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Harry Flood BYRD, Sr.

Male 1887 - 1966  (79 years)

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  • Name Harry Flood BYRD 
    Suffix Sr. 
    Born 14 Jun 1887  Martinsburg, Berkeley County, WV Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Social Security No. 229-09-6758 
    Died 20 Oct 1966  "Rosemont," Berryville, Clarke County, VA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Cause: Malignant brain tumor 
    Buried 23 Oct 1966  Mount Hebron Cemetery, Winchester, VA Find all individuals with events at this location 

    • (1) Frederick County Virginia Birth Records, 1855-96 [database online], Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2001:

      Name: Harry Byrd
      Birth Date: 14 Jun 1887
      Race: White
      Sex: M (Male)
      Father: R.E.
      Mother: E.B.
      Page: 220

      (2) Obituary, The New York Times, October 21, 1966, Copyright © The New York Times:

      Harry F. Byrd of Virginia Dies; Senate's Guardian of the Purse

      Special to The New York Times

      BERRYVILLE, Va., Oct. 20 - Former United States Senator Harry Flood Byrd, a major force in American politics for 30 years and the dominant figure in Virginia politics for even longer, died at his country estate here this morning. He was 79 years old.

      Mr. Byrd died of a malignant brain tumor. He had been seriously ill since last spring, and had been in a deep coma since July 6.

      In Washington, the Senate adopted a resolution after learning of his death this morning that expressed "profound sorrow and extreme regret."

      The White House announced that Henry H. Fowler, Secretary of the Treasury, and a native Virginian, would represent President Johnson at Mr. Byrd's funeral at 3 P.M. Sunday at Christ Episcopal Church in Winchester.

      During a half-century in public life, Harry Flood Byrd was denounced frequently as a ruthless "machine boss" and a skin-flint conservative with a plantation owner's views on the civil rights revolution of the last decade. But no Virginian, probably including Robert E. Lee, was so widely and even reverently regarded in the Old Dominion as a symbol of courtly, comfortable, honorable and unharried past.

      In Virginia, Mr. Byrd probably did more than any other single leader to shape the times during which he ruled. But those times ended, in the view of many observers, long before the retired senior Senator from Virginia relinquished his unusual personal hegemony. As more than one observer of the Byrd era in Virginia has put it: "The times changed, but Harry Byrd did not."

      When Senator Byrd resigned his seat last November at the age of 78, the political and editorial eulogies expressed ambivalence. There was high praise for Mr. Byrd's principled and often lonely values of the past - small Federal government with the emphasis on states' rights and pay-as-you-go financing with an abhorrence of debt.

      But there was also widespread recognition that times and values had drastically changed. As Arthur Krock wrote then in The New York Times:

      "The emphasis in the comment on the resignation of Harry Flood Byrd as United States Senator from Virginia has been on a point of incontrovertible fact. This point is that the public policies and philosophy of government to which he has consistently adhere have become obsolete in contemporary practice."

      Broke With New Deal

      A public identity and a deep personal commitment as an economizer, a conservative states' righter, and a leader in the resistance to racial integration were the hallmarks of Senator Byrd. But as a younger man, as a State Senator and as a vigorous, innovating reform Governor of Virginia, Mr. Byrd had earlier been labeled a progressive.

      That identity ended in 1933 when Mr. Byrd had a bitter and permanent break with the New Deal policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt that extended into the Democratic administrations of Presidents Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy. The Johnson Administration suffered less from Mr. Byrd's resistance.

      In his declining years as the powerful chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Mr. Byrd finally was persuaded by his old friend, President Johnson, to step aside, however grudgingly, and allow Mr. Johnson's $12-billion Federal tax cut in 1964.

      Before relaxing his stubborn resistance to the tax reduction, however, Mr. Byrd delayed it in committee for nearly five months. And in stepping aside he blasted it as irresponsible. But despite his conservative fiscal policies his friendship with the President remained intact.

      Mr. Byrd's critics contended that they had found further evidence that he had not changed when, on resigning his Senate seat, he made transparent use of his still-formidable personal power in Virginia to elevate his eldest son, Harry F. Byrd Jr., 51 years old, to the vacant position.

      The appointment was made by former Gov. Albertis S. Harrison Jr., perhaps the last unswervingly loyal "Byrd man" to occupy the statehouse in Richmond. It brought immediate charges that the elder Byrd had hoped to perpetuate a conservative dynasty in Virginia through his son, whose 18 years as a State Senator had given him a reputation as being even more conservative than his father.

      The new United States Senator, known as Young Harry, has shown signs of following a more flexible course than his father, however. The younger Byrd, for example, has said that resistance to school desegregation is now a dead issue. He states for election to the Senate next month.

      The elder Byrd's long career in Washington and the consolidation of his political patriarchy in Virginia began with his own appointment to the United States Senate in 1933 by the late Gov. John Garland Pollard, who had succeeded Mr. Byrd as Governor.

      A Lifelong Combat

      The Senator - already a widely revered figure in Virginia at the age of 45 - was named to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of Senator Claude A. Swanson, who became Secretary of the Navy under President Roosevelt.

      "I took office on the same day as Franklin Roosevelt," Mr. Byrd used to recall. He said it with a cherubic smile that conveyed characteristically mild irony.

      For the New Deal appalled Mr. Byrd. His break with Mr. Roosevelt, almost immediately after they were sworn in on March 4, 1933, began what was to become for Mr. Byrd a lifelong combat with "trends in Washington" that the Senator regarded as "a tendency toward state socialism."

      In Virginia, however, he remained virtually unchallenged. He added the zealous support of Republicans to that of Dixiecrat and conservative Democratic factions in Virginia in direct proportion to the heat of his battles in Washington against the growth of Federal government, Federal spending and Federal "usurpation" in civil rights enforcement.

      His prestige and popular affection in Virginia were such that when the family announced last July 6 that he was in a terminal coma from an inoperable malignant tumor of the brain, the announcement was interpreted as aiding the election prospects of his son in the Democratic Primary on July 18 by encouraging a "sympathy vote."

      In the primary, however, the younger Byrd won nomination to the remaining four years of his father's Senate term by only 8,225 votes, the narrowest margin ever recorded by either Byrd in any election campaign. The announcement of the elder Byrd's retirement from the political scene, 15 weeks before his death, clearly presaged a period of change and uncertainty in the Democratic organization he had dominated for so many years.

      In the same July primary, two stalwarts of the Byrd organization, Senator Willis Robertson, also 79 years old, and Representative Howard W. Smith, 83, were narrowly defeated for renomination by moderate Democrats who were much younger.

      Mr. Byrd was first elected to the Senate, to fill Senator Swanson's unexpired term, in November, 1933. He was reelected to a full, six-year term in 1934, and elected again in 1940 without opposition in the Democratic primary and without Republican opposition in the general election. His popular majorities when he was opposed set records.

      Mr. Byrd's high place among the "regulars" who man "the organization's" apparatus, from county courthouses to the statehouse, was legendary. At the 1960 Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in Richmond, a traditional gathering of "the organization," the mere mention of Mr. Byrd's name prompted an eight-minute ovation. Mr. Byrd was not even there to receive it.

      Many observers thought such demonstrations in absentia reinforced Mr. Byrd's prestige and power more than if he had been present. He was far from being an inspiring public speaker.

      Passed Antilynching Law

      Mr. Byrd's intransigent resistance to civil rights legislation - the lost cause for whose defense he was remembered in recent years - undoubtedly reflected his personal preference for racial segregation. His relationship with the few Negroes he knew well - many of them employes or servants - was kindly and paternalistic. But he deplored forced integration.

      During his reign as Governor, Virginia in 1926 passed the first antilynching law adopted by any Southern state. And in 1934, Mr. Byrd urged President Roosevelt in a telegram to "correct the condition" at a luxury Norfolk-area resort that, although on Federal property, openly discriminated against Jews.

      His protest then was not aimed at obtaining admission for Negroes, but to gain admission for Jews. Mr. Byrd declared 32 years ago that "if both Virginia and the Federal Government are impotent to deal with this situation [discrimination against Jews] I will introduce a special bill in the Senate when the next Congress convenes."

      Mr. Byrd gave private and public encouragement to Virginia's "massive resistance" strategy during the nineteen-fifties. In a display of the tradition of "versatility" that Mr. Byrd had begun in Richmond, "the organization" devised the first full-scale anti-integration strategy in the South, including school closings to prevent court ordered desegregation, tuition grants, abolition of compulsory attendance, and a complex "student placement" system designed to perpetuate segregation despite Federal court orders. These stratagems ultimately failed.

      Mr. Byrd probably gave little day-to-day tactical advice to Virginia's radical segregationists, but his stern position encouraged diehards in Prince Edward County to abolish public education for five years, a move that denied 1,500 Negro children any schooling while white students attended a "private academy" under state tuition grants.

      Mr. Byrd's last words on the civil rights bill of 1964 seemed uncharacteristically resigned. He called the act "unconstitutional and unworkable" but added:

      "Individual views notwithstanding, it is Federal law. . . . Violation cannot be tolerated and violence is abhorrent."

      He balanced that with a blistering attack on the United States Supreme Court - "the Warren Court," he called it.

      "We are being enticed into centralized government by Federal paternalism, forced into centralization by the burden of public debt," Senator Byrd declared on Feb. 1, 1964, the 38th anniversary of his inauguration as Governor.

      His view of "soundness" excluded the possibility that women could become successful Government administrators. When Mrs. Anna M. Rosenberg was nominated by President Truman to be an Assistant Secretary of Defense, Senator Byrd remarked that there was "nothing to all that" about Mrs. Rosenberg's alleged left-wing background. "But, my God, man," he is reported to have exclaimed, "she's a woman!"

      Three times Mr. Byrd's admirers, including many conservatives from other states, pushed him toward the Presidency. At the 1932 Democratic National Convention, Mr. Byrd received 25 votes on the first roll-call as a favorite-son candidate for the Presidential nomination that went to Mr. Roosevelt.

      Again in 1944, his partisans sought to make him a serious contender against the third-term renomination of President Roosevelt. That time Mr. Byrd received 89 nominating votes. At the Republican National Convention the same year, a group of conservative G.O.P. Governors backed him unsuccessfully as the Vice Presidential running mate of Gov. Thomas E. Dewey of New York.

      In 1960, Senator Byrd received 15 Electoral College votes for President from unpledged electors from the South determined to oppose the election of President Kennedy. His own state of Virginia that year, ironically, ranked 46th in the number of voting-age citizens who actually went to the polls. Virginia voted for Richard M. Nixon for President.

      In keeping with Virginia's and his own ancestral traditions, Mr. Byrd never appeared to grasp for power. It came to him. There was never any question, however, that Mr. Byrd's great personal wealth was the fruit of his own hard work.

      While he served in Richmond and Washington, Mr. Byrd was also the world's largest grower of apples, the owner of extensive cannery and cold-storage facilities for orchardists, and a publisher of newspapers.

      Mr. Byrd owned 5,000 acres of apple and peach trees stretching across the rocky, rolling northern Virginia countryside from Rosemont, his estate at Berryville. His orchards produced 1 per cent of the total national apple crop, a commodity that receives no Federal price support. The cash value of a year's yield was estimated recently by an official of H. F. Byrd, Inc., at $3-million to $4-million.

      Although he was the undisputed head of a disciplined, powerful, and yet nebulous alignment of conservatives, the Senator bore little resemblance to the stereotyped conception of a political boss.

      He was often described as "cherubic" in appearance, with a face like that of a "kewpie doll." He was soft-spoken, courtly, white haired and had ruddy "apple cheeks." His step was vigorous until arthritis of the knee, which caused him much pain, discouraged his penchant for hiking and mountain climbing.

      Mr. Byrd loved the outdoors and it was sometimes said that the only Federal agency he really trusted was the National Park Service, whose protector and benefactor he became.

      Mr. Byrd's "organization" was dignified, respectable, frugal and notably honest in the fiscal management of the state. Its "code" reflected a gentlemanly aversion to petty venality and "the organization" left little ground on which to build a political opposition.

      Remote Maker of Policy

      The strength of "the organization" has been described as that of "a molecular attraction of 18th century thinkers." Mr. Byrd was the remote policy maker at the top. He gave almost no attention to the day-to-day political business of his alliance. It ran itself.

      "The organization" was not without muscle, however. Chiselers and petty malefactors were banished not only from public office, but also from the company of "Byrd men."

      Senator Byrd's hand was rarely seen in these punishments. But it was always felt. His hold on his followers was such that many of them took their cues from his slightest suggestion, and state officials struggled to divine his will when it was not apparent. His barely audible remarks at the annual Labor Day picnic for the faithful at Rosemont were combed and catalogued for official guidance.

      The Byrd structure gained its basic strength, however, less from enforced unanimity in views than from longevity in positions of power through the systematic winnowing of the electorate to preserve the franchise for "responsible voters." It did so through its struggle to maintain the poll tax and to discourage voter registration and participation.

      For example only 17 per cent of Virginians of voting age participated in "the organization" election of Governor Harrison in 1961. Gov. J. Lindsay Almond Jr., until January, 1959, an "organization" stalwart in "massive resistance" to school desegregation, shocked Richmond by publicly declaring the futility of further resistance to the Federal courts, particularly if resistance meant closing the public schools. His legislative program was scuttled. And as a former Governor he came into direct confrontation with Senator Byrd's ire.

      Governor Almond had supported President John F. Kennedy in the campaign of 1960, while Senator Byrd maintained the "golden silence" that had helped Republicans carry Virginia in every Presidential year since 1948.

      At the end of his term in Richmond in 1962, Mr. Almond, who has no private wealth, received Mr. Kennedy's appointment to a $25,500-a-year Federal judgeship on the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals.

      The Almond nomination went routinely to the Senate Judiciary Committee. There, due to the divination by its Southern members of Senator Byrd's displeasure with Mr. Almond or to the Senator's direct veto - the distinction has never been clarified - more than 13 months went by without so much as an
      acknowledgment by the committee that the Almond nomination was pending. The former Governor was being punished.

      Finally, under gentle pressure from leaders in Richmond, Mr. Byrd arranged to let the nomination through. But political leaders in Virginia said that "Almond got the message." Mr. Almond took his punishment according to "the code" - without comment.

      Guardian of the Purse

      Mr. Byrd was a United States Senator for 32 years, and for 10 of them he was chairman of the powerful Finance Committee. It was a post he favored over his membership on the Armed Services Committee, for as Finance chairman he was able to impede unwanted legislation on taxation and Social Security matters, including such proposals as medical care for the aged, which he considered "socialized medicine."

      Mr. Byrd was also chairman of an obscure Congressional group called the Joint Committee on Reduction of Non-Essential Expenditures, a "temporary" committee established at his request in 1941 "for one year." Through it, the Senator persisted over the years in publishing periodic bulletins on the ups and downs - usually ups - of the Federal payroll. He thus enhanced his standing as a guardian of the public purse. Essentially the same reports, however, were issued monthly by the United States Civil Service Commission.

      Senator Byrd opposed the confirmation of the late Henry A. Wallace as Secretary of Commerce in 1945. He voted against an appropriation for a Fair Employment Practices Commission and against increasing the minimum wage. In 1946, he was against a $3.7-billion postwar loan to Britain.

      He favored strike-control legislation and opposed portal-to-portal pay for coal miners. He was for a bill to limit the President to two successive terms, for overriding President Truman's veto of the Taft-Hartley Act, and against foreign aid to Greece and Turkey. He was also against the Marshall Plan in

      Opposed Nuclear Treaty

      He voted against admitting 200,000 World War II displaced persons to the United States, against Federal aid to education, against the Point Four technical assistance program, and against a $100-million loan to Spain. He opposed the nuclear test ban treaty and, although he finally allowed it to clear his Finance Committee, he was against the $12-billion tax cut in 1964 that business leaders generally supported.

      Senator Byrd was a direct descendant of William Byrd, a 17th-century English planter and slaveholder on the James River who was president of Virginia's Colonial upper house, the Council of State. William Byrd's son, William Byrd 2d, founded the city of Richmond. The Senator was born on June 10, 1887, at Martinsburg, W. Va.

      In 1903, at the age of 15, Mr. Byrd had to leave his studies at the Shenandoah Valley Academy to take charge of The Winchester Star, a newspaper founded by his father that was skirting bankruptcy. Mr. Byrd remained as publisher of The Star until he was 19, putting it on a sound financial footing. From 1907 to 1910 Mr. Byrd managed a second family newspaper property in Martinsburg.

      The family newspaper holdings today are The Winchester Star and The Harrisonburg Daily News Record, a larger paper published in a city situated just south of Winchester in the Shenandoah Valley.

      The Senator was the son of Mrs. Eleanor Bolling Flood Byrd and Richard Evelyn Byrd, a lawyer, who was speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates. One of Mr. Byrd's younger brothers was Rear Adm. Richard E. Byrd, the United States Navy explorer who was the first man to fly over both the North and South Poles. Admiral Byrd died in March, 1957. The Senator's other brother, Thomas Bolling Byrd, survives.

      Senator Byrd married Anne Douglas Beverley of Winchester in 1913. Mrs. Byrd, who died Aug. 25, 1964, had been an invalid for many years. In addition to Senator Harry F. Byrd Jr., two other sons, Bradshaw Beverly Byrd and Richard E. Byrd, both in the family orchard business, survive.

      (3) The New York Times, October 22, 1966, Copyright © The New York Times:

      Humphrey to Attend Rites For Harry F. Byrd Sunday

      BERRYVILLE, Va., Oct. 21 - Vice President Humphrey will fly here from Minnesota on Sunday to attend a funeral
      service for former Senator Harry F. Byrd, who died Thursday of a malignant brain tumor at the age of 79.

      Mr. Byrd will be buried in Winchester following services at Christ Episcopal Church there.

      President Johnson, touring the Far East, has named Henry H. Fowler, Secretary of the Treasury and a native Virginian, to represent him at the service.

      The pallbearers will be Senator Mike Mansfield, of Montana, the Senate Majority Leader; Senator John J. Williams of Delaware; E. Blackburn Moore, Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates; Conrad L. Wirth, the former director
      of the National Park Service; Harry F. Byrd 3d, Pfc. Thomas T. Byrd of the Marines and Richard E. Byrd Jr., grandsons of Mr. Byrd, and J. Beverly Byrd Jr., a nephew.

      (4) The New York Times, December 17, 1966, Copyright © The New York Times:

      Harry Byrd's Will Filed; Estate Put at $2-Million

      BERRYVILLE, Va., Dec. 16 (AP) - Former Senator Harry F. Byrd Sr. left an estate of about $2-million, it was disclosed today in his will filed for probate at the Clarke County Clerk's office.

      His three sons, Senator Harry F. Byrd Jr., B. Beverley Byrd and Richard E. Byrd, named co-executors, were left equal shares after a number of other bequests were specified.

      The former Senator, who died of a brain tumor at his Rosemont estate on Oct. 20, left bequests of more than $250,000 to eight Virginia institutions and employes in his vast apple industry.

      The net value of the estate, after state and Federal death taxes of about $800,000 and debts and charitable bequests, was estimated at $1.2-million by members of the family.

      (5) Social Security Death Index:

      Name: Harry Byrd
      SSN: 229-09-6758
      Last Residence: 22611 Berryville, Clarke, Virginia, United States of America
      Born: 10 Jun 1887
      Died: Oct 1966
      State (Year) SSN issued: Virginia (Before 1951)


      Harry F. Byrd, Sr
      Birth: Jun. 1, 1887
      Death: Oct. 20, 1966

      Governor and Senator of Virginia.

      Family links: Parents: Richard Evelyn Byrd (1860 - 1925), Eleanor Bolling Flood Byrd; Children: Westwood Beverley Byrd (1916 - 1952), Richard Evelyn "Dick" Byrd (1923 - 2009); Spouse: Anne Douglas Beverley Byrd (1887 - 1964)

      Burial: Mount Hebron Cemetery, Winchester, Winchester City, Virginia, USA

      Maintained by: Find A Grave
      Record added: Jan 01, 2001
      Find A Grave Memorial# 2759
    Person ID I25763  Frost, Gilchrist and Related Families
    Last Modified 26 Apr 2019 

    Father Richard Evelyn BYRD, Sr.,   b. 13 Aug 1860, Austin, Travis County, TX Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Oct 1925, Richmond (Independent City), VA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 65 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Mother Eleanor Bolling FLOOD,   b. Mar 1866, Appomattox County, VA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 17 Sep 1957, Winchester, VA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 91 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Married 15 Sep 1886  Austin, Travis County, TX Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F11259  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Anne Douglas BEVERLEY,   b. 10 Aug 1887, Winchester, VA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Aug 1964, Winchester, VA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 77 years) 
    Married 7 Oct 1913  Winchester, VA Find all individuals with events at this location 
     1. Westwood Beverley BYRD,   b. 24 Jun 1916, Winchester, VA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 20 Mar 1952, Winchester, VA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 35 years)  [natural]
    Last Modified 26 Apr 2019 19:38:14 
    Family ID F11258  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart