The complete list of probate judges, which Comanche-co. has had during the past 42 years, reveals two facts - the number is smaller than usual, and two of the officials died in office. In all, there have been but eight different probate judges, five republicans and three democrats, although one or two, who were really democrats, were elected either on the alliance, fusion or peoples party ticket. The reason that there have been fewer persons in that office than in most of the other offices is the fact, four served two terms each, one two and a half terms, one nearly six terms and one - the present official - is now serving his fifth term. In this county, there has been for several years a general impression that, as long as the probate judge performed the duties of his office faithfully and well, he should be kept in office, no matter what his party affiliations might be. The probate judges who have died in office in this county were James Shellenbarger, and Owen Connaughton.
We give below some facts in regard to the candidates for probate judge at the various elections in this county:
J. D. F. JENNINGS
At the first election held in this county, in April 1885, there were three candidates for the office of probate judge - J. D. F. Jennings, C. C. Tincher and a Mr. Clark. Jennings won, the vote being - Jennings, 823; Clark, 577; Tincher, 201. At the November election that year, Mr. Jennings was again a candidate and was re-elected, the vote at that time being - Jennings, 623; C. C. Tincher, 374; Noah Chitwood, 395; Rev. Wm. Hays, 20 Jennings was a candidate for the third time at the general election in 1886, but was not successful. He later moved from this county to Oklahoma, where he lived for a number of years.
E. B. WIDAMAN
E. B. Widaman, republican, was the successful candidate for probate judge in this county at the November, 1886, election. He defeated J. D. F. Jennings by a vote of 595 to 457. Two years later, Mr. Widaman was re-elected to the office, defeating W. D. Kinder, democrat, and J. Parker Ball, union labor, the vote being - Widaman, 572; Kinder, 236; Ball, 142. Mr. Widaman later joined the rush to the new country of Oklahoma, and has since continued to make his home there.
SHELBY P. DUNCAN
The election in 1890 resulted in the selection of Shelby P. Duncan, republican, to the office of probate judge in this county. He defeated J. M. McCay, alliance, by a vote of 340 to 243. Mr. Duncan served two terms, having been re-elected in 1892, when he defeated J. M. Griffith, peoples party, by a vote of 286 to 271. Mr. Duncan moved to Wichita a few years later, and is still a resident of that city.
J. M. GRIFFITH
At the November, 1894 election, J. M. Griffith, democrat, was the successful candidate for probate judge. He defeated H. C. Butts, republican, the vote being - Griffith, 185 to 123. In 1896, Mr. Griffith was re-elected. He had no opposition that year. He was the democratic and peoples party candidate.
There were two candidates for probate judge in 1898 - Theo. Crites, republican, and James Shellenbarger, democrat. The vote was very close - Shellenbarger, 170 and Crites 168. Mr. Shellenbarger served as probate judge until the time of his death, which occurred on May 16, 1902. No election for probate judge was held in 1900, hence he served for about four months over three years.
H. I. BURR
Soon after the death of Mr. Shellenbarger, H. I. Burr was appointed to that office. At the fall election in 1902, he was the successful candidate. He was the republican and H. Chapman the democratic candidate. The vote stood - Burr, 250; Chapman, 140. In 1904, Mr. Burr was re-elected, defeating Mansel Barnes, democrat, by a vote of 226 to 192. A few years later, Mr. Burr, moved to Bucklin, and died in that city on March 30, 1911. Mr. Barnes died in this city on May 9, 1913.
At the general election in 1906, 1908, 1910, 1912, 1914 and 1916, Owen Connaughton was the only candidate in this county for probate judge, having no opposition at either election. He was elected each time, as a republican. He died on July 23, 1918, during his sixth term as probate judge.
M. M. COSBY
Upon the death of Mr. Connaughton, M. M. Cosby, republican, was appointed to the office of probate judge, and, at each successive election since then he was elected without opposition. He will soon have completed his ninth year in that office.
The total number of marriage licenses which have been issued in this county in 1280, which is an average of about 30 per year. A total of 817 have been issued during the last 22 years, or during the last half of the time since the county was organized, and these were issued during only three administrations, as follows: During the administration of H. I. Burr, 138 or an average of 31 per year; during Owen Connaughton's administration, a total of 360, or an average of nearly 29 per year; during M. M. Cosby's administration to date, a total of 319, or an average of a little over 37 per year.
Comanche County Officers, 1885 - 2007
Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!
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