Conkling, William J.

Born: 1826-11-21 New York, New York

Died: 1904-02-07 Springfield, Illinois

Flourished: Springfield, Illinois

William J. Conkling, attorney, moved with his family as a child first to Mt. Vernon, Ohio in 1831, and subsequently to LeRoy, Illinois in 1839. He stayed in LeRoy, farming and teaching school, until about 1849, then commenced preparatory study followed by three years of collegiate studies at Oberlin College. About 1853, he settled in Springfield where he read law under his half-brother, James C. Conkling, was admitted to the bar in 1854, and enjoyed on a decades-long career as a lawyer in the city. He and Abraham Lincoln encountered each other at trial in the Sangamon County Circuit Court in the 1850s. In addition to his legal career, Conkling partnered with Erastus Wright in a real estate business between 1854 and 1857. Conkling married Olivia J. Holton in 1855 and was survived by three children. By 1860, he owned real estate valued at $8,000 and possessed $3,000 in personal property. Politically, he was first a Whig and later a Republican.

Joseph Wallace, Past and Present of the City of Springfield and Sangamon County Illinois (Chicago: S. J. Clarke, 1904), 1:710-11; Ira B. Conkling, The Conklings in America (Washington, DC: Chas. H. Potter, 1913), 28, 36-37; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Lorain County, OH, 264; Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Oberlin Collegiate Institute. 1849—50 (Oberlin, OH: James M. Fitch, 1849), 16; Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Oberlin College, for the College Year 1850-51 (Oberlin, OH: James M. Fitch, 1850), 11; Triennial Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Oberlin College, for the College Year 1851—52 (Oberlin, OH: James M. Fitch, 1851), 10; Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Oberlin College, for the College Year 1852—53 (Oberlin, OH: James M. Fitch, 1852), 11; For Lincoln’s cases involving Conkling, search Participant, “Conkling, William J.,” Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis, et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, 2d edition (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009),; Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, Macoupin County, 4 September 1855, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Springfield, Sangamon County, IL, 120; The Decatur Herald (IL), 9 February 1904, 6:5; The Daily Review (Decatur, IL), 9 February 1904, 5:3; Gravestone, Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, IL.