JUDGE W. FRANK SLATER. The bench and bar of Southern Illinois is an able one and ranks high in the character and attainments of its members, in its standard of legal ethics, in progressive and enlightened methods, and in an inteligent and discriminating use of the experiences of other jurisdictions. A gentleman who combines in himself all these good qualities is Judge W. Frank Slater, county judge of Williamson county. He is a native son of the county and of the type which is indeed proud to claim as its own. His life record began on March 24, 1869, in Lake Creek precinct, now the township of that name, his parents being John W. and Nancy A. (Casey) Slater, the former having also been born in this county, but when it was a part of Franklin county. John W. Slater was born in 1834, and a comparatively short life was terminated in 1872. He devoted his energies to farming and married the daughter of Jesse Casey, who came to Illinois from Smith county, Tennessee, where Nancy A. was born. She was the eldest member of a family comprising the following: Leasy, who died as Mrs. James Weaver; Jesse Morgan, who died in this county in 1896, at the age of sixty-three years, and whose son, Samuel K., is one of the leading newspaper men of Marion, publishing the Marion Evening Post and the Egyptian Press; Henry passed away unmarried, as did also John; Moses resides at West Frankfort, Illinois; and Mary married first a Mr. Hartwell and then a Mr. Goddard. Subsequently to Mr. Slater's demise Mrs. Slater became the wife of J. W. James and departed this life January 20, 1912.
The Slaters came into Illinois early in its history as a state from North Carolina, and the family were founded here by Jackson Slater about 1820. Jackson Slater was sufficiently a pioneer to be able to pick and choose his land, and he passed his life in the domain of agriculture and lived long enough to see Williamson county made, settled, and its resources considerably developed. He married a Miss Finney, and their children were as follows: Didama, who became the wife of John W. Hartwell and resides in Williamson county; John W., the father of the subject; Lydia, who married a Mr. Rainey and is now deceased; Henry, a Union veteran of the Civil war, a farmer residing in Lake Creek township and the father of a family; and Ellen, now deceased, who married Riley Hartwell. The issue of John W. and Nancy Casey Slater were Thomas Sherman and Henry Leray, who died in early life, and Judge Slater, of this review. Mrs. Slater had no children by her second marriage.
The common schools gave Judge Slater his education, assisted by a well advised course of home study; in truth, it is not unlikely that the latter has rendered him even greater service than the former. When quite young he chose the law as his vocation and first attacked his Blackstone in the office of L. D. Hartwell and J. C. B. Smith, studying to such good
purpose that he was admitted to the bar in 1893 at Mt. Vernon, Illinois, before the appellate court. He entered the practice at Marion and subsequently formed a partnership with Senator Burnett, which was dissolved by the death of the latter. A second partnership was formed later with Judge W. W. Clemens, which existed for three years, and then a partnership was formed with W. C. S. Rhea, which lasted a year.
In 1898 Judge Slater was appointed county judge by Governor Tanner, to succeed L. D. Hartwell, and he was the nominee of the Republicans to succeed himself the same year, and was elected for a full term. In January, 1906, he was honored with appointment to the same office by Governor Charles S. Deneen and succeeded Rufus Neeley. At the election that fall he was the party candidate to succeed himself and was elected. He was again elected in 1910, and is serving his third full term, with credit to himself and honor and profit to his constituents.
As early stated, Judge Slater owns allegiance to the principles of Republicanism. He grew up in that atmosphere and he has an abiding faith in the success of government through its instrumentality. His first vote was cast for president in 1892, when General Harrison was the unsuccessful candidate, and he has done service as judicial and congressional delegate from Williamson county to the conventions of the state.
On October 2, 1895, Judge Slater married at Spillertown, Miss Zula R. Reid, a daughter of W. M. Reid and Bethany J., his wife, who were of the early settlers of this county. The Reids came to Illinois from Missouri and Mrs. Slater was born in Williamson county and is one of ten children, namely: Mrs. Slater; Edward and Carrie, twins, the latter now Mrs. (Dr.) Peas, of Montana, and the former a physician of Marion; Dr. Charles, of Denver, Colorado; Dr. Frank, of Warren, Ohio; John, of Denver, Colorado, a lawyer; Dr. George W., of Worcester, Massachusetts; Ella and Nellie, twins, the former the wife of Dr. Austin, of Benton, Illinois, and the latter now Mrs. Bert Stotler, of Devil's Lake, North Dakota.
The children of Judge and Mrs. Slater are Magelle, Wiley, Herman and John William. The Slaters of the earlier times were primitive Baptists and the Reids are of the Christian denomination. Judge Slater belongs to only one fraternity, the Knights of Pythias.