Jackson County

Biography - Martin A. Ross

HON. MARTIN A. ROSS, ex-Sheriff and ex-Mayor of Murphysboro, and one of its most highly respected citizens, claims New Hampshire as the state of his nativity. He was born in Fitzwilliam, June 16, 1829, and is one of five children born unto Arad L. and Cynthia B. (Burpee) Ross, both of whom were natives of Massachusetts. For some years the father followed farming near Fitzwilliam, but in 1830 went to Vermont, and in 1834 came with his family to Illinois, accompanied by T. L. Ross and Isham Purdy and their families. He located at Vergennes, and afterward entered and bought land, improving a fine farm. Subsequently he removed across the line into Perry County. He died near Du Quoin, at the age of seventy-three, and his wife reached the age of eighty. He was a Whig in politics, and in religious belief she was a Methodist. Their children were, Mrs. Philena A. Hinckley, of Du Quoin; Martin A.; Ellen C., deceased wife of George Kennedy; Leonard T., of Sand Ridge; and Orren A., a farmer of Du Quoin. The last two served in the Eighty-first Illinois Infantry, and Leonard, who was Corporal, had his leg shot off at Vicksburg.

Since the age of five years, Martin A. Ross has resided in Jackson and Perry Counties. He remembers seeing deer, wolves and other wild game in this region, and is familiar with all the hardships and experiences of frontier life. He was educated in the old-time schoolhouse, with its slab seats, puncheon floor and huge fireplace. He wrote with a quill pen, and studied from the Testament and Elementary Spelling Book. At the age of eighteen he left home and engaged in lumbering on the river for about seven years, working for Colonel Brush, who operated a sawmill. Mr. Ross served as head sawyer for five years, and received the largest wages paid for that work in the county. Ill health, however, forced him to abandon this, and in Du Quoin he opened a store in partnership with G. M. Hinckley, under the firm name of Hinckley & Co. After about six years, he sold out and turned his attention to the development of his farm of one hundred acres in Perry County. This he disposed of in 1868, and embarked in business in Murphysboro, in connection with George Kennedy. Under the firm name of Kennedy & Ross, for fifteen years he dealt in hardware, furniture, agricultural implements and groceries, doing a successful business, but again he was forced to sell out, in 1882, on account of ill health.

On the 10th of May, 1864, Mr. Ross was united in marriage with Emma L., daughter of Calvin L. Casterline. Her father, who was born in Elizabethtown, N. J., was a shoe merchant, and in 1838 emigrated by wagon to St. Louis, where he engaged in the grocery business for many years. He died while visiting in St. Louis in 1870, at the age of sixty-five. In politics, he was first a Whig and afterward a Republican. He married Sarah Woodruff, a native of New Jersey, who died in 1878, at the age of seventy-three. They had a family of five children, four of whom reached mature years: Mrs. Eliza Greer, of Los Angeles, Cal.; Cornelia, wife of E. E. Souther, of St. Louis; Edward P., of Colorado; and Mrs. Ross. The last-named was born in Newark, N. J., August 4, 1839, and was reared in St. Louis, received an excellent musical education, and taught in that city and in the musical department of the old Du Quoin Seminary. To our subject and his wife was born one child, now Mrs. Hattie L. Poindexter, who was graduated in Carbondale, and is living in Murphysboro.

In 1882 Mr. Ross was elected County Sheriff for a term of four years, and his duties often called forth great bravery and fearlessness. He was also ex-offlcio Collector for three years, and after the law was changed served as Township Collector until December, 1888. In 1871 he was elected Mayor, and in 1875 was again chosen to that office. He also served one term as Alderman, and two terms as School Director. He has always been a stalwart supporter of Republican principles.

After retiring from office, Mr. Ross gave his attention solely to his farm in Sand Ridge, comprising six hundred and eighty-six acres of highly improved land. He also raises fine horses, having "Quartermaster," sired by "Cleveland Bay;" "Canton," sired by "George Sprague," and some fine standard bred Bay stallions. He is a man of good business ability, and has been very successful in his business dealings. He belongs to Amity Lodge, I. O. O. F., and to the encampment, and also to the Knights of Honor, of which he was Treasurer for several years. The Presbyterian Church finds in him a faithful and consistent member. He is pleasant and affable in manner, and has the high regard of all. His wife is an intelligent and highly cultured lady, who presides with grace over their comfortable home. It is with pleasure that we present to our readers the sketch of this worthy couple.

Extracted 26 Mar 2020 by Norma Hass from 1894 Biographical Review of Jackson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 605-606.

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