This information is part of the Champaign County ILGenWeb Project. If you have reached this site by means other than The USGenWeb Project, The ILGenWeb Project, or directly, please visit the main Champaign Co, ILGenWeb site for more information regarding Champaign County, IL ancestors. Information contained here was transcribed by Celia Snyder. Please do not repost this information without the express written permission of Celia Snyder.

Champaign County, Illinois

Biography of Milton W. Mathews

SOURCE: "A Standard History of Champaign County, Illinois," J. R. Stewart, Supervising Editor, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York, Vols. I & II, 1918


MILTON W. MATHEWS (deceased), lawyer, legislator and editor, was born in Marshall, Ill., March 1, 1846, the son of John R. and Mary (MCNEIL) MATHEWS, both of whom were born in Ohio. He was reared partly in Illinois and partly in Wayne County, Ind., receiving his education in the public schools and at Dublin Academy near Richmond, Ind. Later he came to Champaign and engaged in teaching, at the same time studying law. In 1867 he located in Urbana and completed his law studies under the preceptorship of G. W. Gere, being admitted to the bar in August of that year. After practicing his profession for two years in partnership with Mr. Gere, he then continued alone, gaining distinction as a member of the Central Illinois bar. For nine years he was Master in Chancery of the Circuit Court, and for eight years thereafter State's Attorney of Champaign County, making a creditable record as public prosecutor.

In 1888 Mr. Mathews was elected a member of the State Senate, and soon was accorded a prominent position in that body. During the session of 1891 he was chosen President pro-tem of the Senate, and was no less distinguished as a tactful and sagacious presiding officer than he was for his vigor and eloquence in argument on the floor of the Senate. He exercised a large influence in shaping legislation during his membership in the General Assembly, and that influence was invariably wielded for the general good of the public. Governor Fifer appointed him a member of his military staff, upon which he served with the rank of colonel.

As an editor Colonel Mathews was as widely known as he was as a lawyer and legislator. He purchased the "Champaign County Herald" in 1879, and continued as the owner of that paper until his death, which occurred May 10, 1892. He was vigorous and forceful as an editorial writer, fearless in his advocacy of what he believed to be right and in denunciation of wrong. He was twice President of the Illinois State Press Association, and for many years was a recognized leader in the Republican party. In many conventions and campaigns he was an important factor in shaping his party's policies and platform utterances. He was frequently mentioned as a gubernatorial candidate and his fitness for that office was unquestionable. For many years he was a conspicuous figure in fraternal circles, affiliating with the orders of the Odd-Fellows, Knights of Pythias, and the Modern Woodmen of America. He was especially prominent as one of the Modern Woodmen during the formative period of that order, and helped to make it one of the leading fraternal and benefit orders of the county. He was identified with the banking interests of Urbana for some years as a director of the First National Bank, and was also one of the organizers of the Building and Loan Association of Urbana.

In 1869 Colonel Mathews married Miss Julia R. FOOTE, who was born in Ohio, a daughter of William J. FOOTE. Mrs. Mathews survives her husband, with her two children. Mrs. Mae NICOLAUS, of New York City, and Clyde Milton, of Urbana, who is following in the footsteps of his father professionally.

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