ETHELBERT CALLAHAN was born in Licking county Ohio December 17, 1829. His father was of Irish and his mother of English descent. His grandfather, the Rev. George Callahan, was a soldier of the Revolution and a pioneer Methodist preacher in Ohio. In 1849 he came to Crawford county, Illinois, and that winter taught a three months’ school at fifteen dollars a month and says that when paid he felt richer than ever since. He edited the Wabash Sentinel in 1853-4, after which time he went to Marshall and edited the Telegraph during the Know Nothing campaign of that year. On the 27th of June, 1854, he married Mrs. Mary Barlow Jones and has since resided in Crawford county. In his boyhood he heard Thomas Ewing make a great legal argument and decided in boyish fashion that he, too, would be a lawyer, but years had passed leaving the ambition still ungratified. In 1857 he was elected justice of the peace, began to read law and in 1859 was admitted to the bar. In 1861 he opened an office in Robinson, and commenced an active practice. His career as a lawyer has been eminently successful, and this has been achieved by an untiring devotion to P. 1246 his profession, a profound knowledge of the law, the patient study that gave him complete mastery of his cases and a rare faculty for seizing opportunities in their trial, a genius for examining witnesses and an unfailing judgment of men, strong, earnest argument, and the high standard of honor and courtesy to friend and foe that entitles a man to call himself in a true sense a lawyer.
The general practice of a country lawyer necessarily includes every branch of the law and all classes of cases, from the most trivial to the most serious character, involving life, liberty, reputation and the numerous rights of property arising out of the diversified pursuits and commerce of the country. This kind of a practice enlarges the knowledge and broadens the mind of a lawyer who keeps up with its demands. Mr. Callahan has not lagged behind his professional brethren but has won his full share of important legal battles. As a recognition of his character, ability and standing as a lawyer the honorable degree of Doctor of Laws was, in June, 1898, conferred upon him by McKendree College.
Mr. Callahan claims the distinction of having made the first speech in the county for the Republican party. As a Republican he has been a member of the twenty-ninth, thirty-seventh, thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth general assemblies of the state. As presidential elector he voted for Garfield and Harrison. He was a member of the Methodist church and was, in 1874, a delegate from the Southern Illinois Conference of that church to the general conference held in Brooklyn. Mr. Callahan was one of the organizers of the Illinois State Bar Association, was its president in 1889, and has contributed to it several valuable papers, among which was “The Lawyers of the Bible,” which has been extensively copied.
He is also one of the largest farmers in the county, and his farm on the banks of the Wabash is an exponent of the best scientific methods of farming.
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