Friday, September 11, 2015

Achalis Morris Legg (1861-1934)

Portrait from the Banking Law Journal, Volume 34 (1917).

  A prominent Pontiac, Illinois businessman during the early 20th century, Achalis Morris Legg's biography here will be a short one, as details on his life remain difficult to come by. The founder of a successful shoe manufacturing company in Pontiac, Legg's inclusion here on the site rests on his service as the Mayor of that city, being elected to that office in April 1901. 
  The son of Virginia natives Jesse and Catherine Legg, Achalis Morris Legg was born in Pontiac on December 12, 1861. Listed in most sources by the initials "A.M.", Legg's early life centered upon "a plethora of arduous work on the home farm", and would attend the district schools. When just thirteen years old he began work at the Pontiac based drug store of Caldwell and McGregor, and after a short period of time left that business to work at the Lyon Shoe Store.
  Venturing into work at a shoe store proved to have a lasting effect on Achalis Legg's life, as he remained at the Lyon Store for many years, during which he "learned with thoroughness all the details of the business." Store owner D.M. Lyon eventually made Legg a partner in the business, and after several years as partner Legg left the Lyon store to begin work as a traveling salesman in the employ of the Pontiac Shoe Company, which, as it so happened, was owned by Achalis' older brother, Clark Edgar Legg (1855-1919).
  Achalis Legg would purchase a financial interest in his brother's company and continued to be affiliated with it until 1903 when he became the primary organizer of the A.M. Legg Shoe Company, of which he would serve as treasurer. Achalis' son Clark Lawrence served as company president and another son, Howard W., was vice-president. Through the succeeding years, Achalis Legg firmly imprinted his name in Pontiac's business sector, his contributions being highlighted in Volume V of the History of Illinois and Her People, which notes:
"Achalis M. Legg has gained standing and high reputation as a reliable, resourceful and progressive businessman, and is also a loyal and public spirited citizen of the county that has represented his home from his boyhood to the present."
  Prominent in other aspects of Pontiac public life, Achalis Legg became a member of the board of directors of the Pontiac State Bank in 1899. Around this same time, he took on the vice-presidency of the Pontiac Light and Water Co. and for a time was a member of the board of directors of the Bloomington, Pontiac and Joliet Electric Railway Co. In early 1901 Legg was elected as the Mayor of Pontiac, Illinois, then a city with a population of over 4,200. Little could be found on Legg's tenure as mayor, excepting that he served for one term, April 20, 1901 to April 25, 1903.
   The remainder of Achalis Legg's life is equally obscure as that of his term as mayor. Around 1917 he is recorded as serving as President of the Pontiac Chamber of Commerce, whilst also holding the post of trustee for Illinois Weslyan University, his term expiring in 1919. In that same year, Legg saw his son Howard elected as Pontiac's mayor, where he served for two terms, 1919-1923. Little else is known of Achalis Legg's life after this point, excepting that he died sometime in 1934 and was interred in a mausoleum at the South Side Cemetery in Pontiac.

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