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MEMORIES IN FOCUS: Politics as usual meant seeing this man years ago

Politics as usual meant seeing this man

One of Marion County’s longest-serving early public officials was Fred L. Frazer, who came to Marion from Ohio at age 18 along with his father, who operated a hotel here.

In 1877, just six years later, Frazer became justice of the peace for Centre Township, winning a recount of an election he had contested.

He married the next year, but his 23-year-old wife died of consumption (tuberculosis) just seven months after their marriage.

Frazer went on to serve as deputy clerk of district court, then clerk. In 1880, he became deputy county treasurer, was elected treasurer, and then went back to being deputy after his term expired.

In 1885 he won a hotly contested race for register of deeds. Entire pages of the Marion Record at the time were filled with letters supporting and opposing his candidacy — many opposing him on grounds that he was too important to leave the treasurer’s office.

In 1889, after he had remarried and lost a child at age 7 months, he left county government to become cashier of First National Bank of Marion, which closed after the national economic panic of 1893.

He became deputy county clerk in 1895 and returned as deputy treasurer starting in 1896. He remained as either treasurer or deputy treasurer (officeholders often alternated because of term limits) until eventually becoming Marion city treasurer in 1914.

He was back as county treasurer by 1922 and died five years later. His youngest daughter (by his second wife), J. Edna Shahan, lived in Marion until her death in 1986.

Despite the contentious nature of his early elections, Frazer was highly regarded.

“Marion County never had a more competent, conscientious, courteous public servant than Fred L. Frazer,” the Marion Record editorialized in 1901.

One of Frazer’s less competent accomplishments was as starting pitcher in a 1907 baseball game billed as “Girls vs. Fat Men.”

The girls won, 23-3.

Last modified April 19, 2018

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