ORENDORFF, ALFRED (deceased), former prominent lawyer and leading citizen of Springfield, Ill., was born on a farm in the northern part of Logan County, Ill., July 29, 1845, the youngest of a family of four sons of Joseph and Elizabeth (Stevens) Orendorff, the former a native of North Carolina and the latter of Henderson County, Ky. The Orendorff family in Illinois was descended from Christian Orendorff, who was a military officer in Germany, married a Miss Elizabeth Miller, of a prominent German family, and came from Wurtemburg, Germany, in 1751, first settling with his family in Lancaster County, Pa., but a few years later removing to the vicinity of Sharpsburg, Md. Their second son, Christopher, was married at Hagerstown, Md., in 1791, to Elizabeth Phillips, and soon after spent some time in Georgia and South Carolina, where, on November 25, 1804, their son Joseph Orendorff, the father of General Alfred Orendorff, was born. Christian Orendorff and family later resided successively for a time in the States of Tennessee and Kentucky, but in 1818 came to Washington County, Ill., whence a few years later they removed to the "Sangamo Country," settling on Sugar Creek, then a portion of Sangamon County, but which, on the organization of Logan County in 1839, was embraced in the northern part of the latter. Here Christian Orendorff and his family opened up a farm and built and operated on Sugar Creek the first water power grist mill in that part of the State, and here, on June 23, 1833, the son Joseph was married to Elizabeth Stevens, who, as already explained, was a native of Henderson County, Ky.
Alfred's father, Joseph Orendorff, died September 18, 1854, when the son was little more than nine years of age, and soon after the mother, with her family, removed to Lincoln, which was founded about that time and named in honor of Abraham Lincoln, later becoming the county seat of Logan County. Here Alfred received his primary education in the common schools, later taking a course in the Wesleyan Academy at Bloomington and in the military school at Fulton, Ill. In May, 1864, when less than nineteen years of age, Mr. Orendorff took the lead in organizing Company I, One Hundred Thirty-second Illinois Volunteer Infantry, which was mustered in for one hundred days, and of which he was promptly chosen and commissioned Captain, serving through its period of enlistment and being mustered out at Camp Butler, near Springfield. Later he turned his attention to the study of law, taking a course in the Albany (N.Y.) Law School, from which he graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Laws, and in the autumn of 1867, was admitted to practice in the State of Illinois. Taking up his residence in Springfield, he soon after became the junior member of the law firm of Herndon, Zane & Orendorff, this relationship continuing until June, 1873, when Mr. Zane having been elected to the circuit bench, the firm became Herndon & Orendorff. In April, 1877, Mr. Herndon having retired from active practice, Mr. Orendorff entered into partnership with Hon. James A. Creighton, present Justice of the Circuit Court for the Springfield District, which continued until Mr. Creighton's election in 1884 to the judgeship which he still retains. His next partnership was with Robert H. Patton, which lasted for several years. Evidence of his prominence in and his devotion to the profession is furnished in the fact of his election as the first Secretary of the Illinois State Bar Association on its organization in 1877, and his subsequent election as its President. On several occasions, he served as delegate to the National Bar Association, and in 1906, was elected as delegate to the International Law Association which held its session that year in the City of Berlin, Germany.
Reared as a Republican, General Orendorff's first political relations were with the Republican party, of which in 1870, he was the chosen candidate for State Senator, but failed of election in a strongly Democratic district. In common with many other members of the Republican party in 1872, he aligned himself with what was known as the "Liberal Republican Party," in support of Horace Greeley for President and in the same campaign was elected Representative in the General Assembly, receiving the support of the regular Democrats and serving as a member of the Judiciary Committee during the two sessions of that body. His subsequent political relations were uniformly with the Democratic party, which he served as Member, Secretary and Chairman of its State Central Committee, and Delegate to the numerous local State and national conventions, and was twice, 1880 and 1884, the candidate of that party for State Treasurer. In January, 1893, he was appointed Adjutant General by Governor Altgeld, and held that office three years, resigning January 4, 1896. His experience as a soldier and his knowledge of military affairs rendered his administration of this department highly satisfactory.
The most active efforts of General Orendorff's later years were devoted largely to the interests of the Illinois State Historical Society, of which he was a member for many years, and was chosen President in 1905, serving continuously in that capacity for the remainder of his life. A sketch of his career published in the Quarterly Journal of the State Historical Society for the month of October, 1909, says "He loved the Illinois State Historical Society and no detail of its affairs was too small to secure his interest and he labored for it unceasingly."
Other business interests besides the practice of his profession with which General Orendorff was associated, included the German-American Loan Association, of which he was Vice President for many years; Director of the Guarantee Abstract Company, as one of the organizers of the Springfield Improvement Association; President of the Franklin Life Insurance Company, and, at the time of his death, president of the International Bank & Trust Company, of Vinita, Okla. He was also prominently identified with the various fraternal and social organizations, including the Order of Masons, Odd Fellows, Elks, Sangamo Club, Iroquois Club, of Chicago, Workmen, Woodmen and others. He was especially active in connection with the Order of Odd Fellows, having served as Representative to the State Grand Lodge, Grand Master and as Representative to the Sovereign Grand Lodge of the World. He also served as President of the Board of Trustees of the First Presbyterian Church of Springfield, was associated as Representative of the State Historical Society in 1908, to the celebration of the Semi-Centennial of the Lincoln-Douglas Debate of 1858, and as a charter member of the Lincoln Centennial Association, took part in the honors paid to the memory of Abraham Lincoln on February 12, 1909.
"On June 22, 1870, General Orendorff was married to Miss Julia J. Williams, a daughter of Colonel John Williams, one of Springfield's most distinguished citizens, who was for fifty years a leading merchant, and for many years President of the First National Bank of that city. Mrs. Orendorff's death occurred May 27, 1908. Their three children, John Alfred, Alice Elizabeth and Lydia Edna, all survive. The son resides in Joplin, Mo., and the daughters occupy the family homestead on South Second Street in Springfield. General Orendorff's mother and three brothers all preceded him to the beyond. His mother died May 16, 1866; his brother Christopher, June 28, 1862; Robert, December 21, 1879, and James in 1902.
General Orendorff's death occurred as the result of a protracted illness, October 22, 1909, and the event was deplored by a large circle of friends in his home city and throughout the State. Among the many earnest tributes paid to his memory none are more worthy of our mention in this connection than those expressed by Honorable J. Otis Humphrey, of the United States District for the Southern District of Illinois, and Judge James A. Creighton, his former business partner in Springfield - the former in an address before the Odd Fellows Grand Lodge, November 18, 1909, and the latter in an address before the Illinois State Historical Society at its annual meeting in May, 1910.