1912 History of Southern Illinois
Volume II

RUDOLPH STECKER. [Page 1053]
One of the important industrial enterprises contributing to the commercial precedence of the thriving city of Murphysboro, judicial center of Jackson county, is that conducted under the title of the Rudolph Stecker Brewing Company, and he whose name initiates this article is virtually the sole owner of the business, which is conducted upon the highest standard, with a plant that is modern in all equipments and facilities. The enterprise dates its inception back to the year 1886 and was originally conducted under the title of the Murphysboro Brewing Company. The capacity of the original plant was for the output of fifteen hundred barrels per year, and the noteworthy expansion of the business is evidenced by no one thing more emphatically than by the fact that the annual capacity of the institution at the present time is forty thousand barrels. The original corps of employes numbered only three persons, all members of one family, and the present force numbers eighty men. The plant covers a tract of five acres, and the company owns one hundred and twenty-seven acres, on which the plant is located. Operations are based on a capital stock of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars and the plant and business represent a conservative valuation of fully eight hundred thousand dollars. The products are of the best order and constitute their own most effective advertising. The most scrupulous attention is given to every detail of manufacture, insuring purity and uniform excellency of output, and every department is provided with the most modern and approved equipment. A large and substantial local business is controlled by the concern and its products also find an appreciative demand throughout a wide radius of country for which Murphysboro is the normal distributing center.

From the foregoing brief statements it is evident that Rudolph Stecker merits classification among the substantial and essentially representative business men of Murphysboro, and his sterling character and genial personality have gained to him unqualified popular esteem in the community that has long represented his home and to the material and civic advancement of which he has contributed a generous quota. Mr. Stecker is a native of the grand duchy of Baden, Germany, where he was born on the 24th of August, 1850, and he is a son of Bassilius and Agnes Stecker, who passed their entire lives in their native land, where the father followed the vocations of brewer and cooper. Rudolph Stecker was afforded the advantages of excellent schools in his fatherland and there served apprenticeships at the trades of brewer and cooper. In 1868, as a youth of eighteen years, he severed the home ties and set forth to seek his fortunes in America. He landed in New York city and thereafter continued to be employed at his trades in the Empire state until 1871, when he came west and located in the city of St. Louis. Shortly afterward he returned to Germany for a visit, and in 1872 he came again to America, of whose advantages and institutions he had become deeply appreciative. He became foreman in the Anheuser-Busch brewery, St. Louis, and served in this capacity for three years, at the expiration of which, in 1875, he engaged in the cooperage business on his own responsibility in St. Louis. He built up a large and prosperous enterprise in this line and he still owns the business, to which he continues to give a general supervision.

In 1886 Mr. Stecker came to Murphysboro and purchased the small brewery conducted under the title of the Murphysboro Brewing Company, as has already been stated in this context. For the first ten years he continued his residence in St. Louis but carefully supervised his interests in Murphysboro, where the practical details of the brewery were assigned to capable managers. He established his home in Murphysboro in 1896, and the succeeding years have been marked by the development of his brewery into one of the large and important concerns of the kind in this section of the state. He is known as a reliable, circumspect and conservative business man and as a citizen who is ever ready to lend his influence in support of measures and enterprises projected for the general good of the community.

In politics Mr. Stecker is aligned as a stanch supporter of the cause of the Republican party and both he and his family are communicants of the Catholic church. He is affiliated with the Masonic fraternity, in which he holds .membership in a Lodge, Chapter and Commandery in St. Louis. He is a popular member of the Murphysboro lodge of Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, of which he was one of the organizers, and in St. Louis he is identified with the Haru Gari.

In the year 1872 was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Stecker to Misa Louisa Miller, and concerning their children the following brief record is given: Katie is the wife of Herman Suber, of St. Louis; Pauline is the wife of Frank Herman, of that city; Ann is the wife of John Eiler, of Murphysboro; Irwin, who is active manager of his father’s brewery, married Miss Mary Pinkerton, a native of Ohio; Julia is the wife of August Giske, of St. Louis; and Louisa is the wife of Dr. Charles Post, a representative physician and surgeon of Murphysboro.
GEORGE H. KELLY. [Page 1057]
One of the nourishing villages of Saline county, Illinois, located on the Big Four Railroad, just fourteen miles southwest from Harrisburg, is that bearing the name of Stonefort, which name was given it from the remains of an old stone fort, erected some time during pioneer days, probably by the settlers or military to guard against the Indians. This village, which has advanced wonderfully during the past several years, is now the home of some of Saline county’s most progressive business men, and a leader among them may be found in George H. Kelly, proprietor of Stonefort’s largest business establishment. Mr. Kelly was born in Perry county, Illinois, August 23, 1865, and is a son of George W. and Mary A. (Harreld) Kelly.

George W. Kelly was born in Portsmouth, Ohio, and was married in Jackson county to Mary A. Harreld, a daughter of the Hon. James Harreld, an early dealer in general merchandise and lumber, who served as a member of the State Legislature during eight sessions when the State House was at Vandalia. His grandson still owns a land patent of 1839 for land in Union county, where his death occurred when he was well advanced in years. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Lydia Swartz, died August 11, 1880, at the age of seventy-three years. Mr. Kelly, after marriage, enlisted in the Eighteenth Volunteer Infantry, for service in the Civil war, and after his first term of service was completed returned home, but eventually re-enlisted in the Eighty-first Infantry, Illinois Volunteers, becoming second lieutenant of his company. In the fall of 1863 he resigned his commission and became a government sutler at Vicksburg, but in the next year returned to his home and settled on a Perry county farm. In 1867 Mr. Kelly opened a general store at DuQuoin, Illinois, but in 1876 sold out and came to Stonefort, where in 1880 he established the business of which his son is now the owner. He died November 26, 1885, when still engaged in active work, and his widow still survives him, and is the owner of over eight hundred acres of land, which she looks after herself. Mr. Kelly was a popular member of the G. A. R., was an active Republican in politics, and a consistent member of the Baptist church, in which he was serving as a deacon at the time of his death. He and Mrs. Kelly had a family of four children: A. I., who is proprietor of a store in Chicago; Mary L., who conducts the Stonefort millinery store; Edith, a teacher of music at Portland, Oregon; and George H.

George H. Kelly received his education in the public schools of Stonefort, and was reared to the mercantile business, being ready to take up the work where his father left off at the time of his death. For three years following Mr. Kelly conducted the business for his mother, but in 1888 purchased the place, which at that time carried a stock worth three thousand dollars and did a yearly business of twelve thousand dollars. So rapidly has Stonefort grown since that time, due to the earnest, persevering work of such men as Mr. Kelly, that he now commands a yearly business of forty thousand dollars, and has a stock that could not be duplicated under twenty thousand dollars. An excellent farm of four hundred and sixty acres also belongs to Mr. Kelly, which he is devoting to general farming and stock raising, hired help being employed to look after this place and two cars of cattle being shipped to the big city markets each year. The large business done by the store necessitates the use of a double store building, where Mr. and Mrs. Kelly and three clerks are constantly kept busy waiting on a patronage that has grown swiftly and steadily as it recognized and appreciated the advantages of giving its trade to a store the principles of which have always been along the lines of honest dealing and fair values.

In 1890 Mr. Kelly was married to Miss Maria Joyner, of Stonefort, daughter of George W. Joyner, who carries on agricultural operations near the village. Mr. and Mrs. Kelly have had no children. He is a member of Oriental Consistory, Chicago, where he is also connected with the Medinah Temple of the Mystic Shrine, and also holds membership in Stonefort Blue Lodge, where he is past master and during 1887 and 1888 represented his local in the Grand Lodge of the state. Mr. Kelly owns a comfortable home in Stonefort, and he and his wife are prominent in social circles and have numerous warm friends.
E. E. GILL. [Page 1058]
A native son of Williamson county, E. E. Gill has made it the scene of his labors for many years. He is well and favorably known to the populace of Marion as a contractor, architect and builder. His reputation for thoroughness and carefulness in construction, as well as the artistic merit of his conceptions, is manifested in some of the most substantial buildings and beautiful homes in Marion.

E. E. Gill was born near Corinth, in Williamson county, on the 16th of November, 1868. His birthplace was a farm, but his father, J. Frank Gill, was a mechanic rather than a farmer. The latter was of Southern birth, his native state being Tennessee. He came to Illinois as a young man and took up the carpenter trade. He worked at house carpentry in many places of both Williamson and Jackson counties, in the main as a lay workman. He took his wife from a family who had likewise come from Tennessee. She was Susan Moser, and she died many years before her husband, in 1889, at the age of forty-four. The two had several children, namely, Ella, who is the wife of Priestly Norman, of Marion; Minnie, who married J. H. Jolly and is living in St. Louis, Missouri: Joseph, a mechanic of Marion; Emma became Mrs. William Ashley and went to Carbondale, Illinois, to live, where George Gill also makes his home. E. E. is the oldest of the children. The father of the family died in May, 1911, at his home in Marion.

As his father moved from point to point as work demanded, E. E. Gill grew up in constantly changing surroundings. From his boyhood he showed a strong inclination for mechanics, inherited from his father and fostered by constant association with him. He received a fair knowledge of the rudiments of knowledge from the common schools, but when he reached his majority he discovered that unless he wished to be a plodder in the trades, which his ambitious spirit could not consider, he must in some way improve his technical knowledge. It is much to his credit that he realized his shortcomings and had the energy to set about to remedy them. He therefore turned to the Scranton Correspondence School to give him a profession as well as to perfect him in his trade. The latter he had learned under the eye of Ike Rapp, a builder well known over Jackson county and a capable man with the tool dr at the bench. The course offered by the Scranton school which interested him the most and promised him the best results was architecture, and this study he pursued eagerly. The methods of instruction of the Pennsylvania school were so simplified and so thorough that he soon found himself in possession of the elementary principles of his subject and prepared to make plans and specifications, to make estimates on work and to take contracts.

The years succeeding his completion of their course have proven that his confidence in the practicability of the work offered by the Scranton school has not been misplaced. The plans he made for the Mason and Knights of Pythias block in Marion, the Cline-Benson building in the same place, and a bank building in Herrin, Illinois, are splendid examples of the excellence of his training. He was the architect, as well as the contractor, of the Frank Goodall building in Marion, and the handsome city hall of Marion came into being as the result of his contract and plans. He was the builder of some of the most distinctive homes in Marion, also being the architect of them. A few of these are the W. H. Warder residence, the A. B. McLarren residence, the John Snyder home and the C. H. Dennison residence. He has been connected with the erection of several public buildings, both in his home city and elsewhere, the Marion high school being built from his plans and under his contract, and the building of the Christian church in Carterville being carried on under his personal supervision. He has had such a close connection with the material development of Marion that his appointment as building inspector was most suitable. He is at present serving in this capacity.

On the 27th of December, 1892, Mr. Gill married in Marion Miss Sallie Feator, a daughter of Anthony Feator, one of the most efficient plasterers of Marion. He was born in Germany and was married to Miss Juley Huffman, and Mrs. Gill was one of their four children. Lena, Lloyd, Rufus and Harold are the children of Mr. and Mrs. Gill. Mr. Gill is an ardent supporter of all for which the Masonic order stands, and holds the rank of Master Mason in that order. He is also an Elk and a Modern Woodmen. He is not actively interested in politics, save at elections, when he stands staunchly under the Republican banner.

As one of the wheels in the train of cogs that is constantly raising Marion into a larger and more substantial city, Mr. Gill is a busy man. Following his determination to make of himself something better than an ordinary workman, along with the building of his technical knowledge came the building of his character, so that now this sturdy and upright man is felt by all who come in contact with him to be an influence for good in the community, one who is always glad to take a step forward in the direction of progressiveness.
CHARLES C. HUTHMACHER. [Page 1062]
With the element of moral uplift which has been introduced into politics has come an appreciation of the civic value of those men who through years of conservative business connections have proven their worth and stability. The government of a city, county or nation must be conducted upon sound business principles to attain to best results. Those organizations which have effected the best reforms are those in charge of reliable business men. The Hon. Charles C. Huthmacher has rendered his county and community yeomen service in several of the highest offices within the bestowal of his people and at the same time has discharged with distinguished capability the onerous duties of chief executive of one of the soundest banking institutions of Southern Illinois. Both as business man and public official Mr. Huthmacher has shown exceptional ability, sturdy integrity and a high moral sense, and no man in this section stands higher in the esteem of his associates than he. Mr. Huthmacher was born December 25, 1859, at Central City, Illinois, and is a son of Charles F. and Josephine (Lienert) Huthmacher.

Charles F. Huthmacher was born at Baden, Province of Baden, Prussia, in 1834, and on first locating in the United States took up his residence in Central City, Illinois, where he remained for some years, later going to Sandoval. In 1869 he gave up his farming interests in the latter community and engaged in the butcher business at Grand Tower, where his death occurred September 25, 1875, in the faith of the Episcopal church. In political matters he was a Democrat. He married Josephine Lienert, who was born in Zurich, Switzerland, and came to the United States when a child, and they had a family of nine children, of whom seven are now living: Charles C.; A. J.; Louise, who is the wife of E. A. G'sell; George; Julia; Josephine and Adeline. Mrs. Huthmacher survives her husband and makes her home at Murphysboro.

Charles C. Huthmacher was reared on his father's farm at Sandoval until he was ten years of age, at which time he came to Grand Tower and entered the public schools. When he was sixteen years old he completed his studies and began to work in his father's butchering establishment, but eventually returned to farming, in which he has been more or less interested to the present time. In 1895 he entered the mercantile business at Grand Tower, and in 1905, at the time of the organization of the First National Bank, he was made its president, a position which he still occupies. Mr. Huthmacher has been one of the leading Democrats of this section since attaining his majority. When only twenty-one years of age he was elected to the office of city treasurer, during the four years following 1890 served as sheriff of Jackson county, and from 1903 to 1911 acted as mayor of Grand Tower, bringing to his administration the same sound and energetic principles that made him successful in the business and financial fields. During the time he served as chief executive many needed reforms were made here, and his whole service was one that proved he had the public's welfare at heart. For a number of years he has been a well known member of the Masons and the Elks.

On September 20, 1889, Mr. Huthmacher was married to Miss Emma A. Schultz, of Grand Tower, a daughter of C. Schultz, the well known merchant, and two children have been born to them: Mabel and Ralph.
HENRY CLAY MITCHELL, M. D. [Page 1064]
The high calling of the medical profession summons to its service the finest qualities of human character, absolute integrity, comprehensive human sympathy and a diligent devotion to science. That Dr. Henry Clay Mitchell has distinguished himself in his profession is due both to the large measure in which he possesses these attributes and to his signal ability in the field of surgery.

Henry Clay Mitchell was born in Corinth, Illinois, July 31, 1855, the son of Samuel Minton and Martha Ann (Harrison) Mitchell. His father was one of the first and most widely known physicians and surgeons of Southern Illinois, having come to this state in the year of its admission to the Union, 1818. He was a graduate of the Medical College of Louisville, Kentucky, and of Rush Medical College of Chicago, Illinois.

Dr. Henry C. Mitchell, the son of Dr. Samuel Mitchell, was educated primarily in the public schools. He then attended Northwestern University, finishing his course in the medical department in 1879. He at once began the practice of his profession, and for eight years was located at Corinth, Illinois. In 1887 Dr. Mitchell removed to Carbondale and took up practice there. He has been local, district and later division surgeon for the Illinois Central Railroad for many years, and in line of his profession is a member of the American Association of ican Academy of Railway Surgeons, the American Medical Association, the Illinois State Medical Society, Southern Illinois Medical Association and Jackson County Medical Society. He is ex-president of the Southern Illinois and State Medical Associations, and has been counselor for the Illinois State Medical Society for the past twelve years. Of late years Dr. Mitchell has given up a considerable portion of his large general practice and devoted himself largely to office consultation and surgery.

Aside from his profession Dr. Mitchell has imported financial interests. Together with Mr. F. T. Joyner he organized the Jackson State Bank and served as its president for a period of six years. He was also one of the organizers and a member of the directorate of both the Carbondale and the Marion building and loan associations. For six years he was treasurer of the Southern Illinois Normal University. Politically Dr. Mitchell is an adherent to Republican principles, and he has served three terms as a member of the board of aldermen of his city.

Dr. Mitchell first married Miss Alma F. Roberts, of Corinth, Illinois. She died in 1886, leaving one son, Edward Clay Mitchell, who is now a physician, practicing in Memphis, Tennessee. The present wife of Dr. Mitchell was formerly Miss Adella Brownlow Goodall. of Marion, Illinois. Dr. and Mrs. Mitchell are the parents of four children. John Minton Mitchell is now a student in the medical department of the Northwestern University at Evanston, Illinois. Jennie Alma Mitchell, a graduate of the Southern Illinois Normal University, is now a student at the Wesleyan University, at Delaware, Ohio. The two younger daughters Sarah Scates Mitchell and Adella Goodall Mitchell, are attending the Southern Illinois Normal University.

The Mitchell family are members of the First Methodist Episcopal church of Carbondale, and Dr. Mitchell serves the church as a member of its board of trustees. Fraternally he is a Mason and a Knight Templar, being a member of Centralia Commandery, and he has been chairman of the committee on Lodges Under Dispensation of the Grand Lodge of Illinois Masons for sixteen years.
HON. ANDREW STITES CALDWELL. [Page 1067]
To have lived in six of the great states of the American Union engaged in useful pursuits, and won the high regard of the people in each; to have been a valued, capable and popular school teacher in three, and attained to high rank in the legal profession in the same number; to have been selected for intricate, important and trying duties in the service of the national government because of his special ability and fitness for them; then to have returned, at the full maturity of his powers and prime of his manhood, to the home of his youth, and become an ornament to its bar and bench, is more than a record of which any man might be proud. It is a proof of high character, commanding ability, varied and comprehensive acquirements, and force of will sufficient to sustain their possessor creditably in any situation, whatever its demands might be.

This is in brief, an outline of the life-story to the present time of Judge Andrew Stites Caldwell, of Carbondale, and the outline indicates what the full recital must embody in the way of eminent qualification for work of a high order. It also indicates that in spite of the madness of their politics and the venom that madness frequently engenders, the American people are not blind to genuine merit, but know how to esteem it in the long run, and have the wisdom to confide their interests , to its care with confidence that those interests will be safely guarded and promoted.

Judge Caldwell was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, on September 15, 1853, and is the son of Isaac Hodgen and Eveline Sharp (Stites) Caldwell, prominent and highly respected residents of that state. The father was a lawyer and banker, and when the son was fifteen years of age moved his family to Carbondale, Illinois, where he continued the pursuits he had been engaged in at his former home, with success in his operations and high regard among the people of the city and the whole of Jackson county.

The son was educated under the tuition of Professor Clark Braden at the Southern Illinois College. He studied law under the supervision and direction of Hon. William J. Allen, long an honored judge of the United States court, and was admitted to the bar in 1878. He did not immediately give himself up wholly to the practice of his profession, but for a time enlarged his knowledge of himself and others by teaching school. He taught in Jackson county for a short period, then for three years served as principal of the public schools in Sedalia, Missouri.

In 1883 he moved to Boise, Idaho, and during one year was principal of the public schools in that city. He had not, however, wholly neglected his profession, but had kept in close touch with it, and used every opportunity to show himself alive in it in such a manner as to make the bench and bar of every locality in which he resided respect his talents and legal attainments, and look upon him. as a young man of present power and great promise as a practitioner.

After the election of Mr. Cleveland to the presidency, the future judge was appointed special agent of the government land office at Boise, and afterward at Denver, Colorado, for the purpose of prosecuting coal land frauds and timber trespassing. At the end of his term in this office he devoted himself to a general practice of law in Denver for three years. In 1892 he returned to Carbondale and continued his general practice for a number of years in this city, then began to make a specialty of insurance law, becoming local counsel for the Phenix, the Royal, the Liverpool and London and Globe Insurance companies, and others.

In 1898 Mr. Caldwell was elected county judge of Jackson county, and during his tenure of this exalted office he administered the law without fear or favor.

Judge Caldwell has taken an active interest in the organizations formed and conducted for the improvement of his profession and the promotion of goodfellowship among its members. He is a member of the State Bar Association of Illinois, a member of the bar in Colorado and Idaho, president of the Jackson County Bar Association, and in many other ways is active for the welfare of the guild of which he is so conspicuous and honored a component, his services in all of which are highly appreciated. The fraternal life of the community has interested him too. He belongs to the Order of Odd Fellows and the Modern "Woodmen of America. In religious faith and membership he is connected with the Christian church, and is an elder in the congregation to which he belongs. In politics he is an earnest and active Democrat, always energetic and effective in his services to his party. He has been a delegate to every state Democratic convention of Illinois for twenty years except one. He was also a delegate from the territory of Idaho to the national Democratic convention of 1884, which nominated Grover Cleveland for the presidency the first time, and in the campaign that followed took a prominent and highly serviceable part in the effort that elected him.

Judge Caldwell was married on May 23, 1894, to Miss Ada L. Dunaway, a daughter of the late Samuel Washington Dunaway, of Carbondale, a sketch of whose life will be found in this work. Her mother is Mrs. Virginia (Thorne) Dunaway, who is still living, and is one of the most prominent and highly esteemed ladies of the city. The judge and his wife have had two children: Their son Edgar T., who died in August, 1909; and their daughter Virginia Stites, who was born in 1900.
SAMUEL WASHINGTON DUNAWAY, [Page 1069]
Samuel Washington Dunaway, of Virginia parentage, and connected by blood with the Washington family of the Old Dominion to which "The Father of His Country" belonged, the late Samuel W. Dunaway, of Carbondale, had many incentives in the history of his ancestors to indomitable energy, the full use of all his resources, the neglect of no opportunity and unswerving fidelity to duty in working toward the object of his pursuit. He had from the same source inspiration to elevated manhood, devotion to the general welfare, strong love of country and veneration for the loftiest ideals of citizenship. And, although the years and energies of his life were devoted to business, the universal esteem which the people of his community bestowed upon him, the warm encomiums passed upon his character, manhood and public usefulness while his life was in full flower, the general sorrow of all classes at his death, and the high tributes paid to his worth after that sad event, prove that he lived up to the influences emanating from the deeds and examples of his forefathers.

Mr. Dunaway was born at Bainbridge, Williamson county, Illinois, on August 2, 1841, and was a son of Samuel Dunaway, Sr., the pioneer merchant of that county. In the earlier history of the county the father conducted a business at Bainbridge which is said to have been at the time the most extensive in Southern Illinois. After the son grew to manhood he became associated with his father in the same business at Marion, the firm name being Dunaway & Son. Some time afterward he became a member of the firm of Goodall, Campbell & Dunaway, of the same city.

Mr. Dunaway was the junior member of the firm in each case, but he had business capacity of a high order, and soon demonstrated the possession of a master spirit for mercantile life and all the lines of trade and industry connected with or kindred to it. He had been reared in an atmosphere of business enterprise, and the elements of barter and traffic, bargain and sale, the conversion of raw materials into useful commodities, the rise and fall of markets and their controlling forces, financial agencies and their workings, with methods and means of transportation, and all other factors in the mighty enginery of trade, had been made his familiars and become parts of his permanent and impelling knowledge. He was therefore at home in every condition, and knew how to make the most of it. He was also prepared for every emergency, and knew just how to deal with it.

About the year 1885 Mr. Dunaway located in Carbondale, and here he was actively engaged in business until the death of his son Ed in February, 1896, when he retired, and from then until his own death devoted his time and attention to the care of his numerous properties in Carbondale and elsewhere. Throughout his manhood he was frugal as well as industrious, prudent as well as progressive, and in the many years of his connection with business these habits, together with his superior ability, enabled him to accumulate considerable property and become one of the wealthiest men in this part of the state.

It is not to be supposed, however, that Mr. Dunaway gave up the whole of his time and energy to his own affairs. On the contrary he took an earnest and intelligent interest in matters of public import, and although never an active political partisan, except in so far as the duties of good citizenship required him to be, always manifested the liveliest and most productive concern for the welfare of his city and county, and did his full share of the work of promoting it. During the administration of Governor Altgeld, from 1893 to 1897, he served as a resident trustee of the Southern Illinois Normal University, averse as he always was to the cares and responsibilities of public life.

In 1863 he was married to Miss Virginia Thorne. They had two children: Their daughter Ada L., who is the wife of Judge Andrew S. Caldwell of Carbondale; and their son Ed, who died on February 12, 1896, at the age of twenty-six. The father's death occurred on October 15, 1905, after several recurrences of a serious rheumatic trouble, but an illness of only two weeks at the time, and suffused the whole community with grief. His remains were laid to rest in Oakland cemetery amid testimonials of respect from all classes of the people, the services being conducted according to the ritual of the Methodist Episcopal church, of which he had long been a devout and attentive member.
BENJAMIN L. WASHBURN [Page 1076]
Benjamin L. Washburn is a retired merchant of Carterville and vice president of the Carterville State & Savings Bank here. He was born in Smith county, Tennessee, December 1, 1855, a son of the late Hon. James M. Washburn, of whom more extended mention will be made in succeeding paragraphs. Benjamin L. Washburn grew up on a farm adjacent to Carterville, attended the public schools and Ewing College, entered the profession of teaching and made it a business in Williamson and Franklin counties for fifteen years. His last pedagogical work was as principal of the Carterville school and his identification with the same ended in 1885. In the spring of 1886 he engaged in mercantile business in Carterville, selling hardware and kindred commodities, as proprietor of the business, until 1904, when he disposed of his stock and has since been leisurely engaged with the affairs of his farm and stock. In a modest way he is developing speed horses and he has entered some of them as competitors for purses in the trotting races of the local circuit.

During his earlier career and when an active merchant he entered into the spirit of material development in Carterville by the erection of some of its business houses. Nor did he confine his attention to this field, for he was one of those who promoted the Carterville State and Savings Bank, being chosen a director and its vice president. He has served on the city council and the board of education and is a Democrat, having been loyal to the tenets of the party since his earliest voting days.

On September 13, 1882, Mr. Washburn was married in Marion to Miss Ella Spiller, daughter of Elijah Spiller, a native son of Jackson county, Illinois. Her paternal grandfather founded the family there as a settler from North Carolina, his arrival being in its pioneer era. Elijah Spiller married Parazette Roberts, and Mrs. Washburn and Ed. M. Spiller, of Marion, are the issue of the union. Mrs. Washburn, like her husband, was a teacher in the public schools. The Washburn household comprises two children, Elizabeth M. and Prank H., the latter a dental student of the St. Louis University. Bessie, as all her friends know her, is a graduate of Armstrong's School of Music at Alton, Illinois, (class of 1910.)

Mr. Washburn is identified with the Masonic fraternity and successfully lives up to its fine ideals. He is also a Knight of Pythias. He is well known and influential and his activities and accomplishments place him among the successful men of his day and locality. He has not fallen to the spirit of commercialism, as is the modern tendency, but his whole aim is given rather to bettering conditions and improving citizenship. In the development of the coal interests here he was not only a moving and interested investor, but his father was a stockholder in the first coal mine opened and operated in the Carterville district.

Mr. Washburn is the son of one of the men most prominent in the history of Carterville, Judge James M. Washburn, born in 1826 and died in April, 1910. The "Souvenir History of Williamson County" gives the following interesting account of an interesting man, which is presented with only slight paraphrase.

Judge Washburn came of hardy pioneer stock in Smith county, Middle Tennessee. He was born fifty-one miles east of Nashville, September 13, 1826. His parents were farmers of simple and frugal habits and pure lives, who bequeathed that priceless heritage, together with its usual accompaniment of a vigorous constitution, to their children. His father, Lewis Washburn, died on the last hour of 1872, at the age of seventy-five years and six months, while his mother tarried a couple of years longer and died in May, 1874. Her maiden name was Nancy More. She reared ten children and died aged seventy-nine. James was the sixth child and was reared and educated in his native state. He taught school four or five years, farmed, sold goods, read law, was admitted to the bar and married, all before he was twenty-three years old. Prom this his life record can be read.

He was an exceedingly ambitious and active man, full of life and energy, of great endurance, unwearied diligence and iron will. He always had a dozen, more or less, different enterprises on hand, and so good was his management and so wise his plans that they rarely or never miscarried. He did not come to Marion till the autumn of 1857. He studied law with Hall & Washburn, an older brother, from’44 to’46, was admitted to the bar in 1845 and was elected county surveyor, but resigned to come to Marion. He lived in Marion for a decade (engaged in the practice of law and in mercantile business with Frank Sparks), and after spending a couple of years on a rented farm just out of town he bought the farm where Dr. Ferrill now lives, near Carterville, and made it his home for twenty-two years. In 1862, while living at Marion, he was elected to the lower house at Springfield and served one term. In 1869-70 he was a member of the constitutional convention which framed our present state constitution. In the fall of 1870 he was elected to the state senate for the fiftieth senatorial district, which is composed of the counties of Jefferson, Franklin, Williamson, Jackson, Randolph and Monroe. By a new arrangement coming in with the new constitution he drew a two years' term and after its expiration was assistant secretary of the senate for three years and during the session of 1875. In 1876 he was returned to the house and served another term of two years.” From 1872 to 1880 he was also master of chancery at Marion and from 1873 to 1893 was a member of the state board of agriculture, and as such was the Illinois commissioner for the Columbian Exposition at Chicago in the latter year. In 1884 he had been elected county judge for Williamson county and served four years.

In 1874, while assistant secretary of the state, in company with his son, William Smith Washburn, William T. Davis and Charles H. Denison, he started the Egyptian Press newspaper and only severed his connection with it a short time before his demise. During that long period of eighteen years, with a multitude of other matters on hand financial, political, official, business and family, whether as co-partner, associate editor and manager or sole owner, manager and editor, he acquitted himself creditably as the publisher of the principal Democratic organ of the county. In 1894 he rented it to Casey & Watson and in 1895 to Casey alone, when Casey bought a half interest and in 1902 he sold it to Casey entirely.

Mr. Washburn had the misfortune on September 15, 1897, to lose his house and all it contained' by fire and on the 13th of the November of the following year his wife died. His children being all grown, these misfortunes broke up his family relations and he spent four years in traveling. Coming back to the town of his boyhood he made the acquaintance of Miss Jennie Turner, to whom he was united in marriage in Smith county, November 3, 1901. She is a member of the Baptist church. His first wife was Sarah M. Smith, a native of Virginia. They were for nearly half a century active members of the Missionary Baptist church and both died in that communion. Their children were William Smith, of Chicago; Dr. C. L. Washburn, a physician and farmer about five miles northwest of Marion; and Benjamin L., residing in Carterville.

The following tribute to Mr. Washburn is from the pen of Mark Erwin, the historian, and was written in 1876:

“James M. Washburn commenced the practice of law in this county over fifteen years ago, and has since been a Democratic politician of considerable prominence. During the war he was very bitter at times, but was elected to the state senate in 1876. He was admitted by all parties to be honest and upright in his daily work, and is now the leader of the party.”

The demise of this interesting and venerable citizen occurred in 1910, when his years numbered eighty-four, and took from the community one of its finest and most public-spirited characters.

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