C. L. Walker’s Address
May it please your Honors : My name is not mentioned in the program, nor is the subject which I wish to submit to your honors referred to therein. Yet as the matter is germane to the proceedings of the day, I have been requested by the committee in charge of the exercises to address your honors thereon, and I therefore beg a moment’s indulgence before your honors shall pass upon the motion to adjourn. Thereupon His Honor Judge J. Glenn, presiding, granted the request. What I shall say will be on behalf of the citizens’ court house committee of Rock Island and I have been requested first to give the history of its organization and of the work of this committee. Prior to October, 1894, the court house project seemed to be regarded favorably by the people, but about this time an under-current of opposition developed and a series of articles appeared in some of the papers outside of this city, urging the voters to vote against the building of a new court house, and the issuing of the $125,000 of bonds, both on account of the increased taxation and because the time was inopportune. Owing to these conditions it seemed necessary that some systematic and united efforts be put forth to overcome these objections and to stimulate an active sentiment in favor of the project. To this end some of those in favor of building the new court house determined to organize a committee to formulate means and measures to secure it. Accordingly early in October a meeting was called at the office of State’s Attorney Searle to consider the matter. Some twenty citizens attended and T. J. Robinson was elected chairman, and C. J. Searle secretary. After a full discussion of the situation a committee was appointed to report at a subsequent meeting. This meeting was held within a . few days thereafter, and a sub-committee of fourteen was selected which should have full charge, and take such action as should seem advisable to secure favorable action by the voters. This sub-committee consisted of T. S. Silvis, E. E. Parmenter, William McEniry, S. S. Hull, C. F. Lynde, Phil Mitchell, William Jackson, C. J. Searle, H. P. Simpson, W. P. Quayle, J. F. Robinson, John Ohlweiler, S. J. Collins and myself. This committee organized by electing H. P. Simpson secretary and myself chairman, and as thus organized began work. Of this committee C. F. Lynde, J. F. Robinson and John Ohlweiler were appointed a committee to raise the necessary funds, and secured subscriptions from seventy-two citizens, of sums ranging from fifty cents to fifty dollars, aggregating six hundred and seventy-two dollars. The committee decided to make a complete canvass of each ward in this city by personal interview of the voters and see that a full vote was polled; and at the same time send from one to three men into each town-ship in the county, to enlist the efforts of as many influential men of the township as possible, and employ one or more suitable men in the township to continue the work until the polls closed. The committee also prepared and printed literature consisting of original matter, extracts from the “opposition articles” with appropriate suggestions and distributed them throughout the county attempting to place pamphlets in the hands of every doubtful voter; enlisted the active support of friendly papers, and thus aroused the friends of the project, turned the tide of disaffection and carried the propositions by 1,739 majority. The committee therefore believes that its work was timely and thorough and made victory possible. Of the money collected, $553.67 was devoted to the above purposes, leaving a balance of $118.33 in the treasury. The board of supervisors delegated the honor of laying the corner stone to the Old Settlers’ Association, but refused to appropriate money sufficient to defray the necessary expenses of the exercises, and that society being without funds our committee appropriated $47.94 to cover this deficit. After paying these bills there still remained $70.39 in the treasury, and after thoughtful consideration the committee concluded that it would be appropriate and wise to apply the balance towards the purchase of some suitable memorial to be placed in the building, and finally decided to purchase and have hung in this court room portraits of all the chief justices of the United States Supreme Court than whom the names of no abler judges adorn the pages of judicial .action. This has been done and I now have the honor and pleasure of presenting to this court, on behalf of the seventy-two subscribers to the fund, the portraits which you now see upon the walls of this room, and the committee trust they will be accepted by your honors as suitable appointments to this beautiful temple of justice and right.
Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908