RESEARCH QUESTION: J. L. RIDDELL
True to form, Pete Smith responded with a detailed reply in
response to Brad Karoleff's question about J.L. Riddell:
John Leonard Riddell was born in Leyden, Massachusetts, on February 20, 1807. He was an 1829 graduate of the Rensselar School in Troy, New York. Trained as a botanist, he was a professor at Cincinnati Medical College and received his M.D. there in 1836. Later he taught at the Medical College of Louisiana which became Tulane University.
In 1838 he was appointed melter and refiner for the New Orleans Mint and he continued in that position until 1849. He wrote "A Monograph of the Silver Dollar Good and Bad" in 1845. He is noted for developing an early version of a binocular microscope in 1851. He spent the Civil War years in New Orleans and died there October 7, 1865. Riddell is not listed in the "Biographical Dictionary of the Confederacy" or several other Civil War references I checked. His biographies in general references do not indicate service as postmaster.
John Henninger Reagan was born in Sevier County, Tennessee, on October 8, 1818. He was elected to the Texas State Legislature in 1847. He was educated as a lawyer and was admitted to the bar in 1848. After serving as a district court judge, he was elected to the U.S. Congress and served March 4, 1857, to March 3, 1861. After outbreak of the Civil War, he was elected to the Congress of the Confederacy. In March of 1861, he was appointed by Jefferson Davis as Postmaster General of the Confederacy.
He is credited with maintaining regular mail service during the war and keeping costs affordable. Late in the war he served as Secretary of the Treasury for the Confederacy. Following the war, he returned to the practice of law and was elected to the Congress from Texas in 1875. He was elected to the Senate in 1887. He died in Palestine, Texas, on March 6, 1905.
Both men were married three times. Both men were important enough to have biographies in standard American biographical references. Although Riddell may have held a position as local postmaster, that was not important enough to be included in his biographies.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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