Sangamon County ILGenWeb © 2000
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By Joseph Wallace, M. A.
of the Springfield Bar
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL

WILLIAM M. WARREN - William M. Warren has been a resident of Illinois since 1833 and of Sangamon county for a half century. As an agriculturist, lawyer and banker he has been prominently identified with the business life of the county and New Berlin owes much to his active efforts in its behalf. In his business relations he is progressive, energetic and straightforward, and he stands today as one of the strong men of his community, strong in his honor and his good name, in his financial position and in the regard of his follow men. He is now living a retired life and the rest which has been vouchsafed to him is indeed well merited.

Mr. Warren was born in Scott county Kentocky May 27, 1828, and is of English descent,the family having been founded in Virginia at an early period in the colonization of the new world. Barton Warren was born in Virginia in 1692 and was the father of William Warren, whose birth occurred in the same state in 1747. He in turn was the father of William M. Warren, who was born in Virginia in 1775 and was the grandfather of our subject. The father, William B. Warren, was born in Scott county, Kentucky in 1802. William Warren removed from the Old Dominion to Kentucky shortly after the Revolutionary war. He settled in Woodford county and there reared his family. His son, Judge William M. Warren, was reared there and became a lawyer by profession. A man of marked individuality, of strong mentality and of earnest purpose, he won distinction at the Kentucky bar and served on the bench of the court of appeals. William B. Warren, the father of William M. Warren, was a man of superior education and he, too, became a member of the bar. He practiced law in his native city for a number of years and his comprehensive knowledge of the principles of jurisprudence and the able mannor in which he handled litigated interests gained for him a prominent place as a legal practitioner. He was married in Kentucky to Miss Ann Price, who was born in Georgetown, Scott county, and in 1833 he removed to Illinois, locating in Jacksonville, where he continued in the practice of law. At the time of the Mexican war he became a soldier and served as major of the first regiment known as Hardin's Regiment, and succeeded to the lieutenant colonelcy at Hardin's death. He was elected and served as clerk of the supreme court of Illinois, being the first to fill that position under the constitution of 1849. He spent his last years in Jacksonville, this state, where he died in 1865. His wife survived him for nine years passing away in 1874.

William M. Warren was the oldest in a family, of four sons and seven daughters, of whom two sons and two daughters are yet living. His brother, Phil Warren, is now living retired in Springfield. Two of his sisters, Mrs. Thomas Booth, a widow, and Mrs. V. M. Kenney, are residents of New Berlin.

William M. Warren was a lad of about five summers when he came with his parents to Illinois. The period of his minority was largely passed in Jacksonville and he acquired the greater part of his education there. In early life he studied surveying and when but sixteen years of age served as deputy surveyor continuing in the position for several years. In I853 he removed to Sangamon county, where he purchased a tract of raw land, which he broke and improved, developing an excellent farm of four hundred acres, upon which he lived for fifteen years. He was elected and served for two terms as county surveyor here and discharged the duties of the office in connection with the management of his farm. In 1868 he located in New Berlin, where he began the practice of law and for twenty years followed that profession, securing a large clientage, which connected him with much of the important litigation tried in the courts of the county. During that time Mr. Warren also became identified with banking interests. He established the W. M. Warren Bank in 1877 and conducted it with success until 1898. He made it one of the sound financial institutions of the county and did a very extensive business in that line. In all of his undertakings he has prospered and yet the secret of his success is not hard to find. He has led a life of industry and diligence, and his labors have been guided by sound judgment, keen discrimination and strong purpose. Moreover, he has ever been honorable in his relations with his fellow men and business integrity is always one of the safest foundations upon which to build business success. As his financial resources have increased, Mr. Warren has likewise invested in property and has erected a number of business houses and residences in New Berlin, thus contributing to the improvement of the town as well as to his personal prosperity.

Mr. Warren was united in marriage while in Jacksonville in I849 to Miss Priscilla Hitt, a native of Bourbon county, Kentucky who was there reared. They had two children: Margaret J., the wife of O'Bannon Smith, who is cashier of the State Bank of New Berlin, and they have two children, Priscilla W. and O'Bannon; and Agnes, the wife of George W. Fraker, of Spray, North Carolina, by whom she has two daughters, Margaret and Priscilla. Mr. Warren lost nine children in infancy and early childhood, and his son William B. grew to mature years and married ere called to his final rest. Sallie died in early womanhood and John F. died at the age of twenty six years. In 1896 Mr. Warren was also called upon to mourn the loss of his wife, who passed away in that year and was laid to rest in Island Grove cemetery. She was a most estimable lady, who had indeed been to him a faithful companion and helpmate on life's journey and her loss was deeply deplored, not only by her immediate family but also by many friends throughout the Community.

Mr. Warren has always been identified with the Democratic party and he took a very active part in local politics at an earlier day. He was elected and served as supervisor and was chairman of the board for six years, acting in that capacity at the time the state house was built. He has, however, never been an aspirant for public office, but his worth and ability have led to his selection for local offices. For ten years he filled the position of justice of the peace and then declined to serve longer. He belongs to the Masonic fraternity, which he joined in Jacksonville, and later he became a charter member of the lodge at New Berlin. He acted as its first master and has repeatedly been its representative in the grand lodge. His life has been in consistent harmony with teachings of the craft, which include honorable manhood, mutual helpfulness and kindness. Through seventy years he has been a resident of the county and naught is said against his character, for his life has been one Of uprightness and honor. His personal characteristics have won for him the regard and friendship of those with whom he has been associated and no history of Sangamon county would be complete without mention of William M. Warren, a most honored resident of New Berlin.

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