George Washington Smith.

A history of southern Illinois : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people, and its principal interests (Volume v.3) online

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ley, like his father, is a stanch supporter of Republican principles, but
he has been too much wrapped up in his private interests to think of en-
tering the political field. He is unmarried, and makes his home with his
parents at their present residence at Oraville.

THOMAS L. ROBISON. The records of the Civil war show that Illinois
contributed some of the best and bravest of its sons to the Union cause,
and that they bore the brunt of some of its hardest-fought battles. The
real record of that great conflict is written deep in the hearts of those who
participated in it. Aside from wounds, sickness, broken health and shat-
tered nerves, the survivors of the great rebellion had seared on their mem-
ory scenes and incidents that even the hand of time could not erase, and
the carefree youths who marched away so gayly in defense of their coun-
try's flag returned to their homes full-grown men, old, if not in years, in
experience. The Robison family was one whose members sacrificed them-
selves on the altar of their country's honor, for four brothers served gal-
lantly as soldiers in the Union army, and it is of one of these, Thomas L.
Robison, a retired farmer of Ozark, Illinois, that this sketch speaks. Mr.
Robison was born April 1, 1842, on a farm in Pope county, Illinois, and is
a son of Allen and Diona (Keef ) Robison, natives of Ireland and Tennes-
see, respectively.

Allen Robison first settled in North Carolina on coming to the United
States, subsequently removing to Kentucky and then to Tennessee, where
he was married. In 1812 he migrated to Pope county, filed government
land, and for many years cultivated a farm of one hundred and sixty
acres. Of his children, four grew to maturity, Robert A., Thomas L., Wil-
liam F. and George "W., all of whom enlisted for service in the Union
army. Robert A. died at Corinth. Mississippi, soon after the battle at
that point, and William F. met his death in the battle of Fort Pillow.
On November 7, 1861, Thomas L. Robison enlisted in Company K, Fifty-
sixth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and after serving one year
was transferred in January, 1863, to Company Gr, Sixth Illinois Cavalry,


with which he continued to serve until the close of the war. He received
his first honorable discharge October 25, 1862, at Corinth, Mississippi,
and re-enlisted at Germantown, Tennessee, September 6, 1863, his final
discharge coming at Selma, Alabama, November 5, 1865. Mr. Robi-
son participated in some of the bloodiest battles of the war, including
Corinth, Moscow, Hurricane Creek, Collinsville, Franklin, Nashville and
Columbia. At the battle of Nashville he was wounded in the left thigh,
and a bursting shell so injured the drum of his right ear that during
his later years he has been affected by partial deafness ; at the battle of
Moscow he was wounded in the right arm, and in the battle of Franklin
was severely wounded in the right breast. A brave and faithful sol-
dier, he is remembered by his old comrades as one to whom no danger
was too great to risk, no march too long, no duty too irksome, and he
was respected by his 'officers and admired by his fellows. Golconda G. A.
R. Post, No. 332, has no more highly esteemed member.

On his return from the service Mr. Robison engaged in farming in
Pope county until November 9, 1884, which was the date of his advent
in Johnson county. In 1901 he purchased a farm of eighty-nine acres
three miles west of Ozark, but on April 14, 1902, moved to the village,
where he has since resided. He is the owner of five town lots and a hand-
some residence, and is numbered among the substantial men of his
community. During the eighteen years he lived at Sanburn, from 1884
until 1902, he served as justice of the peace and notary public. He was
also one of the most successful pension attorneys in Southern Illinois,
and supplemented his service as a soldier by greatly aiding the veterans
and the widows of those who had lost their lives in battle. Fraternally
he is connected with Tunnel Hill Lodge, No. 611, I. 0. 0. F., and his
religious belief is that of the Baptist church.

On October 8, 1871, Mr. Robison was married to Miss Sarah J. Oliver,
who was born January 27, 1849, in Franklin county, Alabama, daugh-
ter of James F. and Barbara (Hamilton) Oliver, and came to Pope
county, Illinois, March 8, 1865. Mr. and Mrs. Robison have had no chil-
dren, but have reared several children as though they were their own:
Carrie Oliver, George Robison, Belle Hardin and Sarah Ford.

JUDGE WILLIAM M. FARMER. A man of more than local fame, known
throughout the state for his ability in his profession and whose name
stands in Vandalia for honor, uprightness and truth is Judge William
M. Farmer, of the supreme court of the state of Illinois. His advent
into the legal fraternity was unheralded ; he was a green young lawyer
together with hundreds of others who were graduated from the law
schools and launched in life at the same time. But presently he began
to attract attention; soon he was elected state's attorney, and then the
steady advance began which culminated in his present high position.

On the 5th of June, 1853, William M. Farmer was born in Fayette
county, Illinois, the son of William F. and Margaret (Wright) farmer.
His father was a native of the Blue Grass state, where his paternal grand-
parents had settled on their removal from North Carolina. William
Farmer was born in 1808 and came to Illinois in 1829 and located in
Fayette county. He turned his attention to farming and throughout his
life pursued this occupation, save for the time which he spent in the serv-
ice of his country during the Black Hawk war of 1832. Mr. Farmer
never had the opportunity to acquire much of an education, but his
strong common sense and force of character made him a highly respected
member of his community. He held a number of public offices in his
county, and was a stanch Democrat. Both he and his wife were mem-
bers of the slave-holding aristocracy of the South, but they took the side


01 the Abolitionists and were firm supporters of the Union during the
Civil war. Mrs. Farmer died when the Judge was only twelve, but her
husband lived to the ripe old age of eighty, dying in 1888. The Judge
was the son of the second wife of Mr. Farmer. His first marriage was to
a Miss Jackson, and four children were born of this first union, all of
whom have died.

Judge Farmer spent his early life on the farm, but his father was
ambitious for him, so after his education in the public schools he was
sent to McKendree College, where he pursued the classical course, feel-
ing all the while that law was the profession most suited to him. His
interest in the law was very likely aroused when as a boy he sat by his
father's side and listened to the arguments of the lawyers. His father
was a justice of the peace, and in those days important cases were taken
before him and the best legal talent in the county-seat would be ar-
rayed in his office. Consequently, after teaching for ten months the boy
entered the old Union College of Law, which is now the law department
of the Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. In 1876 he was
graduated with the degree of LL. B., and was admitted to the bar that
same year. In July he opened an office in Vandalia, in partnership with
an old college chum, named Chapin. He was successful from the very
first, for he owned a winning personality and the confidence and en-
thusiasm of youth. Just four years later, in 1880, he was elected state 's
attorney, holding this difficult position for four years, during which time
he continued his practice, gaining each day in a knowledge of values and
of men. In 1888 he had so far won the confidence and trust of the peo-
ple that they sent him to the lower house of the Legislature. After the
expiration of a two-years' term they further honored him by sending him
to the Senate. He served in this august body for four years, being one
of the famous "101" who in 1891 elected ex-Governor Palmer to the
United States Senate. During the session of 1893 he was chairman of
the judiciary committee and took an important part in framing the laws
of the state. There was no species of wire-pulling and political trickery
that he did not come in contact with during these years, but it was his
constant endeavor to keep his skirts out of the muck, and he came from
his term of office with the confidence of his constituents unimpaired.

In 1897 he was compelled to give up his active practice by his elec-
tion to the bench as circuit judge. His ability in this new line of work
was soon recognized and in 1903 the supreme court appointed him to the
appellate court of the second district. In 1906 came the crowning tri-
umph, in his election to the supreme court of the state of Illinois for a
term of nine years. Although he practices no longer, he still clings to
his old law office and in spite of his exalted position it is very easy to
drop in and have a chat with its genial occupant.

On the 23rd of December, 1875, in Hagerstown, Illinois, Judge
Farmer married Illinois Virginia Henninger, a daughter of William
and Mary Henninger. Two girls, Virginia and Gwendolyn, comprise
their family.

In politics Judge Farmer is a Democrat, and in 1892 he received the
honor of being sent to the Democratic national convention as a delegate.
He and his household are members and active workers in the Meth-
odist Episcopal church. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Odd Fel-
lows, the Knights of Pythias and the Modern Woodmen of America.

The success of Judge Farmer as a lawyer is due, first, to the fine
training which he has had, and, second, to his own keen intellect, his
powers of concentration and his remarkable clearness and simplicity of
expression. His success as a judge is due to his logical mind and his


knowledge of human nature, gained from a long experience with many
different types of men.

GRANT CRUSE. The coal fields of Southern Illinois have added
greatly to the prosperity of this section, and in their operation large
companies have been formed employing a vast army of people. In this
connection it is not inappropriate to speak of the Carterville Big Muddy
Coal Company, and of Grant Cruse, connected with the offices of the
plant at Cambria. Mr. Cruse comes of an old family of Williamson
county. He was born January 2, 1879, on the farm on which the com-
pany employing him is now operating, and which his father settled and
developed into a productive homestead from the virgin timber. His
father was John M. Cruse, who migrated to this state from Christian
county, Kentucky, in 1868, marrying and following the vocation of his
father, the farm. His father, a native of Virginia, moved first to Ten-
nessee, settling in Ray county, where he died during the childhood of his
son, leaving a wife and the following children : Martha, Delilah, Nancy,
Amanda, and John M., father of Grant Cruse.

John M. Cruse failed to have the advantages of the ordinary schools
of his day and did not learn to read or write until after his marriage.
He enlisted in the Union army when the Civil war came on and was a
member of the Seventeenth Kentucky Infantry, raised about Hopkins-
ville. His regiment formed a part of the Army of the Cumberland, and
was in the engagement at Shiloh, the campaign against Vicksburg,
Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge,
participated in the Atlanta campaign and after the capture of the city
returned north with the army, following the Confederate General Hood,
and fighting him at Franklin, his army being annihilated at Nashville.
In all of these engagements and more Mr. Cruse took a very active
part, serving three years and eight months, but receiving neither scratch
or blemish. As a citizen he was noted for his industry and "his sympathy
with progress and for his loyalty and local activity in Republican poli-
tics. His lack of education hampered him no little, but he made the
most of what he had and was ever regarded as a valuable citizen. He
married Rebecca Sizemore. She died in 1879, leaving children as fol-
lows : Anna, who married W. Albert Perrine, of Herrin, Illinois ; Martha ;
Manthus, the wife of J. B. Crowell, V. S., of Marion ; James B., living in
Salina, Kansas; Alice, who died as the wife of S. A. Crowell; Jennie, the
wife of L. B. Sizemore, of St. Louis ; Oscar, on a farm near Carterville,
Illinois; Grant; Robert R., mine manager of Cambria; Ethel, the wife
of S. L. Brainerd, of Fordville, Illinois; and Mrs. Emma Schuttee. of
Champaign. Mr. Cruse was an active Free Will Baptist church worker
from early manhood.

Grant Cruse acquired a liberal education. He attended the Illinois
State Normal School for two years, and was then a teacher in the public
schools for two years, then returning to the old farm, on which he has
since resided. He owns the old home, having bought it after his fa-
ther's death, in 1908. In 1903 the coal was leased to the Carterville Big
Muddy Coal Company, and at the same time Grant entered their office
as clerk, in which capacity he still continues. Like his father, Mr. Cruse
is an adherent of Republican principles, but, while he is just as earnest,
he has not been as active as was his father. His religious belief is that
of the Free Will Baptist church.

Grant Cruse was married April 13, 1902, to Miss Florence E. Wil-
liams, a daughter of Walker Williams, who brought his family to the
United States from Oxfordshire, England, in 1866, and is now a retired
mine manager. Mrs. Cruse is one of seven children and was born in


Perry county, educated in DuQuoin and Carbondale, and taught in
the public schools for seven years. She and Mr. Cruse have three chil-
dren : Rebecca, Harold and Dean.

H. K. POWELL has held the office of county clerk for forty-one years,
a period longer than any other clerk in the state of Illinois, and it is
safe to say that there are few, if any, incumbents of this important office
in all the length and breadth of the United States who have exceeded
his record. Prom the first Mr. Powell proved wonderfully faithful and
efficient, his eye being single to the good of the people and the best per-
formance of the duties of the office with which they had entrusted him.
Jasper county is indeed to be congratulated for a discernment as to
its best interests which has led it to keep in office men loyal to the best
interests of the county, and of ability and inpeccability. He is a man of
well-deserved popularity and no one is better known in this locality.
Among Mr. Powell's distinctions are the facts that he is a native son of
the county, the son of one of the staunch pioneers of this section, and
one of the gallant boys in blue who marched forth willing to risk life and
limb in the cause of the Union, whose integrity they placed above per-
sonal safety.

The life record of Mr. Powell began November 12, 1848, on a farm in
Crooked Creek township, in Jasper county. His father, John Powell, was
born in Madison county, Ohio, in 1823, and when a young man removed
from the Buckeye state to the newly opening Illinois. He located in
Jasper county, where he farmed and engaged in stock buying, driving
cattle in herds to Chicago from this part of the country. He married
Francis A. McComas, a native daughter of Jasper county, and into their
household were born five children, Mr. Powell being the eldest of the
number. The father journeyed on to the "Undiscovered Country," De-
cember 24, 1857, and the demise of his cherished and devoted wife oc-
curred February 20, 1901. The subject's father was Democratic in his
political faith and during his active years played a leading role in the
many-sided life of the community in which his home was located.

Although Mr. Powell of this review .was born on a farm, he did not
long maintain his residence amid these rural surroundings, for when he
was three years of age his parents removed to Newton. In its public
schools he received his education and while yet a lad entered upon his
career as a wage-earner. In those early years he worked at various oc-
cupations on a farm, in a printing office and for three years he ful-
filled one of his youthful dreams by driving the stage from Newton to
Olney. Part of the time he clerked in the store, and in whatever posi-
tion he found himself he proved useful to his employers. While yet a
school boy the long gathering Civil war cloud broke in all its fury and
as soon as he would be accepted, at the age of sixteen, he enlisted, becom-
ing a member of Company I, of the One Hundred and Forty-third Illi-
nois Regiment and serving for a few months. He then returned to New-
ton, and it was after that that he worked in a printing office. Upon the
attainment of his majority in 1869 he entered upon his public career,
being elected assessor of Wade township, and at the completion of the
assessment the then county clerk engaged this useful and competent
young man as deputy under County Clerk Robert Leach. He held that
office until 1873, and then as the logical successor of Mr. Leach he became
county clerk himself. Ever since that time, without exception, at every
election he has been returned to the office and thus has completed forty-
one years in office, the record, as before stated, for the commonwealth of
Illinois. He is a Democrat of sound and honest conviction and he has
ever proved ready to do anything in his power for the success of his


party. He is genial and cordial in his bearing, easily approached and
attracts friends as the magnet does the needle, while those for whom he
forms an attachment may be as certain of his unfaltering friendship as
that the orb of day will appear each morning in his daily round.

Mr. Powell was happily married January 11, 1870, Dolly Thomp-
son, of Newton, becoming his wife. Six children have been born to their
union, five of whom are living: Julia, now Mrs. Evans, resides in Jas-
per county ; Robert L. holds the office of deputy county clerk and is a
competent young man ; Hattie makes her home in Newton ; Thomas W. is
a citizen of Chicago ; and Boyce is still in the schools of Newton. Mrs.
Powell is a valued member of the Methodist Episcopal church and the
subject is member of Jacob E. Reed Post, No. 550, Grand Army of the
Republic, with the comrades of other days renewing the sad but stirring
events of our greatest national crisis.

FRANCIS E. CRAWFORD, the popular superintendent of schools in Fa-
yette county, Illinois, must look upon his success as the work of his own
brain. Starting on his career as a teacher with only the meager equip-
ment of the country school, he has secured his education piecemeal, when-
ever he had a chance. Much of his culture he has acquired by himself,
when, after a hard day's work with refractory pupils and often with
grown-ups, he has sat till far into the wee sma ' hours poring over some
book. He is essentially a self-made man, and looks upon the niche which
he has carved for himself in life with justifiable pride.

Francis E. Crawford was born in Fayette county, near Brownston,
'on the 23rd of March, 1869. His father was Martin Van Buren Craw-
ford, who had been born in Ohio in 1844. Mr. Crawford, Sr., lost his
father when he was a very small child, and was brought by his mother
into Illinois in 1848. Here he grew to manhood, working on the farm to
help his mother. He followed this occupation all of his life, and at-
tained to considerable success as a farmer. In 1867 he married Eliza-
beth J. Bolt, and they spent the remainder of their lives in Fayette
county. Six children, five boys and one girl, were born to them, of whom
Francis E. is the oldest. Of these children all have died except one of
his brothers, James L. In politics Mr. Crawford was a Democrat, and
both he and his wife were members of the Christian church. His wife
died in 1893 and he followed her on the 26th of February. 1905.

Francis E. Crawford spent his younger days on the farm, receiving
his education in the country schools. When he was seventeen domestic
troubles forced him to add his quota to the support of the family, so he
turned his hand to that work which he felt best able to do, and on the
1st of April, 1886, began teaching his first school. For the next six
years he served a weary apprenticeship in the school of experience by
teaching in the country. Then he was offered the principalship of the
Ramsey schools, which he held for two years. The four years follow-
ing were spent in the grammar department of the Vandalia schools, and
then he was promoted to the position of assistant principal of the same
schools, at which post he worked for two years. He then went to St.
Elmo, where for eight years he acted as principal of the schools. The
Casey schools called him next, and for a year he held the superintend-
ency here. He was elected for a second term, but resigned to accept the
position of county superintendent. This took place in 1910. and his long
experience in various places and positions has given him the experience
now so necessary to him. He is now able to understand the problems of
a teacher of any rank, those of the country as well as those of the cities,
and the wisdom with which he handles these is shown by his popularity
and by upholding the high standard of education now in vogue. He has


never received a degree from college or university, but he has attended
several summer sessions of various normals and in this way has kept in
touch with the trend of modern thought. Teaching in the first place
was forced upon him, on account of sickness that deprived the family of
some of its bread earners, but he came to love his profession and now his
whole soul is in his work.

On the 1st of October, 1890, the marriage of Mr. Crawford to Sarah
A. Pilcher was consummated. She was the daughter of Winston Pil-
cher, a farmer of Fayette county. They had two children, one a little
girl, died in infancy, the other, Cecil C., is a graduate of the high school
in Casey.

In politics Mr. Crawford is a Democrat, and the influence which he
possesses as a semi-public man is always used to further the interests of
his party. Mr. Crawford is a member of the Christian church and be-
longs in the fraternal world to the Odd Fellows and to the Modern Wood-
men of America. In his own profession he is a member of the Illinois
and of the Southern Illinois Teachers ' Association.

The people of Fayette county are still congratulating themselves upon
their good luck in having secured Mr. Crawford to direct the educational
work of this section, for he had been tried and tested in the furnace and
had been proven to be pure gold. His gradual rise is a splendid proof
of his natural ability unassisted by the influence of a number of letters
tacked on to his name or by having friends in high places.

DANIEL BALDWIN FAGER. To the land that has sent to our country
so many of her best sons, and that has given that tinge to the stream of
America life that renders it healthy and wholesome, in other words, to
Germany we owe the presence among us of Daniel Baldwin Fager, who
has done so much for education in Southern Illinois, and in whom may
be traced that clarity of intellect and steadiness of purpose that char-
acterizes the land of his ancestry. He has given his whole life to the
cause that he holds closest to his heart, and in the remarkable progress
that the science of education has made in the past decade or so Mr. Fager
has always been in the fore front. In addition to his scholarly attain-
ments he has much tact and the personality that charms both children
and grown people, so as a superintendent he has been remarkably suc-
cessful, and outside of his profession he numbers hosts of friends.

Daniel Fager is not a German by birth, having been born, on the 15th
of August, 1859, in Jackson county, Illinois, but his father, Sebastian
Fager was born in Germany, at Baden. The latter came to America
about 1850, and settled in Jackson county, where he engaged in farming,
in which pursuit he spent all of his life. He rapidly became accus-
tomed to the changed conditions under which he was to live, and soon
became an ardent devotee of the Republican mode of thought, though he
never entered actively into political life. Both he and his wife were mem-
bers of the Lutheran church. He was married before coming to this
country to Mary Mauer, who was of French descent. Eight children were

Online LibraryGeorge Washington SmithA history of southern Illinois : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people, and its principal interests (Volume v.3) → online text (page 11 of 98)