genealogy trails

Christian County Illinois

Named after Christian County in Kentucky through the influence of emigrants from that county.

Established February 15, 1839 as Dane County (Laws, 1839, p. 104). Name changed to Christian County in 1840.

Portrait and biographical record of Christian County, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and   representative citizens, together with biographies of all the Governors of the state, and of the Presidents of the United States.  Chicago, Ill. : Lake City Pub. Co., 1893.  Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards, 2007.

JOHN G. DRENNAN, Taylorville's young and brilliant attorney, was born in Caldwell County, Ky., December 3, 1854. His parents were John L. and Henrietta (Wimburley) Drennan, the former of Irish, and the latter of French and German, descent. Their early ancestors came from the Old Country to the Carolinas and went thence to Kentucky. The family moved from the latter State to Illinois in the fall of 1856, and settled in Mt. Auburn, Christian County. Subsequently they occupied the Drennan homestead in Mosquito Township, where the subject of this sketch worked on his father's farm until he had attained his majority, with the exception of the last three winters, when he taught school, giving his father all the proceeds.

On the 15th of March, 1876, John Drennan entered the law office of Hon. B. Jones, of Taylorville, as a law student. He passed a most thorough written examination for admission to the Bar at Springfield, December 3, 1878, acquitted himself with much credit, and received the highest grade in a class of seventeen applicants.

In January, 1879, Hon. H. M. Vandeveer, one of the Judges of the Fifth Judicial Circuit, appointed him Master in Chancery of the county, which position he filled for two years. About the same time he formed a law partnership with his preceptor, Mr. Jones, which continued until the fall of 1880, when Mr. Drennan was elected State's Attorney of his County.

His success as a lawyer and prosecuting attorney was quite pronounced from the start. He was re-elected State's Attorney in the fall of 1884, and continued to fill that position acceptably until the expiration of his term, in the fall of 1888, when he declined further candidacy. He was a vigorous and uncompromising prosecutor an during his eight years' service secured over on thousand convictions, with less than twenty acquittals. As State's Attorney he paid over to the school fund of the county nearly $3,500, larger sum than has been paid by all the prosecuting attorneys from the organization of the county up to the present time, although the county ha always had excellent prosecutors.

Mr. Drennan, being an active and uncompromising Democrat, the Republicans, who secured the control of the Board of Supervisors of the county about the close of his term, sought to break him down by a partisan investigation. After a most thorough investigation instead of Mr. Drennan being a defaulter, the county was found to be indebted to him over $200, which the succeeding Board of Supervisor paid him.

Mr. Drennan's accomplishments as a lawyer and business man are as varied as the avenues of the profession. He is strong in all its departments, and prosecutes or defends civil or criminal cases with equal ardor and success. He has been on almost every important case that has been tried in Christian County within the past ten years, and ha also practiced much in the counties of Sangamon, Macon, Shelby, Forsythe and Montgomery. He has taken part in more than twenty murder trials with exceptional success, and he prosecuted the only case where capital punishment was administered in the county.

Mr. Drennan's keen sense of public justice and his personal courage received a powerful test in the ups and downs of the famous Emma Bond case. He vigorously prosecuted the defendants, but when the mob broke into the jail and took the three defendants to the court house yard to hang them, Mr. Drennan at the risk of his own life, which was loudly and furiously threatened faced the mob, and in a speech of over an hour brought the maddened and misguided crowd to their senses and secured the return of the prisoners to the jail, for which he received an autographed letter of thanks from Hon. Shelby M. Cullom, then Governor of the State. For years Mr. Drennan has been the local attorney for the Wabash and Ohio & Mississippi Railroad Companies, the Panama Coal Company, and the First National Bank of Taylorville, and has practiced much in the Appellate, Supreme and Federal Courts. He was one of the attorneys that tested and defeated, in the Supreme Court, the noted Truck Store Law [ed., company stores]. He recently assisted the United States District Attorney, Hon. W. E. Shutt, in representing the Government in tlie prosecution of the famous Benton-Newby case, in the Federal Court at Springfield, Ill., in which the victory of the Government was most signal. Over two hundred and fifty witnesses were examined, the case lasting for two weeks. Mr. Drennan opened the argument for the Government in a three-hour speech, which was characterized by the St. Louis, Springfield and other papers as the most powerful and convincing speech ever delivered in the Federal Court.

Mr. Drennan is an industrious, enterprising and public-spirited citizen. He began penniless, and has accumulated quite a competency, having now over twelve hundred acres of good land in this county. He organized the Taylorville Coal Company, the Electric Light Company, and assisted in the organization of the First National Bank of Taylorville, of which he was a Director until he removed to Springfield. John E. Hogan, a promising young lawyer, who was formerly a student of our subject, has been in partnership with Mr. Drennan for several years, and the connection still continues in Taylorville.

On the 1st of June, 1892, Hon. John M. Palmer, now United States Senator for Illinois, and Hon. William E. Shutt, now United States District Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, who have for years formed one of the foremost law firms of Springfield, invited Mr. Drennan to join them as a full partner. He accepted the offer and removed to Springfield, where he still resides,and we are reliably informed that the association has been most agreeable as well as profitable to all concerned.

Mr. Drennan has long held the position of Judge Advocate of the State of Illinois in the Uniformed Rank of the Order of Knights of Pythias, with the rank of Colonel, and a like position on the staff of Gen. Barkley, of the Second Brigade of the Illinois National Guards. He has served several terms on the Board of Aldermen in the city of Taylorville, and was regarded as a public-spirited and efficient officer.

On the 26th of May, 1881, Mr. Drennan married Maggie, daughter of Dr. L. B. Slater, of Taylorville. He and his wife are the happy possessors of two energetic boys: Leonard H., born January 4, 1888; and Walter R., born October 20, 1889. Their last child, a beautiful little girl, died in infancy.

For several years before her marriage, Mrs. Drennan was a teacher in the public schools of Taylorville. She is an accomplished lady, a woman of rare judgment, and to her wise counsel, faithful companionship and practical economy, Mr. Drennan attributes much of his success. Our subject is a man of pleasing address, frank and open in manner, though firm in his convictions. Quick, logical and resolute, possessing excellent qualities for combining forces, he is devoted to his profession, and we predict for him a bright future.



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