Jackson County

Biography - Laurence B. Sheley

LAURENCE BERNARD SHELEY. The power of the Fourth Estate is generally conceded to be the strongest influence in the United States, where absolute freedom of the press is allowed as in no other country. The responsibility rests heavily, therefore, on the shoulders of those trusted with the moulding and direction of public opinion and morals, and to their credit be it said that these editors seldom fail to live up to high ideals. The Republican Era of Murphysboro, Illinois, is capably edited by Laurence Bernard Sheley, whose experience in newspaper work began with the selling of papers and gradually developed until he is now occupying an editorial chair. Mr. Sheley is a native of St. Clair county, Illinois, and was born at Mascoutah February 25, 1879, a son of J. W. and Harriet (Pensoneau) Sheley.

J. W. Sheley was born August 20, 1852, in St. Clair county, where his parents, farming people, had located a short time previously. He grew to manhood in his native locality, and was there married to Harriet Pensoneau, a daughter of Louis Perry Pensoneau, the original editor of the St. Clair Banner, at Belleville, who was later engaged in the coal business at East St. Louis. Mr. Pensoneau was a grandson of Jean Francois Perry, who was one of the original settlers at Cahokia, a very large land owner and a descendant of the royal family of France who came to this country on account of political reasons. Mr. and Mrs. Sheley, who are now living at Murphysboro, have been the parents of six children, of whom Laurence Bernard is the second in order of birth. They are members of the Catholic church.

Bernard Sheley 's early life was spent on the plains of Kansas, whence his parents moved when he was six years of age, and his limited schooling was secured in the rural institutions of that state. When he was fifteen years of age the family returned to Illinois, locating in Murphysboro, where Mr. Sheley secured employment carrying papers for John W. Greer, who was then editor of the paper of which Mr. Sheley is now the head, at that time a Democratic organ known as the News. In 1903 he went to New Mexico, and for one year was identified with the Santa Fe New Mexican, subsequently spending three years in newspaper work at Phoenix, Arizona, first as reporter for the Gazette and later as telegraph editor of the Democrat. While in the West he acted for a time as deputy county recorder of Maricopa county at Phoenix, Arizona. On his return to Murphysboro, in 1907, Mr. Sheley became advertising manager of the Independent, and in 1909, when Mr. H. L. Williamson was made state printer, Mr. Sheley succeeded him as editor and manager of the Republican Era. Mr. Sheley 's efforts have been devoted to giving the reading public of Murphysboro and the surrounding country a clean, wholesome sheet, and that his work has been appreciated is evidenced by the increase in circulation since he has held the managerial reins. The journal is exceptionally free from sensationalism, and its main features have been accurate national and international news, interesting local happenings and strong, pithy editorials. The principles of the Republican party are advocated.

Mr. Sheley was married in 1902, at Murphysboro, to Miss Ellen Florence Ashman, daughter of the late Andrew Ashman, a former member of the Murphysboro city council, and five children have been born to this union, namely: Bernard, Ellenita, Lawrence, Evelyn Lucille and Harriet Saline, the later being now dead. Mr. and Mrs. Sheley are members of the Roman Catholic church, and he holds membership in the Knights of Columbus, having been a charter member and the first financial secretary of Marcos de Viza Council at Phoenix, Arizona.

Extracted 16 Jan 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 1063-1064.

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