Biography - Elizur Southworth

HON. ELIZUR SOUTHWORTH. The honorable gentleman whose name appears above has been for many years one of the prominent legal lights of Montgomery County. For thirty-three years he held his own among the men to whom reason and equity are pre-eminent subjects of study. That his ability as a lawyer, his probity and honor as a man, and his position in the estimation of his fellow-citizens are fully assured, is shown by the fact that from the years 1877 to 1881 he was chosen to represent them as State Senator for Montgomery and Christian Counties.
Mr. South worth was born in West Fairlee, Vt., in 1828. He is a son of Joseph and Susan (Jenkins) Southworth, the former a farmer, As have been so many of the geniuses of the day and nation, our subject was brought up as a farmer boy, and in the invigorating, wholesome atmosphere of New England farm life developed those traits both mental and physical which have always distinguished him. After acquiring the rudiments of his education in the district school in the vicinity of his home, he was sent to the academy at Bradford, and after that to the one at Thedford.
After the age of seventeen, Elizur Southworth was engaged in teaching for seven years, and doubtless the discipline received during this time was of greatest value to him in later years. At the age of about twenty, our subject came West, locating first in Montgomery County, where he was engaged as a teacher, and subsequently spent three years in Bond and Fayette Counties. In 1850, he went to California, taking the overland route and equipped with an ox-team and the necessary accessories to a "prairie-schooner" voyage. He started from St. Joseph and wended his way via Ft. Kearney, landing at Webbersville, El Dorado County. He had been five months on the route. On arriving at his destination, he at once began his search for gold at Coloma, where the first find was made in 1849. He continued his mining operations for fifteen months and then returned to his native State via the Nicaragua route in 1852, and in 1854 came to Illinois, where he was married. While in Illinois, our subject had read law under the tutorship of Judge Gallagher, of Vandalia, and on returning from Vermont, in 1854, he resumed his work as a teacher and farmer, prosecuting at the same time his law studies until 1859, when he went to Litchfield and opened an office and began the practice of law.
With the audacity of youth, our subject determined that he could as well take care of two as one, and accordingly invited Miss Laura N. Crandall to become his wife. The lady was a native of Bradford, Vt., and November 1, 1852, she consented to become Mrs. Southworth. Her husband says of her, in a beautiful tribute indited from the depths of a full heart after her decease on the 11th of January, 1892: "She was richly endowed with beauty, intelligence, and all womanly virtues, and all these she cheerfully laid on the domestic shrine to make a home of love, peace, and delight for her husband. Not one time or place can I now recall in our long association stained by an ill-tempered word or an unloving act. Her sympathies were ever enlisted for the poor, the weak, the ignorant and the afflicted. She would teach her domestics all kindly and social duties. Her friendship was loyal, faithful and true. Her literary tastes were of the highest and purest order. She rarely viewed life from any other but the bright side. She was a florist apparently by intuition. It was sometimes said of her that she had only to touch the plant and it would send forth bloom. She raised them not only to make her own home pleasant and beautiful, but she carried them to the sick to gladden their hearts, and to the afflicted whose dear ones had passed away they were borne in profusion. All her years on earth were full of good deeds, and her religion was obedience to and love for the commandments of 'Him who spoke as never man spake.’ It would be superfluous to add anything to the tribute offered to the memory of this gracious womanhood which was spent by the side and in the companionship of the one who offers it. Surely he knew the richness and benignity of her nature better than any other.
In 1854, our subject came to Fillmore Township and operated a farm for four years. Five years later, on the first day of the new year, he came to Litchfield and began the practice of the profession for which he had long been fitting himself. After one year, he was admitted to the Bar at Springfield upon an examination before Judges Gillespie, O. B. Fecklin and Cummings. He practiced alone for a number of years, and during his thirty-three years' experience before the Bar has had few partners. From the beginning his advancement in his profession and his popularity as a legal man were rapid. As a public-spirited and enterprising citizen, he first distinguished himself by raising the money to start the Litchfield Car Works, that is the $15,000 bonus that was required. He was also largely instrumental in securing the Wabash Railroad at this point, and the different manufacturing enterprises that have been started here have, with few exceptions, received their impetus from his wise and far-reaching mind. He is at the present time local attorney for the Wabash road and transacted for it the business of purchasing thirty miles of right of way. It was he who organized the Beach, Davis & Co. Bank, securing the charter from Springfield and becoming a stockholder. He is also a Director and stockholder in the First National Bank.
In early years the municipal honors by which our subject was crowned were inaugurated by his election as Alderman. In 1881, he was elected Mayor of the city, and in 1876, as before stated, was elected to represent Montgomery and Christian Counties in the Senate on the Democratic ticket. During his incumbency of this position he served upon the Judiciary, Charitable and Penal Committees. In 1884, he received the honor of a re-election by the flattering majority of three thousand.
Mr. Southworth owns property in Litchfield, besides having important interests in East St. Louis and other towns. Since the bereavement sustained in the loss of his wife, our subject has been exceedingly alone, for there remained to him no children, their one and only child having died in infancy. His place of residence is one of the landmarks of Litchfield, he having resided in the same for twenty-four years.

Extracted 12 Jan 2017 by Norma Hass from 1892 Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, pages 468-470.

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