentucky State Constitutional Convention. 
   In 1891 Green B. Swango became the Democratic candidate for state register of the Kentucky Land Office. He would win that election and in the mid 1890s won a second term in office. Swango died in Montgomery County, Kentucky on March 15, 1926, one month after his 80th birthday. His wife Eliza had predeceased him the year prior to his death and both were interred at the Macpelah Cemetery in Mount Sterling, Kentucky.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Courtland Hawkins Smith (1850-1892)

Smith's obituary from the Alexandria Gazette, July 25, 1892.

   Alexandria, Virginia mayor Courtland Hawkins Smith received brief mention in May 9th's write up on Kosciusko Kemper, a three term mayor of Alexandria. Smith was the man who defeated Kemper in the race for mayor in 1878 and, of the several political figures I've profiled on my visit through Virginia-Washington, D.C., Smith is arguably the most obscure. No portrait of Smith could be found to post here, and a death notice for him has proved an adequate substitute in lieu of a portrait. 
    A lifelong native of Virginia, Courtland Hawkins Smith was born on August 29, 1850, being one of several children born to Francis Lee and Sarah Gosnelle Vowell Smith. Little is known of Smith's early life, excepting notice of his service in the Confederate Army and his being a lawyer. Smith married on December 15, 1875 to Charlotte Rossiter,  a native of New York state. The couple were wed until her death in 1880 and would have two children, Francis Lee (died in infancy in 1877) and Courtland Hawkins (born 1878). 
    Courtland H. Smith served as a member of the Alexandria city council prior to his election as mayor of Alexandria, that election occurring in 1878. He defeated three term mayor Kosciusko Kemper that year and would serve one two-year term (1879-1881) and declined renomination. Smith's tenure as mayor saw him preside over Alexandria's centennial anniversary in 1880.
   Following his term as mayor Smith served as assistant adjutant general of Virginia, and was a member of the staff Virginia Governor Fitzhugh Lee at the dedication of the Yorktown Monument and the inauguration of President Cleveland in 1885. Smith continued to reside in Alexandria for the remainder of his life and on the day of his death accompanied his sister into Washington on a shopping excursion. While visiting the city, Smith suffered a "sudden pain", which he tried to ease with a large dose of morphine. Described as being "accustomed to the use of the drug", the dosage Smith took appears to have led to his death, as he was brought to his home in an unconscious state, and died in the evening of July 22, 1892, never having regained consciousness.
   Remarked by the Alexandria Gazette as having been "genial, whole souled and generous to a fault", Courtland Hawkins Smith was preceded in death by his wife Charlotte and both were interred at the Presbyterian Cemetery in Alexandria. On the same day as my visit to the grave of Kosciusko Kemper I was able to seek out the Smith family plot, located a few hundred yards away from Kemper's burial location. Surrounded by a wrought iron gate, the plot is quite cramped, as several members of the family are interred in close confines to one another. And now some photos from the trip!




Saturday, May 13, 2017

Lemon Galpin Hine (1832-1914)

Lemon G. Hine.

   We continue our stay in the nation's capitol with the following write up on Lemon Galpin Hine, an Ohio native who found political and business distinction in Washington, D.C. following his resettlement in the early 1860s. Although largely forgotten today, the name of Lemon Galpin Hine was a prominent one in the capitol during the late 19th century, as he served on both the city common council and board of aldermen. In 1889 Hine reached his highest degree of political prominence when he was appointed as a District Commissioner of Washington, D.C., a body that comprised three members who governed the district following the dissolve of the territorial government in 1874.
   Born in Berlin Heights, Ohio on April 14, 1832, Lemon Galpin Hine was the son of Sheldon and Mary (Osborn) Hine. He would graduate from Oberlin College and later began the study of law in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he first commenced his practice. Sources relate that Hine spent the latter part of the 1850s in both Iowa and DeKalb County, Indiana, even building a farmhouse in the latter county.  Lemon Hine married in Ohio in May 1860 to Mary Tillinghast (1838-1923). The couple were wed for over fifty years and their union would see the births of five children: Charles L. (1861-1911), Mary Christmas (1867-1955, Oliver Cromwell (1870-1936), Blanche (1874-1964) and Mollie.
   Following his marriage Hine and his wife moved to Coldwater, Michigan, where in August 1861 he signed on for service in the "Northwestern Rifle Regiment", later to be called the 44th Illinois Infantry. Hine's Civil War service would see him attain the rank of Lieutenant in that unit's Co. B and he saw action at the Battle of Pea Ridge in northwestern Arkansas. He would resign from service in April 1862, due to "the loss of his voice", a problem that would continue to plague him for the remainder of his life
   A short period after leaving the service Hine removed to Washington D.C., where he would work on "Army pension cases". After further law studies Hine partnered with William Fitch and John Fox to form a law firm, which was short lived. Hine would make his first foray into District political life in 1868, being elected to the Washington, D.C. Common Council. Following his one year tenure in that body he was elected to the city Board of Aldermen, serving from 1870-71.

Lemon G. Hine as he appeared early in his life.

  Through the 1870s and 80s Lemon Hine continued to practice law and for two years served as the president of the Washington, D.C. Bar Association. He retired from practice in 1887, as he continued to be plagued by problems relating to his throat. Despite his health concerns, politics again beckoned to Hine in 1889, when he accepted President Benjamin Harrison's appointment to the Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia. This three man board came into being in 1874, following the dissolve of the territorial government of the District of Columbia. This earlier form of government had been headed by a Governor, and beginning in 1878, a three man commission (whose members were appointed by the President) would govern the district. These men (one Republican, one Democrat and one civil engineer with no political affiliation) would then choose one of their own as board president
   Appointed to the board along with Hine was John Watkinson Douglass (named as President), and these two men would serve alongside engineer Charles Walker Raymond from 1889-90. Many notable Washingtonians lauded Hine's appointment, describing him as one of the "grandest men in this city" and "a courteous gentleman and an honest man". The Washington Evening Star interviewed Hine on his new post, during which he appeared primed and ready to take on his duties, stating
"What are my plans? Well, it is a little to early to go into particulars, but I can say that I shall do my utmost to look after the interests of the District without fear or favor. I look upon the office of District Commissioner as one of detail, and believe that its duties can be performed just as successfully as those of any other business. But to do so strict attention will have to be paid to business methods. I shall do my best to conduct the office on that plan."


Portrait from the Washington Evening Star, May 16, 1889.

  Hine's tenure as a Commissioner proved to be short, as he resigned on September 1890. Prior to his resignation he had become affiliated with Ottmar Mergenthaler, the inventor of the Linotype machine. The two developed a close friendship, and Hine would become financially involved in the development of this new mode of printing, which gained extensive use by the Washington Star newspaper. Hine's interest in this venture saw him become president of the Merganthaler Linotype Machine Company, holding that post until his resignation in December 1891.
   Now retired from business and law, Hine continued to reside in Washington until health concerns compelled him to relocate to Battle Creek, Michigan in November 1913. Hine later contracted pneumonia while at a sanitarium there and died on January 19, 1914. He was survived by his wife Mary, and following his death was taken back to Washington to be interred at the Rock Creek Cemetery. Mary Tillinghast Hine was also interred here following her death in 1923. On May 11, 2017 I was able to photograph the Hine family plot at Rock Creek, and some photos from that excursion conclude his profile here.

Lemon G. Hine (with  frizzy hair), a portrait that appeared in his 1914 Evening Star obituary

From the Washington Times, January 20, 1914.



Thursday, May 11, 2017

Sayles Jenks Bowen (1813-1896)

Portrait from the Washington Evening Times, December 11, 1896.

    A one term Mayor of Washington City, District of Columbia (then a separate entity from neighboring Georgetown), Sayles Jenks Bowen can be justly referred to as one of the great unsung mayors in American history. A native of New York state, Bowen migrated to the nation's capitol in the mid 1840s and after stints as clerk in the Treasury department, police commissioner and postmaster of Washington, Bowen was elected as mayor of our nation's capitol in 1868. An avowed abolitionist, the forward thinking Bowen became the first Washington mayor to oversee schools for African-Americans in the city, and following his one term in office continued as a civil rights advocate and a trustee of black schools.
  Born on October 7, 1813 in Scipio, New York, Sayles Jenks Bowen was the son of Josiah and Deborah (Jenks) Bowen, both natives of Massachusetts. A student in "common schools" local to the Cayuga County area, Bowen also worked the family farm and during his adolescence taught school during the winter months. He would marry on July 2, 1835 to Mary Barker (1815-1882). The couple were wed for over four decades and would have two daughters, Ann Jennet (1843-1850) and Hattie Barker Bowen (1855-1860).
  Following his marriage Bowen worked at "mercantile pursuits" in his home state from 1838-42, and during this time gained an ally in fellow Cayuga County native Millard Fillmore, then serving as Lieutenant Governor of New York. With backing from his friend Fillmore, Bowen would secure a clerkship in the U.S. Treasury department, and by 1845 he and his wife had resettled in Washington, D.C.
   Bowen's three years at the treasury department saw him serving under Treasury Secretary Robert Walker, a prominent figure in the James K. Polk administration. Bowen would draw the ire of Walker in 1848 due to the former's "Free Soil Party" sympathies, and as a firm abolitionist went as far as distribute anti-slavery literature. These acts (as well as Bowen's failure to endorse the candidacy of Lewis Cass for President), eventually led to Bowen's dismissal from his clerkship.
  A supporter of Martin Van Buren's Free Soil Party candidacy in 1848, Sayles Bowen worked as a claims agent and by the late 1850s had become a rising figure in the newly formed Republican Party. Upon the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 Bowen began his rise through local politics, being appointed as Commissioner of Police for the District of Columbia. His time in that post would be short lived however, as he resigned later that same year to accept the appointment as disbursing officer for the U.S. Senate. In 1862 he advanced to the post of Collector of Internal Revenue for the District of Columbia and in the year following began a five year tenure as U.S. Postmaster at Washington, D.C. The Civil War years saw Bowen continue to press for equal rights for black citizens, and during this time served as president of the District of Columbia's National Freedman's Relief Association.
   The year 1868 proved to be a landmark one for Sayles J. Bowen, as he was elected as Mayor of the city of Washington during one of the most important elections in the city's history. Newly enfranchised black voters were able to vote for mayor of the city for the first time, and due to Bowen's record on civil rights turned out en-mass for him at the polls. Eking out a narrow victory over John T. Given, Bowen took office that year with a grandiose vision for the city, including the development of public works projects that employed former slaves, as well as the hope to to integrate city schools.
   Acknowledged as the first Washington mayor to "establish public schools for colored children", Bowen's vision put him at odds with a great many white citizens residing in the city, some of whom went as far as to accuse him of being more concerned with civil rights than the city improvements he had started earlier in his term. Bowen was undeterred however, and he is remarked as having been the first mayor of Washington to promote black citizens to political positions within the city government, and when city officials balked at the possibility of continuing to fund black schools in the city, Bowen used $20,000 of his own money to keep them afloat. 
   During his mayoralty Bowen was both a delegate to the 1868 Republican National Convention from the District of Columbia and from 1866-72 represented the District of Columbia on the Republican National Committee. The Bowen administration also saw the adoption of a system of street parking, which was passed by an act of Congress in 1870.

Sayles J. Bowen.

  During the two years of his mayoralty the optimism that had initially bolstered Bowen's first few months in office waned, and a number of less progressive Washingtonians began to plan for the mayoral election of 1870. Bowen's last months in office were marred by the fact that many public works projects were left uncompleted, with hundreds of miles of city streets still lacking pavement and sewer lines. The city's rising debt proved to be another contributing factor for the "old-line" Washingtonians search for a new mayor, and in the election of 1870 Bowen was defeated by Democratic candidate Matthew Gault Emery (1818-1901).
  Bowen's life following his mayoralty saw him serving as trustee and treasurer of the Public Schools for Colored Children in the district, as well as a regent of the Smithsonian Institution and director of the St. Elizabeth's Insane Asylum. Widowed in 1882, Bowen remarried in June of the following year to Elizabeth "Bessie" Boyd Bentley (1842-1904), to whom he was wed until his death, which occurred on December 16, 1896. He was later interred at the Congressional Cemetery alongside his wife Mary. On May 9, 2017 I was lucky enough to visit the Congressional Cemetery to seek out Bowen's gravesite (amongst many others), and a few photos from that trip conclude his profile here.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Kosciusko Kemper (1835-1910)

Portrait from the Souvenir Virginia Tercentennial of Historic Alexandria, 1907.

   The Strangest Names In American Political History continues its trek through Virginia, and a week following our write-up on Mottrom Dulany Ball we journey to Alexandria to highlight a prominent son of that city who would serve not only as its Superintendent of Schools, but also as its Mayor for three terms....Kosciusko Kemper! A lifelong Virginian, Kosciusko Kemper was born in Warrenton, Virginia on June 18, 1835, being the son of William and Sarah (Humphreys) Kemper
  The possessor of one of the most unique first names this author has yet found, Kemper is believed to have been bestowed the name "Kosciusko" in honor of Tadeus Kosciuszko (1746-1817), the famed Polish military engineer and officer who during the Revolutionary War served as a Colonel with the Continental Army. A popular figure during the Colonial era, Kosciuszko was later promoted to Brigadier General by the Continental Congress and later removed back to Poland, where in 1794 he led the Kosciuszko Uprising against Imperial Russian and Prussian forces. This uprising was unsuccessful in its attempt to free Poland from Russian dominance, and after being captured in November 1794, Kosciuszko was imprisoned until 1796, when he was pardoned by Russian Czar Paul I. Kosciuszko would relocate back to the United States in 1798 for a short period and gained a firm friend in Thomas Jefferson, whom he later entrusted as his executor after completing his will
   Kosciusko Kemper's early education took place in private schools and his family would later reside in Charlottesville for a time. In 1851 he enrolled at the University of Virginia, where he would study until 1858. Here Kemper would meet the woman who would be his wife for nearly forty years, Iraetta (IraEtta) Garrett (1838-1896). The couple wed in February 1859 and their union would see the births of seven children, Edward Hudson (born 1866), William Garrett (born 1868), Charlotte (born 1871), Sarah Richards (born 1872), Eliza Garrett (born 1874), Lewis Magnus (born 1876) and Kosciusko Jr. (1877-1929). 
  Following his graduation from the University of Virginia, Kemper entered into a career in education, a theme that would be prominent throughout the remainder of his life. He and his elder brother Delaware are recorded as having "bought out a school" in Alexandria, and both later were affiliated with the Beaufort, South Carolina Female Seminary, with Delaware Kemper serving as its president. Kosciusko Kemper taught school and studied law until the outbreak of Civil War, and entered into Confederate Army, being commissioned as a Captain in the First Regiment, South Carolina Artillery. His service in that unit would see him at Fort Sumpter following its capture and he later saw action with General Joseph E. Johnston at Salisbury, South Carolina. Kemper would attain the rank of First Lieutenant and served until his discharge at the war's conclusion.

Kemper as he appeared in the Alexandria Gazette, January 26, 1910.

   At war's end Kemper removed back to Alexandria and for four years served as president of the Alexandria Academy, a school for women. He was admitted to the state bar in 1874 and in that same year took office as Mayor of Alexandria, filling out the unexpired term of William Norris Berkley, who had been named as U.S Postmaster at Alexandria. In 1875 Kemper was elected to a term of his own as Mayor and was defeated the following year by J.B. Johnson. Kemper won a third term as mayor in 1877 and served until 1879, when he was defeated by another oddly named man, Courtland Hawkins Smith. Following his last term as mayor Kemper continued to be politically active in Alexandria, serving as its City Attorney for a decade, as well as its Superintendent of Public Schools from 1893-1909. During the first Cleveland administration (1885-89), Kemper was selected by former Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston (then serving as U.S. Commissioner of Railroads) to serve on his staff.
    A Mason of prominent standing in Virginia, Kosciusko Kemper was initiated into the Washington-Alexandria Lodge No. 22 in March 1875 and in the succeeding years attained high rank in that fraterinity, serving as Grand Master of the Washington-Alexandria Lodge from 1888-1890 and a Grand Junior Deacon of the Grand Lodge of Virginia. In 1906 he became Grand Master of Masons in Virginia and was also active in Confederate veteran circles, being a past commander of the Robert E. Lee Camp.
    A longstanding member of the Second Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, Kemper was for many years a Sunday school superintendent and in 1883 became a church elder. After decades of prominence in Alexandria public life, Kosciusko Kemper died at age 74 on January 26, 1910 at the home of his daughter in Washington, D.C. He had been predeceased by his wife Iraetta in 1896 and both were interred at the Saint Paul's Cemetery in Alexandria. 
   On May 6, 2016 I was lucky to track down Kemper's gravesite at the aforementioned cemetery, and some photos from that excursion conclude his profile here. This author must state that the St. Paul's Cemetery (and the other cemeteries surrounding it) are some of the most picturesque I've yet seen, with some stones dating back to the early 1810s. Numerous instances of ivy covered trees and crypts abound, along with wrought-iron gated family plots and intriguing gravestone shapes and designs. Interred at the neighboring Presbyterian Cemetery (located a few hundred yards away from Kemper) is the man who defeated him for Mayor in 1879, Courtland Hawkins Smith (1850-1892), who will have his own article posted here in the coming days.

Kosciusko Kemper in Masonic dress, portrait courtesy of aw22.org.

Kemper's obituary from the Washington Herald, January 27, 1910.

A visit with Kosciusko Kemper at the St. Paul's Cemetery





  St. Paul's Episcopal Church Cemetery and the surrounding areas (located in the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex) are home to some of the most impressive trees I've seen, as illustrated by the below photographs. Wrapped in century old vines and ivy, this particular tree has to be one of the oldest and largest in the Alexandria area!

I'm dwarfed by its size!!