Jackson County

Biography - John L. Ozburn

JOHN L. OZBURN. One of the best known and most highly esteemed citizens and representative business men of Jackson county is this well known resident of Murphysboro, where he is now engaged in the lumber and building-supply business. Mr. Ozburn is a native of Jackson county and a member of one of its honored pioneer families. The high regard in which he is held in his home county has been significantly shown by his having been called upon to serve in numerous city and county offices, in each of which his course was such as to justify to the fullest extent the public trust reposed in him. His standing in the community is such as to entitle him to special recognition in this history of southern Illinois.

John Logan Ozburn was born on a farm in Jackson township, Jackson county, Illinois, on the 20th of February, 1851, and is a son of Lindorf and Diza Ann (Glenn) Ozburn, natives of Virginia. The father of Mr. Ozburn was one of the pioneer settlers of Jackson county and here became a citizen of prominence and influence and an aggressive and successful business man. In addition to developing an excellent farm he also operated a saw and grist mill, and as a citizen he was distinctively progressive and public-spirited. He espoused the cause of the Republican party at the time of its organization and thereafter continued his allegiance to the same until his death. He served as a valiant soldier of the Union in the Civil War, for which he enlisted in an Illinois regiment of volunteer infantry and he became colonel of his regiment, which he commanded with marked ability. He met his death in 1864, at the hands of a cowardly assassin, this tragic event occurring at Carbondale, Jackson county. His widow passed to the life eternal in 1895, and of their children three sons and two daughters are now living.

John L. Ozburn is indebted to the public schools and summer schools of his native county for his early educational discipline and his initiatory experience in connection with the practical duties and responsibilities of life was that acquired on the farm. In an independent way he was identified with the great basic industry of agriculture for a period of ten years, and for a time he was concerned with coal-mining operations in his home county. Twenty years thereafter were devoted to clerical or official work as bookkeeper and executive, and his record in all these relations has been marked by the utmost fidelity and by effective service.

In 1878 Mr. Ozburn was elected county surveyor, and of this office he continued the incumbent until 1882, in which year he was appointed postmaster of Murphysboro, the thriving judicial center and metropolis of his native county. He remained in tenure of this office for four and one-half years, and in 1894 he was elected county clerk. He held this office until 1898 and was forthwith given further evidence of popular esteem and confidence in his election to the office of master in chancery. The duties of this position engrossed his attention from 1898 to 1900. and for the ensuing three years he served as deputy county treasurer. These brief data show that Mr. Ozburn was retained in public office in virtually a consecutive way for a full quarter of a century, and the county of his birth gives in its official records due evidence of his long and acceptable service as an executive, the while his home city has not failed to mark its appreciation in a similar way. Thus it should be noted that he has served as city engineer of Murphysboro, as a member of its board of aldermen and as city treasurer. Finally he was nominated for mayor, on an independent ticket, but he was unable to overcome the organized forces of the two dominating parties and consequently met defeat, though he received a representative endorsement at the polls.

In 1903 Mr. Ozburn purchased the lumber and building-supply business which he has since conducted with vigor and success and in connection with which he has gained prestige as one of the substantial and representative business men of his native county.

In a generic way, where national and state issues are involved, Mr. Ozburn gives his support to the principles and policies for which the Republican party stands sponser, but in local affairs he has maintained an independent attitude to a large extent by giving his support to the candidates and measures meeting the approval of his judgment. He is affiliated with the Murphysboro lodges of the Knights of Pythias and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and both he and his wife are zealous and valued members of the First Methodist Episcopal church, of the board of trustees of which he is a member.

At Mount Vernon, Jefferson county, this state, on the 12th of August, 1874, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Ozburn to Miss Fannie Morris, daughter of Rev. Charles W. Morris, who was long in zealous service as a clergyman of the Methodist Episcopal church and who passed the closing years of his life at Murphysboro, Illinois. Mr. and Mrs. Ozburn became the parents of three sons: Harry O. is cashier of the Citizens' State & Savings Bank of Murphysboro; Thomas L., who was graduated in the United States Naval Academy, at Annapolis, Maryland, as a member of the class of 1902, became lieutenant commander in the navy and for a year was in command of the battleship "Texas." His promising career was cut short by his death, which occurred at the Brooklyn navy yard, on the 2d of July, 1911, at which time he was thirty-two years of age. He had made an admirable record as an officer in the navy and his personal popularity was on a parity with his sterling attributes of character. His death was the severest bereavement that has marked the ideal married life of Mr. and Mrs. Ozburn. George J., the youngest son, remains at the parental home.

Extracted from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 611-612.

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