Illinois Governors

presented by Illinois Genealogy Trails

©April 2006 - Kim Torp

This house has served as the official residence of Illinois' Governors and their families since Governor Joel Matteson took up residence here in 1855

Governor Mansion

The Illinois Executive Mansion is one of the oldest historic residence in the state and one of the three oldest continuously occupied Governor's Mansions in the country.

# / Name / Party / Term
1. Shadrach Bond, Democratic-, Republican --- --- 1818–1822 [Wife: Achsah Bond]
Gov. Bond Shadrach Bond was born in Frederick County, Maryland, in the year 1773. He was the son of a pious father who gave scriptural names to his boys. Shadrach's brothers were named Nicodemus and Joshua. He was reared on a plantation and educated as a practical farmer, and farming was his business in life except when he was engaged in public service for his country. His school training was very limited, but he was a close observer and in the school of life he acquired a good knowledge of mankind and the various springs of human action. In mature age he was an intelligent practical citizen and servant of his fellow men. Governor Reynolds says of
him, "He was not a lady parlor scholar who read the novels of love-sick swains and fainting girls, nor did he ever wash his face in cologne water, but he was nature's nobleman, educated in the wide world of the human family, and his conscience and sound judgment were his unerring preceptors. The whole creation should be a man's school house and nature his teacher. Bond studied in this college and Providence gave him a diploma."
He came to Illinois in 1794 and lived with his uncle, Shadrach Bond, senior, for some years, and then purchased a farm for himself in the American Bottom and improved it well. By his example and influence he was a leader in a movement for the improvement of farming and social conditions among the farm people, that began about 1800. He labored on his farm with his own hands, with such help as he could obtain in that early day. He felt an honest pride in being dependent on no one for support except Mother Earth and "God that giveth the increase." He spent the happiest part of his life on the farm. He possessed warm and ardent feelings and when in the society of his friends around the festive board he was not only happy himself but made all around him happy also. In personal appearance he was large and portly, six feet tall and weighed over two hundred pounds, erect and symmetrical, in manner and bearing noble, dignified, and commanding; his features were regular but strong and masculine, his hair a glossy jet black, he had large brilliant hazel eyes, his forehead was prominent and his countenance indicated superior intellect. Such was the person of "Farmer Bond." In early life he was a member of the General Assembly of the Indiana Territory, which met at Vincent and he was a good, substantial member. In 1812 he was the first delegate to our national Congress. There he secured the passage of a law to grant the right of preemption to early settlers so that they might acquire a clear title to the land they occupied, and thus secure the improvements they had made upon it. This proved a great stimulus to the settlement of Illinois lands. When the settlers felt that they could hold the improvements they made, they were encouraged to make more. This brought public lands into market and started a stream of immigration which was strong, deep and constant. It was the keystone to the arch of prosperity in Illinois. This one achievement entitles Bond to the lasting gratitude of his fellow-countrymen. He remained in Congress only one term. In 1814 he was appointed Receiver of Public Moneys at Kaskaskia. He then moved from his farm in the American Bottom to Kaskaskia and established a farm near that town. In 1818, when the first state officers were chosen for Illinois, he was elected Governor without opposition. The office of Governor was especially important during that first term in the time of transition from Territorial to State government. He performed the duties of the office in a satisfactory manner and retired with the good will of the people. Some time later he was appointed Registrar of the land office at Kaskaskia, in which office he continued till his death in 1830. [Source: Early American Settlers of St. Clair County, by Prof. W. C. Walton - Excerpted from the Centennial History of McKendree College (1928)]

2. Edward Coles, Democratic-, Republican --- --- 1822–1826 [Wife: Sally Logan Roberts Coles - married in 1833 after Edward's term as governor]

Ed Coles

Governor Edward Coles was the second governor of Illinois and an early abolitionist. Born in Albemarle County, Virginia, in 1786, his father was John Coles, a Revolutionary War colonel. Gov. Coles He grew up on his father's Virginia plantation with many slaves, visited by very important guests such as Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe. John Coles was brother-in-law to Patrick Henry and John's niece, Dolley Payne Todd, married James Madison. At the age of 23, Coles inherited the Virginia plantation and its slaves.
For six years, Coles was the private secretary of President Madison. Quitting his post as secretary in 1815, he took a trip to Shawneetown and Kaskaskia, IL. He attended the constitutional convention, and in 1819 Coles went back to Virginia, sold his plantation, and started westward with his slaves. On the trip he told them that they were free men and women, at liberty to stay with him or to go their own way.
Once in Illinois, he was appointed registrar of the Edwardsville land office. Three years after arriving in Illinois, he ran for governor as an antislavery candidate. He ran against two proslavery candidates and one antislavery candidate. Coles became a minority governor, getting a third of the vote and finishing 50 votes ahead of Phillips, the chief justice. Proslavery men won the lieutenant governorship and controlled the legislature.
When his second term ended, Coles retired to a bachelor's life on his Edwardsville farm. He traveled extensively, made money from St. Louis real estate investments, and in 1832 left Illinois for a happier life in Philadelphia. He died in 1868 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Coles County, IL was named after him. His brother-in-law was John Rutherford, who served as governor of Virginia.
(Read more here: http://www.lib.niu.edu/ipo/1994/ihy940462.html)

3. Ninian Edwards, Democratic-, Republican --- --- 1826–1830 [Wife: Elvira Lane Edwards]

Born on March 17, 1775 at Mount Pleasant, Montgomery County, Maryland, the son of Benjamin Edwards. He graduated from Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa., in 1792; studied law; moved to Bardstown, Ky., in 1795. He was a member of the State house of representatives 1796-1797; was admitted to the bar in 1798 and commenced practice in Russellville, Ky.; judge of the general court of Kentucky 1803; judge of the circuit court 1804; judge of the court of appeals 1806; chief justice of the State 1808; he served as the last governor of the Illinois Territory between 1809 from 1818 and again as governor of Illinois (as a state) from 1826 until 1830. He served as a US Senator from Illinois under the Democratic Republican party (and later as Adams-Clay Republican) from December 3, 1818 to March 4, 1824 when he resigned.
He was appointed Minister to Mexico in 1824, but while en route was recalled to testify before a select committee of the House of Representatives appointed to investigate charges made by him against William H. Crawford, Secretary of the Treasury. He resumed the practice of law; had an interest in saw and grist mills and engaged in mercantile pursuits. He was appointed Governor of Illinois 1826-1831; died in Belleville, Ill., on July 20, 1833. He was interred in Belleville, with reinterment in 1855 in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Ill. [source: http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=E000078 and wikepedia.org]

4. John Reynolds, Democratic --- 1830–1834 [Wife: Catherine Reynolds]

A Representative from Illinois; born in Montgomery County, near Philadelphia, Pa., February 26, 1788; moved to Illinois in 1800 with his parents, who settled in the vicinity of Kaskaskia; pursued classical studies; studied law; was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Cahokia, Ill., in 1812; elected a justice of the Illinois Supreme Court in 1818; unsuccessful candidate for election to the United States Senate in 1823; member of the State house of representatives 1827-1829; Governor of Illinois from December 6, 1830, to November 17, 1834, when he resigned, having been elected to Congress; in 1832 took the field as commander of the State militia in the Black Hawk War; elected as a Jacksonian to the Twenty-third Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Charles Slade; reelected to the Twenty-fourth Congress and served from December 1, 1834, to March 3, 1837; unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1836 to the Twenty-fifth Congress; elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-sixth and Twenty-seventh Congresses (March 4, 1839-March 3, 1843); again a member of the State house of representatives in 1846 and 1852
and served during the latter term as speaker; unsuccessful candidate for election to the State senate in 1848; unsuccessful candidate for State superintendent of schools in 1858; engaged in newspaper work; died in Belleville, St. Clair County, Ill., on May 8, 1865; interment in Walnut Hill Cemetery. [Source: "The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress" at http://bioguide.congress.gov/ and they got this info from “John Reynolds, The ‘Old Ranger’ of Illinois, 1788-1865.” by Josephine L.Harper, Ph.D. diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1949."]

5. William Lee Davidson Ewing, Democratic --- 1834–1834 [wife: Caroline Berry Ewing]

Wm Ewing

He was born in Paris, Ky., August 31, 1795 and practiced law in Shawneetown, Ill.. President James Monroe appointed him receiver of the land office at Vandalia, Ill., in 1820. He was a brigadier general of State militia; colonel of the “Spy Battalion” during the Black Hawk War; a clerk of the State house of representatives from 1826-1828; a member of the State house of representatives in 1830, and served as speaker; He was a member of the State senate from 1832-1834, and was chosen president pro tempore in 1832. He was the acting lieutenant governor in 1833 and Governor of Illinois in 1834 for only fifteen days; He was appointed to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Elias K. Kane and served from December 30, 1835, to March 3, 1837;
After not being re-elected, he returned to the Illinois State house of representatives in 1838 and 1840 and at both sessions was chosen speaker. He was the clerk of the State house of representatives in 1842 and appointed auditor of public accounts in 1843. He died in Springfield, Ill. on March 25, 1846; and is thought to be buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Ill. (http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=E000283)

6. Joseph Duncan, Democratic --- 1834–1838 [wife: Elizabeth Caldwell Smith Duncan ]
Was born in Paris, Bourbon County, Ky., February 22, 1794. He served during the War of 1812 as an ensign in the Seventeenth Infantry, where he was promoted to first lieutenant in the Forty-sixth Infantry July 16, 1814, and returned to the Seventeenth Infantry July 16, 1814; received, by resolution of Congress, February 13, 1835, the testimonial of a sword for his part in the defense of Fort Stephenson, Ohio. In 1818, he moved to Illinois and settled in Kaskaskia, later in Jackson County where he engaged in agricultural pursuits. He was a justice of the peace in Jackson County from 1821-1823; appointed major general of State militia in 1822
and commanded Illinois troops in the Black Hawk War in 1831. He was a member of the State senate from 1824-1826; elected as a Jacksonian to the Twentieth and to the three succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1827, until September 21, 1834, when he resigned, having been elected Governor of Illinois. He served as Governor of Illinois from 1834-1838 and was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor in 1842. He lived in retirement until his death in Jacksonville, Morgan County, Ill. on January 15, 1844. His interment was in Diamond Grove Cemetery. [Source: "The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress" at http://bioguide.congress.gov/ ]

7. Thomas Carlin, Democratic --- 1838–1842 [wife: Rebecca Huitt Carlin ]
Thomas Carlin, the founder of Carrollton Illinois, county seat Greene, was born near Shelbyville, Kentucky in 1786. In 1803 the family moved to Missouri where his father died. Thomas Carlin served as a ranger during the War of 1812. In 1814 he owned a ferry crossing the Mississippi near the present site of Edwardsville Junction with his brother James and William Carlin 1814 .

While living there he married Miss Rebecca Huitt, (sister of John Wilkinson Huitt) in 1818.
He was first sheriff of the county his commission dated dated April 14, 1821.
He served as state senator in fourth and fifth general assemblies (1824 - 1828)
In the Black Hawk was he commanded a spy battalion.
He was elected the sixth governor of Illinois in 1838 serving until 1842. when he returned to Carrollton, He was elected to the legislature in 1849. [
Read more] [READ OBIT]

8. Thomas Ford, Democratic --- 1842–1846 [wife: Frances Hambaugh Ford]

Ford was born in Uniontown, Fayette County, Pennsylvania in 1800. His widowed mother took him and his siblings west in hopes of crossing the Mississippi River in 1804 to buy cheap land. At St. Louis she was told about the Louisiana Purchase and that land was no longer cheap there because it now belonged to America. So she settled in Illinois instead.

Ford was the half-brother to George Forquer, who later became the state's attorney general. The two would eventually share a law office together, and Forquer aided Ford in his early years as a lawyer and judge. But, he took a brief time away from the law to become a spy against Black Hawk shortly before the Black Hawk War in 1832.
He was the state's attorney in Western Illinois, then was elected as a state court judge in the north in 1836. He later served as a municipal judge in Chicago, before becoming a state court judge again. This led to his joining the Supreme Court of Illinois as an associate justice, 1841-42.

Elected as governor, he inherited a financial crisis. When he took office in 1842, the cost of building the Illinois-Michigan Canal and a disastrous public railroad project had put Illinois $15 million in debt. The state was so broke it couldn't buy postage stamps, and many citizens wanted to renege on the debt. Instead, Ford got some of the debt cancelled, then persuaded the legislature to pass a property tax. The tax enabled the state to pay back its debt, finish the Illinois-Michigan Canal and begin the industrial age with a good credit rating.
Constitutionally prohibited from succeeding himself, Ford retired when his term of office ended in 1846. He was remembered largely for the Illinois Mormon War.
Ford married Frances Hambaugh in 1828 and had five children by her. His wife died of cancer in 1850 at the age of 38, and he followed her in death three weeks later from tuberculosis. Of his three daughters, two were said to have died young. His two sons were both lynched as outlaws in Kansas in the 1870s, one dying under mysterious circumstances. Ford died in Peoria, Illinois. Interment was at Springdale Cemetery, Peoria.

Ford County, Illinois is named for him.

Read the Story done at the time of his daughter's death in 1910.

9. Augustus Chaflin French, Democratic --- 1846–1852 [wife: Lucy Southwick French]
Was born August 2, 1808 in Hill, Merrimack County, New Hampshire . He was known for his commitment to education.

After coming to Illinois, he became a resident of Crawford County, and a lawyer by profession. He was a member of the 10th and 11th General Assemblies, and Receiver, for a time, of the Land Office at Palestine. He served as Presidential Elector in 1844, was elected to the office of Governor as a Democrat in 1846 by a majority of nearly 17,000 over two competitors, and was the unanimous choice of his party for a second term in 1848.
His administration was free from scandals. He was appointed Bank Commissioner by Governor Matteson, and later accepted the chair of Law in McKendree College at Lebanon. In 1858 he was the nominee of the Douglas wing of the Democratic party for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, ex-Gov. John Reynolds being the candidate of the Buchanan branch of the party. Both were defeated. His last public service was a a member from St. Clair County of the Constitutional Convention of 1862. Died September 4, 1864 at Lebanon, St. Clair County, Illinois. Interment was at College Hill Cemetery, Lebanon [Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, 1901]
10. Joel Aldrich Matteson, Democratic --- 1853–1857 [wife: Mary Fish Matteson ]
Born Aug. 8, 1808 in Watertown, NY . After some experience in business and as a teacher, in 1831 he went to South Carolina, where he was foreman in the construction of the first railroad in that state. In 1834 he removed to Illinois, where he became a contractor on the Illinois & Michigan Canal, and also engaged in manufacturing at Joliet. After serving three terms in the State Senate, he was elected Governor in 1852,and in 1855, was defeated by Lyman Trumbull for the United States Senatorship. At the close of his gubernational term he was complimented by the Legislature and retired to private life a popular man. Later, there were developed grave scandals in connection with the refunding of certain canal scrip, with which his name, unfortunately, was connected.
 He turned over property to the State of the value of nearly $250,000 for its indemnification. He finally took up his residence in Chicago, and later spent considerable time in travel in Europe. He was for many years the lessee and the President of the Chicago & Alton Railroad. He died Jan. 31, 1873 in Chicago. The village of Matteson, Illinois is named in his honor. [Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, 1901]
11. William Henry (or Harrison?) Bissell, Republican --- 1857–1860 [wife: Emily Susan Jones Bissell]
 First Republican Governor of Illinois, was born near Cooperstown, NY on April 25, 1811, graduated in medicine at Philadelphia in 1835, and after practicing a short time in Steuben County, NY, removed to Monroe County, IL. IN 1840 he was elected a Representative in the General Assembly, where he soon attained high rank as a debater. He studied law and practiced in Belleville, St. Clair County, becoming Prosecuting Attorney for that county in 1844. He served as Colonel of the Second Illinois Volunteers during the Mexican War, and achieved distinction at Buena Vista. He represented Illinois IN Congress form 1849 to 1855, being first elected as an independent Democrat. On the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, he left the Democratic party and, in 1856, was elected Governor on the Republican ticket.
While in Congress he was challenged by Jefferson Davis after an interchange of heated words respecting the relative courage of Northern and Southern soldiers, spoken in debate. Bissell accepted the challenge, naming muskets at thirty paces. Mr. Davis's friends objected, and the duel never occurred. Died in office at Springfield, Ill, March 18, 1860. [Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, 1901]
12. John Wood, Republican --- 1860–1861 [wife: Ann Streeter Wood]
 Pioneer, Lieutenant-Governor and Governor, was born at Moravia, NY, Dec 20, 1798 - his father being a Revolutionary soldier who had served as Surgeon and Captain in the army. At the age of 21 years young Wood removed to Illinois, settling in what is now Adams County, and building the first log-cabin on the site of the present city of Quincy. He was a member of the upper house of the 17th and 18th General Assemblies, and was elected lieutenant-Governor in 1859 on the same ticket with Governor Bissell, and served out the unexpired term of the latter, who died in office. He was succeeded by Richard Yates in 1861. In February of that year he was appointed one of the five Commissioners form Illinois to the "Peace Conference" at Washington, to consider methods for averting civil war.
 The following May he was appointed Quartermaster-General for the State by Governor Yates, and assisted most efficiently in fitting out the troops for the field. In June 1864, he was commissioned Colonel of the 137th IL Volunteers (100-days men) and mustered out of service the following September. Died at Quincy, June 11, 1880. He was liberal, patriotic and public-spirited. His fellow-citizens of Quincy erected a monument to his memory, which was appropriately dedicated July 4, 1883. [Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, 1901]
13. Richard Yates, Republican --- 1861–1865 [wife: Catherine Geers Yates]
Governor and United States Senator, was born at Warsaw, KY, Jan 18, 1815 of English descent. In 1831 he accompanied his father to Illinois, the family settling first at Springfield and later at Berlin, Sangamon County. He soon after entered Illinois College, from which he graduated in 1835, and subsequently read law with Col. John J. Hardin, at Jacksonville, which thereafter became his home. IN 1842 he was elected Representative in the General Assembly from Morgan County, and was re-elected in 1844, and again in 1848. In 1850 he was a candidate for Congress form the 7th District and elected over Maj. Thomas L. Harris, the previous incumbent, being the only Whig Representative in the 32 Congress from Illinois.
Two years later he was re-elected over John Calhoun, but was defeated in 1854, by his old opponent, Harris. He was one of the most vigorous opponents of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill in the 33rd Congress and an early participant in the movement for the organization of the Republican party to resist the further extension of slavery, being a prominent speaker on the same platform with Lincoln, before the first Republican State Convention held at Bloomington, in May 1856, and serving as one of the Vice Presidents of that body. IN 1860 he was elected to the executive chair on the ticket headed by Abraham Lincoln for the Presidency, and by his energetic support of the National administration in its measures for the suppression of the Rebellion, won the sobriquet of "the Illinois War-Governor" In 1865 he was elected United States Senator, serving until 1871. He died suddenly at St. Louis, Nov. 27, 1873, while returning form Arkansas,whither he had gone, as a United States Commissioner, by appointment of President Grant, to inspect a land-subsidy railroad. He was a man of rare ability,e earnestness of purpose and extraordinary personal magnetism, as well as of a lofty order of patriotism. His faults were those of a nature generous, impulsive and warm-hearted. [Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, 1901]
14. Richard James Oglesby, Republican --- 1865–1869 [wives: Anna Elizabeth White and Emma Gillett Keays]
Governor and United States Senator, was born in Oldham County, KY, July 25, 1824; left an orphan at the age of 8 years; in 1836 accompanied an uncle to Decatur, Ill., where, until 1844, he worked at farming, carpentering and rope-making, devoting his leisure hours to the study of law. In 1845 he was admitted to the bar and began practice at Sullivan in Moultrie County. IN 1846 he was commissioned a Lieutenant in the Fourth Regiment, IL Vol (Col. E.D. Baker's regiment) and served through the Mexican War, taking part in the siege of Vera Cruz and the battle of Cerro Gordo. In 1847, he pursued a course of study at the Louisville Law School, graduating in 1848. He was a "forty-niner" in California, but returned to Decatur in 1851. In 1858 he made an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in the Decatur District.
In 1860 he was elected to the State Senate, but early in 1861 resigned his seat to accept the colonelcy of the 8th IL Volunteers. Through gallantry (notably at Forts Henry and Donelson and at Corinth) he rose to be Major-General, being severely wounded in the last-named battle. He resigned his commission on account of disability, in May 1864, and the following November was elected Governor, as a Republican. In 1872 he was re-elected Governor, but, two weeks after his inauguration, resigned to accept a seat in the United State Senate, to which he was elected by the Legislature of 1873, In 1884 he was elected Governor for the third time - being the only man in the history of the State who (up to the present time - 1899) has been thus honored. After the expiration of his last term as Governor, he devoted his attention to his private affairs at his home at Elkhart, in Logan county, where he died, April 24, 1899, deeply mourned by personal and political friends in all parts of the Union, who admired his strict integrity and sterling patriotism. [Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, 1901]

View Mrs. Emma Oglesby's obituary

Further Information: Governor Richard J. Oglesby was married twice. He married Anna Elizabeth White in 1859 in Decatur. Together they had four children. Anna passed away in 1868 in the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Decatur. In 1873 he married a widow, Emma Gillett Keays. They also had four children together and raised Emma’s son from her first marriage. Emma passed away in 1928 at the family’s estate called Oglehurst and is buried nearby in Elkhart Cemetery.” [Source: Brent Wielt, Historic Sites Manager, Macon County Conservation District/Governor Oglesby Mansion, bwielt@maconcountyconservation.org]
15. John McAuley Palmer, Republican --- 1869–1873 [wife: Malinda Ann Neely Palmer]
(September 13, 1817 – September 25, 1900), lawyer, soldier and United States Senator, was born at Eagle Creek, Scott County, KY, Sept 13 1817; removed with his father to Madison County, ILL in 1831 and 4 years later, entered Shurtleff College at Upper Alton, as a student; later taught and studied law, being admitted to the bar in 1839. In his private life, Palmer married Malinda Ann Neely in 1842 and had 10 children with her. His early careers included being a lawyer, school teacher, coopering, and selling clocks. In 1843 he was elected Probate Judge of Macoupin County, also served in the State Constitutional Convention of 1847; after discharging the duties of Probate and County Judge, was elected to the State Senate to fill a vacancy, in 1852, and re-elected in 1854, as an Anti-Nebraska Democrat, casting his vote
 for Lyman Trumbull for United States Senator in 1855, but resigned his seat in 1856;

Was President of the first Republican State Convention, held at Bloomington in the latter year, and appointed a delegate to the National Convention at Philadelphia; was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress in 1859, and chosen a Presidential Elector on the Republican ticket in 1860; served as a member of the National Peace Conference of 1861; entered the army as Colonel of the 14th Regiment IL Volunteer Inf.; was promoted Brigadier General, in November, 1861, taking part in the campaign in Tennessee up to Chickamauga, assuming the command of the 14th Army Corps with the rank of Major-General, but was relieved at his own request before Atlanta. In 1865 he was assigned by President Lincoln to command of the Military Department of Kentucky, but in September 1866, retired from the service, and in 1867, became a citizen of Springfield. The following year he was elected Governor, as a Republican, succeeding fellow Republican, General Richard James Oglesby. He was succeeded in turn by Oglesby in 1873.
In 1872, supported Horace Greeley for President, and has since cooperated with the Democratic party. He was three times the unsuccessful candidate of his party of U.S. Senator, and was their nominee for Governor in 1888, but defeated. In 1890 he was nominated for U.S. Senator by the Democratic State Convention and elected in joint session of the Legislature, March 11, 1891, receiving on the 154th ballot 101 Democratic and two Farmers' Mutual Alliance votes. In 1891, he was elected to the U.S. Senate and served one term. Rather than running for reelection, he ran for President. He became an important factor in the campaign of 1896 as candidate of the "Sound Money" Democracy for President, although receiving no electoral votes, proving his devotion to principle. His last years were occupied in preparation of a volume of personal recollections, which was completed, under the title of "The Story of an Earnest Life" a few weeks before his death, which occurred at his home in Springfield, September 25, 1900.

Palmer switched parties throughout his life, starting out a Democrat, he became in turn an anti-Nebraska Democrat (against state sovereignty on slavery), a Republican, a Liberal Republican, returned to being a Democrat, then ended as a "Gold" Democrat. He said, "I had my own views. I was not a slave of any party," and added, "I thought for myself and [have] spoken my own words on all occasions." He was interred at City Cemetery at Carlinville, Illinois.
[Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, 1901 and "Answers.com"]
16. Richard James Oglesby, Republican --- 1873
  Was reelected to the office and took the chair on Jan 13, 1873 for his second term as Governor. He resigned Jan 23, 1873 to become a U.S. Senator. He was succeed by his Lt. Governor
17. John Lourie Beveridge, Republican --- 1873–1877 [wife: Helen May Judson Beveridge]
Was born in Greenwich, N.Y., July 6, 1824 to George and Ann Beveridge; came to Illinois, 1842, and after spending some 2 years in Granville Academy and Rock River Seminary, went to Tennessee, where he engage in teaching while studying law. Having been admitted to the bar, he returned to Illinois in 1851, first locating at Sycamore, but 3 years later established himself in Chicago. During the first year of the war he assisted to raise the 8th Regiment IL Cavalry, and was commissioned first as Captain and still later Major; two years later became Colonel of the 17th Calvary, which he commanded to the close of the war, being mustered out, February 1866, with the rank of brevet Brigadier-General.
 After the war he held the office of Sheriff of Cook County 4 years; in 1870 was elected to the State Senate, and in the following year, Congressman-at-large to succeed General Logan, elected to the United States Senate; resigned this office in January 1873, having been elected Lieutenant-Governor, and a few weeks later succeeded to the governorship by the election of Governor Oglesby to the U.S. Senate. In 1881 he was appointed by President Arthur, Assistant U.S. Treasurer for Chicago, serving until after Cleveland's first election. His present home (1898) is near Los Angeles, Cal.   [Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, 1901] He died May 3, 1910 and is buried at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago
18. Shelby Moore Cullom, Republican --- 1877–1883 [wife: Julia Fisher Cullom]
United States Senator, was born in Wayne County, Ky., Nov. 22, 1829. His parents removed to Tazewell County, Ill., in 1830, where his father became a member of the Legislature and attained prominence as a public man. After two years spent in Rock River Seminary at Mount Morris, varied by some experience as a teacher, in 1853 the subject of this sketch went to Springfield to enter upon the study of law in the office of Stuart & Edwards. Being admitted to the bar two years afterward, he was almost immediately elected City Attorney, and, in 1856, was a candidate on the Fillmore ticket for Presidential Elector, at the same time being elected to the Twentieth General Assembly for Sangamon County, as he was again, as a Republican, in 1860, being supported alike by the Fillmore men and the Free-Soilers.
 At the session following the latter election, he was chosen Speaker of the House, which was his first important political recognition. In 1862 he was appointed by President Lincoln a member of the War Claims Commission at Cairo, serving in this capacity with Governor Boutwell of Massachusetts and Charles A. Dana of New York. He was also a candidate for the State Senate the same year, but then sustained his only defeat. Two years later (1864) he was a candidate for Congress, defeating his former preceptor, Hon. John T. Stuart, being re-elected in 1866, and again in 1868, the latter year over B. S. Edwards. He was a delegate to the National Republican Convention of 1872, and, as Chairman of the Illinois delegation, placed General Grant in nomination for the Presidency, holding the same position again in 1884 and in 1892 ; was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1872 and in 1874, being chosen Speaker a second time in 1873, as he was the unanimous choice of his party for Speaker again in 1875; in 1876 was elected Governor, was re-elected in 1880, and, in 1883, elected to the United States Senate as successor to Hon. David Davis. Having had two re-elections since (1889 and '95), he is now serving his third term, which will expire in 1901. In 1893, by special appointment of President McKinley, Senator Cullom served upon a Commission to investigate the condition of the Hawaiian Islands and report a plan of government for this new division of the American Republic. Other important measures with which his name has been prominently identified have been the laws for the suppression of polygamy in Utah and for the creation of the Inter-State Commerce Commission. At present he is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Inter-State Commerce and a member of those on Appropriations and Foreign Affairs. His career has been conspicuous for his long public service, the large number of important offices which he has held, the almost unbroken uniformity of his success when a candidate, and his complete exemption from scandals of every sort. No man in the history of the State has been more frequently elected to the United States Senate, and only three-Senators Douglas, Trumbull and Logan- for an equal number of terms; though only one of these (Senator Trumbull) lived to serve out the full period for which he was elected.  [Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, 1901]
19. John Marshall Hamilton, Republican --- 1883–1885 [wife: Helen Williams Hamilton
Lawyer and ex-Governor, was born in Union County, Ohio, May 28, 1847; when 7 years of age, was brought to Illinois by his father, who settled on a farm in Marshall County. In 1864 (at the age of 17) he enlisted in the 141 IL Vol. - a 100-day regiment. After being mustered out, he matriculated at the Wesleyan (Ohio) University, from which he graduated in 1868. For a year he taught school at Henry, and later became Professor of Languages at the Wesleyan (Ill) University at Blooming. He was admitted to the bar in 1870, and has been a successful practitioner at the bar. In 1876 he was elected State Senator from McLean County, and, in 1880, Lieutenant-Governor on the ticket with Gov. Shelby M. Cullom.
 On Feb. 6, 1883, he was inaugurated Governor, to succeed Governor Cullom, who had been chosen United States Senator. In 1884, he was a candidate for the gubernatorial nomination before the Republication State Convention at Peoria, but that body selected ex-Gov. and ex-Senator Richard J. Oglesby to head the State ticket. Since then Governor Hamilton has been a prominent practitioner at the Chicago bar. [Historical Encylopedia of Illinois, 1901] He died Sep 22, 1905 and is buried at Oakwoods Cemetery in Chicago.
20. Richard J. Oglesby, Republican --- 1885–1889
Began his third term of office on Jan 30, 1885
21. Joseph Wilson Fifer, Republican --- 1889–1893 [wife: Gertrude Lewis Fifer]
Born at Stanton, Va., Oct. 8, 1840; in 1857 he accompanied his father (who was a stone-mason) to McLean County, Ill., and worked at the manufacture and laying of brick. At the outbreak of the Civil War he enlisted as a private in the 33 ILL Inf, and was dangerously wounded at the assault on Jackson, Miss., in 1863. On the healing of his wound, disregarding the advice of family and friends, he rejoined his regiment. At the close of the war, when about 25 years of age, he entered the Wesleyan University at Blooming, where, by dint of hard work and frugality, while supporting himself in part by manual labor, he secured a diploma in 1868. He at once began the study of law, and soon after his admission, entered upon a practice which subsequently proved both successful and lucrative.
 He was elected Corporation Counsel of Bloomington in 1871 and State's Attorney for McLean County in 1872, holding the latter office, through re-election, until 1880, when he was chosen State Senator, serving in the 32 and 33 General Assemblies. In 1888 he was nominated and elected Governor on the Republican ticket, but in 1892, was defeated by John P. Altgeld, the Democratic nominee, though running in advance of the national and the rest of the State ticket.  His name was elevated to state level after fighting with General John Black, the pension commissioner, when the latter tried to remove him as a “typical Republican politician who did not deserve a pension.” Fifer’s pension was $24 a month. Due to his celebrity status Fifer was elected Governor in 1889.

Governor Fifer lived to see his daughter elected as the first woman state senator in 1924. “Private Joe” was hit by an automobile at the age of 92; he lived blind, deaf, and crippled another six years before he died on 6 August 1938.
[Historical Encylopedia of Illinois, 1901 and http://www.il.ngb.army.mil/History/famous/fifer.htm]
22. John Peter Altgeld, Democratic --- 1893–1897 [wife: Emma Ford Altgeld]
Was born in Prussia (Nieder Selters, Germany) in 1848 (December 30, 1847), and in boyhood accompanied his parents to America, the family settling in Ohio (on a farm near Mansfield, Ohio). At the age of 16, he enlisted in the 164th Ohio infantry, (where he fought in Virginia with an ill-fated regiment and nearly died of fever) serving until the close of the war. He then worked on his father's farm, studied in the library of a neighbor and at a private school in Lexington, Ohio, and for two years taught school. After a brief stint in an Ohio seminary, he walked to Missouri and studied to become a lawyer while working on itinerant railroad construction crews. His legal education was acquired at St. Louis and Savannah, Mo., and from 1874 to '78 he was Prosecuting Attorney for Andrew County in that state.
He was married to Emma Ford, the daughter of John Ford and Ruth Smith, in 1877 in Richland, Ohio. In 1878 he removed to Chicago, where he devoted himself to professional work, founding a prosperous law firm that soon employed such rising stars as Clarence Darrow. In 1884 he led the Democratic forlorn hope as candidate for Congress in a strong Republican Congressional district, and in 1886 was elected to the bench of the Superior Court of Cook County, but resigned in August 1891. The Democratic State convention of 1892 nominated him for Governor and he was elected the following November, being the first foreign-born citizen to hold that office in the history of the State, and the first Democrat elected since 1852. He suffered a nervous breakdown shortly after his victory, and nearly died of a concomitant fever. He managed to appear at his inauguration, but was only able to deliver a brief portion of his speech. (Although the General Assembly hall was so warm as to cause several men to faint, Altgeld, clad in a heavy topcoat, was pale and visibly shivering.) The clerk of the Assembly delivered the remainder of his speech. Altgeld recovered, and as governor he spearheaded the nation's most stringent child labor and workplace safety laws, appointed women to important positions in the state government, and vastly increased state funding for education. In 1896 he was a prominent factor in the Democratic National Convention which nominated William J. Bryan for President, and was also a candidate for re-election to the office of Governor, but was defeated by John R. Tanner, the Republican nominee. Altgeld also ran for Mayor of Chicago as the candidate of the Municipal Ownership Party in 1899. Although an early favorite to win, he finished a humiliating third, garnering only 15.56 percent of the vote.

He became wealthy from a series of savvy real estate dealings and development projects, most notably the Unity Building (1891), the 16-story office building that was at that time Chicago's tallest building. Sickly since his brush with death in the Civil War, he had suffered from locomotor ataxia while governor, impairing his ability to walk. A reversal of financial fortune led to the loss of all his property except his heavily mortgaged personal residence. Only the intervention of his friend and former protégé Clarence Darrow saved him from complete financial ruin. He was working as a lawyer in Darrow's firm when he died of a cerebral hemorrhage he suffered while delivering a speech in Joliet on behalf of the Boers. He was 54 years old. Thousands filed past his body as it lay in state in the lobby of the Chicago Public Library, and he was eulogized by Darrow and Hull House founder Jane Addams. Altgeld is buried in Uptown's Graceland Cemetery.

He is best remembered for pardoning the three surviving suspects of a bombing who were convicted after the Haymarket Riot.
[Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, 1901 and wikepedia.org]
23. John Riley Tanner, Republican --- 1897–1901 [wife: Cora Edith English Tanner]
born April 4, 1844 near Booneville, Warrick County, Indiana, and was brought to Southern Illinois in boyhood, where he grew up on a farm in the vicinity of Carbondale, enjoying only such educational advantages as were afforded by the common school; in 1863, at the age of 19, he enlisted in the 98 IL Volunteers, serving until June 1865, when he was transferred to the 61st serving in General Sherman’s army from Kentucky to Georgia. He finally mustered out in September following. All the male members of Governor Tanner's family were soldiers of the late war, his father dying in a rebel prison at Columbus, Miss., one of his brothers suffering the same fate from wounds at Nashville, Tenn., and another brother dying in hospital at Pine Bluff, Ark. Only one of this patriotic family, besides Governor Tanner,
still survives  - Mr. J.M. Tanner of Clay County, who left the service with the rank of Lieutenant of the 13th IL Cavalry. Returning from the war, Mr. Tanner established himself in business as a farmer in Clay County, later engaging successfully in the milling and lumber business as the partner of his brother. The public positions held by him, since the war, include those of Sheriff of Clay County (1870-72), Clerk of the Circuit Court (1872-76) and State Senator (1880-83). During the latter year he received the appointment of U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Illinois, serving until after the accession of President Cleveland in 1885. In 1886, he was the Republican nominee for State Treasurer and was elected by an unusually large majority; in 1891 was appointed, by Governor Fifer, a member of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission, but, in 1892, received the appointment of Assistant United States Treasurer at Chicago, continuing in the latter office until December, 1893. For 10 years (1874-84) he was a member of the Republican State Central Committee, returning to that body in 1894, when he was chosen Chairman and conducted the campaign which resulted in the unprecedented Republican successes of that year. IN 1896 he received the nomination of his party for Governor, and was elected over Gov. John P. Altgeld, his Democratic opponent, by a plurality of over 113,000, and a majority, over all of nearly 90,000 votes. He is said to have "loved pomp and circumstance." He died shortly after leaving office in 1901 in Springfield, Illinois and died May 23, 1901. Buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery [Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and http://www.il.ngb.army.mil/History/famous/tanner.htm] 
24. Richard Yates, Republican --- 1901–1905 [wife: Helen Wadsworth Yates]
He was the son of Richard YATES who served as Governor from 1861-1865 and Catherine Geers. He was born in Jacksonville, Morgan, IL on Dec 12, 1860. He attended public schools and then went to the Illinois Woman’s College, Jacksonville, Ill., 1870-1874; He was then the city editor of the Daily Courier in 1878 and 1879, and of the Daily Journal 1881-1883. He graduated from the Illinois College, Jacksonville, Ill., in 1880 and from the law department of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1884.  He began the practice of law in Jacksonville, Ill. He was the City Attorney of Jacksonville from 1885 to 1890. Richard was a private in Company I, Fifth Infantry, Illinois National Guard from 1885 to 1890. He served as county judge of Morgan County 1894-1897.
 He was elected Governor of Illinois and served from 1901 to 1904. He served as a member of the State public utilities commission 1914-1917. Was Assistant Attorney General of the State of Illinois in 1917 and 1918. He then turned to Federal office and was elected as a Republican to the Sixty-sixth and to the six following Congresses (March 4, 1919-March 3, 1933). He ran again for renomination in 1928 to the Seventy-first Congress and didn't win but was later appointed nominee and elected in place of Henry R. Rathbone, deceased. He lived in Harbor Springs, Mich., and Springfield, Ill. He died in Springfield, Ill., April 11, 1936 and was buried in Diamond Grove Cemetery, Jacksonville, Ill.
25. Charles Samuel Deneen, Republican --- 1905–1913 [wife: Bina Day Maloney Deneen]
Born in Edwardsville, Madison County, Illinois to Samuel H. Deneen and Mary Frances Ashley. He was raised in Lebanon, St. Clair, IL, graduating from McKendree College in Lebanon in 1882. He then studied law there and also at Union College of Law (later Northwestern). He entered the Bar in 1886 and practiced Law in Chicago. Deneen served as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives in 1892. He then was Attorney for the Chicago Sanitary District in 1895 and 1896. From 1896 to 1904 he was State's Attorney for Cook Co., IL. He took the office of Governor for the first time on Jan 9, 1905 and was re-elected and took office again on Jan 18, 1909. After that he resumed the practice of Law in Chicago and then ran for the U.S. Senate, serving as a U.S. Senator from Illinois, 1925-1931. He died in Chicago
 and was interred there in the Oak Woods Cemetery. [wikepedia.org]
26. Edward Fitzsimmons Dunne, Democratic --- 1913–1917 [wife: Elizabeth Kelly Dunne]
Was born in Waterville, CT on Oct 12, 1853 and two years later moved to Peoria, IL with his parents. He graduated from Peoria High School, went on to Dublin University, and in 1876 studied law in Chicago, being admitted to the bar there. He married Elizabeth J. Kelly in 1880 and the two had thirteen children, moving to River Forest in 1887. He was a circuit judge from 1892 to 1905 and the 31st Mayor of Chicago from 1905 to 1907. He took the office of Governor on Feb 3, 1913 and served until 1917. He retired from politics completely after his term. He decided to spend time with his family and enjoy his favorite pastime: reading. In 1933, he wrote a five-volume set on Illinois History, which includes information on himself and his involvement in shaping Illinois legislation. He died May 24, 1937. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Evanston, Il. [source: wikepedia.org and http://www.oprf.com/OPRFHIST/dunnee.htm]
27. Frank Orren Lowden, Republican --- 1917–1921 [Florence Pullman Lowden]
Frank O. Lowden was born in Sunrise, Chicago County, Minnesota on January 26, 1861. He lived in Iowa from the age of 7 until his graduation from Iowa State University in 1885. Starting his career as a school teacher, he saved enough money to attend Union College of Law, now Northwestern University School of Law. After graduating in 1887, he practiced law in Chicago. In 1896, he married Florence Pullman, favorite daughter of railroad tycoon George Pullman.

Lowden entered politics and served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1906-11) and as governor of Illinois (1917-21). He gained wide notice as governor by his reorganization of the state government and by his effective handling of the Chicago race riots in 1919. A contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 1920,
he was deadlocked with Leonard Wood at 311 1/2 votes on the eighth ballot, which enabled Warren G. Harding to gain the nomination. In 1924 he refused to run as Vice President on the Republican ticket.

Lowden was a friend of Alexander Legge and an enthusiastic supporter of Farm Foundation. After Legge's death, Lowden assumed the leadership of the foundation. He served as chairman of the board of trustees from 1933 to his death in Tucson, Arizona on March 20, 1943. He is buried in Graceland Cemetery, Chicago. Lowden's will bequeathed Farm Foundation 21,000 acres of land in Lincoln County and Desha County, Arkansas.
Read obituary
[source: http://www.farmfoundation.org/lowden.htm and wikepedia.org]
28. Lennington Small, Republican --- 1921–1929
also known as Len Small
born June 16, 1862 near Kankakee, Kankakee County, Ill.,
Member of Illinois Republican State Central Committee, 1899, 1919; member of Illinois state senate 16th District, 1901-03; Illinois state treasurer, 1905-07, 1917-19; delegate to Republican National Convention from Illinois, 1908, 1912, 1932; Governor of Illinois, 1921-29.
Lennington Small was indicted, while governor, for allegedly running a money-laundering scheme when he was state treasurer. He was acquitted, but four jurors later got state jobs, raising suspicions of jury tampering.
 As governor he pardoned 20 members of the Communist Labor Party convicted under the Illinois Sedition act. In 1923 bootlegger Edward "Spike" O'Donnell of the Southside Chicago O'Donnells was released from prison by Small. O'Donnell returned to Chicago as the leader of one of the most powerful bootlegging gangs in the city.

Small died May 17, 1936 with interment at Mound Grove Cemetery, Kankakee, Ill.
[The Political Graveyard, wikepedia.org]
29. Louis Lincoln Emmerson, Republican --- 1929–1933
Born in Albion, Edwards County, Illinois on December 27, 1863. He was the grandson of Allan Emerson.

He held the following offices:
Member of Illinois Republican State Central Committee, 1910; delegate to Republican National Convention from Illinois, 1912, 1920, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1940; secretary of state of Illinois, 1917-29; Governor of Illinois, 1929-33. Member, Freemasons; Elks; Knights of Pythias; Moose; Odd Fellows; Redmen; Woodmen.
Emmerson Park, located in the Edgewater neighborhood (at the corner of Granville and Ridge Avenues) was named after him since he was the governor during the time the park was created. Also designated the week of October 6 to October 12, 1929 as "Fire Prevention Week"

Died in Mt. Vernon, Jefferson County, Illinois February 4, 1941. He was buried at Oakwood Cemetery, Mt. Vernon. The house where he was born in Albion, IL at 212 W. Main St. now houses the Edwards County Historical Society.
[wikepedia.org, PoliticalGraveyard.com, chicagoparkdistrict.com]
30. Henry Horner, Democratic --- 1933–1940
Born November 30, 1879 in Chicago. He was a lawyer and served as probate judge from 1915 to 1931. Elected in 1932 as the first Jewish Governor of Illinois, Horner served during the difficult years of the Great Depression. Because of a fiscal crisis facing Illinois during his first term in office, he was forced to ask the General Assembly for new tax revenue. In 1933, he signed Illinois's first permanent sales tax law into effect with an inaugural rate of 2.0%. Horner also signed a bill in 1935 increasing the Illinois sales tax rate to 3.0%. That new source of revenue allowed the stale to provide greater unemployment benefits to victims of the Depression.  He died October 6, 1904, while still in office. Horner, a lifelong bachelor, collected Lincoln-related memorabilia and bequeathed it to the people of Illinois. The Horner Collection is now stored and partly displayed in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois.
 He is interred at Mt. Mayriv Cemetery, a Jewish cemetery in Chicago. His memorial stands near the east entrance and the main office and includes granite benches and a bronze plaque [wikepedia.org, http://www.lib.niu.edu/ipo/1994/ihy940456.html, graveyards.com]
31. John Henry Stelle, Democratic --- 1940–1941
Born August 10, 1891 in McLeansboro, Illinois. He served as the governor of Illinois from 1940 to 1941. As Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, he naturally assumed the highest office in the state when Governor Henry Horner died. Stelle was a lifelong Democrat who served in World War I in the U.S. Army. He was a delegate to most of the Democratic National Conventions from 1928 to 1960. Stelle's first statewide office was as Treasurer, from 1935-37. From there, he moved into the spot of lieutenant governor in 1937
Though Governor Henry Horner's health was failing, he refused to resign. He didn't want his lieutenant governor, John H. Stelle, to get the top job. So when Horner had to withdraw from a run for re-election due to his failing health, he backed another Democrat, state Democratic Chairman Harry Hershey of Taylorville, for the party’s nomination. Hershey beat Stelle by more than 330,000 votes in the primary.
 But after Horner died on Oct. 6, 1940, Stelle took over the governor’s job for 99 days until the Republican who defeated Hershey, that November, Dwight Green, took over. Upon his death on July 5, 1962 in St. Louis, Missouri, Stelle's body was taken back to McLeansboro for a funeral and laid to rest in the McLeansboro City Cemetery. The Stelle Mansion, one of the more notable buildings in town, caught fire and burned down in 2005, destroying one of the last remnants of Stelle's life. [wikepedia.org, http://www.adaustin.com/HBA/documents/HORNER.HTM]
32. Dwight Herbert Green, Republican --- 1941–1949
Green was born in Ligonier, Noble County, Indiana, son of Harry Green and Minnie (Gerber) Green. On June 29, 1926, he married Mabel Victoria Kingston. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I.
Served in the U.S. Army during World War I; lawyer; U.S. District Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, 1931-35; candidate for mayor of Chicago, Ill., 1939; Governor of Illinois, 1941-49; delegate to Republican National Convention from Illinois, 1940, 1944, 1948, 1952, 1956. Episcopalian. Member, American Bar Association; Federal Bar Association; American Legion; Forty and Eight; Military Order of the World Wars; Freemasons; Shriners; Kappa Sigma; Phi Alpha Delta.

In 1940, Republican Dwight H. Green of Chicago was elected Governor of Illinois, breaking eight years of
 Democratic control in the state. Green, who came to fame as part of the team which successfully put Al Capone in jail, ran as a reform candidate opposed to campaign corruption and alleged tolerance of crime and gangsters by Chicago Democrats. However, when the U.S. entered World War II in 1941, he proved unequal to the task of containing corruption.

In 1944, Dwight Green narrowly won re-election as Governor. Some say it was contributions from gangsters which helped him over the top. By this time, one-third of Illinois counties (including Knox County) had gambling of some kind.

He died February 20, 1958 and is entombed in a mausoleum at Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago.
[wikepedia.org, politicalgraveyard.com, http://www.thezephyr.com/monson/sheltons.htm] 
33. Adlai Ewing Stevenson II, Democratic --- 1949–1953 [wife: Ellen Borden]
Adlai Ewing Stevenson, governor of Illinois (1949-1953), Democratic candidate for President in 1952 and 1956, and United States Ambassador to the United Nations (1961-1965), was born in Los Angeles, California on February 5, 1900, the son of Lewis G. Stevenson and Helen Davis Stevenson. He grew up in Bloomington, IL, where his ancestors had been influential in local and national politics since the nineteenth century. Jesse Fell, his maternal great-grandfather, a prominent Republican and an early Lincoln supporter, founded The Daily Pantograph, a Bloomington newspaper. His paternal grandfather, Adlai E. Stevenson, served as Grover Cleveland's Vice President during his second term, was nominated for the office with William Jennings Bryan in 1900, and ran unsuccessfully for Illinois governor in 1908. His father, Lewis Green Stevenson served as Secretary of State of Illinois.
Stevenson attended preparatory school at Choate and went on to Princeton University, where he served as managing editor of The Daily Princetonian and was a member of the Quadrangle Club. He graduated in 1922 and matriculated at Harvard University Law School. However, in July 1924, he returned to Bloomington to work as assistant managing editor of The Daily Pantagraph while the Illinois courts probated his grandfather's will, determining share ownership of the newspaper. While working at the newspaper, Stevenson reentered law school at Northwestern University, and in 1926, graduated and passed the Illinois State Bar examination. He obtained a position at Cutting, Moore & Sidley, an old and conservative Chicago law firm, and became a popular member of Chicago's social scene. In 1928, he married Ellen Borden, a wealthy Chicago socialite. They had three sons: Adlai E. Stevenson, III (1930-); Borden Stevenson (1932-); and John Fell Stevenson (1936-). The couple divorced in 1949.

In the early 1930s, Stevenson began his involvement in government service. In 1947, Louis A. Kohn, a Chicago attorney, suggested to Stevenson that he consider running for political office. Stevenson, who had toyed with the idea of entering politics for several years, entered the Illinois gubernatorial race and defeated incumbent Dwight H. Green in a landslide. Principal among his achievements as Illinois governor were reorganizing the state police, cracking down on illegal gambling, and improving the state highways.

Many Democratic leaders considered Stevenson the only natural choice for the presidential nomination in 1956, and his chances for victory seemed greater after Eisenhower's heart attack late in 1955. Stevenson's hopes for victory were dashed when, in October, President Eisenhower's doctors gave him a clean bill of health and the Suez crisis erupted. The public was not convinced that a change in leadership was needed, and Stevenson lost his second bid for the presidency.

Despite his two defeats, Stevenson remained enormously popular with the American people. Early in 1957, Stevenson resumed law practice. Under John F. Kennedy's administration, Stevenson was appointed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, where he worked hard to support U.S. foreign policy, even when he personally disagreed with some of Kennedy's actions. His most famous moment came on October 25, 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis, when he gave a presentation at an emergency session of the Security Council.

Stevenson died suddenly on July 14, 1965. Following memorial services in Washington, D.C; Springfield; and Bloomington, Illinois, Stevenson was interred in the family plot in Evergreen Cemetery, Bloomington, Illinois.
 [http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/unitarians/stevenson.html and wikepedia.org]
34. William Grant Stratton, Republican --- 1953–1961
Known as "Billy the Kid"

Born in 1914 in Ingleside, Lake County, Illinois, the son of William Joseph Stratton (an Illinois politician) and Zula Van Wormer Stratton; he graduated from the University of Arizona in 1934, majoring in political science; and in 1940, was elected U.S. Congressman-at-large at age 25, becoming the youngest member in the nation of the U.S. House of Representatives and was known as the "Baby of the House"; in 1942 he became the youngest constitutional officer in the State of Illinois when he was elected State treasurer; in 1948 he lost his bid for the position of Secretary of State, and joined the United States Navy, serving as lieutenant in the South Pacific during World War II.
During his time as Governor, William Stratton built the economic backbone of the State of Illinois; laying out plans for O'Hare International Airport, McCormick Place, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, working beside Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley. He built more than 7,000 miles of new roads, including 187 miles of expressway in the Chicago area, and 638 bridges across the State; he won approval for bond issues to construct the University of Illinois at Chicago and Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville; he also expanded the Northern, Eastern, and Western Illinois campuses.
Governor Stratton spoke out against racial discrimination, attempted to create a fair-employment commission, and named the first woman and first African-American to a gubernatorial cabinet;

He served two non-consecutive terms as an at-large Congressman from Illinois, elected in 1940 and 1946. He was elected state treasurer in 1944 and 1950. He won his party's nomination for governor in 1952, defeating Lt. Governor Sherwood Dixon to become the youngest Governor in America at that time.

In 1960, Governor Stratton ran for an unprecedented third-consecutive term but was defeated by Otto Kerner, Jr.

He was acquitted of charges of tax evasion in 1965. In 1968 he ran in the Republican primary for Governor of Illinois and was defeated by Richard B Ogilvie. In retirement, Stratton resided in Chicago, dying at the Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois in March 2, 2001 with interment at Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago, Ill. At the time of his death he was a member of the Illinois Civil Service Commission. Among his pall bearers were his successors as Governor, James R. Thompson, Jim Edgar, and George H. Ryan.

The William G. Stratton State Park on the Illinois River in Morris, IL was developed in 1959 to provide boat access to the Illinois River and was named after him. Also named in his honor were the William G. Stratton Lock and Dam on the Fox River (Illinois) near McHenry, Illinois and the State Office Building (housing offices of many state legislators and other state agencies,) in the Illinois State Capitol complex, completed during his first term as governor.
[wikepedia.org and http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/legisnet92/hrgroups/hr/920HR0113LV.html] 
Otto Kerner, Jr., Democratic --- 1961–1968
Otto Kerner was born in Chicago on 15 August 1908. After graduating Cambridge University in England and Northwestern University in Chicago in 1934, he was admitted to the bar and also enlisted in the 106th Cavalry. He transferred to the 58th Field Artillery Brigade in 1937 after being commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. Kerner left the 33rd Division in 1942 and entered active duty serving as a field artillery officer in the 9th Infantry Division in North Africa and Italy and in 32nd Infantry Division in the Pacific. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for merit and the Soldier’s Medal for rescuing a drowning soldier off the coast of Sicily. He was released from active duty in 1946 as a Lieutenant Colonel and rejoined the Illinois National Guard.
 In the 33rd Division, Kerner was promoted Colonel that same year and to Brigadier General in 1951. He was retired as a Major General in 1954. He was elected to the Office of Governor of Illinois on 9 January 1961 - He was re-elected and took office for his second term on Jan 11, 1965. He resigned from office 20 May 1968 and was succeeded by his Lt. Governor, becoming a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals, for the 7th Circuit.
He was tried and convicted of Bribery and served time in a Federal Prison.  He was sentenced to a three year term for race track fraud in 1974. Was paroled after being diagnosed with Cancer and he died on May 8, 1976 (or May 9) and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Samuel H. Shapiro, Democratic --- 1968–1969
Born in 1907 in Estonia, he was elected lieutenant governor and took office when the previous governor Otto Kerner, Jr. resigned to become a Federal judge. He was narrowly defeated by Republican Richard B. Ogilvie in the 1968 election.
Shapiro was an alumnus of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. From 1984 until his death, he led the effort to establish a permanent national headquarters for the fraternity's national offices.
He died in 1987 in Kankakee, Illinois and he is buried in Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois.
READ OBIT  [wikepedia.org and the nytimes.com]
Richard Buell Ogilvie, Republican --- 1969–1973
Born Feb. 02, 1923
A wounded combat veteran of World War II, he achieved notoriety as the mafia-fighting Sheriff of Cook County, Illinois in the 1960s. He was elected governor as a Republican in 1968 against incumbent Democrat Sam Shapiro, taking 51.2% of the vote. His lieutenant governor was Democrat and future U.S. Senator Paul Simon, the first and only time that Illinois had a Governor and Lt. Governor of opposite parties. (The situation was considered so untenable that, during Ogilvie's single term, a complete rewrite of the Illinois Constitution was completed that included a provision mandating that the governor and lieutenant governor run for office and be elected together, eliminating the chance of this happening again.)
Bolstered by large Republican majorities in the state house, Ogilvie embarked upon a major modernization of state government. He successfully advocated for a state constitutional convention, increased social spending, and secured Illinois' first state income tax. The latter was particularly unpopular with the electorate, and the modest Ogilvie, described as "dumpy" by the Wall Street Journal, lost a close election to the flashy Dan Walker in 1972, ending his career in elective office.

In 1987, he was appointed by then-Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole to chair a committee studying the proposed termination of Amtrak's federal subsidy.

The Ogilvie Transportation Center, from which Chicago-area Metra commuter passenger trains leave for destinations on the former Chicago and North Western, is named in his honor. He died May 10, 1988. Cremated; ashes interred at Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago, Ill.
[wikepedia.org, politicalgraveyard.com]
Daniel Walker, Democratic --- 1973–1977
He was born in August 6, 1922 in Washington DC and served as a naval officer in World War II. A graduate of the Northwestern University School of Law, Walker later became an executive for Montgomery Ward while pursuing anti-machine Democratic politics in Chicago. He rose to prominence as head of the Chicago Study Team which issued a report on police conduct at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Walker concluded that in effect a "police riot" occurred. Walker announced his candidacy for Governor in 1972, attracted wide attention by walking the length of Illinois, and won the Democratic primary by upsetting then-Lt. Governor Paul Simon. In November, he narrowly defeated incumbent Republican Richard B. Ogilvie.
Walker did not repeal the income tax that Ogilvie had enacted and, wedged between Republicans and machine Democrats, had little success with the Illinois legislature during his tenure. In 1976, Walker lost the Democratic primary to Secretary of State Michael Howlett, the candidate supported by Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley.

In the 1980s, Walker entered the private sector with a chain of self-named quick oil-change franchises and a pair of troubled Savings and Loans. In 1987 he was convicted of improprieties related to the latter, and spent nearly two years in federal prison. Still living as of 1994, residing in California.
James Robert Thompson, Republican --- 1977–1991

Known as "Big Jim Thompson" He was born May 08, 1936 in Chicago, IL.
Illinois' longest-serving governor, he served four terms. His first began on Jan 10, 1977, the second on Jan 8, 1979, third on Jan 10, 1983 and his last on Jan 12, 1987.

Thompson was educated at the University of Illinois and Washington University, and received his law degree from Northwestern University Law School. He first joined Winston & Strawn in 1975
 and then rejoined the firm as a partner when he left the governor's office in 1991.
From 1959 to 1964, he served in the Cook County state's attorney's office, where he argued criminal civil rights cases before the Illinois and US Supreme Courts. He then taught at the Northwestern Law School. In 1971, he became U.S. Attorney for the Northern District, where he established a solid reputation for prosecuting corrupt public officials. As a federal prosecutor in the early 1970s, he obtained a conviction against former Governor Otto Kerner, Jr. for his use of improper influence on behalf of the racetrack industry. He also tried and convicted many of Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley's top aides, most notably Alderman Tom Keane, on various corruption charges. These high-profile cases gave Thompson the celebrity which helped his run for governor in 1976.
In the 1976 election, he won 65 percent of the vote over Democratic Secretary of State Michael Howlett. Thompson was reelected in 1978 with 60 percent of the vote, defeating State Superintendent Michael Bakalis. In the next election, Thompson was very narrowly reelected in 1982 against former U.S. Senator Adlai E. Stevenson III, and then won decisively against him in a rematch four years later.

From 2003-2004, he re-entered the public spotlight by serving on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9-11 Commission).

Thompson's old law firm, Winston and Strawn, is the same firm that represented former Governor George Ryan against federal charges in 2005-06 relating to the "Licenses-for-Bribes" scandal during Ryan's tenure as Illinois Governor and Secretary of State.

The "State of Illinois Center", opened in May 1985 and located at 100 W. Randolph in Chicago's Loop, was renamed The James R. Thompson Center (JRTC) in Gov. Thompson's honor in 1993
[http://www.9-11commission.gov/about/bio_thompson.htm, wikepedia.org, http://www.law.northwestern.edu/inthenews/article_full.cfm?eventid=984]
James Edgar, Republican --- 1991–1999
Republican from Coles county, took office on Jan 14, 1991 and was re-elected and took office for his second term on Jan 9, 1995.  He was born in Vinita, Ok on July 22, 1946.  He lived in Charleston, IL where he received his education in the public schools.  He went to college at Eastern Illinois University and majored in History, graduating in 1968.   He served in the Illinois House of Representatives being elected from the 53rd Legislative District in 1976 and was re-elected in 1978.  In Jan 1981 he was appointed to fill the vacancy of Secretary of State and was elected to that office in Nov. 1982 and again four years later.  He married Brenda Smith of Anna, IL in 1967. 
George H. Ryan, Republican --- 1999–2003
George H. RYAN assumed office on Jan 11, 1999.  He is a Republican from Kankakee county.  He was elected as the 39th Governor of Illinois on Nov. 3, 1998.  Gov. Ryan was born in Feb 14 1934, third child of Thomas and Jeanette Ryan. He is a lifelong resident of Kankakee and a Pharmacist.  He served for 10 years in the State Legislature (1973-1983), Lt. Governor from 1983 to 1991 and as Secretary of State from 1991 to his taking the office of Governor.  He is a veteran of the U.S. Army, serving in Korea.  In 1956 he married his high school Sweetheart Lura Lynn LOWE.  They are the parents of one son and five daughters which include triplets.  They have thirteen grandchildren.
Federal charges were filed against Gov. Ryan and he stood trial in 2005-06 relating to the "Licenses-for-Bribes" scandal during Ryan's tenure as Illinois Governor and Secretary of State.
Rod R. Blagojevich, Democratic --- 2003- impeached and removed from office Jan 29, 2009
ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH was born in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, December 10, 1956. Attended Foreman High School, Chicago, Ill, then graduated with a B.A. from Northwestern University in 1979. Earned a law degree from Pepperdine University, Malibu, Calif. in 1983. Was a lawyer in private practice before working as a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney from 1986-1988. Was a member of the Illinois state house of representatives, 1993-1996; elected as a Democrat to the One Hundred Fifth and to the two succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1997-January 3, 2003); not a candidate for reelection to the One Hundred Eighth Congress in 2002. He was elected the 40th governor of Illinois in November 2002 and sworn in January 13, 2003. He is married to Patti, with 2 children. (Sources: http://www.allamericanpatriots.com/m-wfsection+article+articleid-197.html and http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=B000518)

Pat Quinn - appointed Governor 01/29/2009 to January 12, 2015 (democrat)

Born December 16, 1948 in Hinsdale, Illinois, he was the 41st Governor of Illinois. Quinn became governor of the state of Illinois on January 29, 2009, when the previous governor, Rod Blagojevich, was impeached and removed from office.

Quinn is a graduate of Northwestern University School of Law and holds an international economics degree from Georgetown University. The father of two sons, Quinn grew up in Hinsdale and now lives in Chicago.
Elected as commissioner of the Cook County Board of Tax Appeals
Briefly served in the administration of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington as Revenue Director.
Illinois State Treasurer from 1991 to 1995
Elected Lieut. Governor on January 13, 2003
Re-elected Lieutenant Governor on Nov. 7, 2006
Appointed governor 1/29/2009

Bruce Rauner - elected Governor January 12, 2015 (republican)

Bruce Rauner


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A Great Website for reading about the early First Ladies of Illinois. Includes portraits

Grave Sites of Illinois Governors at Matt Hucke's Graveyards of Chicago website

Back to our STATE DATA page

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©April 2006 - Kim Torp