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, p. 269.  Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards, 2007.

JUDGE ALEXANDER McCASKILL, one of Christian County's prominent lawyers, who is engaged in practice in Taylorville as the senior member of the firm of McCaskill & Son, has been prominently identified with the judicial interests of central Illinois. Both on the Bench and as an advocate he has won a high reputation, and his abilities, both natural and acquired, have placed him in the front rank among his professional brethren.

The Judge has spent nearly his entire life in this State. He was born in Sangamon County, near Rochester, January 23, 1833, and is a son of Rev. Daniel and Esther (Turner) McCaskill, the former a native of North Carolina, and the latter of Virginia.

They were married in Sangamon County, Ill., and in 1834 removed with their family to Brown County. The father was a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and was also a medical practitioner. He died in Brown County about 1846, at the age of fifty years. His wife survived him some time, and passed away in 1861.

The subject of this sketch was the fourth child in his parents' family. He was only about a year old at the time of their removal to Brown County, and was a youth of only thirteen when his father died.

He remained with his mother and aided in the labors of the home farm until twenty-three years of age, with the exception of the time spent in school. He attended school in Mt. Sterling, the county seat of Brown County, and was afterward a student in the school of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, in Cass County, Va.

His tastes were in the direction of a professional life, and while still on the farm he began reading law. Subsequently he pursued his literary studies for two years, and then entered the law office of Bailey, VanVleck & Wells, of Macomb, Ill. He passed an examination in Mt. Sterling and was admitted to the Bar in 1856.

In December of the same year, in Prairie City, Ill., Mr. McCaskill was united in marriage with Miss Elvira Medcalf, who died in 1862, leaving two children: William H., who for the past ten years has carried on farming and stock-raising near Rocky Ford, Otero County, Colo.; and David, who is also a ranchman. In 1863, the Judge was again married, his second union being with Mrs. Elizabeth Head, widow of Dr. Head, of Macomb, Ill. They have one son, who is now the junior member of the firm of McCaskill & Son.

On the same year of his admission to the Bar Judge McCaskill began practice in Prairie City, where he remained for about a year. In 1857 he came to Christian County and opened an office in Taylorville. Here he found Judge H. M. Vandever, Benjamin Mason, A. McWilliams, Judge Andrew Simpson, Judge Moon, the Circuit Clerk and Harrison Havens. None of these gentlemen are now in practice at this place, although Judge Moore is now proprietor of a hotel in Morrisonville.

Mr. McCaskill suspended his professional labors in 1859, going to Pike's Peak. He spent about two years at Russell's Gulch, near Pike's Peak, where, in connection with his brother, Dr. John McCaskill, he purchased and operated some mines. The Judge also engaged in practice.

In 1861 he returned to Christian County and once more opened a law office, forming a partnership with his brother Daniel. The latter served throughout the late war, went with Sherman on the celebrated Atlanta campaign, and after the struggle studied law and then entered into partnership with his brother, as above stated. This connection was continued until some ten years ago, when the health of the brother failed and he went to Pueblo, Colo. Judge McCaskill then admitted to partnership with him Kleber E. Willcockson, now of Oakley, Kan., and later the present firm was formed.

In his political views Judge McCaskill is a stalwart Democrat; he has taken an active part in campaign work and has made hundreds of speeches in support of his party. From the beginning his career as a legal practitioner has been one of success.

He is a clear reasoner, a logical thinker, carefully weighs evidence, and his deductions therefore are generally correct and have weight with the jury. He has been employed on nearly all of the murder cases of the county, usually on the defense, and was one of the counsel for the defense in the famous Emma Bond case.

Frequently he has been called upon to fill public offices. In 1864 he was appointed County Superintendent of Schools for one year, and on the expiration of that period was elected for a four-years term, serving until 1869. He was then elected and served for four years as State's Attorney, after which he was placed upon the Bench as County Judge, filling that office for five years. For two years he served as Master in Chancery, his term expiring in January, 1893.

Socially, the Judge was made a Mason in Mound Lodge No. 122, A. F. & A. M., of which he served as Worshipful Master for some years. He has filled the principal offices in Taylorville Chapter, R. A. M. Judge McCaskill is well fitted to be a leader of men and has therefore been prominent in public life. He possesses more than ordinary ability, yet his success is due in no small degree to his application and earnest efforts. Respected by his colleagues and honored by all, he well deserves prominent mention in the history of his adopted county.



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