About John Gillis Townsend, Jr.
John Gillis Townsend, Jr. (May 31, 1871 – April 10, 1964) was an American businessman and politician from Selbyville, in Sussex County, Delaware. He was a member of the Republican Party, who served as Governor and two terms as U. S. Senator from Delaware.
Early life and family
Townsend was born at Bishopville, in Worcester County, Maryland, son of John Gillis, Sr. and Mariedith Dukes Townsend. He married Jennie Collins, and they had seven children, John G. III, Jennie Thelma, Paul, Julia, Preston Coleman, Edith, and Lyla. His wife was killed in an automobile accident while he was Governor. They were members of the Methodist Church.
Professional and political career
When the railroad first came through Bishopville, Townsend learned telegraphy and was hired by the Pennsylvania Railroad. Soon he realized the need for railroad ties, set up a saw mill to make them, and began selling them. In 1896 he moved his family to Selbyville, Delaware, where he began growing strawberries. Before long he was known as the "Strawberry King." To better manage his business he set up his own bank, the Baltimore Trust Company, at the time the second largest bank in the state. Moving into poultry, corn and soybeans, by the time of his death, Townsend, Inc. grew into one of the largest, most diversified agricultural businesses in Delaware. He continued his businesses after entering politics and returned to their management when he was not in office.
Governor of Delaware
Townsend was elected to the Delaware House of Representatives and served one term during the 1903-04 session as a member of the Addicks, or Union Republican, faction of the Republican Party. He was elected Governor of Delaware in 1916 by defeating Democrat James H. Hughes, a lawyer from Dover, Delaware.
United States Senator
Townsend was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1928, defeating incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Thomas F. Bayard, Jr. and was reelected in 1934, defeating former Democratic U.S. Representative Wilbur L. Adams. Townsend lost his bid for a third term in 1940 to Democrat James M. Tunnell, a lawyer from Georgetown, Delaware.
In the 72nd Congress he was Chairman of the Committee to Audit and Control the Contingent Expenses. He was also a member of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission in 1939 and 1940.
Death and legacy
Townsend died at age 92, while at Philadelphia, and is buried in the Red Men's Cemetery at Selbyville.
"Townsend's administration was one of progressiveness and reform...all the major reforms of the 19th century came to maturity during this time: woman suffrage, new and better highways, prohibition, school reform, etc..."
Elections are held the first Tuesday after November 1. Members of the Delaware General Assembly take office the second Tuesday of January. State Representatives have a two-year term. The Governor takes office the third Tuesday of January and has a four-year term. U.S. Senators are popularly elected and took office March 4 until 1935, when they began taking office January 3 for a six-year term. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_G._Townsend,_Jr.#Almanac