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Web Directory of Congressional Bios Debuts

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060304/ap_on_go_co/congress_biographies;_ylt=AtWNAQCspdDkq7hw_vFs2HKyFz4D;_ylu=X3oDMTA5aHJvMDdwBHNlYwN5bmNhdA-- Web Directory of
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 4, 2006

      Web Directory of Congressional Bios Debuts

      By DOUGLASS K. DANIEL, Associated Press Writer Sat Mar
      4, 2:45 AM ET

      WASHINGTON - Former Sen. Arthur Brown of Utah is a
      footnote to history — more interesting than most,
      though, because a woman claiming he had fathered two
      of her children gunned him down in a hotel room in
      1906. Brown's entry is among the 12,000 or so — from
      Aandahl to Zwach — in the Biographical Directory of
      the United States Congress, 1774-2005, the definitive
      reference book about federal lawmakers, now online for
      the first time.

      The entries in the directory's 16th edition, the first
      update since 1989, were written by congressional
      historians to provide basic information — dates,
      places and positions — rather than personal stories.
      Occasionally, though, startling tales appear amid the
      plain facts.

      Jeremiah Haralson, once an Alabama representative, is
      listed as having been killed by "wild beasts" near
      Denver around 1916. He was one of at least six former
      slaves who served in either the House or the Senate.

      Michigan Rep. William Wedemeyer drowned in 1913 after
      he fell into a harbor while on an official visit to
      Panama. His body was never found. A former
      representative from Indiana, Joseph L. White, was shot
      to death while on a business trip to Nicaragua in
      1861. He was buried there.

      An air of mystery surrounds some members of Congress
      because so little is known about them. Congressional
      historians aren't sure when more than 100 of them were
      born and when at least 49 of them died.

      "For me personally, some of the mysteries often center
      on their burial places," said Betty Koed, the
      assistant Senate historian and co-editor of the
      directory with House historical publications
      specialist Andrew Dodge.

      "We have a few members that we think were buried in
      one place, but they had been disinterred at some point
      and the body was lost," Koed said, "and we don't know
      where they are now."

      First published in 1859, the directory has long been a
      boon to historians and genealogists. What makes this
      edition worth noting is its electronic format.

      Official congressional biographies have been online
      for years. Now, all the information in the new
      directory, including Cabinet officials and lists of
      lawmakers by state and session, is searchable online.

      Those who want their congressional trivia on paper can
      still pay for it, at $99 a copy, but it's free to
      those who want to download its 2,218 pages from

      Searching the electronic version for specific words
      reveals other unusual facts:

      _Caleb Powers was convicted of complicity in the
      assassination of Kentucky Gov. William Goebel in 1900.
      He was pardoned in 1908 — and two years later elected
      to the first of four terms as a Kentucky
      representative to Congress.

      _Two former representatives, Melville Kelly of
      Pennsylvania in 1935 and Paul Greever of Wyoming in
      1943, died after accidentally shooting themselves
      while cleaning firearms.

      _Gunfire ended the lives of no fewer than a dozen
      others. One, former South Carolina delegate David
      Ramsay, was shot "by a maniac" in Charleston in 1815.
      William P. Taulbee, once a representative from
      Kentucky, was shot in 1890 in the Capitol itself.

      _At least nine former representatives are listed as
      drowning victims.

      _A total of 134 Smiths have served in Congress, but
      just 57 Joneses.

      _Histrionics for C-SPAN aside, only a handful of
      lawmakers have been professional actors. Best known,
      thanks to their TV series, may be former Iowa Rep.
      Fred Grandy ("The Love Boat") and former Tennessee
      Sen. Fred Thompson ("Law & Order").

      _A Depression-era representative from Nebraska, Terry
      M. Carpenter, ran unsuccessfully for statewide office
      11 times and changed his political affiliation five

      But why? That's a question seldom answered in the
      directory's brief entries. "It's very barebones in its
      text, and that's the way it's been since 1859," Koed
      said. "It's never been particularly wordy."

      Only a peek at newspapers of the period reveals that
      Arthur Brown's mother of his two children fired her
      revolver twice when the former senator ignored her
      pleas to "do the right thing by me."

      Brown died four days later. Almost a year to the day
      of the shooting, a jury acquitted the woman of murder.


      On the Net:

      Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress:

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