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Underwood, William H.

Born: 1818-02-22 Schoharie County, New York

Died: 1875-09-23 Belleville, Illinois

Flourished: Belleville, Illinois

William H. Underwood, attorney, judge, and politician, was educated in his native New York, attending Schoharie Academy and graduating from Hudson River Seminary before reading law in Albany. He settled permanently in Belleville, Illinois in 1840 and took up the practice of law. In 1841, voters elected Underwood state’s attorney for St. Clair County, and he was re-elected two years later. He represented St. Clair County in the Illinois House of Representatives, 1846 to 1848, and in the Illinois Senate from 1857 to 1864, and again from 1871 to 1872. Underwood served as judge of the Second Judicial Circuit from 1849 to 1855. In 1841, Underwood married Elizabeth Smith and the pair had several children. Early in life Underwood was a Democrat, but began to separate from the party over the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and later in life became a Republican. In religion he was a Presbyterian.

Clara Halbert Needles, “Judge William Henry Underwood, Senator from St. Clair County, 1856-1865 and 1870,” Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society 36 (1929): 126-34; Alvin Louis Nebelsick, A History of Belleville (Belleville, IL: Township High School and Junior College, [1951?]), 71; History of St. Clair County, Illinois (Philadelphia: Brink, McDonough, 1881), 90, 94; Newton Bateman and Paul Selby, eds., Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of St. Clair County, ed. by A. S. Wilderman and A. A. Wilderman (Chicago: Munsell, 1907), 2:832; Illinois, U.S., Compiled Marriages, 1791-1860, 21 December 1841, St. Clair County (Provo, UT: Operations, 2004); John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 215, 221, 222, 223, 225, 229; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Belleville, St. Clair County, IL, 438; Illinois Weekly State Journal (Springfield), 29 September 1875, 2:1; Alton Weekly Telegraph (IL), 30 September 1875, 1:3; Gravestone, Green Mount Protestant Cemetery, Belleville, IL.