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Joseph F. Lawyer

LAWYER, Joseph F. — Of the native sons of McDonough County who are enriching its history with meritorious labor and wise endeavor, none are held in higher esteem than Joseph F. Lawyer, first as a farmer of Industry Township, but who is also President of the Industry Mutual Fire Insurance Company, Treasurer and Director of the Industrial Mutual Telephone Company, and Treasurer, Secretary and Trustee of the Vana Cemetery Board. Mr. Lawyer represents the third generation of his family to be engaged in tilling the soil of McDonough County, the first to take up the burden of pioneering having been his paternal grandparents, John and Mattie (Cooper) Lawyer, who were born in Ohio, and settled in Eldorado Township in 1837. With them to the new country came Thomas Lawyer, the oldest of their seven children, who was born in Ohio, and married Catherine, daughter of Robert and Nancy (Wilkinson) Comer, natives also of Ohio. Thomas Lawyer was reared on his father's farm, and at the age of twenty-one years began his independent career, finally locating on the farm in McDonough County where his son, Joseph F., was born June 25, 1858, and where he himself died December 14, 1891, his wife surviving to the present time.

The youth of Joseph F. Lawyer was uneventfully passed on his father's farm and in the pursuit of an education, which he acquired in the district schools, at Elliot's Business College, Burlington, Iowa, and the Valparaiso Normal, at Valparaiso, Ind. After the death of his father he left the home place and settled on a farm of his own, in addition to which he recently has acquired the old homestead of 146 acres. He is an extensive raiser of general produce and stock, and has a property which conforms with the highest standards of agricultural life. For several years he has been prominent in connection with the Industry Mutual Fire Insurance Company, of which he was elected President in 1903, and which, under his wise and conscientious guidance, has come to represent the reliable and helpful insurance enterprises of the State. Pronouncedly in favor of prohibition, Mr. Lawyer never has been active politically, but has yet served a number of years on the Board of Education. He finds his religious home in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, of which he is a trustee and clerk of the board of sessions.

March 2, 1892, Mr. Lawyer was united in marriage to Mattie S. Vail, a native of Industry Township and daughter of Christopher and Sarah (Dace) Vail, the former born in Industry Township, and the latter born in Missouri. Mr. Vail, who is a farmer in Industry Township, is a son of John B. and Sophia (Brown) Vail, natives of Ohio and Pennsylvania, respectively, who came to Schuyler County, Ill., in 1833. In 1835 these early settlers located in Industry Township, where the family since has been active in farming. Harmon and Martha (Huff) Dace, grandparents of Mrs. Lawyer and natives of Missouri, died when Mrs. Lawyer's mother was nine years old. Mr. and Mrs. Lawyer are the parents of four children: Gladys K., T. Dwight, Herbert C. and J. Meredith. Industry, good judgment and shrewd business capacity have advanced Mr. Lawyer into the front ranks of agriculturists, and his integrity and public spirit have placed him among its honored and influential citizens.

Source: The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of McDonough County, compiled by Dr. Newton Bateman, and Paul Shelby, 1907, volume 2, pages 932-933, extracted 15 Jun 2019 by Norma Hass.

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