Biography - William H. Ragan

WILLIAM H. RAGAN, although among the younger members of the bar, has an excellent reputation as a criminal lawyer. He was born in Fairfield County, Ohio, September 30, 1830, the son of James W. and Ellen (Springer) Ragan. His paternal ancestors were of Irish extraction his great-grandfather being born on the Emerald Isle. The maternal ancestors were of German and Swedish blood but came to this country in the early Colonial days and one of his great-grandfathers served as a soldier all through the Revolutionary War. Fairfield County, was the native home of his parents and there they were married and reared their family, but removed to Illinois in 1867, and located first in Clark County, next in Effingham County, whence they came to Shelby County. The mother, who still survives, is a widow, her husband having died in 1886 at the age of sixty years.

.lames W. Ragan, the worthy father of our subject, was a soldier in the Union army during the Civil War, being a member of Company C, One Hundred and Fourteenth Ohio Infantry. After the battle of Haines Bluff he was detailed as nurse on a hospital boat which bore the name of the "City of Memphis" and went up the Mississippi River to Paducah, Ky., at which place he was injured by a fall, while unloading the dead bodies of the brave boys who had fallen in conflict. In consequence of this accident he was placed in the hospital at St. Louis, from which he was in due time discharged, but he never entirely recovered from the injury, and his sufferings from it hastened his death.

There were eight children in the family of the parents of our subject, namely: Laura A., now Mrs. John J. Gallagher; William H. our subject; Silas A.; Eber A., George W., James F. and Joseph A. (who was drowned at the age of five years, in a small creek near their home in Fayette County, Ohio) and Addison A.

The early life of William Ragan was passed upon the home farm and at the age of fourteen he hired out as a farm hand at $5 a month, anil served in this capacity until he reached the age of eighteen years. He then saw the need of an education and so for a number of years we find him attending school and teaching and he finally became a teacher in the High School at Shelbyville. He studied law in the office of Hamlin & Holloway and in 1884 was admitted to the bar. After practicing for one year he entered the Union College at Chicago, which college is the law department of the Northwestern University at Evanston. Since taking his diploma in 1886 he has given his entire attention to his profession at Shelbyville. He has a general practice but gives particular attention to criminal practice.

The domestic life of Mr. Ragan is a very happy one, as he was married July 1, 1877, to Mary C. Gallagher, daughter of Jacob and Sarah Gallagher, who was born in Shelby County, where her parents are among the pioneers. They have had three children gather about their fireside, the eldest, Jennie, dying in infancy, but Elza M. and Maude A., remain to be the joy and comfort of their parents. He is deeply interested in political movements and espoused the cause of the Republican party until 1888 at which time he supported the Democratic ticket, stumping the State and making brilliant and effective speeches in sixty different places. He has never sought office and prefers to give his attention to private practice. He is identified with the Masonic fraternity and has been an earnest and consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church since he was fourteen years of age.

Extracted 29 May 2017 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 281-282.

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