Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sain Welty (1853-1920)

From the Notable Men of the West, 1902.

    After a few weeks of profiling oddly named politicians local to my home county of Chautauqua, today's profile takes us to Bloomington, Illinois and one of that city's more humorously named residents, Sain Welty! This wonderfully named man served as a Judge for the 11th District of the Illinois Circuit Court during the mid-1910s and was also a noted attorney in the Bloomington area for many decades. Over the course of research on the life of Judge Welty, I was quite surprised by the amount of online resources mentioning him and his career on the bench, especially when one considers the overall obscurity of the man! 
   A native son of the Buckeye State, Sain Welty was born near Somerset, Ohio on January 19, 1853, a son of Emanuel and Sarah Ann Welty. The Welty family removed to Marshall County, Illinois when their son was quite young, and Sain Welty is recorded as engaging in farming pursuits during his youth. The 1916 work Courts and Lawyers of Illinois also lists Welty as "attending and teaching country schools" during this time. He married in 1879 to Ms. Gertrude Ball (1859-1934), a Marshall County native. The couple would remain childless for the entirety of their four-decade long marriage. 
   In 1881 Welty graduated from the Illinois Wesleyan University and two years later received his law degree from the prestigious Yale Law School. During his tenure at the latter institution, Sain Welty received the Jewell Prize (named after former Postmaster General Marshall Jewell) for having the "highest marks in his annual examinations". During the latter part of his life, Welty served as a trustee of his old Alma mater (Illinois Wesleyan University) for over two decades.
   Shortly after returning to Bloomington, Welty established a law firm with another local attorney, John Allen Sterling (1857-1918). Sterling later went on to serve as a U.S. Representative from Illinois from 1903-1913 and their law practice continued on until Welty's elevation to the bench in 1915. The Courts and Lawyers of Illinois give note that in regards to the earlier mentioned law firm, Welty's name "stood high in legal circles." In addition to this law practice, Sain Welty was named to the post of City Attorney for Bloomington in 1889 and served two terms in that post. In 1897 Illinois Circuit Court judge Colostin DeKalb Myers (what a name!) appointed Welty as a Master in Chancery of the McLean County, Illinois circuit court, where he would serve until 1901. In 1908 Welty served as a Republican Presidential Elector for Illinois.
    Several years following his service as a Presidential Elector, Welty won election to the Illinois Circuit Court's 11th district, taking his seat in June of 1915. His service on the bench was cut short by his death (as a result of an attack of angina) on April 14, 1920 at age 67. He was subsequently buried in the Park Hill Cemetery and Mausoleum in Bloomington, Illinois. In the years preceding his death, Judge Welty was praised as a "man of unostentation but sincerity of bearing, and the high esteem in which he is held by bench, bar and the public is generally most deserving." The portrait of him shown above was discovered in the book Notable Men of the West, originally published in 1902.

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