Biography - Charles W. Woolverton

Charles W. Woolverton, for many years noted as a lawyer in Douglas county and throughout central Illinois, was born at Belvidere, Illinois, February 27, 1847, and died November 10, 1895, in the forty-ninth year of his age. In June, 1888, he married Mrs. Elizabeth C. Remine, who was at that time the official court reporter of the then judicial district composed of Douglas, Coles and Edgar counties.
Mr. Woolverton was a graduate of McKendree College, and soon after his graduation he began the practice of law at Tuscola, becoming a member of the firm of Bundy & Woolverton. He remained with Mr. Bundy for ten years, until the death of the latter in 1885. From this time up to his death he was alone in the practice. Col. Woolverton was the son of Charles W. and Amanda (Holland) Woolverton, who died when Charles W. was an infant. His father was a millwright by trade, but to his mother much of his success in life was due, she being a woman of fine intelligence and willpower. In finishing the sketch of Mr. Woolverton, we will substitute the words of the eminent Doctor Hurd, late pastor of the Presbyterian church, instead of our own:
"Charles W. Woolverton was born at Belvidere, Illinois, and at the time of his decease had nearly completed his forty-ninth year. His youth was marked with the most industrious and earnest efforts towards self-education, in which he was dependent largely on his own resources, and to which effort was added necessary exertion which he manfully rendered on behalf of his widowed mother and family. He wrought his way through the entire course of prescribed studies, and graduated from McKendree College, at Lebanon, Illinois. While engaged in teaching he pursued the studies preparatory to the legal profession until he was admitted to the bar. His first experience as an attorney was in connection with the office of the well-known lawyer and representative, Thomas E. Bundy, some years since deceased.
“Mr. Woolverton as a lawyer, as a man and as a citizen is well known in Douglas county and bevond. By the same incessant industry, and honorable attention to the fiduciary trusts and duties of his profession, he has won a large success, and a distinction which, with the promise of life preceding his last fatal sickness, would have ripened into eminence among his peers. Even as a young lawyer he was able to execute in two instances the largest bond for the discharge of important financial trusts which had ever been executed in Douglas county, and his fidelity in all commercial and civic relations was so well understood that up to the time of his departure from our midst large trusts were committed to his hands. Of irreproachable character as a man, he leaves large numbers who will deeply feel the loss of his invaluable worth among us. The members of the bar, honoring his memory on this occasion, are sincere mourners with those most nearly and deeply afflicted. The large fraternity who have known him as a member, as a brother and as a man, attend in charge of the interment of his body to-day with regret and with love unfeigned. As his chosen pastor for nearly five years I have been conscious on many Sabbath mornings of an intent and interested listener to such views of truth that I have attempted to present, and the knowledge and expectation of this has been a help and a stimulant such as few perhaps realize. The warm grasp of his hand whenever and wherever I chanced to meet him, with his inquiries and words of sympathy, notwithstanding his habitual reserve, have prepared me to feel that I have lost a friend and to have still deeper sympathy which words cannot express for those most nearly bereaved. Mr. Woolverton was reserved in the expressing of his feelings and sentiments."
The funeral cortege was a lengthy one, and the number of distinguished men in attendance was unusually large, all of which demonstrated the high esteem in which he was held by his fellowmen. The pall hearers were Messrs. P. M. Moore, United States Marshal W. B. Brinton, Rice Ervin, Thomas W. Roberts, James A. Richmond and P. L. Dawson. The remains were laid beside those of the late John J. Jones, both of whom were warm friends in life. The floral offerings were very fine, and some lovely pieces came from those who held him in noble esteem.
The deceased during his twenty years practice of law had built up a large clientage, and his many duties and responsibilities made him a very busy man. At the time of his death he was attorney for the I. D. & W. Railway; also for the Corn Belt Building & Loan Association, the bank of Baughman, Bragg & Co., and was manager of the large estate of John J. Jones, and several other large estates, besides having on hand many important cases in court at all times. He did business on a large scale, and the people sought him because of his integrity and honesty in his dealings with them.
He was a member of the following Masonic bodies, to-wit: Camargo lodge, No. 440, A. F. & A. M., Camargo, Illinois; Tuscola Chapter, No. 66, R. A. M., Tuscola, Illinois; Tuscola Council, No. 21. R. & S. M., Tuscola, lllinois; Melita Commandery, No. 37, Tuscola, Illinois.
The painful duty, at the request of the Douglas county bar, is imposed upon me of officially announcing to this court that one of the members has passed away; one to whom we were bound by strong ties of personal esteem and friendship, and by ties of professional association as a practicing lawyer; one who honored our profession, and was honored by it.
That such a duty should come is painful, yet fate-bound and impossible to escape therefrom. With the dread realities before us, and with power to recognize the same, in our manly strength yielding to the inevitable, it is a pleasing task to speak honest words of eulogy of the dead and words of sympathy to the living. It is always thus with us, when grim death enters our circle and with apparent ruthless hand plucks those who seemingly can least be spared. With the spirit of frankness we say it is always so, for when, perchance, one of less degree is claimed for that bourne of eternity, there comes as a belief, it seems to us, virtue and merits forgotten and unheralded like the still, undisturbed repose of true worth, magnified, it may be, by hidden generosities of our nature, suddenly drawn upon in all of the intensity of deep-seated sorrow, and through the gloom see, as bright lining, the nobler elements of the true man.
This custom is not of mere form, but of deep merit; an opportune time for contemplation of true worth and true manhood, yielding fruitful lessons for the present and enduring thoughts to guide us on into the otherwise obscure and unknown future. So the dark pall of death brings the white-winged dove and proclaims the brightest subjects.
To-day we make no draughts upon our charity in speaking of the subject of the resolutions which I have the great honor on behalf of our living brothers to present to this court. Well we know and realize that to your honor personally our words of praise and commendation will meet with a hearty response. Around the lifeless form of Charles W. Woolverton has been drawn the mantle of death, and we raise the veil with reverence to look upon his life and character with words of truthfulness to speak of him. Knowing the youthful struggle with poverty, and ambition of the American boy of Illinois birth, we see his elastic form and reliant journey up the steps of learning, and while possibly chiding his hard lot, side by side with his more favored companions, with determined mien, nerved by the opposition, he marches alongside his competitors with longing hope of ultimate success. As year quickly follows year we find him with self-reliance, without assurance, in the foremost ranks of his profession as a lawyer, and his pathway, among struggles and disappointments, strewn with monuments of professional success. In looking back through those years of untiring labor we see success written upon his every effort. With physical strength and courage the citizen stands with all the embellishment of the practicing lawyer and able jurist. And among those who speak his praise and his worth are many who in every day life received the encouraging word and the helping hand, and joined with these are the expressions of hearty gratitude of his young professional brethren. With sturdy, honest and untiring labor and fidelity came to him remunerating trusts and such a competence as to place the loving ones who mourn his loss beyond the reach of want or dependence. His home has lost a jewel, his wife and daughter a kind husband and father and a genial companion, and his surviving mother a son whose every effort was responsive to her wishes. The community has lost an upright citizen and the Douglas county bar has lost a brother worthy of our profession. With the unbounded confidence of all courts before whom he appeared his professional honor was ever beyond question. He was a close practitioner, eloquent and forcible, seldom indulging in invectives or sarcasm. Yet his power and force of character always inspired the court and jury, as it did himself, with confidence in the justice of his cause, and he was at all times a formidable adversary.
In the forty-ninth year of his age, in the very prime of mental and physical life, with sturdy qualities of honest heart and hand, and in full manhood of usefulness, our brother Charles W. Woolverton, by infinite and unknown Providence, has been cut down. With bowed heads to the inevitable, we must be resigned, and as out of the eternity we today and now seem to hear voices whispering from the "shadowy silence of the grave" we join with reluctance our voices in a long and last farewell to our friend and professional brother.

Extracted 12 Apr 2017 by Norma Hass from the Historical and Biographical Record of Douglas County, Illinois, published in 1900, pages 129-132.

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