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Dispute prompts Norwalk council vote to remove president

By HENRY TIMMAN • Jul 7, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Norwalk City Council faced an unusual situation in July of 1882. I’ve never heard or read of this type of situation, but it must have been legal at the time and perhaps it still is! Here’s what happened:

Council President John Rexford was presiding at a regular meeting. Samuel Newman made a motion that Mayor Orlando T. Minard, along with Councilmen William Poyer and Silas Crawford, become a committee to authorize all supply purchases for the city.

Rexford refused to accept the motion so the council could discuss it and vote on it, claiming that such a committee would be contrary to the statutes on purchasing supplies. Newman then moved to “appeal from the chair on the point of order.” A vote was taken in favor of Newman’s appeal, but the city solicitor said an appeal was not allowed by council rules and that the idea of a purchasing committee was, in fact, contrary to the rules.

Newman explained that his motion would require council’s approval, but that the committee members would be the only persons allowed to make the actual purchases. Rexford again refused to accept the motion, so Newman moved to declare the office of President of Council vacated. This vote carried, too, with Rexford voting to remove himself as president of council.

Councilman Poyer already was vice president, and accordingly, took over the gavel. He put Newman’s motion before the group, and it was enacted. This established a uniform system for purchase of city supplies. Rexford was an elected member of council and continued in that capacity. Poyer continued to preside at meetings until the following April when council held its annual organizational meeting and Councilman Samuel F. Newman was elected to preside as president. And, we must suppose that everyone lived happily ever after.

It is in order to say a bit more about Orlando T. Minard, who served as mayor of Norwalk when these events were taking place with city council. Norwalk was a village until the 1880 census showed it to have a population of more than 5,000, qualifying it for “city” status. At that time Mr. Minard was mayor, and in the first election of the new city, he was re-elected. Thus, he had the distinction of being the last mayor of the village and the first mayor of the city. He also was the first mayor to serve a two-year term when elected in that first city election in 1881. After his time as mayor, he retired to his suburban farm at 229 Benedict, where he died in 1897. Some folks will recall the architecturally-pleasing large brick house which stood where Garcia Drive now accesses Benedict Avenue. That was the Minard home and was torn down to make way for Garcia Drive.

Probably your next question is: Well, was Minard Place named for O. T. Minard? No, it was not. That street was developed and opened in 1902 by Andrew  J. Minard, a nephew of the former mayor. For some reason, Minard Place was “the” place to live when it first opened, and some of the houses are fine examples of the architecture of the time. I suppose it was popular in  being so close to uptown Norwalk, but your neighbor across the street was a noisy and smoky railroad in the days of steam engines. Well, everyone to his own taste. Selah.

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REMEMBER: My “Just Like Old Times” books are on sale at Colonial Flower and Gift Shoppe at 7 W. Main St. in downtown Norwalk. These preserve my earlier columns in permanent book form.


Henry Timman, an authority on Firelands history, resides in rural Norwalk.



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