Home History Q&A 1900s Harrison resident ran for governor

1900s Harrison resident ran for governor

Published on May 18, 2012 by in History Q&A
Question: In the early 1900s, a candidate from Harrison was defeated in the race for the office of governor. Who was the candidate?
John I. Worthington.Answer: John I. Worthington, Boone County resident, ran on the Republican ticket and was defeated by George W. Donaghey.
John I. Worthington, the son of Mayor John I. and Nancy Erwin Worthington, was born at Neosho, Missouri. Major Worthington practiced law in Neosho, but when the Civil War broke out, he moved his family to Springfield, Missouri, where he enlisted in the Union Army. He was quickly commissioned captain and started enlisting volunteer troops from Northwest Arkansas and Southwest Missouri. When the war ended, the family moved to Carrollton.
Young John I. attended Carrollton High School and taught several school terms during summer sessions. Under the personal supervision of Clayton Powell, John I. began his formal study of law, was admitted to the bar in 1883 and opened a practice in Carrollton. Not only did he practice law, but he also served as postmaster and farmed a large acreage at Dry Fork.
Worthington had married Travilla Estella (Stella) Leathers in 1879 in Carroll County. After being appointed to a position in the Land Office in Harrison, he moved his wife and seven children – Arliss, Hall, John, Willard, Goldie, Rex and Ruth – to this community.
Worthington was a devoted Republican and was nominated by his party many times to represent them in elections. In the early 1900s, he was the Republican candidate for governor but placed second in the contest, losing to George Donaghey.
About 1908, he was nominated as a U.S. prosecuting attorney and moved to Fort Smith, but in 1912 he returned to Harrison and was elected circuit judge of the district in 1914. Once again the Republican party nominated Judge Worthington to represent the party in the U.S. Congressional race. Once again, he lost to his opponent, successful candidate John V. Tillman.
Judge John I. Worthington. John I. Worthington, an astute lawyer, farmer and politician in Boone County, ran on the Republican ticket for governor in the early 1900s and was defeated by George W. Donaghey.
Judge Worthington was mayor of Harrison during the turbulent and riotous years of the M&NA Railroad strike. He was recognized as one of the most prominent Republicans in the state, always ready to do his part in any public enterprise, and sometimes, to break down party lines.
Worthington, a Presbyterian, died in 1924 and is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery. This early citizen, even though defeated in some political races, was an astute lawyer, farmer and politician. The life of John I. Worthington is one of many Boone County citizens whose story is on file at the Boone County Heritage Museum. The museum, located on the corner of South Cherry Street and Central Avenue, is now observing winter hours and is open only on Thursday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Happy Holidays from the volunteers and staff of the museum!
This column appears Fridays in the Harrison Daily Times. Mail questions to Boone County Heritage Museum, P. O. Box 1094, Harrison, AR 72601. Marilyn Smith can be contacted at bchm@windstream.net
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One Response

  1. Lynn Brown

    I went to grade school at Capps, and studied Arkansas History in Junior High. Mrs. Flora Worthington ran the store at Capps, and no mention was made of her husband’s unsuccessful run for governor. I guess it would have been more noteworthy if he had won. One of those local connections that makes history a lot more interesting. Hopefully the museum will continue to fill in the gaps.

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