Biography - HENRY T. RAINEY

Hon. Henry T. Rainey, member of congress and representative of the bar of Greene county, stands today as one of the distinguished citizens of Carrollton. Few lawyers have made more lasting impression upon the bar of the district, both for legal ability of a high order and for the individuality of a personal character which impresses itself upon a community. He is, moreover, a recognized leader in political circles, whose devotion to the general good is so marked that even his political opponents entertain for him the highest respect.

Henry T. Rainey was born in Carrollton, August 20, 1860, and comes of Scotch-Irish ancestry. His paternal grandfather, William C. Rainey, was a native of South Carolina and served under Colonel Hardin during the Mexican war. He won the rank of lieutenant and at the close of hostilities was brevetted major. After residing for some time in Kentucky he came to Greene county, Illinois, about 1832, and located near Carrollton. He was the owner of a farm from which Rainey's first and second additions to Carrollton have been set off. He exerted strong and beneficial influence in public affairs and for forty consecutive years he served as justice of the peace, discharging his duties with the strictest impartiality. His death occurred in the year 1877.

John Rainey, father of Henry T. Rainey, was born in Lexington. Kentucky, and accompanied his parents on their removal to Illinois. He was reared to the occupation of farming and made it his life work. He. too, was a public-spirited citizen, deeply interested in the general progress and up building of his community and as the champion of many measures so largely promoted the general good that his death was the occasion of deep and sincere sorrow throughout the locality in which he made his home. He was several times an alderman of Carrollton, and he occupied a very enviable position in the public regard. His death occurred in 1888, when he was sixty-two years of age. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Catherine Thomas, was born about three and a half miles southwest of Carrollton, a daughter of Samuel Thomas, the first settler of Greene county, arriving here in 1818.

Henry T. Rainey, the eldest of three children, acquired his elementary education in the public schools of Carrollton and was graduated from the high school of this city in 1878. He prepared for college at Knox Academy at Galesburg, Illinois, and subsequently matriculated in Amherst College at Amherst, Massachusetts, from which institution he was graduated with the class of 1883, the degree of Bachelor of Arts being at that time conferred upon him. He began preparation for the legal profession as a student in the Union College of Law at Chicago and was admitted to practice in May, 1885. The degree of Bachelor of Law was conferred jointly upon him by the Northwestern and the Washington Universities in June, 1885, and a short time afterward he received the degree of Master of Arts from Amherst College for special post-graduate work.

Following his admission to the bar Mr. Rainey returned to Carrollton and entered upon the practice of law. He was devotedly attached to his practice, systematic and methodical in habit, sober and discreet in judgment, calm in temperament, diligent in research and conscientious in the discharge of every duty. His careful preparation of cases and his marked devotion to his clients' interests soon gained him a practice that was extensive and of an important character. His strong points in the legal profession are best shown while before the judiciary. As an orator he is forceful and while he has excellent command of the art and resources of rhetoric, he never uses his oratorical ability to cloud the facts in the case, but always endeavors to present them in the clear, strong light of reason and common sense. He served as master in chancery for eight years, appointed to the position in 1888 after the death of S. F. Corrington, and he continued to serve in that capacity until 1895, when he resigned. He was for one year, 1895-6, the president of the board of education of Carrollton. He was a very prominent factor in the control of the democratic party in Greene county. He served as chairman of the democratic central committee for two years and has labored untiringly to secure the success of the principles which he believes contain the best elements of good government. In 1896 he delivered campaign addresses throughout this state and in 1900 was sent to Illinois, Ohio and Indiana under the management of the democratic national committee. In the campaign of 1904 he made speeches in Vermont, Maine, New York, Illinois and Iowa under the direction of the democratic national committee. In 1902 he was elected a member of the Fifty-eighth congress and is recognized as an able working representative. In 1904 he was re-elected to congress, being the only democrat elected from Illinois to the Fifty-ninth congress.

In June, 1888, occurred the marriage of Mr. Rainey and Miss Ella McBride, a native of Bureau county, Illinois, and a daughter of W. H. McBride, of Harvard, Nebraska, but now deceased. Fraternally he is connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, the Modern Woodmen of America and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Possessing a modest demeanor be nevertheless stands high in his profession. In all conditions and circumstances he is first of all a gentleman. In whatever relation of life we find him, whether in the government service, in political environments, in business or in social relations, he is always the same honorable and honored man whose worth well merits the high regard which is uniformly given him.

Extracted 2021 Jul 25 by Norma Hass from Past and Present of Greene County, Illinois, by Ed Miner, published in 1905, pages 260-262.

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