CONKLING, CLINTON LEVERING, a prominent and successful lawyer of Springfield, Ill., is a member of the well known firm of Conkling & Irwin, who have an extensive practice, being employed largely in the interests of corporations, municipalities, trustees and estates. Mr. Conkling holds directorships in several financial institutions and has held various local public offices. He is a native of Springfield, born October 16, 1843, son of James Cook and Mercie Ann Riggs (Levering) Conkling, the former born in New York City, October 13, 1816, and the latter born in Georgetown, D.C., November 21, 1817. James C. Conkling graduated from Princeton College in 1835, studied law in Morristown, N.J., about three years and was there admitted to the Bar. In 1838 he came to Springfield, Ill., and there his death occurred, March 1, 1899. He served as Mayor of Springfield in 1845, and as Member of the House of Representatives of the Seventeenth and Twenty-fifth General Assemblies of the State of Illinois (in 1851 and 1867), was a Presidential elector on the Republican ticket in 1860 and 1864, and a member of the Bloomington Republican Convention in 1856, with Mr. Lincoln. He was a life long friend of Mr. Lincoln and the latter addressed to him the famous "Lincoln-Conkling Letter" in 1863. He was one of the original members of the Lincoln Monument Association. He served as State Agent for the State of Illinois at Washington during the Civil War, and was special aid to Governor Yates in 1861, in organizing State troops. Mr. Conkling served four years as Postmaster at Springfield, being appointed in 1890. He was a Trustee of Blackburn University, at Carlinville, also a Trustee of the Illinois State University, at Urbana. He was for many years an Elder in the Second Presbyterian Church in Springfield. He was one of the most prominent lawyers of his time in the State and was well known for his public spirit and patriotism.
The emigrant ancestor of the Conkling family came from Nottinghamshire, England, to Salem, Mass., about 1638 and removed thence to Southold, L. I., in 1650. From the latter place his descendants emigrated to every part of the United States, and the branch from which the family here described was descended removed to Baskingridge, N.J., about 1690. Many of the name participated in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
Clinton L. Conkling spent his youth in Springfield, where he attended private schools until 1860. He was never a very robust child, so did not take part in the most strenuous sports of boyhood, but was fond of hunting and fishing and was a rather close student. He entered Yale College in 1860 and graduated four years later, then studied law in his father's office and was licensed to practice in Illinois Courts in 1866. He was afterward admitted to practice in the United States Courts, including the Supreme Court. After leaving college he spent a short time in a clerical position with Bowen Brothers, then large wholesale dry goods merchants in Chicago, then returned to Springfield and began practice in partnership with his father, under the firm name of J. C. and C. L. Conkling. About 1874 the younger Mr. conkling became interested in a manufacturing enterprise, but three years later resumed his practice. In 1888 Mr. Conkling formed a partnership with Joseph M. Grout, which continued until the death of the latter, in 1902. In October of the latter year mr. Conkling became partner with Edward F. Irwin, and the firm assumed its present name.
Mr. Conkling is a lifelong resident of Springfield and has been identified with many public movements. He is a Union Republican and cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln, but in local affairs votes for the man he considers best fitted to fill office, regardless of political convictions. He served nine years as a member of the Board of Supervisors of Sangamon County and was Corporation Counsel for the City of Springfield from 1898 until 1902, inclusive. He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, Illini Country Club, Springfield Golf Club, of Illinois State Bar Association, Illinois State Historical Society and of the Lincoln Guard of Honor. He was the Secretary at the organization and for some time thereafter, of the National Lincoln Monument Association and had under his management a large part of the popular contributions to the erection of a monument to Lincoln at Springfield. He was one of the witnesses to certify to the identity of President Lincoln's remains when they were for the last time exposed to view in September, 1901, and were then laid away for all time beneath the reconstructed Lincoln Monument.
Mr. Conkling is a Director of Ridgely National Bank and also holds a Directorship in the Sangamon Loan & Trust Company and the Workingmen's Savings & Homestead Association. He holds the office of Vice President and Director of the Lincoln Library. Fraternally, he is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, having belonged to the order about forty years, and being affiliated with Lodge No. 465, of Springfield. He has fir thirty-five years been a member of the Blue Lodge of Masons and for thirty years a Knight Templar, and is affiliated with St. Paul's Lodge A.F. & A.M. and Elwood Commandery. Mr. Conkling is a member of the Second Presbyterian Church, to which he has belonged since 1864, and has been a Ruling Elder since 1870. He was Chairman of the Building Committee for the erection fo the present church edifice, which was recently completed. He has served as Delegate at various times to various judicatories of the Presbyterian Church in various parts of the United States. The recruiting officers would not accept Mr. Conkling as a volunteer in 1861, but he served during the summer of 1863 as a member of the Home Guard, in Baltimore, Md. He was the first person to inform Abraham Lincoln of his nomination for the office of President in 1860, which in fact is mentioned in the transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society, in the issue of May, 1909.
Mr. Conkling was married, at Springfield, march 12, 1867, to Miss Georgiana Barrell, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., November 29, 1846, and three children were born of this union: Georgiana, born October 28, 1872, now Mrs. Waldo S. Reed, of Englewood, N.J.; Katherine Levering, born December 1, 1874, now mrs. John S. McCormick, of Pittsburg, Pa.; Annie Douglas, born May 18, 1877, died at the age of eighteen months.
Mr. Conkling is an eloquent, concise speaker, and has won a high place in his profession. He has always taken keen interest in all movements for the public welfare, and, like his father before him has favored the growth of industrial activities in the community. He has been called upon to fill many positions of honor and trust and has given freely of his time and strength to further benevolent causes in which he has been interested. He owns valuable business property in the city and has been very successful in his financial enterprises.