Lee County Biography


Judicial preferment in a federal court came to Solomon Hicks Bethea in his appointment by President Roosevelt to the position of United States district judge. He was one of Lee county's native sons and one whose record reflected credit and honor upon the community in which he lived. He was born in Palmyra township. May 20, 1852, a son of William W. and Emily (Green) Bethea. He attended the Dixon public schools, supplemented by study in Rock River Seminary in Dixon, and was graduated from the University of Michigan in 1872. His preparation for the bar was followed by admission to practice in 1877. He entered at once upon the active work of the profession, and he continued to the last a student of the principles of jurisprudence. In his law practice one of his strong characteristics was the thoroughness with which he prepared his cases, and he never seemed at a loss in presenting his cause but was ready to meet any contingency. On the 20th of December, 1898, he was appointed United States district attorney for the northern district of Illinois by President McKinley and was reappointed by President Roosevelt on the 9th of December, 1902. He held that position until appointed United States district judge for the northern district of Illinois by President Roosevelt on the 18th of March, 1905. He wore his honors with becoming modesty, and he carefully lifted the judicial ermine above the mire of partisanship. Strictly fair and impartial in his rulings, his decisions were based upon comprehensive knowledge of the law as applicable to the facts in litigation. He resided in Dixon throughout his entire life and following his judicial appointment continued upon the bench until his death, which occurred August 3, 1909.

Transcribed by Karen Holt - 1914 History of Lee County Illinois Vol 2 by Frank E. Stevens.

Back Home