The fact that the Evanston City Council had voted to do anything "in a body" was certainly newsworthy. Let's see what we can find out about Oscar Mann that his death would allow disparate politicians to come together to mourn his loss.
Oscar Henry Mann was born November 24, 1835 in Providence, Rhode Island to Timothy Metcalf Mann (1807-1872) and Eliza, nee Tupper (1806-1877). Timothy Mann was a physician. It is not known whether or not Timothy and Eliza had other children besides Oscar, but we do know that Oscar's grandfather William Tupper was an officer in the American Revolution with the 3rd and 4th Connecticut Regiments.
Oscar Mann received his early medical education in New York City, and began practicing there. While in New York he met Amanda M. Finch (1835-1927), the daughter of Nathaniel J. Finch (1809-1883) and Sally, nee Tyler (1809-1870). Nathaniel Finch was a farmer by trade. Oscar and Amanda were married probably in New York in 1857.
Oscar Mann received the degree of Doctor of Medicine from the Hahnemann Medical College in Chicago in March, 1856.
After graduation the new Dr. and Mrs. Mann moved to Peoria, Illinois where Dr. Mann got a job as a Botanist. It was in Peoria that their first child Florence E. Mann (1859-1929) was born on September 22, 1859.
The 1860 US Census shows the young family living in Peoria's First Ward. Oscar reported his occupation as "Botanist."
Oscar and Amanda's second child, Edwin Eugene Mann came into the world in November of 1864. Shortly thereafter, Florence and Edwin were joined by Oscar L. Mann who was born in Ottawa, Illinois on June 4, 1866. Dr. and Mrs. Mann did not have any more children after that.
In 1866 the Mann family moved to Evanston, Illinois where Dr. Mann had accepted a position at the Northwestern Female College where he lectured on Chemistry and Hygiene. In addition to his responsibilities at the College, he opened up a medical practice in Evanston on Davis Street.
The 1870 US Census finds the Mann family living in the Village of Evanston. Thirty four year old Oscar indicated that his occupation was "Physician." His wife, twenty nine year old Amanda was "Keeping House," and there were the three children, nine year old Florence, six year old Edwin and three year old Oscar. Dr. Mann said that he owned real estate worth $5,000 and personalty of $2,500. Strangely, Dr. Mann told the census taker that he had been born in Connecticut, but he was born in Providence, Rhode Island.
The issue finally was put to a vote in 1892. The date chosen for the vote was February 20, and a majority of the voters in both of the Villages would have to vote in-favor if the merger was to be approved. If the merger passed, the new consolidated Village would now be called the City of Evanston, and a municipal governing structure would be put in place. Village President Mann was firmly in favor of consolidation.
Despite all the forebodings the voters overwhelmingly approved the proposition. In all, 1,879 citizens cast ballots, 584 in South Evanston and 1,259 in Evanston. The union was approved by 57% of South Evanstonians and a surprising 66% of the voters of the Village of Evanston. Now there would have to be an election for Mayor of the City of Evanston as well as for a City Council.
Village President Oscar Mann decided to run for mayor; his opponent was John R. Lindgren, who was a partner in a Chicago investment banking firm. Both candidates had been solidly in favor of the consolidation.
The campaign for the first mayor of the new City of Evanston was one that would have been more at home in the rollicking City of Chicago than in staid Evanston. Lindgren portrayed himself as an apolitical citizen who was a high-minded public benefactor. Mann accused Lindgren of being in the pocket of Northwestern University (a charge that was leveled at a recent Evanston mayor as well - some things never change). Lindgren was endorsed by the Evanston Index newspaper; Mann was endorsed by the Evanston Press newspaper. Here's how the Chicago Daily Tribune described it on April 16, 1892:
With its evolution from village simplicity to the dignity of urban government, Evanston has taken unto itself the turmoil and strife which in these days seem always incident to all matters political pertaining to the officials of a city. It is the choice of the officials that has stirred Evanston to its deepest depths, and, truly, the stirring process has resulted, in less degree, about as might be expected from such an operation in connection with the Chicago River.
Two tickets are in the field. The "ins" against the “outs,” the Press against the Index, the cotton socks against the silk stockings, the supporters of the present administration, with Dr. Oscar H. Mann, the present Village President, as candidate for Mayor, and the supporters of John R. Lindgren, the philanthropic banker.
It is largely a pitched battle between the citizens who do business in Chicago and live in Evanston and those who both work and live in the big suburb. In this latter class are included most of the local contractors, who have had fat pickings for the last year. The present administration is seeking to perpetuate itself by the nomination of Dr. Mann, while the "outs" are attempting to elect a Mayor who will do something, in the person of John R. Lindgren. Until last Saturday Dr. Mann had some prospects of success. Then his organ published a page or so of disgraceful charges of the use of money in behalf of his opponent, John R. Lindgren. No instances were or could have been specified, as Mr. Lindgren, who is of the banking firm of Haugan & Lindgren of Chicago, is a man of the highest reputation, a leader in the church, and a popular society man. The result has been exactly the opposite of what the Mann faction expected. The citizens generally, including many of Mann's supporters, have become aroused by this exhibition of pot-house politics, and the result is the probable election of Lindgren by a safe majority.
Mr. Lindgren is a native of Chicago, but of Swedish antecedents. He has a large and enthusiastic following among the people of that race. The fact has just been made public also that his entire salary and perquisites as Village Treasurer last year, amounting to $1,500, was donated secretly several months ago to the public Library, and this has increased his popularity among the working men, who are friends of the library.
Dr. Mann is a physician of large practice and is personally unobjectionable, but he has become involved with the wrong element, it is thought, and his best friends are anxious to see him out of politics.
For years Evanston has been governed in a paternal way by a Village Council consisting of such men as H. H. C. Miller, Frank P. Crandon, George Sargent, J. R. Lindgren, Frank M. Elliot, W. C. Magill, ex-Gov. Evans, and a host of others-all solid business and professional men who did business in Chicago and owned and occupied residences in Evanston. A year ago all this was changed and a new element, consisting for the most part of local grocers, furniture dealers, painters, carpenters, and contractors, snatched away the reins of government to the horror of their wealthy and more aristocratic and intelligent fellow-citizens. Then Dr. O. H. Mann was elected Village President and a number of local tradesmen as Trustees.
With this everybody predicted some dire or shocking revolution. "Everybody" was a good prophet. The revolution has come in the shape of a city form of government and the calamity in the unmistakable garb of ward politics and political “bossism.” The "cotton-sock" Council made big promises as to the sweeping improvements it purposed making. Every street should be paved, every rotten board sidewalk replaced by the finest kind of cement, the old shanty of a City Hall should give way to an imposing structure, the tumble-down fire engine house and the cubby-hole of a police station by structures befitting the culture and dignity of the Athens of the West.
In making these the Council reckoned without its host. Three blocks of paved street, a mile or so of cement walk, the outside walls of a new City Hall, a number of big contracts on sewers, a long record of weekly Council disputes, and a large indebtedness are the fulfillment of what was promised.
After viewing this record, the "outs," who were put out by alarming majorities, picked up hope and determined to get in. Accordingly a caucus was held and John R. Lindgren was chosen as the best possible candidate.
In this campaign the methods used and stories circulated would do credit to a Chicago ward boss. The opponents to Mr. Lindgren charge his campaigners with buying votes, hold meetings in negro churches and tell the audiences that Mr. Lindgren is too proud to speak to them and that Dr. Mann is the only friend of the poor man. After the “services” an ice cream lunch, provided by the Mann campaigners, is served, and everything is merry as a marriage bell. There is a general antagonism to the financial policy of Northwestern University, which takes advantage of its exemption from taxation to speculate in land. For this reason the most unpopular thing that can be said against a man is that he is a university man. This charge is made against Mr. Lindgren at all the political meetings managed by the Mann faction.
Mr. Lindgren said in an interview:
"I am in favor of the university as an educational institute. As such it is of great benefit to the town and the town is a great benefit to it. But its policy of handling its land interests has been unfortunate to say the least. It has made enemies where a broader policy would have made friends."
While the Mann organ, the Evanston Press, seeks to gain the election of its candidate by throwing mud, the Lindgren organ, the Evanston Index, is dignified in all its utterances, and devotes its political columns to a straight-forward statement of the strong points of the Lindgren ticket, without saying a harsh word against Dr. Mann and his faction. This difference in newspaper utterance is a type of the difference in the methods of the two parties represented. Contrasted with the impassioned utterances of Mr. Lindgren is the following interview with Dr. O. H. Mann:
"These people are all lying, and they know they are lying. They tell us not to throw mud, while they are throwing it all the time. They charge us with using money, while I can prove that are using it themselves. Here I have worked day after day to secure to the city a decent City Hall on a lot that was formerly used as a dumping ground for old boots and dead cats, and then they jump on me for doing it. I have done the bulk of the planning myself. Night after night, I have worked on these plans until 2 o'clock in the morning and I have actually spent $3 of my own money for drawing paper and materials, without asking for remuneration. Altogether I have spent time on this work that would come to thirty eight-hour days. And for my reward they charge me with crookedness. In the first place the City Hall, according to the present plans, was never supposed to cost more than $30,000, and all the Trustees who approved my work knew this. If they did not know it they were too densely stupid to be worthy of a place in the Council.
“When the first bids were rejected because they were beyond our means the whole Council agreed to do as much toward putting up the building as the $30,000 would allow. A second time bids were advertised for external construction and the lowest bid on that was $39,000. Then I stepped in and by dickering with the contractors got that down to $29,922 and the contract was given to Mr. Bartlett for that amount. If he comes out with a loss of $500 he will do well."
A few instances will serve to show the popular feeling in this campaign. Ex-Congressman George S. Baker said in reference to the City-Hall contract:
“In June the two village newspapers stated in interviews with President Mann that he had had plans drawn by Holabird & Roche for a new village hall to cost $30,000, and that those plans could be seen in time village office. On the strength of this the people, at the election which shortly followed, voted $30,000 for the erection of the buildings. They argued that the $1,500 a year interest on the bonds would be cheaper than the annual rental and repairs on the various offices and buildings being used by the village. In August bids were received for the erection of the building according to the plans of Holabird & Roche, the lowest bid being $52,000. As they could not raise this amount Mr. Bartlett was employed to build the walls and put the thing under roof for $29,822, or only $78 less than the price originally to be paid for completing the building. Bartlett's work was to have been completed Jan. 1, 1892, and it is only partly done now. Men capable of judging what it will cost to the building after Bartlett is through with it say it will be not less than $30,000 more, and some say that even that will not put in the heating apparatus and other necessary items of expenditure. The building, at even that immense cost, is not what the city needs. The men who engineered the scheme showed exceedingly bad judgment in the exterior, which is unsightly, and in the interior, in crowding the library and city offices to give the bulk of space to the police and fire departments. There is not a police or fire department in Cook County that will be so luxuriously housed as that of Evanston. In ten years the space devoted to the city and that set apart for the library will be too small. Dr. Mann plumes himself on this wonderful city hall. He is its father, its Nestor. It is his pride, his boast, his joy, his all. Now let him stand by it."
Allied to the contest for Mayor is one for City Attorney and Treasurer. Frank R. Grover, who has been Village Attorney, wants to give his friend Dr. Mann legal points again this year and Thomas L. Fansler wants to be Dr. Mann's City Treasurer.
Martin M. Gridley, a rising young attorney who is widely known in political circles, is running on the Lindgren ticket for the Attorneyship and Arthur N. Sullivan for the Treasurership. Evanston has seven wards and each ward is to have two Aldermen. These Aldermanic candidates are careful not to take sides in the Mayoralty fight, but it is understood the names marked with an asterisk are Lindgren sympathizers.
First Ward-William E. Suhr, *Winfield S. Smyth, *John W. Thompson, Frank P. Judson.
Second Ward-*George P. Merrick, Jerome A. Smith, William D. Hitchcock.
Third Ward-Charles H. Cowper, A. C. Pinkham, *Patrick E. O'Neil.
Fourth Ward-*William G. Norkett, James Hibben, *Walter S. Gates.
Fifth Ward-*John A. Comstock, *James O'Connell, John Witt, Joseph Hobbs.
Sixth Ward-Henry M. Kidder, John S. Scott, Robert N. Freeman. De Witt C. Haight.
Seventh Ward-*Frank M. Forrey1 *George P. Mills, Joseph McCallum, *William A. Dyche.
But the most startling state of affairs is not that developed by the Mayoralty election. This afternoon an election will be held for the purpose of choosing the President of the School Board and two trustees in District No. 1 which includes the old village territory of Evanston. Ordinarily little attention is paid to this school election. One year only eight votes were cast in it. But now that women can vote the local politicians on the Mann side have set the women of the town by the ears for the sake of accomplishing certain objects of their own and the result is two tickets, one of which seeks to reelect H. H. C. Miller as President of the board, George S. Lord as a member, and to elect Mrs. Louise Brockway Stanwood in place of ex-Congressman George S. Baker, who has declined reelection.
This ticket was first in the field, and the Mann politicians, headed by Charles T. Bartlett, a large contractor who is not even a resident of that district, decided it would be a good political move to oust Mr. Miller and Mr. Lord. This committee, which had been working other parts of the town by means of a liberal use of beer and cigars, therefore repaired to the residence of Mrs. Gertrude M. Singleton last Tuesday night, smelling of cloves, and told this ardent temperance worker that it was a shame that the dear children in Evanston were not receiving better instruction as to the awful effects of alcohol on the human system, and also that there should be a free kindergarten in connection with the public schools. These noble objects, which, by the way, were special hobbies with Mrs. Singleton, they said could only be accomplished by the defeat of Mr. Miller as President of the board, and furthermore they said that nobody in town could defeat Mr. Miller quite as well as Mrs. Singleton, and that if she would run they represented 300 votes which should all be hers. Dodgers were immediately scattered through the town announcing the ticket. The work at Mrs. Singleton's residence was done so secretly that these dodgers gave the first intimation of the true state of affairs. Then the fun began. Women all parts of the district began to fly about like mad. They very soon found out the true state of affairs, and determined to beat this W.C.T.U.-beer combination ticket and elect Mr. Miller and Mr. Lord, both of whom had done excellent service on the board for years, together with Mrs. Stanwood who is a Vassar graduate and an educator of experience.
Mayor Mann and his family decided to "Go West" after leaving Evanston. Mann bought a ranch at Okobojo, South Dakota, although he retained his legal residence in Evanston and friends reported that the former mayor kept up-to-date with affairs of Evanston politics.
In the days after he left Evanston, Oscar Mann developed an interest in Theosophy and in 1899 was elected President of the White Lotus Theosophical Society of Pierre, South Dakota.
The 1900 US Census reports the Mann family as living in Llewellyn Township, Sully County, South Dakota. Oscar Mann reported his occupation as "Physician." He correctly reported this time around that he had been born in Rhode Island. Amanda reported that she had given birth to four children, three of whom were still alive. The identity of the Mann's fourth child is unknown. Both of their adult sons were living with them in 1900. Edwin was divorced and reported his occupation as "1st Lieut. U.S. Army."
Young Oscar and his family were also living there. Their part of the family consisted of Oscar and his wife Mary, who had given birth to one child who was not alive in 1900. Oscar reported his occupation as "Traveling Salesman."
In 1908, Oscar and Amanda Mann had given up the western life and moved back to the Midwest, buying a place in Gobleville, Michigan.
The 1910 US Census reports the Mann family as being in Pine Grove Township, Van Buren County, Michigan where seventy five year old Oscar Mann reported his occupation as a "Farmer engaged in General Farming." With him was his seventy four year old wife Amanda. They reported they had been married for fifty-four years. Oscar Mann correctly reported again his being born in Rhode Island. Living with them was their four year old granddaughter Mildred Mann and three hired hands: Fred, Mable and Edwin Luedecking.
Oscar Mann died October 23, 1911 from complications from a fall he had several days earlier. The Cause of Death was "Cerebral Hemorrhage." Here is his death certificate:
The family decided to bring him back to Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago for burial. Here's his tombstone:
|Mayor Oscar H. Mann|