Leland Buxton Early Life and Family

 

          Leland Clarence Buxton was the oldest son of Oda and Eula Buxton he had three brothers Loran, Leo and Lenoid. Leland was born on the Buxton Farm on what then was Old Morgan Trail Road in Graham Township, Jefferson County, IN. The Old Buxton farm was on the border of Jefferson County, Indiana. Leland was born on March 11, 1911. Leland only went to school thru the 8th grade. Leland grew up on the farm and farmed most of his life. Sometime between 1930 and 1933 Leland was approached one day while he was in the field plowing with a horse drawn team by a photographer. This photographer was J. C. Allen. The picture that he took of Leland that day would end up being published in many books and magazines. About this same time Leland met a beautiful young lady named Beulah Stark. Leland was the only boy around that had a car it was a Model A Ford. Beulah's aunt and uncle that she lived with encouraged her to date Leland because he had a car. Leland would take Beulah back and forth to church. Beulah and Grandma dated 2 ½ to 3 years then Leland and Beulah married at Jeffersonville, Indiana at a justice of the peace on August 13, 1934. This was because Beulah was only 17 years old and had to have her father's permission.  Leland and Beulah would go on to have four children Ronald, Donald, (They lost a child between Donald and Lorna) Lorna, and Gerald in that order. Leland and Beulah first lived in a home on Polk Road then moved to what was known as the Morlan Place. All this farm had was a big barn and no house. Leland and Beulah moved into the barn to live until they could build a house. They lived in the barn for the 8 years it took to build the house. On this farm they raised tomatoes, green beans, tobacco, corn, soybeans, and strawberries. The whole family worked on the farm the children would harvest the vegetables and Beulah would work very hard to shine and clean them to get them ready for market. Beulah tells the following story about the hard work on the farm: “Hard work I mean we raised as many as 50 acres of tomatoes, 20 or 30 acres of green beans, tobacco and all those hard things. Then when the crop was ready I had to pack tomatoes in 10 pound baskets to go to market sometimes as much as a ton I pack at a trip and he made about three trips a week. And I tell you I was exhausted I mean exhausted by the time the day was done. And of course my children all worked hard even my little my little girl out in mourning dew wet feet everything picking green beans green beans bushels and bushels we pick of green beans.” Leland would take them to sale at market to Indianapolis or Louisville depending on where he could get the best price. At this time Leland was also the Scott County weigh master. He weighs the trucks at the stone quarry to make sure they were not over weight. There is a saying that behind every good man there is a great woman. This was true in Leland's case. Since Leland had only a 8th grade education he did not read or write well so his wife Beulah did all is paper work for him. This would hold true for the political career that was to come as well. Leland's farm grew to be 140 acres and so he hired Fred Richardson to help him run the place.

         

 

 

 

 

 

         

 

          William L. Buxton nephew tells the following story about Leland: “I remember Leland as always wearing a long sleeve white shirt, with bib overhauls. His hair was wavy black. He was really good looking. I remember one Halloween he drove his tractor to the motel while pulling a trailer of hay. He picked up us kids with all the rest of the neighbor's kids and gave us a ride in the hay to his farm. There he allowed each of us kids to pick out a pumpkin he had grown and take it home with us. I remember him well and will always love him for that event I remember.”

 

          The following was written by Leland’s niece Susan (Buxton) King of her memories of her aunt and uncle: “The first time I remember seeing my "Aunt Beulah & Uncle Leland" was when we went to visit them. They lived in a barn and I remember a dirt floor. (Grandma had wood floors in the Barn) Mother said Beulah kept the floor swept every day and it was cleaner than most homes. I remember being told Leland and his boys were in the fields from sunup until dark every day. I remember the house being built. It had a cellar that was to be used if we ever got attacked. It was a big house and Leland painted all the windowpanes white so people couldn't see inside the house. (The windowpanes were cover in bug power not painted.) Leland did not like bugs and he threw this power everywhere this is what Susan saw) I remember Beulah had to cook for all the people who worked the fields but she also had to work the fields. She cleaned, cooked and ironed but never complained.”

 

          The following was written by Leland’s granddaughter Mary (Buxton) Shepherd: “As a child I remember Grandpa as a very political man very popular with the community. He was best known as Shaking hands Buxton. He would always bring us candy when he would visit Dad. My most precious memory of him will be when my father was hurt in an accident; Grandpa would come to our home everyday to comfort Dad in a very bad time in his life. That represents the way the Lords comes to us in our dark days. For that act of kindness he will always hold a special place in my heart.

 

          Leland was a member of Scaffold Lick Baptist Church and very involved in the community. Leland and Beulah got involved in the Community Center Project. The goal of this project was to restore the old Johnson Township School into and community center. Beulah was on the Ways and Means Committee and Leland made a cash donation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Johnson Township Trustee

 

          According to Leland's wife Leland was persuaded by friends and neighbors to get into politics. Leland was a die hard Democrat. Leland’s first foray into politics was in 1936 he ran unopposed for Precinct committeeman.

 

          Leland’s first run at Johnson Township Trustee came in the May 1938 primary. Leland ran against Alva Chasteen, Zeph M. Robertson, and George H. Prime. The result’s are as follows: Alva Chasteen 135 Votes, George H. Prime 99 Votes, Leland Buxton 70 votes, and Zeph M. Robertson 39 votes.

 

          On April 6, 1950 Leland announce that he would run for the office of Johnson Township Trustee.  On April 20, 1950 the Scott Journal Newspaper announces that Leland Buxton would be delegate for the fourth District to the Democratic State Convention. Leland's opponent in the primary election that would be held on May 2, 1950 was fellow Democrat John Whitsitt. The results of this election as reported by the Scott County Journal was Leland Buxton 165 votes and John Whitsitt 122 votes a win for Leland. The next step for Leland was the general election. In this election he would face Ernest C. Francis a Republican. The results as reported by the Scott County Journal for the general election were as follows: Leland Buxton 337 votes, Ernest C. Francis 171 votes. Leland wins and is the new Johnson Township Trustee. When Leland took office the township had about $19,000 after three years of hard work by Leland the township had about $50,000. The township also had an application for federal aid in the amount of $50,000 in Washington D.C. The federal aid would be free to tax payers. These are some of the things that Leland accomplished in his first term. As trustee Leland received $900.00 a year salary and $250.00 for traveling expenses, telephone tolls, and telegrams.

 

          Leland would run in 1954 for a second term as Johnson Township Trustee. In the primary election he would face fellow Democrat Lovel Combs. The results as reported by the Scott County Journal on May 6, 1954 were as follows: Leland Buxton 177 votes to Lovel Combs 77 votes a big win for Leland. In the General Election to be held on November 2, 1954 Leland would face Republican Clifford Despain. The results as reported by the Scott County Journal on November 4, 1954 were as follows: Leland Buxton 318 votes, Clifford Despain 167 votes another big win for Leland. In his second term Leland worked very hard on something that was of great importance to him and that was to get a new school built. Johnson Township was a very poor township and had only several one room schools that had very poor if any heat and no inside restrooms. These made for very poor conditions for children to learn. So, in 1955 Leland started to lobby the Indiana State Congress to pass legislation that would help the township finance the building of new modern school to consolidate all the old one room schools. All of his hard work paid off because in 1955 the Indiana State Legislature passed the Veterans Memorial Act. This act created a $5,000,000 fund that would to lend up to $250,000 at 1% to poor townships to build schools. Leland filed one of the first applications and it was approved in the first meeting of the fund committee. Leland through his effort to get this bill passed helped to save the township about $75,000 in interest. In November of 1955 Leland opened bids for construction on the new school. The construction started in 1956 and was complete in time for the 1957 -1958 school year. April 28, 1957 was the official dedication ceremony for the new Johnson Township School. The officials at the dedication were Wilbur Young, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Steve Jones, School Principal and Leland Buxton, Johnson Township Trustee. Also there were the Advisory Board Members who were James E. Casey, Lowell Lowry, Harold Ruehl, County Superintendent, Clifford L. Sarver and Attorney Robert B. Railing.  Wilbur Young, State Supt. complimented Trustee Buxton on having the vision and the determination that enabled the township to do away with the old small and unsanitary buildings and have a new and modern school.

 

 

 

 

Joint Representative of Jefferson and Scott County

 

          In 1958 Leland decided not to run of Johnson Township Trustee again but instead decided to run For Joint Representative of Scott and Jefferson Counties. During the campaign Leland put several political ads in the local newspapers. In these ads’s Leland made his case for why he should be elected. He told how he worked to get Johnson Township School Built and promised to have a meeting with his constituent's of all party's in each county before the General Assembly convenes. Leland also stated his beliefs which were: A man shall be judged by his own record, to achieve anything a man must be willing to work, we must stand firmly for our rights, our beliefs, and our principles, and every individual owes obedience to the laws under which he lives. In the primary election Leland would have to run against fellow Democrat George H. Prime. The primary election was held on May 6, 1958. The results as reported by the Scott County Journal are that Leland won no numbers were given. The Scott County Journal on October 23, 1958 reports that there was Democratic rally at the Austin High School. In attendance were the following candidates: Altus Perry, Joe McMillen, Jackie Hunley, Eugene Hough, Mary Chasteen, Katherine Metz, Robert Baugh, Charles Mayfield, Leland Buxton, and Paul Baldwin. In the General Election Leland would run against Republican Howard J. Bird. According to Leland's son Donald the only tool that Leland used in his campaign besides the newspapers articles was match books. The General Election was to be held on November 4, 1958. The November 6, 1958 edition of the Scott County Journal had the following headline: HOGAN, HOUGH, and, BUXTON WIN; Julian Elected Sheriff. The results as reported by the paper were Leland Buxton 3310 votes to Howard J. Bird 1736 votes a big win for Leland.

 

          On Thursday, January 8, 1959 the 91st session of the Indiana House of Representatives commences. Also, on the same day Leland votes for Birch E. Bayh as Speaker of the House. On Monday January 12, 1959 Leland is appointed to the following committees by the Speaker of the House: Aviation, Building and Loan and Savings Associations, County and Township Business, Invocation (Leland was the ranking member on this committee), and Elections (Leland was the ranking member on this committee).

 

           On Wednesday January 21, 1959 Leland introduced House Bill No. 180.  The following is a summary of House Bill No. 180: A Bill for an act to create and add a section designated as section 1A of an act entitled “An Act requiring the cutting down and destroying by the county highway supervisors or the county surveyors and boards of county commissioners of all briars, thistles, burrs, tree sprouts, docks, willows, sumac and other noxious weeds within the limits of any county highways, and repealing all laws in conflict therewith, “approved March 9, 1939”. Leland made motions on February 3rd, 6th, and 20th to get action on this bill on the house floor and was not able to.

 

          Leland went before the house and "In an arm waving bit of oratory" told the house he had been refused this license plate. Democratic House speaker Birch Bayh made a special case and got Leland his license plate. The following are some examples of the work that Leland did while serving as State Representative. Leland voted no on House Bill No.15. This bill would have prohibited distribution of State Funds to Little Schools. Leland Voted against House Bill No.91. This bill provided for "10 or more" additional men for stricter inspection and law enforcement. It was stated that 10 would cost $200,000. Please imagine what that little word 'more' could have done to your taxes! This bill was killed 59 to 33. Leland acted to amend House Bill No.2 which represented a savings to taxpayers of about $731,040 according to legislators. Leland's action through the State Attorney General and the Governor of the State brought attention to the incorrect speed limit signs in the state, thus helping to eliminate confusion of truck drivers by these incorrect signs. Leland voted to keep the Sabbath free of Liquor

         

         

          Leland was well like while in office it was said that he always had a smile and a joke. The following appeared in the Scott County Journal on February 26, 1959. The headline of the article read "Representative Buxton of Blocher Breaks into Editorial Column of Star".  The following are some of the Quotes from the article: "Buxton has impressed his colleagues with his gracious manners and lofty principles. He bows even to the flustered pages and seldom passes a colleague without grasping his hand and wishing him well", " So cordial is he that a seat mate ruefully remarked the other day: " My arm is numb from shacking hands with Buxton.", "while this dismays some house politicians, others believe his is what the democratic party needs more of in these times of suspicion and strife." These were very high praises given to Leland.

 

          The following is a story passed on to me by Thelma G. Hogue. This story was passed on to her by Judge Donald Bonsett. According to Judge Bonsett Leland would stop traffic when and wherever he wanted. He would walk right out into a busy street in Indianapolis, IN hold up his hand and stop the traffic either to talk to someone he knew on the street in a car or  to cross the street wherever he wanted. 

 

 

 

The Final Three Campaigns’

 

          Leland Made the decision after serving one term as Joint Representative of Scott and Jefferson Counties that he would not run for reelection but instead would run for office of State Senator. When he made his announcement he said the following "I sincerely have never run for any office just to be running. My only desire in running for this office is to serve my people with the honest best that I have".  He made this announcement on January 31, 1960 in the Scott County Journal. He would be running against fellow democrats Victor Green and James Spurgeon. James Spurgeon was the incumbent. The senate seat that Leland was running for was to represent Scott, Washington, and Jackson Counties. Leland was well known and like in his home county but at a disadvantage in the other counties. Leland passed out a lot of match books and shook a lot of hands. He also spent a lot of money on Newspaper ads. This time though victory was not be. The results as reported by the Scott County Journal are as follows: Leland Buxton 3159 votes, Victor Green 3620 votes, and James Spurgeon 4179 votes. When you look at the individual county results each candidate carried his own county. James Spurgeon carried his own county Jackson which had the biggest voter turnout of the three counties giving him a big advantage.

 

          On February 15, 1962 Leland announces that he will run again for Joint Representative of Scott and Jefferson County’s.  Leland made the following quote concerning his candidacy: “I hope to do justice to all the taxpayers in the area and am opposed to the state government going overboard in expenditures. Laws such as the five percent personal property tax law are unfair and unconstitutional and I will oppose them, just as I did before.” On April 5, 1962 Leland ran an ad in the newspaper that Scott county votes for the fact the there would not be another democrat running against him from Scott County. In his ads for reelection Leland referred to himself as the “Taxpayers Friend”. In the primary Leland would be running against a wealthy lawyer from Madison, Indiana Spencer J. Schnaitter. The primary was held on Tuesday May 8, 1962. The results were Spencer J. Schnaitter 2643 votes and Leland Buxton 2327 votes, another lost for Leland.

 

          On March 26, 1964 Leland announces the he will once again run for Indiana State Senate. This will once again be a repeat of the primary from four years ago. Leland will once again be running against Victor Green of Pekin and James Spurgeon of Brownstown. Leland ran a campaign ad with the headline “I Like your help”. Leland was for increasing state aid to our schools, he was in favor of a fair income tax program, and against sales tax. His slogan was “Let’s Have Fair Taxes”. The primary was held on May 5, 1964 the results were as follows: Victor Green 4436 votes, James Spurgeon 4146 votes, and Leland Buxton 1594 votes. This is the last campaign the Leland would run. The three back to back losses were very hard mentally on Leland and his health began to decline in the following years.