Only those who come in personal contact with the gentleman whose name
appears above, the popular and well known City Attorney of Salem, Illinois,
can understand how thoroughly nature and training, habits of thought and
action, have enabled him to accomplish his life work and made him a fit
representative of the enterprising class of professional people to which he
belongs. He is a fine type of the sturdy, conscientious American of today, a
man who unites a high order of ability with courage, patriotism, clean
morality and sound common sense, doing thoroughly and well the work that he
finds to do and asking praise of no man for the performance of what he
conceives to be his simple duty.
Erastus D. Telford was born in Raccoon township, Marion county, April 23, 1874. J. D. Telford, whose life history is embodied in another part of this volume, who has long been a well-known and influential character about Salem, is the father of our subject. Samuel G. Telford, who lives in Haines township, and who was born in 1827 in this county, and who is still making his home two and one-half miles west of where he was born, is the subject's grandfather. His great-grandfather was James Telford, a native of South Carolina, who settled in Marion county in 1822, died in 1856. Our subject's father was the first Republican Sheriff of Marion county, having been elected in 1882. The mother of the subject was known in her maidenhood as Ann Wyatt, a native of Tennessee and the representative of a fine old southern family. Her father sold all his possessions in that state and came to Illinois in 1860, settling on the farm now owned by J. D. Telford, father of the subject of this sketch, to whom and his worthy and faithful life companion seven children were born, all living at this writing, named in order of birth as follows: Dr. A. T., of Olney, Illinois; Erastus D., our subject; Ula, of the United States Life Saving Station of Chicago; Omer, who lives on a farm three miles west of Salem; Oran is living at home; Erma, who is still a member of the family circle; J. D., Jr. These children were reared in a wholesome home atmosphere and were given every advantage possible by their parents.
E. D. Telford has lived in Salem for twenty-six years, or since his father moved here. He worked on the parental farm until he was twenty-one years old, where he received valuable training in the outdoor life of the country, not the least advantage of which was the acquisition of a robust constitution which is a necessary prerequisite for the battle of life in any field of endeavor. He attended the public schools in his neighborhood and later graduated in 1890 from the Salem high schools where he made a splendid record, for our subject early determined to secure a good education and fit himself as best he possibly could for life's ardent duties.
After leaving school he decided to teach and consequently followed this line of work with marked success for a few years, during which time he became widely known throughout the county as an able instructor. But not being satisfied with the education he already possessed, and with the routine and somewhat obscure work of the teacher, he gave up his work and entered McKendree College, a denominational school at Lebanon, Illinois, from which institution he graduated with high honors in 1897, with the degree Bachelor of Science. Having decided to make the profession of law his life work, Mr. Telford in the fall of 1898 went to Washington City and entered the law department of Georgetown University, where he made a brilliant record and from which institution he graduated in 1900. In the meantime he had been appointed to a position in the United States Treasury department, his unusual talents having attracted the attention of authorities in this department. Mr. Telford remained in the Treasury department, where he gave the greatest satisfaction to the higher officials and where his work was very creditably and faithfully performed until April 1, 1906, when he resigned and returned to Salem, Illinois, for the purpose of engaging in the practice of law, and, useless to say that his success was instantaneous, and he at once had a large clientele, his office being sought by clients with a wide range of cases, and his fame soon overspread Marion county, extending to other fields, consequently he was frequently called to other localities on important cases and his cool, careful, determined manner in presenting his arguments before a jury seldom failed in bringing a verdict in his favor.
Mr. Telford was soon slated for political preferment, leaders in his party being quick to detect unusual ability as a public official in him, consequently in April, 1907, he was elected City Attorney of Salem, which position he now very creditably fills to the satisfaction of the entire community. At the primaries in August, 1908, he was nominated by the Republicans for State Attorney for Marion county.
Mr. Telford's domestic life dates from November 1, 1900, when he was united in marriage with Coral M. Wright, the accomplished daughter of William Wright, a well-known and influential citizen of Lincoln, Nebraska. The following bright and interesting children have come into the cozy and pleasant home of Mr. and Mrs. Telford, bringing additional sunshine: Elbridge Wright Telford, whose day of birth occurred September 29, 1901; Dorothy Margaret, who first saw the light of day on August 18, 1905.
Mr. Telford has been a careful businessman as well as a successful attorney, and he has accumulated rapidly, now being a stockholder in the Salem National Bank, also the Salem Building and Loan Association. He is the owner of a modern, substantial and beautiful residence on North Broadway.
In his fraternal relations, our subject is a member of the ancient and honorable order of Masons, the Blue Lodge and the Royal Arch Chapter; also a Modern Woodman. And both he and his wife are consistent and faithful members of the Methodist Episcopal church. Mr. Telford is one of the substantial and popular men of Marion county, and his home which is presided over with rare grace and dignity by Mrs. Telford, is the center of a genial hospitality. He is liberal in his support of all religious and charitable movements, and no one takes a greater pride in the progress of his community.
Extracted 03 Nov 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 141-143.