Rock-Ribbed Republican Randolph County
One Hundred Fifty Years of the
Grand Old Party in One of
Indiana’s Republican Strongholds
Gregory P. Hinshaw
“Rock-ribbed Republican Randolph county [is the] home of former Governor Goodrich and former Senator James E. Watson . . .” - The Indianapolis Star, November 4, 1936
James P. Goodrich (left) and James E. Watson (right) were both natives of Winchester who, together and separately, dominated Indiana politics nearly fifty years. Goodrich was the State Republican Chairman from 1901 until 1910 and Governor from 1917 until 1921. Watson served in the U. S. House of Representatives from 1895 to 1897 and from 1899 until 1909. He was the 1908 Republican nominee for Governor. He served in the U. S. Senate from 1916 until 1933, serving as Floor Leader from 1929 until 1933. Their influence led many in the state and nation to view Randolph County, Indiana as the preeminent Republican stronghold of the country.
Sesquicentennial Randolph County Republican Central Committee 2004
Shirley A. Wright-Small, Chairman
Gregory P. Hinshaw, Vice-Chairman
Stanley Hendrickson, Secretary
Debbie Preston, Treasurer
Precinct Committeemen/Vice Committeeman:
East Farmland—Mary Carolyn Wright/Malcolm Wright
East Union—Gregory Beumer/Kathy Beumer
Green—Clyde O. Shaffer, Jr./Mike Coulter
Jackson—Ottis Frank/Rita Frank
Losantville—Ruth Deady/Monte Joe Burrows
Modoc—Verlin Jones/Rhonda Jones
North Lynn—Kaylene Straley/Sharon Abshear
Parker City—L. Dean Small/Kimberly K. Walker
Ridgeville—Dana Cox/Sharon Cox
Spartanburg—Thelma Morehous/Rita Jane Bash
South Lynn—Judy Mullen/William Mullen
Stoney Creek—Caroline Reiber/Perry Michael Thomas
Union City 1—Brad Hoggatt/Amy Hoggatt
Union City 2—Lois Davis/Alice Kaufman
Union City 3—Roberta Bennett/Gene Bennett
Union City 4—Esther Mote/Daniel Vinson
Ward—Don Cromer/Mary Harris
Wayne—Rick Carpenter/Claudia Thornburg
West Farmland—Russell Calhoun/Sue Calhoun
White River 1—Stanley Hendrickson/Gretchen Hendrickson
White River 2—Patricia Stephen/Gerald Stephen
Winchester 1—Steve Croyle/Gail Croyle
Winchester 2—Suzanne Fogleman/Mary Jane Alley
Winchester 3—Barbara Crawford/Betty Stalcup
Winchester 4—Charles Addington/Ruth Addington
Republican Elected Officials in Randolph County—2004
Republican County Officials
Jan L. Chalfant, Judge of the Circuit Court
David Daly, Prosecuting Attorney
Suzanne Fogleman, Clerk of the Circuit Court
Ronald J. Chalfant, Commissioner, Middle District
David B. Lenkensdofer, Commissioner, Eastern District
Drew A. Wright, Commissioner, Western District
Noel B. Carpenter, Assessor
Phillip Holliday, Auditor
Duane Petry, Coroner
Jane A. Grove, Recorder
Jay S. Harris, Sheriff
Phillip Bisel, Surveyor
Mary Ann Lenkensdofer, Treasurer
Richard Carpenter, County Councilman at-Large
Carlton Clevenger, County Councilman at-Large
Ralph E. Harris, County Councilman at-Large
Shirley A. Wright-Small, County Councilman, District 2
William Terrell, County Councilman, District 3
Gerald Stephen, County Councilman, District 4
Republican Township Officials—2004
Allen Holly, Trustee
Sarah Brumfield, Advisory Board Member
Betty Chalfant, Advisory Board Member
Armanda Gegenheimer, Advisory Board Member
R. Dean Crouch, Advisory Board Member
Bruce A. Cowen, Trustee
Reginald Chenoweth, Advisory Board Member
Gilbert D. Smith, Advisory Board Member
Ottis Frank, Advisory Board Member
Bobbie G. Neal, Trustee
Rex Corbin, Advisory Board Member
William O. Hinshaw, Advisory Board Member
Jim Main, Advisory Board Member
Stoney Creek Township
Lori Haggard, Trustee
Barbara Craig, Advisory Board Member
Kay Leeka Cassell, Advisory Board Member
Michael Thomas, Advisory Board Member
Ernest Lumpkin, Trustee
James M. Burrows, Advisory Board Member
David M. Cox, Advisory Board Member
Max Holliday, Advisory Board Member
Mark Leeka, Trustee
John D. Hersberger, Advisory Board Member
Michael Straley, Trustee
Daniel W. Engle, Advisory Board Member
Francis Frazier, Advisory Board Member
Arvin K. Robinson, Advisory Board Member
Robert Mangas, Advisory Board Member
Dale Prescott, Advisory Board Member
White River Township
Marsha Cockerill, Trustee
Dan Hill, Assessor
Jeff Horn, Advisory Board Member
Gail Sears, Advisory Board Member
Don R. Staton, Advisory Board Member
Republican City and Town Officials—2004
City of Union City
William D. Fields, City Court Judge
Susan Pyle, City Councilman, District 1*
Russell Reichard, City Councilman, District 2*
Bryan K. Conklin, City Councilman, District 3
Mike Seidle, City Councilman, At-Large
*Elected as Libertarians
City of Winchester
Steven Croyle, Mayor
Evard Thompson, City Court Judge
Jack L. Fowler, City Councilman, District 2
William Peden, City Councilman, District 3
Todd L. Schroeder, City Councilman, At-Large
Town of Farmland
William B. Redmond, Town Councilman
Bill Necessary, Town Councilman
Dan Redmond, Town Councilman
Town of Losantville
Thomas Fisher, Town Councilman
Brent Hall, Town Councilman
Town of Lynn
Kaylene Straley, Clerk-Treasurer
Jerimy Stephan, Town Councilman, District 1
Harold G. Isenbarger, Town Councilman, District 2
Judy C. Mullen, Town Councilman, District 3
Town of Modoc
[All officers are “independents.”]
Town of Parker City
Kimberly K. Walker, Clerk-Treasurer
L. Dean Small, Town Councilman
Fred Ludington, Town Councilman
Town of Ridgeville
Arlinda Hardwick, Clerk-Treasurer
Gary E. Davis, Town Councilman
Dale Phillips, Town Councilman
Town of Saratoga
John R. Boyd, Town Councilman
Leroy R. Ludwick, Town Councilman
“I was born and reared at Winchester, Indiana a very strong Quaker community, and therefore one intensely anti-slavery and bitterly Republican,” said former U. S. Senate Majority Leader James E. Watson on the opening page of his political autobiography. Randolph County, nestled on the eastern border of Indiana, has long been a hot bed of Republican strength. The Whig and Free Soil politics of the county’s early years made fertile soil for the Republicanism of the middle nineteenth century. The Republicanism of the county has endured almost unabated in the 150 years since. Yet as strong partisanship is increasingly scrutinized, the “rock-ribbed Republicanism” of Randolph County shows a few signs of abating.
Randolph Politics Before the Republican Party
Ebenezer Tucker, famous historian of Randolph County, said in his history, “Randolph County would seem to have been largely Democratic in early times, or else non-partisan.” He goes on to list several Democratic officeholders in the early years of the county. However, a more detailed look at the voting patterns of the time reveals that the majority of the county’s residents have always voted against Democrats, especially in national races. In 1824 John Quincy Adams carried Randolph County with seventy-two votes to Andrew Jackson’s sixty-two. While both were Democratic-Republicans, the margin widened when the two faced off again in 1828. In that year, Adams carried Randolph County with 250 votes to Jackson’s 123. What would account for such large majority against Jackson in a year when the state and nation voted overwhelmingly for him? The explanation probably lies somewhere in the roots of the county’s earliest settlers. A huge number of Randolph County’s earliest settlers, including five of the original eight county officeholders, were Friends (or Quakers), most from the South. Thomas Hamm, well-known Quaker historian, has reviewed the Federalist (and then Whig) leanings of Southern (and later Midwestern) Friends. Ephraim Overman, a Greenfork Township Quaker, is supposed to have used his influence to have the county named “Randolph” in honor of his former home in North Carolina. Indeed, during the Gilded Age, one man was described as “the only Quaker Democrat” in Randolph County. A check of Quaker records indicates that the man described was not actually a member of any Friends meeting. Randolph County was perhaps influenced as much by what it was not as by what it was. There were few Baptists or Catholics in the county. Other historians, such as James Madison, have identified the Democrat leanings of those religious groups. One Republican Randolph County newspaper described the Baptists of Nettle Creek Township as being ninety percent Democrats .
By 1840 the Whig machine was in full-force, running William Henry Harrison and John Tyler under the campaign of “Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too!” Randolph County’s residents were overcome by the campaign of 1840 like no other since. Election day found the vote for Harrison 1068 to 553 for Van Buren. Whig victories in the county were not to last, as anti-slavery dissidents around the nation pulled out of their old parties. Randolph County (and the rest of eastern Indiana) was particularly vulnerable to such movements because of the huge numbers of anti-slavery Quakers and others in the area. In 1844 the Presidential vote was 818 for Clay, 809 for Polk, and 206 for Birney, the Liberty (or anti-slavery) candidate. It seems obvious from the statistics that nearly all Birney’s votes in Randolph County came from former Whigs.
On May 1, 1847, an anti-slavery political convention was held in Winchester. Hiram Mendenhall, a Hicksite Quaker, was the president of the convention, and Daniel Hill, an Anti-Slavery Quaker, was secretary. Numerous names later famous in Republican circles were present, and a slate was nominated for the election. This forerunner of the Free Soil Party in Randolph County destroyed Whig hopes. The 1848 results showed 789 Democratic votes, 631 Whig votes, and 523 Free Soil votes. The 1852 campaign showed similar results. Randolph County was one of the few places in the nation where the Free Soil ticket ran strongly in the 1852 race. Whigs remained competitive at the local level.
Indiana’s new constitution, written in 1851, was largely the product of the state’s Democratic Party. The constitution was submitted to a direct vote of the people for its ratification in 1851. One of the most heinous provisions of the new document, the infamous Article XIII, not only banned slavery, but also banned any free blacks from living in the state. Article XIII was subject to a separate vote for ratification. Randolph County, with its large Quaker and free black population, voted down Article XIII, though only three other counties in the state, all with heavy New England backgrounds, did the same.
The Organization of the Republican Party
Much has already been written about the events leading to the organization of the Republican Party both at the national and the state level. After the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, espousing “popular sovereignty” and opening Kansas and Nebraska to possible slavery, old party loyalties fell apart. Dissidents from both major parties began to form new political coalitions all over the North. Indiana was no different. Here, dissident Democrats, Whigs, Know-Nothings, and Free Soilers met in a state convention in Indianapolis in July and selected a slate of candidates who ran under the “Peoples” name. At first the “fusion” was thought be temporary, but the new organization endured.
The new movement was organized in Randolph County under the “People’s” name at a convention on August 19, 1854.
In 1854, the Republican party in this county was organized by a coalition of the anti-slavery Whigs and the Free-Soil party. At a mass convention held in Winchester in that year, [George W. Monks] was nominated by acclamation for Representative in the General Assembly, thus becoming the first Republican nominee from this county for a legislative office .
The candidates of that year met with great success. In 1856 the Republican Presidential candidate, John C. Fremont, carried Randolph County with 2042 votes to James Buchanan’s 1253. Fifty-nine stalwart Whigs voted for Millard Fillmore, the Know-Nothing candidate. Randolph County’s Republican vote was gargantuan. Fremont voters made up sixty-two percent of the two-party vote. Regular county conventions were held every two years for a generation. Every time, Randolph County’s Republicans allowed the nomination of their candidates in a nominating, or primary, election, though it was not a legal requirement. Between 1858 and the turn of the century, every Republican nominated for county office won. The result was that Randolph was in some sense a one-party county. The Democrats put up a valiant, though unsuccessful, fight nearly every time, always seeing their whole county ticket go down to defeat. John L. Smith, one of the few Democrats in Randolph County, said, “Randolph County was always anti-slavery and the Friends Church, strong in the same regard, was one of the foremost factors in molding public sentiment against slavery. With the rise of the Whig party, and later the Republican party, Democrats of prominence became few and far between. . . . Without hope of any victory whatever, the Democracy [Democratic Party] of Randolph always put up its ticket for every contest.” There were enclaves of Democrats throughout the county. Jackson and Ward Townships and Union City were dominated by Democrats, and Franklin and Nettle Creek Townships had sizable Democratic populations as well. But the Republicans in the county far outnumbered the Democrats. In the Maxville Precinct in 1858, 33 Republicans outvoted 2 Democrats. In Farmland, 101 Republicans outvoted 19 Democrats. In Morristown (Parker City), 43 Republicans outvoted 3 Democrats. During the Civil War, the Republican Party in Randolph County operated as the “Union Party,” as did the Republican Party nationally. The Republican vote in the county grew as the Civil War passed. Lincoln’s percentage of the two-party vote was 66.1 in 1860 and 67.0 in 1864. William A. Peele of Winchester was the Republican nominee for Secretary of State in 1858, 1860, and 1862, though he found success only in the middle year.
The Liberal Republican Movement
As a result of corruption in President Grant’s administration, many Republicans became dissatisfied with the party and formed the “Liberal Republican” movement in 1872, which eventually formed a new coalition with the Democratic Party. The Republican Party in Randolph County was relatively unaffected by the movement, though Democrats in the county scored an emotional victory with the defection of Isaac P. Gray to the Liberal Republican movement, then the Democratic Party. Gray, a colonel in the Union Army, represented Randolph County in the State Senate as a Republican in 1869 and 1871. While there, he served as President pro tempore and pushed through ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, giving blacks the right to vote. He served as President of the 1870 County Republican Convention. But by 1872, he had joined the Liberal Republican movement. Randolph County’s chief Republican newspaper, The Journal, condemned Gray with full force. A number of other Republicans in Randolph County also “bolted.” Among them were B. F. Wilmore, Captain William D. Stone, Tyre T. Puckett, and John Charles. The Democrats held their county convention on August 24, 1872 with seventy-five Democrats and three Liberal Republicans present. The Democrats controlled most of the proceedings, though of the eight nominees, only two, Curtis Graves and Richard Beard, were Liberal Republicans. Election day found Republican candidates in Randolph County with a majority of nearly 1800 votes, by any measure a stiff rebuke to Gray, the once favorite son of Randolph County. President Grant’s percentage of the two-party vote was 68.9, exactly what it had been in 1868. More than sixty-five percent of Randolph County voters cast their ballots for Republican candidates for governor, U. S. representative, state senator, and state representative.
In 1876 Isaac P. Gray was elected Lieutenant Governor of Indiana as a Democrat. He became Governor at the death of James D. Williams in 1880. He lost the election for Lieutenant Governor in 1880, but won the Governorship in 1884. In all of these races, he failed to carry the vote in Randolph County. His 1884 percentage in Randolph County was 33.8. In short, partisanship was a firm measure of one’s popularity in Randolph County. In 1892 Gray was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President, then for Vice-President, but lost both, largely because of his Republican history.
In the 1872 race General Thomas M. Browne, one of Randolph County’s favorite sons, was the Republican candidate for Governor of Indiana. He lost a close election to Thomas A. Hendricks, later Vice-President of the United States. He polled 67.7 percent of the two-party vote in his home county.
By the time of organization for the 1874 campaign, the Panic of 1873 had created economic chaos in the country. The Grange movement, a sort of “farmer’s union,” was in full force. In fact there were twenty-four organized Granges in Randolph County in June 1874. This discontent, coupled with the remnants of the Liberal Movement, created a new fusion movement for the 1874 campaign. On June 13, 1874, long after the nominating election had selected the Republican ticket, the “People’s Convention” was called to order in Winchester City Hall. Thomas W. Reece, an active Granger and a Republican who had served as commissioner, treasurer, and state representative, was the chairman. A number of other Republicans, Liberal Republicans, and Democrats were present. Such diverse men as John Charles, a devout Quaker Liberal Republican from West River Township and Miles Hunt, a staunch Democrat and former Whig, took part in the convention. A platform was adopted calling for a more liberal use of greenbacks and condemning the recent “salary grab” by Congress. A local ticket was nominated and served as the only opposition to the Republican ticket in the fall. The election resulted in a normal Republican majority of 1800 votes. Many of the disgruntled men returned to their old allegiances. T. T. Puckett and W. D. Stone again became loyal Republicans. One interesting note of the time is that Theodore Shockney, a young Democrat at the 1874 People’s Convention, later became a leading Republican in the State of Indiana, serving as the 1892 nominee for Lieutenant Governor.
A Steady Vote
The story of Randolph County Republicanism in the Gilded Age is largely one of deep, intense, and regular partisanship. Between 1864 and 1892, the Republican percentage of the two-party vote for President in every single election was between 66.4 and 68.9. Gubernatorial, congressional, and legislative races show similar kinds of regularity. In the Republican landslide of 1894, Republicans carried over seventy percent of the two-party vote. Republican majorities declined slightly in 1896, probably as a result of the controversy surrounding free silver. After 1900, however, the Republican vote in Randolph County showed susceptibility to vary from one election to the next. In 1904 Theodore Roosevelt carried the county with 72.8 percent of the vote. Four years later, William Howard Taft only managed to garner 64.8 percent.
Randolph County’s regular Republicanism placed it in a position to exercise some influence in the state and nation. Not only did Isaac P. Gray and Thomas M. Browne come from the ranks of Randolph County Republicans, other prominent state politicians did as well. Browne was elected to Congress in 1876 and served until 1891. Isaiah P. Watts of Winchester was the unsuccessful Republican nominee for Secretary of State in 1876. Theodore Shockney of Union City was, as mentioned before, the unsuccessful candidate for Lieutenant Governor in 1892. Leander J. Monks, then Judge of the Randolph Circuit Court, was elected to the State Supreme Court in 1894. He served three six-year terms and part of the time was Chief Justice of Indiana. Union B. Hunt of Winchester and Modoc was elected Secretary of State in 1898 and re-elected in 1900. Mentioned prominently as a candidate for Governor in 1904, he declined to run and instead took up work with the Knights of Pythias.
Of note in this period is the election of John Roberts as assessor of Nettle Creek Township in 1880. Roberts, an African-American Republican, was almost certainly the first of his race elected to office in Randolph County and probably one of the first in the state.
Many lesser-known Randolph Countians served in various capacities during the period. Many political families gained their first fame during the Gilded Age. No family other can surpass the Dalys for political endurance in Randolph County. William A. W. Daly, a captain in the Union Army, returned home and was elected Sheriff in 1874, serving two two-year terms. He later served one term (1889) in the State House. His son, Charles, was County Clerk (1918-1921); another son, Ulysses G., was Sheriff (1925-1926); and a third son, Walter, was warden of the State Prison at Michigan City. Ulysses’s son, George, was Prosecuting Attorney (1963-1974), and George’s son, David, has served in the same capacity since 1995. In addition, descendants of William A. W. Daly’s brother-in-law, Jacob B. Hinshaw, have been elected to county office nine times. One of them, Greg Hinshaw, is Vice-Chairman of the County Central Committee today.
In the years after the Civil War, other parties competed for votes with Randolph County’s Republicans. In 1876 Greenback votes were cast in Randolph County for the first time. The third party vote made little difference, as the Republican majority in Randolph County of 2000 of about 6000 votes cast made Randolph County’s Republican majority the second largest of any county in the state. Only Wayne County, with a population 150% that of Randolph, had a larger majority. Eighteen eighty-four saw the organization of the Prohibition Party in Indiana and in Randolph County. No local slate was nominated by the Prohibitionists in 1884, but seventy-seven votes were cast for John P. St. John, the Prohibition Presidential candidate. By 1886 the Prohibition Party was nominating local slates. The Journal referred to the Prohibitionists as “good men and former Republicans.” During the nineteenth century, the Prohibition vote in Randolph County was only about 1/20 that of the Republican Party. At various times the Prohibitionists cooperated with the Democrats, the Populists, and the Progressives, but they failed to win a single county office. They ran their last local ticket in 1914, formed a fusion ticket with the Democrats and Progressives in 1916, then were not heard from again until 1932. The party was revived in 1944, drawing in many disgruntled Republicans. The last local Prohibition slate was run in 1954.
In 1890 the People’s, or Populist, Party was organized in Randolph County by those who favored many progressive reforms. They ran local tickets in 1890, 1892, and 1894. The party formed a fusion ticket with local Democrats in 1896 and 1898, then passed from the scene. The Winchester Journal of November 5, 1890 said, “Fully 75 percent and probably more than that of the vote cast for the People’s and Prohibition [sic] was by former Republicans.” Nathan T. Butts, a Methodist Episcopal minister and former Republican member of the General Assembly from Randolph County, was the State Chairman of the People’s Party in 1896.
As the new century opened, no opposition had been able to shake the Republican hold on Randolph County. The election of 1900 found the Republican majority to be about 5050 out of 7700 votes cast. Republican candidates continued to win every county office, as they had since before the Civil War. In some places in the county, Democrats held on to power. Ward and Jackson Townships were both heavily Democratic in the early years of the twentieth century. In fact, no Republican candidates were nominated for offices in those townships in the 1900 primary election, though eventually candidates were placed into the field. Even in the face of discouraging national trends, such as the Democratic sweep of 1910, Randolph County had a Republican majority. In 1908 Joe Gard, the Democratic candidate for sheriff, “canvassed” Randolph County. The Winchester Journal said that Gard was the first Democrat in county history to attempt such an action . All others had seen such efforts as foolish in the face of such strong Republican sentiment. There was evidence of events to come. The first Democrat was elected to the Farmland Town Board in 1909 in a special election, and the first Democrats were elected to the Winchester City Council in the same year. The Winchester Journal was still able to crow on November 16, 1910 that Randolph County was the only county in the state that had never elected a Democrat to county office [since the formation of the Republican Party].
Republican Presidential Candidate William Howard Taft at Winchester October 31, 1908
As the Republican Presidential campaign of 1912 opened, no one could imagine the effect that it would have on politics at nearly every level. Most Randolph County Republicans backed former President Theodore Roosevelt for the nomination, but sitting President William Howard Taft had control of the party’s machinery. The Winchester Journal’s editors made a most ironic statement in the opening days of the campaign. “Despite reports to the contrary it is not believed that national politics was a factor in the [local caucus] election. Randolph County Republicans are ready to enthusiastically support the nominee of the Chicago convention whosoever he may be; and while all of us have our individual opinion as to who the nominee should be, yet no prejudice exists that is so serious as to be embarrassing to the ticket’s success.”
By March 23, when caucuses met to choose delegates to select delegates to the National Convention, tension was high. On that day, the Taft forces took Randolph County, but the Roosevelt forces seemed determined to protest . The Eighth District convention convened at the Irvin Theater in Winchester on March 28. The Roosevelt forces controlled the day, electing Horace Stillwell as Chairman of the Convention and passing resolutions which said in part, “We . . . feel that the present crisis in our governmental life necessitate the return to the presidency of . . . Theodore Roosevelt. We therefore instruct the delegates and alternates selected by this convention to use their best efforts . . . to bring about the nomination of Theodore Roosevelt of New York. . . .” At the June National Convention in Chicago, Taft won the Republican nomination. As a part of a larger maneuver, Roosevelt had withdrawn his name, so the Eighth District’s delegates refused to vote. Immediately the call went forth for the organization of a new party to support Roosevelt. Randolph County Republicans found themselves in a great quandary. They preferred Roosevelt to Taft, but they were also loyal Republicans. The Republican nominating election held on February 20 had already selected candidates for local offices. Finally a call went forth for a convention to organize the Progressive (Roosevelt’s “Bull Moose”) Party locally. Flyers appeared around the county calling for a local convention. The convention met on July 29, 1912 at the Irvin Theatre, with Theodore Shockney of Union City as president and J. G. Bly as secretary. Shockney, a former Republican member of the General Assembly and one-time candidate for Lieutenant Governor, became Randolph County’s leading Progressive. Horace Stillwell had been one of the main leaders in organizing the convention. Even Republican County Chairman G. Walter Hiatt bolted to the new party. A committee on permanent organization was appointed, new precinct committeemen were named, and delegates to the state convention were selected. Republicans must have breathed a sigh of relief upon learning that the convention had “decided not to nominate a County ticket.”
On October 5, the Progressives once again convened in the New Irvin Theater, but this time they planned to nominate a county ticket. That decision would prove disastrous for local Republican hegemony, albeit temporarily. A poll had been taken of Randolph County citizens in September, revealing 3222 potential Progressive voters. Votes were then cast in proportion to the polling numbers from each locality. Candidates were nominated for all offices. Randolph County’s newspapers seem to have been unenticed by the Progressive forces. Both the Winchester Herald and the Winchester Journal remained loyally Republican, though traces of sympathy with the Progressive movement could be found. The Journal condemned the nomination of a separate county ticket by men who had helped to select the Republican ticket in February. Randolph County Progressives also earned some prominence nationally. L. R. Lenich of Union City was nominated for Presidential Elector and J. Garver Bly of Farmland was nominated as an Alternate Delegate to the National Convention.
Election day in 1912 proved to be a disaster for all involved except local Democrats, who found themselves with winning candidates for the first time in sixty years. Roosevelt carried the Presidential vote (making Randolph County one of only a few in the state to have a Progressive Presidential plurality) with 2471 votes, Wilson had 2158, and Taft followed with 1988. Albert Beveridge, the Progressive nominee for governor, also carried Randolph County. John A. M. Adair became the first Democrat to carry Randolph County’s vote for U. S. representative since before the Civil War. Democrats captured the positions of State Representative, Prosecuting Attorney, Sheriff, Clerk, Coroner, Commissioner—Middle District, and Commissioner—Western District. Republicans held on to the offices of Treasurer, Recorder, and Surveyor. Progressives won none of the local offices. The results of the race for Prosecuting Attorney and County Treasurer were subject to review by the County Commissioners. These were the first “recounts” in Randolph County history. Quick analysis surmises what must have happened. Most Randolph County Republicans voted for Roosevelt out of sheer personal loyalty. When it came to local offices, slightly more than half were loyal to the Republican Party, and slightly less than half voted for the Progressive Party. Democrats were then able to win with about one third of the vote, about the same percentage as they had earned two years before. After the election, the Winchester Journal attempted to explain the terrible loss and find some good in the results of the election. The Republicans elected in Randolph County were said to be the only Republicans elected in the entire Eighth Congressional District. The newspaper also pointed out that the Democrats won with fifteen percent fewer votes in 1912 than they had earned in 1910. The Journal also rather positively reviewed the qualifications of the Democrats who were elected, but was quick to point out, “They are the first Democrats elected to office in this county since the civil war.”
Most Republicans learned quick lessons from the “Progressive split” and worked to reunite the party. The Progressive organization in the county did continue, however. In 1914 a Progressive primary was held with 1260 voters participating, about half the number who voted for Roosevelt in 1912. The general election found Republicans, Democrats, and Progressives again on the ballot for most of the offices. However, enough Progressives returned to the Republican fold to claim almost all of the offices. The Democrats reelected a sheriff and a prosecuting attorney, while the Progressives elected Theodore Shockney judge of the circuit court. He was the only Progressive to be elected judge in the State of Indiana.
The Democratic legislature of 1915 passed a law requiring primary elections. In 1916 Randolph County Republicans held their first legal primary. Democrats and Progressives also held primary elections. However, the Democratic and Progressive candidates resigned, and in September, a convention of Democrats, Progressives, and Prohibitionists nominated a slate of candidates under the name “Citizens Ticket.” The strategy proved to be a failure, for the Republicans elected all of their candidates in the general election. The Progressive movement in Randolph County, with the havoc it brought to local Republicans, passed into history.
After patching up the Republican Party from its wounds, the party machinery set about rebuilding its majority status. Republicans claimed every office from 1916 through the Great Depression in Randolph County. A review of the voting habits of the 1920s, however, reveals that individual Republican candidates, though always victorious, might run greatly ahead of or behind the rest of the party. Surely the evidence of “personal politics” was beginning to emerge. In the 1922 primary election, something very strange happened; only two challenged incumbents survived. The explanation was some sort of unpopular tax. The change was unparalleled. In the same primary, two women, Rachel Anna Tooker for Auditor and Mary E. Smith for Treasurer, were nominated. Both went on to win in the fall and were the first women officeholders in Randolph County history.
One dark spot is present in Indiana Republican history during the 1920s: the influence of the Ku Klux Klan. The Indiana Klan, purportedly for Americanism, the church, and the home, grabbed the attention of many weary of a European war and changing values in an industrial age. All ninety-two of Indiana’s counties had “klaverns.” Randolph County was no exception. The local Klan was organized in 1922. By 1924 the Klan was exercising at least partial control over the county Republican Party. The Ridgeville News of Friday, May 9, 1924 headlined, “KLAN MAKES DEBUT IN THE COUNTY PRIMARIES.” The accompanying article said, “[I]n the county the Klan slate went thru with the exception of the candidate for representative. The defeat of the Klan in this race was no doubt due to the fact that the Klan sample ballots indorsed [sic] either of the two candidates.” A Union City article gave more detail to the Klan’s purported influence, claiming that a majority of the delegates to the State Convention and a majority of the precinct committeemen were Klan supporters, though this seems doubtful. County Chairman John W. Macy, Jr., described as “anti-klan,” was a supporter of the Goodrich faction of the State Republican Party and was determined to hold on to his position. It is not clear whether the Klan was able to endorse already popular candidates or to make endorsed candidates popular. In any event, the Klan slate won. All of them went on to win in the fall. Chairman Macy held onto his position, and Ed Jackson, the Klan-endorsed Republican candidate for Governor, carried Randolph County with only 57.4 percent of the two-party vote, running nearly one thousand votes behind President Coolidge and several hundred votes behind the state ticket. The conclusion must be that the Klan’s influence on the Republican Party in Randolph County was mixed at best.
The 1928 elections saw the greatest Republican majorities of many years. Hoover carried the county with 71.9 percent of the two-party vote. The rest of the ticket received about 7700 votes of 11,500 cast.
The Great Depression rebuilt the modern Democratic Party more than any other event in history. A “New Deal” coalition, which has endured with varying degrees of success since then, was created by Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Great Depression was not able to give the Democrats control of Randolph County, but it did loosen the grip of the Republican Party. In 1930 Republican majorities were still strong, at about 60 percent of the two-party vote, but 1932 brought different results. Hoover, as every previous Republican candidate had, carried Randolph County with 6509 votes to Roosevelt’s 6223. Finley Gray, a Democrat, carried the county’s congressional vote. The Democrats elected a western district commissioner and a county treasurer. Other Republicans held on, some with the smallest of majorities. The 1934 election saw another Republican sweep, though the majorities were still small.
Nineteen thirty-six marks something of a banner year for Randolph County Republicans. In that year Presidential candidate Alfred M. Landon lost every state but Maine and Vermont to Roosevelt. It was the worst Republican defeat up until that time. However, Randolph County stayed true to its history. Landon carried the county by 195 votes. Every other Republican candidate also carried Randolph County. According to reports of the time (later found to be untrue), the county was the only one in the nation to elect an entire Republican ticket. The “lost” treasurer’s office was reclaimed. The Republican percentage of the two-party vote for state and national offices declined during the early Roosevelt years to approximately fifty to fifty-five percent.
The next few years saw increasing stability in the Republican vote in Randolph County. Not a single office was lost in the remainder of the thirties, forties, and early fifties. Republican presidential candidates claimed more than sixty percent of the two-party vote in 1944, 1948, 1952, 1956, and 1960.
Treasurer D. M. Simmons, Representative Charles Leavell, and Assessor Orla Keener at the Willkie Notification Meeting at Elwood, Indiana August 18, 1940
The Sixth Year
The sixth year of an incumbent President’s term is usually regarded as a bad one for his party. Nineteen fifty-eight was such a year for Republicans. In many northern states, no real Democratic Party had existed since the Civil War. But just as southern voters were showing new willingness to vote for Republicans, northern voters showed new willingness to vote for Democrats. An economic slowdown, Republican lethargy, and massive efforts by Democrats across the nation proved to be disastrous to Republicans all over the United States.
Part of the problem in Randolph County was that national issues overshadowed local loyalties. Invigorated local Democrats also worked very hard, making an issue of what was seen as poor road and bridge maintenance in the county. The real personality behind the 1958 election in Randolph County was a widely known figure by the name of Merrett Monks (1899-1966). Monks was a native of Ward Township. He first sought elective office by unsuccessfully running for Ward Township Trustee in the Republican Primary in 1926. In 1940 he was elected Randolph County Clerk, re-elected in 1944, then in 1948 was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives. Monks had served for many years as a basketball referee and was widely known. He was also the darling of many Randolph County Republicans. He was elected to four consecutive terms in the Indiana House, in his latter years becoming quite vocal in his opposition to Indiana’s Republican Governors, George N. Craig and Harold Handley. In 1956 Monks challenged Handley for the gubernatorial nomination, but his maverick status had alienated him from the State party’s machinery. In 1958 Monks again took a controversial step. For many years, Randolph County and Jay County were in the same “Joint Senate” district. The Republican officials in the two counties agreed to rotate the seat, so that every four years each county sent someone to the Indiana Senate. The successful 1954 nominee was Keith Fraser of Jay County. Many in Randolph County believed that they would nominate the State Senator in 1958, but Fraser chose to run again. Monks entered the Democrat primary for the State Senate seat, denouncing the Governor and the Republican Party. In Randolph County the local party watched in horror as nearly the entire ticket went down to defeat on election day. Only two challenged Republicans survived the local Democratic onslaught. Democrats, with only a partial ticket, were able to elect two county commissioners, a sheriff, and a state senator, Merrett Monks. Monks became the first Randolph County Democrat in the State Senate since the 1840s. A large photo of a donkey appeared in the Winchester newspaper saying, “Randolph County went this way.” It was the worst Republican loss in Randolph County history. In most state and national races, however, voters gave small majorities to Republican candidates.
Two years later, in 1960, Republicans regained their footing and elected their entire ticket with a majority of about 2000, reclaiming control of the board of commissioners. In 1962 Monks bolted the Democrat Party and ran for sheriff as an independent, finishing a distant third. He ran for mayor of Winchester in 1963, also finishing in last place. Election day in 1962 proved happy for Randolph County Republicans as they again elected the whole ticket. In 1964 the Republican Party was decimated around the nation by the perceived extremism of its Presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater. Goldwater lost Randolph County, with 6551 votes to Lyndon Johnson’s 6804 votes. For the first time since the organization of the Republican Party, a Democratic Presidential candidate carried Randolph County. It never happened again. Despite the onslaught at the top, the rest of the Republican ticket carried Randolph County. Through the next ten years, Republicans were firmly in control of Randolph County.
The De-aligning Electorate
Political scientists have referred to the most recent period as a time of a dealigning electorate, meaning that voters have increasingly voted for “the man” rather than for a party label. Some evidence of such a trend emerged in the 1950s, with the organization of opposition parties in many areas of the United States where one party had previously dominated. The tumultuous changes of the Civil Rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s and 1970s further served to detach a number of voters (particularly the young) from partisan attachments. In Randolph County the trend has been no different. The Watergate Scandal of 1972-1974 cast a pall over Republicans everywhere, though Randolph County Republicans were victorious in the 1974 election with two exceptions. Democrats Carl O. Gettinger and Richard F. Wilson won seats on the County Council. They were the first Democrats in Randolph County history to serve on the council. Two years later, Republican fortunes suffered. County Clerk Elna Ingle had been indicted by a grand jury and resigned. In the general election, Ingle’s successor, Suzanne Peach, fell to Carl O. Gettinger, and Leroy Chambers, son of the incumbent coroner, lost the coroner’s race to biennial Democratic candidate Terry Cullum.
Through the remainder of the 1970s and the 1980s, Republican voters still dominated Randolph County, though Democrats were able to capture more offices than ever before, largely due to the personal popularity of a few Democratic candidates. Republican Presidential and legislative candidates continued to run well in Randolph County, though Congressman Phil Sharp, a Democrat, almost always carried the county in the face of weak Republican opposition. Democrats won the coroner’s office in 1976 and 1980, the recorder’s office in 1978 and 1982, the auditor’s office in 1982 and 1986, the prosecutor’s office in 1986 and 1990, and the middle district commissioner’s seat in 1988, 1992, and 1996. In 1990 they won control of the Randolph County Council for the first time in history. In 1992 after two failed attempts to win the seat, a Democrat won the State Representative’s seat, but only after the Democratic House of Representatives gerrymandered the seat to favor the twice-defeated Democratic candidate.
Randolph County Republicans, generally not prone to internecine struggles, faced attempts to “take over” the party in 1980. As a part of the larger “Moral Majority” movement then gaining strength, several newcomers, most of them fundamentalist Baptists, filed to run for precinct committeemen and delegates to state convention. Allen Jefferis, the County Chairman, opposed them, and the voters rejected all of them in the 1980 primary .
Recent years have found Republicans in Randolph County successfully rebuilding the party. A Democrat clerk was defeated in 1980, a Democrat auditor was defeated in 1990, and a Democrat prosecutor was defeated in 1994. In 1996 Republicans won control of all of the at-large county council seats, regaining control of that body and defeating two Democrat incumbents. In 1998 another Democrat council member was defeated, leaving six Republicans and one Democrat on the council.
The Non-Partisan Partisan Randolph County Electorate
In the years since 1960, Randolph County voters have shown the same susceptibility to national trends and the same proclivity to split their tickets; however, nominal Republican identification remains strong. Randolph County’s Republican vote surged in 1972, slumped in 1976, rebounded in 1980 and 1984, then fell slightly in 1988. The vote fell dramatically in 1992 and 1996 as voters defected to independent Ross Perot. The Republican lock on Randolph County’s vote for governor also seems to have been broken. Democrat Evan Bayh carried the county in 1988, widening his margin in 1992. His successor, Frank O’Bannon, managed to carry Randolph County twice as well. Randolph County voters seem just as schizophrenic (or discerning, depending on one’s perspective) in contests for U. S. Senator. Dan Quayle received 67.6 percent of the two-party vote in 1986. Richard Lugar received 72.6 percent in 1988. Dan Coats won 61.8 percent in 1992 and Lugar won an astounding 73.6 percent in 1994 and 70.7 percent in 2000. Yet when Democrat Evan Bayh ran in 1998, he carried 62.2 percent of Randolph County’s two-party vote. Surely these statistics reveal that Randolph County voters are just as likely to be influenced by personality as are other voters. In the race for U. S. House of Representatives, Randolph County voters seem, again, to be more like typical Americans than loyal Republicans. Rep. Phil Sharp, a Watergate baby of 1974, lost the county that year, but carried it by astounding margins in each succeeding election. In 1986, he managed 65.9 percent of the two-party vote. Yet the anti-Clinton revolt of 1994, coupled with Sharp’s retirement that year, brought a surge in Republican strength. Republican House candidates have carried Randolph County with more than 57 percent of the two-party vote in each election since.
Despite all of this evidence of decreased partisan attachments, there is still firm evidence of Republican leaning and loyalty among Randolph County voters. One Republican operative working in Randolph County asserted that the statewide offices below governor exist “only so the parties can gauge their strength.” These offices (Secretary of State, Auditor of State, Treasurer of State, Clerk of the Courts, Attorney General, and Superintendent of Public Instruction) are now filled for four-year terms. The Republican percentage of the two-party vote for these offices has averaged 57.3 percent since 1958 and seems to be increasing. The average since 1992 is 60.6 percent.
Is Randolph County Indiana’s Republican Stronghold?
It is fair to ask if Randolph County is still Indiana’s Republican stronghold. Perhaps only Hamilton County has a record that can exceed that of Randolph County today, and the Hamilton County of today is not the Hamilton County of a generation ago. Its agrarian roots have been supplanted by a suburban Republicanism that is not present in Randolph County. An analysis of Randolph County’s voters by the Indiana Republican Committee yields interesting results as well. Of the 8,124 voters whose partisanship can reasonably be determined through voting habits, 2,493 are identified as “strong Republicans,” 2,971 as “weak Republicans,” 785 as “independents,” 1,273 as “weak Democrats,” and a mere 602 as “strong Democrats.” This yields a Republican dominance of 67%-23%-10%. Republicans hold a strong advantage over Democrats in county and township offices as well. At the county level, Republicans hold 19 of 21 offices. Both Democrats currently in county office were elected without Republican opposition. In fact, no Republican candidate for county office has been defeated in nearly a decade. Republicans hold 32 township offices. Democrats hold 11. Republicans also control the councils of every city and town, except one, in Randolph County.
A Look to the Future
Political parties are viable only as long as they produce good government. The Republican Party of Randolph County can justly be proud of its long record of efficient and honest government. The goal of the Republican Party is to continue to move forward and to provide the citizens of Randolph County with the good government that we deserve.
Chairmen of the Republican Central Committee of Randolph County
George W. Monks1859-1860
George A. Smith1860
John B. Goodrich1864-1866, 1868
Leander J. Monks 1870, 1872, 1874
William E. Murray1876
John W. Macy1880, 1882
Levi W. Study1882-1884
John W. Macy1884-1888
Benjamin F. Boltz1888
John W. Macy -1890
Albert O. Marsh1890-1894
W. W. Canada1894-1897
James P. Goodrich1898-1902
T. W. Hutchins1902-1904
James S. Engle1904-1906
John H. Boltz1906-1908
Jesse T. Moorman1908-1910
G. Walter Hiatt1910-1912
Henry F. Wood1912-1915
James M. Browne1915-1917
Harvey E. McNees1917-1922
John W. Macy, Jr.1922-1926
Charles H. Beeson1926-1932
Harvey E. McNees1932-1934
Arthur B. Purdy1934-1938
Leroy S. Davisson1938-1949
William A. Gutheil1949-1955
Dr. William E. Lapar1969-1974
D. Allen Jefferis1974-1980
Steven M. Cox1992-1996
David A. Hoover1996-2001
Shirley A. Wright-Small2001-2009
Claudia R. Thornburg2009-