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Kane County, Illinois, State's Attorney's Office
Joseph H. McMahon
, State's Attorney
Kane County State's Attorney's Office Branch Locations
Child Support Division
Crimes Against Children
Public Documents and Records
Seniors and People with Disabilities
Bad Check Restitution Program
Meetings & Agendas
History of Kane County State's Attorneys
1837 – 1839 Alonzo Huntington
1839 – 1840 Norman H. Purple
1840 – 1841 Onslow Peters
1841 – 1842 Seth B. Farwell
1842 – 1844 Orsamus D. Day
1844 – 1847 Benjamin F. Fridley
1847 – 1851 Burton C. Cook
1851 – 1852 Phineas W. Pratt
1852 – 1853 Amos B. Coon
1853 – 1856 M.F. Boyce
1856 – 1857 Amos B. Coon
1857 – 1861 Col. Edward S. Joslyn
1861 Eugene Canfield
1861 Amos B. Coon
1861 – 1865 Charles J. Metzner
1865 – 1869 Leander R. Wagner
1869 – 1872 Charles J. Metzner
1872 – 1876 Albert J. Hopkins
1876 – 1880 Henry B. Willis
1880 – 1884 Terrence E. Ryan
1884 – 1888 John A. Russell
1888 – 1892 Frank G. Hanchett
1892 – 1900 Frank W. Joslyn
1900 Fred W. Schultz
1900 – 1904 William J. Tyers
1904 – 1908 Frank R. Reid
1908 – 1916 William J. Tyers
1916 – 1928 Charles L. Abbott
1928 – 1936 George D. Carbary
1936 – 1940 Charles A. O'Connor
1940 – 1950 Charles G. Seidel
1950 – 1951 Richard C. Hamper
1951 – 1964 John C. Friedland
1964 Charles L. Hughes
1964 – 1972 William R. Ketcham
1972 – 1976 Gerry L. Dondanville
1976 – 1980 Eugene Armentrout
1980 – 1988 Robert J. Morrow
1988 Robert F. Casey
1988 – 1992 Gary V. Johnson
1992 – 2000 David R. Akemann
2000 – 2004 Mary E. (Meg) Gorecki
2004 M. Katherine Moran (special state's attorney)
2004 – 2010 John A. Barsanti
2010 – Joseph H. McMahon
Source: Illinois State Archives
Alonzo Huntington, 1837-1839
Mr. Huntington was born Sept. 1, 1805, in Shaftsbury, Vt. He studied law in Buffalo, N.Y., and practiced in Wayne County, N.Y., for about two years. He was married to Patience Loraine Dyer in 1833, moved to Chicago in autumn 1835 and is said to have been an early settler of the city. In 1836, the year Kane County was formed, Mr. Huntington was elected state's attorney for Illinois' Seventh District, which included Kane County. He was present when the first day of court was held at the log home of James Herrington in Geneva on June 19, 1837. At that time, not a single lawyer lived within Kane County; Mr. Huntington lived in Chicago, and never lived in Kane County. Mr. Huntington later served as the state's attorney for Cook, Lake and McHenry counties. He convicted the first murderer to be hanged in Cook County. As an attorney, Mr. Huntington was regarded for his trial preparation, but not for his oratory skills. He died Nov. 17, 1881, in Chicago.
Norman H. Purple, 1839-1840
Norman Higgins Purple was born March 29, 1808, in Exeter, N.Y. He studied law in Pennsylvania, and was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1830. In 1831 he married Ann Eliza Kilburn in Tioga County, Pa. In 1837 he moved to Peoria, Ill., to practice law. At the time Mr. Purple served as state's attorney, the circuit consisted of Peoria, Kendall, Kane, DeKalb, Ogle, Bureau, Stark, Marshall, Putnam, and LaSalle counties. There is no record of Mr. Purple ever living in Kane County. In 1844, Mr. Purple was a Democratic presidential elector. In 1845 Gov. Thomas Ford appointed Purple as an Illinois Supreme Court justice. During his tenure on the state's high court, Purple was a justice in 54 cases in which Abraham Lincoln was an attorney. After the adoption of the state constitution of 1848, Mr. Purple resigned from the bench and returned to Peoria to practice law. Mr. Purple published several works on the law including Real Estate Statutes of Illinois in 1849. In 1856, he produced
A Compilation of the Statutes of the State of Illinois
, which became known as the "Purple Statutes." He was known for being extremely methodical, and although not an eloquent orator, he was able to convey a clear, concise and logical case. He died Aug. 9, 1863, in Chicago.
Onslow Peters, 1840-41
Mr. Peters was born March 1, 1803, in Westborough, Mass. He graduated in 1825 from Brown University, and apparently is the only Ivy-educated lawyer to serve as state's attorney for Kane County. He married Hannah Parkman Tyler on Sept. 13, 1829, in Westborough, and practiced law in that city for a time. He moved to Peoria, Ill., in 1836. He became a judge in 1853, and after Franklin Pierce became President in 1853, Mr. Peters moved to Washington, D.C. He died unexpectedly on Feb. 28, 1856.
Seth B. Farwell, 1841-42
Mr. Farwell came to Illinois from New York via Ohio, and lived and practiced law in Freeport for a time. He was regarded as a fine practitioner of the law, and was named U.S. postmaster for Ottawa, Ill., in 1836. After serving as the state's attorney, he was sent to California by the government as a judge to try the land titles that came up relative to the Mexican land grant. He died of typhoid on Dec. 12, 1862, in Carson City, Calif. He was 55 years old.
Orsamus D. Day, 1842-44
Mr. Day was born Nov. 17, 1817, in Otsego County, N.Y. He settled in Aurora in or around 1839. He began to practice law in 1840. He was married Oct. 13, 1844, in Kane County, to Olive Memger, whose family was among the early settlers of Aurora. He was remarried in 1860 to Henrietta. No reason was found for the end of his first marriage. Mr. Day was elected mayor of Aurora in 1860. He died Jan. 9, 1861, in Aurora, and is buried in Burlington, N.Y.
Benjamin F. Fridley, 1844-47
Mr. Fridley was born May 10, 1810, in Elmira, N.Y., and orphaned at two years old. He was raised by a sister in Baltimore, although he was left largely to fend for himself and had limited educational opportunities. He became determined to study law, which he did in New York City. He came to Illinois in 1834, and moved to Aurora in 1835. He is said to be the first lawyer to establish a practice in Kane County. There was little law work for him so he took up work as a surveyor. He was elected Kane County's first sheriff in 1836, and used that time to learn more about the practice of law. Mr. Fridley married Eliza S. Kelley of Geneva in 1841 and the couple had six children. He became the state's attorney in 1844. The circuit at the time consisted of 12 counties. As an attorney, Mr. Fridley was held in high regard for his wit and sarcasm, and was respected despite his lack of education. He died at home in Aurora on May 29, 1898.
Burton C. Cook, 1847-1851
Mr. Cook was born May 11, 1819, in Pittsford, N.Y. He attended the Collegiate Institute in Rochester, N.Y., studied law, and in 1835 moved to Ottawa, Ill., where he began to practice law in 1840. In 1846 Mr. Cook was elected by the legislature as state's attorney for the Ninth Judicial District for two years, and then re-elected in 1848 for four years. He lived in Peoria at the time. During Mr. Cook's term as state's attorney, the northwestern part of Illinois was, in his words,
"infested by a most dangerous and wicked association of outlaws, thieves and counterfeiters, such as are often found upon the frontiers of civilization. They were the enemies of society, unscrupulous and brutal."
Horse stealing in Kane County was the adept practice of two men, named Ames and Holmes, during this time. The men were convicted of stealing a span of horses from William Lance of Blackberry and sentenced to eight years in the state penitentiary at Alton. Mr. Cook served in the Illinois Senate from 1852-1860. He was a delegate to the Republican National Conventions of 1860 and 1864, and nominated Abraham Lincoln for the presidency at both. Mr. Cook was a good friend to President Lincoln, and he served as a member of the peace convention of 1861 in Washington, D.C., to prevent the impending Civil War. Mr. Cook served in Congress from March 4, 1865, until Aug. 26, 1871, when he resigned and resumed the practice of law in Evanston. He served as the chief counsel for the Chicago and North Western Railway, and is considered to be the father of the public school system in Illinois. He died Aug. 18, 1894, in Evanston.
Amos B. Coon, 1852-53, 1856-57, 1861
Mr. Coon was born Feb. 12, 1815, in Towanda, Pa., the youngest of 21 children. He was one of northern Illinois' first settlers, having moved to McHenry County in 1835. He opened a law office in Marengo in 1845 and immediately took a role in public affairs. He is said to have been exceedingly well read in the law with a remarkable memory. He married Harriet Damon of Ohio in 1846. They had three children. Mr. Coon died Sept. 9, 1888. He was considered a leading lawyer in Illinois at the time of his death.
Col. Edward S. Joslyn, 1857-1861
Col. Joslyn was born in New York State in 1827 and moved with his father to McHenry County in 1835. He moved to Elgin in 1858 and by 1860 had become an established and rising lawyer and public speaker. Col. Joslyn served first in the Seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and later helped to organize the 36
Regiment of Illinois infantry during the Civil War. He was wounded in the Battle of Pea Ridge, in northwest Arkansas, in March 1862, contracted dysentery as a result, and retired from military service. Col. Joslyn was highly regarded for his skills and integrity in the practice of law. After his term as state's attorney, Col. Joslyn twice served as mayor of Elgin and was active in helping to guide the development of Elgin. He was known throughout Illinois for his oratory skills. When running for office, he would stand on a dry goods box in Elgin's Fountain Square and proclaim his policies to the people. Col. Joslyn died Oct. 5, 1885.
Eugene T. Canfield, 1861
Mr. Canfield was born May 21, 1837, in Bennington, Vt., and settled in Aurora, Ill., in 1860. He is one of three people to hold the position of Kane County State's Attorney in 1861. He was city attorney for Aurora from 1861 to 1872. He married Emily Hackney on Nov. 4, 1868. He served in the Illinois State Senate for many years and unsuccessfully ran for Illinois Attorney General. In the 1880s, he moved to Whatcom County in far northwest Washington State, where he was a pioneer in the development of the land and railroads in the Pacific Northwest. Mr. Canfield accumulated considerable property in the vicinity of Puget Sound and in Oregon. He was president of the Bellingham Bay Railroad and Navigation Co. His property, purchased from the government at a low price, increased in value many times over. At the time of his death, in April 1891, he was said to be worth well more than $1 million.
Charles J. Metzner, 1861-1865 & 1869-1872
Mr. Metzner is described as a self-made man with a wonderful memory, having set out to become a blacksmith but ending up a lawyer. Born in 1834 in Hohensteiferseil, Friesland, Lower Saxony, Germany, Mr. Metzner moved with his family to the United States at age 13 and settled on a farm in Erie, Pa. Although he had been educated starting at age 9 at the University of Leispic in Leipzig, Germany, he started an apprenticeship to a Chicago blacksmith at age 15. A short time later he moved to Aurora to start his own blacksmith shop. He suffered an eye injury from a spark and was forced to give up blacksmithing. He took up the study of law in 1854 or 1856. In nine months, he was admitted to the bar and became a partner with Judge B.F. Parks. He married Susan Pinney in 1861. He became state's attorney in 1861 and took the job again in 1869 upon the death of Mr. Wagner. He served in the Civil War in the 82
Regiment of the Illinois Infantry in 1864. A Republican, Mr. Metzner delivered more than 70 stump speeches around Kane County in favor of Ulysses S. Grant's bid for the presidency. During this time Mr. Metzner contracted an illness that is said to have led to his death on Aug. 8, 1874, in Aurora. He was 40 years old.
Leander R. Wagner, 1865-1869
Mr. Wagner appears to be the only state's attorney for Kane County to die while in office. He was born in 1835 in New York State and came to Illinois with his parents in 1837. He studied law in New York with his uncle, Peter J. Wagner, and in Geneva, with William B. Plato and A.B. Fuller. He was admitted to the bar in 1857. Mr. Wagner was said to be a "brilliant and gifted" lawyer. He died of tuberculosis on March 29, 1869.
Albert J. Hopkins, 1872-1876
Mr. Hopkins, the first state's attorney to be elected by the people of Kane County, was a revered public servant almost from the time he was admitted to the bar. Mr. Hopkins was born on his father's farm near Cortland, Ill., on Aug. 15, 1846. His parents were among the first settlers in northern Illinois, having made their home in DeKalb County in the early 19
Century. Mr. Hopkins graduated from Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Mich., in 1870, and, having determined many years earlier to practice law, prepared for the bar under the direction of Mr. Metzner. Mr. Hopkins was admitted to the bar in 1871 and began to practice in Aurora. Mr. Hopkins married Emma Stolp on Sept. 10, 1873, and the couple had four children. Upon leaving the office, Mr. Hopkins returned to his private practice, which became extensive and lucrative. The position of state's attorney would prove to be a great stepping stone in Mr. Hopkins' political and legal careers. He was a member of the Republican State Central Committee from 1878 to 1880 and was a presidential elector in 1884. In 1885, at age 39, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives to fill out the term of Reuben Ellwood, who had died. He then served eight full terms, from 1885 through 1903. In 1896, Mr. Hopkins was nominated for governor by Mr. Hanchett. Mr. Hopkins was a prominent leader in congress, and in 1899 he ran for the position of Speaker of the House, but withdrew from consideration to promote party harmony. In 1903, Mr. Hopkins was elected to the U.S. Senate. He failed in his reelection bid in 1909, withdrew from politics, and returned to practice law in Aurora. (His 1909 loss to William J. Lorimer became tainted as many members of the Illinois State Senate had apparently been bribed by Mr. Lorimer's supporters to vote for Mr. Lorimer. At the time, state legislatures elected U.S. Senators. Mr. Lorimer was removed from the Senate in 1912 and replaced by Lawrence Yates Sherman. In 1912 Congress approved the 17
Amendment. It was ratified by the states in 1913, and from that point on the people of the United States voted directly for senator.) In Congress, Mr. Hopkins fought for trade and labor interests, and he helped to secure the building of the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Lake Bluff, Ill. Mr. Hopkins died Aug. 23, 1922, in his Aurora home.
Henry B. Willis, 1876-1880
Mr. Willis was born May 8, 1849, in Bennington, Vt. He moved to Sycamore, Ill., in 1852. During the Civil War he enlisted in Illinois' 132
Infantry Regiment in 1864 and served five months. He moved to Elgin in 1872, the same year he was admitted to the Illinois bar. Mr. Willis studied law in Albany, N.Y. He married Lucy Ellen Waite on Oct. 24, 1874. Mr. Willis held a variety of elected positions, including Elgin city attorney and Elgin Township supervisor. He was elected mayor of Elgin in 1885 and circuit judge in 1891. He was assigned to the Illinois Appellate Court Second District in 1907. Mr. Willis married again in 1910, this time to Marie Glidden Hunter, the town attorney for Elburn. (No information was found to indicate why his first marriage ended.) At the time she was the only female lawyer in Kane County. Mr. Willis died Nov. 6, 1912, after he was struck by a train in downtown Elgin two days prior. He had been reviewing election results in the local newspaper while walking home from the Elks Club and failed to see the approaching train.
Terrence E. Ryan, 1880-1884
Mr. Ryan was born on a farm near Limerick, Ireland, on June 22, 1846, and was brought by his family to the United States two years later. They settled immediately on a farm just northeast of Elgin. They later moved to Elgin and then to Virgil Township before settling in St. Charles in 1856. In 1864, at age 17, Mr. Ryan enlisted in the Army and served during the Civil War as a member of Company E of the 141
Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He served as a corporal until the war ended. In 1868, Mr. Ryan took a position at the St. Charles law office of William D. Barry, passed the requisite exam and was admitted to the bar in 1871. On May 14, 1874, Mr. Ryan married Emily Millington of St. Charles. The couple had six children. Mr. Ryan opened his own law office in 1876. Although he didn't care much for politics, Mr. Ryan also served as a St. Charles alderman for five years, and in 1908 led an effort to vote all saloons out of town. Mr. Ryan had a reputation as a fine and honorable leader, promoted many public interests, had many property investments in St. Charles, and is credited with bringing Moline Malleable Iron Works to St. Charles. He died July 18, 1922, in St. Charles.
John A. Russell, 1884-1888
Mr. Russell was born Oct. 4, 1854, in St. Charles, to Jane (Beith) and John Russell, immigrants from Scotland. His mother died in 1856, and his father, a stonemason, died in in 1857. Mr. Russell lived in Minnesota and Iowa as a child for several years, then returned to Kane County to attend Elgin Academy. Upon his graduation he studied law in the prestigious St. Charles firm of R.N. Botsford & A.H. Barry. He became a partner in the firm upon admission to the bar in 1879. He was well known as a lawyer, serving for three years as Elgin city attorney. As a lawyer, he was known for his cross examination skills. He married Clara Mair of Batavia in 1888. In 1900, he was appointed solicitor general for Puerto Rico by President McKinley. He was assistant general solicitor for the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. He was very active in the Republican Party locally and statewide, had interests in many local businesses, and served as president of the Union National Bank for many years. He died June 8, 1938, in Elgin, after many years of failing health.
Francis G. (Frank) Hanchett, 1888-1892
Mr. Hanchett was born Oct. 2, 1856, in Kaneville, and grew up on a farm, often attending school only when his father didn't need his help on the farm. He was a graduate of West Aurora High School, and in 1882 graduated with high honors from the University of Chicago. He was regarded for his oration skills while in college. He studied law in Iowa (some accounts say at Iowa State University, others say at Iowa City) graduating in 1883. That year he married Lizzie L. Scott of Kaneville. He was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1884 and then began to practice in Aurora, where he also lived. After his term as state's attorney, he was appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney, under Sol Bethea, and lived most of the rest of his life in Chicago. In 1913 he married again, to Kate Giles in Chicago. (No reason was found as to why his first marriage ended.) He died Nov. 2, 1927, in Chicago.
Frank W. Joslyn, 1892-1900
Mr. Joslyn was born April 27, 1860, in Elgin, and was educated in Elgin public schools. He studied law at the Elgin practice of his father, Col. Edward Joslyn. He was admitted to the bar in 1883, and served as city attorney of Elgin for two terms beginning in 1885. He married Carrie Mead in 1886. He was appointed assistant state's attorney in 1887. He was the first person to be elected twice as state's attorney. At the time he served as state's attorney he had a law partnership in Elgin with Fred W. Schultz, his successor. As state's attorney he successfully prosecuted a woman known as Vera P. Ava, Vera Ave Dis De Bar, Swami Laura Horos and many other names. (She purported to be a medium and follower of the occult, but was convicted of fraud several times in the U.S., including in Kane County. The Kane County case made national headlines.) Mr. Joslyn later became a supervisor and also city attorney for Elgin, and was an assistant attorney general for Illinois under Attorney General William H. Stead. Mr. Joslyn was noted for his skills as a public speaker and was considered to be the leading criminal lawyer in Kane County. Mr. Joslyn wrote at least one book about Kane County history. He appears to have served as chairman of the Kane County Board of Supervisors. He died Dec. 20, 1938, in Elgin.
Fred W. Schultz, 1900
Mr. Schultz, Mr. Joslyn's law partner in Elgin, apparently served out Mr. Joslyn's term. No reason was found as to why Mr. Joslyn did not complete his term.
William J. Tyers, 1900-1904 & 1908-1916
Mr. Tyers was born Feb. 13, 1869, in Aurora. He was educated in Aurora public schools, studied law with the Aurora firm of Alschuler & Murphy and was admitted to the bar in 1894. He married Anna Hadden of Bristol, Ill., in 1896. Mr. Tyers was elected city attorney for Aurora in 1897, re-elected in 1899, then elected state's attorney for Kane County in 1900, and served one term. He ran again in 1908 and won against four other candidates to return to the office and serve two additional terms. As state's attorney, Mr. Tyers prosecuted 14-year-old Herman Coppes for murdering East Plato resident Maude Sleep and two of her young children; Coppes was alleged to have been infatuated with Sleep's 11-year-old daughter, Ida. Coppes was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Mr. Tyers, according to one newspaper account, won a Republican primary for state's attorney by nine votes. The losing candidate, Mr. John E. Powers, asked for the ballots to be recounted. Mr. Tyers responded that the recount request should be denied because an election judge had died of diphtheria two days after the election, and that recounting the ballots would cause a diphtheria epidemic because the judge had handled all of the ballots. Mr. Tyers was an Illinois State Representative in 1917-18. He died in 1948 in Aurora.
Frank R. Reid, 1904-1908
Mr. Reid was born April 18, 1879, in Aurora. He was one of 11 children and his father owned a grocery store. He was christened without a middle name and chose the letter "R" for an initial. Mr. Reid attended Aurora public schools and the University of Chicago. He earned his law degree from the Chicago College of Law, was admitted to the bar in 1901 and his first job was as an attorney for Kane County. In 1905 he married Emily Kelley. Mr. Reid served in many distinguished and notable public capacities, and was involved in politics all of his adult life. He was an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois from 1908 to 1910, and then an Illinois state representative in 1911 and 1912. He was appointed a special attorney for the city of Aurora during World War I. In 1923, Mr. Reid was elected as a Republican to Congress, where he served six terms, until 1935, after he declined to seek a seventh term. Mr. Reid was known as a prohibitionist and was endorsed by the Anti-Saloon League in all of his Congressional races. While serving as a member of the House Aircraft Committee, Mr. Reid met Gen. William (Billy) Mitchell, who played a major role in the creation of the U.S. Air Force. In 1925 Mr. Reid gained considerable fame when he was asked by Gen. Mitchell to serve as his defense counsel when Gen. Mitchell was court martialed in Washington, D.C., for being highly critical of the Army's air force policy. (In the Gary Cooper movie
The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell
, Mr. Reid was portrayed by actor Ralph Bellamy.) After his retirement from Congress he engaged in the general practice of law in Chicago and Aurora. He died Jan. 25, 1945, in Aurora, of a heart ailment. At the time of his death he was the state Republican Party leader.
Charles L. Abbott, 1916-1928
Charles L. "Kid" Abbott was born April 7, 1865, in Elgin, and his family roots are said to be traceable to Charlemagne and the Battle of Hastings. He lived his entire life in Elgin. He began his education in Elgin public schools, and left school at age 14 to work for the Elgin Watch Co. He spent 18 months with the watch company, took up painting as a trade for nine years, then returned to the watch company for the next three years. He also worked as a plumber, bartender, teamster and stable hand. When he decided to study law, he became a firefighter for Elgin in 1893 to have more free time to devote to his studies. He prepared by borrowing books from friends, and in 1895, after he was appointed Elgin's assistant fire chief, he began to study law under Frank W. Joslyn. Mr. Abbott was admitted to the bar in 1896. He was elected Elgin city attorney in April 1897 and served one two-year term. In December 1900 Mr. Abbott was appointed assistant state's attorney for Kane County and served in the position for four years. During that time he handled all criminal cases in the northern half of Kane County, including the prosecution of Antonio Romano, who was convicted of murder and hanged in 1903. It was the first legal execution in Illinois in 50 years, according to a historian. In 1906 Mr. Abbott began a two-year term in Chicago as a federal referee in bankruptcy under Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. (Judge Landis would become the first Commissioner of Baseball in 1920.) In 1908 Mr. Abbott was appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. As state's attorney, Mr. Abbott secured a murder conviction against noted Chicago hitman and Al Capone favorite Walter Stevens for murdering Aurora police officer Lester Weidemeier in the early 1920s. (Stevens was later pardoned for the crime by Gov. Len Small because Stevens had bribed the jurors when Small, then the state treasurer, was acquitted on embezzlement charges.) In 1921, Mr. Abbott prosecuted 16 members of the Ku Klux Klan who had tarred and feathered a 16-year-old black male they had falsely accused of fathering a child with a white girl. In 1925 Mr. Abbott received national recognition as the prosecutor of Warren Lincoln, the Aurora lawyer and horticulturalist who killed his wife, Lina, and brother-in-law, Byron Shoup, burned their bodies in his greenhouse furnace and sealed their severed heads in a cement block that he then used as a porch support. Mr. Abbott lost his bid for a fourth term as state's attorney in 1928 on Mr. Carbary's pledge to more strictly enforce the National Prohibition Act. He married Mary Schmidt of Elgin in 1890. They had two children, Lyle and Ethel. He died Jan. 5, 1935, in Elgin.
George D. Carbary, 1928-1936
Mr. Carbary was born May 14, 1888, in Elgin. He had three loves, according to his grandson: hunting, fishing and the law. He did not attend college or law school, but studied the law under Judge Clinton Irwin. Mr. Carbary was licensed to practice law on April 3, 1912, and in November 1912 he unsuccessfully ran for state's attorney as a member of the Socialist Party. He served as city attorney for Elgin for several years. He ran again for state's attorney in 1928 on a pledge to "clean up the county." Much of Mr. Carbary's term as state's attorney was during the Prohibition era of 1920-1933, and he was often referred to as a "reform" prosecutor. Mr. Carbary raided 30 liquor establishments in Elgin and the northern part of Kane County his first week in office, securing the arrest of more than 130 proprietors and patrons. He sought precedent statewide and nationally relative to Prohibition, and worked passionately to enforce the 18
Amendment. He would seek to remove children from the custody of anyone caught making liquor. He also sought to have the proprietors of raided speakeasies pay the wages of the saloon raiders and the cost of transporting them to jail. He is said to have once confronted Al Capone at the old dog track in Elgin, shaken his finger at Capone and told him to get out of Kane County. After leaving office, Mr. Carbary worked as a special assistant attorney general in the prosecution of former Illinois State Auditor Orville Hodge, who was convicted and sentenced to prison in the middle 1950s for stealing more than $1 million from the state. In 1972, Mr. Carbary told the Elgin Courier-News of his time as state's attorney,
"I had to be satisfied that the man was guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt before prosecuting him. I hope other state's attorneys think that way."
He died May 9, 1973, in Elgin.
Charles A. O'Connor, 1936-1940
Mr. O'Connor was born Dec. 24, 1893, in Findlay, Ohio. He moved with his family to DeKalb, Ill., when he was a child. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1913, was later admitted to the bar and began to practice law in Aurora. He was a captain in the Quartermaster Corps during World War I. He married Edna Miller on Jan. 1, 1921. Mr. O'Connor was an attorney for the Home Building and Loan Association and Master in Chancery in Kane County Court from 1922 until he was elected state's attorney in 1936. He was active in state and local politics. Mr. O'Connor was elected a circuit judge in 1942 and appointed in 1948 to the Illinois Appellate Court Third District until he resigned in 1953. Mr. O'Connor was unable to appear in court for more than a year because of illness, and was hospitalized for several months immediately before he died Feb. 18, 1953, in Aurora.
Charles G. Seidel, 1940-1950
Mr. Seidel was born Sept. 28, 1893, a half-block from the old Elgin watch factory, and lived most of his life in Elgin. He was the oldest of three sons; his father died when he was nine. When Mr. Seidel told his mother that he wanted to become a lawyer – none of his family had ever been to college – she scoffed and said she had little use for "an educated fool." Mr. Seidel saved his money, and while his mother was out of town he ran away to the University of Illinois. After a term as a Navy officer in World War I, he received his law degree from the University of Michigan in June 1917. He began to practice law in Elgin in 1919. Mr. Seidel defeated Mr. O'Connor in a close election for state's attorney in 1940. By then he had a reputation as the best trial lawyer in Kane County. Mr. Seidel resigned Dec. 3, 1950, when he was elected a judge, and served as a judge for 23 years until his death. He was chief judge of the 16
Circuit for a time, and in 1963, he was elected chairman of the Illinois Circuit Court Chief Judges, or the "Super Chief Judge," as some called him. He was known to wear a slack-fitting dark blue suit and black clip-on bow tie with a "12-cent La Paloma cigar jammed in the corner of his mouth." He revealed in a 1972 article by the Associated Press, titled "Small town Solomon" and published about a year before his death, that he opposed the death penalty.
What right do I have, or does any group of people have, to say a life should be taken? … Did you ever stop to think that the death penalty is a damned cowardly act? It's worse. When 200 million people think that one man's presence on earth is such a danger to society they have to exterminate him, it is a confession of weakness and lack of faith in our governmental system,"
he said. He died Feb. 22, 1973, in Elgin.
Richard C. Hamper, 1950-51
Mr. Hamper was born Oct. 10, 1905, in Aurora, where he lived most of his life. He was appointed state's attorney by the Kane County Board in December 1950, when Mr. Seidel became a judge. Mr. Hamper served six months; he lost a special election in June 1951. During his short time in office, Mr. Hamper raided an Aurora gambling establishment that resulted in the indictments of 13 men, most from Aurora. The gambling ring reportedly made profits of nearly $1 million a year. As part of the anti-vice operation, Mr. Hamper successfully sought the indictments of Aurora Police Chief John Strever, Aurora police Lt. Frank Carroll, and Byron Scott, who had previously served as Kane County Sheriff, for failing to enforce the law relative to the gambling ring. He died Oct. 30, 1995, in Batavia.
John C. Friedland, 1951-1964
Mr. Friedland was born Dec. 14, 1902, in a house on Larkin Avenue in Elgin. He was the brother-in-law of George Carbary. After he graduated from Elgin High School, Mr. Friedland went immediately to the Kent College of Law. He served in the Illinois State House of Representatives from 1938 to 1944, and lost a bid for the Illinois State Senate in 1944. Mr. Friedland won a special election against Mr. Hamper in June 1951 and became one of Kane County's longest-serving state's attorneys. He resigned as state's attorney May 1, 1964, before his final term was set to expire after he lost in the Republican primary election. He died Aug. 17, 1996, in Elgin.
Charles L. Hughes, 1964
Mr. Hughes was born Nov. 20, 1921, in DeSoto, Ill. On March 18, 1925, his mother and brother were killed in the Tri-State tornado that killed nearly 700 people in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. Mr. Hughes' father placed the remaining children in the Odd Fellows Children's Home in Lincoln, Ill. Mr. Hughes grew up very poor, joined the Navy on his 18
birthday and finished his high school education aboard a ship. Mr. Hughes sought to become a Naval officer. While waiting for his commission to join the Naval air forces, he took a job at a defense plant in Chicago. One day his arm became entangled in a piece of machinery, severing his hand. The loss of the limb was crushing to him, but an older sister encouraged him to persevere and suggested he become a lawyer. Mr. Hughes earned his law degree from the University of Missouri, and eventually took a job as an assistant state's attorney for Kane County. On April 30, 1964, Mr. Hughes was appointed the state's attorney by the county board upon Mr. Friedland's resignation. Mr. Hughes served as state's attorney for seven months to complete Mr. Friedland's term. As state's attorney he successfully prosecuted two important cases, the A.J. Yates embezzlement case and the Robert Burson murder case. He then returned to the private practice of law in Aurora. Mr. Hughes successfully ran for the General Assembly in 1966 and served a single term. He chose not to seek re-election because he didn't care for it. Mr. Hughes died of a brain tumor on Nov. 16, 1982, in Aurora.
William R. Ketcham, 1964-1972
Mr. Ketcham was born April 29, 1930, in Cook County, Ill. He lived for many years in Dundee, and served as city attorney of Elgin. As state's attorney he was well liked, regarded as a strong trial lawyer and highly respected for his honesty. In 1966 he prosecuted the case of Veronica Crews, a Carpentersville woman who was convicted for killing her 21-month-old foster child, the daughter of her sister. Mrs. Crews, who was represented by Mr. Carbary, was sentenced to death in the electric chair by Judge John S. Peterson, who called the crime "heinous." The Illinois Appellate Court remanded the case back to Kane County, and Mrs. Crews was eventually sentenced to life in prison. In late 1968, when in a dispute with the Kane County Board about his salary, Mr. Ketcham was thought to have been under consideration for appointment as an assistant U.S. attorney general under President Nixon. The appointment never materialized. Mr. Ketcham died in Oak Park in October 2014.
Gerry L. Dondanville, 1972-1976
Mr. Dondanville was born July 23, 1938, in Joliet, Ill., and attended high school in Wilmington. He graduated from the University of Illinois, and earned his law degree from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1962. Mr. Dondanville was the first full-time state's attorney and the first state's attorney to hire full-time assistant state's attorneys. Among his achievements while in office, Mr. Dondanville successfully sought the indictment of Ricardo Munoz-Valdez, who had used fake medical credentials to gain employment at the Elgin Mental Health Center. Munoz-Valdez was indicted on 23 counts, including involuntary manslaughter, after 200 patients that he had seen inexplicably died. Mr. Dondanville lost his re-election bid to Mr. Armentrout in the 1976 Republican primary election. After his term as state's attorney he moved to Florida to work in real estate law. He died Oct. 13, 1981, in Broward County, Fla.
Eugene Armentrout, 1976-1980
Mr. Armentrout was born Feb. 2, 1939, in Lexington, Ill., and his family soon moved to the far south Chicago suburbs. He grew up in Wilmington, and he was in the same Wilmington High School graduating class as his predecessor, Mr. Dondanville. Mr. Armentrout attended North Central College in Naperville, and was part of the second graduating class at the University of Illinois College of Law. He was hired by Mr. Ketcham as a part-time assistant state's attorney in 1965, while also working for the Elgin law firm of Gromer, Abbott and Wittenstrom. As state's attorney, Mr. Armentrout eschewed the traditional discovery process saying that everything in criminal files should be available to defense attorneys without a court order. He continued the growing trend toward full-time assistant state's attorneys as opposed to part-time ASAs. He hired Kane County's first female assistant state's attorneys, Patricia Golden, Karen Simpson and Pam Jensen – all of whom became judges. He later worked in the Labor Division of the Illinois State's Attorney's Appellate Commission, served on the Legislative Committee for the Illinois State's Attorney's Association and taught new prosecutors and public defenders through the Illinois State Police. Mr. Armentrout is retired and lives in Florida.
Robert J. Morrow, 1980-1988
Mr. Morrow was born in Madison, Wis., and graduated from St. Francis High School in Wheaton, Ill., Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., and the University of Illinois College of Law. He was admitted to the bar in 1973 and worked for the Illinois State's Attorney's Appellate Prosecutor's Office, and then as a Kane County assistant state's attorney, Kane County assistant public defender and in private practice before he was elected state's attorney in 1980. As state's attorney Mr. Morrow continued the move away from part-time assistant state's attorneys with a majority of them working full-time. He had the office's first $1 million annual budget, and tackled many county government employment matters such as workman's compensation and self-insurance of county employees. Under his administration the office successfully prosecuted high-profile defendants such as Herschel Glenn, an off-duty police officer who killed two young people, and serial killer Brian Dugan. Mr. Morrow resigned in 1988 to go into private practice. He later worked as an Illinois special assistant attorney general handling eminent domain cases on behalf of the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Toll Highway Authority. In 2006 Mr. Morrow became a Kane County associate judge, a position he held until he retired in 2017. Mr. Morrow maintains a great interest in President Lincoln, studying and writing about his life and work.
Robert F. Casey, 1988
Mr. Casey was born Sept. 25, 1921, in Borton, Ill., and grew up on the South Side of Chicago. He attended the University of Illinois for two years before he enlisted in the Navy. He was a pilot on an aircraft carrier during World War II and is said to have been shot down twice over the Pacific Ocean. He graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1948, and worked in private practice for many years. Mr. Casey served as an Illinois State Representative in the 35
District from 1957 to 1962, and again from 1979 to 1980. He was a special assistant state's attorney for Kane County in 1976 and 1977 before his stint as interim state's attorney in 1988, when he was appointed to serve the remainder of Mr. Morrow's term. He then served as deputy chief of the office's Civil Division in 1988-92. He later served as chairman of the Illinois Motor Vehicle Review Board from 1996 to 1999, and as an administrator and special counsel to the Illinois Gaming Board. Mr. Casey was respected and lauded for his willingness to help out where needed, particularly in public service, and to do so without fanfare. He continued to practice law until his death Oct. 7, 2006.
Gary V. Johnson, 1988-1992
Mr. Johnson was born in Galesburg, Ill., moved immediately to Oak Park and grew up in Villa Park. He graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1975 and earned his law degree from Drake University Law School in 1978. He joined the office as an assistant state's attorney in January 1979, left to go into private practice four years later, and in 1988 was elected state's attorney. As state's attorney, Mr. Johnson aggressively sought to quell the burgeoning and violent street gangs in Aurora and Elgin. His strategy was to assign the best trial lawyers available to the complex cases. Mr. Johnson took advantage of increased community policing in Kane County's communities, and also made efforts to talk with local youths about the dangers of street gangs. Over time, violent gang-related crime notably diminished in Kane County. Mr. Johnson did not seek a second term as state's attorney. He now works in the private practice of law in Chicago's suburbs.
David R. Akemann, 1992-2000
A native of Elgin, Mr. Akemann graduated from Brigham Young University in 1972 and earned his law degree from Lewis University in 1977. That same year he joined the Kane County State's Attorney's Office as an intern. He was hired as an assistant state's attorney in 1978. In the 1980s Mr. Akemann worked as chief of the Civil Division for the Kane County State's Attorney's Office and later as chief of the Civil Division for the McHenry County State's Attorney's Office. He worked in private practice from 1988 until he was elected Kane County State's Attorney in 1992. As state's attorney, Mr. Akemann implemented many programs and practices that helped the office efficiently manage cases for many years beyond his tenure. In 1994 he founded the Child Advocacy Center and established its protocol. In 1995, Mr. Akemann formally began the Second Chance program, which has been expanded by succeeding state's attorneys. It exists today as the Deferred Prosecution Program, and has been a model for other counties that have implemented similar programs. Mr. Akemann started the office's Domestic Violence and Environmental units. He fully automated the office with computers and an integrated case management system, and oversaw the 1993 move of the office from the old Kane County Courthouse in downtown Geneva to its current location in the Kane County Judicial Center. He was appointed an assistant attorney general in 2001 serving the special prosecutions division, and later served as the executive director of the Illinois Gang Crime Prevention Center. In 2003, he was appointed by the governor as a commissioner of the Illinois Industrial Commission. He returned to private practice in 2005, and was elected a circuit judge in 2010, and retired from the bench in 2018.
Mary E. (Meg) Gorecki, 2000-2004
Born and raised in St. Charles, Ms. Gorecki graduated from Tufts University and The John Marshall Law School. She joined the office in 1991 as an assistant state's attorney. Not long after she was hired, Ms. Gorecki tried Kane County's first hate crime case. She left the office in 1995 to enter private practice, and returned in 2000 after being elected state's attorney. She is the only female to be elected state's attorney for Kane County. Ms. Gorecki's accomplishments as state's attorney were many. In 2001 she successfully prosecuted the last defendant in Kane County to receive a death sentence, the high-profile case of Luther Casteel. Casteel was convicted of murder after he shot up an Elgin bar, killing two. Casteel's death sentence was one of 167 to be commuted to life in prison by Gov. George Ryan in 2003. In addition, Ms. Gorecki was awarded a Weed & Seed grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, and she launched a Community Prosecution Unit. Those programs proved crucial in continuing to reduce gang-related crime in Aurora. As part of her commitment to protecting the most vulnerable in the community, Ms. Gorecki created the Seniors and Persons with Disabilities Unit, and she was the state's attorney when the office broke ground on the new Child Advocacy Center building in Geneva. Ms. Gorecki now works for the U.S. Department of Justice as the Midwest Regional Director for the Community Relations Service, handling mediations and conflict-driven casework in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.
M. Katherine Moran, 2004
Ms. Moran grew up in Sleepy Hollow, Ill., studied political science at Western Illinois University, earned a master's degree in public administration from the University of Illinois-Chicago and earned her law degree from the University of Tulsa College of Law. Ms. Moran was hired by Meg Gorecki in 2001 to run the office's Civil Division. Prior to joining the office she worked in private practice in Aurora. As chief of the Civil Division she focused on civil litigation, real estate transactions, employment law, administrative hearings and representing elected officials and governmental units. Ms. Moran served as a special state's attorney from Feb. 1, 2004, to May 31, 2004, while Ms. Gorecki was unable to serve. During her nine years with the office she was regarded for her meticulous attention to detail. She was appointed an associate judge in Illinois' 16
Judicial Circuit in October 2010, and retired from the bench in 2019.
John A. Barsanti, 2004-2010
Mr. Barsanti was born and raised in Cicero, Ill. He graduated from Carroll College in Waukesha, Wis., and earned his law degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology's Chicago-Kent College of Law. He was hired as an assistant state's attorney in 1979 by Mr. Armentrout. Mr. Barsanti served as Criminal Division chief and then first assistant state's attorney before he left the office in 2000 to go into private practice. Mr. Barsanti returned to the office after being elected in 2004. Mr. Barsanti was considered by those who knew him to be a career prosecutor, and he often said that being the Kane County State's Attorney was the only job he ever wanted. As an assistant state's attorney Mr. Barsanti prosecuted some of the county's most notorious criminals – Brian Dugan, Edward Tenney, John Markiewicz, Calvin Green, Marvin Reed and Lorin Womack. As state's attorney, Mr. Barsanti started the No-Refusal initiative, which made it more difficult for suspected drunken drivers to refuse to submit to a required breath test when suspected of DUI. He also expanded the Deferred Prosecution Program to include a program for domestic abusers. Under his direction in 2007, with investigative assistance from the Aurora Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigations, nearly two dozen gang members were indicted in more than 20 previously unsolved gang-related murders, many of which were more than a decade old. Many of those indicted were accused in multiple murders. Most were convicted. The office, along with the FBI, the Aurora Police Department and the Kane County Sheriff's Office, was recognized for the initiative – dubbed Operation First-Degree Burn – by the Chicago Crime Commission. Mr. Barsanti continued his attack on street gangs when he filed civil lawsuits against dozens of members of an Elgin street gang, seeking to stop them from congregating together. Mr. Barsanti stepped down as state's attorney in December 2010, halfway through his second term, when he was appointed a circuit judge in Illinois' 16
Judicial Circuit, a position he maintains.
Joseph H. McMahon, 2010-present
An Elgin-area native, Mr. McMahon graduated from the University of Iowa, earned his law degree from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, and an MBA from the Notre Dame School of Business. He had previously worked for the office, first as an intern while in law school, and then as an assistant state's attorney beginning in 1992. In 1998 he was named chief of the criminal division. He left the office in 2000 and became an Illinois assistant attorney general. He later worked in private practice before he returned to the office as state's attorney in 2010. Mr. McMahon's goals as state's attorney have been to be tough on violent criminals, protect society's most vulnerable, and provide a second chance to those who deserve an opportunity to right their wrongs. As part of the latter goal, Mr. McMahon expanded the Deferred Prosecution Program to include some felony drug offenders, and he speaks frequently of helping people who make poor decisions to change their behavior to keep them from becoming part of the criminal justice system, as well as to be more productive members of the community. Mr. McMahon fought street gangs by filing civil suits against members of an Aurora gang and an Elgin gang, seeking to halt their gang activities. In 2013, Mr. McMahon, as part of a national trend, spearheaded the launch of Illinois' best practices initiative, a collaboration of state's attorneys from across Illinois whose mission is to modernize investigative and prosecutorial practices to better ensure against the conviction of innocent people.
Sources: Illinois State Archives, various historical volumes, newspaper accounts, obituaries, ancestry Websites, and personal interviews.
Kane County State's Attorney's Office
37W777 Route 38 Suite 300
St. Charles, IL 60175-7535
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