Biography - William Looney

WILLIAM AUGUSTUS LOONEY, M. D. Among those whose activities in the field of medicine have made their names well known in Southern Illinois was the late William Augustus Looney, M. D., who for more than forty years followed his profession in Vienna, and who also attained an eminent position in public and social life. Starting life as a poor lad without influence or financial aid, he earned the means with which to pursue his medical studies, and eventually rose to such a high position that his death was a distinct loss to the community where he labored for so long. William Augustus Looney was born in Henry county, Tennessee, April 9, 1831, and was a son of William E. Looney, and grandson of Samuel Looney, a native of the Isle of Man, of Scotch-Irish descent. William E. Looney migrated from his native state of North Carolina to Tennessee, and in 1834 removed to Hinds county, Mississippi, where he died in 1836, after spending his life as a stock buyer. He married Phetna M. Prazier, daughter of Julian and Elizabeth (McBee) Prazier.

William A. Looney was two years of age when his father died, and his mother engaged in school teaching in order to rear her son and give him educational advantages. After her death, in 1855, he removed to Illinois and began teaching school in Johnson county, in order to accumulate enough money to put him through medical college. He began the practice of his profession in Williamson county in 1865, during which year he attended a course of lectures at Rush Medical College, Chicago, and graduated from that institution in 1868. In 1861 he raised the first company for the war in Williamson county, Company C, of the Thirty-first Illinois Infantry, of which he was elected captain. On November 7, 1861, at Belmont, Missouri, he was severely wounded, but took part in the siege of Corinth, after which he was honorably discharged on account of disability. In January, 1862, he removed to Vienna where he continued to follow his profession until his death, January 5, 1903. He was one of the leading practitioners of his city, and also became prominent in politics, serving with distinction in the State Legislature in 1864. His profession connected him with the Southern Illinois Medical Association, and he was also a member of Vienna Lodge, No. 150, Vienna Chapter, No. 67, and Cairo Commandery, No. 13, of Masonry. Dr. Looney was a popular comrade of Vienna Post, No. 221, G. A. R., and was an intimate friend of General John A. Logan. He was a strong feature in the Methodist Episcopal church work of Southern Illinois.

In 1856 Dr. Looney was married in Calloway county, Kentucky, to Miss Rachel P. Caldwell, who died in 1872, leaving three children: James E., John T. and Fanny A. His second marriage occurred in 1874, when he married Miss Maria Oliver, who died in 1884, and in March, 1886, he was united with Fannie E. Whitehead, in Indiana.

Fanny E. Whitehead was born in Vienna, Johnson county, Illinois, daughter of Charles Fletcher and Maria Theresa (Weismeyer) Whitehead, natives of Illinois and Germany, respectively. Her grandfather, Silas Whitehead, who resided near Martinsville, Illinois, reared a family of several sons, one of whom, Silas, was a journalist at Marshall, Illinois. He was a prominent pioneer lawyer and subsequently became a judge. Her father was a veteran of the Civil war and wielded a powerful influence among his fellows. Charles Fletcher Whitehead was born in 1835, and was reared near Marshall, Illinois, where he received his education in the public school. He early learned the tinner and hardware business at Evansville, Illinois, with an uncle, Thomas Scantlin, who was a pioneer of Evansville, Indiana, and but lately died, at the age of ninety-eight years and five months. About 1850 the father came to Vienna, where he was employed in a hardware establishment. At the outbreak of the Civil war he enlisted in Company M, Sixth Illinois Cavalry, in which he served two years, and his death occurred in 1868, from the effects of typhoid fever contracted during the war. His first wife died in 1860, leaving one daughter, Fanny E., and he married (second) Ann Caldwell, who died in 1867, leaving two children, L. C. and Henry Parks Whitehead. His third marriage was to Romaine Whitney, of near Martinsville, and she now resides at Casey, Illinois, and has a daughter, Cassandra. After her father's death, Fannie E. Whitehead went to live with an aunt in Pike county, Indiana, who educated her, and with whom she was living at the time of her marriage to Dr. Looney in 1886. Dr. and Mrs. Looney had three children: Mrs. Esther Dill, who resides in St. Louis; Joseph Whitehead, who is attending high school; and Harold Frazier.

Mrs. Looney is now the owner of an excellent farm of one hundred and forty-three acres situated near Vienna, which she manages successfully. She is a faithful member of the Methodist church, and is widely known in religious and charitable work.

Extracted from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 615-616.

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