MARION S. WHITLEY,
who occupies a prominent place among the leading members of the Southern Illinois bar, has been a resident of Harrisburg since 1892, when he moved to the county seat to enter upon the duties of attorney for Saline county, to which office he had that year been elected. A brief review of his life reveals the following facts:
Marion S. Whitley was born three miles north of Eldorado, Saline county, Illinois, June 17, 1860, son of Silas A. and Hannah (Crawford) Whitley. His paternal grandparents, George and Sherel (Waller) Whitley, natives of North Carolina, came north about 1820 and settled in Williamson county, and it was in Williamson county in 1837, that Silas A. Whitley was born. For a number of years Silas A. Whitley was engaged in the sawmill business in Saline, Hamilton and Johnson counties. Finally he settled down at Eldorado, in Saline county, where he passed the rest of his life, and where he died in 1900. He was twice married. His first wife, Hannah, was a daughter of William Crawford, a pioneer of Saline county who came here from Virginia some time between 1820 and 1830, and who died at about the age of sixty years. Hannah (Crawford) Whitley was born in this county, and died here in 1866, at the age of twenty-three years. She left three children: Silas A., a druggist at Eldorado; Angie, now Mrs. Pemberton, at Forsythe, Montana;, and Marion S., the subject of
this sketch. By his second wife, who was Eliza E. Taylor, of Hamilton county, Silas A. Whitley had five children, three of whom are living, namely: Ed. S., George F. and Serel, all of Eldorado. The mother of this family is still living and is a resident of Eldorado.
Marion S. Whitley while in his teens was engaged in the sawmill business with his father. From sawmilling, in 1880, he turned to teaching school and studying law. As a teacher he began on a salary of $32.50 a month, and with this small amount paved his way to the bar. Mornings and evenings and vacation times were spent with his law books, his instructor a portion of the time being John J. Parish, of Harrisburg. He taught in Gallatin, Hamilton, White and Saline counties, the last two years of his career as teacher being spent at Galatia, where, in 1888, he was admitted to the bar. He began the practice of law at Galatia, and remained there until 1892, when, as indicated in the opening paragraph of this sketch, he was elected to the office which brought him to Harrisburg. He prosecuted the only man who was ever hung in Saline county. Mr. Whitley's abilities and high standards soon brought him into prominence as a lawyer. During the past ten years he has been identified with the trial of almost every important case in the county, and for five years he has served as attorney for all the various large coal companies in the county. In the famous contested election case, Choisser vs. York, involving the question of validity of a judge of elections, initials being stamped with rubber stamp on back of ballot before it is placed in box instead of initials in own hand, an important precedent was established for Illinois by the supreme court, where it was taken on appeal from decision of Judge Philbrick, of Champaign. Every contention of Mr. Whitley that genuine initials were necessary to establish identity of the ballot was sustained.
Mr. Whitley's political affiliations have always been with the Republican party. While a resident of Galatia he served as president of the village board, and one term filled the office of mayor of Harrisburg. In 1900 he was presidential elector for his district, and cast one of the votes which elected McKinley. He was at one time a candidate for nomination for circuit judge, but was defeated.
Fraternally Mr. Whitley is a Royal Arch Mason, and in his chapter has filled the chair of high priest. Religiously he is identified with the Christian Scientists.
In 1886, at Golconda, Illinois, Marion S. Whitley and Miss Alice Thomas, of that place, were united in marriage, and to them have been given three children, namely: Clifford W., a dentist of Harrisburg; Yutha, wife of Carl W. Peterson; and Hannah, a high school student.