Alonzo K. Vickers was born in Massac County, Illinois on September 25, 1853. His parents, who originated from Tennessee, came to Illinois in 1844 in search of land. They purchased a farm in Massac County and remained there the rest of their lives. Alonzo was the youngest in the family with two older brothers; however, he would soon be responsible for providing for his family. In 1861, Alonzo’s father died and when the Civil War broke out, both of Alonzo’s brothers went to fight.
The Civil War era was considerably difficult for the Vickers’ family. Alonzo was responsible not only for attending school, but also had to perform the majority of work around the farm. When he was 19 years old, Vickers’ received a teaching certificate and chose to make his living by teaching after he graduated from high school. He taught for six years; however, during his time teaching, Vickers began to study law under Judge R. W. McCartney. Finally, Vickers was admitted to the bar at the age of 29. In 1880, shortly before he was admitted to the bar, Vickers married his childhood sweetheart, Leora Armstrong. The couple moved to Johnson County, Illinois, and Vickers began his private practice of law. The couple went on to have two daughters, and a son.
In Johnson County, Vickers became involved in politics and in 1886 was elected to the Illinois legislature. He chose to serve only one term, and then decided to resume his practice of the law. He did not, however, disappear from the public eye. In 1891, Vickers was elected a Circuit Court Judge in the First District. He held this position 11 years, and was re-elected in 1897, and 1903. In 1903 Vickers was appointed to be on the Appellate Court of the Second District.
Vickers remained on the Appellate court until 1906, at which time he was elected to serve on the Supreme Court of Illinois. Vickers sat on the bench for eight years, and served as Chief Justice in 1910. In addition to his career as a lawyer, legislature, and judge, Vickers was also a member of several selective organizations, including the Masons, the Knights of Pythias, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
In 1915, his eighth year on the Supreme Court, Vickers was up for re-election; however, January 16, Vickers began suffering from a combination of asthma and pneumonia. On January 21, 1915, Alonzo K. Vickers died in his home in East St. Louis, Illinois.
Next: Jacob Wilson Wilkin
- “Obituary: Judge Alonzo K. Vickers.” Chicago Legal News: Journal of Legal Intelligence. Jan. 23, 1915: 197.
- “Alonzo K. Vickers.” http://www.state.il.us/court/supremecourt/justicearchive/Bio_Vickers.asp.