Politics and Our Ancestors: Finally, it’s a COG topic I really know. After all, the man at the center of my non-genealogical historical research was a politician–specifically a United States Representative–from turn-of-the-century slightly rural Pennsylvania. Though he was primarily a private businessman, his two-term Washington career ultimately became his best-known and most-hyped accomplishment. However, being a persistent researcher such as I am, I soon discovered there was a lot to his Congressional doings that the mainstream local histories and county biographies, well–just forgot to mention. And, at the same time, I found that I was uncovering an interestingly familiar story, one that in this turbulent political season may just prove that some things don’t entirely change with time.
[This article is written for the 54th Carnival of Genealogy, which is to be posted at What’s Past is Prologue.]
The topic for this edition of Carnival of Genealogy is: “The Family Language…Does your family use words and phrases that no one else knows or understands? Where did they come from? Did you ever try to explain your ‘family language’ to outsiders? Tell a story about your family-coined words, phrases, or nicknames.”
Well, at first this didn’t seem to have much relevance to my own historical research, but that thing about the nicknames caught my attention. Family-coined words and phrases may not apply, but unusual nicknames–that certainly does apply!
Monroe Kulp (1858-1911), the prominent Shamokin, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania native foremost in my research, was frequently known by the nickname of “Farmer.” You’ll notice it just about anywhere in reference to him–recent local history books, even newspaper articles from his own time. However, he had no direct connection to farming, and thus the source of the nickname has always been a bit of a mystery.
…has finally arrived on microfilm at my local library!
There are NINE separate reels! Whew! They included the latter part of the 53rd Congress (I didn’t actually ask for this, but it may be useful), the 54th, and the early part of the 55th. For some reason, the remainder of the 55th was not included, but that is all right for now.
So. Where to start? Well, I began by looking for the first session of the 54th. Apparently, it’s arranged very conveniently with an index to both members of the House and Senate, and to specific bills and resolutions, included at the beginning of the reel. One thing I find confusing: Apparently the session began in December of 1895, over a year after the election in November 1894. I was under the impression that it began in March 1894; in fact I’m absolutely sure that this was when he officially became a member, as opposed to a member-elect. So, is there something I don’t know here? Feel free to enlighten!
Anyway, I of course checked the index first, and there was a lot of info. The complete entry is as follows:
Kulp, Monroe H. (a Representative from Pennsylvania)
Appointed on committees 284.
Leave of absence granted to 91, 271, 285, 287, 1352, 2389, 2907.
Bills and joint resolutions introduced by
Berwick, Pa: donating cannon to Grand Army post at
Berwick, Pa: donating cannon to high school at
Bloomsburg, Pa: donating cannon and muskets to
Bloomsburg (Pa.) Monumental Association: donating cannon to
Brewster, John T: for relief
Campbell, William D: for relief
Catawissa (Pa.) Monumental Association: donating cannon to
Downing, Eugene: to remove charge of desertion
Heinze, Christen: to remove charge of desertion
Kline, Marian J: to pension
Kline, Marvin J: to pension
Kobel, Isaac: to pension
Koons, Eliza: to pension
Milton, Pa: donating cannon to Grand Army post at
O’Brien, Michael: to pension
Ogden, William: to pension
Salzman, Frederick: for relief
Schrout, Philip: to remove charge of desertion
Shamokin, Pa: to erect public building at
Shamokin, Pa: donating cannon to Grand Army post at
Shuman, Henry W: for relief
Swan and Lewis and Butler–canal boats: fo relief of owners
Tate, McCurdy: for relief
Towers, Alfred George: to remove charge of desertion
Watsontown, Pa: donating cannon to Grand Army post at
Williams, M.A.: for relief
Petitions and papers presented by, from
Berwick, Pa: Patriotic Order Sons of America: against Marquette statue
Danville, Pa., Grand Army of Republic: for service pension bill
Pennsylvania, citizens of: for Stone immigration bill
—against sectarian aid
—for amendment to Constitution
—citizens of Columbia County: relative to unclaimed pension money
—farmers of Columbia County and others: for protection of agricultural staples
—citizens of Limestoneville: for protection of agricultural staples
—citizens of Milton: for protection of agricultural staples
Pennsylvania Millers’ State Association and others: to secure better market for agricultural products
Pennsylvania Patriotic Order Sons of America: for Stone immigration bill
Pennsylvania Patrons of Husbandry: for protection of agricultural staples
Philadelphia (Pa.) Grand Army post: to revive grade of Lieutenant-General
Puckett, Greenville: for relief
Shamokin (Pa.) city council: for recognition of Cuban belligerents
Shamokin, Pa., Daughters of Liberty: for Stone immigration bill
Shamokin (Pa.) Lincoln Post: upholding President’s Venezuelan message
Shunk, Pa., Patriotic Order Sons of America: for Stone immigration bill
Reports made by, from
Committee on the Public Lands
Fort Assinniboine Military Reservation
Except for the first few entries, I have left out the page numbers and references, but this provides an excellent overview of basically what he was doing in Congress from December 1895 to February 1896 (yes, many more indexes to go through!). I followed up on a few of the references that seemed most intriguing, but couldn’t find any additional information–both the Record itself and the index to bills and resolutions were basically a repetition of what the index said.
So, what was most intriguing? First of all, the mention of a public building in Shamokin. In the Record this bill was described as: “A bill…to appropriate the sum of $60,000 to purchase a site and erect a public building at Shamokin, Pa.–to the Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds.” No additional specifications anywhere, I’m afraid, as far as I can tell anyway. I’ve been trying to think of a specific local public building that was built around that time, but with no luck. The city hall came to mind but that was in 1894.
Also, Henry W. Shuman was a relative of his–his brother-in-law’s father. More specifically, the father of Edwin Shuman ( 1848-1888 ) who was married to MHK’s sister Joanna. I was unable to check the Record for information about this, as it was on another reel and I was pressed for time, but I did check the index to bills and it listed the following description: “To reimburse Mrs. Henry W. Shuman, widow of the late Henry W. Shuman, of Pennsylvania. Introduced by Mr. Kulp and referred to the Committee on War Claims.”
Back to the index: A very interesting read. A lot of superfluous bills, I noticed, for example the cannon in Berwick. But from what I can tell, at least he apparently did what he said he would–his campaign was mostly based on the promise that he would support the farmer and soldier, and there are quite a few references to pensions and agriculturalists. And, of course, this is only late 1895 to early 1896! I wonder if I can read everything by the time it’s due back on August 22…yes, I believe so! 🙂
At about 9:30 this morning, Andy, the one who was to drive me there, arrived and we set off for the Sunbury courthouse. After a fine drive, we came to Sunbury at about 10. The mom and I proceeded to the courthouse while Andy went off to walk about the park on the median, across from the courthouse building.
As usual, I didn’t have much time there. Think Andy said something about an appt. He is very busy; it was so kind of him to drive me there while my car was being such an old biddy. 🙂 Thanks Andy! Every minute spent there counts.
Well, I’ve just gotten back from Pottsville. The Red Cross trip was quite a bust–closest item they had was some material from 1917-1918 about the Shenandoah chapter, nothing from that time about Shamokin. I did find some names in their scrapbook of more recent officers who may know something, but other than that, not much. Fortunately, however, I had a Plan B for the expedition. And, this Plan B was an excellent bet, so I thought. Besides, after I’d come all this way and found little at the Red Cross, when it came to the library, I certainly “didn’t want no trouble.” But…
Something came up, could not make the Trevorton trip today. It is a small cemetery I think, but I have left a phone message for the superintendent asking about plot plans, this will save time next I head to Trevorton.
This afternoon, I uploaded the family tree database to OneGreatFamily, a complex family tree site which supposedly has excellent auto-merging faculties, but I found the thing to be very difficult to use. Will have to get back to it later and see if I can do anything with it.
Also, I visited a website which contained databases of historical newspapers, books, and documents. I found there an article from the time of M.H. Kulp’s service in the U.S. Congress, which appeared in an Illinois paper, the Sunday Inter Ocean, February 8, 1896, and was entitled: “Oddities in Congress. Lawmakers Who Are Distinguished by Queer Manners and Careers.”
Monroe H. Kulp is a new man from Pennsylvania. He is known as Farmer Kulp, though exactly why is not apparent. He is a good deal of a swell in respect to dress. With reasonable certainty he may be said to be the cheekiest member in the House. During the last session of the Fify-Third [sic] Congress he had the privilege of the floor of the House, being a member-elect. It happened that a vote was pending on an important question, and, the decision being rather close, tellers were appointed. Under such circumstances the members all pass in line between the tellers in order that their votes may be recorded. Kulp coolly took his place in the line and voted, the cheat not being discovered.