May 23 – Happy Birthday Theron Akin

Here’s ten reasons why I think today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant was by far, the most interesting and controversial Mayor in our City’s history.

1) His first name was Theron. He is the only person I’ve ever heard of with that first name. Actually, it was a pretty common first name for boys in the early 20th century. Theron has a Greek origin and means “hunter.” I Googled “famous people with the first name “Theron” and the first site referenced listed only one, the actress Charlize “Theron”. A second site listed “Theron Pond” as the most famous Theron. That Theron invented Ponds’ Hand Creme. Perhaps if they had called it Theron’s Hand Creme, the name might still be somewhat popular but then again, maybe not.

2) Theron Akin’s Dad actually owned and lived in the historic main house of the Old Fort in Fort Johnson. His name was Ethan Akin and he ended up selling the fort to the Montgomery County Historical Society in 1905

3) Before he entered politics, Theron Akin was a practicing dentist in Amsterdam. He then began working with his Dad, who owned a successful farm.

4) Akin was the guy who led the successful campaign to incorporate the village of Fort Johnson in 1909 and he became the village’s first Mayor. And by the way, it wasn’t named Fort Johnson at first. It was incorporated as the Village of Akin.

5) Akin was elected to Congress representing the 30th district as the Progressive Party Candidate in 1910. His neighbors back in Akin, NY would grow so upset by his subsequent voting record in Washington, they voted to rename their village Ft. Johnson.

6) He was unable to secure the Progressive Party’s nomination for a reelection bid in 1912, so he returned to the family farm in Ft. Johnson. He would spend the rest of his political life trying to get back in Congress.

7) When he again sought and failed to secure the Progressive Party’s nomination to run for Congress in 1914, he began running for Mayor of Amsterdam instead. This caused the editorial board of the Amsterdam Recorder to issue a scathing rebuke of his candidacy, accusing him of being nothing more than a carpetbagger. They said he should stay in Fort Jonson and leave Amsterdam alone, insinuating that Akin only wanted the Mayor’s office of the Rug City to puff up his resume for another run for Washington and they probably were right.

8) Akin finally succeeded in becoming Mayor of Amsterdam in 1920 and served through 1923. His term in office was dominated by a nasty, ongoing battle with the Common Council over what the Mayor could and couldn’t do based on the City Charter. Some things never change do they? The attorney Carl Salmon succeeded Akin as Amsterdam’s Mayor in 1923. Akin tried to become Mayor again in 1927 but failed.

9) Besides running for political office, Akin’s second favorite pastime was getting married. He did that four times..

10) Akin died in 1933 and is buried in Tribes Hill’s Pine Grove Cemetery. By all indications, his funeral was not well attended.

In addition to archived articles from the Amsterdam newspaper as references for this post, I utilized Akin’s Congressional biography and Bob Cudmore’s profile of Akin, which appears in his excellent book, entitled; Stories from the Mohawk Valley.

I’d also like to assure readers of this post who will be voting in the November 2019 election for Amsterdam Mayor that I have very little in common with Theron Akin. First of all, I’ve always lived in this City so I can’t be accused of being a “carpetbagger”. Secondly, I have been married to only one woman, my beautiful wife Rosemary, for 43 years. Thirdly, I’ve never lived in an old fort and finally, I promise on the souls of my parents and grandparents that if elected, when I leave the office the name of our City will still be “Amsterdam”.

 

One thought on “May 23 – Happy Birthday Theron Akin

  1. Two other things: He not only complained about the sound of the trollies passing his Old Fort Johnson home, he was accused of chopping down power poles across the tracks. And he was so beloved in Congress that while he was a sitting member there the House passed a law changing the name of the post office from Akin to Ft. Johnson.

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