From the Archives: Happy Holidays from…the Roosevelts?

Happy holidays from the Sherman Room! At this point, many holiday cards have been sent and received to friends and family members across the United States, but we wanted to share one more from the Sherman Room archives with you.


Previous Sherman Room blog posts have discussed the career of Mansfield’s Henry Brunner, a local Democratic politician who was the mayor of Mansfield from 1917 to 1923.

Among a collection of items from Brunner’s personal papers that were donated to the Sherman Room this year, we discovered this holiday card. So now it’s time for a US history question: the card reads is “From The Governor and Mrs. Roosevelt;” but how were this couple better known?

US history buffs will likely remember that one Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected governor of New York in 1929 and served in that role until he was elected United States president in 1932, a post to which he was re-elected three times and in which he served until he died in 1945 and was succeeded by Harry Truman. So this holiday card was sent to Henry Brunner by Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, sometime between 1929 and 1932. The original envelope is missing, so it is not possible to say exactly which year it was sent.

The building pictured is not the New York governor’s mansion, in fact, but a different estate known as Springwood, and it was Roosevelt’s family home. He was born at Springwood in 1882 and spent his youth there, rebuilding the family home into the impressive building it remains today in 1915 with his mother. As evidenced by this card, was proud of his family home throughout his political career and life. After he died in 1945 in his fourth term as president, his body was brought back to the rose garden at Springwood to be buried as he had requested.

The Mansfield Connection

So how did it happen that “Governor and Mrs. Roosevelt” sent a Christmas card to a politician from Mansfield? As it turns out, Henry Brunner was a rather prolific politician despite never holding a higher publicly-elected office than mayor. Rather, he used his skills and knowledge behind the scenes to support the Democratic party in Ohio and the nation, and gained many notable political connection in the process. In 1923 after he was no longer mayor, he was still chairman of the Richland County Democratic party. By 1925, Brunner was a member of a special committee for the Ohio Democratic party’s executive committee, and in 1927 he became the chairman for the Ohio Democrats. He held this position until 1933. Upon his resignation, one person commented that his successor “has the handicap of going in as chairman of the Democratic party in Ohio in that he succeeds Henry Brunner who has been a great chairman. He is one of the beste [sic] leaders the party has ever had” (Findlay Morning Republican, 14 September 14 1933, page 5). Given Brunner’s position as the state chair for a state known for being important, sometimes pivotal, in presidential elections, it is perhaps not surprising that a Democratic governor of New York with presidential ambitions would send him a card at the holidays.

Sources

  1. National Park Service, Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/presidents/fdr_home.html
  2. Athens Messenger Newspaper Archives April 7, 1927 Page 27 (became chairman)
  3. Findlay Morning Republican Newspaper Archives September 14, 1933 Page 5 (resigned chairman)

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Mansfield Today, 97 Years ago

Periodically we will spotlight items from the archives! So today, let’s take a look at some snippets from an interesting item, namely the Mansfield Chamber of Commerce newsletter, Thanksgiving edition, from 1925.

The Mansfield Chamber of Commerce (which is now known as Richland Area Chamber and Economic Development) has a very long history full of local notables working to better the resources available to Mansfield and promote the local economy. In this particular example, a 1925 newsletter published by the (then) Chamber of Commerce, the newly elected president of the Chamber was none other than Henry (“Heinie”) Brunner, who was mayor of Mansfield from 1918 to 1924. In fact, the annual reports of the Chamber from 1919 and 1921 show that Henry Brunner was a member of the Chamber’s board of directors even during his tenure as mayor of Mansfield.

Henry Brunner, “Newly Elected President of the Chamber of Commerce,” Mansfield Today Vol. 2 No. 1, 1925.

Local history aficionados may recognize many of the names of the officers and board members of the Chamber of Commerce.

One particularly interesting section of this newsletter are the statistics of Mansfield included, covering everything from birth and death rates to miles of sewers to number of churches.

See the whole newsletter in the digital archives here.

Curious and want to know more? Visit the Sherman Room or send me your questions at genealogy@mrcpl.org or call at 419-521-3115!

Mayors of Mansfield

Mansfield was established in 1808, but was not incorporated as a town until early in the spring of 1828. When Mansfield was incorporated, the eligible male voters of the town were then empowered to meet and elect a city council on the first Monday of March annually, which would consist of one mayor, one recorder, and five trustees, all of whom must also be eligible male voters, and who would have a term of one year.

In the incorporation decree as reported in the newspaper, the duties of the mayor are described as follows:

6. That the mayor shall be a conservator of the peace within the limits of said corporation, and shall have the jurisdiction of a justice of the peace therein, both in criminal and civil cases; and in all his acts, as justice of the peace, he shall be governed by the laws defining the duties of justices of the peace, and shall be entitled to receive the same fees as justices of the peace are entitled to receive for similar services; he shall give such bond and security as is required by law of justices of the peace; he shall be authorized by law to hear and determine all cases arising under the laws and ordinances of the corporation, and to issue such process as may be necessary to carry into execution such laws and ordinances; and an appeal may be made from any final decision of judgment of the mayor to the court of common please of the county aforesaid, in the same manner as from that of a justice of the peace.”

Mansfield Gazette and Richland Farmer (Mansfield, OH), 27 February 1828, page 4.

Two prior (incomplete) lists of Mansfield mayors served as the initial sources and inspiration for this list. They are abbreviated as “Carrothers” and “Graham,” but the full citations are as follows:

John C. Carrothers, “Mayors of Mansfield,” Mansfield Daily Shield, 11 May 1919. Page 10, column 2.

A. A. Graham, History of Richland County, Ohio: Its Past and Present (Mansfield, Ohio: A. A. Graham & Co., 1880), p 520.
Both of these lists were published well after the initial names listed, and neither identifies any sources for their listings. Writing in 1880, Graham states that a full list of the Mansfield mayors was not possible, because the early city records (prior to 1846) had been lost, so it is unclear how Carrothers compiled his own partial list in 1919, which went as far back as 1835.

Thanks to the preservation of area newspapers, mayors back to the first Mansfield mayor, Simeon Bowman, in 1828 are able to be identified here, with some reliance on Carrothers and Graham. Where possible, these entries have been verified in local newspapers or directories. Where entries agree, they are simply both cited; if entries differ, most commonly when a first name was abbreviated in one listing but not the other, the more complete is used, and any differences are noted.

This is a living list. As more information is found, it will be updated and refined. If you have any information to be added to the list, please contact us!

  • 1828: Simeon Bowman

    Mansfield Gazette and Richland Famer, 30 April 1828, page 2, MRCPL Advantage Preservation; First name “Simeon” taken from Graham

  • 1830: Jacob Lindly [Lindley]

    Mansfield Gazette and Richland Farmer, 31 March 1830, page 3. MRCPL Advantage Preservation.

  • 1832: E Hedges

    Western Sentinel (Mansfield, OH), 11 April 1832, page 3. MRCPL Advantage Preservation.

  • 1835: J G Gilkerson

    Carrothers

  • 1836: Joseph Berry

    Carrothers

  • 1837: B. W. Burr

    Carrothers

  • 1839: C. T. Sherman

    Carrothers

  • 1841: S. C. Coffenberry

    Carrothers

  • 1843: Job Hildreth

    Carrothers

  • 1845: T. H. Ford

    Carrothers

  • 1846: Joseph Lindley (Joe)

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1846: T. H. Ford

    Graham

  • 1847: Frederick Cook (Fred)

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1848: S. J. Kirkwood

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1849: P. P. Hull

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1850: Hubbard Colby (in Carrothers: “H Colbu”)

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1851: N D McMillen (in Carrothers: ” N D McMullen”)

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1852: Perkins Bigelow

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1854: Andrew Poe

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1855: Isaac Gass

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1856: George F. Carpenter

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1857: Stephen B Sturges

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1857: Wilson M. Patterson

    Mansfield Herald, 30 September 1857, page 3; Graham

  • 1858: Isaac W. Littler

    Mansfield City Directory; Graham; listed as 1859 in Carrothers

  • 1860: William A. Moore

    “New Mayor Sworn In,” Mansfield Herald, 11 April 1860. Page 3, column 3; Graham; Carrothers

  • 1861: B. S. Runyan [Runyon]

    Richland Shield and Banner, 3 April 1861, page 2; Graham; Carrothers

  • 1862: James Cobean

    Mansfield Semi Weekly Herald, 12 April 1862. Page 4; Carrothers

  • 1864: Darium Dirlam

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1866: Abner Slutz

    Mansfield City Directory; Graham

  • 1869: A. C. Cummings

    Mansfield City Directory; “Cummins” in Carrothers; Graham

  • 1871: John B. Netscher

    Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers; Graham

  • 1875: Isaac W. Gass

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1875: Jas. R. Richardson [Likely James]

    Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers; Graham

  • 1879: James G. Craighead

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1881: C. G. Stough

    Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers

  • 1885: George A. Clugston

    Mansfield Herald, 9 April 1885, page 6; Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers

  • 1887: R. B. McCrory

    Carrothers

  • 1891: J. Newlon

    Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers

  • 1893: Fred Black

    Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers

  • 1895: R. B. McCrory

    Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers

  • 1897: J. P. Henry

    Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers

  • 1899: Huntington Brown

    Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers (Carrothers has 1901)

  • 1901: Thomas R. Robinson

    Bellville Messenger, 5 April 1901, page 7; Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers

  • 1903: Huntington Brown

    Mansfield Daily Shield, 7 April 1903, page 2

  • 1905: William F. Voegele, Jr.

    Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers

  • 1907: Huntington Brown

    Mansfield Daily Shield, 6 November 1907, page 1; Carrothers (1909)

  • 1911: W. E. O’Donnell

    Carrothers

  • 1913: F. S. Marquis

    Carrothers

  • 1915: George H. Lowrey

    Carrothers

  • 1917: Henry G. Brunner

    Carrothers

  • 1923: Carl H. Stander

    Mansfield News, 8 November 1923, page 1; Mansfield City Directory

  • 1925: Captain J. Earl Ports

    Mansfield News, 4 November 1925, page 1; Mansfield City Directory

  • 1929: Arliss F. Porter

    Mansfield News, 3 Jan 1929

  • 1930: C. S. Moore

    Mansfield City Directory

  • 1932: Charles M. Lantz

    Mansfield News, 4 September 1932, page 2; Mansfield City Directory

  • 1935: E. A. McFarland

    Mansfield News Journal, 6 November 1935, page 1; Mansfield City Directory

  • 1937: Claude M. Hunter

    Mansfield News Journal, 3 November 1937, page 1

  • 1938: E. A. McFarland

    Mansfield City Directory

  • 1939: C. M. Hunter

    Mansfield City Directory

  • 1939: William J. Locke

    Mansfield News Journal, 8 November 1939, page 1; Mansfield City Directory

  • 1946: Roy B. Vaughn

    Mansfield City Directory

  • 1949: Thomas B. Wright

    Mansfield News Journal, 9 November 1949, page 1; Mansfield City Directory

  • 1955: Robert S. Lemley

    Mansfield News Journal, 9 November 1955, page 1; Mansfield City Directory

Henry Brunner, Mayor of Mansfield

This item was recently brought into the Sherman Room. It is a flyer from the original Armistice Day in Mansfield, a holiday which celebrated the end of World War I and which later became Veterans Day in the United States. The item inspired me to take a deep dive into Mayor Brunner, who issued the proclamation to close the city for a celebration on November 11, 1918.

Henry (“Heinie”) G Brunner’s parents were Henry Brunner Sr and Catharine (also spelled Catherine or Katharine) Kuhn, who both came to the United States from Germany in 1881. Henry (Heinrich) Brunner Sr was born in Germany to Margaret Daum on the 28th of June 1862 [1]. The pair were married in Richland County on 14 August 1883. Henry G Brunner Jr was born on 30 July 1884.

Henry G Brunner (Jr) worked as a mail clerk before becoming an insurance agent in 1911. Shortly after switching careers, on 11 April 1911, Brunner married Beatrice Wolff, who was, according to the Mansfield News, “one of the best known young women of Mansfield where she has always lived” [Mansfield News, 12 April 1911, p 7]. In the same year, Brunner planned to make his first campaign to be mayor, but ultimately withdrew his petition for candidacy when the Democratic party instead chose to nominate the county treasurer, Pierce J Wigton, as their candidate for mayor [Mansfield News, 7 August 1911, p 3]. This might not have been the best strategy for the Mansfield Democratic party, as Wigton lost the mayoral election to W. E. O’Donnell [Mansfield News 11 May 1919].

After withdrawing from the election in 1911, Brunner continued to work as an insurance agent and also took on new or expanded roles in the community and his family. In the fall of 1911, he became the secretary for the Mansfield Baseball Club [Mansfield News 24 October 1911], and in 1912 he had his first son. In 1915, he was selected as chairman of the local Liquor Board [Mansfield News 30 Jul 1915].

After O’Donnell, the next mayor of Mansfield was Frederick S Marquis, who was elected to two terms but died shortly after taking office for his second term. As President of the City Council, George H Lowrey served as acting mayor for the remainder of Marquis’s term, and in 1917 ran for election for a full mayoral term of his own.

Apparently not one to give up on an ambition, Brunner returned to the political arena in 1917 and again pursued the role of mayor. This time the Democratic Party did choose Brunner from among several individuals to be their candidate for mayor running against acting mayor Lowrey [Mansfield News 26 May 1917 p 5].

According to the Mansfield News, the Republican party were pleased that Brunner was the Democratic candidate selected, and seem to have expected that Lowrey would win the election without too much effort on their part. As one measure of this confidence, when the candidates reported their expenses, Brunner had spent $236.70 on his campaign while Lowrey had spent $139 [Mansfield News 17 November 1917, p10]. On the right is one of Brunner’s campaign posters.

Brunner won the election in 1917 by a margin of 274 votes [Mansfield News 7 November 1917, p 3], and had during his term an almost entirely Democratic city council, with only one Republican elected to serve.

Although he did not win a majority of the votes in 1917, Brunner proved to be a popular mayor during his term. When he ran for re-election in 1919, once again facing off with Lowrey, he won by an “exceptionally strong vote” with a majority and a margin of 942 votes [Mansfield News 5 November 1919, p 2]. Brunner served as mayor for six years, in total, and was succeeded by Carl H Stander in 1924[Mansfield News 30 Dec 1923].

Look for more materials about Mayor Brunner’s life after his terms as mayor and a guide to the mayors of Mansfield on the Sherman Room Digital Archives and blog in the upcoming weeks!

  1. “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XZTS-8SN : 8 March 2021), Henry Brunner, 03 Jan 1942; citing Mansfield, Richland, Ohio, reference fn 5554; FHL microfilm 2,023,979.