Breaking News Bar
updated: 4/5/2012 3:19 PM

Elgin family has 3 generations spanning 100 years as lawyers

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • George D. Carbary passed the bar April 3, 1912, becoming the first Carbary to practice law in Elgin. He is pictured here partway through his 61-year career that included two terms as the Kane County state's attorney during Prohibition. Carbary's grandson Jonathan, a third generation attorney in town, is looking back on 100 years of Carbary's practicing in Elgin.

       George D. Carbary passed the bar April 3, 1912, becoming the first Carbary to practice law in Elgin. He is pictured here partway through his 61-year career that included two terms as the Kane County state's attorney during Prohibition. Carbary's grandson Jonathan, a third generation attorney in town, is looking back on 100 years of Carbary's practicing in Elgin.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • George D. Carbary passed the bar April 3, 1912, becoming the first Carbary to practice law in Elgin. He is pictured here partway through his 61-year career that included two terms as the Kane County state's attorney during Prohibition. Carbary's grandson Jonathan, a third generation attorney in town, is looking back on 100 years of Carbary's practicing in Elgin.

       George D. Carbary passed the bar April 3, 1912, becoming the first Carbary to practice law in Elgin. He is pictured here partway through his 61-year career that included two terms as the Kane County state's attorney during Prohibition. Carbary's grandson Jonathan, a third generation attorney in town, is looking back on 100 years of Carbary's practicing in Elgin.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Jonathan Carbary is a third generation attorney in Elgin, looking back on 100 years of Carbarys practicing in town. His grandfather, George D. Carbary, passed the bar April 3, 1912.

       Jonathan Carbary is a third generation attorney in Elgin, looking back on 100 years of Carbarys practicing in town. His grandfather, George D. Carbary, passed the bar April 3, 1912.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Warren Carbary, who died in 2011, was a second generation attorney in Elgin. He practiced mostly real estate and probate law during his 51-year career. His son, Jonathan, is looking back on 100 years of Carbary attorneys practicing in Elgin this year. The first Carbary attorney, George, passed the bar April 3, 1912.

       Warren Carbary, who died in 2011, was a second generation attorney in Elgin. He practiced mostly real estate and probate law during his 51-year career. His son, Jonathan, is looking back on 100 years of Carbary attorneys practicing in Elgin this year. The first Carbary attorney, George, passed the bar April 3, 1912.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Jonathan Carbary is a third generation attorney in Elgin, looking back on 100 years of Carbarys practicing in town. His grandfather, George D. Carbary, passed the bar April 3, 1912.

       Jonathan Carbary is a third generation attorney in Elgin, looking back on 100 years of Carbarys practicing in town. His grandfather, George D. Carbary, passed the bar April 3, 1912.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 

People in Elgin still tell stories about George Carbary -- noted trial lawyer and state's attorney from 1928 until 1936, overseeing enforcement of Prohibition. He passed the bar on April 3, 1912 with no law school diploma, just work experience with a Kane County judge.

This year, 100 years since Carbary became an attorney, his grandson reflects on the depth of his family history.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

Jonathan L. Carbary, who practices personal injury, family law, workers' compensation cases and some criminal law, is a third generation Elgin attorney who grew up never doubting he would follow in his father's and grandfather's footsteps.

"When I was growing up my grandfather said 'You will be a lawyer,'" Carbary remembers. "My dad said 'It would be nice if you were an attorney but you can be anything you want to be.'"

Carbary said there was a sense of family obligation in his decision. But there was also a sense of pride in taking part in a profession his father and grandfather gave their lives to.

Warren Carbary, the second generation lawyer and Jonathan's father, died last July and practiced half a century of mostly real estate and probate law. He did not like going to court, unlike his father.

George Carbary was a bear of a man, towering over his peers at 6'2 and sometimes seeming fearless. As legend has it, Al Capone arranged a meeting with him when he was the state's attorney. Carbary made clear he knew who Capone was and that he would not come into Kane County.

Jonathan Carbary said his grandfather apparently got his way, but the pavilion for the dog track where the two men met "mysteriously" burned down a few months later.

These are some of the stories Carbary grew up hearing about the legal profession.

"At the dinner table I never heard the bad stories," Carbary said. "I only heard the good stories. It sounded somewhat glamorous."

In truth, Carbary said it's not glamorous. He has found himself becoming callous about the situations his clients find themselves in as he hears similar stories year after year.

But he understands the gravity of the cases for their participants.

"You have to be meticulous," Carbary said. "You are dealing with major decisions in other people's lives."

Carbary's son, Jonathan R., recently decided on a future in law. He originally planned to follow his microbiology undergraduate degree with a Ph.D. in pharmacology but applied to law school instead. The youngest Carbary's new plan is to take a federal bar for copyrights, trademarks and patents and work for a pharmaceutical company.

The Carbarys are up to six generations raised in Elgin with roots stretching to Irish immigrants escaping the potato famine. The family won't know if the line of Elgin attorneys stops with the current Carbary until his son gets a job after law school.

Either way, the clock will keep ticking until Carbary's retirement as he brings his family's profession into its second century.

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.