Thursday, January 1, 2015

Epaphroditus Champion (1756-1834), Epaphroditus Ransom (1798-1859), Epaphroditus Peck (1860-1938), Epaphroditus Champion Bacon (1811-1845)



   This
particular posting will be in four parts, as there are four men with the
unusual name of Epaphroditus who served their country in the political
arena. The first to be profiled, Epaphroditus Champion, is shown
above. Of the four, Champion is the only one to have been active in
politics at the national level, serving as a U.S. Representative from
Connecticut for nearly a decade.






  Epaphroditus
Champion was born April 6, 1756 in Westchester, Connecticut, the fifth
of nine children born to Colonel Henry Champion (1723-1795) and his wife
Deborah Brainard (1724-1789). In an interesting note to his childhood,
Epaphroditus was actually the second child of that name born to Henry
and his wife. The first Epaphroditus Champion was the second born son in
this family and died a tragic death at age 3 in 1752 when he was killed
by "being scalded in a vat of malt." It seems that when another son was born to Henry and his wife in 1756, this unusual first name was passed along to him!


 
 Young Epaphroditus attended common schools in the Westchester area and
during the Revolutionary War helped his father (a Colonel) drive a herd
of cattle into Valley Forge to feed General Washington's troops. In
1776 the then twenty-year old Champion was made assistant commissary to
General Joseph Trumbull (1737-1778), who earned distinction as the first
Commissary General of the Continental Army. 
In
1781 Champion married Ms. Lucretia Hubbard (1760-1836) with whom he had
three children, Lucretia Champion (1783-1882) who lived to be nearly 99
years old, Clarissa (1785-1801) and a son, Epaphroditus (1786-1841).


 
Throughout the 1780s and early 1790s, Champion served in the 24th
Regiment of the Connecticut state militia, working his way up from major
to lieutenant to finally, Brigadier General. Also during this time
Champion became well known in Connecticut business circles as a
merchant, shipowner and both an exporter and importer of goods. He is
also recorded as having "successfully conducted trade in the West Indies."
  In
1791 Champion was elected to the first of many terms in Connecticut
State Assembly, representing the county of Middlesex. His service here
extended fifteen years, and in 1807 won election as a Federalist to the
U.S. Representatives, serving for five terms in this body
  After
leaving Congress in 1817, Champion returned to Connecticut and soon
went back in his earlier business pursuits. In one of his last acts of
public service, Champion is recorded as serving as commissary-general of
provisions for army pensioners in 1832, two years before his death. He
died in East Haddam, Connecticut at the age of 78 on December 22, 1834
and was later interred in the River View Cemetery in that village. His
impressive gravestone gives note to his service in the military, and his
epitaph notes that "talents, benevolence and integrity characterized his spotless life."








    Next up is Mr. Epaphroditus Ransom,
a New Englander by birth who made his political mark in Michigan.
Ransom was originally born in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts on March
24, 1798, although the years 1787, 1796 and 1797 are variously given as
his birth year. Ransom was one of twelve children born to Ezekiel
(1763-1850) and his wife Lucinda Fletcher (died 1836) who were natives
of both Vermont and Connecticut.
 
 
Epaphroditus Ransom attended school at the Chester Academy in Vermont
and later began the study of law at the Northampton Law School in
Massachusetts, graduating from this institution with his law degree in
1823. Shortly afterwards he set up a law practice, and on February 21,
1827 married
 Ms.
Almira Cadwell (1804-1877),with whom he had four children, who are
listed as follows: Wyllys Cadwell Ransom (1828-1908), Elizabeth (died
aged one in October 1831), Antoinette (born in 1832) and Eugene
Beauharnais, who died aged five months in 1837.


  Ransom
began his political career in Vermont at a young age, winning election
as the District Attorney for Windham County in 1825 at age 27. In the
following year he was elected by the citizens of that county to a seat
in the Vermont State House of Representatives, and was reelected the
following year. 
In
1834, Ransom removed with his wife and children to the Michigan
Territory, following the earlier example of two of his siblings. 
After
arriving in Michigan in November 1834, Ransom set up another law
practice, and within a few years time had been elected as a circuit
court judge. In 1837 the Michigan Governor appointed Ransom as an
Associate Justice on the Michigan State Supreme Court. Ransom served
here until 1848, and during his last five years on the bench served as
the court's Chief Justice.




                           Another sketch of Ransom, done after his service as Governor.

  
   In
1848, Ransom was elected as Governor of Michigan, subsequently
resigning his seat on the court. It is remarked that Ransom was elected "by a majority vote of every county in the state",
and he was  also the first Michigan governor to be inaugurated in
Lansing (then called Lansing Township), which became the new state
capitol in 1847. During the Ransom governorship construction began on
the now famous Sault Ste. Marie canal and he was "also active in organizing and getting forward the Michigan quota of volunteers for the Mexican war."


  Ransom
served as Governor until 1850, and wasn't renominated by the Democratic
Party because of his anti-slavery stances. He was subsequently elected
to a term in the Michigan State legislature and held his seat from
1853-1854. Ransom is also recorded by the 
Historical Outline of the Ransom Family of America as being a prominent farmer in Kalamazoo, and engaged "extensively in the breeding of blooded stock, cattle, sheep, and swine and improving his beautiful estate."
 
   In
1855 Ransom lost most of his fortune courtesy of an ongoing financial
panic, and he eventually removed to Kansas in 1856.  Two years later he
was appointed by then President James Buchanan as the receiver for the
land office in Fort Scott, Kansas. It was here that Ransom died on
November 9, 1859 at age 61, and his body was then returned to Kalamazoo,
where he was buried in the Mountain Home Cemetery. Ransom was remarked
by the earlier mentioned Ransom family history as being "somewhat reserved, but easy of approach, and had a friendly response to all who greeted him." He was "also noted for his fine social qualities and his home was always open to friends."


  The rare portrait of Epaphroditus Ransom shown above was featured in the second volume of the Historical Outline of the Ransom Family of America, originally published in 1903 and was compiled by his son Wyllys Cadwell Ransom.




   The third Epaphroditus to be profiled here is the most obscure of the three. His name is Epaphroditus Peck,
born on May 20, 1860, and like Epaphroditus Champion before him, hailed
from Connecticut. Epaphroditus's parents Josiah and Ellen Barnard Peck,
were both residents of Bristol and had a total of four children,
Epaphroditus being the third born. 


 
 Peck is listed as graduating as valedictorian from Yale University in
the class of 1881 and ten years later became a founder of the Bristol
Public Library. He married in 1895 to Ms. Grace Brownell and during the
course of their marriage became the parents of three daughters, none of
whom survived past the age of four. They are listed as follows: Grace
(1892-1896), Dorothy (1897-1899) and Eleanor (1904-1907).


 
  After graduating from Yale, Peck opened a law practice in Bristol,
and over the next few decades became one of the most prominent members
of the Connecticut bar. His career in the public affairs began in 1895
he won election as Prosecuting Attorney for Bristol. He served in this
post for a decade and also during this time held a seat on the Hartford
County Court of Common Pleas from 1897-1912.


 
In addition to the above activities, Peck served as a instructor at the
Yale Law School from 1903-13, teaching courses in both
civil procedure and domestic relations. Late in his life Peck won
election to the Connecticut State Assembly, his first term beginning in
1925. Peck won re-election to the assembly in 1927, 1929, 1931 and 1933,
representing the town of Bristol throughout his service.
  Peck
was also highly regarded in his hometown as a knowledgeable man who
could converse on a variety of subjects relating to New England history.
In 1932 he authored a lengthy work relating to the history of his
native town of Bristol and in 1935 delivered the main address at the
15oth anniversary of Bristol's founding. He is also listed as being a
major contributor to the second edition of the English and American Encyclopedia of Law
Epaphroditus Peck
died on October 29, 1938 at age 78, and it is noted by some sources
that he had attended a Connecticut State Bar Association meeting the
week before his death. The rare portrait of Peck above appeared in the
1903 edition of Geer's Hartford City Directory and Hartford Illustrated. 


 And in a January 11, 2013 update, another political Epaphroditus has been discovered. Read on to find out more!





 From the Litchfield Historical Society's Litchfield Ledger webpage.
  Pictured above is Epaphroditus Champion Bacon
of Litchfield, Connecticut. Named in honor of his uncle Epaphroditus
Champion, Mr. Bacon died at the young age of 33 in 1845 but not before
having carved a notable (yet short) career for himself in Connecticut
political circles. 
Listed by most sources of the time as "E. Champion Bacon",
 Epaphroditus was born in Litchfield on September 2, 1811, the son of
Asa and Lucretia Champion Bacon. Lucretia Bacon (1783-1882) was the
daughter of the previously profiled Epaphroditus Champion and died aged
nearly 99 in 1882!
 
 Epaphroditus C. Bacon attended school in Litchfield and later enrolled
in the prominent Litchfield Female Academy from 1821-1823. Bacon
continued his education at the Goshen Academy in 1829 and four years
later entered from the Yale Law School. Sources also mention that Bacon
studied medicine for a short time in addition to his law studies. 
After
receiving his law degree Bacon removed from the confines of Litchfield
to Mobile, Alabama in 1835, where he soon after opened a law practice.
His stay in Mobile was short lived, as a bout of ill health and "
weakness of the lungs" caused him to return to Litchfield in 1838. 
  Bacon began to venture into politics in 1839, when he became a delegate
to the 1839-1840 Whig National Convention that nominated Gen. William
Henry Harrison for the Presidency. Bacon pulled double duty at this
convention by also serving as the secretary of the proceedings. In 1840
Bacon was elected to the Connecticut State House of Representatives from
Litchfield County, and won a second term the following year.
 
 
 Bacon's continuing health troubles eventually got the best of him,
necessitating a trip to Europe to better his health. While traveling in
Seville, Spain in January 1845 Bacon suffered a strangulated hernia that
led to his death on January 11. He was only 33 years old and his
demise certainly curtailed an already promising political career! His
body was eventually returned to Connecticut some weeks following his
death and he was later interred at the Strangers Cemetery in Litchfield.
Bacon never married and was survived by both his mother Lucretia and
father Asa.
 
 
The rare painting of Bacon shown above (completed by Anson Dickinson,
1779-1852) was located via the Litchfield Historical Society's webpage,
which gives a brief but highly informative overview of Bacon's short
life. This webpage also contains a color painting of the portrait of
Epaphroditus Champion shown at the very top of this article. 
For
those interested, the name Epaphroditus originates from an ancient
figure (Saint Epaphroditus) in the Orthodox and Catholic churches.


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