Thursday, September 12, 2013

DeGoy Bowman Ellis (1876-1949)

DeGoy Bowman Ellis, from the 1915-16 Illinois Blue Book.

   A three-term member of the Illinois state House of Representatives, DeGoy Bowman Ellis was a prominent figure in the city of Elgin, being a successful attorney and past master in chancery of the city court of Elgin. Born on November 27, 1876, in Boone County, Illinois, Ellis was the only child born to William DeGoy (1845-1935) and Sophia Bowman Ellis (1846-1906). He inherited his unusual first name from his father and attended the Belvidere High School in Belvidere, Illinois, later graduating from the Dixon College in 1897. Ellis continued his schooling at the Illinois Law School and after graduating in 1899 relocated to Elgin to open a law practice, "giving special attention to insurance and corporate law."
  In 1903 Ellis won election as city attorney for Elgin and served in this capacity until 1905. He married in 1904 to Ms. Ina Ames (1879-1964) and later became the father to two children, Eloise (1906-1961) and DeGoy Bowman Ellis Jr. (1908-1929). Shortly after leaving the office of Elgin city attorney, Ellis was named as master-in-chancery of the Elgin court system, holding this post from 1906-1914. In 1910 he established the law firm of Ellis and Western and four years later became a Republican candidate for a seat in the Illinois State House of Representatives.
  In November 1914 Ellis won election to the house with a vote of 11,939 and after taking his seat in January 1915 was named to a seat on the house committee on Fees and Salaries. He was subsequently reelected to the Illinois legislature in 1916 and 1918 and during these later terms served as Chairman of the Judicial Department and Practice Committees. Ellis wasn't a candidate for a fourth term in 1920 and at the conclusion of his term returned to his law practice in Elgin.
                                       Ellis' official legislative portrait from the 1919-20 Illinois Blue Book.

   At the conclusion of his service in the legislature, Ellis continued with his work as an attorney in Elgin and in 1920 took on an important position in the Illinois State Bar Association, being a member of the Law Reform committee for the 1920-21 year. In 1925-26 Ellis held a seat on the Association's Enforcement of Criminal Law Committee, and three years after concluding his work on the above committee experienced personal tragedy with the sudden death of his only son, DeGoy Bowman Ellis Jr.
  DeGoy Jr. was a standout track athlete at the Lawrence College in Appleton, Wisconsin, and is recorded as holding the school's broad jump record at 22 feet 2 inches. Ellis was active in a number of other campus activities, winning "letters in basketball and swimming" in addition to success in academics. Ellis's bright future ended in tragedy on September 20, 1929, when he succumbed to injuries he had sustained in a car accident a few days prior. A substantial write up on the loss of the popular college student appeared in the September 20, 1929 edition of the Lawrentian and is shown below.

   In spite of the loss of their only son, DeGoy and Ina Ellis pressed on, and in June of the following year honored their son's memory with the DeGoy B. Ellis Jr. Memorial Award, a bronze plaque to be given out annually to the high point winner on the Lawrence College track squad. 
  During the latter period of his life DeGoy Ellis Sr. continued to be a prominent fixture in Illinois law circles, being a special master in chancery for the U.S. District Court of Illinois' Northern District from 1942-1949 and was past director of the Fraternal Reserve Life Association. On January 16, 1949, DeGoy B. Ellis died at age 72 at the St. Joseph's Hospital in Elgin. He was buried in the same plot as his son in the Bluff City Cemetery in Elgin and was survived by his daughter Eloise and wife Marian, who were interred here in 1961 and 1964 following their respective deaths.

DeGoy Ellis, from the 1917-1918 Illinois Blue Book.

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