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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the leading flour mills of Illinois and as a promoter of a line of trans-
portation which has availed much for this community in the interchange
of commodities.

Mr. Cole 's father, Hermon C. Cole, was born in Seneca county, New
York, in 1813, and was brought into the Mississippi valley when he was
eight years of age. His father, Nathan Cole, the founder of the family
in this section of the country, passed his milling interests to his son,
Hermon C., when the latter was about twenty-five years of age. The
original progenitor of the Cole family in America was of English origin
and he came to this country during the early colonial epoch of our na-
tional history.

Hermon C. Cole was reared on the banks of the Mississippi and,
while he acquired but little education within the walls of a genuine
school, he developed power with experience and demonstrated a large
amount of latent capacity in the building up of his mill business. His
citizenship was marked for its lack of activity in political matters and
for abstention from fraternal societies. He was originally a Whig but
later became a Republican, casting a vote for Fremont in 1856. He
manifested a general interest in current news and discussed public
questions of moment intelligently whenever drawn into conversation.
He was an easy talker but never essayed to speech-making, preferring
to be a layman rather than a leader. He was about five feet, eight
inches in height and weighed one hundr.ed and fifty pounds; his move-
ments and expression were indicative of a man of achievement. In 1844
Hermon C. Cole married Miss Emily Cocks, the ceremony having been
performed at Stamford, Connecticut. Mrs. Cole was a daughter of
Richard Cocks, and Englishman by birth and a mill-wright by occupa-
tion. It is interesting to note that from the pond of the old Cocks mill
property the city of Stamford gets its water supply today. Mrs. Cole
died in 1859, and her honored husband passed away October 20, 1874.
Their children are here mentioned in respective order of birth, Charles
B. is the immediate subject of this review ; Zachary T. is a resident of
Los Angeles, California; Mrs. Alice Smith resides at Alton, Illinois;
Henry C. is connected with the H. C. Cole Milling Company, as will be
noted in following paragraphs; Eunice is the wife of George J. Ken-
dall, of St. Louis; and Edward E. is engaged in business at Fargo,
North Dakota. Hermon C. Cole married for his second wife in Feb-
ruary, 1862, Mrs. Sarah J. Flanigan, and of this union there were born
Cora V., who died February 19, 1892 ; Hermon and Grace, who live in
Upper Alton, Illinois; Nathan, who lives in Springfield, Illinois; and
Newell, who died January 24, 1896.

After completing the curriculum of the public schools of Chester,
Charles B. Cole was matriculated as a student in the engineering de-
partment of Harvard University, in which excellent institution he was
graduated as a civil engineer in 1&67. When ready to assume the active
responsibilities of life he came to the aid of his father in the mill, with
the business of which he has been identified during the long intervening
years to the present time, in 1912.

Following is an article devoted to the H. C. Milling Company,
which will here be reproduced in its entirety. The same appeared in
the Modern Miller under date of March 3, 1906.



"The Cole family of Chester, Illinois, have operated a flour mill
continuously for sixty-seven years and probably conduct the oldest mill-
ing company in the Mississippi valley. The Coles were pioneers in the
milling trade of the west and the milling industry established by the
first generation has thrived and continues one of the most successful
in Illinois. C. B. Cole and H. C. Cole have large interests, aside from
milling, in railroads and corporations, but their milling industry they
look upon as their inheritance, in which they take special pride. The
history of the Cole family and the Chester mill is an interesting one.

"In 1820 Nathan Cole came from western New York to St. Louis,
Missouri. In 1821 his wife followed him with six boys, floating on a
raft with twelve other families, from Olean Point, New York, to Shaw-
neetown, Illinois, and from there across Illinois to St. Louis in an ox-
cart. Mr. Cole engaged for several years in packing beef and pork at
East St. Louis, near where the Southern Railway freight station now
stands. In 1837 he moved to Chester, Illinois, bought a large body of
land and started a saw mill with a corn stone attachment. In 1839 he
built a flour mill with two run of four-foot stones and a small pair for
corn. At this time there was not enough wheat raised in this section
to feed the people and considerable flour was brought from Cincinnati
and other points East.

"Nathan Cole died in 1840. He was succeeded by his third son,
Hermon C. Cole, who operated the mill with varying success until 1847,
the year of the Irish famine, when for the first time he made a fair
profit out of the business. This, with the active markets caused by the
Mexican and Crimean wars, gave him sufficient means to build, in 1855,
a then up-to-date mill, with four run of four-foot stones and one three
and one-half pair for middlings.

"With the new mill and the splendid wheat raised in the vicinity
of Chester, he determined to make the best winter-wheat flour that good
machinery and skill could, and he sold it under the brand of FFFG.

"This flour soon took the place it was intended that it should have
and until the introduction of purifiers it stood at the top and com-
manded a corresponding price.

"This was accomplished by using only the best of the wheat grown
in this section. The lower grades were used to make a flour sold under
the brand of Coles Mills Extra, which stood very high in the southern
markets; the FFFG, being sold principally in eastern markets.

"During a part of the time from 1840 to 1861 H. C. Cole's oldest
brother, Abner B. Cole, was associated with him. In 1861 A. B. Cole
moved to Turner, Oregon, where he died at a ripe old age. In 1873
purifiers were introduced into the mill but no attempt was made to in-
troduce a purified middlings flour.

"In 1868 Mr. Cole admitted his son, Charles B. and Zachary T.
Cole, as partners under the style of H. C. Cole & Company. He then
removed to Upper Alton, Illinois, where he died October 20, 1874, at
the age of sixty-one years. The mill was sold in 1875, in settlement of
the estate, to his sons, C. B. Cole, Z. T. Cole and Henry C. Cole, who
continued the business under the old firm name of H. C. Cole & Com-
pany. In 1878 the mill was enlarged to eight run of stones.

"In 1883 the old mill was wrecked and new machinery installed,
changing to the full roller process, with a daily capacity of five hundred
barrels. At this time the brand of Omega was established for the
patent grade and the old brands FFFG and Coles Mills Extra were
retained for the clear flour. By the same care in the selection of wheat
and skill of manufacture the new brand of Omega was soon established


and has maintained its supremacy as one of the highest grades of winter
wheat patent to the present time.

' ' In 1872 an elevator of 80,000 bushels capacity was built. In 1888
another of 125,000 bushels was built, which, with four country elevators,
gives a total storage capacity of 250,000 bushels of wheat, insuring an
ample storage capacity for a thoroughly uniform grade. There are
warehouses for the storage of 7,000 barrels of flour.

"In 1888 the business was incorporated with a capital of $100,000,
as the H. C. Cole Milling Company, with H. C. Cole, president; Z. T.
Cole, vice-president; and C. B. Cole, secretary and treasurer. In 1882
C. B., Z. T. and H. C. Cole purchased a half interest in the Star &
Crescent Mill in Chicago and Z. T. Cole went there and assumed the
active management of the same. He continued in this position until
1890, when his health failed and his interest was sold to Clinton Briggs.
Z. T. Cole removed to Los Angeles, California, where he still resides,
but retains his interest in the Chester mill. In 1895 P. H. Ravesies
purchased an interest in the H. C. Cole Milling Company and was its
manager until 1905, when he sold out. He was succeeded by E. P.
Bronson, who purchased his interest and was elected a director and
treasurer of the company. The mill has been enlarged and new
machinery added until now it has a capacity of 800 barrels per day,
with a trade that takes the full output.

"Thus for sixty-seven years the mill has been run continuously by
three generations; the present one being well along in years they must
soon give way to new faces, none of the fourth generation being dis-
posed to follow the old trail.

"This, in brief, is the history of what, so far as known, is the old-
est mill in the Mississippi valley run by the same family. ' '

In company with several parties Charles B. Cole purchased the
Wabash, Chester & Western Railroad at the receiver's sale and upon
the reorganization of the company he was chosen vice-president and
general manager in 1878. Some years later he was made president of
the company, a position he still holds. In politics Mr. Cole is a Demo-
crat and he served his district in the capacity of representative to the
state assemply in 1887. He attended Democratic state gatherings and
helped make state tickets as a delegate until 1896, when the party be-
came Bryanized and adopted a platform which he could not and did
not endorse. He gave encouragement to the "sound money" element
of the party and was an alternate delegate to the Indianapolis con-
vention which nominated Palmer for president. He opposed what was
said then to be the un-American policies of Mr. Bryan and has op-
posed their author since in his efforts to reach the presidency upon a
more modified declaration of principles.

Mr. Cole was first married at Walchville. Illinois, in 1869, to Miss
Laura Layman, who died in 1878. The children born to this union
were : Burt, a mining engineer ; Miss Alice, of Chester ; Una, wife of
P. C. Withers, of Mr. Vernon, Illinois; and Miss Edna, of Chester. In
January, 1882, Mr. Cole married Miss Mary Palmer, of Hampton, New
Hampshire. This union has been prolific of one child, Marion, who is
the wife of Dr. R. G. MacKenzie, of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

JOHN H. HENSON. Active and energetic, possessing good business
ability and judgment, John II. Henson occupies an assured position
as one of the leading general merchants of Xenia, and as mayor of
the city is rendering efficient service. He was born December 25,
1864, in Wayne county,' Illinois, which was likewise the birthplace
of his father, W. C. Henson. His paternal grandfather, Reuben Hen-


son, a Kentuckian by birth, migrated to Illinois during the twenties,
took up land from the Government, and was there employed in tilling
the soil until his death, while yet in the prime of a vigorous manhood.
His wife, who survived him, married for her second husband Jerry
Chapman, a pioneer settler of Wayne county and a well-to-do farmer.
Philip Henson, father of Reuben Henson, was a soldier in the Revolu-
tionary army.

Born December 16, 1844, in Wayne county, W. C. Henson began
his career as an agriculturist, and for thirty years owned and occu-
pied the same farm. He is now living three miles south of Xenia,
where he is still engaged in general farming. During his earlier
years he was an adherent of the Democratic party, but since the year
in which William McKinley was nominated for the presidency he has
voted the Republican ticket. Both he and his wife are members of the
Church of Latter Day Saints. The maiden name of the wife of W. C.
Henson was Nancy Catherine Martin. She was born in Wayne county,
Illinois, December 29, 1846, a daughter of Andrew Jackson Martin,
whose birth occurred, in 1809, near Wheeling, West Virginia. Mr.
Martin came to Illinois about 1839, entering a tract of land in Sanga-
mon county. Subsequently entering land in Wayne county, Illinois,
he was there prosperously engaged in farming until his death, in 1902.
He was a man of pronounced ability, by wise management and invest-
ment acquiring a large property, at one time owning a thousand acres
of land. Two of his sons, Henry Martin and James Martin, served as
soldiers in the Civil war, James dying from the effect of wounds re-
ceived on the battlefield.

Receiving his high school education in Salem, Illinois, John H. Hen-
son completed his early studies at Hayward College, in Fairfield, Illi-
nois, although he was not graduated from that institution. Taking up
then the profession for which he was so well fitted, he taught school
from 1887 until 1891, after which he was employed at the Orchard City
Bank, in Xenia, for a time. Resuming his educational work in 1893,
Mr. Henson taught school until 1908, meeting with good success as an
educator. Locating then in Xenia, he has since been here engaged in
mercantile pursuits, having a finely stocked general store, which he is
managing with most satisfactory success, his honest integrity and up-
right dealings having won for him a large and substantial patronage.
Mr. Henson is also interested in the agricultural development of this
part of the state, being the owner of a farm lying near Xenia.

On September 26, 1902, Mr. Henson married Nellie Mayfield, a
daughter of James M. Mayfield, a well-to-do and highly respected man,
who is distinguished as being the oldest resident of Xenia- Mr. May-
field was born January 14, 1837, in South Carolina. As a young man
he migrated to Georgia, where he lived until after the breaking out of
the Civil war, which swept away all of his property, leaving him pen-
niless. Coming to Illinois in 1864, he began working at the carpenter's
trade, in that capacity building, or helping to build, the most of the
houses in Xenia. He is now carrying on a good mercantile business,
dealing extensively in lumber and building materials. Mr. and Mrs.
Henson have three children, namely: Gladys Ray, assisting in her
father's store; Inez Mae; and Harry Mayfield.

Politically Mr. Henson is identified with the Democratic party, and
as a true and loyal citizen has never shirked the responsibilities of
public office, having served for three years as assessor of Xenia town-
ship, and being now not only mayor of Xenia, but also clerk of its
school board. He is likewise president of the Township Democratic
Central Committee. Fraternally he is a member of the Independent


Order of Odd Fellows, in which he has passed all the chairs; of the
Daughters of Rebekah; of the Improved Order of Red Men; and of
the Modern Woodmen of America, in which he has served as clerk
three years. Religiously Mr. Henson belongs to the Church of the
Latter-Day Saints, while Mrs. Henson is a member of the Methodist

"W. H. PIPPIN. One of the conspicuous figures in the recent history
of Jasper county is the present popular and efficient sheriff whose name
introduces this review. It should be added, however, that his popularity
is far greater with the sound law-abiding citizenship than with that
class whose business unfortunately takes them out of the straight and
narrow path, for the duties of his office are scrupulously carried out by
him, the chief custodian of the law. He is influential in local Demo-
cratic councils and takes an active part in the many-sided life of the

Mr. Pippin is a native son of Jasper county, his birth having oc-
curred in Crooked Creek township, August 1, 1870. His father, Bird
Pippin, was born in middle Tennessee, November 16, 1846, and came
to Illinois aftQr the Civil war. He had at first served in the Confed-
erate army under General Longstreet, but as soon as he received his
discharge he joined the Tennessee volunteers of the Union Army, his
sympathies being with the cause it represented. Upon coming to Illi-
nois he engaged in agriculture and continued in this line of activity
until his demise in 1905. He was married in 1868 to Mary Jane Kil-
burn, of Jasper county, and of the three children born to them, Mr.
Pippin is the eldest and the only one living at the present time. The
wife and mother died in 1874 and the father married again, Martha N.
Hudson becoming his wife. Four children were born to the second
union. The second Mrs. Pippin died in 1891. The subject's father is
Democratic in politics and is one of the highly respected men of his

W. H. Pippin has spent almost his entire life in Jasper county and
no one is more loyal to its institutions or more ready to advance its
welfare. He received his education in the public schools and when
quite young learned the barber trade, which he followed for seventeen
years. In the meantime he held a number of offices, his faithfulness to
any public trust soon becoming apparent. For two terms he was town-
ship clerk, for an equal space of time was village clerk and for one
term, village trustee. He finally gave up barbering and served two
years and ten months as city marshal. In January, 1910, he resigned
the office of city marshal to make the race for sheriff and was elected
by a very large majority. He carried the primaries by three hundred
votes and the general election by a large majority. He still holds the
office and has two deputies. He spares no pains to be agreeable to all
having business to transact in his office, while his determination to en-
force the law to the letter and bring law-breakers to justice has made
his name a terror to evil doers within his jurisdiction. Determined to
carry out the mandates of the court and execute the laws as far as main-
taining the peace is concerned, he has been untiring in his efforts, and
has brought to the bar of justice a number of hardened criminals.

Mr. Pippin was married at the age of twenty-one to Delia Rice, who
became the mother of one daughter, Velva Irene, who was left mother-
less by her death on Christmas day, 1899. The subject was married in
1902 to Iva Bunton, and by this union there are two other daughters
Viva Leora and Hally Lee.

Sheriff Pippin is of wholesome social and fraternal proclivities and


takes great pleasure in his affiliations with the Independent Order of
Odd Fellows, the Modern Woodmen of America and the order of Ben

HOKATIO C. CHAFFIN. Clay county claims a goodly number of pros-
perous business men who have distinguished themselves by worthy
accomplishments in a financial way, but among them all none is more
prominent or more worthy of mention in this history of Southern Illi-
nois than is Horatio C. Chaffin, whose principal labors have been along
educational lines, but who has been variously connected with financial
and commercial enterprises of distinctive character.

Born in Clay county, Illinois, January 4, 1873, Horatio C. Chaffin
is the son of John and Mary E. (Claypool) Chaffin, both natives of
Ohio, the former of Scioto county and the latter of Ross county. John
Chaffin was a carpenter by trade, and he was also an experienced
farmer. He came to Illinois as a young man and when he died he had
achieved a fair measure of success, judged by the standards of his
time. His demise occurred in 1886, and he left an estate of four hun-
dred acres of fertile Illinois land. He was a Republican of staunch
faith, and with his wife was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church.
They reared three sons, all of whom are living at this time. John Chaffin
was the son of Reuben and Sarah Chaffin, the former born and reared
in Ohio, and there he passed his life and finally died. He at one time
entered Illinois land from the government, intending to move there,
but never did so. After his death his widow came to Illinois and died
in this state. The maternal grandfather of Horatio C. Chaffin was
James Claypool, born in Ohio. His son, the uncle of the subject, is
H. C. Claypool. member of congress for the Chillicothe, Ohio, district.

Horatio Chaffin was given the advantage of a broad education,
which he put to excellent use in later years. He finished the schools
of Clay county, and after graduating from the high school of his town
entered McKendree College at Lebanon, Illinois, where he was gradu-
ated in due season with the degrees of B. S. and LL. B. Thereafter he
taught school for nine years in Clay and St. Clair counties, and was
for some time superintendent of the schools of the city of Flora. He
was editor of the Olney Republican at Olney, Illinois, the oldest news-
paper in Southern Illinois, and while acting in that capacity demon-
strated amply his fitness for work in an editorial capacity. In 1902
Mr. Chaffin established the Rinard Banking Company at Rinard, Illi-
nois, but he eventually sold out his interests in that organization and
returned to Flora, where he reorganized the Bank of Flora, becoming
its cashier. Later, in connection with C. McDaniel, of Rinard, he or-
ganized the Farmers and Merchants Bank at Creal Springs, Illinois.
He is also financially connected with a grain and seed business in
Flora, the name of the concern being Borders Chancy & Company, this
being one of the largest concerns of its kind in the state of Illinois.

Mr. Chaffin is a Republican, although he has never been a candi-
date for office. He rather inclined toward helping his friends in their
political struggles than to struggling for himself. He is a Mason and
a member of the Modern Woodmen. He is widely known in and about
his community, and is regarded as a particularly able young business
man by those who have watched his career thus far.

In 1899 Mr. Chaffin married Miss Olive Miller, the daughter of Dr.
L. T. Miller, for thirty years a practicing physician in Southern Illi-
nois. He has now retired from active practice and is passing his de-
clining years on a farm near Collinsville. One son has been born to
Mr. and Mrs. Chaffin.


ARCHIBALD B. MCLAREN. Among the many well known mining men
of Southern Illinois, the popular superintendent of the Chicago Big
Muddy Coal and Coke Company, of Marion, is one of the most efficient.
He has spent most of his life in this work, and save for a short period
has pursued his vocation in the state of Illinois.

Mr. McLaren has behind him a long line of sturdy Scotch ancestors,
he, himself, having been born in Dunfermline, Scotland, on the 6th of
January, 1873. His father was William McLaren, who was born in the
same little Scotch community in 1850, and his mother was Miss Mary
Kennedy, whom William McLaren had married in his native Scotland.
Five years after the birth of Archibald the family came to the United
States, sailing from Glasgow to New York and thence by way of the
Great Lakes making their way into the interior of the country,
through Chicago as the gateway. They made their way down to
Streator, Illinois, where they remained until 1884, when the father
decided to try his fortunes in the south, and moved to Charleston,
Arkansas, where he expected to engage in mining, which industry
had been his means of livelihood in the "Auld Countree." Condi-
tions not being favorable there, he loaded his family and his house-
hold goods upon two ox-carts and made his slow way across the
state into the sparsely settled territory of Oklahoma, passing through
the densely peopled Choctaw nation, whose many strange and weird cus-
toms made a deep impression upon the Scotch wanderers. Reaching Mc-
Alester, Oklahoma, he established his family at Krebs, in the vicinity of
which place he resided during the several months he spent in the territory.
Here it was that his son Archibald was first instructed in the proper
methods of mining coal, for that was the father's business. When he
returned to Illinois some time later he continued as a miner, and has
followed that vocation in the central part of the state ever since, at
present being at work in the mineral field about Cuba, Illinois.

Mrs. McLaren died in 1883, at McAlester, Oklahoma, leaving three
children, Archibald B. ; Annie, the wife of William Townsley, of Cuba,
Illinois; and Lizzie, who married George Craft, of Cuba, Illinois. Be-
sides the loss of his wife Mr. McLaren lost his mother and a son during
his residence in Oklahoma. He later married Eliza .Lewelling, at
Streator, Illinois, but has no children by this second marriage.

Owing to the migratory life of the family and the primitive condi-
tion of part of the country in which his youth was spent, Archibald

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 26 of 98)