Colonel Francis Lackner,
lawyer and native of Detroit, but during his childhood a resident of Milwaukee,
and then for fifty-six years of Chicago, the late Colonel Lackner spent
the last eight years of his long and successful and useful life in well-merited
retirement in South Pasadena, California.
During the unusually long period of his law practice in Chicago he not only became one of the city's leading attorneys. but also made many important contributions to its development, seeing it grow from a small city to its present eminent position and materially helping in brining about this remarkable growth. A veteran of the Civil War he served in that conflict with a Wisconsin regiment with such distinction that he rose from private to the rank of lieutenant colonel. During his legal career, too, numerous honors were conferred upon him proving clearly how eminent his services were considered by his fellow citizens and how highly they regarded him.
Francis Lackner was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1840, the son of Francis and Rosalia (Ruegenberg) Lackner. His parents were natives of Olpe, Westphalia, Germany, from where they came to this country about 1830, settling in Detroit. Colonel Lackner's mother died about 10"46 in Milwaukee Wisconsin, to which town the family had removed soon after Colonel Lackner's birth. Both Detroit and Milwaukee in those days were small and primitive, and Colonel Lackner, during the early part of his life, had many experiences typical of pioneer life in the Middle West. He received his education in Milwaukee in the private school of Dr. Engelman and then studied law there in the office of Mr. Merriner, being., admitted to the bar upon reaching 'a his majority, after having earned his own way from the time he was fourteen years of age. Almost immediately afterwards, at the beginning of the Civil War, he volunteered and was made a second-lieutenant of the 26th Wisconsin Infantry. His regiment participated in the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg.
Colonel Lackner, then a captain of a company, was wounded at Gettysburg, but was able to return to his regiment after two months. With others, the latter was transferred from the East to the vicinity of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and then participated in the battles of Wauhatchie, Missionary Ridge, Resaca, Dallas, Kenesaw Mountain, Peach Tree Creek and others. Meanwhile, Captain Lackner had been called to the division staff as inspector, first on the staff of Gen. Schurz and then on that of General Butterfield. When the regiment reached Atlanta, Captain Lackner was promoted to Major and returned to it, the regiment being one of the first to enter Atlanta. Two months later it took part in Sherman's historic march to the sea, fighting its was to Savannah and from there through South and North Carolina, when news of General Lee's surrender was received. The remnant of the regiment, reduced losses to only about three hundred and sixty men, was mustered out, and 'Major Lackner was brevetted Lieutenant Colonel. Immediately upon his return to civil life Colonel Lackner settled in Chicago and established himself in the practice of law. He quickly rose to the head of his profession and became one of the best known and most successful corporation lawyers of the western metropolis.
For fifty-six years he continued in active practice, representing at different times many important and large business and financial interests. The Chicago Bar Association, of which as well as of the American Bar Association and of the Chicago Law Institute he was for many years a member, honored him and itself by electing him president.
Though not active in politics Colonel Lackner took a deep and effective interest in the Civic Committee, which successfully undertook and completed the task of removing a group of corrupt local politicians from public office. He was a member of the "Committee on Relief" during the period following the Chicago fire of 1871 and gave himself to its arduous labors with characteristic zeal and generosity. Colonel Lackner was also one of the "Committee of Forty" appointed by the Governor of Illinois to draft the new city charter of Chicago.
In 1920 Colonel Lackner, then eighty years old, retired from his practice and removed to California, where he settled at South Pasadena, having purchased there an attractive residence at no. 1001 Buena Vista Street, known as the Lucretia Garfield residence. While a resident of Chicago he was a member of the city's Union League Club and of the University Club, was one of the charter members of the Turn Verein and at one time president of the national body of this organization.
Colonel Lackner married in the spring of 1872, Nannie Jussen of Columbus, Wisconsin, daughter of the late Colonel Edmund and Nancy (Smith) Jussen. Colonel and Mrs. Lackner were the parents of five children:
Mrs. Franklin Nichols Corbin (Meta) of Chicago
Mrs. George R. Reinecke (Else) of South Pasadena
Mrs. John Harris Booge (Irma) of San Pedro, California
Francis A. Lackner of Winnetka, Illinois
Mrs. Charles S. Kennedy (Beatrice) of Winnetka, Illinois
After a brief illness,
Colonel Lackner died in his eighty-eighth year at the Pasadena Hospital,
Pasadena, California, on December 20th, 1928.
Though his removal from Chicago to California naturally resulted in the breaking of many close ties formed during his long residence in the former city, news of his death brought keen regret to many of his friends who had had opportunities to become acquainted with his many fine qualities of the mind and heart.
These latter also quickly gained him the liking and respect of a new group of friends in his new home, and these too sincerely shared with his family their grief at his passing.
An able lawyer of high principles, a patriot who promptly placed his life at the service of his country, an upright, courageous gentleman, he will long be remembered for the prominent part which he played during important periods in this country’s history and for the fine and inspiring life that he led.
A bust view of Maj. Francis Lackner, 26th Regt., Wisc. Vol.
U. S. Army Military History Institute, Carlisle Pa. 17013
Biography by Betsy Morehouse
Brief History of the 26th Wisconsin by Francis Lackner
Toward a History of the Twenty-sixth by Francis Lackner