HUMPHREY, JUDGE J. OTIS - Illinois has always been proud of its lawyers, its lawmakers and its statesmen; they have always taken rank with the leaders throughout the country, and when tried have never been found wanting. Many of the greatest men in the modern history of the country have come from the Prairie State, and it is safe to say that the present generation can be relied upon to keep up the high standard. One who has been prominently identified with the progress of the Nation and who has been called upon to fill numerous high offices of honor and trust is Judge J. Otis Humphrey, of Springfield. Judge Humphrey was born December 30, 1850, in Morgan County, Ill., a son of William and Sarah (Stocker) Humphrey, natives of Ohio, who settled in Sangamon County in 1855.
Judge Humphrey is descended from an old and honored English family. His great-grandfather, Maj. Humphrey, won his title as commander of a division of the Fourth Rhode Island Regiment during the War of the Revolution. Later generations of the family came West and the parents of Judge Humphrey settled in Illinois, where William Humphrey died in 1893. J. Otis Humphrey was reared on a farm in Auburn Township, Sangamon County and his early education was secured in the district schools. Later he attended high school at Virden, Macoupin County, two years, subsequently spending five years at Shurtliff College, and for two years following he acted in the capacity of teacher. He began the study of law with the firm of Robinson, Knapp & Shutt, and in 1880, was admitted to the Bar, working that year in the office of the Supervisor of Census, under Hon. John A. Chestnut, for the Eighth District of Illinois. The next two years he was clerk in the offices of the Illinois Railroad and Warehouse commission, and in January, 1883, he formed a partnership with Hon. H. S. Greene, who was a distinguished attorney of the West, and this association continued until 1899.
Judge Humphrey's activities in politics began in 1876, under the tutelage of Hon. Shelby M. Cullom, who was during that year elected Governor of Illinois. In 1884 he was a Presidential Elector of the Blaine ticket, and in 1896, was sent as Delegate to the National Convention at St. Louis. He was Chairman of the Republican County Central committee for four years. On July 1, 1897, he was appointed United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, by President McKinley, and in 1901, was appointed United States District Judge, in which capacity he is now serving. Judge Humphrey has tried a great number of important suits during the time he has held a seat on the bench, and it is probable that no man in his capacity in the State, has a better record of unimpeached and unimpeachable decisions, or has ever enjoyed more conspicuously, the confidence of the community. Those who come before him for trial have the advantage or disadvantage, as the case may be, of appealing to an expert in the great science of human nature.
In 1879 Judge Humphrey was united in marriage with Miss Mary E. Scott, daughter of Rev. A. H. Scott, and to this union there have been born five children: Mary, Maud, Grace, Scott and Ruth. Judge Humphrey is possessed of more than ordinary literary ability, and specimens of his work in this line have been seen printed in a number of publications. He is a contributor to this publication, his valued contribution bearing the title of "The Lincoln Memorial."