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Selucius Garfield documents

      This appendix features documents about Selucius Garfield that were too lengthy for the main profile series (see about him. Some of them have disputed dates, etc., but we have posted them verbatim and edited only to interpret the best we could the illegible words or sections. See the introduction of the three-part profile of Garfield and an overview of the early elections in Washington territory for documented information. We especially thank Garfield's descendant, Pam Brett, for finding an important obituary that we did not find and for all her help with this series on the life of the most colorful politician of the Washington Territory period. More documents will be added as they become available.


The Washington Post, April 14, 1883, p. 1 col.7
A Man Who Reached the Summit of His Career in the House of Representatives and then Became Proprietor of Gambling Resorts.
      In a little room over a cigar shop on the west side of tenth street, near D, there died last night a man who had a most remarkable and checkered career. His name, years ago, was prominent in politics, and was even heard in the halls of Congress. Selucius Garfielde was born in Shoreham, Vermont, on the 8th of December, 1822. His family were well-to-do, honest and intelligent people. He spent a few years of his early life in his native state and then removed to Kentucky. He finished his collegiate course at Augusta college in that State, then read law and was admitted to the bar.
      In [1849], as fitting recognition of his legal abilities, he was elected member of the convention to revise the State constitution, and won for himself on that occasion an enviable position. The next year he spent traveling through South America, after which in 1852 he emigrated to California. In 1852 he was elected a member of the legislature of that State, and in 1854 was selected by that body to codify the laws of the State. The following year he returned to Kentucky, In 1856 he was elected a member of the Cincinnati national convention, and was an elector during that canvass.
      The following year he removed to Washington Territory, where he [was appointed to] the position of receiver of public monies up to [illegible]. In 1861 he was nominated for Congress, but was defeated by the [Stephen Douglas] wing of the Democratic Party. From 1866-1869 he was surveyor general. In the last named year, he was elected as a delegate from Washington Territory in the Forty-first Congress as a Republican receiving several hundred votes more than his opponent, a Democrat named Moore. He served with such acceptability, that he was reelected to the Forty-second Congress, receiving a majority of nearly one thousand votes over Mix, Democrat. He served in Congress from [July 1869] to March 3, 1873.

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      Up to this time Garfielde's career had been one of steady advancement. He had been honored on several occasions with positions of trust to the Government, and as stated the highest office which the people of the Territory where he resided could bestow, had been conferred upon him. But he had reached his highest point. From the time he left Congress until he breathed his last in an obscure little room last night his career was rapidly downward. Unfortunate to become entangled in vices for which Washington has been unenviably noted.
      Mr. Garfielde became at first a gambler and then the proprietor of a gambling resort. He first became known to the public about five years ago, when he kept a sporting house or an establishment better known as a poker room on the north side of G Street , between Fourteenth and Fifteenth streets, over a restaurant kept by a man named Bodine. This room was located in the third story of the building. He was raided one night by a squad of officers, who arrested him and secured as witnesses a number of prominent people who were playing in the room. One of those persons, who is now dead, paid the sum of $50. which was required as security for Garfielde's appearance in court. This collateral was forfeited the next day.
      Some time after that, Garfielde established a gambling room over Evans' dining room on F Street. This was a somewhat notorious place and was the occasion of so much annoyance that Mr. Evans filed a complaint with Major Brock, then chief of police asking that the place be raided. This was done and Garfielde was brought before the police court. At that time, however, the gambling laws were not as stringent as they are at present, and he was dismissed on the ground that there was no statute under which he could be held for running a poker room. A charge of keeping a disorderly house was then brought against him, and the case had a long hearing before Judge Snell. This, however, was also dismissed. After being broke up at his F Street rooms, Garfielde established a little place at 1208 Pennsylvania Avenue, which was a quiet resort for a large number of poker players.
      About a year and a half ago Garfielde was married to a woman named Nellie Homer, with whom he had been living some years previously. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Dr. Meador, and excited some little interest at the time in the lower circles of society, where the woman was well known. She is alleged to have been the proprietress of a "dive" on E Street, between Eleventh and Twelfth Streets, under the old Lyceum hall, which was the resort of the worst classes of people.
      While Garfielde's gambling rooms were frequented by members of Congress and other prominent persons, he never displayed the extravagant tastes that sporting men generally show. His rooms were very comfortably and even handsomely furnished, but never contained that profusion of mirrors and silverware which marks some of the gilded palaces in the Capital city. Neither in his personal appearance did Garfielde look like a sporting man or gambler. He always dressed well, but never attracted attention by the extreme stylishness or unusual pattern of cloth. He was about six feet tall, stoutly built, weighing some 200 pounds. His last illness was quite sudden. He was attacked last Monday with acute pleuro-pneumonia, which resulted in his death at half past 5 o'clock last evening. He is said in his last years to have been deserted by his family and former friends, and when he died last night no one with any interest in him was at his bedside, save the woman he married.

A Noted Gambler Dead
The Daily Globe, St Paul, Minnesota, April 16, 1883
      The death of Selucius Garfield, which occurred Friday night, deserves more than passing mention, Garfield was a delegate from Washington Territory and a native of Vermont. To the end of the Forty-first congress his career had been constantly upwards, but during his congressional life he developed a mania for gambling, and remained here, at first ostensibly as a claim agent. Later he openly kept a gambling house. For years his house attracted some noted gamblers, and was frequented by the few congressmen who ventured to play n such place, but for several years his house had lost caste. He had been arrested several times and finally died alone and unbefriended, save by a woman of a lower sort, whom he not long since married.

Satirical poem about Selucius helping Alvin Flanders
over the finish line in 1867 Delegate election

By George E. Blankenship, Lights and Shades of Pioneer Life on Puget Sound.
Olympia, Wash, 1923
      Alvin Flanders rode upon
A horse that wouldn't mind him,
And so to act as fugleman,
Selucius rode behind him

Selucius was a proper man
And had so good a straddle
That he could ride two horses with
One office for a saddle

His classic seat was full of grip,
His brain was scientific,
And large enough to hold a train
Of cars for the Pacific.

His mouth o'erflowed with oily words
In fact 'twas even hinted
That he could make an off-hand speech
Just like a book that's printed

And thus they rode from place to place,
Where'er their pony bore them;
When Flanders had to speak a piece
Selucius spoke it for him.

'Tis mostly thus with those who shriek
Of Congress orthodoxy,
When called upon to fight or speak
They do it best by proxy.

But Garfield talked Flanders into Congress.

1872 Garfield vs. McFadden and Saunders
The most popular man in the politics of Washington Territory was Judge O. B. McFadden. Especially was this true in Thurston County, where he had long made his home. It remained for him to defeat the eloquent Garfielde and break the power of a ring, which had long dominated the affairs in the Territory.
      The campaign of this memorable contest was drawing to a close and McFadden was to arrive on a certain date to address personal friends and neighbors. On that day every man, woman and child in Olympia, in vehicles of various characters, on horseback and on foot, wended his or her way to Bush Prairie to meet the Sage of Saunder's Bottom, as he came by way of stage coach. Olympia was then a very wide open town, almost as much so then as now, and possessed a number of gamblers.
      Among these was a man named Saunders — handsome, a good dresser, accomplished, well educated, a living impersonation of Bret Harte's famous character, Jack Hamblin. He was a great admirer of McFadden, and the showiest team and carriage in the long procession to greet the coming Delegate was driven by Saunders, with a few of his professional friends as convivial companions.
      A presumptuous boy of twelve asked the sporting element to take him along, to which they readily agreed. Going down Tumwater hill there was a little delay, during which Saunders produced a bottle. An old stage driver was driving a coach just ahead, and with an instinct characteristic of his race, smelled the bottle, and waved Saunders to drive alongside and divide, which he did. A lady in the coach eyed the proceedings disapprovingly and sternly said.
      "Driver, let me out. I will not ride with a man that drinks." Saunders, with a smile, dropped his lines, stepped out and opened the door of the coach. Throwing his handsome overcoat in the mud, with a Chesterfieldian bow, he said, "Madam, permit me to be your Sir Walter Raleigh." A just rebuke to a prude by a gambler.
      [Source: Olympia history]

Parts of the Garfield series
Part 1
Garfield youth . . . legal, religious and political training in Kentucky . . . first marriage . . . a foray into California gold country . . . second marriage, return to Kentucky . . . move to the new Washington territory to head up Federal Lands office, and meeting and campaigning for Gov. Stevens
Part 2
Garfield aids Stevens in 1857 Delegate to Congress election . . . Networking with the Freemasons . . . 1859 Delegate reelection . . . Garfield's unsuccessful 1861 Delegate campaign . . . the "lost years" in British Columbia
Part 3
1865 Delegate campaign, Garfield aids Denny . . . Becomes Surveyor-General . . . Successful 1869 Delegate election . . . Successful 1870 reelection . . . Defeated 1872 election . . . Permanent return to Washington city and death in 1883
Garfield documents and stories shared in full

Links, background reading and sources
Principal sources for this whole Garfield series

Story posted on Sept. 14, 2013
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This article originally appeared in Issue 60 of our Subscribers-paid Journal online magazine

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