Friday, October 20, 2017

Watterson Grady Sidwell (1893-1967)

Portrait from the 1933 Tennessee legislative composite.

    A three term member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Watterson Grady Sidwell would also serve as a bank president, Democratic National Convention delegate and judge of the Clay County General Sessions Court. The son of John Epison and Mattie Ann (Bennett) Sidwell, W. Grady Sidwell was born in Lillydale, Tennessee on May 13, 1893. A student in the public schools of Celina, Tennessee, Sidwell would graduate from the Burritt College in 1915 and three years later was admitted to the Tennessee bar. Sources also denote Sidwell as a veteran of World War I, but aside from noting the duration of his enlistment (four months), little else could be found on his military service
   Sidwell continued his legal education at Vanderbilt University, earning his bachelor of laws degree in the class of 1919. Within a short period following his graduation Sidwell had established his law practice in Celina, Tennessee and in 1928 was elected to his first political office, that of trustee for Clay County. He served in that capacity until 1931 and in the following year was elected to the Tennessee General Assembly from the 12th floterial district. During the 1933-35 session Sidwell sat on the committee on Military Affairs and in 1934 was elected to a second term in the assembly. Sidwell's two terms in the assembly were subsequently acknowledged in the 1938 edition of Prominent Tennesseans, which remarked that
"In this position he made a creditable record for himself and a satisfactory service to his constituents."

   At the conclusion of his second term in 1937 Sidwell returned to Celina, where in the coming years he would serve on the city council as well as city attorney. In 1940 he served as part of the Tennessee delegation to the Democratic National Convention held in Chicago and in 1949 was returned to political life when he was named as judge of the Clay County Court of General Sessions, a post he would hold only a year. Also in 1949 Sidwell began a twelve year tenure as President of the Bank of Celina, succeeding to that post upon the death of sitting bank president E.P. Fowler.

                                                      From the 1935 Tennessee General Assembly composite.

  Active in several fraternal groups in Clay County, Sidwell was a member of the Celina Lions Club, Shriners, the Canton Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, and the American Legion. In 1953 he was a Clay County delegate to the Tennessee Constitutional Convention and in November 1956 won election to a third term in the state assembly. W. Grady Sidwell died on April 8, 1967 at age 73, succumbing to a heart attack at a Clay County hospital. he was survived by his wife Mary Sue (Maxwell) Sidwell, who, following her death in 1985, was interred alongside her husband at the Fitzgerald Cemetery in Celina.

From the 1957 Tennessee Assembly composite.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Orceneth Asbury Fly (1894-1976)

Portrait from the Hondo Anvil Herald, April 6, 1955.

   A longtime civic leader and prominent citizen in Hondo, Texas, Orceneth Asbury Fly can rightfully be called the oddest named mayor this Medina County city ever produced, and in addition to his two terms as mayor was a druggist in that city for over five decades. Born in Utopia, Texas on February 16, 1894, Orceneth Asbury "O.A." Fly was the son of John Sidney and Annalee (Fisher) Fly. Bestowed the unusual names Orceneth Asbury upon his birth, Fly's unsual name may have connection to Orceneth Asbury Fisher (1803-1880), a widely known Methodist minister who spent a good portion of his later life in Texas.
  O.A. Fly attended school in Hondo and following graduation from that city's high school continued study at the Coronel Institute in San Marcos and the University of Texas' Pharmacy School at Galveston. Following his graduation in January 1917 Fly began his career as pharmacist, briefly residing in Laredo and San Antonio before returning to Hondo. He married in May 1917 to Willie LeRoy Barton (1894-1967), to whom he was wed for fifty years. The couple's lengthy union would produce four childrenOrceneth Asbury Jr. (1918-1972), Frances Ruth (1921-2004), William Sidney (born 1925) and the Rev. Richard Fly (1930-1959).
  In January 1919 Fly returned to Hondo and shortly after his return "purchased a half interest" in the Martin Drug Store. Following the purchase the store underwent a name change to the Fly Drug Co. He would remain connected with this business for over fifty years (retiring in January 1970) and was later joined by his sons William Sidney and Orceneth Asbury Jr., the latter also being surgeon based in Houston. During its existence the Fly Drug Co. would carry not only medical supplies and pharmaceuticals but also "sundries, candy, tobacco, gift items, school supplies and the like", as well as sporting goods.
   While prominent in Hondo business circles, O.A. Fly also stood tall in city civic affairs, being a past president of the Chamber of Commerce and Hondo Lions Club, a past master of the local Masonic lodge, as well as a Shriner. Fly also was a longstanding member of the Southwest Texas Pharmaceutical Association and the National Association of Retail Druggists.
   O.A. Fly entered Hondo political life in the late 1940s when he was elected to the city council. In February 1953 Fly announced his candidacy for mayor of Hondo, following incumbent mayor Bob Kollman's announcement that he wouldn't be seeking reelection. In April of that year Fly won the mayorality and would serve two terms in that post. Upon entering the mayor's office, Fly envisioned a bright future for Hondo, remarking
"I want many things for Hondo but especially I would like to see all our streets paved, curbs and sidewalks laid, a federal building, a city hall,  a city library, a large park and city playground. Also, I would like for Hondo to have a zoning ordinance, a standard building code, improved traffic regulations, a stricter enforcement on vaccinating and tagging dogs, a cleaner city and a continuation of the friendly hospitality with which Hondoans make visitors and newcomers feel at home in Hondo."
O.A. Fly at work, from the February 17, 1967 Hondo Anvil Herald.

   Fly's second term as mayor concluded in April 1957 and was succeeded by Dr. Thomas Knopp. In 1967 Fly celebrated not only the five decade anniversary of his entering the druggist trade but also his fiftieth wedding anniversary. He and his wife were subsequently feted with a large party at their home in June of that year, which was attended by over 150 guests from all across the country. Sadly, just two months following their anniversary, Willie Barton Fly died at age 72. In the year following his wife's passing O.A. Fly remarried to Emilia "Millie" Eckhart, to whom he was wed until her death in April 1974
  In January 1970 the Fly Drug Co. was purchased from Fly and his son William by Dan B. Conoly Jr., with the business continuing under the name Dan's Drug Inc. Following his retirement O.A. Fly continued prominence in Hondo, being a member of the Board of Stewards for the Hondo Methodist Church. He died that city on February 3, 1976, just two weeks shy of his 82nd birthday. He was later interred alongside his wife Willie at the Oakwood Cemetery in the Hondo cemetery complex.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Orba Ollie McCurdy (1895-1964)

Portrait from the "Calyx", Washington and Lee Yearbook, 1917.

  Vernon, Texas attorney Orba Ollie McCurdy was a veteran of World War I who would become active in Wilbarger County politics following his return from service, winning election as county prosecuting attorney and county judge. The son of L.E. and Minta Virginia (McDonald) McCurdy, Orba Ollie "O.O." McCurdy was born on November 29, 1895 in Harrold, Texas. Early in his life his family relocated to Vernon, Texas, where he would attend public schools. Deciding upon a career in law, McCurdy studied at both Valparaiso University in Indiana and Washington and Lee University in Virginia, earning his degree from the latter in 1917
  Following American entry into World War I McCurdy enlisted in the Marines, and he would subsequently be stationed at a barracks in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic beginning in 1918. He would hold the rank of sergeant at the time of his discharge and after returning stateside married in 1921 to Josephine Wardlaw (1899-1985), to whom he was wed until his death. The couple are believed to have been childless.
   In 1924 McCurdy won election as County Attorney for Wilbarger County and served two terms in that post (1925-1929). In the early 1940s McCurdy held the presidency of the Vernon Bar Association and in 1945 was elected as its secretary-treasurer. In 1942 he had won election to the first of three terms as Judge of Wilbarger County, and after serving six years on the bench stepped down in early 1949 and returned to practicing law, opening his office at the Herring Bank Building in Vernon
  Active in the American Legion, Rotary Club, Lions Club and the Masons, McCurdy continued to reside in Vernon until his death at home on June 4, 1964 at age 69. He was survived by his wife Josephine, and a burial location for both he and his wife remains unknown at this time.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Blucher Haynes Erskine (1849-1929)

Portrait from Personnel of the Texas State Government, 1889.

    After several weeks of profiling a number of unusually named New England political figures we journey south to Frio County, Texas and Blucher Haynes Erskine. A farmer and stock raiser, Erskine represented Frio County in the Texas House of Representatives for three terms beginning in 1889. A lifelong Texas resident, Blucher H. Erskine was born in Guadalupe County on August 10, 1849, the eldest son of Andrew Nelson (1826-1862) and Annie T. Erskine (1826-1914). 
   Erskine attended schools local to Guadalupe County and was left fatherless at just thirteen years of age, with Andrew Erskine losing his life at the Battle of Antietam. Blucher Erskine married in May 1872 to Ada Cotton (1850-1939) and would have four sons, Andrew Nelson (1873-1954), John P. (born 1875), Blucher Haynes Jr. (1880-1963) and Fredrick Paul (1885-1958). 
  After entering young adulthood Erskine began a career in milling and stockraising, first in Guadalupe County and later in Frio County. Following his removal to the latter county he became one of that area's leading cattlemen, and in 1884 journeyed to St. Louis to take part in the First National Convention of Cattle Growers of the United States. A representative from the Frio County Stock Association to that meeting, Erskine served on the committees on Credentials, Permanent Organization and Resolutions during the convention proceedings.
  In November 1888 Erskine was elected to represent Frio County (and the rest of the 21st district) in the Texas House of Representatives. Taking his seat at the start of the 1889-91 session, Erskine was named to committees on Finance, Internal Improvements, Lands and Land Office, Public Debt, Stocks and Stock Raising, and Roads, Bridges and Ferries. He would also chair the committee on Irrigation. Erskine won his second term in the house in November 1890 and during that legislative session held a number of new committee assignments, including Finance, State Asylums and chairing the committee on Claims and Accounts.
  Erskine's third win at the ballot box occurred in November 1892, and during his final stint in the legislature chaired the committee on Public Lands and the Land Offices, as well as serving on the Finance and Military affairs committees. Following his time in government Erskine returned to raising short horn cattle and was acknowledged as a "liberal contributor to stock journals of the country." Sadly, Erskine encountered financial hardship in his later years, and in July 1919 wrote the following letter to the Shorthorn World cattle journal:
"Years of drouth [sic] and financial misfortune forced me completely out of the cattle business and I reluctantly parted with my Shorthorns in 1918 after over forty years--1875-1918 as a Shorthorn breeder. I felt like a man suddenly jerked from near the top of the ladder. I had to rub my bruises awhile before trying to mount again. Although nearly 70 years old, I am going to try in a small way, as my little money left will allow me to enter the ''ranks" again and when the final call comes, die a Shorthorn breeder."
   Erskine's last years were spent in Cometa, Crystal City, Texas and during this time was an avid researcher of his family's history, work that would see him author a piece on his father's exploits (published in the June 1927 issue of the Frontier Times Magazine) as well as compiling a 116 page biography entitled "Life of Andrew Nelson Erskine, 1826-1862". Blucher Haynes Erskine died at age 80 on December 20, 1929, with burial occurring at his ranch in Crystal City, Texas.

From the Personnel of the Texas State Government, 1892.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Parsons Brainard Cogswell (1828-1895)

Portrait from the Proceedings of the New Hampshire Historical Society, Vol. 3.

"Always a plain man of the people, he recognized no cliques or classes as an editor or public man. He greeted the poor and rich alike, and in the days of his prosperity never failed to remember the companions of his hours of toil at the compositor's case or the printing press. This characteristic made warm friends of all who knew him,  but he had others which were only known to his nearer and more intimate associates."
   Such was the memorial given to Parsons Brainard Cogswell, one of New Hampshire's preeminent newspaper publishers and editors during the 19th century. In addition to success in his chosen field, Cogswell also made an impact in Granite State political life, being a two term state representative, New Hampshire state printer and Mayor of Concord. The fifth born son of David and Hannah (Haskell) Cogswell, Parsons Brainard Cogswell was born in Henniker, New Hampshire on January 22, 1828. 
  Cogswell's formative years were spent on the farm and his education was centered during the winter months at district schools. For an eight month period Cogswell attended an academy in Clinton Grove, where, under the tutelage of principal Moses Cartland, he first became "strongly attached to anti-slavery tenets and temperance." At the age of just 19 Cogswell was called to enter the printing trade, and in 1847 joined the staff of the Independent Democrat in Concord. During his two years in their offices Cogswell gained wide knowledge of the printer's daily activities and by 1849 had moved on to the New Hampshire Patriot, also located in Concord. His three year tenure on the Patriot staff also saw him employed for several weeks in Massachusetts, working with the Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph newspapers.
  In 1852 Cogswell left the New Hampshire Patriot to join the print firm of Tripp and Osgood, where he was in engaged in "book and job work." In March 1854 he and Abraham Gates Jones (a future Mayor of Concord) pooled resources and together purchased the aforementioned business, which they operated until 1858, after which Cogswell "assumed whole control of the business." He continued along this route until 1863 when he took on George Sturtevant as a partner, and in May of the following year they launched the Concord Daily Monitor, notable for being the first daily newspaper to be issued in the city. While being one of the paper's founders, Cogswell had a hand in nearly every aspect of the paper's production, serving
"In every editorial department, as local, associate and managing editor, and as an editorial writer, wielding a vigorous pen, and contributing with strength to every department of the paper." 
   Several years after its founding the Daily Monitor was consolidated with two other papers, those being the Independent Democrat and the New Hampshire Statesman. Cogswell (as a member of the Republican Press Association, the guiding light behind the consolidation) maintained a large presence in the Monitor's continued production, being at various times managing editor and editor in chief.
   Parsons B. Cogswell first entered the political life of Concord in 1858, when he won a seat on the Union school district's school committee. In the following year he began a lengthy tenure on the Concord city board of education, continuing to serve until his death in 1895. Cogswell also held the presidency of that board for several years and for nearly two decades was its financial agent.


From a bookplate in the collection of the Concord Public Library.

   In 1871 Parsons Cogswell was elected as one of Merrimack County's representatives to the New Hampshire General Court, and in 1872 won a second term. His terms in the legislature saw him sit on the committees on the Asylum For the Insane and Bills in the Second Reading. During these terms Cogswell also served as president of the New Hampshire Press Association (1872-75) and in 1876 was its recording secretary. 
   1877 saw Cogswell embark on an extended journey through California, Oregon and several other states, whilst later visiting Canada. He would continue his travels into 1878 and 1879, venturing across the Atlantic Ocean to traverse "Europe, the Holy Land and Egypt". During his travels overseas Cogswell documented his journey through letters published in the Daily Monitor and the Independent Statesman. Due to a growing interest from those paper's subscribers, Cogswell's travelogues were later published in book form following his return stateside in 1880, under the title Glints From Over the Water
   Cogswell returned to Granite State political life in June 1881 when he entered into the post of New Hampshire State Printer, an office he'd continue to hold until 1885. During his term Cogswell oversaw the publishing of numerous works relating to early New Hampshire history, including documents related to the state constitutional conventions of 1778-79 and 1781-83, rolls of New Hampshire soldiers during the Revolutionary War, and census statistics for the state. 
   Active in a number of non-political areas in Concord, Cogswell was for many years a trustee of the state library and a past president of both the Concord Commercial Club and the New Hampshire Historical SocietyOn September 22, 1888 Cogswell married to Helen Buffam Pillsbury (1843-1929), the daughter of noted New Hampshire abolitionist and reformer Parker Pillsbury (1809-1898). Despite marrying late in life (as well as a fifteen year age difference between them) Cogswell and his wife's family had been extremely close for a number of years prior, as he had boarded with the family beginning in 1848. Parker Pillsbury would in turn have a large effect on Cogswell, who early in his life embraced many of Pillsbury's ideas in regards to social activism, women's rights and the abolition of slavery. Cogswell would put much of what he learned from his future father-in-law into action during his time as director of the lyceum in Concord, inviting reform minded speakers to lecture on a broad range of topics, including prohibition and equal rights.
   In 1892 Cogswell returned to government service when he was appointed by then President Benjamin Harrison as U.S. Inspector of Immigrants at Concord, holding that post until his resignation in January of the following year. In the same year as his appointment as immigrant inspector Cogswell was elected as Mayor of Concord, and entered into his duties in January 1893. During his term he spoke at the dedication of the new state library building and was "interested in all measures tending to improve Concord." 
   Parsons Cogswell's term as mayor concluded in January 1895 and on October 28th of that year died of pneumonia at his home in Concord. News of his passing made the pages of the New York Sun within a day of his death, and he was subsequently memorialized as a
"Faithful and painstaking servant of the people, seeking with perseverance the ends he believed to be good, and striving with the utmost success to perform his whole duty in whatever station he found himself."
  Helen Pillsbury Cogswell survived her husband by three decades, dying at age 86 in October 29, 1929, one day after the thirty-fourth anniversary of Cogswell's passing. Following her death she was interred alongside him in the Cogswell-Pillsbury family plot at the Blossom Hill Cemetery in Concord. 


From the New York Sun, October 29, 1895.

Portrait from the History of the Eleventh New Hampshire Regiment, Volunteer Infantry.

  While the Cogswell family could boast of one oddly named politician in Parsons B. Cogswell, attention must also be given to his older brother Leander Winslow Cogswell, who, while not having as unusual a name, left a lasting mark in Granite State politics. A veteran of the Civil War, Cogswell attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in Co. D. of the Eleventh Regiment, New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry.
  In 1865 he was elected to the first of four terms as Henniker's representative to the New Hampshire General Court (serving from 1866, 1867 and 1870, 1871) and from 1871-72 served as state treasurer. Cogswell later served five years one of New Hampshire's savings bank commissioners from 1876-81 and died in Henniker on January 21, 1906 at age 80.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Dauphin White Wilson (1810-1892)

Portrait from the History of the town of Sullivan, New Hampshire, 1777-1917, Vol II.

   Our theme of oddly named New England political figures continues with the addition of Dauphin White Wilson, a two term member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives from the town of Sullivan. The son of John and Betsy (Nims) Wilson, Dauphin White Wilson was born in Sullivan on August 18, 1810. Bestowed the names Dauphin White upon his birth, Wilson's unusual name honored Dauphin White (1788-1810), a rising young citizen of Sullivan who died in December 1810, and was acknowledged "as one of the most brilliant young men of the town, possessed of remarkable intelligence. Nearly a dozen boys of the town and vicinity were named for him."
   A member of the local militia during his youth, Dauphin Wilson married on November 3, 1836 to Ruth Mason, to whom he was wed for fifty-six years. The couple would have one son who died in infancy in 1837. Through the succeeding years Wilson rose to become a prominent figure in Sullivan, being a farmer, schoolteacher, carpenter and a man of verse. Remarked as being a "fair poet" and "true balladest", Wilson is noted as having had 
"The true spirit of poetry in his nature, but had never given any attention to the laws of meter, and the metrical arraignment of many of his poems is seriously defective. His poem, printed on page 70 of this book [the History of the town of Sullivan] sounds like an old time ballad and is of that nature.....He had a sentimental turn of mind and was particularly attached to his native town. Every object of interest which ever existed in the town was treasured by him in memory."
  Active in the political affairs of Sullivan, Wilson held several town offices, including justice of the peace, school board clerk, hog-reeve, juror and treasurer (serving in the latter in 1838.) In 1850 he was elected as one of Sullivan County's representatives to the New Hampshire legislature and during the 1851 session held no committee assignments. In 1860 Wilson won a second term in the legislature and, as was the case in his previous term, held no committee assignments
  1886 proved to be an important year for Wilson and his wife, as they not only celebrated their golden wedding anniversary (an event that was celebrated in the photograph below) but also removed from Sullivan to the neighboring town of Keene. Wilson returned to politics that year when he served on the Keene Common Council from Ward 1, and continued to reside in that city until his death at age 81 on March 17, 1892. His wife Ruth survived him by six years, and following her death in 1898 was interred alongside her husband at the Sullivan Center Cemetery in Sullivan.


Dauphin Wilson and his wife are seated in the above photo. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Liba Conant Morrison (1828-1900)

Portrait from the History of Northfield, New Hampshire, 1780-1905.

   An obscure resident of the town of Northfield in New Hampshire, Liba Conant Morrison represented that town in his state's legislature for one term in the mid 1870s. A son of Ebenezer and Elizabeth (Lyford) Morrison, Liba Conant Morrison was born in Northfield on May 13, 1828. Named in honor of the Rev. Liba Conant (1793-1881), a prominent Congregationalist minister in Northfield, Liba Morrison married in May 1859 to Mary Chase Hill (1835-1898). The couple's near four decade marriage is believed to have been childless.
  A tanner for the majority of his life, Morrison and his brother Ebenezer (along with their father) are recorded as building a steam mill for their work near Sanbornton Bridge, and that the mill was "destroyed by fire after the business declined." Following this Morrison followed farming and in 1875 was elected as one of Merrimack County's representatives to the New Hampshire legislature.  Serving in the session of 1876-77, Morrison was named to the committee on Fisheries. Little else is known of Morrison's life after his term in state government, excepting notice of his death at the home of his niece on July 11, 1900. A burial location for both he and his wife remains unknown at this time.

A  New Hampshire legislative roster from 1876.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Minthorne Dyckman Tompkins (1841-1904)

Portrait courtesy of Find-A-Grave.

   A descendant of one of New York's prominent political families, Minthorne Dyckman Tompkins' story is one of the more interesting ones you'll read about here, as he is the first political figure to have been a fireman by occupation. A member of Hook and Ladder Engine Company No. 1 in New York City, Tompkins etched his name into New York fire department history when he became the first man to be award a medal of valor, this award extending from his heroic actions a year prior while rescuing a woman from a burning hotel building. Following his retirement from the department in 1883 Tompkins and his family removed to Connecticut, and in 1885 was elected to that state's house of representatives from Stonington.
   The son of George Clinton and Sarah Minthorne (Watson) Tompkins, Minthorne Dyckman Tompkins was born in New York City on July 20, 1841. A member of one of New York's most prestigious families, Tompkins' uncle was none other than Daniel D. Tompkins (1774-1825), former New York Governor, Congressman and Vice President of the United States under James Monroe. In addition to the Vice President, the family could count Westchester County Judge and U.S. Representative Caleb Tompkins amongst their ranks, and sported another odd name politician in Mangle Minthorne Tompkins (1807-1881), a former state senator and candidate for Governor in 1852.
   Young Minthorne's early education occurred at Grammar School No. 13 in New York City and he later attended the Forsyth Academy at White Plains. After leaving that school in 1860 Tompkins began a five year clerkship in the Quartermaster's Department in New York City, from which he resigned in 1865. In that year he was appointed to the New York City Fire Department, which had become a paid force just three years prior
  By 1868 Tompkins had attained the rank of assistant foreman for the Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, and on November 14th of that year he and other department members were dispatched to combat a rapidly spreading fire that had broken out at the Stewart House, a restaurant and hotel located at 480 Broadway in lower Manhattan. Fourteen of the hotel's occupants had become trapped by the flames, with no escape routes possible. After ladders had been positioned against the building, Tompkins began a trek to the building's upper floors. Hearing screams and seeing a woman trapped by flames above him, Tompkins reached the top rung of the long wooden ladder and amongst the smoke, steadied himself on the top rung. After positioning his frame against the side of the building, Tompkins directed the woman out of the window and onto his shoulders, after which he precariously made the climb downward to the street
   After seeing that the woman had been attended to, Tompkins led his fellow firefighters back into the building to continue search and rescue operations, while hose teams contained the fire to the "rear portion of the building." Their efforts led to several more people being rescued and extracted from the building, with Tompkins himself continuing work even though he had received injury early in the rescue operation. 

Tompkins as he appeared in the New York Herald in November 1910.

   Several months after the Stewart House fire New York Herald publisher James Russell Bennett Sr. (1795-1872) endowed fifteen hundred dollars to be used towards the striking of a medal to be issued annually to a fire department member who had exhibited an exemplary act of heroism. The then recently established FDNY Board of Merit, knowing of Tompkins' actions, awarded him the Bennett Medal in April 1869, making Tompkins the first FDNY officer to be so honored
   Promoted to Lieutenant in 1868, Tompkins attained the rank of Captain three years later and in November 1871 married in Groton, Connecticut to Ellen Wilcox (1846-1889), a resident of Stonington. The couple would have at least one son, Odell Dyckman (1872-1962). In 1883 Tompkins was honorably discharged from the fire department due to physical disability. In the following year he and his family removed to Mystic, Connecticut, and within a short period of his resettlement had become a leading figure in the area, becoming a Grand Juror for the city of Stonington and a founder of Mystic Hook and Ladder Company No. 1. 
   In 1885 Tompkins was elected to the Connecticut General Assembly as a representative from Stonington and during the 1886 session would be named to the committee on claims. Widowed in 1889, Tompkins died in Stonington on March 15, 1904 at age 62. He and his wife (as well as their son Odell) were all interred at the Elm Grove Cemetery in Stonington.