1898 race decided by single vote

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.

 

By R.L. HEMINGER

 

In the 1880s, municipal elections were conducted in April in the state of Ohio.

The 1898 balloting in Findlay for city offices held especial interest because a member of council was elected by the narrow margin of one vote.

In those days, Findlay had eight wards. In one of the wards north of the Blanchard River, the vote, when first announced, was a tie, with each candidate receiving 174 ballots. Later it developed that this was a mistake and the final tally gave an extra vote to one of the nominees.

The winner was W.F. Trueslow, the Republican candidate. The loser was W.D. Reese, the Democratic candidate.

The contest was an important one for the control of council was involved. The victory of the Republican candidate gave that party the control of the city’s legislative body.

This was one of several close political contests in the community’s history. In 1901, C.B. Metcalf won the mayoralty over John F. Pogue by a margin of only three votes. Mr. Metcalf was the Democratic candidate and Mr. Pogue the Republican nominee. The winner had been county auditor previously. He served two terms as mayor.

In 1918, Alexander R. Taylor, Democrat, was named county engineer by 18 votes over Harry Glathart, the Republican candidate. Mr. Taylor was running for a third term. He later became head of the highway system of Ohio by appointment of Gov. James M. Cox.

There have been a number of other elections in the city and county in which the winner had a margin of less than 100 votes. The latest was last November (1961) when Ralph Kuss, Democrat, won the 2nd Ward council contest over his Republican opponent by four votes.

The same year that the one-vote margin developed for one of the ward council members — 1898 — witnessed defeat for a Findlay attorney, William F. Duncan, who was seeking the district common pleas court judgeship.

Election laws were much different then. Some county posts were filled at the same time city officials were elected. This was true of the common pleas judgeship.

Each county at that time did not have a common pleas judge. There were judicial districts, with two or three judges for each district. Hancock County was a part of a district which also included Wood, Seneca and Hardin counties.

Mr. Duncan, who was city solicitor at the time, was the Republican nominee for judge in the four-county district. He had come to Findlay some years earlier from Morrow County to practice law.

He was defeated by Frank Taylor, of North Baltimore. Mr. Duncan carried Hancock County, but lost the other three to his opponent.

Four years later, in 1902, Mr. Duncan went on the bench, however. Judge J.W. Schaufelberger, of Tiffin, resigned and Gov. George K. Nash appointed Mr. Duncan to fill the unexpired term. The Tiffin jurist resigned to form a law partnership in Toledo. The appointment was made in August, and Mr. Duncan assumed his new duties in September.

In succeeding elections, Judge Duncan was re-elected to the bench and he remained common pleas judge until late in 1934.

In 1912, the constitution of the state of Ohio was changed to provide each county with at least one common pleas judge. Under this system, the judicial districts for common pleas judges were abolished.

The record for length of tenure in county office is held by Joel Pendleton, who served as county engineer for a total of 34 years. Judge Duncan ranks next with a total of 32 years on the common pleas court bench. He passed away in 1934, a few weeks before his term expired.

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