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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1842, in Braunlingen, Baden, Germany, and in the eleventh year of his
age came with his father to the United States. After acquiring a practi-
cal education in private schools at Saint Louis he learned the printer's
trade, which he followed for seven years, from 1862 until 1869. Going
then to California, he worked at his trade a short time, but not con-
tent there returned to Missouri. In 1873 he located in Carlyle, Illinois,
and for three years was employed on the Clinton County Pioneer. In
1876 he established the Southern Illinois Zeitung, a weekly German
paper, and managed it a number of years. In 1886 he purchased a half
interest in the Union Banner, which had been established a few years
earlier by the late J. M. Peterson, whose widow retained the other half in-
terest in the paper. In 1888 John Ruf, Sr., bought out Mrs. Peterson.'s
share in the paper, and has since had entire control of the plant. He is
a stanch Republican in politics, and during the Civil war was a warm sup-
porter of the Union. In the spring of 1861 he was enrolled in Company
A, Second Missouri Volunteer Infantry, and served until being mustered
out with his regiment in August. 1861.

John Ruf, Sr., married, in 1875, Josephine Hubert, a daughter of
Jacob Hubert, who emigrated from Lorraine, France, his native city, in
1844, to Illinois, becoming one of the pioneer settlers of Clinton county.
Eleven children were born of their xinion, namely : Josephine ; Edwin
Jacob, deceased ; John, Jr. ; Harry, deceased ; Elsa ; Martha, wife of W. P.
Hinkel ; Ernest; Hubert, deceased; Paul and Brunoe, twins, deceased;
and Leo. Fraternally John Ruf, Sr., is a member of the Independent Or-
der of Odd Fellows; of the Modern Woodmen of America, and of the
Grand Army of the Republic.

John Ruf. Jr.. was educated in the public schools of Carlyle, where he
was well drilled in the rudimentary branches of knowledge. Inheriting a
love for journalism, he entered his father's printing office in 1896, and in
course of time mastered the mechanical details of the printer's trade. He
subsequently served with ability in different capacities, and since the ill-
ness of his father has assumed the assistant editor's chair, which he is


filling successfully. The Union Banner, an interesting and newsy paper,
is Republican in politics, and under the efficient management of Mr. Ruf
enjoys the largest circulation of any paper in Clinton county.

Mr. Ruf is free from domestic cares and tribulations, never having be-
come a benedict, but he has led a busy and useful life, and being a man of
liberal views, energetic and progressive, he is held in high esteem as a
man and a citizen. He is an enthusiastic musician, playing the cornet
and the clarinet, and is a member of the American Federation of Musi-
cians. Fraternally Mr. Ruf belongs to the Ancient Free and Accepted
Order of Masons and to the Mutual Protective League.

LEONIDAS J. MAY, M. D. Dr. May has been established in the town of
Cobden, Union county, Illinois, ever since beginning his practice in 1905,
and in that time has built up a fine practice and enjoys the confidence of
the community to whose ills he has ministered so wisely. He is a con-
stant student of his profession and is never ceasing in his efforts to keep
in touch with the latest discoveries of the science to which he has elected
to devote his life and to which so many of the greatest men the world
has produced are devoting their powers. Dr. May, who is still to be
counted of the younger generation, is a native son of Illinois, his eyes
having first opened to the light of day in Marion, Williamson county.
He is a son of Rev. G. W. May, a minister of the Cumberland Presby-
terian church and well known for his ability and services in the high
cause of his honored calling. The elder gentleman is a native of John-
son county and a son of William May, a native of Tennessee, who mi-
grated to Johnson county and had the distinction of being one of the
earliest settlers of Southern Illinois. He was prominent in the simple,
friendly, wholesome and strenuous life of the new section and his good life
has been recorded as a legacy to his descendants. He took as his wife a
Miss Simpson, a member of another pioneer family. Four of the brothers
of William May and four of his wife 's brothers were soldiers in the Civil
war, their sympathies being enlisted in the cause of the Union.

The youth of the Rev. G. W. May was passed in both Johnson and
Williamson counties, the family removing to the latter when he was ten
years of age. He married Sarah L. Davis, a native of eastern Tennessee.
When she was nine years of age her parents migrated to Williamson
county. The father was born in the year 1850 and has been a minister for
twenty years, being at the present time located at Owensville, Indiana.
He reared a family of six children, namely : Edna, now Mrs. McLain, of
Union county ; Ada Pearl, wife of Dr. Stewart, of Anna, Illinois ; Myrtle
(Barckniann) ; Daisy (Cantwell) ; Cecil (Wilder) ; and Leonidas J.

Dr. May, immediate subject of this review, was educated in part in
the Marion schools, finishing nine school grades when fifteen years of
age. He was for one year a student in the Anna high school and one year
in that at Patoka, Indiana. He finished his classical education in Oak-
land College, Oakland City, Indiana, in 1898. Meantime, however, he
had been working at various occupations and his studies were frequently
interrupted while earning a livelihood. The family was in modest cir-
cumstances, as is proverbial with the families of ministers. When eleven
years of age he was working on a farm near Cobden and first and last he
did a good deal of work of this kind in the vicinity of Cobden. Later he
engaged in sawmill work for three years in the vicinity of Anna, Illinois.
He also worked in a brick plant in the Hoosier state for a year and in
1897 began teaching. His pedagogical services extended over a period of
six years and included a year near Princeton, Indiana ; two years in the
Francisco high school ; three years as principal of the high school at Mon-
roe City, Indiana. In the meantime he had come to the conclusion to make


the medical profession his own and while teaching pursued his studies in
the Indiana State University at Bloomington, completing the course in
two years. In the spring of 1902 he entered the Kentucky School of
Medicine at Louisville and studied for four years, graduating in 1905.
While pursuing his studies in the Keystone state he was interne in the
Louisville City Hospital. In October, 1905, he passed the Illinois state
board examinations and immediately located at Cobden, where he has
built up an excellent practice and where he enjoys the regard of the com-
munity. He is affiliated with the Union county, the Illinois State and
the American Medical Associations, and with the Masonic order at Cob-
den. He is a Presbyterian in church faith.

Dr. May was happily married February 26, 1908, Miss Stella Stout,
of Cobden, daughter of Henry P. and Susan (Rich) Stout, becoming his
wife. They have a small son, Robert Leon.

B. CLEMENS NIEBUR. One of the successful farmers of Clinton county,
whose progressive views have done much for the section, is B. Clemens
Xiebur. When he came to Breese, Illinois, where he now resides, he found
nothing but wild prairie land, while the town itself was only a tiny set-
tlement of a few houses clustered around a church. With characteristic
enterprise he first proceeded to get his land into proper condition for
farming and then he turned his attention to the affairs of the town. In
the position of supervisor of this township he accomplished much toward
the building up of the country around Breese, and in looking now over
the thriving city one must remember the man who had a hand in its de-

B. Clemens Niebur was born in the province of Hanover, Germany, on
the 12th of September, 1838. His father, John Henry Niebur, was also a
native of Hanover, the date of his birth being the 23rd of January, 1802.
As a young man the father was a tenant farmer, carrying on at the same
time a brisk trade in Holland. The commodities in which he dealt were
an odd mixture, such as bacon and wooden shoes, cheese and clothing. At
the age of thirty-two he was married to Gasina A. Maua, of the province
of Hanover. His wife was born on the 23rd of January, 1808, and four
children were born of this union. Joseph, Clemens, Christina and John.
Excepting Clemens, John is the only one of the children now living. In
1852 Mr. Niebur immigrated to America, bringing the whole family. He
bought two hundred acres and located in Germantown township, a farm
which he worked until his death on the 14th of September, 1882. Mrs.
Niebur did not long survive her husband, dying in 1884. Both were
members of the Catholic church. When Mr. Niebur came to America his
first act, as soon as it was possible, was to become a citizen of the United
States and his political allegiance was always to the Democratic party.

The youth of B. Clemens Niebur was spent in Germany, his education
being obtained in the common schools. At the age of fourteen he came to
America with his parents and for a time he attempted to go on with his
education by attending evening school, but this was given up after a short
time. As a mere boy he then started to work in a brick yard at German-
town, and stayed in this work for two years when, his father needing ex-
tra help with his farm, he began to work for him. He later hired out as
a farm hand to a neighbor and worked in this capacity for three years.

At the age of twenty-three he married Anna Maria Albers, the daugh-
ter of Frank Albers, of Germantown. The date of this event was the llth
of February, 1862, and afterwards he took his young wife to a farm in
St. Rose township. Here he not only engaged in agriculture but managed
to lay by a few dollars by operating a kiln for burning lime. After a


few months Mr. Niebur decided to move to his present location northwest
of Breese. Here he has passed the remainder of his successful life.

Mr. Niebur owns his farm and also has considerable money invested
in real estate in St. Louis. In politics he is a Democrat and his party has
always found him a willing and hearty worker whenever occasion offered.
In religious matters Mr. Niebur clings to the belief of his fathers, and is a
communicant and devout attendant at the Catholic church.

Mrs. Niebur was born on the 31st of October, 1839, and died on the
26th of March, 1883, at Breese, Illinois. She and Mr. Niebur became the
parents of eight children, of whom five are living. Henry, a merchant
at New Baden ; Frank, a huckster at St. Louis ; Mary, who is dead ; Joseph
and Theodore, both of whom are farmers ; Elizabeth, who is Mrs. Josen
Boennighausen, of St. Louis, and two who died in infancy.

SAMUEL HART is the able and conspicuous representative of the com-
mercial phase of activity in Marion. His establishment is the mecca
for all who want satisfactory dry goods and ready made garments, and
"Harts" has been known as an up-to-date and progressive store for a
number of years.

The Hart family, of which this popular merchant is a member, was
founded by J. Hart, who was born in the town of Bochum, Prussia, in
1818. He was the son of a large and successful stock raiser of Bochum,
near Ebersfeld, but he 1-onged for the freedom and the unknown scenes
of that United States, of which he had heard so many fascinating tales.
He left, his Fatherland in 1839, and upon landing in this country made
his way to Missouri, where he began the foundation of his fortune, as
have so many others of his race, as a peddler with a pack strapped on
his back. These traveling merchants were quite common at this time
and in some places met with hostility and harsh treatment from those
prejudiced against his race. Persecutions were directed against him be-
cause once when utterly wearied by the weight of the heavy burden upon
his back, he dared to lean against the fence of some Gentile. It would
have fared badly with him had he not had a letter of introduction to
Judge Martin, of Lincoln county, who came to his aid and took him into
his home, and, lending his sympathy and personal interest, put an end
to the intolerant attitude of those arrayed against him. At first he was
only allowed to ply his trade on sufferance, but after a time the poor and
industrious young commercial adventurer won the friendly co-operation
of his fellow citizens. This was all due to the championship of Judge
Martin, and from that time the Judge and the young Hebrew were fast

When by careful management and strict economy Mr. Hart had saved
enough money he established himself in the mercantile business in Troy,
Missouri. He prospered as a merchant and as fast as the money rolled
in he invested it in other lines of business. In this way he acquired
considerable landed property and became a successful farmer by proxy.
The farmers all knew him as a good man with whom to dispose of their
produce, so they brought him their grain and stock, upon which he made
a considerable profit in the St. Louis markets. His mercantile house,
meanwhile, became one of the chief ones of the county and his estate
was reckoned one of the largest in Troy. He must not be thought of as
a mere money maker, for his personal popularity became so well known
that he was appointed by President Lincoln as an officer to aid in the
establishment of order in Lincoln county during the period of the Civil
war. In this sort of provost marshal position Mr. Hart's reputation as a
careful administrator of justice waxed strong. In politics he was at first
a Democrat, but during the campaign of 1896, when his party inserted


the "free silver" plank in their platform, he changed his allegiance and
espoused the cause of Republicanism, to which he ever after remained

Joseph Hart married, in Lincoln county, Missouri, Miss Temperance
Stuart, a daughter of Robert Stuart, who had come into this region from
Kentucky. The death of his wife occurred in 1873, and for his second
wife Mr. Hart married Rose Steiner. The children of his first marriage
are: Adolph, of Worthington, Minnesota; Hermann and Jacob, mem-
bers of the mercantile firm of J. Hart Sons ; Chester, Illinois ; and Sam-
uel, of Marion. The three sons of his second marriage are : Louis J., who
is with the Federal Mercantile Company, of Bartlesville, Oklahoma;
Isaac 0., who is with the Globe Shoe and Clothing Company, of St. Louis ;
and Dr. E. R., whose dental offices are in the Third National Bank Build-
. ing in St. Louis.

Samuel Hart, the second youngest son of his mother, was born in
Troy, Missouri, on the 18th of August, 1869. His literary education was
gained in the public schools of his home town, and his business training
was had through actual experience as a clerk in his father's store, the
most practical and useful training that can fall to the lot of a future
merchant. When he was ready to engage in an independent venture
he established himself in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, and conducted a gen-
eral dry goods business there for six years. Deciding that Marion, Illi-
nois, offered him better chances for investment, he came to the city and
since then has spent almost a decade in active business here. In 1903
he bought the stock of Mrs. Shannon Holland and has since given its
management the benefit of his years of training and mercantile experi-

On the 24th of January, 1894, Samuel Hart and Miss Anna Graves
were married in Montgomery City, Missouri. She is a daughter of Dr.
J. F. Graves, who had migrated from Virginia many years ago. Mrs.
Hart was born in Montgomery City, on the 29th of November, 1872, and
she and Mr. Hart are the parents of two children, Fannie Temperance
and Eugene Graves. In political matters Mr. Hart is a Republican, Jrut
is contented to limit his activities to casting the ballot. He is an inter-
ested member of the local Masonic chapter, and is a member of the Blue
Lodge. He is also a member of the Elks Club. Being a strong advocate
of the organization of retail merchants everywhere, he is an enthusiastic
member of the Retail Merchants Association of Illinois.

Although the life of Samuel Hart does not show the indomitable reso-
lution to overcome all odds, or the patience to endure whatever was in-
flicted, as was found in the life of his father, yet these qualities are evi-
dently latent in him or he could never have reached the important position
that he holds today. His keen sense and his thorough knowledge of his
business have won him the admiration of his business acquaintances, both
friends and foes. On the other hand, his many fine qualities of mind and
heart have caused to be gathered about him numberless friends.

FRANK ERNST, secretary and general manager of the New Baden Mill-
ing Company, organized principally by him in 1900, is one of the solid
men of his district. All" his life connected with the milling industry, he
is regarded as one of the foremost millers of this favored section of Illi-
nois. His efforts have been rewarded with a degree of success consistent
with his labors, and as a man of splendid traits, both in his capacity as a
man of business and as a valuable citizen, he takes a high rank in his com-

Born June 8, 1863, in Hanover, Germany, Frank Ernst is the son of
Henry and Theresa (Engelke) Ernst, of Hanover, Germany, in which


town the parents were reared and passed their lives. They were the
parents of a family of six children : Henry, Prank, Jauchaim, Lena, now
Mrs. John Moehle, Josephine, the wife of Frederick Schroeder, and
Therese. The father died in 1901 and the wife and mother passed away
four years later. They were communicants of the Roman Catholic church
all their lives.

Frank Ernst came to America on March 6, 1879, locating first in St.
Louis, Missouri, where he was employed in a wholesale flour house. From
there he went to Belleville, where he secured work as shipping clerk for
the Crown Mills, and he remained with them for some years, studying the
business in every detail, the one dominant idea of his life to become estab-
lished in a business for himself. He labored so well that in 1886, on New
Year's day, he started up a grain business in Belleville on his own respon-
sibility. He continued there for the space of one year, then removing to
Mount Vernon. where he again entered the grain business, and after an-
other year he sold out and went to Clinton, Missouri. His time there was
as brief as in the other places, and he went on to New Memphis, Illinois,
continuing there for some little time, and on July 1, 1890, he established
a milling business in New Baden, Illinois, which is now known as the
New Baden Milling Company, incorporated under the laws of the state,
with Mr. Ernst as secretary and general manager of the organization.
The company has done a splendid business in the years of its operation,
the bulk of their meal and grits going to the south and the feed to Penn-
sylvania, corn being the product they utilize. Mr. Ernst has run the
business with a view to conservative advancement, and as a result the
New Baden Milling Company is one of the most stable and reliable con-
cerns in the community.

Mr. Ernst is a Democrat in his political leanings, but is in no sense
what might be termed a politician. He is averse to any political entangle-
ments and his interest in the party is in a purely impersonal sense. He
has served his village four terms in the capacity of president, proving
himself to be competent in affairs of civic administration, but further
than that he has not gone. Like his parents, Mr. Ernst is a devout church-
man of the Roman Catholic faith, as is also his family.

On October 23, 1895, Mr. Ernst married Miss Lillian Hoffman of St.
Louis, Missouri, and of their union four children have been born. They
are : Katherine, born January 22, 1897 ; Elenora, born December 30, 1899 ;
Francis, born August 8, 1901 ; and Frederick Richard, born December 28,
1905. Their first born, Katherine, passed away on October 27, 1902.

FRANCIS MABION HEWITT. As long as diseases and accidents assail
humanity and render health and life uncertain among men the good drug-
gist will be ever with them and they will regard him with esteem, or even
veneration, in proportion to their needs and the extent and value of the
service he is able to render them. So, on account of the nature of his busi-
ness, if for no other reason, the people of Carbondale and Jackson county
would have a high regard for Francis M. Hewitt, one of their leading
pharmacists and chemists.

But there are other reasons, and strong ones, for the high place Mr.
Hewitt occupies in the public estimation of the city and county of his
home and the seat of his business operations. He is an enterprising and
progressive man, with a cordial practical interest in the welfare of the
community around him, and great energy and intelligence in helping to
promote it in every way open to him. He is always among the first to
come forward in support of every worthy enterprise for the good of the
people, or the development and improvement of the region in which he


lives, and in everything that pertains to good citizenship he is second to
nobody in loyalty or the strict and prompt discharge of duty.

Mr. Hewitt is a native of Johnson county, Illinois, where he was born
on May 3, 1870. His parents, John L. and Mary Ann (Casey) Hewitt,
were farmers, but Mr. Hewitt remembers very little about them, as when
he was but two and a half years of age his father died, and when he was
but nine death robbed him also of his mother. He was therefore thrown
on his own resources at an early age, and had to work his way through
school and into some lucrative channel of employment before he could
secure even a foothold for advancement in the struggle for supremacy
among men.

He was able to attend the public schools in Johnson and Williamson
counties in a remittent sort of a way while working for a meager recom-
pense on farms and at other employment, and he made such good use of
his limited opportunities that he acquired considerable elementary schol-
arship, even in this fugitive way and at the age of nineteen taught school
in Williamson county, the district joining the Marion city school on the
north. His aim was lofty and he kept his eye steadily on the goal of
his hopes, using every means at his command to advance toward it.
He worked for his room and board while he attended the department
of pharmacy in the Northwestern University, Chicago, and in 1893
he came forth as a graduate of that great institution and qualified to prac-
tice pharmacy according to all the legal requirements.

For a few months after his graduation he clerked in drug stores in
Chicago and St. Louis, then came to Carbondale in the autumn of the
year last mentioned. He remained in the city three years employed in
his chosen line of work. But in 1896 he learned of a good opening in
Paducah, Kentucky, and immediately took advantage of it, remaining in
that city until 1899. He passed the next year in Clarksville, Tennessee,
and in 1900 returned to Carbondale and started the business in the drug
trade which he is still conducting here, and in which he has built up a
large and representative patronage, with its accompanying public confi-
dence and esteem.

From his advent in the city Mr. Hewitt has been very zealous and
energetic in his efforts to promote its welfare and advance its progress
and improvement. In every department of its being he has made his in-
fluence felt for good, and has been especially forceful and effective in
connection with its civic affairs. In 1911 he was one of the leading
workers for the establishment of the commission form of government for
the city, and did more than almost any other man to bring it about.
After it was adopted the people insisted that as he had been so potential
in bringing the issue to a successful conclusion, and had shown so much
wisdom in reference to the matter, he was one of the best men they had
to put the new plan in operation and must take his share of the responsi-
bility involved in starting it properly. He was made commissioner of
health and public safety, an office which he is now filling with great ac-
ceptability to the whole population.

Mr. Hewitt was also one of the founders of the Carbondale National

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 2 of 98)