Monday, June 29, 2015

Judge Isaac Potts 1819-1906

From the obituary of Judge Isaac Potts, an early pioneer in Lawrence County:

Judge Isaac N. Potts was born in Jeromesville, Wayne County, Ohio April 13, 1819 and died April 3, 1906. He was buried in Lawrenceville  Cemetery.  He was the last of 12 children, eight sons and four daughters. He came to Lawrenceville Illinois May 1, 1839. He was twice married; his first wife was Cynthia Neal, his second Emeline Lewis. To the first union four children were born; to the second 10 children. Both wives and seven children preceded him; 24 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren survived him.

In 1840 he carded wool for Lemuel Powers, the factory standing where Mr. George Lackey's residence now stands in Lawrenceville. May 8, 1846 was the date of his first marriage. He was appointed postmaster at Russellville Illinois under the administration of James K. Polk, but never knew who gave him the appointment. He served two years and resigned; came back to Lawrenceville and carded wool for David Maxwell. Was soon elected Constable and on the death of Duncan Emmons was appointed by the County Commissioners collector of taxes.

In 1851 he was elected Sheriff and served two years, that being the limit of the term of that time. In 1853 he was elected County Treas. and Assessor, both offices going together. He served two years and was elected Justice of the Peace.

In 1863 he was appointed Commissioner of United States Court for the Southern District of Illinois, the appointment coming to him without his applying for it. He was five times elected County judge, serving 21 years, the extra year being on account of the constitutional amendment. The last time he was elected judge he carried the county against an independent candidate, as well as his regular opponent, having a majority of 30 votes. On account of ill health he then retired from public life, Judge Philip Barnes succeeding him. 

While Mr. Potts was Sheriff he took two horse thieves to Joliet in a covered wagon, there being no railroads at that time. Ezra Ridgley drove the wagon; James Grass and John Neff were Mr. Potts’ deputies.


In those days taxes were paid in silver and gold. The tax money delivered to the state treasurer had to be transferred to St. Louis by stagecoach from thence to the state capital by water by way of the Illinois River. He had this money strapped to his body and while nearing the shore the boat caught fire and he almost lost his life and money.