JOSEPH BURNS CROWLEY.
According to Emerson “a strenuous soul hates cheap successes,” and we wonder if this is not the attitude of Joseph B. Crowley, of Robinson, Illinois. He is now one of the best
lawyers in his section of the country, and is well known as one of the members of the Democratic party, upon whom they may always depend. He has won the confidence of the people by his attempts, which were usually successful, to carry out their desires, and they have given evidence of their trust in him many times by electing him to various responsible positions. He is thoroughly alive to the political and industrial crisis that this country is now facing, and his influence is being strongly felt on the side of good government and a general political house cleaning from cellar to garret. He has been entirely unselfish, if such a thing is possible to human nature, in his whole public life, having the good of his constituents and the advancement of his country much more at heart than his own aggrandizement.
Joseph Burns Crowley was born at Coshocton, Ohio, on the 19th of July, 1858. He was the son of Samuel Burns Crowley, who was also a native of Coshocton. The latter was a carpenter and a builder by trade, but most of his life was devoted to other pursuits. He was a man in whom patriotism was no surface enthusiasm, instigated by waving flags and bands of music, but a deeply planted, instinctive feeling that made him ever responsive to the call of his country. He first saw military service in the Mexican war, and after it was over returned to Coshocton county, expecting to spend the rest of his life in peace. The residents of his county, however thought they could do no better than to elect a man who was famous for his personal strength and bravery sheriff of the county. He served one term as deputy sheriff and one term as sheriff, and then left Ohio for Illinois. He located, in 1859, upon a farm in Jasper county, and no sooner had he gotten his farm into operation than he dropped the hoe to again shoulder the musket. This time he was to take a hand in saving his beloved country from being shattered into fragments. He was made captain of his company, the Seventy-second Volunteer Infantry of Illinois, and was sent directly to the front. He served through all four years of the war, acquitting himself with honor, and at the close, with a contented feeling of duty well performed, again settled down in Jasper county. Here he served two terms as sheriff, and in 1872 came to Robinson, Illinois. The buying and selling of horses now became his business and he followed this occupation until his death, in December, 1895.
Captain Crowley married Elizabeth Williams, of Coshocton, Ohio. Eight children were born to this couple, of whom five are living. The politics of Captain Crowley were Democratic, and he and his family were faithful attendants of the Presbyterian church, In the social organizations he was a member of the Masonic order and of the Royal Arcanum.
Joseph B. Crowley was the sixth child of his parents, and spent his childhood days on the farm in Jasper county and in the town of Newton. His youth was lived amid times of great distress and trouble. His father was away at the front for a number of years, and when he did come back times were hard and it was a continual struggle to feed and clothe the family. In spite of this little Joseph did not lack educational advantages. He was sent first through the grammar school of Newton, and later attended the high school at the same place.
It was, however, when boys of today would be thinking solely of bats and baseball that the young Crowley was set astride a horse and given a sack of mail to carry over a star route, a distance of some forty miles. After this experience he felt equal to handling anything, so set up in business for himself, the field of his venture being the retail drug and grocery business. He had no wish to become a merchant. This was merely a means to an end, which was the Law. Economy was a close friend of his during the days following, but after a time he was able to
make a beginning leading to the attainment of his ambition. He began to read law in the offices of Parker and Olwin, under the direction of George N. Parker, who is his present partner. In 1883 he was admitted to the bar and his partnership with Mr. Parker was formed at that time. It has existed without a break up to the present time, and a large amount of the legal business of the county passes through the hands of the firm.
Political interests have taken up a large part of Mr. Crowley's time since his first entrance into the most exciting field of endeavor offered by modern civilization. His first office was that of county judge, in which capacity he served for seven years. In 1893 he was appointed by President Cleveland as chief of the special treasury agents in charge of the seal fisheries of Alaska. He was re-appointed to this office by President McKinley in 1897, but resigned in 1898 to give his time to the campaign in which he was forced, through his nomination for congress, to take a leading part. He was elected to the United States congress and served in that body for three terms, retiring in 1904. At this time he returned to Robinson and again took up the practice of law which had held first place in his heart through all the years that he had given to other duties.
Mr. Crowley was married on December 1, 1888, to Alice A. Newlin, a daughter of Alexander Newlin, a prominent farmer of Crawford county. Judge and Mrs. Crowley have two children, a son and a daughter: Emily J., who has completed the course given in the Robinson high school, and Joseph B., who is yet a student.
Judge Crowley is a Presbyterian in his religious affiliations. He is very much interested in the brotherly spirit manifested in the fraternal organizations and gives his hearty support to the various ones of which he is a member. He is a Mason and has taken all the degrees in this order up to the Knights Templar. He is a member of the Knights of Pythias, of the Elks and of the Modern Woodmen of America, being active in the work of all these organizations. His progressive spirit makes him a valued member of the Commercial Club, of which he has been a member for a number of years.