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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E., who passed away in Washington county as the wife of S. P. Cooper,
and James B., who died in 1862. Mr. Needles next married Sarah
Decker, who died, leaving a son, Edward Needles, of Prairie du Rocher,
Illinois. The third wife of Mr. Needles was Miss Christina Mace, and
of this union one son was born, Henry Needles, a prominent lawyer of
Belleville, Illinois.

Thomas B. Needles was liberally educated in so far as the common
schools were able to advance him, after which he attended a seminary at
Mt. Sterling, Illinois, spending two years in study there. When he had
finished his training he joined his father in business and continued with
him until 1860, when he started a mercantile business in Nashville,
Illinois, on his own responsibility. The following year he became active
in the political life of Nashville, and he was elected county clerk of
Washington county, filling that office by successive elections for sixteen
years. He was the first Republican to be elected county clerk of the
county, and in 1876 he was elected state auditor of Illinois. One pol-
itical honor followed another, and in 1880 he was elected to the upper
house of the general assembly, and while a member of that body was
chairman of the committee on revenue. In 1889 he was appointed by
President Harrison to the marshalship of the district of the Indian Ter-
ritory and filled the office until he was succeeded by J. J. McAlester, the
appointee of Grover Cleveland when he entered the presidential office.
It was during Mr. Needle's term of service that Oklahoma was opened
to settlement, and the police arrangements for the management of the
famous horse race were made by him and the actual opening of the
country to settlement was accomplished under his management.

Resuming his active connection with home affairs once more. Mr.
Needles was elected in 1894 to the lower house of the general assembly
was given the chairmanship of the committee on appropriations. He
was returned by the Republicans in 1896 as his own successor and con-
tinued to work at the head of the same important committee. In 1899
he was appointed to the Commission of the Five Civilized Tribes, other-
wise known as the Dawes Commission, and he served throughout the eight
years of the life of that Commission. The immense and important work
done by this body was of far-reaching consequence to the Indian and
to the nation, and will be written in history as among the great pieces
of work done under and for the government. As a member of that
commission, if he had done nothing else to establish his name in the
history of Illinois, he would have succeeded admirably in that one

Throughout the course of his political life Mr. Needles was closely
affiliated with the affairs of the Republican party in Illinois, and he
was a member of its state conventions on many occasions, and possessed
a wide acquantance among the more prominent men of the state. In
1872 he became interested in banking and it was about that time that he


assisted in organizing the Washington County Bank, with which he has
been connected continuously since that time. Following its conversion
into the First National Bank on June 1, 1903, Mr. Needles was made
president, the office which he now holds, and since his retirement from
public life he has devoted himself completely to the welfare of that
institution. Mr. Needles is one of the oldest Odd Fellows in the state.
He has served as grand warden and grand master; he is a member of
the Grand Lodge and was a member of the Sovereign Grand Lodge, and
has been grand treasurer of the order for twenty-eight years and which
office he still holds. He is a Royal Arch Mason.

On December 16, 1860, Mr. Needles was married at Richview, Illi-
nois, to Miss Sarah L. Bliss, a daughter of Augustus Bliss, who came to
Illinois from Ohio. Mrs. Needles passed away March 4, 1905, as the
mother of Jessie, who died in Nashville in 1902 as Mrs. Frank Genung,
and Winnie, the wife of Paul Krughoff, of Nashville.

JOHN W. MATHENY, who is holding the office of city clerk for the
fourth term and who for the past decade has been engaged in the fire
insurance business, has attained a prominent and influential position in
the affairs of Newton and Jasper county. Since first becoming a factor
in the world of affairs he has been engaged in more than one line of
industry, mercantile, grocery and the hotel business, and has found
success in all. Essentially public spirited, he has long been recognized
as a safe man to whom to entrust important public interests and he has
been the incumbent of a number of offices. It is a pleasure to the biog-
rapher to take up the record of his life, which has ever been of the most
praise-worthy character.

John W. Matheny was born with what seems to be the greatest ' ' open
sesame" to success his birthplace was upon the farm, and the date of
his nativity was March 15, 1870. His father, Norman C. Matheny, was
born January 12, 1850, also in Jasper county, and spent his earlier life
upon his farm, but subsequently engaged in public life, holding a num-
ber of offices. He died February 14, 1912, at his home in Newton. He
was engaged for a number of years in the hotel business at Newton, con-
ducting the Hudson House. He was married in' 1869 to Sarah Hunt,
of Jasper county, and they became the parents of six children, three of
whom are living, and the subject being the eldest in order of birth. The
first wife died in 1884 and in 1889 the elder Mr. Matheny was united
to Nancy A. Matheny. Six children were born to the second union and
three of this number survive. The subject's father was a Democrat of
staunch conviction and took no small interest in public affairs. He was
for several years constable of Wade township and was also acting
special deputy sheriff. He had at all times taken much interest in the
affairs of county, state and nation and was a man of such character as
goes to make up the better element of citizenship in any community.
He maintained his residence in Newton and was an honored member
of the Lutheran church, in whose advancement he took an active part.
He was a lodge man, belonging to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows
and the Court of Honor.

The early life of John W. Matheny was spent on his father's home-
stead farm and its pleasant, if strenuous, experiences constitute some
of his happiest memories. He received his early education in the pub-
lic schools and then, desiring to drink deeper of the "Pierian Spring,"
he matriculated at Hayward College, in Fairfield, Illinois, where he
pursued a commercial course. He then returned to Jasper county and
for a short time was engaged in a general mercantile business at Gila.
In October, 1890, he came to Newton and for a period of six years was


employed in a store in this place. Subsequent to that he engaged in
the grocery business in association with other parties, the firm having
the caption of T. D. Foster & Company. He remained thus engaged for
three years and then acted as clothing salesman for another firm for a
period of three years. In 1902, following the example of his father, he
entered the hotel and fire insurance business, conducting the Evans
House, but his career as "Mine Host" was limited, for after seven
months the Evans House was destroyed by fire. It was then that Mr.
Matheny went into the fire insurance business, in which he has met with
great success.

Mr. Matheny, like his father before him, is a loyal supporter of the
men and measures of the party of Jefferson, Jackson and Cleveland.
He was first chosen for public office in 1892, when the people elected
him town clerk of Grove township. He could not have begun his career
any younger, for that was the spring he became of age. He held the
above-mentioned office for a year, and then came to Newton. In 1895
he was elected alderman of the Third ward and as such served one term
of two years. In 1897 he was appointed city collector and served one
year, and in 1898 he was re-elected city alderman of the ward he had
previously represented so well. In 1905 he was elected city clerk and
has ever since held the office, having now entered upon his fourth term.
He is one of the most progressive and enlightened members of the board
of education and has served in that body for twelve years. At the
present time he is also deputy county coroner. Mr. Matheny has
achieved that highest success good citizenship. His methods are in
keeping with the progressive spirit of the twentieth century. He is a
man of broad humanitarian principles, of earnest purpose and upright
life and he does all in his power for the uplifting of his fellow men and
the promotion of the moral welfare of the community.

Mr. Matheny was married in 1894 to Irene B. Foster, daugthter of
Thomas D. Foster, and their happy union has been blessed by the birth
of a trio of interesting children Nellie S., Alta E. and John A. They
are members of the Methodist Episcopal church and the subject is a
member of the Court of Honor, in which he enjoys well-deserved pop-

SAMUEL DEBEBBY PEELEB. One of the foremost citizens of Cache
township, Johnson county, and a man whose activities in public and
agricultural life have made his name well known all over this section
is Samuel DeBerry Peeler, chairman of the board of commissioners of
the Cache River Drainage Project, and the owner of Lincoln Green
Stock and Grain Farm, a magnificent tract of 634 acres of well-culti-
vated land. Mr. Peeler was born August 8, 1861, on a farm in the
southwestern part of Johnson county, Illinois, and is a son of William
DeBerry and Catherine Elizabeth (Bishop) Peeler.

William DeBerry Peeler was born in North Carolina, and as a boy
of ten years was taken to northern Alabama by his father, John Peeler.
While in that southern state he was married to Catherine Elizabeth
Bishop, a lady of Puritan descent, who is still living on the old home-
stead farm, and in 1860 they came to Southern Illinois and settled on a
farm. In the spring of 1862 William D. Peeler enlisted in Company
E, Fourteenth Illinois Cavalry, for service in the Civil war, and con-
tinued with that organization until the spring of 1865, participating in
Stoneman's raid through Tennessee after Hood, barely escaping cap-
ture at Nashville and seeing much hard fighting. His record was one
that would honor any man, and he was known as a brave, cheerful and
faithful soldier, popular with his comrades and respected by his officers.


On his return from the army he engaged in farming and became very
successful as an agriculturist, accumulating some 1,500 acres of land.
He was elected to various township offices by his fellow-townsmen, who
recognized and appreciated his many admirable qualities, and was for
a long period tax collector of Cache township. Three children were
born to William D. and Elizabeth Peeler, namely: Samuel DeBerry;
William Olin, a farmer on the old family homestead ; and Mrs. Mary
F. Wilhelm, who resides in Cache township. William D. Peeler died
May 17, 1899.

Samuel DeBerry Peeler was educated in the district schools and
the Southern Illinois State Normal University at Carbondale, finishing
his course in 1882. During this time he taught school for six years in
Belknap and at various other points in Johnson and Pulaski counties,
but in 1882, on account of the failing health of his father, he returned
home and became superintendent of the home farm, and thus continued
for seventeen years. In 1886 he purchased a small farm of his own,
and also managed a merchandise store on his farm, which was owned
for thirty years by father and son, and resided near his father until
1899, keeping the Lincoln Green postoffice in addition to looking after
his farm and store. In 1899 Mr. Peeler removed to a farm residence
about one-half mile south of the old home, selling his first farm to his
brother, William Olin, and then purchased what is known as the old
Andrew Jackson Axley farm, consisting of 282 acres, to which he has
since added until he now owns 634 acres, 500 of which are under cul-
tivation. This he operates as a livestock and grain farm, under the
name of the Lincoln Green Stock and Grain Farm, and his annual pro-
duction, for which he has no trouble in finding a ready market, is as
follows: Thirty head of cattle, one hundred and fifty hogs and ten
horses and mules. His net income from his farming operations averages
from $2,000 to $3,500 per year. He was one of the original organizers
and promoters of the Cache River Drainage Project, and his adminis-
trative abilities were recognized in his election to the position of chair-
man of the board of commissioners of this great enterprise. A Re-
publican in politics, in 1890 he was elected a member of the board of
county commissioners, serving on that body until 1896, and for fifteen
consecutive years he was road district clerk of Cache township. Fra-
ternally he is connected with the Masonic lodge at Belknap, the chapter
at Vienna, and the Knights Templars at Cairo ; and with the Knights
of Pythias, the Odd Fellows and the Modern Woodmen of America at
Belknap. He and his family are active members and liberal supporters
of the Methodist Episcopal church.

On March 9, 1884, Mr. Peeler was married to Miss Mary D. Rees,
daughter of .Dr. Alonzo P. and Jane (Krews) Rees, the former of whom
is deceased, and six children have been born to this union: Seth H.,
who died at the age of twenty years ; Bertie, Carl, Doris and Mabel, who
died m infancy; and Ralph D., who is eighteen years old. Mr. Peeler
is certainly a man who merits the esteem of all who appreciate pro-
gressiveness, industry, enterprise and honest dealing, and his person-
ality is such that he has made many warm, personal friends in his com-
munity, who have watched with a gratified interest his rise to a fore-
most place among the men of this section.

FREDERICK H. KOENNECKE. One of the most successful of the in-
dividual operators in the mineral district of Carterville, Illinois, is
Frederick H. Koennecke. owner of the Donaly-Koennecke Coal Com-
pany, an active enterprise some two and a half miles north of the city.
He is rather a novice in the business of mining when compared with


those whose lives have been devoted to this industry, but notwithstand-
ing his recent entry into this now hazardous field he has demonstrated
his capacity for handling a considerable enterprise with favorable re-
sults to its owner, as well as to those who help to dig out the coal.

Mr. Koennecke has been a resident of Southern Illinois for a quarter
of a century and of the United States since 1884. He sought the new
world in order to evade the military service incumbent upon all able-
bodied young men of his native land and came hither equipped with a
knowledge of the trade of baking. He was born at Magdeburg, Prussia,
October 26, 1863, a son of Christoph Koennecke, a farmer and one
of seven children. As a good education is imperative for German chil-
dren, Frederick Koennecke had the advantage of a high school training
and he might have remained a subject of his Kaiser but for the burden
of military service demanded of the Fatherland's young men.

He sailed from Hamburg as quietly as possible and landed at Phil-
adelphia. As he failed to secure work at his trade, he began to look
outside of it and found work on a farm in northern Illinois. In re-
sponse to an advertisement telling of the demand for tradesmen in the
city of New Orleans, he went there during the exposition of 1885, and
upon his arrival he found to his great dismay that similar pilgrims in
quest of work were being shipped away in great numbers. Hearing of
the possibility of securing labor at Delta, Mississippi, he spent almost
his last dollar to reach there by boat, only to find that he had followed
another ignus fatuus. Without means for further transportation he set
out on foot for Shreveport, Louisiana, and reached there "broke."
Luck favored him, however, and he kept busy for several months and
when he had accumulated four hundred dollars, in the light of the les-
son taught by former advantures, he deposited three hundred of it in
a bank and with the remainder bought a trunk and some good clothes.
But alas for good planning, the bank subsequently closed its doors and
he was again stranded. He thereupon went to St. Louis and there se-
cured work for a time, in the meantime keeping on the lookout for a
position at his trade. Presently an inquiry came from Carbondale for
a baker and he first set foot within the limits of the Southern Illinois
coal field in 1886.

While in Carbondale Mr. Koennecke again had a somewhat varied
financial career. He engaged in the baking business and later drifted
into merchandising in connection with it. He let a small start get
away from him a time or two as a result of too much confidence in am-
bitious Americans, but he finally got out of that city with enough to set
him up in business as a baker in Carterville in 1891. His industry
served him well as a merchant, for he soon made himself felt in this
line, and until 1898 he did a leading business, controlled the trade of
the Brush mines, favored that company materially in its contest with
its employes when on a strike and was subsequently taken up by Mr.
Brush, of the St. Louis Big Muddy Coal Company, who used his store
as a base of supplies when he introduced colored labor into his mines.
He finally sold his store and was made manager of the mercantile busi-
ness of the St. Louis Big Muddy Company and served in this capacity
until 1901, when he resigned to take active charge of the office and finan-
cial affairs of the embryonic company the first Donaly-Koennecke
Coal Company, formed in 1899. The new company secured a lease near
the city on the north and sold it soon after opening it up to the Chicago
Coal Company. They then leased a tract of a few hundred acres at
Brush Crossing on the Illinois Central Railroad and began development
work there in 1902. This proposition embraces a half section of land
and is equipped to operate to the capacity of a thousand tons a day.


In 1911 Mr. Donaly retired from the concern as the result of a sale of
his interest to Mr. Koennecke and the latter is the head of the corpora-
tion, while his daughter, Esther E., acts as secretary and treasurer.

As a resident of Carterville Mr. Koennecke has added his capital
and influence toward the material development of the city. He took
stock in the Carterville State & Savings bank and is one of its directors.
He responded to the demand for substantial business houses and erected
a few fronting on the main streets of the place. He built residences
and has a rental list which indicates a considerable financial outlay.
He has built a small mining town adjacent to his place of business and
operates a store in connection with the town.

Some years ago he served Carterville as an alderman and took a
fervent interest in urban affairs. He was then a Democrat, but certain
policies of the party have displeased him in late years and he supported
President Taft for the presidency in 1908. He is a Scottish Rite Mason,
a member of the Carterville Blue lodge, of the Oriental Consistory and
Medinah Temple of the Mystic Shrine, at Chicago. He also belongs to
the Knights of Pythias.

On March 12, 1891, Mr. Koennecke married Miss Mary Louisa Don-
aly, daughter of William and Mary (Ganley) Donaly, the former of
Scotland and the latter from the city of Dublin. The children of the
union of Mr. and Mrs. Keonnecke are as follows: Esther, who grad-
uated from St. Theresa's Academy of St. Louis and is associated with
her father in business; Dorothy, a student of St. Theresa's Academy;
and Catherine L. Mr. Koennecke in 1907 took his family on a visit to
his old home for the first time since he left it, and spent four months
in Europe, seeing the leading cities of Germany, and traveling into Hol-
land, France and the British Isles, the tour being for his children an
unsurpassed educational opportunity.

ISAAC MONROE ASBUBY, M. D. For nearly forty years an eminent
member of the medical profession of Southern Illinois, Dr. Isaac Mon-
roe Asbury, of McLeansboro, well merits the esteem in which he is held
by the people of this section, and is able to fill the high position which
he now holds, that of medical director for the Grand Army of the Re-
public for the state of Illinois. Dr. Asbury was born in Hamilton
county, July 6, 1848, and is a son of Wesley and Susan M. (Mitchell)

Wesley Asbury, who was born July 5, 1805, in North Carolina, was
a tanner by trade, and came to Hamilton county, Illinois, in 1838,
where he continued to follow the tanning business for twenty years.
For about ten years he was engaged in school-teaching near McLeans-
boro, and was also engaged in farming to some extent, purchasing a
place about four miles southeast of McLeansboro. He died near Mc-
Leansboro in 1897. He was a stalwart Republican in his political views,
and belonged to Polk Lodge, No. 137, A. F. & A. M., of which he was
the last charter member at the time of his death. He and his wife were
faithful members of the Baptist church, in which they reared their chil-
dren. Wesley Asbury married, October 1, 1844, Susan M. Mitchell,
daughter of Ichabod and Mary (Lane) Mitchell, the former of whom
settled in Hamilton county in 1818, and the latter also a member of a
pioneer family. Mrs. Asbury was born July 10, 1822, on her father's
farm three miles east of McLeansboro, and her death occurred Novem-
ber 24, 1876, on a property four miles southeast of that city. She and
her husband had the following children : John M., who died while serv-
ing in the Union army during the Civil war; Mary and Elizabeth, who
died in infancy; Isaac Monroe; Wesley L., who married Nancy Coker


and died September 15, 1895 ; Rowena, living in Oregon, who married
Edward Pratt, of McLeansboro; Isabelle, who was married in Oregon
to W. H. Hutchinson; Martha, the wife of Rev. N. Crow, of Fairfield,
Illinois ; Daniel I., who resides in Oregon ; James T., a resident of Los
Angeles, California; and Elizabeth, who died in infancy.

Isaac Monroe Asbury attended the common schools of Hamilton
county until he was fifteen years of age, and in March, 1864, enlisted
in Company H, Sixtieth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, from
which he received his honorable discharge July 31, 1865. He saw active
service during the Atlanta campaign, and participated in Sherman's
famous march to the sea, returning through the Carolinas. He had an
excellent war record, and his record since he has settled down to the
pursuits of peace has been just as admirable a one. He returned to his
studies for a time and then taught school until 1871, in order to secure
the means to pursue his medical studies, having decided to follow that
profession as his life work. In 1871 he entered the Eclectic Medical In-
stitute at Cincinnati, Ohio, from which he was graduated May 19, 1873,
and he at once entered into practice in Gallatin county, Illinois. There
he spent the next thirty years of his life, building up a large and lucra-
tive practice, and becoming widely known for his ability in his profes-
sion, as well as for his kindliness of manner and sympathetic nature.
In 1902 he came to McLeansboro, to live a retired life, and at the last
state encampment of the G. A. R. he was elected medical director for
the state of Illinois. He is a stanch Republican in politics, but his ac-
tivities have been devoted to his profession, and he has found little time
to engage in public affairs. Fraternally he is a well-known Mason, and
is serving as secretary of the local lodge.

On January 1, 1877, Dr. Asbury was united in marriage with Mary
E. Webb, who was born in March, 1850, near McLeansboro, daughter of
John and Sarah (Mitchell) Webb. They have had no children. Dr.
and Mrs. Asbury are consistent members of the Methodist church, to
which they are liberal contributors, and both have been active in relig-
ious and charitable work. Dr. Asbury 's standing is high both in and
outside of his profession, he has the esteem and respect of his entire
community, and is eminently fortunate in being the possessor of a host
of warm, personal friends.

EZEKIEL R. JINNETTE. After nearly thirty years spent as an edu-
cator in the schools of Union county, Illinois, Ezekiel R. Jinnette gave

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 51 of 98)