Henry Clay Warmoth
by Ralph Harrelson

        Henry Clay Warmoth, born in McLeansboro, Hamilton County, Illinois, later became Governor of the State of Louisiana.  His Grandfather, Henry Warmoth, settled seven miles north of Albion, Illinois, in the early 1800’s.

          The states of Tennessee and Kentucky were temporary abodes for thousands of pioneers who later settled in Illinois.  Hamilton County received her share of them.  Most of them had earlier lived in some American Colony.  In Tennessee, the Warmoths were neighbors of William Forrest, a blacksmith who lived on Duck River.  He was the father of the great Confederate Cavalry leader, Nathan Bedford Forrest.

          Isaac Warmoth, father of ex-Governor Warmoth, followed the saddle and harness trade in McLeansboro.  In 1840 he married Miss Eleanor Lane, daughter of State Senator Levin Lane.  The Lanes were a prominent pioneer family in Hamilton County.  James Lane, later Judge Lane, is said to have invented the Diamond Plow, considered a boon to farming in early days.  The writer followed one of these plows many miles in former years.

          In McLeansboro, on May 9, 1842, ex-Governor H. C. Warmoth was born.  In the same year his father, I. S. Warmoth is listed along with other pioneer citizens on a document of October 22, as voting for the incorporation of McLeansboro.  James Hall and J. W. O’Neal were judges in the election, and J. C. Lockwood was clerk.

          In the book, “War, Politics and Reconstruction”, Mr. Warmoth says he was born in a log-cabin on the Court House Square.  A local historian writing some fifty years ago, stated that in 1876, Mr. Warmoth requested Uncle “Mat” Lasater, secure for him a photograph of the house in which he was born.  Mr. Lasater was an early pioneer.  He sent a picture of what was called the Buck Pascal hut.  Some of the older citizens say that the hut stood on lot 20 original town, while others say the hut was originally built on lot 44, Heards, the local historian wrote.

          Since Mr. Warmoth says he was born in a log-cabin on the Court House Square, built for his young father and mother by the people of McLeansboro, the probable solution is that the material of the Pascal cabin was first used in the Warmoth cabin.  It was not unusual for cabins to be relocated, and a cabin could be raised in one day for a family in a house-raising.  This cabin, at the time of Mr. Warmoth’s birth, would have stood just west of where the Dairy Queen stands on the northeast corner of the Public Square.

          The family moved to Fairfield, Illinois, where the mother died when our subject was about eleven.  He spent the winter with family friends, a Mr. & Mrs. Owen, sleeping in the attic of a one story log house where snow filtered through.  He supplied rabbit meat for the family that winter and wood for the fires.  A small yoke of oxen and a sled were used to haul wood.  He looked upon this experience as on of the most enjoyable of his life, for what lad doesn’t like fresh air, hunting, eating and kindness.

          In Missouri, at Hartville, the Honorable H. C. Warmoth was admitted to practice law at the age of eighteen.  It was a pleasure a few weeks ago to pass through the quaint town with its beautiful Gasconade River a short distance away.

          He served with the Union Army in the Civil War, was wounded at Vicksburg, Mississippi, dishonorably discharged in the quarrel between generals Grant and McLernand, was restored to service by President Lincoln with full rank and position he would have held if not dismissed.

          When the war ended he remained in Louisiana, and was elected Governor in 1868.  He was in the Louisiana Legislature in 1876 when he wrote to McLeansboro for a picture of his birthplace.  In 1890 was Collector of Customs, appointed by President Harrison.

          Mr. Warmoth, who considered himself a southerner, thought in common southern language, he might have been termed a “scallowag”, but did not accept the charge of his enemies that he was a Louisiana Carpet-bagger.

 From: Goshen Trails; Oct. 1965; Vol. 1-#5
Reprinted by permission

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