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POTTER, Frederick Story

Frederick Story POTTER, of Henry, Illinois, is one of the best known and most highly honored of the attorneys of Marshall county. He was born in New Haven, Connecticut, November 3, 1837, and is the son of Frederick and Caroline A. (STORY) POTTER, who were also natives of the nutmeg state. His father was a contractor and builder and followed that occupation the greater part of his life. In 1840 the family came to Illinois, locating in Christian county, between Decatur and Springfield, where they remained until 1846, and then removed to Beardstown, where the mother died in 1865. Some years after the father removed to Henry, where he, too, passed away April 2, 1892, at the age of seventy-eight years.

The boyhood and youth of our subject were spent with his parents until sixteen years of age. His health failing him at Beardstown, he came to Henry, where for three years he was in the employ of Robert DAWSON as bookkeeper. He then engaged in general merchandising on his own account and continued in the business until 1862 with fair success. Closing out his stock of merchandise he entered the office of P. S. PERLEY, under whose instruction he read law, and was admitted to the bar in September, 1864. Forming a partnership with his preceptor, they were associated together until August, 1873, since which time he has practiced alone. Mr. PERLEY, who is now a resident of Phoenix, Arizona, is a man of great ability, a graduate of Bowdoin college, being a classmate of Gen. O. O. Howard, John N. Jewett, and other men who have since become noted in the history of our country. In 1870 he was a member of the Illinois constitutional convention which framed our present state constitution.

In 1872 Mr. POTTER was elected state’s attorney for Marshall county, and served four years with credit to himself and to the county which he represented. Faithful in the discharge of every duty, he prosecuted the evil-doer without fear or favor, while tempering mercy with justice. Since his retirement from that office, he has given attention wholly to his private practice, of which he has always had his full share. He is regarded by all who know him as a safe counselor, one whose advice it is wise for the client to follow. It has never been a practice with him to advise litigation when other counsels would subserve the same ends. He has followed in this respect in the footsteps of such wise counselors and advocates as Abraham Lincoln, John T. Stuart and others who became noted at the Illinois bar.

Politically, Mr. POTTER was originally a Douglas democrat, following the lead of that eminent statesman during that great contest with Lincoln in 1858, when the latter represented the newly organized republican party as its candidate for the United States senate in opposition to Douglas, who was then serving as United States senator, and was the democratic candidate for re-election. With all the ardor of a young man, Mr. POTTER entered into that canvass at a time when he should exercise the rights of franchise for the first time. Again, in 1860, he followed the lead of Douglas, who had been nominated by one wing of the democratic party for the presidency. But Douglas was defeated, some of the southern states passed acts of secession, the war followed, and young POTTER became a war democrat. The transition from that position to republicanism was easy, and from early in the ‘60s to the present time, he has been an uncompromising republican. In every campaign his voice is heard upon the stump, and he has dealt some stalwart blows for the principles espoused. In 1880 he was quite active, supporting the side of Grant against Blaine, but his purpose was accomplished with the defeat of both by the nomination and election of Garfield.

Mr. POTTER has been twice married, his first union being in 1858, with Miss Louisa V. DAWSON, of Henry, by whom three children were born: Ellsworth Story, now a traveling salesman, residing in Peoria; Carrie Louisa, who married Daniel S. SCHNEIDER, but who died in September, 1892; and Ida, now the wife of Eugene D. LANE, of Sterling, Illinois. The wife and mother died July 21, 1871, her death being mourned by husband and children and a large circle of friends who esteemed her for her worth as a genuine womanly woman, a loving wife and mother, and faithful friend.

Some three years after the death of his first wife, on the 29th of April, 1874, Mr. POTTER was united in marriage with Miss Sarah Isabella HOUSE, daughter of Willard HOUSE, an early merchant and miller of Grand Detour, Illinois. By this union three children were also born: Gertrude and Fred W., graduates of the high school class of 1895; the latter is now a student in his father’s law office; and Sarah Elsie, a high school student.

In addition to his legal duties Mr. POTTER is interested in everything calculated to build up and strengthen the business of his adopted town and county. For twenty-four years he has been a director of the Henry Bridge Company, and for fifteen years its president. A friend of education, he does all in his power to promote the interests of the public schools. For many years he has been an active worker in the Masonic order, and is a member of Henry lodge, No. 119, F. & A. M., and of Chillicothe chapter, R. A. M., of Lacon. He is not a member of any church, but contributes to the support of the Protestant Episcopal church of Henry, of which his wife is a devoted member. As a citizen he is held in the highest esteem by his fellow townsmen.

Extracted March 2011 by Norma Hass from The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois, 1896.

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