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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography of James Skiles McCullough

SOURCE: "History of Champaign County, Illinois," by J. O. Cunningham, 1905

SURNAMES: HARVEY, MCCULLOUGH


JAMES SKILES MCCULLOUGH, State Auditor of Public Accounts, was born in Mercersburg, Franklin County, Pa., May 4, 1845. In 1854, his father removed with his family to Champaign County, Ill., settling on a farm near Urbana, where the son grew up, receiving his primary education in the public schools. In 1862, at the age of nineteen years, he enlisted as a soldier in Company G, Seventy-sixth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and for the next three years served in the Departments of the Mississippi and the Gulf, participating in some of the most memorable battles and campaigns of that region, including the campaign against Vicksburg. While taking part in the assault on Fort Blakeley, near Mobile, Ala., on April 9, 1865, Mr. McCullough received a severe wound, his left arm being torn to pieces by a grapeshot, compelling its amputation near the shoulder. This occurred on the day of Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox, and was followed three days later by the fall of Mobile, of which the capture of Fort Blakeley was simply the forerunner, constituting one of the important events in the closing days of the Civil War. The Seventh-sixth, after doing service for a time in Texas, was mustered out at Galveston on July 22, 1865, and finally discharged at Chicago, August 11th following.

After returning home and partially recovering from the effects of his wound, Mr. McCullough spent a year in school at Urbana, and later was a student for two years in the Soldiers’ College at Fulton, Ill. In 1868, he entered the office of the County Clerk of Champaign County as Deputy, a position which he continued to fill for a period of five years, when in 1873, he was elected County Clerk, serving by successive re-elections a period of nearly twenty-four years. In 1896 he was nominated by the Republican State Convention for the office of State Auditor, and at the election in November following, was successful over his Democratic opponent by the unprecedented plurality of 138,000. Being honored with a renomination in 1900, he was again elected by a large majority. In 1904 he was again the nominee of his party for the same office, receiving at the succeeding election a plurality over his Democratic opponent of 291,233 votes, and a majority over all of 183,527. Mr. McCullough enjoys the distinction of being the only man who has been elected to the office of State Auditor for a third term in the history of the State, while his majority at the time of his last election surpassed all precedents. The only incumbent to hold the office for a longer period than Mr. McCullough, when he shall have completed his third term (twelve years), was Elijah C. Berry, the first State Auditor who received the office by appointment of the Governor, retaining it for less than thirteen years, while Thomas H. Campbell, first by appointment by the Governor, and then by election by the Legislature, held the position less than eleven years. Since then no other Auditor has has been in office more than eight years or two terms. Besides the ordinary duties of Auditor, Mr. McCullough under State law is ex-officio member of the State Board of Equalization and Secretary of the State Commision of Claims, also having supervision of State Banks and Building and Loan Associations organized unde the State laws.

Self-poised and of quiet, unobstrusive manners, Mr. McCullough commands respect by the efficiency and integrity with which he has uniformly discharged the duties of his office. He was married in 1869 to Miss Celinda HARVEY, of Urbana, Ill., and they have two children, a son and a daughter.

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