Biography of Matthew J. McEniry
It is said that the legal profession is one of the most difficult in which to achieve success. It is doubtless true that to be a truly successful attorney requires ability of a high order. We have spoken elsewhere in this work of; the success achieved by the legal firm of McEniry & McEniry, and one of the fruits of that success is a renown that is not merely local but that has spread throughout the northwest. In the article mentioned the life and character of one of the members of the firm, William McEniry, was taken up and discussed at length. His strength and ability were depicted. The present article is to be devoted to a discussion of the salient points in the life of the other member of the firm, Matthew J. McEniry, a man, who like his brother, is possessed of brilliant talents and real genius.
He was born on a farm, in Zuma Township, this county. The lives and characters of the elder McEnirys, the parents of Matthew J. and William, are recorded at length in the sketch previously spoken of, to which the reader is referred. As a lad Matthew J. McEniry received his early education in the country schools in the neighborhood of his father’s farm. When seventeen years of age he went to an academy at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, where he completed a commercial course. He afterward entered the University of Notre Dame, at Notre Dame, Indiana, where he devoted himself to scientific studies. These he completed in 1887, whereupon he entered the law department of the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, from which he graduated one year later. After his graduation the young attorney was admitted to the bar and opened a law office in Moline in partnership with his brother, William, of Rock Island. The firm has ever since retained offices in both Rock Island and Moline; William McEniry having charge of the Rock Island office while Matthew J. conducted the business at Moline. The excellent success and enviable reputation which the firm has achieved are too well known to need repetition here. Sufficient is it to say that they are one of the foremost legal firms in Rock Island County. They possess commodious and well appointed offices and fine law libraries in both cities, the Moline office being located in the Skinner Block.
In politics Matthew J. McEniry has always been one of Moline’s leading Democrats, and has been ever zealous in promoting the success of the political party of his choice. That party has recognized his services and has honored him with offices of responsibility and trust. In 1884, when only twenty-three years of age, Mr. McEniry was elected super-visor of Zuma Township, and held that office for one term. He was also appointed deputy sheriff of Rock Island County, which office he filled for four years. In July, 1894, he received from President Cleveland the appointment as postmaster of Moline, and continued in that office until October 1, 1897. His political zeal and active work for party success has been many times shown while a delegate to his party’s conventions, he having been a delegate to nearly every Democratic State Convention since 1882. He is a firm believer in the great principles of Thomas Jefferson, and is firmly convinced that the best interests of this country would be best subserved by a strict adherence to its tenets.
Mr. McEniry was of assistance in obtaining the passage of the law providing for the organization and establishment of the naval militia in Illinois. He was elected and served as an ensign in the Moline Company of the same until 1897, when from political reasons, as he himself states, he was politely requested to resign or the division would be mustered out of the service then and there. There were at that time two divisions of naval reserves, and in fact there were formerly four divisions located at Moline, a city that was very active in aid of this branch of the state service, and who took pride in educating her citizens in the ways of naval warfare upon the great “Father of Waters.” Mr. McEniry was also a director of the Moline Public Library at the time the new Carnegie building was erected, and served as secretary of the board for two years.
Matthew J. McEniry is a devoted member of the Roman Catholic Church, the church in which be was born and reared. He was con-firmed at an early age by Archbishop Foley, of Chicago.
Fraternally Mr. McEniry is strongly connected, and his genial, helpful nature makes him a most acceptable member of many orders, He has passed through the presiding chair of the Modern Woodmen of America, Camp No. 38, of Moline. He is also a member of the North Star Benefit Association, of which he is county astronomer, of Observatory No. 1. He is a charter member of the lodge of Fraternal Tribunes organized at Moline. He is also a member of Tecumseh Tribe, No. 24, Improved Order of Redmen, and has represented all these lodges at their great councils. He is now chairman of the judiciary commit-tee of the Great Council of Illinois, Independent Order Redmen. He has been a member of the Moline Club since it was organized, and served two terms as a director of that institution. He is now serving a second term as president of the Moline Business Men’s Association, and has at all times taken an active part in the business affairs of his home city.
Mr. McEniry, together with his brother, William, did loyal work in helping to secure the location of the Western Hospital for the Insane at Watertown, and through their untiring efforts in that behalf much was accomplished. Matthew J. McEniry has also done most effective work in helping obtain the new lock upon the Mississippi River at Moline, and in this also he has been untiring. The lock and harbor appropriation will make Moline a port upon the Mississippi River. These efforts, which are all unselfish and look only to the betterment and increased prosperity of his home city, are indicative of Mr. McEniry’s character. He is an enthusiast for the six-foot channel along the Upper Mississippi, and is bending every effort to make it a reality.
For twelve years Mr. McEniry has been a member of the Rock Island County Old Settlers’ Association.
Matthew J. McEniry is a man of deep and broad public spirit, a leader and organizer of men, and a citizen whose constant aim is to see his city press forward in prosperity and success. He is a man who has done much for the community in which he lives, and this is attested by the warm regard and high es-teem in which he is held by all who know him. As a citizen, loyal to the enduring principles struck from the highest ideals, Mr. McEniry is superior.