Happy Birthday, Leonidas Lee!

How’s this for a college summer vacation: getting to play professional baseball for your hometown team!  Living out every kid’s dream, huh?  As a teenager, Leonidas Lee spent the summer of 1877 as an emergency infielder for the St. Louis Brown Stockings of the National League, playing in four games and getting five hits in eighteen at bats.

Except of course, that wasn’t his real name.

Leonidas Pyrrhus Funkhouser was sixteen years old and had just finished his junior year at Princeton where, in addition to taking classes, he played football and baseball.  Born on 13 December 1860 to Robert Monroe Funkhouser and Sarah Johnson (Selmes) Funkhouser in St. Louis, his father was a doctor and business man who gave all of his kids fun names.  In addition to Leonidas, there was Marie Antoinette Funkhouser, Millard Fillmore Funkhouser and Metellus Lucullus Cicero Funkhouser…  Whew!

Anyway, Funkhouser went back to Princeton and graduated that June.  He returned to St. Louis and completed a medical doctor’s degree but gave that up to be one of the more successful businessmen in Nebraska.  According to the Lincoln Courier:

“…(N)o one was so thoroughly entered into the life of the community as L. P. Funkhouser, who has been identified with Nebraska affairs since 1882, but who has been a resident of Lincoln for but a portion of the time.

“Some idea of how busy a man Mr. Funkhouser is may be gleaned from this list of official positions he holds in local corporations: Secretary and director of the Farmers & Merchants Insurance Company, cashier and director of the Farmers & Merchants Bank, vice president of the Lincoln Gas & Electric Company, director of the Lincoln Overall & Shirt Company and director of the Union Commercial Club.

“He is a thirty-third degree Scottish Rite Mason, a member of the Nebraska Scientific Society, district deputy for Nebraska Elks (the highest position in the order of the state), president of the Nebraska Society of Sons of the American Revolution and a charter member of the Omaha Club.  He holds a degree of A. M. from Princeton and of M. D. from the Missouri Medical College of St. Louis.”

As to being a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, he was a descendant of Zachariah Cross, who served as a private under General Francis Marion participating as a scout and a number of skirmishes between 1778 and 1779.  Even his wife was a Daughter of the American Revolution. Caroline Lush Bishop Funkhouser was a descendant of Richard Lush, among the earliest residents of Albany and a deputy muster-master during the Revolutionary War.  In fact, Leonidas could trace his family history back to 1698 when Christopher and John Funkhouser, two Swiss-born brothers who came to the British Colonies after a brief stop in Holland.  Starting in Virginia, his grandson, also Christopher, moved to a plot of land he named Funkhouser Hill in Kentucky that eventually became Morgantown, KY.  It’s a prominent American family…

We digress.  Leonidas and Caroline had two children, Elsie Lush and Robert Oliver.  At 51, Funkhouser was visiting family in Hendersonville, NC when he had a massive heart attack and died on 11 June 1912.


“The Colleges”, The Times (Philadelphia, PA), 19 June 1878, Page 1.

“Leonidas P. Funkhouser”, The Courier (Lincon, NE), 15 March 1902, Page 8.

“Answers to Correspondents”, Louisville Courier-Journal, 04 October 1914, Page 28.

“American Ancestry: Giving the Name and Descent, in the Male Line, of Americans Whose Ancestors Settled in the United States Previous to the Declaration of Independence, A. D. 1776”, Joel Munsell’s Sons, Publishers, 1898, Pages 80 – 81.

Death Certificate: Died of a heart attack in Hendersonville, NC.  Parents were Robert M (of VA) and Sarah Johnson Selmes Funkhouser (of NYC) on 6/11/1912.  Wife, Caroline Lush (Bishop) Funkhouser

Application to the Nebraska Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

Says his great grandfather, Zachariah Cross (of MD), saw his brothers march near his home and he joined the stragglers following the colonial army.  He may not have been eligible to join, but they forwarded Zachariah to a cousin, General Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox, of North and South Carolina, for whom he acted as a scout.  Family history says he was involved in many thrilling adventures and was later promoted to Colonel, but when he applied for a pension on 2/8/1833 (age 72) from his home in St. Louis, he was granted a one year pension for a year’s service as a private in the NC troops during the war.

Zachariah Cross and Hetty Johnston were the parents of Robert Roland Funkhouser’s wife, Rachel.  That would be LPF’s grandfather.

According to Record 23463 in the Lineage Book of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Caroline Lush Bishop was a descendant of Richard Lush of NY, among the first settlers of Albany, and he served as deputy muster-master in 1778-1779.

1900, 1910 US Census


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