In the collection of material for the biographical department of this
publication there has been a constant aim to use a wise discrimination in
regard to the selection of subjects and to exclude none worthy of
representation within its pages. Here will be found mention of worthy
citizens of all vocations, and at this juncture we are permitted to offer a
resume of the career of one of the substantial and highly esteemed, in fact,
one of the leaders of the industrial world of this section of the state,
where he has long maintained his home and where he has attained a high
degree of success in his chosen field of labor and enterprise.
Levi Monroe Kagy, the popular and well known president of the Salem State Bank, of Salem, Marion county, Illinois, was born near Tiffin, Senaca county, Ohio, December 15, 1855, the son of David Kagy, also a native of Seneca county, who came to Marion county, Illinois, in the year 1859. He devoted his life to agricultural pursuits, which he made successful, and at the time became a man of much influence in his community and well known as a scrupulously honest and public-spirited citizen. He was called from his earthly labors February 8, 1887, after a very active and useful life. The mother of the subject was known in her maidenhood as Sarah Milley. She is a woman of many estimable traits and is the recipient of the admiration and esteem of a large coterie of friends and acquaintances in the vicinity where she is still living in 1908 on the old homestead where she and her worthy life companion settled nearly a half century ago. To Mr. and Mrs. David Kagy were born only two children, Alice A. a woman of fine attributes, who is making her home with her mother; and Levi Monroe, our subject. The parents spared no pains in giving these children every possible care and advantage and the wholesome environment of their home life is clearly reflected in the lives of the subject and his sister.
Our subject lived on the parental farm until he was twenty-five years old and assisted his father with the farm work, giving him all his earnings up to the time of his maturity, and it was while thus engaged in the free outdoor life of the farm that he acquired many qualities of mind and body that have assisted very materially in his subsequent success in life. He attended the neighborhood schools where he applied himself in a most assiduous manner, outstripping many of his classmates, and therefore gained a broad and deep mental foundation which has since been greatly developed by systematic home study and contact with the world. After receiving what education he could in the home schools Mr. Kagy taught several terms of school in a most praiseworthy manner, teaching in the winter months and farming in the summer, having possessed not only a clear and well defined textbook training, but also the tact to deal with his pupils in a manner to gain the best results, at the same time winning their good will and lasting friendship.
After reaching young manhood, Mr. Kagy decided that his true life work lay along a different course than that of farming and school teaching, so he accordingly began to save his earnings in order to defray the expense of a course in Union College of Law at Chicago, now the Northwestern University, and he graduated from that institution with high honors on June 14, 1883, after having made a brilliant record in the same for scholarship and deportment.
He at once began practice at Salem, where his success was instantaneous, and with the exception of one year spent on the farm after his father's death, he has been in Salem ever since where he is now recognized as one of the most potent factors in her civic, industrial and social life. Mr. Kagy practices with uniform success in county, state and federal courts, and his services are in constant demand in cases requiring superior ingenuity and apt ability. His untiring energy, indefatigable research and persistency have made him successful where less courageous characters would have quailed and been submerged.
Something of the subject's peculiar and unquestioned executive ability is shown from the fact that he was one of the principal organizers in 1903 of the Salem State Bank, one of the most substantial, popular and sound institutions of its kind in southern and central Illinois. Mr. Kagy is president of the same, the duties of which he performs in a manner to gain the unqualified confidence of the public, and the citizens of Salem and Marion county do not hesitate to place their funds at his disposal, knowing that they could not be trusted to safer and more conservative hands. He is also stockholder in the First National Bank of Kinmundy, Illinois. He also helped organize the Haymond State Bank of Kinmundy, and afterwards was instrumental in merging this institution with the First National Bank of that city. Mr. Kagy was appointed Master in Chancery of Marion county in 1889, and afterwards twice reappointed. He has served as president of the Salem School Board and declined reelection. In all these public capacities he displayed unusual adroitness in handling the affairs entrusted to him.
Mr. Kagy's happy and harmonious domestic life dates from May 18, 1887, when he was united in marriage to Alice Larimer, the youngest daughter of the late Smith Larimer, an ex-Treasurer of Marion county, an influential and highly respected citizen. Mrs. Kagy is a cultured and highly accomplished woman of many estimable attributes and possessing a gracious and pleasing personality which makes her popular among a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, and she presides over the modem, cozy, elegantly furnished and beautifully appointed home of the subject and family with modest grace and dignity. Into this model home two bright and interesting children add sunshine and cheerfulness. They are: John Larimer, who was born February 22, 1888, now a student, in 1908, in the University of Illinois, where he is making a splendid record; and Leigh Monroe, who was born March 15, 1901; a girl died in infancy.
In 1898, during the Spanish American war, Mr. Kagy was active in organizing a company, and was elected captain of the same after much drilling it was ready to go to the front. Later Mr. Kagy was appointed by Gov. John B. Tanner, major of Pittenger's Provisional Regiment. Although it was fully ready to go to the front it was not called upon to do so.
Levi M. Kagy was one of the twenty-two men who subscribed twenty-two thousand dollars in order to induce the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad shops to locate in Salem. The public-spirited and energetic disposition of the citizens of this progressive city can be ascertained by the statement that this sum was raised in one night. Mr. Kagy was in San Francisco at the time, but his friends volunteered to vouch for him for eleven hundred dollars, and he promptly paid the full amount upon his return home. Mr. Kagy always practiced law alone until January 1907, when he took E. B. Vandervort, of Portsmouth, Ohio, as an associate. They have a splendid and well-equipped suite of rooms in the Kagy Building. Mr. Kagy, although interested in many industrial enterprises, gives his time almost exclusively to his law practice which is very large and which requires the major part of his time.
Fraternally our subject is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias and the Woodmen. He has occupied the chairs in the local Odd Fellows lodge, and is one of the trustees of the I. O. O. F. Old Folks' Home of Illinois, of Mattoon, Illinois.
Mr. and Mrs. Kagy and their oldest son are members of the Presbyterian church. In politics he is a stanch advocate of the principles and policies of the Democratic party, with which he has been affiliated from the time of attaining his majority, and he has ever lent his aid in furthering his party's cause, being well fortified in his political convictions, while he is essentially public-spirited and progressive. In all the relations of life he has been found faithful to every trust confided in him and because of his genuine worth, splendid physique, courteous manners and genial disposition he has won and retains the warm regard of all with whom he associates.
Extracted 10 Jul 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 237-240.