Pulaski County

Biography - William Wall

JUDGE WILLIAM A. WALL. Twenty years or more of efficient service in the professional, business and political circles of Southern Illinois has made the life record of Judge William A. Wall, of Mound City, an honored one, and the fact that he is a native son of Southern Illinois and has spent his whole life in this section of the state well entitles him to representation in this volume.

Judge Wall was born in Union county, Illinois, August 17, 1864, and grew to manhood near the village of Western Saratoga, that county. Pleasant recollections center around the old Pleasant Ridge school where as a youth he acquired his earlier education, and a backward look over those years recalls experiences closely akin to those of Whittier's "Barefoot Boy." He subsequently spent two terms in the Southern Illinois Normal University and a like period was spent in the Union Academy at Anna, Illinois, his work in college having been alternated with several months of teaching in country schools. His professional preparation was obtained in the law department of the Illinois Wesleyan University at Bloomington, from which he was graduated in 1890. He was admitted to the bar by examination before the supreme court the year of his graduation, and on April 15, 1890, he began the practice of his profession at Mound City, Illinois, where his ability soon placed him in the front rank of attorneys and where as the years have passed he has directed his professional labors to the acquirement of success and prominence. He associated himself with Judge Joseph P. Robarts, late judge of the Southern Illinois judicial circuit, and the firm of Robarts & Wall existed until Judge Robarts was elevated to the bench. Then by arrangement the late Judge Caster became a member of the firm, the style being Wall & Caster, and remained so until death claimed the junior member in 1909. Judge Wall then formed a partnership with ex-district attorney George E. Martin, and Wall & Martin is the foremost legal firm of Pulaski county.

Judge Wall's practice has been general and, save in a few instances, none of it has been of historic interest. His connection with much of the litigation growing out of the State Drainage act, creating a drainage district in this section of Illinois and forcing the adjustment of many matters in the courts, even to the supreme court of the state, is well known to have been extensive. Also his connection with suits involving the interpretation of the fire insurance laws of the state by the supreme court was the means of placing a new decision before the people regarding the admissibility of evidence in a suit brought for the collection of a fire loss. In this particular case the plaintiff was the defendant in a prior suit brought by the insurance company for burning his property for the insurance. A witness for the plaintiff said that he burned the barn, among other things, yet the defendant was acquitted. Subsequently the defendant and the witness against him got into an altercation and the witness was killed. Then the defendant brought suit against the insurance company for the amount of his policy and the company offered to introduce the testimony of the deceased witness as part of the defense. This move was checked by an objection of Judge Wall, the plaintiff's counsel, that such testimony was incompetent for use in the case, and was sustained in the circuit court. The defense appealed the case and the judgment was affirmed.

The official and professional career of Judge Wall have paralleled each other, for they both began the same year of 1890, the former with his election to the office of county judge. He served one term and in 1896 was elected a member of the State Board of Equalization, to which office he was re-elected in 1900 for another term of four years. In that body he served on the railroads committee, the committee on farm lands and town lots, and was chairman of the auditing committee. In 1904 he was appointed a member of the Cache River Drainage Commission and was chairman of it during his two years' service. The commission formulated plans for draining eighty-five thousand acres of land in the counties of Massac, Johnson, Union and Pulaski, the largest drainage district in the state. In December, 1909, he was appointed by Governor Deneen to fill the vacancy in the office of county judge caused by the death of Judge Caster, and was elected to that office without opposition in November, 1910. It will thus be seen that for over twenty years Judge Wall has been in the active and continuous service of his state, and in each position that he has filled his service has been marked for ability and the conscientious discharge of duty.

Judge Wall is a staunch supporter of Republican politics and in that sphere is the same forceful and influential man as in law and official life. He ascribes to his mother, a woman of strong mind and character, much of the influence which shaped his political views and dominated his choice of party affiliations. He was chairman of the Pulaski County Central Committee for ten years and was the head of the judicial committee of his judicial district for twelve years. He has been a delegate to every Republican state convention for a score of years and has frequently been chairman of the county delegation, and was a delegate to the longest and noisiest convention ever held for selecting a judicial candidate, the one finally nominating Judge Robarts.

Judge Wall has not only attained prominence and usefulness in his community along professional lines and in public life, but his keen business instincts and unvarying faith in Southern Illinois have made him a man of large and substantial properties. He is vice-president of the First State Bank of Mounds, and holds stock in the First State Bank and the First, National Bank of Mound City, in the First National Bank of Ullin and in the First State Bank of Grand Chain.

He is a stockholder in the Mound City Building and Loan Association and in the Mounds Building and Loan Association.

Judge Wall is a son of James B. Wall, a retired farmer now residing in Mound City. The latter was born February 22, 1842, at Lebanon, Tennessee, and came to Illinois in 1864 with his father, Byrd Wall, who settled in Union county. Byrd Wall married Malinda Johnson, and of his twelve children James B. was the youngest. James B. Wall married Miss Anna Wright, a daughter of Ambrose and Melissa Wright, also from Tennessee, and William A. is the eldest of their twelve children, the following of whom came to mature years: William A.; Agnes, who married William Penrod; Clementine, wife of Andrew Wright; Sherman B.; and Maude, the wife of Frank Southall, of Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

Judge Wall was married first in Mayfield, Kentucky, January 8, 1882, to Miss Louie Kaltenback, who died November 9, 1897, leaving a son, Warner. He married his present wife in Mound City, June 5, 1907. She was Miss Margaret Browner, a daughter of the late Thomas Browner, who came to the United States from county Wexford, Ireland, where he was born in 1831. His wife, who was Mary McCarthy, died in Mound City in 1911, ten years after his own demise. Two other children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Browner: Michael F., the mayor of Mound City for a dozen years, and Miss Mary Browner, who also resides in Mound City.

In his social and fraternal connections Judge Wall is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Knights of Pythias, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Modern Woodmen of America.

The large figure of Judge Wall has the commanding air of vigor, of will and of strong personality, and everything about him testifies to his integrity, yet he is the most courteous and affable of men, his warm heart and cheerful disposition making friends and intrenching him in the good will and esteem of his fellow citizens.

Extracted from A History of Southern Illinois, 1912, Volume 2, page 754-756


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