W. C. KANE. No profession develops with so much of accuracy and masculine vigor the native intellectual predominancies as that of the law. Whilst it opens a vast field for profound philosophic inquiry, it at the same time imperiously demands an acute and close observation of the daily workings of practical life. The materials for the foundation of society, which are scattered around broadcast and in profusion, often the most heterogeneous and crude, have to be molded into form and symmetry by the application of great principles. These rude materials and these great principles have to be fused together in the crucible, and the melting down and refining the former is undergone by firm and unyielding contact with the latter. The very highest development of intellectual vigor, the most profound and comprehensive knowledge of principle, is often found inadequate to this arduous task; for with these must be united a clear and quick sagacity, an adaption to the habits and modes of thought by those surrounding the legislator or judicial functionary, or all his well-meant labors will, like the fabled fruit of the plain, "turn to ashes on the lip." Among those who act conspicuously in thus molding and fashioning society in Southern Illinois stands eminently forward W. C. Kane, the present efficient state's attorney of Harrisburg, Illinois.
W. C. Kane was born in Long Branch township, Saline county, Illinois, September 19, 1873, and is a son of R. C. and Mary (Mings) Kane. Hugh Kane, the grandfather of W. C., was a native of Pennsylvania, from which state he came as one of the first settlers to Shawneetown, Illinois. He followed the professions of doctor and teacher in Shawneetown, later becoming a surveyor in Gallatin and Saline counties, and eventually settled in the latter, the remainder of his life being spent in Long Branch township, where he died in 1854, when he was sixty years of age. His wife was Isabella Johnston, also of Pennsylvania, who survived him until she was about eighty years of age, and they were the parents of three sons: John, who removed to Missouri, where he died; Milton, who died when twenty-four or twenty-five years of age; and R. C.; and two daughters, one of whom resides in Missouri; while Mary, the widow of Dr. Williams, resides in Long Branch township.
R. C. Kane was also born in Long Branch township, where he spent his life in agricultural pursuits and conducted a sawmill and threshing machine, and there his death occurred in 1905, when he had reached the age of fifty-seven years. He married Mary Mings, daughter of Frank Mings who was born in 1851 in Long Branch township, and she
still lives in Harrisburg and owns the family homestead in Long Branch township. Her two daughters, Agnes and Bertha, also make their home in Harrisburg, while one son, Robert L., is a medical practitioner at Raleigh, and W. C. is engaged in the practice of law in Harrisburg.
W. C. Kane was educated in the common sehools and the Central Normal College of Danville, Indiana, from which he was graduated with the class of 1896, and also served for some time as principal of the high school at Harrisburg and teacher of mathematics. Deciding to enter the legal profession, he began the study of law in this city, and was admitted to the bar in 1898, soon securing wide-spread recognition of his legal acumen and sagacity. In 1908 he became the Democratic candidate for the office of state's attorney, and although this section goes strongly Republican as a rule, and on this occasion gave the presidential candidate, Taft, a majority of seven hundred, Mr. Kane's popularity was demonstrated by his election to the office by a majority of three hundred votes. While acting in his present capacity, Mr. Kane has prosecuted a number of very important cases, among which may be mentioned the first murder case that has ended in legal hanging, that of Alex King, the act having been committed only two months prior to his execution.
In 1898 Mr. Kane was united in marriage with Miss Mary A. Berry, who was born in Cottage Grove township, Saline county, Illinois, daughter of John M. Berry of that township, and three interesting children have been born to this union: John R., Byford C. and Mary E. Mr. Kane has just completed one of the neatest and handsomest residences in Harrisburg, which is beautifully situated in the most select part of the city. He is a man of exemplary habits, and is now in his prime, with his best years before him, and if his past record may be taken as a criterion of what the years to come will bring, it may be prophesied that there is a promising future before him. He is very popular among the citizens of Harrisburg, where his social disposition has won him many warm frends.