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Buckmaster, Samuel A.

Born: 1817-XX-XX Virginia

Died: 1878-11-11 Alton, Illinois

Samuel A. Buckmaster was lessee and warden of the Illinois State Penitentiary, mayor of Alton, Illinois, a state representative, and speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. In January 1838, he married Mary Jane Prickett, with whom he eventually had at least five children. That same year, the state of Illinois leased the state penitentiary in Alton to him. After his uncle, Nathaniel Buckmaster, and a partner leased the penitentiary for a few years, in 1845 the lease returned to Samuel. He maintained it for thirteen years, agreeing to feed, house, and guard its prisoners as well as pay inspection fees and medical bills. Per the lease, he was also granted powers as warden, and served in that capacity from 1846 to July 1860. He also served in the Illinois General Assembly from 1850 to 1854 and again from 1858 to 1864. A Democrat, he was elected speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, served in that capacity from 1862 to 1864, and developed a reputation as an energetic political administrator. He was also Alton's mayor from 1853 to 1854 and from 1862 to 1863. He did very well for himself over the course of his career. His real estate holdings ballooned from $3,000 in 1850 to $55,000 in 1860, bolstered by a personal estate valued at another $4,000. On April 25, 1861, he played a leading role in the capture of arms from an arsenal in St. Louis. These arms were taken back to Alton, sent to Springfield, and equipped the early Illinois regiments for war. His political career in the state continued through and after the Civil War.

History of Madison County, Illinois (Edwardsville, IL: W. R. Brink, 1882), 178; Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, Madison County, 24 January 1838, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; W. T. Norton, ed., Centennial History of Madison County, Illinois and Its People 1812 to 1912 (Chicago: Lewis, 1912), 1:77, 145, 237, 241, 271, 471; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Alton, Madison County, IL, 333; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Alton, Madison County, IL, 152; The Chicago Daily Tribune (IL), 12 November 1878, 5:6.