Alexander County

Biography - Levi Lightner

JUDGE LEVI L. LIGHTNER, deceased. Probably no one of the early settlers of Alexander County has done more for the good of the county or taken a deeper interest in the welfare of this section than the gentleman whose name heads this sketch. Judge Lightner was born in Lancaster, Penn., December 15, 1793, and received his education in the schools of that city. At the age of twenty-one, he left the parental roof, and came down the Ohio on the first steamboat that ever came to Cairo. He landed in that town, and described it as "one log house filled with about five hundred negroes." The looks of the place not striking him very favorably, he went in a short time to Cape Girardeau, Mo., where he engaged in the mercantile business, and there remained until about 1835, when he came to Clear Creek, Alexander County, where he ran a saw mill and was engaged extensively in farming. In 1844, when the county of Pulaski was taken off and the capital moved to Thebes, our subject moved to that place also, and was elected the first County Judge after the new county was made. In the following ten years or more, he served his county in various positions, such as Justice' of the Peace, School Commissioner, County Clerk and Probate Judge. When in 1859 the seat of justice was moved to Cairo, the Judge, not liking the change, resigned his numerous offices and decided to give his help to the town that he had chosen for his residence. In 1860, he was, however, appointed to the office of Receiver of Public Entry for Cairo, and went there to assume his position. This he held until 1862, when, his health failing, he returned to his former home in Thebes. Judge Lightner was married three times. First, to a Miss Lizzie Goodouer, of Cape Girardeau, Mo., who was the mother of five children, one only of whom is living — Louise, wife of Washington McRaven, of Clear Creek Precinct. His second wife was a Mrs. Eleanor DeShay, the former wife of ex-Gov. DeShay, of Ky. This lady was the mother of two children, one only, Shelby, now living, who is engaged in business in Cairo. He was married the third time to Mrs. Susan E. Wilkinson, November 2, 1848. She was born in Todd County, Ky., and is a daughter of James and Mary Mansfield. This lady is the mother of five living children — Julia, wife of Morrison Breeze, of Pinckneyville. Perry County; James, now in business in Barnard, Alexander County; Eugenia, wife of Albert Brown, of Thebes Precinct; William, now farming in same Precinct; and Lilly L., at home with her mother, and now one of the most successful teachers in the county. Judge Lightner was a member of the Cape Girardeau, Mo., A., F. & A. M. Lodge, and of the Lutheran Church. After his return to Thebes, the Judge's health continued to fail until his death, which occurred November 17, 1869. His widow is now living at home in Thebes, and owns an excellent farm of 320 acres in Section 12, Township 15, Range 3.

Extracted 29 Mar 2017 by Norma Hass from 1883 History of Alexander, Union, and Pulaski Counties, Illinois, page 231.

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