Waller, Elbert. (1870-) | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
On August 24, 1870, Elbert Waller was born on a farm four miles south of Murphysboro, Jackson County, Illinois. He was the son of William and Mary (Crawshaw) Waller. Mr. Waller began his education in a rural school (Sharon Church) and later attended Southern Illinois Normal University and Ewing College. During the years 1890-1909 he occupied positions as teacher, principal, and college student; also, for a brief time he became engaged in the newspaper business, and he was elected city attorney of Ava (Ill.) for one year (1901-1902). In 1909 he received a Ph.D. degree from Ewing College, at which time he was principal of the Anna high school. The following few years he held positions as superintendent of the Columbia schools (appointed 1910) and superintendent of the Cobden schools (appointed 1911).
Elbert Waller married Margaret D. Clendenin on April 25, 1894. They had a daughter who died at the age of seven months and two boys - Max H. and Dr. Willard W. (sociologist). The family resided in Tamaroa, Illinois.
Mr. Waller is the author of History of Illinois, 1914 (also 15th ed., 1937), and Illinois Pioneer Days, 1918.
He volunteered as a YMCA man overseas and was transferred to the Army Educational Corps, made Assistant Educational Director of the First Army, and later given the department of American History, College of Education, at the AEF University, Beaune, France.
As a member of the House of Representatives, Waller served in the 54th, 55th, 56th, 57th, and 58th General Assembles of Illinois. During his tenure he became recognized for having fought the Chicago Bonding bills (which passed, but nearly caused Chicago bankruptcy and necessitated transferring seven million dollars from downstate Illinois to salvage the near catastrophe - a result Waller had predicted); for having been one of the first to advocate a gas tax divided threes way (state highway construction, rural roads, and city or village streets); for wanting to repeal judges' pensions, reducing several large salaries, and for opposing salary raises in the Legislature. He sponsored much legislation for the betterment of schools in Southern Illinois and at a savings to the taxpayers. He introduced the original bill to build the Science Building at Carbondale and was probably the first to suggest putting Normal on a rank with the University of Illinois.