Compendium of Biography-Andrew Jackson McElroy


[Taken from pages 262-263 of Compendium of Biography--published by Ogle Co. 1898.]

HON. ANDREW JACKSON MCELROY, long a well-known and prominent business of Van Buren county, was born April 24, 1820, at Rock Island, in what was then Warren county. Later that district became a part of White county, subsequently was made a part of Van Buren county, but is now a part of Warren county. His parents were Andrew and Martha (Shropshire) McElroy, the former of Scotch-Irish descent, and the latter of English lineage. The father was born in Oglethorp county, Ga. and in 1820 removed with his family to Tennessee, locating at Caney Fork. Six years later he took up his residence at the present home of our subject and conducted the old public house or tavern on the state road, leading from the southwest to the east, at which place they entertained many traveling to Washington. Andrew McElroy here became the owner of 640 acres of land, which at the time of his purchase was improved only with a log cabin and an orchard. He carried on farming and stock raising throughout the remainder of his days and placed his land under a high state of cultivation. His death occurred in June 1864, at the age of seventy-three yrs. and his wife, also a native of Oglethorp county, Ga., died August 19, 1868, at the age of eighty-two. They were buried by the side of the road on the old home farm, almost directly in front of where their residence once stood.

Mr. McElroy, of this review, was the third in order of birth in their family of six children. Only two are now living, the other being his sister Eliza, a widow of James Sparkman and a resident of Sparta. Those who have passed away are Louvana, who became the wife of John Sparkman and at her death was buried in the family cemetery; John, who died in Georgia in childhood; James, who was a twin brother of Eliza and was killed by a fall from a horse, his remains also being interred in the family graveyard; and Martha, wife of Thomas Witt, who died on the home place and was buried there.

Andrew J. McElroy was educated in the district schools of the neighborhood and at the age of twenty-two began teaching in his home district, where he followed that profession for four or five terms. Soon after the organization of Van Buren county, he was chosen justice of the peace, but when people began to call him squire he resigned the office. He served for two years as sheriff, for a similar period as county trustee and for sixteen years as circuit clerk, during which time he studied law and fitted himself for practice at the bar. He was in the circuit clerk's office at the time the Civil War was inaugurated and putting aside his duties there he responded to the call of the South, remaining in the service until the close of the hostilities. He belonged to General Dibrell's command, participated in the battle of Simpson's Mill and was taken prisoner at Sparta, but soon released. The following week he was again captured, but was only held a prisoner for three days.

Mr. McElroy lost all he had during the war save the land, which he owned, but with characteristic energy, upon his return home, he began the task of retrieving his lost possessions. In 1869 he was admitted to the bar and has since engaged in the general practice of law in all the state courts. He has the power of keen and close analysis, which added to a careful preparation of his case, has won him many successes before court and jury. In addition to his professional duties he is engaged in farming and stock raising and in this finds a profitable source of income.

In his political predilections Mr. McElroy has been a life-long Democrat, and is a recognized leader of the party in Van Buren county. In 1884 he was elected a member of the state senate, in which he served for two years with credit to himself and satisfaction to his constituency. He was a member of the committees on finance, judiciary and railroads and was chairman of the state department committee, and his comprehensive knowledge of jurisprudence ably fitted him for the framing of the laws of the commonwealth.

In the month of February, 1843 Mr. McElroy married Jane Webb, who was born in White county in 1825, and died December 10, 1867, leaving three children who are now living: Louvina, who is the widow of Daniel Davis and resides on her father's farm; Sarah widow of William L. Acuff and Andrew J. who is also living on the farm. The members of the family now deceased are James K. Polk, who died September 29, 1870, and who would have been twenty-one years of age the following day; Martha became the wife of John Davis and died in 1890; Eliza died May 29, 1870, at the age of fifteen years; William C., who was born December 14, 1861 and followed farming, died July 19, 1885. Mr. McElroy was again married September 5, 1869, his second union being with Martha Doyle, who was born Saturday, December 31, 1842, in White county, Tenn. She was the daughter of Merrill Doyle, and the widow of John Greer, who died in White county. Mr. and Mrs. McElroy are members of the Antioch Christian church, in which he served as an official. He is a member of the Masonic lodge of Odd Fellows. Fidelity to duty in all the relations of life has won him the respect and confidence of those with whom he has come in contact and he well deserves mention among the representative citizens of Van Buren county.

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