Biography - William T. Laughlin

WILLIAM T. LAUGHLIN. The history of this section of the state would not be complete did it not contain conspicuous mention of William T. Laughlin, a leading citizen of Johnson county, at present mayor of Cypress, and also a well-known merchant of that city. Mr. Laughlin is a man whom Johnson county claims particularly as its own, this having been the place of his nativity, his birth occurring on a farm near Tunnel Hill on August 12, 1865. Mr. Laughlin is the grandson of Dr. George Laughlin, of Scotch descent, a native of Kentucky, and a practicing physician well known in early days here. It was Dr. Laughlin who erected a mill at Millstone Bluff about 1848.

The parents of William T. Laughlin were Richard Harris and Elizabeth Marilla (Simmons) Laughlin. The father was born and grew to young manhood near Princeton, Caldwell county, Kentucky, the year of his birth being 1827. When twenty years old he became a settler on a farm near Millstone Bluff in Pope county, but later purchased a farm near Tunnel Hill and resided there for a period. After a time he disposed of that land and returned to Pope County, and located near his first home there, on the line between two counties. At a subsequent date he secured the ownership of a farm just across the line in Johnson county, where he lived until the time of his death, in 1884. His wife preceded him to the other land, her demise having occurred on March 20, 1882. They were the parents of nine children, but four of whom grew to maturity and but two of whom are now living, these being Samuel W. and William T., the latter the subject of this sketch. Richard H. Laughlin did valiant service in fighting for his country and was an active participant both in the Mexican war and the war of the rebellion, serving in the former conflict under General Scott. At the very outbreak of the Civil war he offered his service to the cause of freedom and enlisted as a member of Company I in the Thirty-first Regiment of Illinois Infantry, under command of John A. Logan. He continued' to serve under Logan until that splendid soldier's promotion to a major-generalship. Mr. Laughlin was with his company in every engagement in which the Thirty-first Regiment fought, was severely wounded in battle before the close of the war, and was discharged on account of disability.

William T. Laughlin worked on the farm and attended school when the district school of his community was in session until the death of his father in 1884. He then fitted himself to take up the profession of teaching and secured his first school in Williamson county when twenty-one years of age. He taught twelve terms in that county and four terms in Johnson county in the country schools, and then decided to equip himself for higher work. In the furtherance of this purpose he entered the State Normal School at Carbondale in 1895, took a four years' course at that institution, and after completing his studies there continued the work of teaching until 1904. Two years previously, in 1902, he had set himself up in business in a modest way as a merchant in Cypress, and he now decided to give his whole attention to that interest. He has been very successful in this effort and does a large business, carrying regularly a stock of goods valued at three thousand dollars.

Mr. Laughlin has always taken a leading interest in public affairs, being an energetic citizen of the best type, and was in 1911 honored with election to the presidency of the Town Board of Cypress. He is prominent as well in leading social and religious circles of the community, is a member of the Baptist church, and fraternally is affiliated with the A. F. & A. M., in which he has attained the Royal Arch degree, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Knights of Pythias.

The first marriage of Mr. Laughlin was solemnized in 1887, when Ida C. Gill, daughter of Stephen T. and Mary (Hutchinson) Gill, became his wife. She was the mother of two children, Harry and Charles, and died in 1893. In 1904 Mr. Laughlin was married to Mrs. Stella M. Adams, a daughter of George and Cis Lynch, of Johnson county. This union has been blessed in the birth of four children, Herschel Lynch, aged six years; Virgil, aged four years; Byron Wadsworth, two years old; and Vernon Winifred, an infant.

Extracted 14 Jan 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 783-784.

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