WILLIAM FLETCHER SHORT, D.D., President of the Illinois Female College. This gentleman who holds an advanced position in religious and educational circles in Illinois, was born in Butler County, Ohio, near the city of Hamilton in the year 1829. He is the son of Daniel and Diana (Petefish) Short, and was the first-born of a family that included eleven children. The brothers and sisters were named as follows: Martha J., Oliver Francis, Sarah Ellen, Thomas B., Samuel P., Elizabeth, Mary A., Harriet, Ezra D. and Charlotte.
The grandfather of our subject, William Short, was born in Virginia, and came to this State about the year 1848, and settled in the vicinity of Decatur in Macon County. His life occupation was that of farming, which he followed with varying success, yet withal no little financial progress, and died at the advanced age of ninety years at the home where he had so long enjoyed the competency he had made. His political position was in the ranks of the Democrat party, of which he was a firm adherent. The mother of our subject was born in Rockingham County, Va., in the year 1810. After her marriage with Mr. Short they remained in Virginia for a time, but removed to Ohio, and later to this county, where they settled in 1834. The next year following her parents also settled in this county. After a happy married life of about thirty-five years she died, in Sangamon County, aged about sixty years.
The early days of our subject were spent in this county, he being but five years of age when his parents removed hither. After receiving the usual course of instruction in the ordinary schools, at the age of twenty he entered McKendree College, and after studying through his junior year entered the Illinois Wesleyan University from which institution he was graduated in 1854 as A.B., and three years later received the degree of A.M. in course, and was made a Doctor of Divinity by the Ohio Wesleyan University in 1877. During his senior year he was appointed to a Missouri Conference Seminary in Jackson, and served three years teaching in the same. At the end of that period his health failed and he joined the Illinois Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He commenced his labors as a clergyman at Island Grove, which pulpit he filled for two years. From there he went to Williamsville, Sangamon County, serving for the same period. The next two years were spent at Waverly, in Morgan County, after which he went to Winchester, Scott County, for a like term. The subsequent three years he was at Carlinville, thence he removed to Hillsboro, remaining one year and then went to Jacksonville, where for three years he was Pastor of Grace Church. At that period he was appointed Presiding Elder of the Jacksonville District, holding the same for four years, after which he received the appointment to his present position, in which he has continued for fourteen years.
The nuptials of Dr. Short and Miss Sarah B. Laning were celebrated in the year 1854. This lady was one of a family of nine, and the only daughter born to Jacob H. and Hannah (Silvers) Laning, who were natives of the State of New Jersey. They migrated to Illinois and settled in Menard County, at an early date in the history thereof. The above interesting event occurred at Petersburg, Menard County. There has been given to them five children, whose names are as follows: Lula Belle, Catherine, Flora M., William Fletcher, Jr., and Edward Laning.
The eldest daughter of our subject was educated in the Illinois Female College and was graduated in 1873; the name of her husband is Edward Lambert, of Jacksonville. Their family now includes three children, viz.: Annie Watson, Edward Laning, and Helen May. Annie is attending the college of which her grandfather is principal. Catherine, who was born in the year 1858, was graduated from the same institution in 1876, as was also her sister Flora, who is now Mrs. Julian S. Wadsworth; her husband is pastor of the Methodist Church of Centerville, Rhode Island; Catherine is now Mrs. Dr. J.D. Waller; William was born in 1866, attended Illinois College, and is now a salesman in the dry-goods store of Mr. Patterson, of Jacksonville.
The subject of our sketch is a man of strong, patriotic sentiments, and he took occasion during the late war to express himself forcibly in that connection. He made quite a number of fervid and loyal speeches, aiming to arouse the most loyal enthusiasm of his fellow-citizens, and was actively engaged in raising recruits to do active service. He was a member of the party known then as War Democrats, and none could possible have taken a firmer stand, both in private and public, in opposition to the rebellion and in support of the Union than did he.
The Short family is of Scotch-Irish stock, and blends at once the national characteristics of both, giving all the firmness and hardy manhood of the one and the keen-witted, bright vivacity of the other. Dr. Short has been a resident of Morgan County and vicinity for over fifty years, and is thoroughly well-known and that also most favorably. His administration of the college has been such as to keep it upon the top wave of popularity, financial success and intellectual power. As a result the attendance is always strained to its utmost capacity, and usually there are more waiting to take their places in the classes than can possibly be received.