Jackson County

Biography - William A. Schwartz

WILLIAM AUGUSTUS SCHWARTZ. This leading lawyer, influential citizen and prominent financier and industrial promoter, whose whole life to this time (1911), excepting while he was in school and college, has been passed at Carbondale, seems to have the touch of Midas without the sordidness of that unhappy monarch. Everything he puts his hand to in a professional or business way thrives and brings in good returns, but the results are used for the benefit of others in manifestations of enterprise and public spirit which show that he is deeply interested in the welfare of his city and county and the comfort and progress of their people in every worthy and proper way.

Mr. Schwartz was born on a farm in Elk township, Jackson county, Illinois, on February 28, 1853, and is a son of William and Sarah (Kimmel) Schwartz. His father was one of the prosperous and prominent farmers and stock breeders of Jackson county, and took a considerable interest in public affairs. He was a member of the state legislature in 1870-71, and died during his term of office, in the height of his usefulness and in the prime of life.

His son, William Augustus Schwartz, began his academic education in the public schools, continued it in Carthage College, and completed it at the Southern Illinois Normal University. After leaving the last named institution he attended Union Law College in Chicago, and was admitted to the bar in 1879. Following his admission to the bar he located in Carbondale, and ever since has been actively engaged in the practice of his profession in the county of his birth, and adjoining counties, and for many years also in the higher courts of the state and in United States Court. He has served one term as state's attorney in this county, and as school trustee for some years, although his ambition has never been in the line of public office, but rather in the domain of financial operations and in the development of large industrial enterprises. In 1892 he helped to organize the First National Bank of Carbondale, with a capital stock of fifty thousand dollars and the late F. A. Prickett as president. Mr. Prickett died August 31, 1903, and directly after that event Mr. Schwartz, whose influence and service in promoting the interests of the bank as a director from the start had been very greatly and highly appreciated, was chosen president to succeed Mr. Prickett. He has held that office and directed the policy and course of the institution ever since, and it has grown and prospered under his wise and progressive management. In 1911 the bank had accumulated an undivided surplus amounting to fifteen thousand dollars, with a much increased and rapidly expanding volume of business, and a steadily strengthening hold upon the confidence and high regard of the business world around it. But the exacting claims of the bank on his time and attention, and those of his large legal practice, were insufficient to absorb all his energies or completely employ the faculties of his active and comprehensive mind. In 1897 he found an additional field for their exercise in helping to organize the Carbondale Trust and Savings Bank, of which he was made president at the time, and has been ever since. This institution has also flourished and thriven through his energy and skill as a financier and his foresight and enterprise as a controlling force, which have been freely applied to it.

His business capacity and tireless diligence in the use of it have found still other fruitful channels of expression through the Carbondale Mill and Elevator Company, the Carbondale and Marion Telephone Company, the Ohio-Mississippi Valley Telephone Company, and the Missouri State Life Insurance Company of St. Louis, all of which he helped to organize, and each of which he has served zealously for years as a member of its directorate. These institutions have all been of considerable advantage to him personally and of great benefit to the public in many ways by means of their ever widening currents of business and their productive activities.

In his profession Mr. Schwartz stands deservedly high because of his ability and acumen as a lawyer, his extensive legal knowledge and his industrious devotion to his professional duties, notwithstanding the other exhaustive domains of business which lay him under such heavy tribute by their requirements, all of which he meets with ease and promptness and in the most successful manner, by reason of the resourcefulness of his versatile and comprehensive mind and his commanding genius for close and unremitting application to whatever he has in hand.

In his political faith and allegiance Mr. Schwartz is allied with the Democratic party, and while he has never been desirous of political honors or emoluments of office for himself, he has been a faithful worker for the success of the party because of his strong conviction of the correctness of its principles. In the early eighties he served as chairman of its county central committee, and proved himself a valiant and resourceful leader in its campaign. His religious connection is with the Christian church, and he is an elder in its organization and government. For the past seventeen years he has been an officer and an active worker in the Jackson County Sunday-School Association. Fraternally Mr. Schwartz belongs to the Masonic order and to its adjunct, the Order of the Eastern Star, in both of which he is earnest in his interest and energetic and practical in the service he renders. Mr. Schwartz has never married. He has shared his mother's home all his life, and his dearest ambition has been to make that home a comfortable and happy abiding place for her declining years, an ambition which it is safe to say he has fully realized. He has one brother living, George Schwartz, and one sister, Mrs. Ellen Hays. Two brothers, Henry and Daniel, and three sisters, Isabel, Laura and Lucy, died before they reached their legal majority.

Extracted 16 Jan 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 1034-1035.

Design by Templates in Time