Biography - William H. Phillips
WILLIAM HARPER PHILLIPS. During all of the last sixteen years William H.
Phillips has been a resident of Carbondale, and throughout that period has
been carrying on an extensive business which has been profitable to him and
beneficial to the city and its people. His enterprise has given employment
to a number of men, kept a considerable sum of money regularly in
circulation in the community and added materially to the mercantile and
industrial activity and importance of the place and a large extent of the
Mr. Phillips has lived in several different
places, and long enough in each to make his merits known to the people and
win their good opinion and esteem. He was born in Clarksville, Mecklenburg
county, Virginia, in July, 1846, and is a son of Robert Allen and Caroline
(Leneave) Phillips, who passed the major portion of their lives in the Old
Dominion, and their forefathers for many generations had lived there. The
father was a wagon maker and flourished at the trade until the Civil war
came and paralyzed every industry in the South. Even during that awful
conflict he was able to maintain his standing and keep his head above water,
difficult as it must have been at times. He and his wife passed away in
Kentucky, which state had been their home a few years prior to their death.
The son was educated at private schools, and by the time he was ready to
leave them and start a business career for himself the war was in full
blast, and he determined to join the Confederate army in defense of the
political theories in which he had been trained. He was not yet a man in
age, but was one in spirit and courage, and hesitated not a moment when he
heard the voice of duty ordering him to the field. He enlisted in Company A,
Fifty-sixth Virginia Infantry, and, youth as he was, was made second
lieutenant of the company.
His record in the war was like that of
many thousands of other brave men on both sides of the sanguinary sectional
strife. "Whatever the danger before him, he faced it without flinching;
whatever the toil, hardship and privation, he endured without complaining;
whatever the final result, he did his whole duty without shirking; and when
the flag he followed so faithfully went down in everlasting defeat at
Appomattox, he accepted the disaster without repining. His regiment took
part in the battle of Bull Run and shared in its triumph. It also
participated in many subsequent engagements, victorious in some and defeated
in others. He was with it to the end of the war, and was mustered out of the
service in September, 1865, worn in body, wasted in wordly possessions, with
no employment immediately available to provide for his wants, but undaunted
in spirit, and still ready to encounter the worst that Fate might send him.
When the army to which he belonged was reorganized in 1863 he was made
captain of his company; and in a subsequent reorganization was promoted to
major, but his commission for the latter rank never reached him. At the end
of his military service he returned to his Virginia home to begin again the
struggle for advancement among men, but found the conditions in his native
state altogether unpromising for a man without means, and likely to continue
so for many years. He therefore determined to seek better opportunities in a
state which had not been ground under the iron heel of war, and in 1869 left
Virginia. For a number of years he worked in various places at his trade of
wagon making, which he had learned under the tuition of his father. In 1875
he came to Illinois and located at Carterville in Williamson county.
There he wrought at manufacturing wagons for a time, then sold farming
machinery for some years. In 1885 he moved to Marion, the county seat, where
he remained ten years employed as he had been at Carterville. In 1893,
beginning in September, he took charge of the Scurlock estate for the
purpose of winding up its affairs. There was a business in the farm
implement trade belonging to this estate, and when he had the other affairs
of the estate all settled and disposed of he bought this business and its
equipment and stock, and began to carry on the enterprise himself.
Subsequently he added furniture, hardware and builders' supplies to his
lines of commodities, and so enlarged his operations and increased his
business to considerable proportions. It is now located in a two-story brick
building of substantial construction, forty by one hundred and thirty-two
feet in dimensions.
Wherever he has lived Mr. Phillips has taken a
warm interest in public affairs and done what he could to secure for the
interests of his community proper control and administration. He was for
some years president of the board of aldermen in Carterville, and served one
term as alderman from the ward in which he lived in Marion. In Carbondale he
has performed all the duties of citizenship in a manner very creditable to
him and servicable to the city and its inhabitants.
On December 31,
1872, he was married to Miss Cannie Jones, of Cerulean Springs, Trigg
county, Kentucky, the daughter of a highly respected and prosperous
blacksmith of that place, Jefferson Jones. They have three children, all of
whom are living, but only one of them in this state. They are: Otis Blakely,
a partner of his father in the implement establishment; Maud, the wife of J.
F. Daniels, of Wichita, Kansas, a traveling salesman; and Grace, the wife of
Rush T. Lewis, who also lives in Wichita, Kansas, and is likewise a
traveling salesman. The father belongs to the Methodist Episcopal church and
is a member of the official board of his congregation. His fraternal
connection is with the Masonic order, of which he has long been a member.
Extracted from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 619-621.