PHILIP N. FREW, a well known general merchant of Murphysboro, has built up a good business in this place, and now occupies a prominent position in commercial circles. The record of his life is as follows: A native of the Keystone State, he was born in New Castle, Lawrence County, April 4, 1852. His father, Philip Frew, was a native of Pennsylvania, as was the grandfather, James Frew, who served in the War of 1812. As a means of livelihood, he followed the occupation of farming. The father was also an agriculturist and a miller, and operated a water-mill in New Castle for many years. At length he retired, and in 1890 came to Murphysboro, where his death occurred on the 6th of July, 1893, at the age of seventy-seven. His wife, whose maiden name was Jane Armstrong, was born in Pennsylvania, and was a daughter of John Armstrong, a wheelwright of that state. She died in her native state, at the age of fifty-seven.
P. N. Frew was the fifth in a family of nine children, but only two are now living, our subject and David A. Three brothers wore the blue in the Civil War and valiantly aided in the preservation of the Union. In the town of his birth our subject was reared and educated, remaining at home until eighteen years of age. He apprenticed himself to a bricklayer, with whom he served a term of four years. In 1874 he came to the west, locating first in Chicago, but removed thence to St. Louis, where he worked as a bricklayer for three years. He then embarked as a grocer in that city, and later purchased a grocery store in East Carondelet, Ill., which he carried on until 1884.
In that year Mr. Frew returned to St. Louis, and there engaged in business as a contractor and builder until 1886, when he entered the employ of the Mobile & Ohio Railroad as Superintendent of the brick work construction of a road between St. Louis and Corinth, Miss. The four succeeding years of his life were thus passed, during which time he superintended the building of the machine shops and roundhouse at Murphysboro. On the completion of this task he took up his residence here and engaged in contracting and building for himself. He erected the St. Andrew's Catholic Church, the Lucier Opera House, the Logan House, the water works, the ice factories for the brewing company, and a number of business houses and residences. His handiwork is seen on all sides, and many of the most important buildings of the place stand as monuments to his skill and enterprise. He erected his own store building, which covers four lots and includes two stories. The basement is a large produce and potato cellar, which will hold two car loads of goods.
In 1889 Mr. Frew was united in marriage with Miss Mary E. Torbett, a native of Illinois, born in St. Clair County. They have two daughters, Jennie and May. Mr. Frew is an inflexible adherent of Democratic principles, and socially is connected with the Masonic fraternity. Those who know him esteem him highly as a man of sterling worth, and in him the business interests of the city and a worthy representative.
Extracted 22 Feb 2017 by Norma Hass from 1894 Biographical Review of Jackson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 528-530.
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