As long as diseases and accidents assail humanity and render health and
life uncertain among men the good druggist will be ever with them and they
will regard him with esteem, or even veneration, in proportion to their
needs and the extent and value of the service he is able to render them. So,
on account of the nature of his business, if for no other reason, the people
of Carbondale and Jackson county would have a high regard for Francis M.
Hewitt, one of their leading pharmacists and chemists.
But there are other reasons, and strong ones, for the high place Mr. Hewitt occupies in the public estimation of the city and county of his home and the seat of his business operations. He is an enterprising and progressive man, with a cordial practical interest in the welfare of the community around him, and great energy and intelligence in helping to promote it in every way open to him. He is always among the first to come forward in support of every worthy enterprise for the good of the people, or the development and improvement of the region in which he lives, and in everything that pertains to good citizenship he is second to nobody in loyalty or the strict and prompt discharge of duty.
Mr. Hewitt is a native of Johnson county, Illinois, where he was born on May 3, 1870. His parents, John L. and Mary Ann (Casey) Hewitt, were farmers, but Mr. Hewitt remembers very little about them, as when he was but two and a half years of age his father died, and when he was but nine death robbed him also of his mother. He was therefore thrown on his own resources at an early age, and had to work his way through school and into some lucrative channel of employment before he could secure even a foothold for advancement in the struggle for supremacy among men.
He was able to attend the public schools in Johnson and Williamson counties in a remittent sort of a way while working for a meager recompense on farms and at other employment, and he made such good use of his limited opportunities that he acquired considerable elementary scholarship, even in this fugitive way and at the age of nineteen taught school in Williamson county, the district joining the Marion city school on the north. His aim was lofty and he kept his eye steadily on the goal of his hopes, using every means at his command to advance toward it. He worked for his room and board while he attended the department of pharmacy in the Northwestern University, Chicago, and in 1893 he came forth as a graduate of that great institution and qualified to practice pharmacy according to all the legal requirements.
For a few months after his graduation he clerked in drug stores in Chicago and St. Louis, then came to Carbondale in the autumn of the year last mentioned. He remained in the city three years employed in his chosen line of work. But in 1896 he learned of a good opening in Paducah, Kentucky, and immediately took advantage of it, remaining in that city until 1899. He passed the next year in Clarksville, Tennessee, and in 1900 returned to Carbondale and started the business in the drug trade which he is still conducting here, and in which he has built up a large and representative patronage, with its accompanying public confidence and esteem.
From his advent in the city Mr. Hewitt has been very zealous and energetic in his efforts to promote its welfare and advance its progress and improvement. In every department of its being he has made his influence felt for good, and has been especially forceful and effective in connection with its civic affairs. In 1911 he was one of the leading workers for the establishment of the commission form of government for the city, and did more than almost any other man to bring it about. After it was adopted the people insisted that as he had been so potential in bringing the issue to a successful conclusion, and had shown so much wisdom in reference to the matter, he was one of the best men they had to put the new plan in operation and must take his share of the responsibility involved in starting it properly. He was made commissioner of health and public safety, an office which he is now filling with great acceptability to the whole population.
Mr. Hewitt was also one of the founders of the Carbondale National Bank and is now one of its directors and its vice president. He is an active and zealous member of the Christian church, and has served as one of the trustees of the Carbondale congregation of that sect. In the fraternal life of the city and county he has been active and serviceable as a Knight of Pythias, an Odd Fellow and a member of the Order of Elks. In the Knights of Pythias he has been the chancellor commander of his lodge, and in the Order of Odd Fellows has twice occupied the chair of noble grand. In the Order of Elks he belongs to Paducah, Kentucky, Lodge No. 236.
On January 24, 1907, Mr. Hewitt was married to Miss Winifred Barker, of Carbondale, a daughter of Hon. Oliver A. Harker, judge of the Court of Chancery. They have two children, their son Francis Marion and their daughter Winifred Harker, who cheer and brighten the family hearthstone and add greatly to the attractiveness of the home for the numerous friends of their parents who frequent it for the enjoyment of its air of intellectual and social culture and the genuine hospitality which is one of its leading and most characteristic charms.
Extracted 11 Nov 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, by George W. Smith, volume 3, pages 1098-1100.
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