Biography - Ezekiel J. Ingersoll
CAPTAIN EZEKIEL J. INGERSOLL. The fabric of human life woven by the
Fates for the children of men is far too often, nay, almost always, of rough
and gloomy texture, and presents to the casual observation only its darker
tints, its rasping and resisting qualities for service, and the shadows
which inevitably belong to it. There are, there must be, bright patches in
every expression of it, but for the greater part the sombre hues
predominate, or seem to, and give class and character to the whole web.
It is a genuine pleasure to chronicle a striking exception to the rule.
This is to be found in the lives of Ezekiel J. and Harriet Helen (Lawrence)
Ingersoll, esteemed residents of Carbondale for over fifty-three years.
Their earthly career, from the time of their union in marriage on September
21, 1858, to the present time (1911) has seemed to flow steadily on in one
calm, full current of active goodness, and to be altogether bright with the
light shining from their benignant spirits and reflected from the happiness
they have bestowed on others.
Mr. Ingersoll was born at Greensburg,
Indiana, on November 18, 1836, and when he was but two years old was taken
by his parents to Lebanon, Ohio. There he grew to manhood and obtained his
education. In 1853 he moved to Paris, Illinois, and on June 6, 1859, became
a resident of Carbondale, which has ever since been his home. Soon after his
arrival in the city he began business here as a jeweler, in a room of the
building now occupied by the First National Bank. But this he was not
destined to continue long without a serious interruption involving continued
danger to him and apprehension among the numerous friends he had in the city
even then, after living only a short time among its people.
war came on and put the patriotism of men all over the country to the
severest test it had ever known. Early in the contest Mr. Ingersoll
responded to the call for volunteers to defend the Union against forced
dismemberment, enlisting on July 20, 1862, in Company H, Seventy-third
Illinois Infantry, in which he served to the close of the conflict. He had
received a fair military education by a three years' service in a well
drilled militia company, and in the Federal army, where trained officers
were badly needed, his promotion was rapid. He passed all the ranks from
sergeant-major to captain, reaching the last in February, 1863, after the
battle of Stone River. In the battle of Chickamauga he received a wound, and
in that of Franklin another. His wounds did not disable him, however, and he
was with his regiment in other hard fought battles and a great many
skirmishes. Near the end of the war he acted as major, and at times was in
command of the regiment, which he handled with intrepid courage and highly
commendable skill and sagacity.
Mr. Ingersoll's interest in the
welfare of Carbondale and Jackson counties, and his services in promoting
the progress and improvement of both, won for him the regard of the whole
people long ago. The residents of the city showed their appreciation of his
merit and their faith in his ability and integrity by electing him mayor
four times; and. the people of the legislative district theirs by making him
their representative in the Thirty-eighth General Assembly. In this body he
was assigned to several important committees and rendered his district and
the whole state signal and appreciated service. He assisted in drafting the
law which transferred the Lincoln monument to the state of Illinois. This
law provides that the custodian of the monument shall be an Illinois soldier
as long as one remains in the state. And when the last veteran shall have
been laid to rest the position must be given to the son of a soldier of
Illinois, and so on down the line in perpetual succession. During the
session Mr. Ingersoll also secured an appropriation of forty thousand
dollars for the erection of the building, on the campus of the University,
devoted to science, and in many other ways made his presence in the General
Assembly felt greatly to the advantage of the people.
In fact, during
his service in that body he attracted the attention of all portions of the
state and won the approval of its leading men on all sides. Governor Oglesby
appointed him a trustee of the Southern Illinois Normal School, and he was
continued in this position by Governors Fifer, Tanner and Yates, serving in
it sixteen years in all. The present condition of this great institution
shows that it has been well managed, and its history during the period of
his trusteeship reflects great credit on everybody connected with the
control and government of it.
In political relations Mr. Ingersoll is
an uncompromising Republican, and has been from the organization of the
party. He called the first Republican meeting ever held in Jackson county.
He assisted in organizing the Lincoln and Hamlin Club of Carbondale in 1860,
and served as its president. He has supported the candidates of the party at
every election since then, and expects to stand by the convictions that have
guided him thus far to the end of his life with unswerving loyalty.
In fraternal life he has been an active and enthusiastic member of the
Masonic order and the Grand Army of the Republic. In the former he belongs
to Shekinah Lodge, No. 241, and was its worshipful master four years. In the
latter he holds membership in John W. Lawrence Post, No. 297, of which he
has been post commander five years and still holds the position (1912). He
has also been Adjutant of the Southern Illinois Soldiers and Sailors'
As noted above, Mr. Ingersoll was married on September
21, 1858, in Paris, Illinois, to Miss Harriet Helen Lawrence, a native and
at the time of her marriage a resident of that city. On September 21, 1908,
they celebrated their golden wedding, without pomp or splendor of display,
but modestly and quietly, in an atmosphere redolent with the fragrance of a
half century of true domestic happiness and fidelity, and on that occasion
received the voluntary and cordial testimony of the whole city that they
were held in the highest esteem by its people of all classes and conditions.
There was abundant reason for this outpouring of popular approval.
During the whole time of their previous residence in Carbondale Mr. and Mrs.
Ingersoll had been potential aids in every good work done in the community.
In the church, in the Sunday-school, in all organizations for the
amelioration of human sorrow and the uplifting of mankind laboring in the
city they had been untiring toilers, and hundreds of unfortunates had been
recipients of their bounty. They had reared five orphans of other parents
from childhood to manhood and womanhood, and bestowed on them a full measure
of parental care and affection, and they had done all their good deeds
without ostentation, and from a genuine love of their fellow creatures. The
people of Carbondale revere them for the uprightness of their lives, the
usefulness of their citizenship, the sincerity and largeness of their
charity toward all mankind, and their intrinsic worth in every way, and were
glad of an opportunity to manifest their feelings on the subject.
Extracted from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 650-652.