HARMON H. FOX one of the prominent early settlers of Murphysboro, for many years was a traveling salesman, and later was appointed by Governor Altgeld purchasing agent for the Southern Illinois Penitentiarv at Chester. He has spent his entire life in the county which is still his home, his birth having occurred in Vergennes, June 16, 1836. His father and grandfather both bore the name of William, and were natives of Virginia. The latter came with teams to Illinois in 1824, locating in Bradley Township, Jackson County, where he carried on farming until his death.
William Fox, Jr., was a young man at the time of the removal of the family. In Bradley Township he married Hannah Cheatam, a native of Tennessee, who came with her parents to this community during her girlhood. They began their domestic life on wild land near Vergennes, and Mr. Fox cleared and developed a farm. In the spring of 1852, he went overland to California with ox-teams, and was captain of the company with which he made the trip. On reaching Trinity County, he engaged in mining and in merchandising, his death there occurring in 1867. His wife passed away on the old homestead in this county, at the age of seventy-six. Of their six sons and three daughters, all grew to mature years, and five are yet living.
H. H. Fox, the fifth of the family, was reared on the old home farm. In the winter season he attended school for three months, and during the remainder of the year aided in the labors of the field. On attaining his majority he left home, and was married in Vergennes, February 27, 1855, to Miss Julia A., daughter of John Gill, a native of Virginia, who in his boyhood came to this state. For many years he was a well known farmer of Somerset Township. In 1864, he removed to De Soto Township, where he carried on agricultural pursuits during the remainder of his days. He wedded Ann Shumake, a native of Virginia, and they became the parents of eight children, two of whom are yet living. Mrs. Fox was born in Somerset Township. Our subject and his wife have two children, Mary A., wife of W. E. Chambers, a general merchant of Murphysboro, and John, who is here engaged in the livery business.
On leaving home, Mr. Fox began the cultivation of a forty-acre farm, which he afterward traded for a tract of eighty acres. Upon this place was a log house, and he cleared and improved the land, transforming it into rich and fertile fields. His labors as an agriculturist continued until 1867, when he came to Murphysboro and embarked in the hotel business, becoming proprietor of the Henderson House. A year later he entered the retail grocery trade and built a two-story brick building, in which he carried on business until 1872. He then sold his stock, but still owns the store. On disposing of his goods he became traveling representative for the firm of J. M. Anderson & Co., wholesale grocers of St. Louis. In the fall of 1880 he was elected County Sheriff on the Democratic ticket for a term of two years. He faithfully discharged his duties, and when his time had expired again went on the road, continuing with J. H. Brookmier, of St. Louis, until 1889. He next was traveling salesman for Meyer, Smith & Robyn, wholesale grocers of St. Louis, with whom he continued until January, 1893, when he became purchasing agent for the Southern Illinois Penitentiary. To this work he devoted his entire energies until the Governor declared that office vacant throughout the state. He now works in the interest of the Bauer Grocery Company, of St. Louis.
Mr. Fox is a member of the Odd Fellows' lodge, and his wife belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church South. In his political views he is a Democrat, and has several times served as Alderman from the First Ward. He has known Murphysboro since it was a small hamlet of one hundred inhabitants, and with its growth and upbuilding he has been prominently identified. His public and private life are alike above reproach, and an honorable, upright career has won him the warm regard of all with whom business or social relations have brought him in contact.
Extracted from Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois, published in 1894, page 253.
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