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  • Lewis Baldwin Parsons Collection

Lewis Baldwin Parsons arrived in Illinois in 1844, setting up a law practice in Alton. Two years later he became the Alton city attorney, a position he held for three years. He married Sarah Green Edwards, niece of Governor Ninian Edwards, in 1847. After her death in 1850 shortly after giving birth to their daughter Sarah, Parsons married Sarah's sister, Julia. The second marriage resulted in two children, Charles and Julia.

During the Civil War, Parsons served as assistant quartermaster in the Union Army, becoming the  Chief of Rail and River Transportation. In this role, Parsons brought order and efficiency to the business of supplying the western armies with steamboats and barges by eliminating the charter system of hire. Parsons served as a Ohio and Mississippi Railroad manager from 1857 until 1878 and as a farmer on his land in southern Illinois called Elmwood Farm.  

Parsons was prominent in the councils of the Democratic Party for several years.  He served as vice-chairman of the Democratic State Central Committee of Illinois in 1876.  In 1880, after receiving considerable public attention as a potential gubernatorial candidate, Parsons ran for lieutenant governor of Illinois. Parsons was also a delegate to the National Democratic Convention in 1884.

The finding aid for the Lewis Baldwin Parsons Papers, 1783-1908 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum may be found at

Photographs in this collection include individual portraits and an image of Baldwin's Elmwood Farm.

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