Born: 1793-06-17 Montgomery County, Maryland
Died: 1877-08-31 Upper Alton, Illinois
Flourished: Alton, Illinois
Early in his childhood, Edwards moved with his family to Kentucky to join his older brother Ninian Edwards. He studied law and in 1815 gained admission to the bar at Kaskaskia, Illinois, where his brother was governor of Illinois Territory. He practiced law in Potosi, Missouri, and in Elkton, Kentucky, where he married Nancy Reed. After the birth of his first five children, the family settled permanently in Illinois, where three additional children were born. Edwards continued to practice law and served in the Black Hawk War as an ordnance officer and quartermaster general on the staff of Governor John Reynolds. Edwards represented Madison County as a Whig, winning elections to the Illinois House in 1832 and 1840 and to the Illinois Senate in 1834. He was an unsuccessful candidate for governor in 1838, losing to Democrat Thomas Carlin by only 926 votes. In 1847, he was a delegate to the Illinois Constitutional Convention. After the death of his first wife, he married Sophia Loomis with whom he had four children. Edwards supported the development of public education and engaged in numerous philanthropic activities after his retirement from politics. In 1850, he was a farmer in Upper Alton, Illinois, with $25,000 in real property. During the Civil War, Edwards was a supporter of the Republican Party.
W. T. Norton, ed., Centennial History of Madison County, Illinois, and Its People, 2 vols. (Chicago: Lewis, 1912), 1:78-79; Theodore C. Pease, ed., Illinois Election Returns, 1818-1848, vol. 18 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1923), 111, 264-65, 339, 454; Isaac H. Elliott, Record of the Services of Illinois Soldiers in the Black Hawk War, 1831-32, and in the Mexican War, 1846-8 (Springfield, IL: H. W. Rokker, 1882), xvi; Frank Everett Stevens, The Black Hawk War (Chicago: Frank E. Stevens, 1903), 122; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Madison County, IL, 406; Gravestone, Oakwood Cemetery, Upper Alton, IL.