WILLIAM O. EDWARDS is an attorney of Pinckneyville who has been identified with the public life of that city for a number of years, and who has done his full share towards the advancement and upbuilding of that city in the years of his residence there. He was born in Perry county, Illinois, on February 28, 1869, and is a son of a pioneer family of that county. His father was Captain Mortimer C. Edwards, born in that county on March 14, 1838, and a son of William Edwards, who came to Illinois from Ohio and whose birthplace was in the state of Vermont. He died in Piuckneyville about 1850. He was a lawyer, and passed his life in the profession, being popular and prominent in the community in which he was located. He married Jeanette Brown on May 29, 1832, and she lived to reach the age of seventy-one years. The issue of their union were: Cordelia, who married Lewis Hammack and later died in Perry county; Mortimer C., who became the father of William O., of this sketch; Gilbert, who passed away at an early age; and Reverend William W., who spent many useful years in the ministry of the Methodist church and is now dean of the Lincoln Law College in Springfield, Illinois.
Mortimer C. Edwards attended a Masonic school in Lexington, Missouri, and was liberally equipped for a literary career. He studied law in the office of Lewis Hammack and was admitted to the bar in Pinckneyville. On August 26, 1862, Mr. Edwards enlisted in Company C, Eighty-first Illinois Infantry, as first lieutenant in Captain Armstrong's company, Colonel James Dollins in command of the regiment. During Mr. Edwards' service he participated in sixteen engagements, among them being Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, Champion Hill and Vicksburg. He was in the thick of the fight at Guntown, Mississippi, and in the Red River expedition, and was promoted to the command of his company on June 30, 1864. He was in General Logan's Division of the Seventeenth Army Corps, commanded by General McPherson, and was mustered out August 5, 1865, lacking but a few days of having completed his term of enlistment. Once more taking up the life of the civilian, Captain Edwards entered upon the practice of law in Pickneyville, continuing there throughout his life, save for three years when he was a resident of Haskell county, Kansas. While in the west he was active in his profession and was elected county attorney of his county. He returned to Illinois, owing to his dislike for the Kansas climate, and once more resumed his citizenship at his birthplace. He was states attorney of Perry county one term, and as a Republican and a worker for the cause of the party he had a wide acquaintance with leaders in Illinois Republican politics and with prominent men of the Civil war period, such as Grant, Logan and Palmer, and with a host
of other men who did valiant service in putting down the rebellion. Captain Edwards was a man of worthy Christian character and practices and at various times served the Methodist church as a steward and trustee. He married Miss Harriet M. Edwards, a daughter of Alonson Edwards, whose people were likewise natives of Vermont. She was born September 7, 1839, and is still living, although Captain Edwards passed away on January 21, 1905. Those of their children who reached years of maturity are Emma, the wife of Julius A. Biby, of Pinckneyville, and William O., of this brief review.
William O. Edwards, after completing his high school training, entered MeKendree College, from which institution he was graduated in 1893, with the degrees of A. B. and of LL. B. In 1893 the master's degree was conferred upon him. After finishing his studies there he engaged in school work for two years or more, following which he opened a law office in Pinckneyville, as his father, Captain Edwards, had done before him. He has since then been active in the practice of his profession there, being admitted to the bar upon his diploma before Judge Burrough's court. In his political affiliation he has been a Republican always, and has been reasonably zealous in the furtherance of the interests of the party.
On June 8, 1899, Mr. Edwards was married to Miss Etta L. Root, a daughter of Reverend Edmund and Mary A. Schamalia (Rhodes) Root, of Lebanon, St. Clair county, who came to Illinois from New York state in earlier years. Reverend Root was a Methodist minister in Illinois for many years, his connection being with the Southern Illinois Conference. He died in 1894. Mrs. Edwards is one of the following children, namely: Lou, the wife of Scott French; Anna, who married Reverend M. Minor; Littie, who became the wife of M. J. Goings; Etta, the wife of Mr. Edwards; and Mary, who became the wife of Reverend P. F. Blake, living in Montana. Mr. and Mrs. Edwards have two children: Margaret Corinne and Gilbert Harold. The family are members of the Methodist church, and Mr. Edwards has represented his congregation in the lay electoral conference and is a trustee of the local church.