Hamilton, Richard J.

Born: 1799-08-21 Mercer County, Kentucky

Died: 1860-12-26 Chicago, Illinois

Born and raised in Kentucky, Hamilton was educated at Shelbyville Academy and later became a clerk in a store when he was seventeen. In 1818, he moved to Louisville and in 1820 to Jonesboro, Illinois, where he worked as a teacher before being appointed cashier of the new Illinois State Bank in 1821. The following year, he married Diana W. Buckner. She died in 1834, and he married Harriette L. Hubbard the next year. Harriette died in 1842, and he married Priscilla P. Tuley in 1843.

The Illinois General Assembly appointed Hamilton as a justice of the peace for Jackson County in 1826 and he practiced law throughout the southern circuit in 1829. He lost his position as cashier when the bank closed, and in 1831, the legislature appointed him probate judge for Cook County, causing him to move his family to Chicago, where he became one of the early leading citizens of the burgeoning town. In 1832, he became clerk of the county commissions court in Cook County, Illinois, and held the office until 1837 along with several minor offices in the city. He won election to the Chicago Board of Aldermen in 1840, as a Democrat, and again in 1849. Hamilton acted as a Democratic presidential elector in 1852 and ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1856. Hamilton was a temperance advocate, a member of the Masonic order, and a Presbyterian.

A. T. Andreas, History of Chicago (Chicago: A. T. Andreas, 1884) 1:143-45.