Biography - WILLIAM A. SPANN

A resident of Vienna whose reputation is more than local and whose high standing in the professional world is assured is the Hon. William A. Spann, a well-known legal light and senior member of the firm of Spann & Spann, attorneys-at-law. The Spann family is of North Carolina origin, that having been the native state of William Spann, grandfather of the Hon. William A. Spann, who so worthily represents the present generation of the house, and whose father, Silas H. Spann, emigrated to Southern Illinois, settling with his family at Jonesboro in 1853. Silas Spann was engaged in the mercantile business for a long period, but retired from that line of commercial activity ten years before his death, which occurred in January, 1895. The older Spann was married four times, his first wife having been Miss Martha Scott, a daughter of Jesse and Nancy (Martin) Scott. Mr. Scott was of English descent, while his wife was born in Ireland. Mr. and Mrs. Spann became the parents of four children, two of whom died in infancy. Mary, who married Mr. Martin and William A., of this brief review, are the surviving members of their family, and the mother's death occurred in 1843. The second matrimonial alliance of Silas Spann united him with Elizabeth Fullard of Alabama, who become the mother of five children, two of whom survive at this writing. They are Charles P. Spann and Mrs. Delia Pool. The death of Mrs. Spann occurred in March, 1857. Charlotte Alexander, of Jonesboro, became the third wife of Mr. Spann, and of that union five children were born. Of this number three are living, namely: Silas, Ernest and Mrs. Minnie Rendle. The date of the mother's demise was 1877. Mr. Spann subsequently married Mrs. Cox, and one child, now deceased was the result of their union.

Judge William A. Spann was born October 6, 1840, in Cherokee county, Alabama, on a farm, but while he was still small his father removed with his family to Jonesboro, Illinois, and the son was the recipient of such education as was afforded in the public schools of that place. Upon the completion of his education Mr. Spann took up agriculture as an occupation and for ten years operated farms near Jonesboro and in Johnson county, becoming a resident of the latter named section in 1861. He was not entirely satisfied with the conditions in Johnson county at that time, however, and in a short time returned to Union county, remaining there until 1873, when he again took up his residence in Johnson county.

Mr. Spann was a man of ambitious character and had always cherished a desire to become a member of the legal fraternity, and in furtherance of this commendable ambition he began the study of law in November, 1870. He possessed a fine intellect, which soon grasped the intricacies and logic of his studies, and a few years later he opened an office at Vienna, and in March, 1877, began the practice of his profession there.

It was but a short time until he had attained distinction in his practice and had acquired an extensive clientele, his services being in wide demand, not only in the various counties of Southern Illinois, but clients also came from Missouri and Kentucky to avail themselves of his talents in cases requiring legal adjudication. Judge Spann's reputation as a lawyer and an eloquent pleader is second to none in this section of the state, and he has achieved conspicuous success in handling difficult criminal cases.

He has always evinced an active interest in politics, and he has been repeatedly honored with high official position. In 1880 the people elected him as a representative to the state legislature, his run being made on a Democratic ticket, and so faithfully and effectively did he discharge his duties as a legislator that he was returned to the office in 1882. His election to the county judgeship occurred in 1906 and he served most ably in that 'important capacity for one term.'

Judge Spann has valuable property interests, among his holdings being a fine farm in the northern part of Johnson county and a beautiful residence in Vienna. In December, 1861, Judge Spann was united in marriage with Miss Narcissa Simpson, of Johnson county, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Simpson. Of this union were born six children: Mrs. Flora Hess: Mrs. Martha Cantwell; Lulu, the wife of Levi J. Smith; Ida, wife of Robert E. Gillespie, who is cashier of the Union Trust Company of East St. Louis; Hal, who followed in his father's footsteps by entering the legal profession and is now a partner with him in the law firm of Spann & Spann; and William. The death of Mrs. Spann occurred in 1885. Judge Spann married a second time, in May, 1893, leading to the altar Mrs. Etta M. Blanchfill, of Vienna, a daughter of Frank McCarmell, of Oxford, Indiana. Mr. Spann was bereaved of this wife in October, 1909. His third wife, to whom he was married on October 12, 1911, was Mrs. Mary E. Goodall, of Marion, a daughter of Mrs. Aikeman. She presides with graciousness over the Spann home, which is one of the most hospitable in Vienna. Judge Spann is a man of strong social tendencies, and is an honored member of the Knights of Pythias. He is the possessor of broad sympathies, is liberal in his benefactions and enjoys the confidence of a large circle of friends and acquaintances.

Extracted 07 Nov 2018 by Norma Hass from History of Southern Illinois, by George Washington Smith, published in 1912, volume 3, pages 1554-1556.

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