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By Joseph Wallace, M. A.
of the Springfield Bar
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL

WILLIAM H. CONKLING. - A number of important business interests of Springfield have felt the stimulus of the energy and executive ability of Mr. Conkling, whose efforts have formed no unimportant element in promoting business activity here, nor has he been remiss in citizenship. On the contrary, he has been a co-operant factor in many movements for the general good and thus is deserving of mention among the representative men of Sangamon county. At the present time he is serving as assistant postmaster of Springfield and is controlling extensive real estate interests. He may well be termed a promoter, for Springfield owes not a little to his efforts in its behalf.

It is but natural that Mr. Conkling is interested in the city, for it is the place of his nativity and has been his home throughout his entire life. He was born September 12, 1858, his parents being William J. and Olivia J. (Holton) Conkling, who are represented elsewhere in this volume. William H. Conkling was educated in the city schools, being a graduate of the high school of the class of 1878. On the completion of his course there he entered the employ of Christian Wolf, a dealer in hats, caps and furs, with whom he remained from 1878 until 1888, his ten years' continuance with the house standing as incontrovertible evidence of his capability and fidelity. In 1889 he and C. J. Giblin bought out his former employer, Christian Wolf, and carried on the business under the firm name of Conkling, Giblin & Company until 1890, when this enterprise was consolidated with the business of Mr. Roberts. Mr. Conkling was associated with that gentleman until 1897 and from that time until June, 1901, served as city comptroller. At the latter date he was appointed assistant postmaster under L. E. Wheeler and now largely superintends the business of this important office.

On the 29th of May, 1884, Mr. conkling was united in marriage to Miss Sarah J. Thompson, of Jacksonville, Illinois, daughter of William and Elizabeth Thompson. Unto them have been born two children: Ella Grace and Aimee Jeanette.

In his political views Mr. Conkling is a stanch Republican, taking a great interest in the success of his party, and he has studied how to best promote its interests, because he has firm faith in its principles. He was one of the originators of the movement which resulted in the erection of the city hall upon a basis similar to that used in the Building & Loan Association. A company of thirteen, of whom he was one, gave their notes for forty thousand dollars to secure the erection fo the city hall of Springfield. These shares were deposited with the city and monthly payments were met by the city without any great burden being forced upon the citizens. On the 1st of September, 1903, the last payment was made and now Springfield is in possession of a fine city hall. Previously it had various offices scattered over the town for which it was paying exorbitant rents, but owing to the result of the committee composes of thirteen prominent and responsible business men of Springfield, the plan was formulated by which rents were made to apply as payment for the erection fo the building and September 1, 1903, the shareholders were released. Mr. Conkling was also instrumental, in connection with others, in securing the erection of the armory hall for Springfield and was the first secretary of the committee organized for that purpose. Local advancement and national progress are causes both dear to his heart and to such measures he brings the active co-operation of a practical business man. He has always been an active leader in all matters of public nature which necessitate the co-operation of those who are willing to give without deriving any material recompense. Though not in a financial condition to give to that extent which is his wish, still his name, his good will and financial assistance may always be found coupled with every act of a public nature wherein the prime object is the betterment of the commonwealth and the material advancement of all public interests generally. Mr. Conkling is one of the owners of the large addition which was the first regularly platted addition to Springfield based upon modern methods. This is called Hawthorne and the original tract comprised forty-three acres. Splendid improvements have been made, consisting of a sewerage system, pavements, cement walks, curbs and gutters. Gas, water and electric lights are found throughout the entire addition and there is a street car line running through Hawthorne and another close to it, so that it is one of the most desirable residence portions of Springfield. The improvements and surroundings have been made especially attractive and it is fast building up with a number of fine homes.

Fraternally, Mr. Conkling is a member of St. Paul's Lodge, No. 500, A.F. & A.M., and is also connected with the Knights of Pythias and other local insurance orders. He is also a member of the Sangamo Club, the Mercantile Club, the Elks and the Business Men's Association.

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