Sunday, June 20, 2021

#17 Thomas W. Bartley

Born: February 11, 1812
Died: June 20, 1885
Political Party: Democrat
Term in Office: April 15, 1844- December 3, 1844
Buried: Glenwood Cemetery Washington DC
No. 48 of 58

Thomas W Bartley was born in Jefferson County Ohio and grew up in the Mansfield area. Like many governors and various politicians he got his start practicing law. 

Bartley was admitted to the bar at age 21. As a result of his father Mordecai Bartley serving in the US house of representatives, Bartley had a lifelong interest in politics and when he came of age had no problem entering it himself. 

His first elected position was as prosecuting attorney of Richland County. He later entered the state legislature in 1839 and became Speaker of Ohio’s Senate in 1843. 

In 1844 President John Tyler appointed Ohio Governor Wilson Shannon to become minister to Mexico. As Speaker of the Senate Thomas Bartley assumed  the Governorship for the remainder of Shannon‘s term. 

Thomas Bartley served as both Speaker of the Senate  and Governor of Ohio from April to December 1844. Seeing as a general assembly had adjourned about a month before Bartley assumed the Governorship there really wasn’t a great deal for him to do as Governor in that timeframe. 

As the election of 1844 approached Thomas Bartley  pursued the Democratic parties nomination for Governor but he lost that nomination by a single vote. 

In one of the more interesting turn of events that I’ve come across in all these years of studying the lives of the Governor of Ohio, Thomas’s father Mordecai Bartley became the Whig party nominee for Governor that year. Had Thomas won the Democratic nomination it would’ve been a contest versus father and son. As it was, Mordecai Bartley won the election and proceeded to secede his son in the governorship on Inauguration Day. 

As I found this is one of the very few times in which a father seceded his son in a high political office. 

Thomas Bartley would later serve in the Ohio Supreme Court, including about three years as Chief  justice of the Ohio Supreme Court. 

He eventually ended up in Washington DC where he continued to practice law. He died in 1885 in DC and was buried in Glenwood cemetery there. Making him one of seven Governor’s of Ohio who are buried outside of the state. 

In June 2021 I made it a stop in the DC area on our way down to vacation in Williamsburg, Virginia. The gravesite of Thomas Bartley  has been marked in my Google maps for a very long time and I finally got the opportunity to pay my respects. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

#50 A. Victor Donahey

A. Victor Donahey

Born: July 7, 1873
Died: April 8, 1946
Political Party: Democrat
Term of Office: January 8, 1923 - January 14, 1929
Buried: East Avenue Cemetery New Philadelphia, Ohio
No.47 of 58

      Alvin Victor Donahey was born in West Chester, Ohio on July 7, 1873. "Vic" as he preferred to be called never graduated from High School. He left school in his Junior year to pursue a career as a newspaper editor. Within 3 years he would earn the rank of foreman. Over time he would come to own his own printing company, set up in New Philadelphia.

    Donahey entered politics while still in his 20's. Despite being a Democrat in a largely Republican area, he was elected to a number of local level offices including township clerk, county auditor and he was on the Board of Education for New Philadelphia school. These local offices helped him become a delegate at the 1912 Ohio Constitutional Convention. That some year he was elected Ohio State Auditor. Winning reelection in 1916, he served in that post for 8 years.

   Donahey took his first shot at the Governorship in 1920, but lost to the Republican candidate, former Cleveland Mayor Harry L Davis. In 1922, Donahey tried again and won. Donahey would go on to win reelection twice. In 1924, he beat former Governor Harry L. Davis, and in 1926, in beat future Governor Myers Y. Cooper.

   During Donahey's first 2 terms as Governor, he vetoed bills from the state legislature 117 times, earning him the nickname "Veto Vic". Governor Donahey was a Democrat at a time when the state legislature was predominately Republican. Which caused a lot of deadlock. Despite this Governor Donahey was able to reform the state's judicial system and improve the conditions of the state's roads.

   Donahey chose not to seek reelection in 1928, however his name was brought forward for consideration for President at the 1928 Democratic National Convention. He received 5 delegate votes, for the nomination ultimately went to Governor Al Smith of New York. Donahey retired from public life for awhile, but returned to politics in 1934 when he won a seat in the United States Senate. He served one 6 years term in the US Senate before retiring from politics for good in 1941.

  Governor Donahey died at his home in 1946. His son John William Donahey later served as Lt. Governor of Ohio from 1959-1963.

Donahey family gravesite

His name on his headstone simply says Vic Donahey

My kids and I at Governor Donahey's gravesite.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

#44 Andrew Harris

Andrew Harris

Born: November 17, 1835
Died: September 13, 1915
Political Party: Republican
Term of Office: June 18, 1906-January 11, 1909
Buried: Mound Hill Union Cemetery Eaton, Ohio
No. 46 of 58

    Andrew Harris was born in Butler County Ohio in 1835. His family moved to Preble County when he was still just a couple of years old. Coming from modest beginnings, his father worked and a teacher and a farmer. He attended Miami University from 1857 to 1860. Upon graduation he returned home and began studying law at a local law firm -Thompson and Harris.

     In 1861, the Civil War broke out and Harris signed up to be a private. It didn't take long until he earned the rank of Colonel in the 75th Ohio Infantry. During his service in the Civil War, Colonel Harris was wounded twice and fought in 18 battles. Most notably, he fought in the Battle of Gettysburg where he led his men in the effort to hold Cemetery Hill, warding off several attacks from the enemy. In August 1864, he experienced an upsetting defeat at the Battle of Gainesville, in Florida. 5 months later he was "mustered out" of the Army. Best I can tell is that being "mustered out" was the equivalent of an honorable discharge. In 1866, after considering his exceptional dedication and service to his country during the war. Harris was awarded the post service rank of Brevet Brigadier General.

   Upon his return from the war, Harris began to study law again and was gained admittance to the Ohio Bar in April of 1865. 6 months later he married the daughter of a local farmer, Caroling Conger. The next year he opened up a law practice with Robert Miller in Eaton. The partnership lasted 10 years.

    Harris joined Republican politics in Ohio in 1866 by being elected to the Ohio State Senate, and later served as probate judge in Preble County. At which point he decided to retire from politics. Or so he thought.....

   In 1885, Harris returned to the State Legislature, this time in the Ohio House of Representatives. He raised in stature in Ohio Republican politics over the next few years. So much so that he was elected Lt. Governor in both 1891 and 1893 under future President, Governor William McKinley. Later on President McKinley appointed Harris to federal commission on trusts, a position that he held for 4 years. At which point Harris decided to retire from politcs again. Or so he thought....

   In 1905, Governors and Lt. Governors were elected separately, which made it possible to have a Governor and Lt. Governor of different parties. That year it was decided that the Governors would start being elected on even numbers years instead of odd numbered years. And so whoever would win the election of 1805 would win an unusual 3 year term until the next election in 1908. Harris was convinced to run for Lt. Governor again in 1905. He won the election and became Lt. Governor to the newly elected Democratic Governor John M. Pattison. Pattison was elected to the 3 year term, but sadly died about 5 months into office. At which point Harris became the 44th Governor of Ohio.

    Harris was Governor at the same time that Theodore Roosevelt was President. In this, Harris oversaw some serious reforms taking place. Ohio passed it's first food and drug laws, as well as banning corporations from influencing politics with money. Harris ran for reelection in 1909, but lost the election to Judson Harmon. Harris had previously indorsed Prohibition and made enough enemies with this stance that it cost his reelection bid.

      After his defeat he retired from politics, this time for good. He passed away from heart problems in 1915.

   I visited the final resting place of Governor Harris in June 2018. We were hitting a few sites along the Ohio Indiana line that day.

Governor Harris gravesite

Governor Harris and I

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

#20 Seabury Ford

Seabury Ford

Born: October 15, 1801
Died: May 8, 1855
Political Party: Whig
Term of Office: January 22, 1849 - December 12, 1850
Buried: Welton Cemetery Burton, Ohio
No. 45 of 58

   Seabury Ford was born in Connecticut. His family moved to Burton, Ohio when he was still very young. Ford's family were among the earliest settlers in Connecticut, arriving in 1637 and going back 6 generations. In 1821, Ford would return to the state of his birth to attend Yale University. After his graduation in 1825 he returned home to Ohio where he studied law with his uncle Peter Hitchcock, who served 28 years in the Ohio Supreme Court, 21 of them as Chief Justice of Ohio.

    After admittance to the Ohio bar in 1827, Ford started practicing law in his hometown of Burton. The following year he got married to a cousin of his, Harriet Cook. The couple went on to have 5 sons.

   Ford joined the state militia, eventually earning the rank of Major General. This led to his entering Whig party politics when he was elected to the Ohio State House of Representatives in 1835. He would serve 3, 2 year terms here, one as Speaker of the Ohio House. Ford was then elected to the Ohio Senate, where he served from 1841 to 1847.

   In 1848, Ford was chosen to be the Whig parties candidate for Governor of Ohio. He won the closest election in Ohio's history. He won by about 311 votes of about 300,000. The election had to be decided by the state legislature. Which delayed his inauguration by 6 weeks.

   Governor Ford took office in the aftermath of the Mexican War and of great national debate over the expansion of slavery. Little was accomplished due to constant deadlock in the state legislature. Ford would repeal the Black Laws of 1807. Slavery was illegal in Ohio. However these black laws required African Americans to have to prove that they weren't runaway slaves. They also restricted African American's rights to marry white people and own guns, among other things. So Ford's greatest accomplishment as Governor was the repeal of these laws. During his administration, the Ohio legislature voted to renew the state's Constitution, which led to the Ohio Constitutional Convention of 1851. Ford was the last Whig to be Ohio's Governor.

    Ford retired from politics after his one term was over. Sadly, he suffered a stroke only a week after returning home, from which he never fully recovered. He died in 1855 at the age of 53.

   I visited the gravesite of Governor Ford over Memorial Day weekend 2018. My wife and I attended an Indians game and hit a bunch of sites in the Cleveland area the next day.

Governor Ford and I

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

#53 Martin L. Davey

Martin L. Davey

Born: July 25, 1884
Died: March 31, 1946
Political Party: Democrat
Term of Office: January 14, 1935-January 9, 1939
Buried: Standing Rock Cemetery Kent, Ohio
No. 44 of 58

     Martin L. Davey was born in Kent, Ohio in 1884. His father, John Davey was an English immigrant who eventually started the Davey Tree Expert Company. The company was the first tree care company in the United States and today is the largest residential tree care company in North America, doing business in both the United States and Canada. The company was recently on Forbes top 500 (#294) list of best employers.

    Despite the eventual success of his family business the Davey family struggled to make ends meet when Martin was growing up. When Davey was growing up he made and sold his own horseradish to help his family financially. Martin attended Oberlein College, but between helping found the family business and starting a family, he never graduated.

   As a child, Davey went to a county fair and heard William Jennings Bryan give his "cross of gold" speech. This experience later influenced Davey to run for political office. Davey was elected Mayor of Kent, serving from 1913-1918. In 1918, there was a vacancy in the district's US House of Representatives seat. Davey was chosen to fill it. With the exception of a 2 year reelection fair gap, Davey served in the US House until 1929. Davey first ran for Governor of Ohio in 1928, but lost to Myers Y. Cooper. Davey ran for Governor again in 1934 and won. He won reelection in 1936. But lost reelection for a 3rd term in 1938 to John Bricker. 

   As Governor, Davey tried to help Ohioans cope through the Great Depression. He found himself at odds against President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal policies when the Federal programs seized control of assistant programs already put there by the state. Federal official brought corruption charges against Governor Davey because of his opposition to FDR's New Deal. In spite of being cleared of any wrong doing, the Federal Government withheld relieve funds from the state of Ohio at a time when people really needed it. So Governor Davey implemented the Ohio Unemployment Compensation Law, the first state funded unemployment insurance package in the U.S. 

   After Davey's defeat for a 3rd term as Governor in 1938, he tried again in 1940, but lost again. After this he retired from politics and focused on his family tree business. He died in Kent in 1946.

After about a year of being very busy with my kids sporting, scouting, ect... I finally was able to cross off a couple of more Governor's off of my list on Memorial Day weekend 2018. My wife and I saw an Indians game the night before and then headed to Kent, where we walked around the site of the Kent State shooting. After that we headed to Standing Rock Cemetery in Kent to find Governor Davey's final resting place. After driving around for awhile I asked one of the guy's mowing if he knew where it was. I was expecting a "who" response, but he smiled and said "follow me!" After Kent we headed north towards Lake Erie and hit a few more sites along the way.


Governor Davey and I

Thursday, May 25, 2017

#15 Thomas Corwin

Thomas Corwin

Born: July 29, 1794
Died: December 18, 1865
Political Party: Whig, later Republican
Term of Office: December 16, 1840- December 14, 1842
Buried: Lebanon Cemetery Lebanon, Ohio
No. 43 of 58

    Thomas Corwin was born in Kentucky in 1794. His father was Matthias, and he moved the family to Lebanon, Ohio when Thomas was 4 years old. After moving to Ohio, Matthias became one of Ohio's earliest representatives in the state legislature. The elder Corwin served 11 consecutive terms in the state legislature, paving the way for his son's extensive political career. 

   During the War of 1812, a young Corwin served as a wagon boy in General William Henry Harrison's Army. After the war, Corwin began to study law and was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1817. This opened the door to serving as Warren Counties prosecuting attorney from 1818-1828. Throughout the 1820's, he served 2 non consecutive terms in the Ohio House of Representatives, as well as working in his law practice in Lebanon. It was also around this time that he got married and started a family. He and his wife Sarah had 5 children. 

  In 1831, Corwin was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He served 5 consecutive terms in Washington. While in Congress, he earned the nickname "terror of the house" because of his passionate and intelligent debating skills. 

   He resigned from Congress in 1840 to run for Governor of Ohio. During the campaign he became well known for his oratory skills. He won the election, beating sitting Governor Wilson Shannon. Corwin's former commanding officer General William Henry Harrison was running for President at the same time that he was running for Governor. Corwin helped campaign for Harrison, contributing to him winning the White House. Harrison sadly died on April 4, 1841, just one month after taking office.

   Corwin was a Whig and during his time as Governor, Democrats controlled the state legislature. This made it difficult to accomplish anything. He and other Whig's in the state legislature proposed a "State Bank", which was easily shot down by the opposition. Corwin also took blame for an economic downturn and lost his reelection bid in 1842 to former Governor Wilson Shannon. 

   In 1844, Corwin was chosen by the Ohio General Assembly to serve in the U. S. Senate. In the Senate, he was very out spoken on his opposition to the Mexican War. He remained in the Senate until 1850, when President Millard Fillmore appointed him to be his Secretary of the Treasury. He resigned as Secretary of the Treasury on March 6, 1853, 2 days after President Franklin Pierce took office. He then returned home to his law practice. 

   In 1858, Corwin traveled to Illinois to be a co counsel in defense of former Ohio Governor William Bebb, who had shot a man. Corwin helped get him acquitted with a plea of self defense. 

   Later that year, Corwin was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives once again. With the Whig party now dissolved, Corwin was now a Republican. He supported the campaign of Abraham Lincoln during the election of 1860. Once Lincoln was elected, Corwin became chairman of a Congressional committee called the "Committee of 33", which had one representative from each state. This committee was a last ditch effort to prevent the Civil War. Corwin proposed an Amendment to the Constitution that would forbid the Federal Government to pass laws that would conflict with each individual states laws. Basically, it would of kept the Federal Government from overturning state laws allowing slavery in the south. The Amendment never got ratified and the War happened anyway. 

   Corwin won reelection to the House in 1860, but resigned shortly after to become President Lincoln's Minister to Mexico. As Ambassador, Corwin was popular in Mexico due to his opposition to the Mexican War several years earlier. He kept good relations with Mexico during the Civil War, in spite of the Confederacy being so physically close to Mexico at the time, and their efforts to turn Mexico against the U.S. 

   Corwin resigned from his position in Mexico and politics in 1864. He returned to Washington DC, where he practiced law until his death on December 18, 1865. 

   I visited Corwin's gravesite in late April 2017. It was the last stop on a very busy day in the Cincinnati area. I found his gravesite very interesting. There appears to be an old family obelisk with Thomas Corwin's name on it, as well a newer marker that has many of his accomplishments on it. And in between an old small individual marker that simply reads T. C. I can now proudly say that for the first time in a long time, I am all caught up on these Governor posts. Corwin is my most recent visit and my most recent post.





I thought this newer marker was pretty cool. With the Ohio seal on it.

The Ohio seal

T.C. Thomas Corwin's individual marker


Governor Corwin, my sleepy son Grant and I

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

#9 Jeremiah Morrow

Jeremiah Morrow

Born: October 6, 1771
Died: March 22, 1852
Political Party: Democratic - Republican
Term of Office: December 28, 1822- December 19, 1826
Buried: Union Cemetery Loveland, Ohio
No. 42 of 58

     Jeremiah Morrow was born in eastern Pennsylvania in 1771 to a farming family. Long before a battle would make the town a household name, Morrow called the area around Gettysburg, PA home. He moved to the Northwest Territory in his mid 20's. After getting married he eventually settled around the mouth of the Little Miami River in what is now Warren County, Ohio.

   Morrow entered politics around the time that Ohio was gearing up for statehood. And so he was elected to the Territorial legislature in 1801. At the time Territorial Governor Arthur St. Claire opposed statehood. Morrow joined the opposition against him, which was lead by Thomas Worthington. In 1802, Morrow served as a delegate at Ohio's Constitutional Convention. 

    Once statehood was achieved in 1803, with help from President Jefferson, Morrow's neighbors in Warren County elected him to a seat in the Ohio State Senate. But shortly after, Morrow was selected to be Ohio's first Representative in the United State House of Representatives. What's more, for the first 10 years of Ohio's statehood, Morrow was Ohio's only Representative in the House. In 1813, Morrow left the House of Representatives to serve in the U.S. Senate. He remained in the Senate until 1819. 

     After 16 years a Representative in Washington, Morrow returned home and got involved in a group that was trying to build a canal from from the Ohio River to Lake Erie. The Ohio Board of Canal Commissioners included Morrow's old political ally Thomas Worthington as well as another Governor Ethan Allen Brown, among others. Their efforts lead to the constructions of the Ohio and Erie Canal and the Miami and Erie Canal in 1825. 

     Morrow ran for Governor in 1822. He won the election, beating acting Governor Allen Trimble and another candidate. Morrow then won reelection in 1824. He was Governor at a time when when a lot of things came together to create an economic upswing. The National Road made it to Ohio during Morrow's Governorship. This made it easier for people along the east coast to move west in search of brighter futures. Canals also increased economic productivity in Ohio. 

    Morrow chose not to seek a third term in 1826. Instead he ran, and won election to the Ohio State Senate in 1827. After a term in the State Senate, Morrow returned to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1829. Through the next 14 years, he would serve about 7 in the U.S. House. Meanwhile, he helped form the Whig Party in Ohio. Finally, in 1843, he retired from politics and returned home. 
    In his retirement from State Politics he remained active. He served as the first President of the Little Miami Railroad, ran a saw mill and served as a school director, among other things. He died at the age of 80 in 1852. 

    I visited the gravesite of Governor Morrow on a day in late April 2017. I had a busy day in the Cincinnati area and stopped at 3 new Governor gravesites on my way home. Morrow was the 2nd of the 3 new stops I made. The first was Governor John Pattison and the third was Thomas Corwin.




Governor Morrow and I