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BLYTHE, James E.


Posted By: Sharon R. Becker (email)
Date: 11/9/2017 at 21:46:13

Obituary ~ Hon. James E. Blythe
January 20, 1856 ~ September 24, 1938

RE: Hon. James E. Blythe (R), Cerro Gordo County, Iowa

MR. SPEAKER: Your committee, appointed to prepare a suitable resolution commemorating the life, character and public service of the Honorable James E. Blythe, begs leave to submit the following memorial:

James E. Blythe was born in Cranberry, New Jersey, January 20, 1856, the son of Reverend Joseph William and Elizabeth Moore Blythe, grandson of Dr. James Blythe, personal friend of George Washington and an early president of Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky. He died September 24, 1938, survived by Grace Smith Blythe, to whom he was married in 1881, and two daughters, Maude Blythe Gilmore and Jeane Blythe Gentry.

While he was still a small boy, he moved with his parents to Indiana. After graduating from Hanover College in 1877 with the degree of Master of Arts, he settled in Mason City, Iowa, where he read law in the office of Goodykoontz and Wilber. Immediately upon his admission to practice before the courts of Iowa in 1878, he formed a partnership with his former employer and sponsor, Frank M. Goodykoontz. In 1881, upon the removal of Mr. Goodykoontz to South Dakota, the partnership of Blythe and Markley (J. E. E.) was formed, which endured, with various changes in the junior memberships, until Mr. Blythe’s death.

At an early day Mr. Blythe combined his genius for finance with his talent for the law. An editorial in the Charles City Press truly stated, “He was a gentleman of great ability and one of the best financiers in northeast Iowa.” His cultural interests were not only national, but were worldwide and had been broadened and deepened by a world cruise, several trips to Europe and South America and twenty-odd visits to Mexico in the legal and financial interests of an American firm with extensive holdings there which he represented for more than thirty years.

His hobbies were oriental rugs and fishing. Of the former, he was a recognized connoisseur and had a choice collection, which was hand-picked in the course of his travels. He was engaged in the latter at the time of his sudden death at a quiet resort in northern Minnesota. His continued energy and capacity for work is demonstrated by the fact that he was at his desk in his office within the hour before leaving for Minnesota, two days before his death, completing directions for his secretary during his absence.

For fifty years Mr. Blythe had been widely known as a leader of Republican politics, during the 90’s and the early 1900’s. He was a member of the House of Representatives during the Twenty-second and Twenty-third Sessions; a member of the Republican State Central Committee during the years 1890 to 1895; its chairman in 1892, 1893 and 1894, during which years the Republicans gained all six seats in Congress previously occupied by Democrats. During his years of political activity, he was a friend and confidant of several presidents and a frequent visitor and guest at the White House; a trusted consultant and advisor of national political leaders; a close associate with such prominent Iowans as Leslie M. Shaw, Albert B. Cummings, William B. Allison, Jonathan P. Dolliver. It has rightly been said that he was the link between the past and present Iowa politics.

If this were a eulogy upon his life, instead of a simple biography, there are many, many things which should be said, but the writers content themselves with the tribute paid Mr. Blythe by W. Earl Hall in the Memorial Editorial of the Mason City Globe Gazette, “Mr. Blythe was a man of deep convictions. He had no hesitancy in opposing the current of public opinion if he believed that public opinion was wrong. Nobody was ever left doubting where Mr. Blythe stood on questions on which he was supposed to have an opinion. The sanctity of a contract was bred into his very being. He wouldn’t concede, either as a debtor or a creditor, that there is any other honest or honorable thing to do to a debt besides pay it. America stands sorely in need of such philosophy today. In his more than sixty years of residence here, he sent his taproots deep into the Mason City community life. His contributions in the field of business, law and politics have been complemented by the religious and cultural graces possessed in a notable degree by his universally loved and admired helpmeet. The name of Blythe is not one that will soon be forgotten by this community.”

Therefore, Be It Resolved by the House of Representatives of the Forty-ninth General Assembly, That, in the passing of the Honorable James E. Blythe, the state of Iowa has lost a valued and honored citizen, a conscientious statesman and the family a loving husband and father.

Be It Further Resolved, That a copy of this resolution be spread upon the Journal of the House of Representatives and that the Chief Clerk be instructed to send an enrolled copy to each member of the family of the deceased.

Unanimously adopted, April 3, 1941.

Transcriber's Note: James E. Blythe was a member of the Iowa House of Representatives, 22nd (1888) and 23rd (1890) assemblies He and his wife, Grace (Smith) Blythe (1858 - 1896), were interred at Elmwood-St. Joseph Cemetery, Mason City, Iowa.

SOURCE: 49 GA (1941) House Journal Memorial Resolution Memorial Resolution

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, November of 2017


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