John H. Mulkey was born on May 24th, 1824. Born and raised in Monroe County, Kentucky, he chose to stay in Kentucky for most of his schooling. He received his college degree from Bacon College in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. After college he moved to Illinois. When he was twenty-three years old, Mulkey enlisted in the 2nd Illinois Volunteer Infantry in the Mexican American War. He served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the war, and saw a full year of active duty from July of 1847 until the end of the war the following July.
After the war, Mulkey returned home to Illinois, and studied law in Marion, Illinois. He was admitted to the Illinois bar on March 15th, 1856 when he was thirty years old. Mulkey became recognized as one of the best lawyers in Southern Illinois. He would later become known as one of the premier real-estate lawyers in the region. Just five years after being admitted to the bar, Mulkey began serving as a Judge in the court of Common Pleas in Cairo, Illinois. He served in this capacity until 1867. During this time, he also served as a Circuit Court Judge representing the 3rd District from 1864-1854. Mulkey was also able to keep up a substantial private practice of law, which was allowed at the time. This contributed in large part to Mulkey’s accumulation of a substantial fortune in his life time.
In June of 1879, Mulkey was elected to the Illinois Supreme Court. In 1885, when he was fifty years old, he took over the role of Supreme Court Justice from Justice Baker, and served a year at this post. He served a total of nine years on the Supreme Court, and in 1888 at the age of 64, decided not to run for re-election. At this time Mulkey retired to a house in Metropolis, Illinois on the Ohio river. In the last year of his life, Mulkey’s health began to fail. Finally on July 9th, 1905, John H. Mulkey died in his home.
Next: Jesse J. Phillips
- Illinois Bar Association (1909): pg 398
- “John H. Mulkey.” http://www.state.il.us/court/supremecourt/justicearchive/Bio_Mulkey.asp.
- Babb, James E. “The Supreme Court of Illinois.” The Green Bag (3): 1898, pg 235-236.