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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography - William D. Somers

SOURCE: "Early History and Pioneers of Champaign County, Illinois," by Milton W. Mathews and Lewis A. McLean, editors of the Champaign County Herald, published by the Champaign County Herald, 1886


WILLIAM D. SOMERS was the first lawyer in Champaign county. He was born near Rockford, Surrey county, North Carolina, January 21, 1812. His earlier life was spent on a farm, and as soon as old enough he was engaged every summer in assisting in its cultivation. During the winter months he attended school. The schools in which he received his education were of the most primitive character; spelling, reading, writing and arithmetic were the only branches taught therein. Mr. Somers made good progress in all these studies, but was especially proficient in penmanship. He arrived in Urbana November 15th, 1840. October 14th, 1843, he was married to Miss Catherine P. CARSON,who is still living. He was appointed local attorney for the Illinois Central railroad company in 1855, a position he held for many years. During the rebellion he served the township of Urbana as supervisor and had the care of the families of dependent soldiers of the township during their absence in the army. He acted with the whig party until 1859, when upon its decease he joined the ranks of the democracy, and has in national elections voted steadily with it. In 1862 he was nominated by the democratic party for state senator, but was defeated. His children were Pauline, wife of George W. CURTISS, Ella, who married W. T. SUTTON, Mollie, who married Charles A. BESORE, Cora, who married G. W. BORT, and Charley. Mr. Somers was the first resident lawyer in this county and for many years was at the head of the profession. He met in his legal contests the greatest lawyers in the country, and was very successful. Such men as Abraham Lincoln, Leonard Swett, O. B. Ficklin and other distinguished lawyers have crossed swords with him with results not to his discredit. He introduced Abraham Lincoln to the first audience he ever addressed in this county, and was on intimate terms with him for many years.

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