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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As a youth Hiram Burnett learned the trade of blacksmith with his
father, and during the Black Hawk war served in the American army.
When Saline county was formed he became the first clerk of the
county court, and served in that office for close to twenty years, or
until the county seat was moved to Harrisburg. He then engaged in
farming on a Black Hawk war grant and also was a school teacher for
some years, as he had been in early life, and later became a justice of
the peace, all of these offices coming to him as tokens of the respect and
esteem in which he was held by his fellow men and the confidence they
had in his fairmindedness and ability. For a number of years he was
known as a Hard Shell Baptist, but when he became a member of
Raleigh Lodge, No. 128, A. F. & A. M., some of his beliefs became less
radical. His son, Dr. Burnett, is now the possessor of an autographed
letter from Robert G. Ingersoll, written upon receipt from Hiram Bur-
nett, of the application for membership to Raleigh Masonic Lodge of
his brother Eben, over whom his famous eulogy was pronounced, and


which was signed by Dr. Burnett's father. Eben practiced law at
Raleigh prior to his removal to Peoria. Hiram Burnett continued to
farm until his death, in his eighty-second year, and the log house which
was his home is still standing on the land. His first wife, Sarah Mor-
ris, bore him three children who grew to maturity: William W., cap-
tain of Company E, Twenty-ninth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer In-
fantry, who was killed while leading his company at the battle of
Shiloh; Richard M., who served through the Civil war in the same
company with his brother, and died at the age of forty-eight years, be-
came captain of the same company, although he did not immediately
succeed his brother; and Charles. P., who was a merchant of the city of
Eldorado, where he built up the largest business in the county, now
being conducted by his four sons. Mr. Burnett was married (second)
to Emily Bramlett, whom he survived for twenty years, and they had a
family of six children to reach maturity : Lucinda ; Catherine ; Henry
L. ; Hiram A., who was a merchant of Raleigh, but for the past twenty
years has been a resident of Kansas, and is now president of the First
National Bank of Dodge City; Mary A., deceased, who married the
late Dr. J. W. Ross; and Eliza, who married W. W. Alexander, of
Covington, Kentucky.

Henry L. Burnett began teaching school when he was twenty-one
years of age, and continued to engage in that profession until he was
twenty-four, at which time he began reading medicine with Dr. J. C.
Mathews, who is now deceased. He entered the old Missouri Medical
College, at St. Louis, and after graduation therefrom entered into
practice, but finding that it did not agree with his health he gave it up
and began to sell goods, this occupying his attention for twenty years.
He finally sold a half-interest in his store, but has retained the rest.
While engaged in the mercantile business he began to accommodate those
who needed financial assistance, and he has found this so profitable that
he has given the greater part of his time to it for upwards of twenty
years, but has abandoned his practice entirely. Doctor Burnett is the
owner of several farms, to which he often pays a visit when he feels the
need of relaxation from business cares, and has always declared that
he was proud he had been born on a farm. He has kept out of politics,
preferring to give his time and attention to his business interests.
Until 1896 he was affiliated with the Democratic party, but since then
has been classed as a Republican although he is really independent
in his principles and gives his support to the candidate rather than
the party. Since 1887 he has been connected with the Masonic fra-
ternity, being past worshipful master and taking an active part in the
work of the Blue Lodge.

On July 29, 1877, Dr. Burnett was married to Miss Prudence Cor-
win, daughter of Dr. J. M. Crowin, who came from Indiana and was
engaged in practice in Raleigh for ten years. Two sons have been born
to Dr. and Mrs. Burnett, namely: Rex C., who is associated in busi-
ness with his father; and Henry L., Jr., who now attends the home
schools. Dr. Burnett is possessed of the qualities of industry, honesty
and integrity, attributes essential to an upright and successful busi-
ness life, and as a sociable and genial man is one of the most popular
citizens in Raleigh.

CHARLES C. DAVIS. A city or country owes much to her profes-
sional men, merchants and farmers, for to them is due the steady cir-
culation of money and trade, without which a place would stagnate,
but when a town has grown to any size then it needs some one who can
step in and turn this money to the best advantage, so that it will be


used to advance the corporate growth of the community, in other
words, a capitalist. Such a man is Charles C. Davis. He started as a
poor boy with no prospects whatever; the early years of his career
offered nothing but deadly monotony, with no apparent hope for the
future, but, never allowing himself to become discouraged, believing
always that one could get almost anything if one worked for it hard
enough, he was ready to seize the opportunity when it offered. His
chance when it came seemed so small that men lacking his adventurous
spirit and confidence in fate would have refused to consider it. Not
so he, and the result is that he is one of the successful men of Marion
county, and has had a hand in practically every large enterprise that
has been launched in Centralia for years.

Charles C. Davis was born on the 2nd of April, 1855, the son of
Thomas P. Davis. His father was a native of Virginia, and left the
Old Dominion as a mere boy, coming to Illinois with his parents. They
settled in "White county, near Grayville, and when the lad grew to
manhood he adopted the carpentry trade, and as a carpenter and con-
tractor he soon became well known throughout the county. When
Centralia began to grow he moved to what was then a village and built
some of the earliest homes in the now thriving city. When the war
broke out in 1860 he willingly offered his services and for three years
served in Company H of the Eightieth Illinois Regiment. His politics
were Republican, but he was content to cast his vote at election time
and let others fill the offices. Both he and his wife were staunch mem-
bers of the Methodist Episcopal church. He married in Belleville,
Illinois, Wilhelmina Beal, the daughter of Jacob Beal. The latter was
born in Germany, and immigrated to America in 1844, settling in
Pennsylvania. He later moved to St. Clair county, where he took up
farming and gardening. During the later years of his life he moved
to Centralia, where he died. The father of Thomas P. Davis was
James Davis, who was born in Virginia, and moved to Illinois while
Thomas was quite young. He was a farmer and continued to operate
his farm to the day of his death. Thomas P. Davis and his wife had
ten children, eight sons and two daughters, of whom Charles was the
first born, and of these six sons and one daughter survive.

Charles C. Davis obtained all his knowledge of books from the public
schools. His first job was as a brakeman, and by the time he was
twenty he had climbed the rounds of the ladder until he had reached
the position of conductor. For twenty-one years he followed railroad-
ing, and apparently he was never going to do anything else, but some-
how the idea came into his head that there was coal around Centralia,
and although he knew nothing about coal mining he determined to
have a try for it. Giving up his position, he took his small savings
and came to .Centralia, where in company with Mr. G. L. Pittinger,
who had persuaded him to go into the venture with him, sunk a shaft.
They struck coal. This was the beginning of their fortune. After
this start the rest came easily, for his mind was peculiarly adapted to
the work of a financier, and he seemed to know almost intuitively in
what direction the real estate market was going to move. After the
lucky strike they sunk another shaft and bought others until they
owned the whole coal field around Centralia, then when the value of the
property had enormously increased they sold out, and the mines are
now owned and operated by the Centralia Coal Company. Mr. Davis
is connected with almost every leading financial enterprise in Cen-
tralia. He is president of the Pittinger Davis Mercantile Company,
which is a store of great importance to the commercial life of Cen-
tralia. He is a director and heavy stockholder in the Old National


Bank, and for many years he has been a director of the Building and
Loan Company. Much of his property consists of real estate, but he
always has money to invest in any enterprise that meets with his ap-
proval, and much of his income is derived from loans. He is known
as a friend to the poor and many of his small loans have been made
without interest, for, coming himself from the ranks of those who labor
with their hands, he realizes the value of a helping hand. The most
successful deals which were carried out by Mr. Pittinger and the sub-
ject and which seem to have been made with an intuitive sense of the
future were in reality the result of hours of thinking and planning.
Mr. Davis' long experience in railroading had given him a keen judg-
ment of men, and from a long study of conditions he is usually able
to prophesy how this or that affair is going to turn out.

On May 2, 1877, he married Ella Kell, the daughter of Matthew
Kell, who was a prominent business man of Centralia up to the time
of his death. Dr. Davis is deeply interested and very active in the
Masonic order, believing firmly in the principles of this great institu-
tion and he is a past master, past high priest and past eminent com-
mander. He is also a Consistory Mason and a Shriner, and has taken
the thirty-third degree. At present he is grand high priest of the
state of Illinois. He is a member of the Elks, having been one of the
charter members of the Centralia Lodge.

HARRY 0. PHILP, M. D. Among Franklin county's able and emi-
nent physicians Dr. Harry 0. Philp is entitled to representation as
one of the deservedly prominent, possessing a large country practice
and enjoying the confidence of both laity and profession. Beloved as
the kindly friend and doctor of hundreds of families in this part of
the state, it might well have been such as he who inspired the famous
couplet of Pope,

' ' A wise physician, skill 'd our wounds to heal,
Is more than armies to the public weal."

Dr. Philip was born in Jefferson county, Illinois, October 1, 1869,
the son of James W. and Augusta (Kinne) Philp. The father was a
native of Illinois, and his parents were among the earliest settlers of
Jefferson county, their arrival on the Illinois plains having occurred
when the Redman still looked upon them as his own hunting ground,
his trail being clearly marked across them. The mother, who was a
Hoosier by birth, was reared on a farm in Jefferson county, Illinois,
whence she came as a little girl. James Philp was a farmer and
school teacher and was a Union soldier in the Civil war, being cap-
tured and incarcerated in Andersonville prison. He was a member of
Company I of an Illinois regiment. The founder of the family of Philp
in this country was the subject's grandfather, Thomas Philp, who was
born in England and came to this country when a young man, locating
in Illinois and taking an active part in the many-sided life of the new
community. He was noted as a musician in his day and locality and
furnished tunefulness for many interesting occasions. He could be
practical also and made all the shoes for the neighborhood. The
maternal grandfather of him whose name inaugurates this review was
a native of Indiana, in which state he lived and died. Thus the sub-
ject's forebears on both sides of the house have been personally con-
cerned with the growth and development of the middle west.

Doctor Philp received his education in the public schools of Jef-
ferson county and worked on a farm until he attained to the age of


twenty-one years. In the meantime he arrived at a decision to enter
the medical profession and accordingly matriculated in the Missouri
Medical College at St. Louis, from which he was graduated in 1893.
Soon after receiving his degree he located in Ewing and he has con-
tinued in active practice ever since that time. His practice, which is
large, takes him over a wide rural territory. He has been very suc-
cessful, financially and professionally, and he owns considerable prop-
erty, having an excellent farm and other material interests.

Dr. Philp was happily married in 1894 to Daisy Neal, daughter
of Thor Neal, an extensive farmer and stock dealer. He resided in
Franklin county for a number of years, but now makes his home in
Missouri. They have one child, a son named James, who is a pupil
m the public schools. Dr. and Mrs. Philp belong to the Methodist
Episcopal church, taking an active interest in its good works. He is
a member of Ewing lodge, No. 705, of the Masons, and is identified
with the Southern Illinois and Franklin County Medical Societies, He
is Republican in politics and is inclined to the cause of Prohibition,
in whose beneficial influence upon a community he has great faith.

WILLIAM H. GILLIAM. One of the prominent figures in the journal-
istic field of Southern Illinois, and a man who has been identified with
educational movements here for many years, is William H. Gilliam,
editor of the Vienna Weekly Times. Mr. Gilliam, who has the best
interests of the community at heart, is editing a clean, wholesome
sheet which wields a great deal of influence among the people of this
part of the country and may always be counted upon to support all
movements of a progressive nature. William H. Gilliam, who is serv-
ing in the capacity of postmaster of Vienna, was born December 1,
1856, in Weakley county, Tennessee, and is a son of Thomas H.

Thomas H. Gilliam was born in Dinwiddie county, Virginia, and
was there married to Sarah E. Hill, daughter of Thomas Hill, a Vir-
ginian by birth. After his marriage Mr. Gilliam went to Gibson county,
Tennessee, thence to Henry county, and eventually to Weakley county,
in the same state. Later he removed to Galloway county, Kentucky,
but in 1862 disposed of his interests there and came to Johnson county,
Illinois, buying a fine farm in Burnside township, on which the village
of Ozark is now located, and there he died November 18, 1892, aged
sixty-two years, his wife having passed away in 1889. Six children had
been born to them, namely : Joseph, William II., Alice, Charles, Robert
and Mary of whom Robert, William H. and Mary survive.

William II. Gilliam was six years of age when the family came to
Illinois and after completing his studies in the public schools he
entered Ewing College. When nineteen years old he commenced
teaching during the winters and working on the farm during the
summer months and then became clerk in the postoffice at New Burn-
side, subsequently filling a clerical position in the circuit clerk's of-
fice at Vienna. In 1882 he was appointed deputy sheriff of Johnson
county, serving in that capacity and in the circuit clerk's office
until 1885, and in that year purchased a half interest in the Weekly
Times, with G. W. Ballance as partner. In October, 1886, he became
sole proprietor of this newspaper, which has become one of the leading
news sheets of this part of the state. Mr. Gilliam has always tried
to give his subscribers the best and latest news of both a national and
local nature, and the rapid growth of this periodical shows that his
labors in the field of journalism have not been in vain and that the
people have not failed to appreciate his efforts in their behalf. In


connection with his plant he conducts a job printing office, where
only the best class of work is done, and he has built up quite a large
trade in this line. Mr. Gilliam has been prominent also in the educa-
tional field. From 1893 to 1898 he was clerk of the board of education,
serving as such at the time the new high school was erected. In 1897
he was appointed postmaster at Vienna, and his work in this capacity
has been so successful that he is now serving his fourth term. He is
an efficient and courteous official and has discharged the duties of his
office with so much ability and conscientiousness that his service in his
important position has been an eminently satisfactory one. Frater-
nally Mr. Gilliam is connected with Vesta Lodge, No. 340, I. 0. 0. F.,
and Vienna Encampment, No. 53 ; Romeo Lodge, No. 651, Knights of
Pythias ; and is popular in all. His wife is a member of the D. of R.,
Vienna Lodge, No. 187. Politically he adheres to the principles of
the Republican party.

In June, 1890, Mr. Gilliam was married to Miss Dimple Perkins, a
native of Howard county, Missouri, and daughter of Henry Stewart
Perkins, deceased. Three children have been born to this union:
Frank, born in 1891 ; Lois, born in 1894 ; and Marian, who died in
May, 1908, aged twelve years. Mr. and Mrs. Gilliam are faithful
church members, he of the Baptist and she of the Methodist.

IRA BEATTE was born in St. Francois county, Missouri, on Septem-
ber 8, 1881. He is the son of Henry Beatte and Vercella (Wyams)
Beatte, the latter of Jefferson county, Missouri, and is the eldest of the
five children of his parents. Henry Beatte was born in Washington
county, Missouri, about 1852. For a time he followed farming and
later embarked in the mercantile business in Danby, Missouri, where
the family still conducts the store. The father of Ira Beatte died in
1910. He was a Democrat, was affiliated with a number of fraternal
orders and was a member of the Baptist church. The mother is still

The early life of Ira Beatte was spent in the counties of St. Fran-
cois and Jefferson, and he was educated in the public schools. He
started in the blacksmith business at an early age at Kinsey, Missouri,
and in 1906 he came to Monroe county, where in Maeystown he opened
a blacksmith and wagon shop. He remained there for two years, com-
ing to Valmeyer about two years ago, and establishing a similar
business. He has prospered most agreeably, and now has a thoroughly
modern shop, equipped with gas engine, trip hammers, and other
modern power apparatus. Mr. Beatte is a member of the Evangelical
Lutheran church and of the National Protective Legion.

On Christmas day, 1903, he married Lorena Busking, of Monroe
county, and they are the parents of two children : Freeman and Archie.

VIRGINIUS W. SMITH. The man who buys land today in Gallatin
county has no idea of the obstacles which confronted the ones who
began developing this property. Now fertile fields yield banner crops,
the ground once covered with mighty forest trees smiles beneath culti-
vation, and where worthless swamps gathered green slime and sent
forth pestilential fevers, the rich soil eagerly responds to the modern
methods of the farmer. All this was not attained without endless
hard work through all seasons. When summer crops did not require
effort the fences had to be repaired, there were new buildings to be
erected, and other improvements to be inaugurated. No man who
has brought out success from his years of endeavor ever attained it
unless he was ready and willing to make any kind of sacrifice of in-


clination or strength to bring it about, and one who has through his ef-
forts in this way become more than ordinarily prosperous and has
developed some of the best land of Gallatin county is Virginius W.
Smith, of Ridgway, Illinois, who is widely known and highly re-
spected. Mr. Smith was born at Cincinnati, Ohio, March 20, 1842, and
was brought to Illinois by his parents Joseph and Eliza Jane (Akins)

Joseph Smith was a farmer by occupation, and on first settling in
Illinois located at Equality, where he had friends. Subsequently he
rented the Crenshaw farm, three miles south of Ridgeway, but during
the fall of 1849 came to the present farm of Virginius W. Smith, lo-
cated one mile east of Ridgway, where he purchased eighty acres of
land, for about $500. Fifteen acres of this land were cleared, and a
small log cabin had been erected thereon, and here Mr. Joseph Smith
started to develop a farm, it being very conveniently located, as it
was but a two or three-hour journey to Equality, about eight miles,
and three or four hours to New Haven, which was ten miles away,
although the land at that time was all a wilderness and there had not
yet been a settlement made at Ridgway. Joseph Smith started a
store at New Market, one-half mile south of his home, but later all
the business there was removed to Ridgway. He continued to operate
his farm, putting a great deal of it under cultivation, and served for
some years as justice of the peace, to which office he had been elected
as a Democrat. His death occurred in May, 1863, when not much past
fifty-five years, his widow surviving until 1895 and being seventy-
three years old at the time of her death. They had the following chil-
dren : Virginius "W. ; Dennis, a soldier, a member of the One Hundred
and Thirty-first Illinois Regiment, who died at Vicksburg, Mississippi,
in 1863; Margaret, who died as a young married woman; John P., a
farmer, who died in 1911, at the age of fifty-five years ; Catherine, who
married John Hammersley and died at the age of thirty years ; Christ-
opher, a farmer near Eldorado, Illinois; and Lucinda, who married
Thomas Riley and died when about forty years of age.

Virginius W. Smith received his education in the public schools of
the vicinity of the home farm, and remained with his parents until
the outbreak of the Civil war. In August, 1861, he enlisted in Com-
pany D, Twenty-ninth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, a com-
pany recruited about New Haven Captain Whiting, and with this
organization he served until securing his honorable discharge, Novem-
ber 20, 1864. This regiment saw some of the hardest fighting of the
war, and among its battles may be mentioned Belmont, Missouri;
Columbus, Kentucky; Paducah and Ports Henry and Donelson, Shiloh,
Corinth, Jackson, second Corinth, Holly Springs and Coldwater. The
regiment was captured at Holly Springs but his company, with an-
other, was sent back on detail to Jackson Tennessee. In April, 1863,
the regiment was sent to Vicksburg to man the gunboat "Tyler," as
sharpshooters, on the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, and this boat was
constantly in the severest part of each action. At the battle of Vicks-
burg the vessel was sent to the Arkansas side to ward off the Con-
federate Generals Marmaduke and Price, and after this engagement
Mr. Smith and his companions rejoined their regiment, which in the
meantime had been exchanged. They were on guard at Vicksbiirg
and on the Black river until Sherman's Atlanta campaign, as far as
Jackson, but eventually were sent back to Vicksburg, and Mr. Smith
then became a member of a scouting party which went to Natchez,
and at that point he received his honorable discharge. He had been
twice wounded, in the left side and right leg, and the effects of these


injuries did not entirely pass away for a long period. On liis return
to Illinois he again took up farming, and for five years rented a prop-
erty, then purchased forty acres, which he sold after developing, and
eventually purchased one hundred and twenty acres, to which from time
to time he added until he now has a magnificent tract of three
hundred and forty acres, including the old family homestead. For
some of this land he paid only ten dollars per acre, and when he
bought the homestead it cost him only forty-three dollars per acre,
this land now being all worth upwards of one hundred dollars per acre.
His large, comfortable home is situated on a hill one mile east of
Ridgely, and his other buildings are well built and modern in equip-
ment. Mr. Smith raises wheat and corn, and gives a good deal of at-
tention to the raising of pure-bred stock. He was one of the original
stockholders of the First National Bank of Ridgway, but outside of
this has given most of his time and attention to his farm. He has done
more than one thousand dollars worth of tiling, and his land is per-
fectly drained and ditched, although at first much of it was swampy

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 34 of 98)