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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tation as it was then known, in 1788. He married Jailie Barnes and re-
moved to Shelbyville, Tennessee, in 1811. The year following his advent
in Tennessee, William Ferrell enlisted in Colonel Coffey's regiment for
the Creek war and served under "Old Hickory" in that struggle and in
the war of 1812, his military career ending with the defeat of the Brit-
ish at the battle of New Orleans, January 8, 1815. He subsequently
moved to Smith county, Tennessee, and thence proceeded on his final
journey westward to Illinois, arriving here in 1839. He passed the re-
mainder of his life as a farmer and as a Baptist minister in this state.
He was originally an old-line Whig in politics but upon the formation
of the Republican party, transferred his allegiance to that organization.
He passed to the life eternal in 1867, and his cherished and devoted wife
died in the following year.

Among the children of William and Jailie Ferrell were Reverends
Hezekiah and Wilfred Ferrell, leaders in the work of the Missionary
Baptist church in Southern Illinois for many years. They married sis-
ters from Virginia and both were strong men in their calling and use-
ful citizens. Wilfred Ferrell represented Williamson county in the gen-
eral assembly of Illinois in 1850-1 and was an associate of Abraham Lin-
coln. It was that assembly that gave the Illinois Central Railroad its
corporate existence and there was much politics played in the selection
of the railroad route across the state. In 1859 Rev. Wilfred Ferrell re-
moved to Hallville, Texas, where he passed away in 1875. His first wife
was Mary Walker and his second was Eliza J. Smith. Some of his chil-
dren are numbered among the old residents of that Texas community.
Rev. Hezekiah Ferrell married Martha Walker and died in Williamson
county, Illinois, in 1860. George, another son of William Ferrell and
father of Dr. Hosea V. Ferrell, was born near Rome, Tennessee, in 1816.
He passed his life as a farmer and merchant, married Laura M. Waller,
and died in 1856. His widow survived until 1905, dying at the venerable
age of eighty -four years. Mrs. Ferrell, a daughter of John Waller, who
came to Franklin county, Illinois, from Virginia in the territorial days of
this state. Her great-uncle, Ned Waller, was the first justice of the peace
in Mason county, Kentucky, and lived at Waller and Clark's Station,
near Kent on 's station in Mason county, Kentucky. George and Laura
Ferrell became the parents of seven children, namely, Leander, Dr.
Hosea V., Levi, James M. (deceased), Amanda, Gallic and Georgia (de-

Of the above children Dr. Hosea V. Ferrell is he whose name forms
the caption for this review. The Doctor was educated at Indiana Uni-
versity and received his degree of Doctor of Medicine at the old St.


Louis Medical College. He has been a resident of Carterville since 1872.
He married Miss M. C. Davis, a daughter of General John T. Davis, who
was born in Trigg county, Kentucky, on a farm adjoining that of the fa-
ther of Jefferson Davis. General Davis was born in 1803 and accom-
panied his parents to Illinois in 1819. He was liberally educated and
in 1832 was commissioned brigadier general of the Illinois militia during
the Black Hawk war. He was the first member of the general assembly
from his county and was the first justice of the peace of Williamson
county. During the greater part of his active career General Davis was
engaged in the general merchandise business at historic old Sarahville,
which place was named for his daughter, Sarah. He was unusually suc-
cessful in his various business projects, was an extensive property owner
and was known as the wealthiest citizen of his county at the time of his
demise, in 1855. Davis Prairie, in the eastern part of Williamson county
was named for his father. His wife was Nancy Thompson, a daughter
of William Thompson, of Kentucky, and his surviving children are Mrs.
Hosea V. Ferrell and Mrs. Sarah Walker. General Davis was a Democrat
in his political convictions and as a citizen gave freely of his aid and in-
fluence in support of all projects for the general welfare.

ALFRED BROWN, for many years a prominent figure in Alexander
county, and for the past three years the clerk and recorder of the Circuit
court of his county, is a scion of the family of Browns which was es-
tablished in Southern Illinois in the early part of the nineteenth cen-
tury by David Brown, the paternal grandfather of our subject.

David Brown was born in Roan county, North Carolina, December 14,
1804, and came with his parents to Union county, Illinois, about 1809.
In 1838 he wisely homesteaded a valuable tract of farm and timber land
in Alexander county from the Government, upon which he settled and
passed the remainder of his life, passing away February 2, 1865. Early
in life he was married to Rebecca Ellis, who was born in Pennsylvania,
May 15, 1810, and who came with her parents to settle in Illinois about
1818. David and Rebecca Brown were the parents of thirteen children,
named as follows: Minerva, George, Matilda, Martin (who was the father
of Alfred Brown of whom we write), John, William, Catherine, Caro-
line, Andrew J., Benjamin F., Martha, Elizabeth and Henry.

Martin Brown was born near Anna, Union county, Illinois, Septem-
ber 9, 1834. From 1838 his life was passed within the confines of Alex-
' ander county, and his activities in the farming industry were limited to
the neighborhood of Thebes. He was wedded, April 30, 1854, to Eliza-
beth Durham, a daughter of John A. Durham, also an esteemed citizen
and pioneer of that vicinity. Mr. Brown passed away in the year 1905,
and it was less than two years later that his life partner followed him.
They were the parents of eight sons and daughters, named as follows:
Alfred, William. Martha. Mary, Henry, Ulysses S., Martin and Thomas.

The minor years of Alfred Brown were passed in the same quiet man-
ner which characterized the life of his ancestors. He was indebted to
the district schools of his community for his education. At the age of
twenty years he abandoned the old homestead to the younger members of
the family and launched out into the timber and saw-mill business. Eight
years of his life were devoted to this work in his home town, and in 1889
he went to Cairo, Illinois, where he was engaged for three years as pro-
prietor of a hotel. He was then appointed deputy sheriff and jailor of
Alexander county, and served throughout a term. Following that he
once more turned his attention to the mill and lumber business, and for
several years was thus employed.

The next change in Mr. Brown's somewhat varied career came when
vol. m a


he was elected to the office of circuit clerk and recorder of his county. He
secured the Republican nomination against odds of three to one and was
elected in 1908. Mr. Brown has served with all efficiency thus far, and
his splendid record is a source of much pride to his friends and his con-
stituency in general.

Mr. Brown was married on December 21, 1879, to Miss Zorayda Irvin,
a daughter of Joseph Irvin, of Raleigh, Saline county, Illinois.

WILLIAM A. WILSON is a noble illustration of what independence,
self -faith and persistency can accomplish in America. He is a self-made
man in the most significant sense of the word, for no one helped him in
a financial way and he is self educated. As a youth he was strong, vigor-
ous and self-reliant. He trusted in his own ability and did things single-
handed and alone. Today he stands supreme as a successful business
man and a loyal and public-spirited citizen. Most of his attention has
been devoted to mining enterprises and at the present time he is general
manager of the Wilson Brothers Coal Company, of Sparta. He is a very
religious man and for three years was wholly engaged in evangelistic
work in Iowa, and then for about three years in his native land of Scot-

, In Lanarkshire, Scotland, on the 9th of June, 1863, occurred the birth
of William A. Wilson, whose father, John Wilson, was a coal miner by oc-
cupation. Early representatives of the Wilson family were from Aber-
deen, Scotland, and the Allans, maternal ancestors of the subject of this
review, hailed from near Edinburgh. John Wilson died in Scotland, and
after his demise his widow followed her children to America. Mrs. Wil-
son died in Whatcheer, Iowa, and she is survived by five children, con-
cerning whom the following brief data are here incorporated, John
is a member of the company of Wilson Brothers, as is also William A., to
whom this sketch is dedicated ; Agnes is the wife of William Dalziel, of
Albia, Iowa ; George A., is the third member of the firm of Wilson Broth-
ers, at Sparta ; and Ann is now Mrs. Lewis Jones, of Renton, Washington.
William A. Wilson's early education was not even of the high school
kind. His services as a contributor to the family larder were necessary
from childhood and he entered the works about the mines where his
father had been employed at an early age. He left Scotland in 1880, on
the ship Anchoria, going from Glasgow to New York city, from which
latter place he proceeded at once to the Carbon Run mines in Bradford
county, Pennsylvania. He remained in the old Keystone state of the
Union as a miner for several months and eventually removed west to
Iowa. He was an integral part of the mining fraternity about Whatcheer,
Iowa, for the ensuing ten years and he also spent two years at Forbush,
Iowa. During his stay in Iowa he spent five terms in Oskaloosa College
and one summer term taking private lessons in Greek. He took an irregu-
lar course, but his thirst to read the Bible in Greek kept him at that study
all the time. Leaving that commonwealth, he also left the craft for some
three years and returned to his native land as an evangelist, here carry-
ing on a spiritual crusade among his fellow workmen in the cause of the
gospel. Almost immediately after his return to America he went to Kan-
sas City, Missouri, where he was superintendent of the Baker & Lock-
wood Tent & Awning Company for a time, and in Kansas City he also at-
tended Brown 's Business College at nights for some time. From there he
removed to Sparta in 1899. He has been connected in some capacity with
the coal-mining industry here since his advent in Illinois and was official
mine inspector of Randolph county, in which position he served two
years. While so doing he was invited to make an inspection report to the
president of the Eden Mine Company. This report resulted in his leasing


and putting the Eden mine property in shape for operation, its ultimate
sale to the Willis Coal & Mining Company and subsequent lease from
them to the Wilson Brothers to operate the mine.

Although this is one of the leading properties in this region of coal
mining, and while Mr. Wilson and his brothers have been identified with
its operation since 1906, he opened Mine No. 4 for the Illinois Fuel Com-
pany and also opened the Moffat mine of Sparta. The mining of coal has
been Mr. Wilson's lot from childhood and few years of his career since
attaining his majority has he devoted himself to other work.

Mr. Wilson was married in Whatcheer, Iowa, in November, 1890, to
Miss Christina Moffat, a daughter of John Moffat, also from Scotland.
The issue of this marriage are : Christine, a graduate of the Sparta high
school and a teacher in the public schools of Randolph county ; and Eliza-
beth, Prank, William and John, all of whom remain at the parental home.

Mr. Wilson's life, as already seen, has been devoted to industry and
few matters outside of those affecting his family or his craft have at-
tracted him. His politics are severely independent and his public serv-
ice has consisted alone in his work as a member of the Sparta council one
term, during which the saloons made their exit from the community. He
is one of the congregation of Gospel Hall and occasionally supplies the
pulpit there. Since returning from his evangelistic work in Scotland Mr.
Wilson's activity as a minister has been only occasional when he takes a
holiday. He is a man of broad and noble principle and his life has been
exemplary in every respect.

Since coming to Sparta he pursued a course in mining in the I. C.
Schools of Scranton, Pennsylvania. At the urgent request of a St.
Louis company, he went to Arkansas to manage its property, but re-
turned broken in health. John Mitchel, when president of the U. M. W.
of A., sent a special delegate from the Indianapolis convention requesting
him to work for the U. M. W. of A., either in West Virginia or Illinois,
saying : ' ' We get more out of the operators when they recognize our man
to be fair minded." Mr. Wilson loves home too much to enter on such
work, and refused the very liberal offer. He formed this resolution early
in life, ' ' Never be idle, ' ' and when not engaged manually, he is mentally.

HENRY M. SMITH. Long and faithful service of the most unselfish and
high-minded order marked the career of the late H. M. Smith, prominent
. in the political and other activities of Pulaski county for forty years, and
a resident of the state of Illinois since he was a lad of ten until the time
of his death, which occurred in 1898. Never a politician, but always
deeply interested in the best welfare of the Republican party, whose ad-
herent he was, he was called by the people to fill various important offices
within their gift, and as the incumbent of those offices he labored honestly
and with a singleness of purpose which proved him to be a man of in-
trinsic worth, well fitted to be employed in the services of the community
in which he lived and moved.

Judge Smith was born in Newberry District, South Carolina, May 3,
1820. He was the son of Daniel Lee Smith, a native of Virginia, who
settled in South Carolina in early life and there married Elizabeth Hamp-
ton. They came to Illinois in 1830, located in Pulaski county, where
Daniel L. Smith opened a farm. His death occurred in 1857, one year
previous to the death of his wife. They reared a family of five children :
Eliza J., who married John Carnes; Elizabeth, who became the wife of
William Carnes; H. M., of this review; James G., and Julia, who died as
the wife of Dow Smith.

As a boy and youth, H. M. Smith acquired a passing fair education
in the schools of Pulaski county, and between seasons of schooling was his


father's assistant on the farm until 1842, when he entered the employ of
Captain Hughes, continuing thus for two years at Lower Caledonia. In
1844, when he was just twenty-four years of age, he was elected sheriff
of Pulaski county on the Democratic ticket and served four years in that
office. In 1852 he was returned to fill the position of county judge, but
after one year of service he resigned and began the study of law in the
offices of Hon. John Dougherty and in 1857 was admitted to the bar in
Caledonia. He immediately entered upon the practice of the law, and
was more or less identified with the profession in the capacity of attor-
ney for the remainder of his life. In 1860 he was elected circuit clerk and
so well did he conduct the affairs of that office that he was retained until
1868, after which he led the life of a private citizen for four years, intent
upon the practice of his profession. In 1872 Judge Smith was chosen
state 's attorney for the county and served in that important capacity for
a period of four years. Then followed another brief term of official inac-
tivity covering three years, when he was again chosen by the voters of
Pulaski county for the office of county judge, and he filled that office by
successive elections until 1886, when he severed his connection with pub-
lic life and retired to his store and other private interests. During all
the years of his political activity Judge Smith had been conducting a
store in Olmstead ; or it might be more correct to say that while he was
connected with public affairs his wife managed the store, thus relieving
him of a deal of responsibility that must otherwise have been a drag upon
him, and rendered less efficient his wholly worthy service. Although
Judge Smith began his political career as a supporter of the Democratic
cause, the issues of the Civil war period caused him to transfer his al-
legiance to the Republican party, and he was the faithful supporter of
that party throughout the remainder of his life. Although he filled
many important offices in his day, Judge Smith was never an office
seeker. It is an undeniable fact that he never made a canvass in his own
behalf, never contributed toward a fund to influence votes for any can-
didate, and that when he was a candidate he remained in his office
throughout the campaign and accepted the result of the election as the
sincere expression of the wish of the people. He was ever an independent
and conscientious man, and his attitude towards any subject was ever
consistent with his naturally high-minded and honorable instincts. He
belonged to no church, and never identified himself with any society or
organization save the Masons, being a member of Caledonia Lodge, No.

Four times did Judge Smith enter upon matrimony. His first wife
was Lucinda Wogan, who left one son. His second wife, Sarah Burton,
bore him a son and daughter : Hulda E., who married Thomas Smalley
and is a resident of Springfield, Missouri ; and Lucius C., who married
Hester Magee, and is now deceased, leaving a family. The third wife of
Judge Smith was Elizabeth Barber, who died without issue, and in June
of 1861 he married Mrs. Sarah Little. She was a daughter of Isaac K.
Swain, a native of Virginia, who was the son of Dr. Chas. Swain. Dr.
Swain later moved to Kentucky as a pioneer of that section and died in
Ballard county. Isaac K. Swain married Lucy Henderson, a North Caro-
lina lady, who pased away in Ballard county, Kentucky, as did her hus-
band. Mrs. Smith was born in Ballard county, Kentucky, in 1834, on Oc-
tober 16th, and is the oldest child of her parents, the others being: Jo-
seph and Jeremiah, who died in their youth ; Isaac N., who at his death
left one son; Judson K. resides at Herington, Kansas; Calista married
James White; Mildred married Russell B. Griffin and died leaving one
daughter ; Lucy, the wife of Raymond Griffin, deputy county surveyor of
Pulaski county; and Marion C. Swain, living in Mississippi. Mrs.


Smith's first husband was John Muffet, by whom she is the mother of
Betty, the wife of Malcolm McDonald, of Enid, Oklahoma. As the wife
of Judge Smith she was the mother of four children. They are : H. M.,
who died in 1902 ; Sarah, who passed away in childhood ; Belle, the wife
of George Bullock, of Marston, Missouri, and Myra, the wife of James
Ray Weaver, of Mounds, Illinois.

HON. PRANK C. MESERVE, at one time county judge of Lawrence
county, is one of the leading Democratic politicians of Southern Illinois.
His father, Clement Meserve, of New Hampshire, was for many years a
contractor by profession. Late in life he took up the study of law and
was admitted to the Massachusetts bar. Here he practiced until his
death, in April, 1891, living to see realized his fond hope that his eldest
son would follow him in the legal profession. Clement Meserve was mar-
ried in his young manhood to Miss Nancy Colburn, of Massachusetts, and
five children were born to them. She died in 1869, and some years later
Mr. Meserve married a widow, Mrs. Sarah Hayes, a native of Massa-
chusetts. No children were born of this union. Mr. Meserve was a con-
servative Democrat, giving consistent service to the party and holding
various offices during his lifetime. He was postmaster of his home town
for some years, and represented his district for two consecutive terms in
the Massachusetts legislature. The family was reared in the Methodist
church, and most of them have ever continued in affiliation with the faith
in which they were early trained.

Five children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Clement Meserve, of which
number Frank C. was the third in order of birth. He was born in Hop-
kinton, Massachusetts, on July 2, 1856. After attending the elementary
schools of Hopkinton he was sent to Boston University, where he en-
tered the College of Liberal Arts and was graduated from that institution
in the class of 1877. He taught in the high school of Mendon, Massa-
chusetts, and in his home town before entering his father's law office to>
begin his study of that profession. In 1879 he left Massachusetts for Illi-
nois, settled in Robinson and devoted himself to reading law in the office
of Callahan & Jones. In 1880 he was admitted to the bar, coming at
once to Lawrenceville, where in June of that same year he began active
practice. Almost at once he formed a partnership with George Huffman,
which partnership continued until Mr. Huffman was forced to go to
Florida in search of health. In 1894 the business relations were resumed
and lasted for the several years following before the final dissolution
was brought about.

In 1881 the firm of Meserve & Huffman purchased the Democratic
Herald, the leading Democratic organ of Lawrenceville, and conducted
its publication until 1888. During these seven years Mr. Meserve acted
as editor and business manager for the paper. Since that time the publi-
cation has been discontinued. In 1890 Mr. Meserve was elected county
judge. From 1886 to 1890 and from 1902 to 1906 he served as master in
chancery and for a number of years he was a prominent member of the
Democratic central committee of his county, attending several state con-
ventions as the delegate of his party.

Mr. Meserve, like many another successful business man, is a member
of several fraternal orders. Among them is the Masonic fraternity, the
Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Modern Woodmen of

On the 15th of November, 1888, Mr. Meserve was united in marriage
with Rosma B. Roberts, the daughter of T. W. Roberts, who was, prior to
his death, a prominent and popular merchant of Lawrenceville.


CHARLES C. BURTON. A man of literary tastes and talents, possessing
good business and executive ability, Charles C. Burton is an esteemed and
popular citizen of Belle Rive, and as editor and proprietor of the Belle
Rive Enterprise is doing much toward promoting the highest interests of
the community in which he lives. Coming on both sides of the house of
excellent New England ancestry, he was born February 6, 1879, on a New
Hampshire farm.

His father, William Burton, also a native of the Granite state, was
born in 1840, and died in 1906. He was a farmer by occupation, but was
for many years identified with military affairs, during the Civil war
serving in both the army and the navy, being first in the Seventh New
York Volunteer Infantry and later in the Eleventh New Jersey Volun-
teer Infantry, and on board the gunboat "Anderson." After the close
of the conflict he enlisted in the regular service, and served in the Sixth
United States Cavalry for fifteen years, when he was retired as a cap-
tain. Two of his brothers and two of his wife 's brothers also served in
the Civil war, and of those four soldiers three lost their lives at Gettys-
burg and one at the battle of Antietam. William Burton married Ellen
Campbell, a daughter of John Campbell, who served in the Revolutionary
war as an officer, and subsequently migrated from his native state, Massa-
chusetts, to New Hampshire. Three children were born of their union,
as follows : Charles C., with whom this sketch is chiefly concerned ; Wil-
liam, deceased ; and Emma, deceased.

Brought up in New Hampshire, Charles C. Burton attended the pub-
lic schools and in a country office learned the printer's trade. At the age
of sixteen years he made his way to Boston, where he followed his trade
two years. Going from there to Buffalo, New York, Mr. Burton was in
the employ of the Buffalo Courier Company for four years. Again mov-
ing westward, he went to Missouri, and until coming to Belle Rive was a
resident of Saint Louis. Imbued with the same patriotic ardor and zeal
that animated his father and his Grandfather Campbell, he enlisted for
service at the first call for troops for the Spanish- American war, and for
eleven months served in the Eighth Massachusetts Hospital Corps. In
June, 1911, Mr. Burton, who is an expert journalist, established the Belle
Rive Enterprise, an eight page, five-column, sheet, bright, interesting,

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 13 of 98)