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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1897, and since that time, with the exception of a few short terms, he
has served as principal of the schools here. In 1902 he was a can-
didate for the office of county superintendent, but owing to political
conditions at that time he met with defeat. His principles are those
of the Republican party, and he and his wife attend the Presbyterian
church. Professor Blake's reputation as an educator is high in the
profession, and personally he is very popular, many of his warmest
friends in this community being former pupils. He has found time to
exert his influence in behalf of progressive movements of benefit to the
city, but has not entered the public field to any extent.

In June, 1902, Professor Blake was married to Miss Ida Schulze,
of Grand Tower, and three children have been born to this union, namely :
Helen and Evelyn, twins, and Edward.

RUDOLPH J. KASSERMAN. Among those who have achieved a position
of prominence at the Jasper county bar is Rudolph J. Kasserman, junior


member of the firm of Fithian & Kasserman, attorneys and counselors
at law in Newton. The firm holds a foremost position and is concerned
in important litigation and retains a clientage of signally representative
character. Mr. Kasserman was born on a farm in Richland county, Illi-
nois, January 27, 1870, and is a son of Stephen and Annie (Tomi) Kas-

Stephen Kasserman was a native of Switzerland, where he was born
August 16, 1829. Coming to America with his parents when still a lad,
he settled in southeastern Ohio, where he grew to manhood and followed
farming, in addition to engaging in steam-boating on the Ohio river.
About 1866 he moved to Richland county, Illinois, and after he had en-
gaged in agricultural pursuits for a time he became a general contractor,
his field of operation being Olney. He removed to a farm in Jasper
county in 1879, where his death occurred in 1893. He married Miss
Annie Tomi in Ohio, and she died in 1895, having been the mother of
nine children, of whom Rudolph. J. was the fourth in order of birth.

Rudolph J. Kasserman 's early life was spent in Olney and his edu-
cation was secured in the public schools of Jasper county. He event-
ually became private secretary to Congressman George W. Pithian, of
Newton, and while discharging the duties of that position found time to
prosecute his law studies under Mr. Fithian 's preceptorship, and be-
came his partner after his admittance to the bar in 1895. Mr. Kasser-
man as a counselor is safe and duly conservative, and well merits the
reputation he has gained as one of the able and honored attorneys of
the county. Politically he is a Democrat, and has served as master in
chancery of Jasper county.

In 1894 Mr. Kasserman was united in marriage with Miss Lydia L.
Moore, and they have had three children : Homer, George and Anna.
Mrs. Kasserman attends the Presbyterian church, and is well known in
religious and charitable work. Mr. Kasserman belongs to the local lodge
of Masons.

NOAH M. TOHILL is a fine combination of professional and business
man. He is of that type of men who can never devote themselves to one
thing to the exclusion of all other interests, but must have other chan-
nels into which to direct their surplus energy. As a lawyer he has been
highly successful, proof of which is to be found in his services as state 's
attorney and as city attorney. He is one of the men who is doing much
to allay the distrust that has sprung up in the minds of the public con-
cerning law and lawyers. He has a brilliant and well trained mind, his
knowledge of legal lore being very thorough, but better than these qual-
ities is that of a sincere determination to do what he considers the right.
He has a native eloquence and knows how to sway the jury, but he was
never known to take an unfair advantage and he pleads that in the
courts of justice at least justice should be shown.

Noah M. Tohill was born in Crawford county, Illinois, on the 10th
of December, 1864. His father was Lewis N. Tohill, who was born in
September, 1829, in Crawford county, Illinois. The founder of the
Tohill family in this state was John Tohill, the grandfather of Noah
Tohill, who came to Illinois from Virginia about 1822. This pioneer in
the days of Indians and bears was a millwright by profession, but like
all the settlers of that early date he took up farming, and followed his
trade at intervals only. On the farm of his sturdy old father Lewis
Tohill grew to manhood. He was early made familiar with the work
of the farm and it was inevitable that he should in time follow in his
father's footsteps and become a farmer. This was the profession that
he has followed throughout his life, the only break in his life as an agri-


culturist being when he enlisted and went to the front as one of the
Ninety-eighth Illinois. His war record is an honorable one, and when
he received his discharge at the end of his term of service he returned
home and settled down to the old life again. His marriage to Cynthia
A. Jones took place in 1861. She was a daughter of John M. Jones,
who was a farmer of Crawford county. Six children were born
of this union, and Noah was the second of these. Mrs. Tohill died
on the 2nd of August, 1874, but Mr. Tohill is still living, at the old
home in Crawford county. He is a firm believer in the doctrines of the
Republican party, and his religious affiliations are with the United

Noah M. Tohill, like his father, had the wholesome influences of the
farm as his early surroundings. He grew up in Crawford county, and
the schools of the county provided him with an education. He after-
wards went to the State Normal University at Normal, Illinois. He was
ambitious to acquire as much education as possible and saw no way of
securing what he wanted except by his own efforts, so during the period
while he was attending school he was also teaching. After the two years
which he spent at Normal were over he went to Valparaiso, Indiana, and
entered Valparaiso University, where he remained for one year. Dur-
ing all this time while he was attending school he taught for six years.
This process of studying for a time, then breaking it off and plunging
into pedagogical work, only to resume the studies when enough money
had been earned to carry him a few months further along the road,
was a slow one, and entailed endless patience. He never faltered, how-
ever, and before him always he kept the goal of his ambitions bright,
for it was ever his intention to become a lawyer.

He was postmaster at Plat Rock, and taught the public schools of
that place for a number of years, three of which were spent in the prin-
cipal's chair. He had always desired to read law in the office of Calla-
han, Jones and Lowe at Robinson, Illinois, for his admiration for the
senior member of the firm had always been intense. At last his wish was
fulfilled, and he spent two years in the offices of the above mentioned
firm. He feels that the thorough training which he here received is
in a large measure responsible for his success, and he will always feel
the influence of the high ideals for which the above firm of lawyers stood.
He was admitted to the bar in February, 1895, and located at Lawrence-
ville in March of the same year. After practicing for one year he was
elected state 's attorney, and proved to have been chosen wisely. In 1897
he formed a partnership with B. S. Kingsbury, and this partnership con-
tinued until the 1st of January, 1906. In 1909 he formed a partner-
ship with Mr. J. E. McG-aughey, and this partnership is still active.
They are doing a large amount of business, and some of the cases which
they handle are very important. For a period of six years Mr. Tohill
held the office of city attorney, and his work won the approbation of all
who knew of it. He is much interested in politics, and believes that the
preservation and safety of the nation will be best effected with the Re-
publican party in power, consequently he is active in behalf of that party.
He has been delegate to both state conventions and to congressional con-
ventions, and is always willing to work for the glory of his party and
the good of the people.

In the business world Mr. Tohill is especially well known through
his connection with the oil business, for he has been greatly interested in
promoting the opening up of the oil fields in all of the surrounding coun-
try. He is a stockholder in the First National Bank of Lawrenceville,
and is vice-president and a stockholder of the Citizens' Telephone Com-
pany, which has been in operation for over ten years. He is a member of


the Christian church, and his fraternal affiliations are with the Benevolent
and Protective Order of Elks.

Mr. Tohill was married on the 12th day of November, 1888, to Rose
Otey, of Robinson, Illinois, now deceased. On the 4th of January, 1899,
he was married to Fannie E. Barnes, of Flat Rock, Illinois. She was a
daughter of George D. Barnes, a well known merchant of Flat Rock, who
is now dead. She died on the 15th of April, 1901, leaving a little daugh-
ter, Mona. Mr. Tohill married again, Inez M. Hill, of Mount Carmel,
Illinois, becoming his wife.

FRANCIS B. THACKER. An excellent type of sturdy American man-
hood is found in the person of Francis B. Thacker, who, although he
has passed the allotted time of three score years and ten, is still engaged
in active pursuits and is carrying on operations on his fine farm situ-
ated about three miles northwest of Vienna, Johnson county. Through-
out his life Mr. Thacker has been one of this section's most energetic
and public-spirited citizens. When the call for troops to protect his
country's flag came he was one of the first to enlist from his section,
and after he had served gallantly throughout the Civil war, he returned
to the peaceful occupations of life and proved himself worthy of the
esteem of his fellow men. Mr. Thacker is a native of Johnson county,
and was born on a farm on Simpson's Road, two miles southeast of
Vienna, a son of Joel Sampson and Sarah (Bain) Thacker, and grand-
son of Nathan Thacker. of Tennessee.

Joel Sampson Thacker was born in Stewart county, Tennessee, and
as a youth migrated to Illinois with his mother, locating in Johnson
county in 1830. He continued to engage in agricultural pursuits
throughout his life, and his death occurred on his farm, situated near
Pond, Illinois, in 1855. He married Sarah Bain, daughter of John
Bain, a native of South Carolina, who migrated to Kentucky and then
to Southern Illinois, and they had a family of five children: Francis
B.; S. P.; Mrs. Martha Fort; Charles A., of Oklahoma; and G. N., of
Weatherford, Oklahoma. The mother of these children passed away
in March, 1908.

Francis B. Thacker began his education in the district schools of his
native community, but was left fatherless when fourteen years of age
and was compelled to leave school and start to work on the home farm.
He was twenty years of age when the Civil war broke out, and on Au-
gust 22, 1861, he enlisted in Company D, Thirty-first Regiment, Illinois
Volunteer Infantry, with which he served until July 19, 1865. At the
time of his enlistment his captain was Captain Williamson, and he saw
much service under General John A. Logan. The first engagement in
which Mr. Thacker took part was the battle of Fort Donelson, in Feb-
ruary, 1862, and during the summer of that year his regiment partici-
pated in several minor engagements before a severe conflict with Con-
federate cavalry at Burnt Bridge, Tennessee. Following this came the
battle of Corinth, October 3 and 4, and in the winter the army went to
Coldwater Station, near Vicksburg. On January 1, 1863, the regiment
was ordered to Memphis, and during the following month descended
the river to Lake Providence, above Vieksburg. On May 1st the river
was crossed, the blockade run, and the battle of Fort Gibson fought,
and following this Mr. Thacker 's division was stationed at various
camps until finally engaging the enemy at Jackson, Mississippi. Re-
turning to Champion Hill, a battle was fought at that point, and later
on the regiment went to Vicksburg, where they took an active part in
the siege, marching into the city on the morning of July 4th. Subse-
quently a series of engagements were fought to Black River, twenty


miles east of Vicksburg, and here Mr. Thacker veteranized. In the
spring of 1864 his regiment was transported up the river to Cairo,
and later became a part of Sherman's army at Big Shanty, Georgia.
Almost daily skirmishes followed, constant action under a heavy fire
was nothing out of the ordinary, and sharpshooting on both sides be-
came deadly. After the surrender of Atlanta, in August, the regiment
became a part of the division that was sent after Hood's retreating
army. Subsequently the regiment to which Mr. Thacker was attached
returned to Atlanta, took part in the famous ' ' March to the Sea, ' ' win-
tered at Buford, South Carolina, and in the spring of 1865 marched
north and on March 19 met and defeated Johnston's army at Golds-
borough. The surrender of General Lee at Appomattox Court House
followed three weeks later, and the war was closed. After participat-
ing in the Grand Review at Washington, D. C., Mr. Thacker was mus-
tered out of the service at Louisville, Kentucky, July 19, 1865, and on
August 6th, following, received his honorable discharge at Springfield,
Illinois. As a soldier who always did his full duty cheerfully, bravely
and faithfully, Mr. Thacker won the respect of his officers and the es-
teem of his comrades. No duty was too irksome, no march too long or
hard, no battle too fierce or skirmish too dangerous to keep him from his
place in the ranks, and the record which he made through nearly four
years of fighting is one of which any soldier might well be proud.

If Mr. Thacker was a good soldier, so has he proven himself a good
citizen. On his return from the war he engaged in the sawmill busi-
ness, being thus engaged until 1868, and then traded his mill for a tract
of one hundred acres of land five miles north of Vienna, to which he
added from time to time until he had nearly two hundred acres. Sub-
sequently he moved to Grantsburg. where he again was engaged in mill-
ing, but selling his farm and mill he purchased a portable mill, and in
1873 went to Lick Creek, Union county. During the following year,
however, he returned to Johnson county, and resumed operations on
his old farm, but in 1892 sold that land and soon thereafter purchased
the tract that he now owns. This comprises one hundred and fifty acres
of some of the best cultivated land in Johnson county, and includes an
orchard of fourteen acres of apple trees and a large vineyard. He has
carried on general farming and stock-raising, and whatever he has
taken up he has followed to a successful conclusion. Always a stalwart
Republican, he has been elected to positions of honor and trust by his
fellow-townsmen, including those of assessor and justice of the peace,
and in 1888 he was elected clerk of the circuit court of Johnson county,
a position which he held until 1892. During this time he was engaged
in the nursery business in partnership with Mr. W. A. Galeener. Pre-
vious to this time he had served as county treasurer, from 1877 until
December 1, 1882, and subsequently from 1903 to 1909, acted in the
capacity of county commissioner for two terms. In his official capaci-
ties he has shown himself able, conscientious and competent, and his
best efforts have been given that the affairs of his community might
prosper. Fraternally he is connected with the A. F. & A. M., No. 150,
of Vienna ; he is a popular comrade of the Vienna G. A. R. Post, and he
and his family attend the Methodist Episcopal church.

On October 25, 1866, Mr. Thacker was united in marriage with Miss
Nancy C. Peterson, daughter of Owen and Elizabeth (Mercer) Peter-
son, of Cache township, Johnson county. Mr. Peterson, who was born
in Arkansas, came to Johnson county with his parents, Thomas and
Lucy (Arbor) Peterson. Mr. and Mrs. Thacker have had ten children,
namely: Marcus, Minnie, Ida May and Sarah Ellen, who died in in-
fancy; Mary Frances, born December 6. 1875, who married a Mr.


Dundas, and has one child, Leona, aged thirteen years ; Harry ; Sam-
uel, who married Fannie Stewart, deceased, by whom he had two
children, Jeanette and one who died in infancy ; and Kate, Nola and
Charles. Harry Thacker was born February 10, 1878, and re-
ceived his education in the schools of Vienna, also spending two terms
in McKendree College, Lebanon. He had been reared to agricultural
pursuits and was engaged in assisting his father, to whom he was
deeply attached. A misunderstanding having occurred between his
father and a publisher, and the latter publishing an unwarranted at-
tack on Mr. Thacker, the son, out of filial devotion, endeavored to have
it retracted. On September 10, 1910, the people of this community
were shocked to learn that young Thacker had been the victim of a
brutal murder. His loss was one that was felt not only by his imme-
diate family, but by all who had come into contact with this bright,
promising young farmer-citizen. His remains lie in the Vienna Ceme-

HENRY VOGEL.. One of the foremost agriculturists of Jackson
county, Henry Vogel, of Fountain Bluff township, holds a high position
among the energetic, progressive and successful farmers who thoroughly
understand the vocation which they follow and are enabled to carry it
on with both profit and pleasure. He was born January 16, 1850, in
Perry county, Missouri, and is of thrifty German ancestry.

His father, August Vogel, was born and reared in Germany, and as
a young man served as a soldier in the German army. Immigrating to
the United States soon after his discharge from the army, he soon made
his way to Missouri, where he settled permanently. Buying land in
Perry county, he improved a good farm, which he managed with ex-
cellent results until his death, about 1868. He was a member of the
German Evangelical Lutheran church, and was not only a farmer of
prominence, but was a citizen of influence. He married, in Scott county,
Missouri, Catherine Doering, and of the seven children born into their
home three are living, as follows: August and Samuel, of Missouri, and

The fourth child in succession of birth of the parental household,
Henry Vogel grew to manhood on the home farm in Perry county, Mis-
souri, in the meantime gleaning a good education in the public schools.
In 1879 he made his way to Illinois, and having bought land in Foun-
tain Bluff township has since been actively and prosperously engaged
in agricultural pursuits, having one of the most highly cultivated and
productive farming estates of Southern Illinois. Mr. Vogel is a man of
solid worth, possessing in a marked degree those traits of character that
command respect in business life and gain esteem among one's neigh-
bors and associates. He has ever evinced an intelligent interest in pro-
jects calculated to benefit town or county, and as one of the organizers
of "The Big Lake Drainage District" was largely influential in having
the drainage canal pass through Fountain Bluff township into the
Mississippi. A Republican in politics, Mr. Vogel has served as one of
the first drainage commissioners for many years and as school trustee.
Religiously he belongs to the German Evangelical Lutheran church of
the Missouri Synod and contributes liberally towards its support.

Mr. Vogel married, in 1875, Amalia Palich, a daughter of Ernest
Palich, of Frohna, Perry county, Missouri, and they have a fine family
of eight children, namely : Anna, Ernest, Hulda, Adelia, Clara, Gustav,
Arthur and Dorathea.

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MIKE LEVY, secretary of the Carterville & Big Muddy Coal Com-
pany, and one of the leading business men of his community, has acted
in his present capacity since 1904, and has made his name familiarly
known to the coal trade. The plant of the company is situated adjacent
to the town of Cambria, and its owners are citizens of Jackson county.
Mr. Levy passed the years of his minority in Murphysboro, to which
point his father brought the family from Cincinnati, Ohio. In the
latter city Abe Levy, his father, was a merchant, who had added his
presence to the Hebrew population of the United States in 1865.

Abe Levy was born in Germany in 1847, and sought America after
his schooldays were passed. Reaching his destination on April 15th,
the day following the assassination of President Lincoln, he was soon
in the employ of one of his countrymen in the big metropolis along the
Ohio river. Subsequently he went to Indianapolis, Indiana, and he re-
turned to the former city some months later, prior to coming to Illi-
nois. He was married in Cincinnati to Miss Paulina Rittenberg, and
they had the following children : Simon, of Murphysboro, a machinist ;
Harris, of Murphysboro, a clothing merchant ; JVlike ; Sadie, residing in
Murphysboro ; Isaac, who is state 's attorney of Jackson county ; and
David B., who is a lawyer and his brother's assistant.

Mike Levy has been a resident of Murphysboro since the 'seventies.
He was educated in the graded schools, and when he was thirteen years
of age began to make his own way in the world. As a messenger boy
for the Western Union Telegraph Company Mr. Levy performed the
duties incident to that position and also carried the mail from the post-
office to the depot, and for this double service he was paid the sum of
thirteen dollars per month. The lad was ambitious, however, and soon
learned telegraphy, being subsequently employed by the old Cairo Short
Line as operator at different points for a few years, and became agent
of the company at Murphysboro. When that road was absorbed by the
Illinois Central, Mr. Levy was made agent of the consolidated company
at Murphysboro in 1898. In 1904 he gave up that position to accept
the one he now holds, which has since received the benefit of his best

On September 30, 1911, Mr. Levy was married at Carbondale, Illi-
nois, to Mrs. Etta Grammer, a daughter of Allen Holder, a farmer and
old settler of Carbondale, while the new Levy home is situated in
Murphysboro. Mr. Levy has given his attention to business rather
than to promiscuous affairs. He is a Republican in politics, but they
have no attraction for him other than as a voter, and his connection
with fraternities is told when it is stated that he is an Elk.

THOMAS B. NEEDLES. Pre-eminent among the men. of Nashville who
are the authors of large and worthy accomplishments in a public way
is Thomas B. Needles, president of the First National Bank of Nash-
ville and the possessor of no little fame as a member of the Dawes Com-
mission, which wound up the affairs of the Five Civilized Tribes of
Indians and thus prepared them for full entry into civil relations as citi-
zens of the United States. As marshal of the Indian Territory district
at one time he took an important part in the actual opening up of that
territory to settlement, and he has in many and various ways given
valuable service to the state in an official capacity.

Born in Monroe county on the 26th of April. 1835, he is the son of
James B. and Lumima (Talbert) Needles. The former was born in
Baltimore, Maryland, in 1786 and came to Illinois in 1820. He had re-
ceived the advantage of an oxceptionally good education, and during
the first six years of his residence in Monroe county he taught school


there. He later served as sheriff of the county for six years, but with-
drawing from public life he engaged in mercantile business in Water-
loo, Illinois, remaining there until 1851. He then made several moves,
being two years in Keokuk, Iowa, two years at Mt. Sterling, Illinois, and
two years at Belleville, Illinois. He then moved to Richview, Washing-
ton county, Illinois, in 1857, where he carried on a mercantile business
until his death, which occurred in 1860. He was reared in the Quaker
faith, but late in life he became an adherent of Methodist principles
and died as a member of that church. He was thrice married. His
first wife, Lumima Talbert, was a daughter of Elijah Talbert, who came
to Illinois from Virginia and settled in Monroe county. When Mrs.
Needles died she left three children -. Thomas B., of this review, Sarah

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 50 of 98)