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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William Albert Perrine grew up amid country surroundings, receiv-
ing his education at the district schools. His first ambition to become
a teacher was soon gratified, and for seventeen terms he led the strenuous
and disciplinary life of a country school teacher in the vicinity of Her-
rin. With this for a winter diversion, he carried on farming in season,
but eventually abandoned both to take up what afterwards became his
life work. Foreseeing in the development of the coal fields all about
Herrin a source of future wealth and power, he turned his tireless
energy towards making this development as rapid as possible, with the
result that Herrin. with its wonderful growth, bids fair to rival the


county seat for metropolitan honors. Mr. Perrine first engaged in the
lumber business at Creal Springs, but only remained a lumber dealer
for three years before turning to mining. He opened a number of the
leading properties between Herrin and Marion, the list of mines em-
bracing the Chicago-Herrin, the Carterville Big Muddy, the Hemlock,
the Watson's Pittsburg and the Big Muddy. Having opportunities
to sell at considerable profit, he disposed of all save the last two named,
and he is the chief stockholder and president of both of these com-
panies. He has handled the development and management of these
companies alone until recently, when skilled successors reared in his
own household and under his own direction assumed much of the re-

Mr. Perrine has taken considerable part in the actual building of
Herrin, erecting many houses for renting, and, being shrewd enough
to forsee the trend which real estate was likely to take, has bought and
sold considerable land from time to time. He is financially interested in
the First National Bank of Herrin, being a stockholder, and, knowing
that in a growing town one of the greatest aids to its growth is a
Building and Loan Association, he lends his support to the one in
Herrin as one of its directors. He was the propelling force which
brought the Coal Belt Electric Railroad into Herrin, and together with
others. secured about half the right-of-way between Herrin and Marion.

Mr. Perrine has been identified with political thought longer than
he has been a voter. His Republicanism is as old as he is and his ac-
tivity at conventions and as a member of the county committee covers
a period of more than twenty years. He has several times served his
party as a delegate from his county to the Illinois State meetings. In
1908, as a delegate to the national convention, he had the honor of
casting his ballot for the nomination of President Taft. On the 1st
of April, 1909, he was appointed postmaster by "wire" and succeeded
Mr. A. Gasaway in that office.

In his fraternal relations Mr. Perrine has shown his steadfast de-
votion to a cause, for in spite of the many advantages which might ac-
crue to him if he became a member of other secret orders, he has pre-
ferred to give all his interest and attention to Masonry. He has filled
all the chairs of the Blue Lodge, having been worshipful master seven
terms. He was the first high priest of Herrin chapter, No. 229, and he
is a member of the Metropolis Commandery, No. 41. He is also affiliated
with the Chicago Masons, being a member of the Oriental Consistory and
of Medinah Temple of that city. Three generations of his family have
been members of the Herrin lodge and all have received the degree of
Master Mason from it or its predecessor.

On the 1st of August, 1880, Mr. Perrine was married to Miss Mary
A. Cruse, a daughter of John M. Cruse, of Tennessee, and of Rebecca
A. (Sizemore) Cruse, of Kentucky. Mrs. Perrine is the oldest of eleven
children. Of the children born to this successful capitalist and his
wife, Bert E. is superintendent of the Watson Coal Company and is
married to Sudie Tune; Cass C. is superintendent of the Pittsburg
Big Muddy Coal Company, his wife being Meda Russell ; Bessie May
is the wife of W. A. Wilson, of Herrin ; Jesse J. died as a young boy ;
Susie C. is Mrs. Chester Childress, of Herrin; John D. ; Melissa; Mc-
Kinley and Effie, both of whom died in infancy ; W. A. Jr. ; and Joseph

The life of this man should be of especial interest to young men,
for it shows how, unaided, a man with courage, perseverance and con-
stant care can win a position for himself where he not only possesses
great wealth and prestige, but where he has the chance to aid others


on the upward journey. Mr. Perrine has always been so closely identi-
fied with his town that Herrin would not be Herrin without him, but had
he been born in some other section of the country, where there was no
opportune mineral wealth to be developed, his ability would have found
some other outlet, for his is the nature that never knows defeat, whose
calm optimism forces others to believe in him ; in short he is a natural
leader of men, a strong and forceful personality in whom other men
naturally trust and believe. However, his is a leadership not through
hate or fear, but from admiration and respect.

GUSTAVE E. Eis. Marion county numbers among her wealthy men
who has perhaps surpassed all others in the amassing of a fortune and
who is a recognized leader in practically every known local enterprise
demanding the application of capital and executive ability, as well as
many others of a similar nature in various other sections of the coun-
try. As a capitalist Gustave E. Eis is in the front ranks in his city
and county. As a good citizen and a family man his position is no
less prominent.

Gustave E. Eis was born in Dayton, Ohio, January 6, 1857. He is
the son of John and Mary (Engle) Eis, the former a native of France
and the latter of Germany. He was the son of Henry Eis, who lived
and died in France ; a tanner by trade, and nicely situated with refer-
ence to worldly endowments. He gave his son John a suitable educa-
tion, and when he came to America in 1836 he engaged in teaching.
He first settled in Newark, Ohio, but later removed to Dayton, Ohio.
There he married, and was for many years an instructor in the French
language in Dayton. He enlisted in the One Hundred and Fourth
Ohio at the inception of the Civil war and returned home on a fur-
lough after three years of service. He met his death shortly there-
after by drowning in the Licking river.

Gustave Eis was one of a family of nine children. His maternal
grandfather was Frank Engle, a native of Germany, who came to
America in 1833. He settled in Newark, Ohio, but later moved to Day-
ton, where he passed the remainder of his life, dying there at the age
of ninety-six. He was a merchant and always prominent in the busi-
ness and social life of the city in which he made his home. The educa-
tion of Gustave Eis was of necessity of a very meager nature, as the
exigencies of fortune made it incumbent upon him to begin life's
struggle alone at the tender age of thirteen years. In Kentucky,
where he found himself after some traveling about, he became em-
ployed in a cigar factory, and in the eleven years of his residence
there he thoroughly learned the trade of a cigar maker. He then re-
moved to Franklin, Indiana, where he remained for three years, and
on May 15, 1881, he arrived in Centralia, which has been the scene of
his principal operations in the years which have since elapsed. He be-
gan his career in Centralia by opening a cigar factory, and he con-
tinued in that business until 1910, when he sold out his interests and
engaged in the real estate business, which had become particularly at-
tractive to him by reason of his extensive holdings of Marion county
realty. He deals in real estate, stock and bonds and since he became
connected with that line of business the industry has taken on a re-
newed activity, as a result of his modern methods and his reputation
for square dealing. Mr. Eis has acquired an interest in practically
every financial or industrial organization of note in the county. He is
a director in the Old National Bank, and holds one twentieth of the
stock in that institution. He is a one-fourth owner in the Marion
Coal Mine property, and a stockholder of prominence in the Centralia


Envelope Factory. He is the principal stockholder in the Home
Building & Loan Association, and has always evinced deepest interest
in the operations of the Association as an instrument in the upbuilding
of the city. He is heavily interested financially in the Conly Frog &
Switch Works at Memphis, Tennessee. He is president of the Wizard
Products Company, the largest manufacturers of sweetening com-
pounds in the world. The main factory of this firm is in Chicago,
with a prominent branch in Nashville and another in Wichita, Kansas.
He is president of the Lead & Zinc Company at Galena, Illinois, and
is secretary and treasurer of the Ten Strike Mining Company at
Galena, Illinois. This is a particularly rich and productive mine. He
is president of the Florence Lead & Zinc Mining Company, another
extremely rich property. The company own three hundred and twenty
acres in the heart of the lead and zinc district, much of which has al-
ready been proven, and a portion of which is now being worked. The
property is particularly rich in moulders sand, and is considered to
be one of the most valuable holdings in the neighborhood of Galena.
Mr. Eis is also one of the principal stock-holders in the Glen Ridge
Mercantile Company at Junction City, Illinois. Undoubtedly Mr. Eis
is one of the wealthiest men in Marion county today, and his phenom-
enal success in the world of finance may be ascribed solely to his own
inherent ability.

On September 16, 1884, Mr. Eis married Miss Anna Merkel, a
daughter of Edward Merkel, a native of Germany. Four children were
born of their union. They are : Clarence M., an instructor of voice
in Chicago; Walter R., employed in the office of the Centralia En-
velope Factory; Valette R., also with the Envelope Factory; and Flor-
ence M., a student at the Rockford, Illinois, College.

FRED HOPPMEIEB is one of the large and successful farmers of Pu-
laski county, whose long life has been a checkered one, and who owes
his present prosperity to his willingness to work, his clear head and
the thrift and honesty inherited from a long line of German ancestors.
He began with nothing, depending on two willing arms to conquer
for him whatever difficulties he might meet. His youthful optimism
and self confidence came out victorious after many battles, and the
chronicle of his life should provide an object lesson to Young America
today, for if it were followed many of the future failures could well
be avoided.

Fred Hoffmeier was born on a farm near Bohmte, near Osnabruck
in Hanover, now a part of the German Empire, on the 1st of February,
1846. His father was Clamar Hoffmeier, a farmer, and his mother
was Engel Boedecker. Of their four children Fred was the oldest ;
William was lost in the Franco-Prussian war fighting for his Father-
land before the gates of Paris ; Engel and Louisa married and passed
their lives near the place of their birth.

Fred Hoffmeier was sent to the public schools of his native town,
but showing no particular inclination for the life of a scholar, at the
age of fourteen he was taken from school and put to work on the farm.
In this work he spent the years until his majority was passed, and
then to evade the military service which he soon would be forced to give
his country he came to the United States. He sailed from Bremer-
haven, and landed in Baltimore. Having no friends and no idea of
where to go, he naturally turned towards the western land of promise.
He reached Cincinnati, where he spent two years before going to Liv-
ingston county, Illinois. Here he first attempted farming, but found
it quite different from the same industry in the old country. The cold


weather during the long winters on his farm near Dwight made him
decide to go further south, so he drifted down to Cairo. The climate
here was better suited to his constitution, and here he decided to lo-
cate. Without funds and with no way to secure any save by the work
of his hands, matters looked pretty black to the young German. Hon-
est labor did not seem to be in demand, but at last he drifted over to
Ullin, and there found employment in the big saw mills that were
rapidly denuding the surrounding district of its crowning glory, its for-
ests of oaks and poplars, which were the only things that gave the
country any value at that time. This was in 1871 and after his mar-
riage in 1874 he decided to try farming again, buying a forty-acre
tract of land in the woods, whose sole claim to being called improved
land was that it had been cultivated to some extent and that a log
cabin homestead had been erected upon it. To this primitive spot he
took his bride and they began together to tread the pathway which has
at times meandered somewhat crookedly, as Mr. Hoffmeier was forced
to turn aside from the straight way that led to his goal in order to
meet the constantly changing conditions. His calm faith that ultimately
everything would come out for the best was rewarded, for now he has
a good measure of financial independence and knows that none of his
household will have to suffer for lack of the material things of life.
His clear and practical head managed his finances along sane lines,
he never had to ask his wife to sign a mortgage, and he was never
swept off his feet into any rash investment by the enthusiasm of others.
He coolly examined a proposition, and if it met his approval then his
money was freely poured out, but not impulsively. He actually
grubbed his farm of four hundred and seventy acres out of stump-
land, and today is raising fine crops of grain and many head of stock.

It is not his industry alone that has numbered Fred Hoffmeier
among the valuable citizens of Pulaski county. He possesses the spirit
of progress along the lines of public enterprise to such an extent that
any movement inaugurated for the purpose of establishing new or ad-
vanced enterprises always finds him among its leaders. He has ever
felt that education was the best gift to a community, and his service as
a trustee of his home school has indicated the warm sympathy he felt
for public education. In politics Mr. Hoffmeier is a Republican, and
has served his party as county commissioner for one term. As vice-
president and one of the directors of the First National Bank of Ullin,
the peculiar ability of Mr. Hoffmeier as a financier has been brought into
full play. The reputation of this bank as being a sound and conserv-
ative institution may be traced directly to his influence. In religious
matters Mr. Hoffmeier is Lutheran and Mrs. Hoffmeier, a Baptist.

On the 24th of December, 1874, Mr. Hoffmeier was married to Miss
Ferban Atkins, a southern girl. She was the daughter of Robert
Atkins, who was killed fighting for the Union. He was an Alabaman,
and this state was the birthplace of Mrs. Hoffmeier. Mrs. Hoffmeier
had two brothers. One of these is J. T. Atkins, a farmer near Ullin;
the other. Samuel Atkins, has been dead for several years. Mr. and
Mrs. Hoffmeier have three children, "William ; Frederick, who has been
graduated from the Ullin high school; and Samuel, who is still a stu-
dent there.

A long life nobly spent, the well earned respect of his fellow men,
the inborn characteristics of simplicity, a love of the truth and honor,
what a heritage this German farmer can hand down to his children.
It is of such stock as this that heroes are made. Coiild he. a poor
young German standing on the banks of the Mississippi, not knowing
where he would lay his head that night, have looked forward to his


present comfortable home, surrounded by a happy family, he would have
thought he was "fey." Yet it has all come true, and is the work of his
own brain and hands, helped by the courage of his wife, who has ever
stood by with words of encouragement when things went wrong.

ALBERT W. LEWIS, judge of the first judicial circuit court, Harris-
burg, Illinois, looks back to Clinton county Ohio, as the place of his
birth, the date being November 30, 1856. His parents, Aquilla and
Harriet (Fletcher) Lewis, were both natives of Ohio, the father of
Aquilla having at an early day removed from Virginia to the Western
Reserve. In 1864 Aquilla Lewis and his family left the Ohio home
and came across Indiana and over into Southern Illinois, where he
settled on a farm in Saline county, two miles and a half southwest of
Harrisburg. Here he devoted his energies to agricultural pursuits for
a number of years, until his retirement and removal to Harrisburg,
where he died in 1893, at the age of seventy-one years. Politically he
was a Republican, and his religious creed was that of the Friends'
church. His widow survived him six or eight years. Of their three
sons and two daughters, Albert W., the subject of this sketch, is the
eldest; Clark, for several years a farmer and merchant of Harrisburg,
is deceased ; Edgar is proprietor of a hotel in Harrisburg, and the
daughters, Ella and Eva, the former the wife of John E. Ledford and
the latter of Emmett, are deceased.

Albert W. Lewis spent his boyhood on his father's farm. Two
years he attended Wilmington College, at Wilmington, Ohio, and at
the age of eighteen he began to teach district school. Later he was
employed in the Harrisburg school, where he taught two terms, one
term being principal. That was in 1881, when the Harrisburg school
had only three teachers. Teaching was only a stepping stone to his
life work. He took up the study of law at vacation time, and with
Mr. Boyer, of the firm of Morris & Boyer, as his preceptor, he pursued
his legal studies. In November, 1882, he was admitted to the bar and
at once began the practice of law, at first under his own name and
later in partnership with William M. Christy, with whom he was as-
sociated for four years in general practice. In 1888 he was elected
state's attorney, for a term of four years, and it was while the incum-
bent of this office that the noted Slayton murder case came up and
attracted no little attention throughout the country. James C. Slay-
ton, a wealthy farmer, killed one of his tenants, Hugh Morris. Judge
Lewis prosecuted the murderer, and he was sent to the penitentiary for
a term of thirty-five years. In 1892 Mr. Lewis was honored by elec-
tion to the lower house of the state legislature, where he served as a
Republican in a Democratic body. Two years later he was made
county judge for a term of four years. In 1904 he was again elected
state's attorney, and when Judge Vickers, of the circuit court, was
elected to the supreme bench, the choice fell to Albert W. Lewis as his
successor to fill out the term. In 1909 he was re-elected for a full term
of six years, which he is now serving. Fraternally Judge Lewis is both
a Mason and an Elk.

He has been twice married. In 1883 he married Miss Fannie Baker,
a native of Harrisburg and a daughter of the late Dr. Cornelius 'Baker,
of Harrisburg, a veteran of the Civil war, who died in 1880. Mrs.
Lewis died in December, 1900, soon after the birth of her youngest
son, leaving a family of seven children, as follows: James B., now a
member of the law firm of Dorris & Lewis, of Harrisburg; Aquilla
Cornelius, a member of the class of 1912 in the law department of the
Michigan State University; Edna, of the class of 1912 in the Illinois


State University; Alice, a teacher in the Harrisburg schools; Arthur,
William and Prank. In June, 1909, Judge Lewis married his present
companion, who was Mrs. Maud Rathbone, widow of the late Walter
R. Rathbone.

HENRY R. HALL. It seems as if the possession of that thing known
as "business ability" fits a man for a successful career in almost any
line of work. Henry R. Hall, the prominent lumberman and banker
of Sandoval, Illinois, is generously endowed with this gift, and he has
been in enough businesses for a half dozen men, winning some degree of
success from each attempt, ranging in dignity from that of a shoe-
maker to that of a bank president. Perhaps a large measure of his
success came to him through hard work, for he was early left fatherless,
with the support of his mother and sister devolving upon him, and he
early learned the meaning of toil. His early years were one constant
struggle, he had little time for recreation of any sort, for during the
time when he might have been free from work he was not free from
worry. He had the problem of the care of two women, mother and
sister, when the funds at his disposal were not much more than enough
for one. In some way though he managed to save a little money, and
as soon as he had this small capital to build on he began to rise. The
story of his life is one of persevering effort and a determination to con-
quer no matter what the odds.

Henry R. Hall was born in Monroe county, Georgia, on the 1st of
May, 1842. His parents were of Northern and Southern birth, his
father being Charles Hall and claiming Vermont for his birthplace.
His mother was Mary (Swift) Hall, and she was a native of South
Carolina. During the thirties they were married in Forsyth, Monroe
county, Georgia, where they lived until 1851. From 1851 to 1856
they made their home in Dalton, Georgia, at the end of this time
removing to Tennessee. Here the father died in October, 1856, and
the widow, finding herself alone and among strangers, took her little
family back to Dalton. Charles Hall was a shoemaker by trade, and had
never been able to do more than to keep his family in comfortable
circumstances. Although they had always been poor, affairs were
now blacker than ever, but in 1857 they came to Marion county, Illi-
nois, and here young Henry secured work and life began to take on a
brighter hue. Henry Hall's paternal grandfather was a native of
Vermont, and had come west in 1818, settling in Portage county, Ohio.
Here he became a farmer, and continued in that occupation until his
death. The maternal grandfather of Henry Hall was likewise a farmer.
He was born in South Carolina and moved to Columbus, Georgia,
where he settled on a farm near the now city. Here he spent the re-
mainder of his life.

With such an ancestry it is not surprising that young Henry,
thrown upon his own resources, should turn instinctively to farming.
His education had been obtained in the common schools of Georgia
and Tennessee, arid since he was only fourteen years old when his
father died he had not had the opportunity to learn a trade, so he
turned to farming. He worked on a farm for five years, and then he
learned the shoemaker's trade. He worked at this for two years, after
serving three years as an apprentice, and with the aid of his mother
and sister succeeded in scraping together enough to enter the business
field in a modest way. At Kinmundy, Illinois, where he then lived,
he engaged in the grocery business, gradually working up a good pat-
ronage. As his business grew his popularity and good reputation kept
pace with it, and in 1872 the people showed their confidence in him


by electing him sheriff of Marion county. He served in this capacity
for two terms, and then served two terms as circuit clerk. He lived
at this time in the county seat, Salem, and he remained here until 1886,
when he came to Sandoval to manage a coal mine near-by. While
living in Salem he had been elected mayor of the town, and was one of
its most prominent citizens.

He was connected with the coal mining business in Sandoval until
1897, and then he sold out and went into the lumber business. This
business has become one of the largest enterprises in Marion county,
and it is all due to the force of character and good business methods
of the owner. Since entering this field he has branched out into other
parts of the county. He now has a lumber yard at Vernon and one
at Junction City. All of these various branches are under one firm
name, H. R. Hall and Company. Recognition of his abilities as a
financier and as a man with a good head for the management of large
enterprises came to him with his election to the presidency of the First
National Bank of Sandoval. He also holds the same relation to the
Farmers and Merchants Bank of Vernon, Illinois. In the political
world he has always been active, giving his allegiance to the Dem-
ocratic party. Although interested in national politics, he believes

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 36 of 98)