Jackson County

Biography - James M. Etherton

JAMES MARCUS ETHERTON. Merchant, public official, banker and promoter, and influential factor for the good of his city, county and state in many ways, James M. Etherton, of Carbondale, is well and favorably known in all parts of Illinois as one of the leading citizens of his county and one of the most progressive and public spirited men in the state. He has turned his hand to several different lines of activity and made a good record in them all; succeeding where others have failed or won but moderate triumphs; expanding small enterprises into affairs of moment; arresting public thought and action and forcing it into line with his own for the general welfare, and generally exhibiting the highest traits of broad-minded, enterprising and highly serviceable citizenship.

Mr. Etherton has a special interest in Carbondale from the fact that he was born and reared in the country near Carbondale and began his education in its schools. It has also been the seat of all his business operations, and is in its present-day development and strident progress largely the creature of his energy and stimulating and directing intelligence. His life began here on April 5, 1862, and he is a son of William and Miami (Reynolds) Etherton, prosperous farmers of Jackson during the lifetime of the father. The father, who died some years ago, was born in Jackson county, Illinois. The mother, who is still living, is a native of England, and the father's ancestors were also residents of that country for many generations. The mother is a relative of former Governor Reynolds of this state.

Their son James M. grew to manhood in Carbondale. He completed his education at the Southern Illinois Normal University, from which he was graduated in 1899. After leaving school he started in business as a merchant in charge of a general store, and he is still connected with that line of mercantile life, and conducting his trade on a large scale. He is also one of the three owners of the William T. Phelps Land and Coal Company and its manager. The holdings of the company are located in Saline county, Illinois, and embrace fourteen hundred acres of choice mineral deposit and land valuable for other purposes. The mines on this land are undeveloped as yet.

In addition to his other possessions Mr. Etherton owns a considerable block of the stock of what is now the Carbondale National Bank, and is its president, an office which he has held for a number of years, and filled with great credit to himself and benefit to the city and county in which it is located. He has largely increased its resources, patronage and usefulness and made it one of the leading financial institutions in the southern part of Illinois, with a record second to none for progressiveness in business and wisdom and prudence in management.

Mr. Etherton is a firm and faithful Democrat in his political faith and allegiance, and one of the strongest men in ability and influence in his party. He served as a member of the Carbondale school board three years and two terms as a member of the city council. He has also served two terms as a member of the city council. He has also served two terms in the lower house of the state legislature as a representative of the Forty-fourth legislative district, and in this office he showed his interest in the state and its people in a very conspicuous and beneficial way with excellent results.

In the house to which he was twice elected he served on the committees on appropriations, education, fish and game, the geological survey, and banks and banking. He introduced and secured the passage of a bill making an appropriation for the erection of the Woman's Building at the Southern Illinois Normal University. He took an earnest interest in this bill and worked it through the house by a hard fight in which he was obliged to battle for every foot of his ground. He also secured appropriations for other extensive public improvements, and labored arduously to promote not only the cause of education but every other interest of the people of the state. In consequence of his extended public service he has become acquainted with every party man of prominence in both of the leading political organizations, and it is greatly to his credit that he is cordially esteemed by them all.

On the 21st of September, 1884, he was united in marriage with Miss Levina Jane Lee, of Pomona, a daughter of Dr. A. M. Lee of that city. Three children have been born of the union, all of whom are living. They are Leona, Ruby and James Everett. The parents are devoted members of the Baptist church, and the father has been one of the trustees of the congregation to which they belong during the last seven years. Both are active workers in the church, with responsive hearts and open hands for all the demands its benevolent and Christianizing agencies make upon them, and ready at all times to perform any duty they can in its service or for the benefit of those to whom it ministers. They are among the best and most useful citizens of Jackson county, and are universally recognized as in that class and esteemed accordingly.

Extracted 15 Jan 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 759-761.

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