C.V. Chandler – Businessman / War Veteran / Philanthropist

Charles Vilasco Chandler was born in Macomb, McDonough County, IL., January 25, 1843. His father, Col. Charles Chandler, who died December 26, 1878, was a prominent banker of Macomb and a sagacious financier.

In 1852 Chandler was persuaded by his friend William H. Randolph to partner in an investment of land in McDonough County to the northwest of Macomb with the intention of originating a new town. In the late summer of that year the village of Bardolph was established.

Chandler also helped develop Macomb in the 19th century. In fact, Chandler acquired land in town to develop a park and in 1879 he gave the city the square block that became Chandler Park.  He also funded a monument to honor the Civil War fallen, which was erected in 1899 and stands today on the west side of the park.

A major motive for the monument derives from his service in the American Civil War. Chandler joined the 78th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, along with his fellow citizen James K. Magie. The unit was organized in Quincy and left the state for war on September 19, 1862, in which he served as a private for nine months. He was then promoted to be Second Lieutenant.  While in service, Chandler saw heavy combat duty. At the bloody Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863, he was severely wounded, a rifle ball passing through both thighs. A few months afterward another ball penetrated one of his thighs. He was the last member of his company who received a wound. He had just grasped a small hickory tree for support and had remarked to the First Liententant, “I guess we are through all right.” when the ball struck him. Pressing his hand on the wound, he uttered the words, “I guess I’ve got another guess coming.” Mr. Chandler afterward cut down the hickory free and now has a cane which was made from it. He eventually had to resign from duty because of his wounds.

He returned to Macomb and became a prominent business leader in the city, replacing his father as president of the First National Bank of Macomb in 1878. He also chaired and funded charities and civic groups and while being a strong supporter of the Grand Army of the Republic.

C.V. Chandler was one of the incorporators of the first pottery works in Macomb. He was an extensive property owner in the city, being the builder and owner of the Opera House Block, which is known as Chandler’s Block, the Chandler Hotel, the Post-office Building, and other business blocks, as well as residence and farm properties. Chandler was  Treasurer of the Western Illinois Normal School (later to become Western Illinois University), located at Macomb. He is the projector and promoter of the Macomb & Western Illinois Railroad, of which his son was Secretary and treasurer.

However due to a number of circumstances, including the railroad, Chandler went bankrupt and moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, to live with one of his sons. He died October 20, 1934.  However, his final resting place is in Macomb, interned at Oakwood Cemetery.

Sources: John Hallwas, Macomb: A Pictorial History via Western Illinois Museum / McDonough IL GenWeb