HON. SAMUEL P. McCONNELL
HON. SAMUEL PARSONS McCONNELL was born in Springfield, Illinois, July 5, 1849. His parents, John and Elizabeth (Parsons) McConnell, still reside at Springfield. James McConnell, grandfather of the subject of this sketch, came from County Down, Ireland, about 1810, and engaged in the manufacture of gunpowder in New Jersey. He afterward removed to Sangamon County, Illinois, where he became an extensive farmer and wool-grower. He was one of the first to cultivate the prairie soil of Illinois, demonstrating its fertility and general advantages to his neighbors. He amassed considerable property, and died in 1867.
John McConnell was born in Madison County, New York, but went with his parents to Illinois in his youth. When the United States became involved in civil strife, he recruited a company of soldiers, and entered the military service as a Captain, rising by promotion to the rank of General. Since the close of the war he has been engaged in the insurance business in Springfield. Mrs. Elizabeth McConnell was born in Connecticut, and is descended from English emigrants who located there about the middle of the seventeenth century. Her grandfather, John Parsons, was a Captain in the Continental army.
Samuel P. McConnell was educated at the Springfield High School and Lombard University at Galesburg, Illinois, graduating from the latter institution in 1871, with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. He read law with the firm of Stewart, Edwards & Brown, of Springfield, and was admitted to the Bar in 1873. In December of the same year, he came to Chicago, where he has since been a prominent member of the Bar, and has occupied an honorable position upon the Bench.
In 1889 he was elected a Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Judge McAllister, and, upon the expiration of the term in 1891, he was re-elected. In 1894 he reigned this office, and resumed his private practice. He was led to take this step by the inadequacy of the salary paid a Circuit Judge. It is much to be regretted that almost any man fitted to grace and honor the Bench is able to earn several times the salary of a Judge in private practice.
Among the most prominent cases tried before Judge McConnell may be mentioned the first Cronin trial, the case of Ross versus White, the Chicago City Railway Company versus Springer, and the receivership of the J. H. Walker Company, in which property to the amount of five millions of dollars was involved. His impartial and equitable decisions earned him the respect of attorneys, jurors and litigants, and his departure from the Bench was widely regretted.
In 1876 he was married to Miss Sarah Rogers, daughter of Judge John G. Rogers, of whom extended mention is made on other pages of this volume. Judge and Mrs. McConnell are the parents of three children, named, respectively, Julia, James and Eleanor.
From youth Judge McConnell has been a Democrat, departing from the precepts and example of his father. He has never been a candidate for any other office than that of Judge, though repeatedly importuned by party managers to become a political leader. Among the social and fraternal associations into which he has naturally been drawn, may be mentioned the Iroquois, Literary and Waubansee Clubs. While President of the first-named organization, he took a decided position on the silver question, which was antagonistic to that of many members, and he felt it incumbent upon him to resign, but this act aroused such a strong protest in the club, that he was induced to withdraw his resignation.
He presided over the city convention which selected delegates to the State Democratic Conference, held at Springfield in June, 1895, to determine the attitude of the party on the silver issue. He was made Permanent Chairman of this conference, which wholly sustained his views upon the question at issue. In this, as in all other matters affecting public policy, he has been actuated by a desire to promote the general welfare, and without wish to occupy office.