SHORT, (REV.) WILLIAM FLETCHER, D.D., educator and retired minister of the Methodist Church, was born in Butler county, Ohio, November 9, 1829, the son of Rev. Daniel Short, who came with his family to Morgan County in 1834, and was widely known and held in high esteem by a large circle of friends throughout Central Illinois, as an able and influential preacher of the Methodist Episcopal denomination. He was a member of the Twenty-first General Assembly from Sangamon county. The subject of this sketch grew up on a farm, meanwhile experiencing the hardships and privations incident to the life of a farmer's boy of that early period. About the age of twenty years, feeling himself called upon to enter the Gospel ministry, he decided to seek a collegiate education, and accordingly entered McKendree College at Lebanon, Ill., where he pursued the regular course of study up to the senior year, when he became a student at the Illinois Wesleyan University at Bloomington, Ill., graduating therefrom in 1854. Before graduation he accepted a call to the principalship of the Missouri Conference Seminary located at Jackson in that State. After remaining there two and a half years, he tendered his resignation on account of impaired health, and entered the pastorate as a member of the Illinois Conference of the Methodist Church. The charges later held by him included: Island Grove, Williamsville, Waverly and Winchester, each two years; Carlinville, three years; Hillsboro, one year; Grace Church, Jacksonville, three years, and as Presiding Elder of the Jacksonville District, four years.
In July, 1875, Dr. Short, was elected President of the Illinois Female College at Jacksonville, serving in that capacity for eighteen years. His administration, as the head of this important and flourishing institution, was characterized by a wise Christian policy, resulting in the elevation of the standard of scholarship, the establishment of a home-like government and the employment of a high order of talent in the Art and Music departments. The result has been manifest in a marked increase in the patronage and a broader and higher reputation acquired by the institution. In 1893 he was appointed Superintendent of the Illinois School for the Blind at Jacksonville under the administration of Governor Altgeld, retaining this position for the period of four years. The addition of several large buildings and the introduction of a number of other needed improvements, marked his administration of the affairs of the institution. After his retirement from the Institution for the Blind in 1897, Dr. Short reentered the ministerial field as Presiding Elder of the West Jacksonville District, which position he continued to fill for six years. At the expiration of that period, having completed fifty years of service in connection with the Methodist Church, he retired from active ministerial work. In August, 1854, Dr. Short was married to Sarah B. Laning, of Petersburg, Ill. The degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon him by the Wesleyan University of Ohio in 1877.
As a citizen Dr. Short has always manifested a deep interest in public affairs, and has won a position as a favorite in social and religious circles, and also holds a high rank in the Masonic fraternity. He has proved himself a man of strong patriotic impulse, and during the Civil War took occasion to express himself strongly in support of the Union cause. He made many patriotic speeches arousing the loyal enthusiasm of his fellow citizens and, as a War Democrat, effectively assisting in mustering recruits for the Union Army. No one in that day took a firmer stand, both private and in public, in opposition to the Rebellion and in support of the perpetuity of the Union.
The Short family is of combined Scotch-Irish extraction, illustrating, in its leading characteristics, the keen wit and vivacity of the one branch, with the sturdy firmness and vigorous manhood of the other. Dr. Short's most recent and important work has been in connection with the preparation of the historical part of this work.-PAUL SELBY.