When Macon County was established in 1829 no county prosecutor’s office existed. Under Illinois’ first two constitutions and early legislation, prosecutors in Illinois were appointed or elected to serve in each of the state’s judicial circuits, which were normally comprised of more than one county. They were referred to at various times as either State’s Attorneys or Circuit Attorneys.
The Illinois State Constitution of 1870 created the office of State’s Attorney as we know it today, providing that in 1872 and every four years thereafter the voters of each county would elect a State’s Attorney. The manner in which State’s Attorneys are elected in Illinois has remained the same to this day. Since the establishment of the Macon County State’s Attorney’s Office in 1872, twenty-one individuals have served as Chief Law Enforcement Officer for the county.
Charles C. McComas, 1872-1876
The first Macon County State’s Attorney was Charles C. McComas, a Republican, who was elected in 1872. He was born in 1846 in Jasper County, Illinois, and came to Decatur in 1861. Four days before his sixteenth birthday he enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War, being mustered in as a corporal in Company F, 115th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He was severely wounded at the Battle of Chickamauga, but following a convalescence of six months returned to his unit. By the time he was mustered out of service he had risen to the rank of 1st Lieutenant. After the war he studied law at night, then took a course of law lectures at the University of Michigan, and began practicing in Decatur in 1869. Only 26 years old in 1872, he remains the youngest person ever elected Macon County State’s Attorney. Following his one term he moved to Larned, Kansas in 1877, where he was elected Probate Judge. In 1880 he relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico, resuming the practice of law. While in Albuquerque he was appointed District Attorney for the 2nd Judicial District, holding the position for three years, and also served as Territorial Senator. In 1886 he moved again to Los Angeles, California. After practicing law there for two years he was appointed Deputy District Attorney, a position he held for fifteen years. He was the only Macon County State’s Attorney to serve as a prosecutor in another state, as well as a U.S. Territory. Our first State’s Attorney, a prosecutor for most of his career, died in Los Angeles at age 73 in 1916.
Isaac A. Buckingham, 1876-1880
Isaac A. Buckingham was born in Hamilton County, Ohio in 1840, attended Farmer’s College near Cincinnati, and graduated from Cincinnati Law School in 1863. That same year he came to Decatur to begin the private practice of law. He served as City Attorney from 1873 to 1876, and prevailed as the Democratic candidate in 1876 to become our second State’s Attorney, serving one term. He then entered private practice in Decatur which he maintained until the time of his death. In 1915, while visiting with family on the porch of his home in the 600 block of West William Street in Decatur, he died suddenly at age 75.
William C. Johns, 1880-1884
Our next State’s Attorney, William C. Johns, was born at Circleville, Ohio in 1846. When he was two years old his family moved to Piatt County, Illinois, and relocated to Decatur in 1853. He served as a Sergeant in Company E, 145th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment, one of the 100 day regiments raised near the end of the Civil War to provide rear echelon soldiers in order to free veteran troops for combat duty. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1869, and from Albany Law School in 1870. A Republican, he was elected State’s Attorney in 1880, and served one term. He was a State Senator from 1887-1891, and in 1903 was elected Circuit Judge, a position he held until his death. In his later years he suffered from declining health, which near the end, it was reported, made it difficult to hear him speak in court from more than four feet away. In 1914, while en route to Hawaii for an extended vacation seeking to improve his health, he died at age 67 in San Francisco, California.
Edward P. Vail, 1884-1888
State’s Attorney Edward P. Vail, a Republican, was born in Schuyler County, Illinois in 1849. At age fifteen he enlisted as a musician in Company F, 18th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment, during the Civil War. In 1872 he was elected Schuyler County’s first State’s Attorney at the age of 23. He came to Decatur in 1878, and was elected our State’s Attorney in 1884. In 1888 he was elected Circuit Judge, serving until 1903. In 1904 he moved to Chicago and entered private practice. He moved to Los Angeles, California in 1926, where he died at age 83 in 1933. He holds the distinction of being the only Macon County State’s Attorney who was elected State’s Attorney in two Illinois counties.
Isaac R. Mills, 1888-1900
The first Macon County State’s Attorney to serve more than one term in office was Isaac R. Mills. He was born in Putnam County, Illinois in 1853, graduated from Lincoln College, and studied law for three years in Chicago before coming to Decatur. He served as City Attorney from 1883 to 1888. A Republican, he was elected State’s Attorney in 1888, and was re-elected in 1892 and 1896. He chose to enter private practice in Decatur rather than to run for a fourth term in 1900. The following year he was appointed by the President as Collector of Internal Revenue for the 8th Illinois District. The afternoon of July 3, 1904 he boarded a Wabash passenger train in Decatur bound for St. Louis. At Litchfield, Illinois the train struck an open switch, which was believed to have been an act of vandalism, and derailed. Isaac R. Mills was one of more than twenty people killed in the catastrophic train wreck. He was only 50.
William E. Redmon, 1900-1912
Like his predecessor, William E. Redmon served three terms as State’s Attorney. Like our first State’s Attorney, he was a native of Jasper County, Illinois. Born in 1859, he attended Southern Illinois State Teacher’s College in Carbondale, and after that studied law for two years while employed as a school teacher. He practiced law in Latham, Illinois for four years before coming to Decatur in 1892. He was elected State’s Attorney as a Republican in 1900, and was re-elected in 1904 and 1908. He failed to receive the nomination of his party for a fourth term in 1912. He then entered private practice in Decatur. Until a week before his death he walked each day from his home in the 1500 block of North Main Street to his office downtown. In 1940, after fifty two years as a lawyer, he collapsed and died at age 81 on the front porch of his home while leaving for the hospital with his doctor for a routine checkup.
Jesse L. Deck, 1912-1920
Jesse L. Deck was born in 1875 in Bethalto, Madison County, Illinois. He came to Decatur in 1895 after graduating from the University of Michigan College of Law. He narrowly failed in his attempt to obtain the Republican nomination for State’s Attorney in 1908, succeeded in 1912, and then went on to be elected. He was re-elected in 1916, and went into private practice in Decatur after his second term. He was later elected State Senator, serving from 1925 to 1929, but failed in his effort to be elected Mayor of Decatur in 1931. He held the honor of serving terms as President of both the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association and the Illinois branch of the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology. He died at age 60 in Decatur in 1935.
Charles F. Evans, 1920-1928
Macon County voters elected Republican Charles F. Evans State’s Attorney in 1920. Born near Mt. Auburn, Illinois in 1866, he attended Central Normal College in Danville, Indiana, and taught school in Taylorville, Illinois before he began studying law. He moved to Decatur and began practicing law in 1904, and served as Jesse L. Deck’s First Assistant State’s Attorney during both of his terms in office. He was 54 years old when elected State’s Attorney in 1920, making him the oldest person ever elected to a first term as State’s Attorney in Macon County. He was re-elected in 1924, but was unsuccessful in his attempt at a third term in 1928. His total of sixteen years in the Macon County State’s Attorney’s Office appears to be the most for any county prosecutor up to that time. He then entered private practice in Decatur, where he died at age 81 in 1948.
John W. Evans, 1928-1932
John W. Evans, who was born in Perry County, Indiana, came to Decatur with his family in 1899. He was Valedictorian of the 1903 Class of Decatur High School. He attended Brown’s Business College, and graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1907. That same year he began practicing law in Decatur. He served as a Special Assistant Attorney General from 1916 to 1920, and as Master in Chancery in Macon County from 1921-1928. Elected State’s Attorney as a Republican in 1928, he held office for one term, losing his re-election bid in the Democratic landslide election of 1932. He then entered private practice in Decatur. He ran again unsuccessfully for State’s Attorney in 1936. Holding the record as the longest living former State’s Attorney, he died in Decatur at age 91 in 1975.
Arthur O. Frazier, 1932-1936
The first Democratic candidate to be elected Macon County State’s Attorney since Isaac A. Buckingham in 1876, fifty-six years earlier, was Arthur O. Frazier, who took office in 1932. His one term in office was likely the most tumultuous of any Macon County State’s Attorney. Born near Paris in Edgar County, Illinois, Frazier graduated from Eastern Illinois State Teacher’s College in 1913, then from the University of Illinois. He taught school in Atwood, Illinois, became principal there and later in Anaconda, Montana, then served for eighteen months as an infantryman in the U.S. Army during World War I. He received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Chicago in 1921, entering private practice in Decatur later that year. Described as a “political unknown” when he ran for State’s Attorney in 1932, his campaign platform included the pledge to accept as pay only $4,500 a year, rather than the allocated annual salary of $6,500. By 1934 he was diagnosed with “a malignant throat disease” which caused him to be absent for extended periods of time, leaving his First Assistant, Ralph Ivens, in charge of the office. His medical condition forced him to be admitted to veteran’s hospitals on a regular basis for the remainder of his life. By 1935 Frazier had reneged on his campaign promise to only accept a reduced salary, submitting a claim to the county for $4,000 in back pay owed. In December 1935 he was suspended from office by court order for failing to remit to the county more than $4,000 in fine and fee collections. Two days later the court appointed Frank J. Gollings State’s Attorney Pro Tempore. Gollings immediately terminated First Assistant Ivens, appointing future State’s Attorney Ivan J. Hutchens to the position. Two days after that Frazier remitted the funds in question to the county and was reinstated as State’s Attorney. Gollings, who appears to be the only person ever to serve Macon County as State’s Attorney Pro Tempore, then resigned, Ivens was reinstated as First Assistant, and Hutchens left the office. The following day Ivens resigned as First Assistant, and Frazier replaced him with Hutchens. Shortly afterwards in January 1936 Frazier was indicted by a Special Grand Jury for alleged embezzlement, malfeasance in office, and accepting a bribe. The grand jury investigation was conducted by Special Prosecutor, and former State’s Attorney, Charles F. Evans. Also indicted were Decatur’s Mayor, Harry E. Barber, Decatur’s Chief of Police, Jack Cooper, and eight others. That same month Frazier left Macon County and was admitted for an extended period to a veteran’s hospital in Florida. He apparently never returned to Macon County. Cooper resigned as Chief of Police later that month, and the indictment against him was dismissed. Barber resigned as Mayor in March 1936, and the indictments against him were dismissed in 1939. Due to his health problems, Frazier was never brought to trial for the charges lodged against him. Hutchens ran the office as Acting State’s Attorney for the final eleven months of Frazier’s only term. As his time in office expired, the Board of Supervisors took no action on Frazier’s claim for back pay. He died in Hines Veterans Hospital in Maywood, Illinois in 1944.
Ivan J. Hutchens, 1936-1949
Born in Fairfield, Illinois in 1906, Ivan J. Hutchens was the first graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law to be elected Macon County State’s Attorney, beginning a string of six consecutive State’s Attorneys having Illinois as their alma mater. With seven total, the University of Illinois College of Law has produced more Macon County State’s Attorneys than any other college. Admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1931, Hutchens started a general law practice in Decatur in 1932. He served as First Assistant State’s Attorney under his predecessor, Arthur O. Frazier, from 1935-1936, being in charge of the office during Frazier’s absence starting in January 1936. He defeated his former boss of two days, State’s Attorney Pro Tempore Frank J. Gollings, in the Democratic primary that year, and went on to prevail against former State’s Attorney John W. Evans in the general election. He was re-elected in 1940. In 1943 he entered the U.S. Army during World War II, won a third term in 1944 while away from the office in the service, and returned to his duties as State’s Attorney in 1945. In 1948 he became the first Macon County State’s Attorney elected to a fourth term. In December 1949, while attending the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association Conference in Chicago, at which he was elected First Vice President of the organization, he suffered a heart attack and died at age 43 at Presbyterian Hospital. Ivan J. Hutchens, with thirteen years as Chief Law Enforcement Officer for the County, was our longest serving State’s Attorney up to that time, died younger than any other Macon County State’s Attorney, and was the only Macon County State’s Attorney to die in office.
Perley J. Lupton, 1949-1950
Our State’s Attorney with the shortest tenure in office, Perley J. Lupton, served eleven months. He was born in Lake City, Illinois in 1905, graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1929, and was engaged in private practice in Rockford, Illinois from 1929-1934. He was in private practice in Decatur from 1934 to 1941, when he became First Assistant State’s Attorney for Ivan J. Hutchens. His time as First Assistant was temporarily interrupted by World War II. He entered the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps in 1942, serving in Iran and Egypt, being discharged at the rank of Major. In June 1946 he resumed his duties as First Assistant, and was appointed State’s Attorney by the County Board upon the death of Hutchens in December 1949. In 1950 he ran unsuccessfully for the unexpired two year portion of Hutchens’ term, and entered back into private practice in Decatur. The only Macon County State’s Attorney to be appointed to office, he died in Decatur at age 49 in 1954 from a heart attack suffered following a tennis match with his law partner.
Kenneth E. Evans, 1950-1956
State’s Attorney Kenneth E. Evans, a native of Dade County, Missouri, moved to Decatur at age twelve. He attended Millikin University for two years, and graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1937. He served as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Macon County from 1944 to 1946, and was elected as the Democratic candidate for State’s Attorney in 1950 and 1952. He was elected President of the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association in 1956, but failed in his effort later that year to be re-elected to a second full term in office. He then entered private practice. He died in his home in Decatur at age 65 in 1979.
Hilmer C. Landholt, 1956-1960
Our first State’s Attorney to be a native of Macon County was elected 84 years after the establishment of the office. Hilmer C. Landholt, who was born in Decatur, attended the University of Illinois for two years, then returned home to enroll at Millikin University. While a Junior there in 1942 he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He became a bomber pilot and was shot down over Italy in 1944, earning a Purple Heart for the injuries he received. He was captured, becoming a prisoner of war at Stalag Luft 7A near Munich, Germany. Following his liberation and discharge he returned to complete his studies at Millikin University, then graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law. A Republican, he was elected State’s Attorney in 1956. He declined to seek re-election in 1960, choosing to run, successfully, for State Representative that year. He stepped down from that office in 1962 to run, unsuccessfully, for Probate Judge in Macon County. He was hired as Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Decatur in 1962, and was appointed Corporation Counsel in 1963, a position he held until his retirement in 1987. He died in Decatur at age 65 in 1988.
Basil G. “Bill” Greanias, 1960-1976, 1980-1984
Basil G. “Bill” Greanias, also a Decatur native, holds the record of being Macon County’s longest serving State’s Attorney with twenty years in office, and was the only Macon County State’s Attorney to be elected again after being voted out of office. Born in 1928, he served in the U.S. Army from 1946 to 1948, and graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1952. A Democrat, he was elected to his first term as State’s Attorney in 1960. He was re-elected in 1964, 1968, and 1972. In 1976 he was defeated for re-election to a fifth term by one of his former Assistant State’s Attorneys, Patrick M. Walsh. When Walsh stepped down in 1980 Greanias ran again, was victorious, and returned to office for his fifth and final term. After retiring as State’s Attorney in 1984 he was engaged in private practice in Decatur. He died in Decatur at age 74 in 2002.
Patrick M. Walsh, 1976-1980
Born and raised in Urbana, Illinois, Patrick M. Walsh graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1971. After practicing law in Mattoon he served as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Macon County from 1972 to 1974, then entered private practice in Decatur. Running as a Republican, he defeated his former boss, Basil G. Greanias, for the office of State’ Attorney in 1976. He chose not to run for re-election in 1980. He is currently employed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Jeffrey K. Davison, 1984-1988
State’s Attorney Jeffrey K. Davison, a Mt. Zion native, graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, and earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Missouri College of Law in 1966. After serving in the U.S. Army, with one year in Viet Nam, he entered private practice in Decatur, and was employed for a short time as an Assistant Public Defender and as Public Defender for Macon County. He was elected State’s Attorney as a Democrat in 1984. He served one term, and is now enjoying his retirement.
Lawrence R. Fichter, 1988-2000
Lawrence R. Fichter served in the U.S. Army, graduated from Knox College with a degree in Political Science, and graduated from DePaul University College of Law. He became an Assistant State’s Attorney in Macon County under Basil G. Greanias in 1969, and served the office as First Assistant State’s Attorney from 1971 to 1975. He then entered private practice in Decatur, but was drawn back to prosecution, being elected State’s Attorney as the Republican candidate in 1988. Fichter ran unopposed for re-election in 1992 and 1996, and retired in 2000. He was 64 years old at the time of his retirement, making him the oldest person to ever hold the office of Macon County State’s Attorney.
Scott A. Rueter, 2000-2004
Scott A. Rueter, a Decatur native, received his education at Notre Dame University and DePaul University College of Law. He served as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Macon and Ogle Counties, as interim State’s Attorney in DeWitt County, and as an investigator with the Illinois State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor before being elected Macon County State’s Attorney in 2000 as a Republican. He served one term, and currently is employed as an Assistant Public Defender in Macon County.
Jack W. Ahola, 2004-2012
Born in Michigan and raised in Decatur, Jack W. Ahola graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a degree in History, and earned his Juris Doctor degree at Southern Illinois University School of Law. He was hired as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Macon County in 1979, and became First Assistant State’s Attorney in 1986, a position he held until 2003 when he ran as the Democratic candidate for State’s Attorney against the incumbent, Scott A. Rueter. Ahola was elected State’s Attorney in 2004, and ran unopposed for re-election in 2008. He retired in 2012 after an unprecedented 33 years as a prosecutor in Macon County.
Jay Scott, 2012 - present
Jay Scott was born in Decatur and raised in Bethany, Illinois. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1983 with a degree in History and from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1986. A career prosecutor like his predecessor, he served one year as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Warren County, Illinois from 1987 to 1988, and as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Macon County for more than twenty-four years from 1988 to 2012, holding the position of First Assistant State’s Attorney for six years. He was elected Macon County State’s Attorney in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016.