Born in rural New Jersey in 1855, Fillmore Condit educated himself in the Newark Public Library, and as a young man took a job in a meat market. By 1879 he had invented a refrigerator door fastener, obtained a patent, and opened up his own market. After marrying Ida Frances Rafter in 1881, they branched into real estate, and bought and developed land in Verona, New Jersey, where they made their home. Here Fillmore served as a member of the Essex County Board of Freeholders. After a brief stay in Santa Paula, California, Fillmore returned with his family to Verona in 1901 and joined the Union Oil Company as the New York representative. In 1910 he and Ida moved to Essex Fells. In 1911 their oldest son Everett, who was married with a six-month-old child, died suddenly and unexpectedly. To honor him, the Condits donated land to the city of Verona that is still used today as a baseball field, Everett Field. Fillmore became active in the Anti-Saloon League, publishing many tracts, and supported the cause of women's suffrage. He also served as president of the Hospital for Women and Children of Newark, and president of the board of trustees of the Verona Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1919, Fillmore was the Independent Republican candidate for governor on the Prohibition ticket, but his wife Ida was determined the family move to California, so he obtained a pledge from one of the opposing candidates to support the Eighteenth Amendment, and withdrew his candidacy. Fillmore retired from his position with Union Oil and left New Jersey permanently, settling with his family in Long Beach, California. A year and a half later, he was asked to become a candidate for the City Council. He served the city of Long Beach, as councilman and mayor, for a total of six years. A lifelong Republican, he also admired such Democrats as Woodrow Wilson and William Jennings Bryan. During his term as councilman of Long Beach he helped the city acquire a municipally owned gas works which became financially successful. He also advocated nationalization of the life insurance industry. His wife Ida died in 1921. Fillmore made a second marriage in 1922 to Mrs. Helen MacKinnon, a widow. He devoted much time, energy and funds to the Long Beach Community Hospital, which he founded. He was also active in promoting genealogy, serving as president of the Condit Family Association and helping to research his family back to the first Condit arriving in New Jersey in 1678. A progressive man, inventor and politician, oil expert and philanthropist, he also had a good sense of humor and enjoyed writing letters to newspapers wherever he lived. A series of articles in the Caldwell News recounted his family's visit to Europe in 1898. He and Ida had four children: Jane, Everett, Jessie and Donald. Fillmore Condit died in Long Beach in 1939.
Ida Frances Rafter Condit
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