Jackson County


A quarter of a century on the bench of the higher courts of Illinois and many years as an educator in the field of the law, have earned for Hon. Oliver A. Harker, of Carbondale, a most substantial eminence in all that concerns the highest prestige of his profession. In 1897 he commenced his influential identification with the College of Law of the University of Illinois as a lecturer, and since 1903 has served as dean of its faculty.

Judge Harker is a native of Newport, Wayne county, Indiana, born on the 14th of December, 1846, to Miflin and Anna (Woods) Harker. He obtained his earlier education in the schools of Florid and Wheaton, Illinois, and was a student at Wheaton College from 1860 to 1862. In the following year, then only a youth of sixteen, he enlisted in the Union army as a member of Company D, Sixty-seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry and with that command concluded his military service at the cessation of hostilities.

Upon his return to Illinois he located at Lebanon as a student at McKendree College, from which he graduated with high honors in 1866. To his regular Bachelor's degree was added that of A. M. in 1869. In the meantime (1866-7) he had pursued a law course at the University of Indiana, and in 1867-8 taught various private schools at Vienna, Illinois. Admitted to the bar in 1869, Judge Harker commenced the practice of his profession in that place, where he continued for some eight years, or until his first appointment to the bench.

In August, 1878, Governor Cullom appointed Judge Harker to the bench of the first circuit, and he continued thus to serve, by elections in 1879, 1885, 1891 and 1897, until 1903. During that period he acted as judge of the Appellate court for the second district from 1891 to 1897, and of the third district from the latter year until 1903. As stated, he was appointed dean of the law school of the University of Illinois in 1903, and still honors the position. In 1895-6 Judge Harker was president of the Illinois State Bar Association; he is also a leading member of the American Bar Association, and for many years was identified with the Illinois Council of the national organization. His high standing was further emphasized when the Supreme court of Illinois appointed him as a delegate to the International Congress of Lawyers and Jurists which assembled at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis.

By virtue of his service in the Civil war Judge Harker is identified with the Grand Army of the Republic; he is also a member of the I. 0. 0. F. and of the fraternities. Phi Delta Phi and Theta Kappa Nu.

Married on the 3rd of March, 1870, at Vienna, Illinois, to Miss Sidney Bain, the Judge is the father of three children George M., a practicing attorney; Oliver A., Jr., a farmer, and Winnifred, wife of Frank M. Hewitt, a druggist of Carbondale. Judge Harker has been a resident of that city since 1880.

Extracted 11 Nov 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, by George W. Smith, volume 3, page 1100.

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