RAPHAEL E. LAWLER a farmer, living three and a half miles east of Equality, was born in December, 1858, on the spot where he now lives, though the house in which he was born was destroyed some years ago by fire. His father, Gen. Michael K. Lawler, was born in County Kildare, Ireland, Nov. 16, 18l4. When he was about a year old his parents, John and Elizabeth (Kelly) Lawler came to the United States. After about a year in Baltimore, Md., they came to Gallatin County, Ill., making the greater part of the journey by wav of the Ohio river in a flatboat.
John Lawler was the first Catholic to settle in that part of the state, and was regarded with some curiosity by his neighbors for this reason. He first bought land in what,is known as the Pond, or Irish Settlement, which land is still in the possession of his descendants. It was largely through big influence that the first Catholic church was established in that section. The old hewed log house with puncheon seats has long since been replaced by a more modern structure, and many of the Catholics now living in the vicinity are descendants of men who were induced to come there by John, Lawler. He and his wife both died comparatively young. Their children were Mary, Margaret, Michael and Thomas, all now deceased.
Michael K. Lawler grew to manhood in Gallatin County. On Dec. 20, 1837, he was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth, daughter of John and Sina Crenshaw, old residents of the County. At the time of the marriage her father was the largest land owner in the County, and gave the young couple the farm where Raphael E. now lives. They commenced their married life in a log cabin of one room, later built a cheap frame house, then one of more modern character the one that was burned.
When the Mexican war broke out M. K. Lawler was bookkeeper for his father-in-law. He gave up his position, organized a company, of which he was elected captain, and was immediately sent to the front. At Cerro Gordo the company distinguished itself, and from that time until the close of the war was in several of the fiercest engagements. After the war Captain Lawler took up the occupation of farming which he followed until the conimencement of the Civil war.
Then the old military spirit revived and he organized the Eighteenth Illinois volunteer infantry, afterward known as the "Bloody Eighteenth," of which he was commissioned colonel. The regiment was in many of the hottest engagements of the war, particularly in Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. At Fort Donelson Colonel Lawler was severely wounded in the arm, but after a short time rejoined his command and remained in the field until the end. On April 15, 1863, he was made brigadier-general by President Lincoln, and on April 17, 1866, received the rank of brevet major-general from Andrew Johnson. At the close of the war he was appointed commandant of the post at Baton Rouge, and while there bought a cotton plantation, but soon afterward sold it, having been appointed to a position as government storekeeper at San Antonio, Tex., where he remained for two years. He then returned home and lived on his farm until his death, July 26, 1882.
Since his death his widow has made her home with the subject of this sketch. The children of Michael and Elizabeth Lawler were Margaret, deceased; Sina, now Mrs. Evans, in Mexico; John C., deceased; Mary, who married a man named Riley and now deceased; Addie, Mrs. Walters, of Equality; Judith, also a Mrs. Walters, now dead; Michael, Elizabeth and William, all three deceased, and Raphael E. The parents were both members of the Catholic church, in which General Lawler took great interest. He was also active in politics and was one of the best known Democrats in Southern Illinois.
Raphael E. Lawler attended different colleges in his youth, but left college to assume the management of his father's business, on account of the latter's failing health. On Jan. 10, 1881, he was married to Elizabeth, daughter of Lewis and Elvira Fowler, and a native of Gallatin County. After his marriage he lived with his parents until the death of his father, and since then has had full control of the farm, which he now owns. Like his father, he is a Democrat and a Catholic, now being one of the trustees of the church. The children born to him and his wife are: Margaret A., now Sister M. Veronica, O.S.M., of St. Mary's convent at Enfield, Ill.; Mary E., now Mrs. Luckett, living near Equality; Michael K., Louis F., Raphael E., John C., Lawrence C. and George F., at home; Elizabeth, deceased; Mary R., Paul, and Judith A., at home; Philip, deceased; Anthony, deceased; Mary, at home; Mary N., deceased, and Monica A., deceased.
[Source: 1905. Memoirs of the Lower Ohio Valley
. Madison, Wis.: Federal Publishing Company. 2:374-376; and Jon Musgrave, ed. 2002. Handbook of Old Gallatin County and Southeastern Illinois. Marion, Ill.: IllinoisHistory.com. 302-303.]
Submitted by Jon Musgrave.