GEORGE W. LACKEY
has the distinction of belonging to a family who have lived for five generations in Illinois. This is inclusive of Mr. Lackey's children. This is indeed a rare occurrence and on account of this it is easier to understand Mr. Lackey's love and loyalty to his native land. He is of that type of citizen that serves to give the optimists foundation for their belief in the good of the human race and the evolution of society into a higher and better state of being, and it is such men as he who give the pessimists faint hope, and encourage those who are working to better conditions to take up their burdens and go forward. He is a lawyer by profession, but he has taken such a prominent part in both the business world and in the educational field that one must rank him as all three, lawyer, business man and educator. He believes that with the education of the masses, meaning not a rudimentary education, but a thorough education, particularly along the practical lines of modern sociology and economics, a truer understanding of themselves and their social and economic conditions will come, and with such an understanding they wil be able to drag this country from the mire in which she seems to be now sinking. He pins his faith on the great American people, and believes that when we have assimilated the foreign element, it will be a much easier task to straighten out our civic affairs. Mr. Lackey keeps abreast of the times, and being a man of wide acquaintance and of a forceful personality, he has a very great influence over the thought and actions of the community in which he lives. What a blessing it is that he is a man of so fine a character, for he could wield a strong power for evil.
The great-grandfather of George W. Lackey was Adam Lackey, who was a native of South Carolina. He was a soldier during the Revolutionary war and had been an aide to General Merriman. He came to Illinois about 1811, bringing his family. In these days there were only a few scattered settlements, and most of these were clustered about a block house. The War of 1812 soon followed and with the massacre at Fort Dearborn the bloody strife with the Red Men was begun anew. Adam Lackey took his family to the fort at Russellville, but after the Indian troubles had been partially settled he went to farming. His son, John Lackey, whose birth had occurred in Tennessee, grew to manhood at the little frontier settlement west of Russellville. In time he became a farmer, and raised a family of eight children. His wife was Nancy Pinkstaff, who was a daughter of John Pinkstaff. Her father had settIed in this section about 1818, and Mrs. Lackey was a fine type of the frontier woman, courageous, resourceful, strong in body and mind. James Lackey, the third of her children, is the father of George W. Lackey.
James Lackey was born on the 14th of October, 1842, in Lawrence county. He also grew up in the Russellville settlement, following in the steps of his fathers and becoming a farmer. He was married in 1862
to Susan Seitzinger, who was a daughter of Leonard Seitzinger. The latter was a native of Pennsylvania, who had come to Illinois during the early sixties. He was a blacksmith by trade, but very naturally became a farmer when he came to the frontier country. Mr. and Mrs. Lackey had three children, of whom George W. was the eldest. The two daughters both married farmers. Priscilla is the widow of N. E. Parker, and Mary is the wife of William W. Zehner. Mrs. Lackey died in 1872 and Mr. Lackey married again. His second wife was Eliza Highsmith, of Crawford county. Five boys and one girl were born of this union, and the parents are now living on the farm where Mr. Lackey has spent his life, three miles west of Russellville. Mr. Lackey is a Democrat in politics, and has held various township offices. His religious affiliations are with the Baptist church.
The boyhood days of George W. Lackey were spent on the farm of his father in Russell township, where he lived a happy, wholesome existence, going to school in the old log school house and helping on the farm when he was not in school. He attended this country school until he was eighteen, and then he went to the Danville Normal School, at Danville, Illinois. He remained there for two years, and then the money gave out, and he was forced to stop. He turned to teaching as a means of earning the necessary funds, and then returned to school. He attended the Danville (Ind.) school, and took courses in the academic, law and commercial departments. He finally graduated from the classical course in 1890 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts, in addition taking the degree of Bachelor of Science. Before he was graduated he had had much experience as a teacher, and had held executive positions, being principal of the schools in Lawrenceville for a year.
In 1890 he was elected county superintendent of schools of Lawrence county, and served in this position for four years. Mr. Lackey's position in educational matters was that of a progressive. He established the state course of study in schools. He raised the standard, both of the teaching and in the courses offered, at the same time advancing the salaries of the teachers. An innovation for which he was laughed at at the first was the introduction of music into the schools, but how popular it has become. For one year he was occupied as United States postal service inspector. During all this time, busy as he was, he was diligently studying law, and in January, 1897, he was admitted to the bar.
He began the practice of his profession in Lawrenceville, and in 1900 recognition of his ability came to him in his election as state's attorney. Since the end of his four years term in this office he has been conducting a general law practice in Lawrenceville and is one of the most popular lawyers in this section of the country. During his term as state's attorney he set before himself the task of ridding the county of the “blind tigers” with which the district was infested. He was successful in this by no means easy job, and this triumph will redound to his glory for years to come. On the 12th of February, 1912, Mr. Lackey was appointed master in chancery.
In the business world Mr. Lackey is well known for his good common sense and the facility with which he is able to grasp the salient points of a question. He is director and vice-president of the Farmer's State Bank. He is director of the Lawrence County Lumber Company, and is a stockholder of the Shaw Oil Company. He for many years argued and pleaded for establishment of a township school, and after a long time he saw his wish realized. He is now president of the township high school board. He is a strong supporter of higher education, and urges a college course on every one who can possibly take one. In reply to the famous speech of the late Mr. Crane against colleges, Mr.
Lackey says, “You can't put a thousand dollar education on a ten cent boy and make a man of him.”
Mr. Lackey is a Democrat in his political beliefs, and has been active in behalf of the party. He has served on the county committee, and has been a delegate to tlie judicial, congressional and state conventions. He is a member of the Christian church, as are likewise his wife and his two eldest children. For fifteen years Mr. Lackey has been superintendent of the Sunday-school. His chief pleasure is in being with children, and keeping in touch with their ever growing minds. In all educational circles his influence is felt, and it is always one of inspiration. He is a firm believer in the principles of brotherhood as exemplified in the fraternal orders, and is a member of the Masons, the Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias and the Modern Woodmen of America.
Mr. Lackey was married on the 1st of April, 1891, to Theresa Whitenack, a daughter of Abraham and Caroline Whitenack, of Hendricks county, Indiana. They have four children: Rush, Kate, Alice and George A.