Saturday, November 1, 2008

Three ran for Political office; two won

I’ve hardly been active in political causes. Probably because I moved around the country so much, I did not really have a chance to get involved in local politics. However, I always did my patriotic duty and voted in every National election since I was 18. Matter of fact the age of voting was reduced from the age of 21 to 18 years shortly before my first vote in an election. The age was reduced because of the Vietnam war. Some of us can recall the slogan, “if you are old enough to die (in the war), then you are old enough to vote”.

Usually, one must have lots of money and be a lawyer to run for national office. I guess it figures that if the US Congress is going to make laws, then being a lawyer would help in the creation of new laws. Thank goodness we have a different branch of the government to interpret the laws. That’s not to say that lawyers always make good laws- just that they can read them. However, some of our first politicians were not lawyers. Benjamin Franklin was a printer and a scientist, was he not? George Washington was a surveyor, soldier, and plantation owner. And, the list could go on.

However, at least three persons that I know of in our extended family ran for an elected office. Two were coal miners in Pennsylvania and one was a proprietor of an Automobile dealership in Syracuse, New York.

Robert Russell was a coal miner for most of his life, but he worked his way up to be a mining engineer. In 1900 in Clearfield County, PA, he was elected to be school director of Woodward Township. A granddaughter of Robert’s, Mrs. Gladys Hilburt, nee. Russell, told me that Robert couldn’t read and write until his wife taught him. I believe this to be true since he went into the mines when he was a young lad back in County Durham, England. Robert Russell immigrated to America in 1881.

Above: Certificate of Election (results) for Robert Russell, the son Thomas Russell, the elder, and Jane McNelley, in the Woodward township, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania. Witnesses: Charles Lees, Joseph Shapless, and Frank Crago (Judge).

Above: Campaign card for Frank Ferdinand Kramp, son of Johann Kramp and Johanna Masche. Frank ran in the Republican Party for County Commissioner of Clearfield County, PA, on Tuesday, 20 September 1927. Frank lost the primary according to votes which were tabulated in the Clearfield Progress newspaper. Incidentally, Frank was cited as owning more than one percent of the stock of the Progress at one point. Frank was a coal mine operator of a company in Ramey Borough, Clearfield County. However, his company went broke at the time of the Wall Street crash of 1929, and apparently, he was not bailed out by the Government.

Finally, Clellan Scales Forsythe, son of Alexander Forsyth (no “e”) and Alma Emma, nee. Russell, won election for Councilman-at-large for Onondega County, New York. He ran on the Republican ticket. Clell, as he was known, began his career as a “trapper boy” in the coal mines of Pennsylvania, but rose successfully as businessman in the auto industry after his family moved to Syracuse about 1910. It seems that humble beginnings are always a mark of good character. Clellan's Dodge car dealership became one of the biggest company’s in New York. As Councilman, he ran a successful campaign for people to get out and vote. He helped Thomas E. Dewey win the gubernatorial race for New York. Dewey served three terms as a moderate Republican Governor of New York.

By the way, are you as tired as I am of opinion polls reported by the press and TV this election. I ignore them, as it is rediculous to think that someone else's opinion would influence my vote. Rather, I wish that the media would use more of my valuble time to discuss the issues. Indeed, back in 1948, Thomas Dewey was heavily favored to win a second bid for the Presidency against Harry Truman. In the late night edition on election day, the Chicago Daily Tribune jumped the gun and released the headline that Dewey was elected as the new President. However, the next morning, there was the front page picture of Harry Truman holding up the erronous report in the newspaper. Harry Truman had beat Dewey by a narrow margin in one of the nation's most famous political upsets . Hear, hear, you pollsters and ichy-finger mediapersons.

Clellan Forsythe was a game hunter and fisherman and fond of hosting an annual "game dinner" during which he hobnobbed it with a few big wigs around Syracuse, including the mayor. Today, such an event would not be so politically correct, especially among environmentalists and animal lovers.

NEWSPAPER ARTICLE: From Syracuse Herald Journal, 6 Dec 1939, p 14:

"Forsythe Entertains Friends at Annual Game Dinner"

"The second annual game dinner was given by Clellan S. Forsythe in the ballroom of the Onondaga Hotel last night. Fish, moose and duck, all bagged by Mr. Forsythe or such other "mighty hunters" as Mayor Rolland B Marvin and Clifford H Searle, were the chief features of an elaborate dinner, in a North Woods setting of trees and rocks, with which the dining room was decorated. Amid the trees and on little knolls of the landscape were stuffed specimens of forest wild life, bears, rabbits, beavers and other animals.

"There was no formal program, but colored moving pictures taken of a fishing party at the Triton Club in the Canadian woods by Mayor Marvin proved a feature of the evening. A reel depicting a moose hunt also was shown, but this had no Syracusans in the action. In addition to the fishing movies by the Mayor, motion pictures he took at the World's Fair were shown."

Unfortunately, Clellan Forsythe had a sad ending. While hunting pheasants with his brother on an island they owned on Lake Ontario, Clellan somehow accidentally discharged his shotgun and fatally wounded himself. The brother, John Russell Forsythe, said that Clellan slumped over the gun while he was sitting in the car, apparently the victum of a heart attack. More can be found in his obituary.

This family history story was submitted to the 59th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy whose topic this week was “Politics of our Ancestors”. To see what other Genealogical Bloggers wrote on the topic go to Jasia's Creative Gene blog


1. Robert Russell and Clellan Forsythe (son of Mrs. Alma Emma Forsyth, nee. Russell) can be further indentified within the family tree by going to "Introduction to the first generation RUSSELL Line". Pardon me, but I have yet to compose an introduction to the Kramp Line. Please re-visit.

2. Former President Truman holds up front page of Chicago Daily Tribune with the famous erronous headline, "Dewey Defeats Truman" (from Wikipedia).

1 comment:

Ryan said...

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