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Politicians in Trouble or Disgrace

Politicians in Trouble: 1890 to 1899

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in approximate chronological order

  Stevenson Archer (1828-1898) — of Bel Air, Harford County, Md. Born near Churchville, Harford County, Md., February 28, 1828. Lawyer; member of Maryland state house of delegates, 1854; U.S. Representative from Maryland 2nd District, 1867-75; delegate to Democratic National Convention from Maryland, 1868, 1876; Maryland state treasurer, 1886-90; Maryland Democratic state chair, 1887-89. In April, 1890, following an investigation which revealed a shortage of $132,000, he was arrested, removed from office as State Treasurer, and charged with embezzlement. He pleaded guilty and wrote to the court: "No part of the State's money or securities was ever used by me in gambling, stock speculation, or for political purposes; nor have I at this time one dollar of it left." Sentenced to five years in prison. Due to his failing health, was pardoned by Gov. Frank Brown in May 1894. Died, in Baltimore City Hospital, Baltimore, Md., August 2, 1898 (age 70 years, 155 days). Interment at Presbyterian Cemetery, Churchville, Md.
  Relatives: Son of Stevenson Archer (1786-1848); grandson of John Archer.
  Political family: Archer family of Churchville, Maryland.
  See also congressional biography — Govtrack.us page
  Edward T. Noland (d. 1926) — of Jackson County, Mo. Democrat. Missouri state treasurer, 1889-90; resigned 1890. In March 1890, following reports of his drunkenness and gambling, his accounts were investigated; a shortage of about $32,000 was discovered; suspended from office as state treasurer, and resigned a few days later; arrested soon after, and charged with embezzlement; tried in 1891, and ultimately convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. Died June 26, 1926. Burial location unknown.
  Lucien Wells Sperry (1820-1890) — also known as Lucien W. Sperry — of New Haven, New Haven County, Conn. Born in Woodbridge, New Haven County, Conn., March 8, 1820. Coal dealer; insurance agent; mayor of New Haven, Conn., 1866-69; member of Connecticut state senate 4th District, 1869-70. Unable to account for money entrusted to him, and likely to be arrested as an embezzler, he died from a self-inflicted gunshot, in New Haven, New Haven County, Conn., June 26, 1890 (age 70 years, 110 days). Interment at Evergreen Cemetery, New Haven, Conn.
  Relatives: Son of Enoch K. Sperry (1787-1856) and Mary Atlanta (Sperry) Sperry (1795-1864); brother of Nehemiah Day Sperry (1827-1911).
  See also Find-A-Grave memorial
  Darwin James Meserole (1868-1952) — also known as Darwin J. Meserole — of Brooklyn, Kings County, N.Y.; Bellport, Suffolk County, Long Island, N.Y.; Waterbury, New Haven County, Conn. Born in Brooklyn, Kings County, N.Y., May 29, 1868. Socialist. Stockbroker; in June 1891, he shot and killed Theodore W. Larbig, was arrested and tried for murder, but found not guilty on ground of self-defense; lawyer; candidate for New York state assembly from Kings County 11th District, 1915; candidate for New York state attorney general, 1920; candidate for New York state senate 1st District, 1922; candidate for Justice of New York Supreme Court 2nd District, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1927, 1931; candidate for chief judge of New York Court of Appeals, 1926; candidate for Presidential Elector for New York, 1928; candidate for judge of New York Court of Appeals, 1930, 1934, 1936; president, National Unemployment League, which advocated public works programs to relieve unemployment. Died, from a heart attack, as he was about to board the Staten Island ferry, in Manhattan, New York County, N.Y., May 21, 1952 (age 83 years, 358 days). Burial location unknown.
  Relatives: Son of Jeremiah Vanderbilt Meserole (1833-1908) and Ann Sophia (Richardson) Meserole (1839-1922); married, June 24, 1899, to Katherine Louise Maltby.
  Frank R. Aikens (b. 1855) — of Canton, Lincoln County, Dakota Territory (now S.Dak.); Sioux Falls, Minnehaha County, S.Dak. Born in New York, New York County, N.Y., December 14, 1855. Lawyer; member of Dakota territorial legislature, 1887-89; justice of Dakota territorial supreme court, 1889; district judge in South Dakota, 1889-94. In 1891, when affluent Easterners came to South Dakota to live in a hotel for 90 days, so as to be eligible for the state's easy divorce law, he ruled that hotel guests were not bona fide South Dakota residents, disrupting the divorce plans of a number of celebrities. Later that year, a committee of Sioux Falls ministers accused the judge of drunkenness and licentiousness. Burial location unknown.
  Charles A. Binder (1857-1891) — also known as John Roth — of New York, New York County, N.Y. Born in New York, New York County, N.Y., November 2, 1857. Lawyer; member of New York state assembly from New York County 10th District, 1884, 1886; accused in 1891 of embezzling $20,000 from the estate of Barbara Hausman; fled and became a fugitive, traveling under the alias "John Roth". German ancestry. Wounded by self-inflicted gunshot, in his room at the Sheridan House Hotel, and died there early the next morning, in Elizabeth, Union County, N.J., May 17, 1891 (age 33 years, 196 days). Burial location unknown.
  Relatives: Son of Margaret Binder.
  See also Wikipedia article
  Albert Hiram Lennox (1842-1907) — also known as Albert H. Lennox; Albert Hiram Lenox — of Camden, Camden County, N.J. Born in Trenton, Mercer County, N.J., December 22, 1842. Shipbroker; commission merchant; Vice-Consul for Haiti in Philadelphia, Pa., 1877-83; Consul for Greece in Philadelphia, Pa., 1881-91; Consul for Haiti in Philadelphia, Pa., 1883-91; in 1891, he and other officers of some mutual benefit associations were charged in Philadelphia with obtaining money under false pretenses; in 1894, he resisted eviction for non-payment of rent; he was no longer consul, but falsely claimd diplomatic immunity; the government of Haiti contradicted his claim, and a scandal resulted. Died in Camden, Camden County, N.J., July 4, 1907 (age 64 years, 194 days). Interment at Colestown Cemetery, Cherry Hill Township, Camden County, N.J.
  Relatives: Son of Elizabeth Jane Lenox and Hiram Lenox (1818-1892); married to Emma Stoy (1846-1923).
  See also Find-A-Grave memorial
Eugene V. Debs Eugene Victor Debs (1855-1926) — also known as Eugene V. Debs — of Terre Haute, Vigo County, Ind. Born in Terre Haute, Vigo County, Ind., November 5, 1855. Socialist. Locomotive fireman on the Terre Haute and Indianapolis Railroad; secretary-treasurer of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen in 1880-93; member of Indiana state house of representatives, 1885; founder in 1893 and president (1893-97) of the American Railway Union; arrested during a strike in 1894 and charged with conspiracy to commit murder; the charges were dropped, but he was jailed for six months for contempt of court; became a Socialist while incarcerated; candidate for President of the United States, 1900 (Social Democratic), 1904 (Socialist), 1908 (Socialist), 1912 (Socialist), 1920 (Socialist); in 1905, was a founder of the Industrial Workers of the World ("Wobblies"), which hoped to organize all workers in "One Big Union"; convicted under the Sedition and Espionage Act for an anti-war speech he made in 1918, and sentenced to ten years in federal prison; released in 1921. Member, Knights of Pythias; American Civil Liberties Union. Died in Lindlahr Sanitarium, Elmhurst, DuPage County, Ill., October 20, 1926 (age 70 years, 349 days). Interment at Highland Lawn Cemetery, Terre Haute, Ind.
  Relatives: Son of Daniel Debs and Marguerite (Betterich) Debs; married, June 9, 1885, to Katherine 'Kate' Metzel (step-sister-in-law of Bertha D. Baur (1870-1967)).
  Cross-reference: Victor L. Berger — William A. Cunnea
  See also NNDB dossier
  Books about Eugene V. Debs: James Chace, 1912 : Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft and Debs : The Election that Changed the Country — Charles W. Carey, Jr., Eugene V. Debs : Outspoken Labor Leader and Socialist (for young readers)
  Image source: American Monthly Review of Reviews, September 1908
  William Stanley Hollis (1866-1930) — also known as W. Stanley Hollis — of Massachusetts; Chevy Chase, Montgomery County, Md. Born in Chelsea, Suffolk County, Mass., April 4, 1866. U.S. Consul in Mozambique Island, as of 1894; Lourenco Marques, 1898-1909; Dundee, 1909-10; U.S. Consul General in Beirut, 1911-17; London, 1919-20; Lisbon, 1920-27. In September, 1894, in Mozambique, he shot and wounded a local resident who he thought was a burglar; arrested and tried by Portugese authorities, convicted of homicide, and sentenced to six months in prison. Died, following a stroke, in Chevy Chase, Montgomery County, Md., June 8, 1930 (age 64 years, 65 days). Burial location unknown.
  Relatives: Son of Capt. George Fearing Hollis and Eliza A. (Simmons) Hollis; married 1898 to Lena Cogswell Hobbs; married 1918 to Alice Davidson.
  William Campbell Preston Breckinridge (1837-1904) — also known as William C. P. Breckinridge — of Lexington, Fayette County, Ky. Born in Baltimore, Md., August 28, 1837. Democrat. Colonel in the Confederate Army during the Civil War; lawyer; delegate to Democratic National Convention from Kentucky, 1876, 1880; U.S. Representative from Kentucky 7th District, 1885-95; defeated (Gold Democratic), 1896. Member, Freemasons; Knights Templar. In 1894, he was successfully sued for breach of promise by a former mistress; he acknowledged the affair, affair, but the scandal ended his political career. Died, of apoplexy, in Lexington, Fayette County, Ky., November 18, 1904 (age 67 years, 82 days). Interment at Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, Ky.
  Relatives: Son of Robert Jefferson Breckinridge and Ann Sophonisba (Preston) Breckinridge (1803-1844); brother of Robert Jefferson Breckinridge, Jr.; married, March 17, 1859, to Lucretia Hart Clay (1839-1860; daughter of Thomas Hart Clay); married, September 19, 1861, to Issa Desha (1843-1892; granddaughter of Joseph Desha); married to Louisa Rucks (Scott) Wing (1845-1920); father of Desha Breckinridge; nephew of Joseph Cabell Breckinridge, William Campbell Preston and John Smith Preston; uncle of Levin Irving Handy and Henry Skillman Breckinridge; grandson of John Breckinridge and Francis Smith Preston; grandnephew of James Patton Preston; granduncle of John Bayne Breckinridge; great-grandson of William Preston and William Campbell; great-grandnephew of William Cabell and Patrick Henry; first cousin of John Cabell Breckinridge and Peter Augustus Porter (1827-1864); first cousin once removed of James Douglas Breckinridge, Benjamin William Sheridan Cabell (1793-1862), James McDowell, John Buchanan Floyd, George Rogers Clark Floyd, Clifton Rodes Breckinridge and Peter Augustus Porter (1853-1925); first cousin twice removed of William Cabell, Jr. and William Henry Cabell; second cousin of Carter Henry Harrison, William Lewis Cabell and George Craighead Cabell; second cousin once removed of Valentine Wood Southall, Edward Carrington Cabell, Benjamin Earl Cabell and Carter Henry Harrison II; second cousin twice removed of Earle Cabell; third cousin of John William Leftwich and Stephen Valentine Southall.
  Political families: Marshall-Harrison-Randolph-Cabell family of Virginia; Breckinridge-Preston-Cabell-Henry family of Virginia; Kellogg-Seymour-Chapin-Adams family of Connecticut and New York; Walker-Bolling family of Huntsville, Alabama (subsets of the Three Thousand Related Politicians).
  See also congressional biography — Govtrack.us page — Find-A-Grave memorial
  John Gayfer Berry (1838-1923) — also known as John G. Berry — of Berryville, Otsego County, Mich. Born in 1838. Republican. Member of Michigan state senate 27th District, 1889-90; Michigan land commissioner, 1893-94; defeated, 1890; removed 1894. Removed from office as land commissioner, March 20, 1894. Died in 1923 (age about 85 years). Interment at Evergreen Hills Cemetery, Vanderbilt, Mich.
  Joseph F. Hambitzer — of Michigan. Michigan state treasurer, 1893-94. Removed from office as state treasurer, March 20, 1894. Burial location unknown.
  John Fitzpatrick (1844-1919) — of New Orleans, Orleans Parish, La. Born May 1, 1844. Democrat. Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Louisiana, 1880, 1884; mayor of New Orleans, La., 1892-96. In 1894, a suit was brought in an attempt to impeach and remove him from office based on a long list of malfeasance and corruption charges; a trial was held, and he was acquitted on all charges. Died April 8, 1919 (age 74 years, 342 days). Burial location unknown.
  See also Wikipedia article
  John W. Jochim — of Michigan. Secretary of state of Michigan, 1893-94. Removed from office, March 20, 1894. Burial location unknown.
  Edward Richard Folsom (1874-1923) — also known as Edward R. Folsom — of Irvington, Essex County, N.J. Born in North Urbana, Steuben County, N.Y., September 18, 1874. Charged, in 1894, of forging checks, bank robbery, and arson; pleaded guilty to two charges; sentenced to ten years in prison; pardoned and released in September 1897; coal dealer; mayor of Irvington, N.J., 1923; died in office 1923. Blackmailers threatening to expose his criminal past extorted money from him until he was nearly penniless; killed himself by an overdose of sedative, in Irvington, Essex County, N.J., September 26, 1923 (age 49 years, 8 days). Interment at Clinton Cemetery, Irvington, N.J.
  Relatives: Son of Frederick Lewis Folsom (1846-1921) and Martha (Layton) Folsom; married to Sara Elizabeth Keeler (1876-1958).
  See also Find-A-Grave memorial
  Eugene F. Vacheron — of Ozone Park, Queens, Queens County, N.Y. Lawyer; member of New York state assembly, 1894-95, 1901 (Queens County 3rd District 1894-95, Queens County 2nd District 1901); resigned 1895; charged with bribery in 1895; tried and acquitted, but resigned from the Assembly; convicted of grand larceny, February 28, 1912. Burial location unknown.
  Robert William Wilcox (1855-1903) — also known as Robert W. Wilcox — of Honolulu, Island of Oahu, Honolulu County, Hawaii. Born in Kahalu, Honuaula, Island of Maui, Maui County, Hawaii, February 15, 1855. Delegate to U.S. Congress from Hawaii Territory, 1900-03. Leader of the Hawaiian revolution of 1889; tried for treason, but acquitted by a jury. Was involved in the rebellion of 1895 and subsequently court-martialed, found guilty, and sentenced to death; the sentence was later commuted to 35 years; pardoned by the Hawaiian president in 1898. Died in Honolulu, Island of Oahu, Honolulu County, Hawaii, October 23, 1903 (age 48 years, 250 days). Interment at Catholic Cemetery, Honolulu, Island of Oahu, Hawaii.
  See also congressional biography — Govtrack.us page
  Louis Stern (c.1856-1901) — of St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minn. Born in Germany, about 1856. Democrat. Naturalized U.S. citizen; newspaper reporter; U.S. Commercial Agent (Consul) in Bamberg, 1893-1901. Jewish. Arrested and fined in Kissingen, Germany, 1895, for insulting the Baron von Thuengen; also charged with misrepresenting his 15-year-old son as being twelve in order to get cheaper passage to Europe for him on a steamship; the U.S. Consul General in Berlin asserted that Mr. Stern was "very harshly and unjustly treated". Depressed over financial problems and perceived anti-Semitism, he began neglecting his work; he was recalled as commercial agent in 1901, but remained at Bamberg; his failure to return money he had collected on behalf of U.S. citizens led to a judgement against him for 2,000 marks, which he was unable to pay; he died by self-inflicted gunshot, in the public gardens at Bamberg, Germany, June 10, 1901 (age about 45 years). Burial location unknown.
  Peter R. Morrissey (1859-1895) — of St. Louis, Mo. Born in St. Louis County, Mo., August 14, 1859. Democrat. Saloon keeper; arrested in December 1886 on federal charges of vote fraud; found guilty in April 1887, but released because the indictment did not specify that the ballots were for a federal office; indicted again soon after, but the charges were dropped in November; indicted for naturalization fraud in 1889, but not convicted; member of Missouri state senate 31st District, 1893-95; died in office 1895. Catholic. Irish ancestry. While in bed, he was shot twice with his own pistol, and killed, by his mistress, Maud Lewis, in her "house of ill repute", in St. Louis, Mo., May 13, 1895 (age 35 years, 272 days). After a dramatic and highly publicized trial, Maud Lewis was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to fifteen years in prison; she was pardoned by Gov. Lon Vest Stephens in January 1901. Interment at Calvary Cemetery, St. Louis, Mo.
  See also Find-A-Grave memorial
  John Looney (1865-1942) — also known as Patrick John Looney — of Rock Island, Rock Island County, Ill. Born in Ottawa, La Salle County, Ill., October 5, 1865. Lawyer; newspaper publisher; indicted with others in 1897 over a scheme to defraud the city of Rock Island in connection with a storm drain construction project; convicted, but the verdict was overturned on appeal; candidate for Illinois state house of representatives, 1900; created and led a crime syndicate in northwest Illinois, with interests in gambling, prostitution, extortion, and eventually bootlegging and automobile theft; indicted in 1907 on 37 counts of bribery, extortion, and libel, but acquitted; shot and wounded by hidden snipers on two occasions in 1908; on February 22, 1909, he was shot and wounded in a gunfight with business rival W. W. Wilmerton; on March 22, 1912, after publishing personal attacks on Rock Island Mayor Henry M. Schriver, he was arrested, brought to the police station, and severely beaten by the mayor himself; subsequent rioting killed two men and injured nine others; resumed control of the Rock Island rackets in 1921; in 1922, he was indicted for the murder of saloon keeper William Gabel, who had provided evidence against Looney to federal agents; arrested in Belen, N.M., in 1924, and later convicted of conspiracy and murder; sentenced to 5 years in prison for conspiracy and 14 years for murder; served 8 1/2 years. Irish ancestry. Died, of tuberculosis, in a sanitarium at El Paso, El Paso County, Tex., 1942 (age about 76 years). Burial location unknown.
  Relatives: Son of Patrick Looney and Margaret Looney; married 1892 to Nora O'Connor (died 1903); nephew of Maurice T. Maloney (1853?-?).
  See also Wikipedia article
  Joseph Bermel (1860-1921) — of Middle Village, Queens, Queens County, N.Y. Born in Brooklyn, Kings County, N.Y., April 8, 1860. Stonecutter; Newtown town supervisor in the 1890s; charged with financial irregularities; tried and acquitted; borough president of Queens, New York, 1906-08; resigned 1908; resigned as borough president after a grand jury presented charges against him, related to fraud and bribery in connection with the city's purchase of Kissena Park in Queens. Member, Elks; Royal Arcanum; Foresters. Died in Carlsbad, Czechoslovakia (now Karlovy Vary, Czechia), July 28, 1921 (age 61 years, 111 days). Interment at St. John's Cemetery, Middle Village, Queens, N.Y.
  Relatives: Son of Charles Bermel and Elizabeth (Cohn) Bermel; married, October 21, 1884, to Anna Mary Timmes.
  Bert McMullin — of Yell County, Ark. Member of Arkansas state senate, 1897. Arrested on May 15, 1897, after he shot at and barely missed J. N. Smithee, editor of the Arkansas Gazette, who refused to apologize for critical editorials. Burial location unknown.
  Joseph Andrew Iasigi (1848-1917) — also known as Joseph A. Iasigi — of Boston, Suffolk County, Mass. Born in Massachusetts, January 15, 1848. Consular Agent for France in Boston, Mass., 1873-77; Consul-General for Turkey in Boston, Mass., 1889-97; he failed to account for a trust fund, refused to answer questions, and fled to New York City; arrested there in February 1897 and extradited to Boston; charged with embezzlement of about $220,000; pleaded not guilty; tried and convicted in November 1897; sentenced to 14-18 years in prison; pardoned in 1909. Armenian and French ancestry. Died in Brookline, Norfolk County, Mass., January 24, 1917 (age 69 years, 9 days). Interment at Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Mass.
  Relatives: Son of Joseph Iasigi (1800-1877) and Eulalie (Loir) Iasigi (1821-1883); brother of Oscar Anthony Iasigi; married 1881 to Marie P. Homer; uncle of Nora Iasigi (who married William Marshall Bullitt).
  Political family: Marshall-Harrison-Randolph-Cabell family of Virginia (subset of the Three Thousand Related Politicians).
  See also Find-A-Grave memorial
  Charles Henry Meyer (1826-1898) — also known as Charles H. Meyer; Carl H. Meyer; Karl Heinrich Meyer — of Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pa. Born in Schleiz, Germany, March 15, 1826. Dry goods importer; banker; Consul for Germany in Philadelphia, Pa., 1872-98; silk ribbon manufacturer. German ancestry. Died in Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pa., August 14, 1898 (age 72 years, 152 days). During a lawsuit following his death, his successor as German Consul alleged that Mr. Meyer had defaulted with at least $11,000 of the consulate's funds; this was denied by the executors of his estate, and the outcome of the dispute is unknown. Interment at Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pa.
  Relatives: Son of Christoph Heinrich Meyer (1795-1856) and Marie (Felder) Meyer (1806-1881); married, April 16, 1857, to Sophie Karoline Wilhelmine Brossman (1829-1881).
  See also Find-A-Grave memorial
  Frederick John Mills (1865-1953) — also known as F. J. Mills — of Pocatello, Bannock County, Idaho; Pasadena, Los Angeles County, Calif. Born in Topsham, Orange County, Vt., April 29, 1865. Republican. Engineer; Lieutenant Governor of Idaho, 1895-97; served in the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War. Scottish ancestry. On October 3, 1899, in Salt Lake City, he shot and killed John C. O'Melveny, chief engineer of the Oregon Short Line Railroad; was arrested immediately and charged with first-degree murder; at trial, he claimed the homicide was justified by the "criminal intimacy" between O'Melveny and his wife, while he was away in military service; the jury acquitted him in only 15 minutes. Died in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, Calif., September 28, 1953 (age 88 years, 152 days). Burial location unknown.
  Relatives: Son of Samuel Mills and Elizabeth (Laird) Mills; married, April 19, 1893, to Laura Eliza Hopf (1874-1964).
  See also Wikipedia article
"Enjoy the hospitable entertainment of a political graveyard."
Henry L. Clinton, Apollo Hall, New York City, February 3, 1872
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