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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and met his death at Shiloh. His widow was made an honorary daugh-
ter of the Eighteenth Regiment, as being the youngest widow of the
regiment. Her maiden name was Hettie A. Duncan, daughter of John
R. and Jane (Riddell) Duncan, and a direct descendant of Queen Isa-
bella of England, of whom history has it that "From King John and
Isabella every sovereign who has since sat upon the throne of England
is descended." Mr. Duncan was born in Maysville, Kentucky, and all
his ancestors served in both the Revolutionary war and the War of
1812. Mrs. Dillon's grandfather was an orderly to General Jackson at
the battle of New Orleans. The Riddell family traces its ancestors
back to the year 886, A. D., to the Earl of Angonlesme and Piragord of
France, ancestors of Queen Isabella. Mrs. Dillon was a step-daughter
of Hon. Walter S. Aiken, prominent in Southern Illinois, he having
served as postmaster of Benton, as judge of Franklin county and as a
member of the Illinois legislature. As her mother was an invalid the
daughter, then a young girl, assisted in entertaining many noted guests
at the family home, including Governor Yates, Governor Oglesby, Gen-
eral and Mrs. Logan, General and Mrs. I. N. Haynie, Judges Breese.
Marshall and Allen and other noted personages. From the time of
their first meeting at the old Logan home here Mrs. Logan and Mrs.
Dillon have retained the warmest friendship for each other. Mrs. Dil-
lon, then a young girl, was the Logans' guest when Senator Douglas
made his memorable visit to Benton. Mrs. Logan has accorded Mrs.
Dillon a place in her forthcoming book, "The Part Taken by Women
in American History." Mrs. Dillon is prominent in social affairs, a
member of the Methodist Episcopal church, of the W. C. T. U. and of
the Self Culture Class of Benton.


Captain Dillon is senior vice commander of the Southern Illinois
Soldiers and Sailors Reunion Association, the largest organization of
ex-soldiers in the world, which was established twenty-nine years ago
and holds reunions every year, at which time there is an attendance of
from ten thousand to fifteen thousand people. He organized the G. A.
R. post here and was its first commander. A stanch Republican in
political matters, his first vote was cast for Abraham Lincoln for pres-
ident in 1864. When the offices of the Franklin County Chronicle were
destroyed by fire, August 23, 1893, he showed his loyalty by purchas-
ing a new press, naming it the Benton Republican, and in December of
the same year the paper issued its first edition. Captain Dillon was
collector of his township in DeWitt county for three years when the
township was largely Democratic, but he was elected each time on the
Republican ticket. In 1876 he was candidate for the office of sheriff
of DeWitt county, on the Republican ticket, but owing to political
conditions at the time he met with defeat, although by only a small
margin. He has on numerous occasions served as delegate to state and
county conventions, and in 1892 was made county chairman and re-
elected in 1894 for two more years (that year marking the first time
Franklin county ever went Republican). He was made special ser-
geant to the convention in 1896 that nominated McKinley for the pres-
idency, in 1896 also was made chairman of the senatorial district, and
in 1898 two Republican representatives were elected for the first time
in the history of the district. He is now serving as treasurer for the
Republican central committee, and for a number of years has acted
as public administrator of Franklin county. During the Spanish-
American war he organized a company for the regiment named for
the Chicago Press Association and received a captain's commission
from the governor, but the division was not needed and never went to
the war. In fraternal circles Captain Dillon has been for forty-two
years an Odd Fellow, and is a charter member of the Elks lodge in

As a soldier, as a business man and as a citizen Captain Dillon has
proved himself a thoroughly representative citizen of Illinois, and well
merits the respect and esteem in which he is held by his fellow citizens.

JUDGE HENRY WILSON is the police magistrate of Herrin and has been
connected with the city government in some capacity or other almost
from the inception of the town. He came here while the townsite was
yet responding to the toil of the husbandman and has watched its phe-
nomenal growth and aided modestly in its development as an industrial
center and as a competitor for metropolitan honors in Williamson county.
Judge Wilson dates his advent in this locality from 1896. There was
nothing on the site of the future Herrin but a depot and a few frame
structures stores scattered here and there. He built the first cottage
that could be styled a home and established a saw-mill in the woods
close by and for several years was engaged in cutting into lumber the
limited quantity of timber adjacent to the town.

In 1902 Judge Wilson abandoned milling and devoted his attention
to the office of justice of the peace, to which he had been elected. Ere
this the town had spread over the country almost like a prairie fire and
the free and open condition of it gave the local court much business from
the unlawful element that gathers in numbers about a new and wide-
awake place. He was justice of the peace for three years, served also
as one of the first aldermen, following incorporation, and was then
elected mayor. During his first term the electric line was built in here
and a new impetus given to an enthusiastic .and strenuous populace.


As real estate began to boom Judge Wilson became a dealer in it, built
a few houses as a speculator and as a developer and eventually erected his
own home, one of the best residences in Herrin, the same occupying spa-
cious grounds in the north end of the city. In 1908 he was elected as a
candidate of the Labor party, to the police magistracy, although he is a
Republican upon state and national issues.

Judge Wilson came into Williamson county from near Akin, Illi-
nois, and he was born in Benton, this state, near the site of the Franklin
county jail. His birth occurred December 23, 1858, and his father was
Larkin Wilson, who came to Illinois from near Princeton, Gibson county,
Indiana. Larkin Wilson was born in Indiana, was a farmer's son and
married Louisa Martin, a daughter of Bailey Martin, one of the widely
known citizens of Franklin county, Illinois. Mr. Martin was a farmer
and stockman and formerly resided in Indiana. Larkin Wilson was a
tanner both before and following his advent in Illinois, having been en-
gaged in that business at Owensville, Indiana, and at Benton, Illinois.
Abandoning that occupation, he moved to a farm and was identified with
agricultural pursuits during the residue of his life. He was a stalwart
Republican and was a supporter of church effort, although not a member
of any religious denomination. He passed away in 1899 and his chil-
dren were : William, who died unmarried ; Judge Henry, of this review ;
Mary, who passed away in childhood ; John 0., a resident of Big Lake,
Washington ; Charles, who maintains his home at Haniford, Illinois ; Alice
is Mrs. George Williamson, of Benton, Illinois.

The paternal grandfather of Judge Wilson died in Gibson county,
Indiana. His children were : John, who reared a family in Gibson county,
Indiana ; Mary, who became the wife of Dr. Henry Wilson and died in
Franklin county, Illinois ; and Larkin, father of the subject of this

Henry Wilson, of this notice, was educated in the public schools of
Franklin county and for a time he also attended school in Perry county,
Illinois. As a farmer he was modestly identified with public matters in
Eastern township, where he resided, having been township collector and
assessor on different occasions. He left the farm to engage in the manu-
facture of lumber at Herrin and with the passage of time other matters
developed to change the whole course of his life.

In November, 1881, Judge Wilson was married, in Franklin county,
to Miss Nancy E. Akin, a daughter of Robert Akin, a leading member of
the Scotch settlers who occupied a large portion of the country about Ben-
ton as refugees from the religious oppression of their native land. The
Akins and McClains comprise a large citizenship of Benton community
and are noted for their allegiance to church work and as members of the
Missionary Baptist faith. These clans perpetuate the memory of their
deliverance by occasional convocations where the Scotch dress of the olden
time is brought out and the youth of today are made to feel the sacred-
ness of the ties that once bound their forefathers to their native land.
The Akin family, now of vast numbers in Illinois, is wont to hold fam-
ily gatherings at Benton, and this practice has come to be somewhat his-
toric, in view of the programs, the Scotch dress and the sentiment ut-
tered upon the occasion for their forced exile from the hills and vales
of the highlands.

Robert Akin married Lucretia Atchison, and their children were:
James, a farmer near Miami, Oklahoma ; Charles, special pension ex-
aminer in the United States service at Indianapolis. Indiana ; Jane is
the wife of Mandrake Summers, a farmer of Franklin county, Illinois ;
Miss Malinda is a resident of Franklin county ; Nancy E. is the
wife of Judge Wilson, as already set Torth; Eveline married Whit-


field Conover, of Franklin county; Adeline is the widow of Samuel
Shepherd, formerly of Franklin county ; Robert is a farmer in Franklin
county; Hiram is ex-county superintendent of Franklin county, where
he resides ; Milton is a resident of Thompson ville, Illinois ; and Hannah
died as Mrs. William Moore.

The children of Judge and Mrs. Wilson are : Ethel B., of Big Sandy,
Montana, who, with a girl friend, braved the environment of the fron-
tier, took a claim and is gaining title to a home in that locality ; Charles
is manager of the W. P. Rend store at Rend City, where he is likewise
postmaster ; and James A. is a student in the engineering department of
the University of Illinois.

In his fraternal connections Judge Wilson is a valued and appreci-
ative member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of
Pythias, the Modern Woodmen of America and the Modern Brotherhood
of America. His family are devout members of the Missionary Baptist
church, in the different departments of whose work they are active fac-
tors. Judge Wilson is genial in his associations, honorable and straight-
forward in his business dealings and a man of mark in all the relations
of life. He is a valued citizen and an efficient public servitor.

DR. JAMES JOSEPH MORONY is one of the best known and liked medi-
cal men in Clinton county, Illinois. His Irish ancestry has bequeathed to
him the tender heart and sympathetic nature of the sons of Erin, and
these qualities have rendered him very popular throughout the district.

James J. Morony was born at Decatur, Illinois, on the 6th of Sep-
tember, 1865. He was the son of John Morony, who first saw the light
of day in far-famed old County Clare, in Ireland, in 1819. John Mo-
rony studied engineering in Ireland, and then took up railroad contract-
ing, following this occupation throughout his active life. In 1848 he
came to America and located at Decatur, Illinois. In his work here as a
railroad contractor he built part of the Illinois Central and Wabash rail-
roads. In 1853 he was married in St. Louis to Helen Godfrey. At that
time she was living in St. Louis, but, like her husband, she hailed from
the Emerald Isle. Four of the children born to them grew to matur-
ity : Hugh C., a fireman in the St. Louis fire department ; Andrew C., an
attorney in St. Louis ; Joseph J. ; and Patrick, who died in 1904, having
reached the position of division freight agent for the Iron Mountain
Railroad. Until within a few years of his death Mr. Morony followed a
very active life, but as his health failed he retired and in 1898 he died at
St. Louis. The death of his wife had occurred several years before, in
1893, at St. Louis. In politics Mr. Morony was a Republican, and the
religious affiliations of both his wife and himself were with the Roman
Catholic church.

Since the profession of his father forced him to often change his
place of residence, the early life of the son was spent in a number of dif-
ferent places, among them being, Decatur, La Place, Arcola and St.
Louis. His education was obtained in the public schools of the above
places. After leaving school he went to work in the railroad offices.
Having no experience, he began at the very bottom and worked
up until finally he reached the position of traveling auditor for the
Terminal Railroad Association. Until 1892 he followed railroading and
then, thinking that his taste for medicine was stronger than that for the
railroad business, he gave up his position and entered the Marion Sims
school. He had been in business for a good many years and was older
than the average student, so the work was unusually hard for him, but
he stuck doggedly at it and in 1895 was graduated from the institution.
At first he was located in St. Louis and then, in 1897, he came to Breese.


Here he has since remained, conducting a general practice and doing
considerable work in the hospital of Breese. He has not cared for either
politics or business, preferring to devote himself exclusively to his pro-
fession. He is interested in the civic life of the city, however, and
since 1900 he has served as coroner of Clinton county. He votes the
Democratic ticket, but is content to see others holding the offices. He is
a member of the Roman Catholic church, and is associated fraternally
with the Knights of Columbus. In his own profession he belongs to the
State, County and American Medical Societies, and takes much interest
in the work of these various organizations.

On the 17th of June, 1890, Mr. Morony was married to Katherine
O'Brien, of St. Louis. They have become the parents of two children,
Mary and Frank.

Willing tribute should be given to men like Dr. Morony, who sacri-
fice themselves willingly on the altar of duty, and give themselves freely
in the service of their fellow men. He has lived and worked in Breese
for many years and its townspeople have learned to put a high valuation
upon his services, for they are given not only as a professional man,
but as a friend.

GEORGE W. RICH. Union county is rich in her well-to-do farmers.
The best citizenship, the sturdiest characters, the most dependable men,
are, in part at least, to be found among those men who have lived close to
the soil and by close attention to the duty nearest to hand have amassed
comfortable fortunes and incidentally linked themselves indissolubly
with the life and history of their city and county. Prominent among men
of that type is George W. Rich, a resident of Cobden since his birth, and
well and favorably known in Union county all the days of his life thus

George W. Rich is the son of William Carroll Rich, who was born
November 18, 1819, in Alabama. He came to Illinois in 1832 with his
father's family, and he is distinguished today as the oldest living resident
of Union county. In 1843 William C. Rich married and settled on the
farm on which he now lives. During the years of his activity he accumu-
lated a tract of land containing several thousand acres, which he has but
lately deeded to his heirs. He is also known to be the oldest bank presi-
dent in Illinois, being the president of the First National Bank of Cob-
den since its organization. In 1843 Mr. Rich married Millie C. Guthrie,
the daughter of Anslon Guthrie, a native of Tennessee, where she was
bor in 1823. The Guthrie family came to Illinois in about 1829, and have
been residents of the state since then. Mr. and Mrs. Rich were the par-
ents of a family of twelve children, named below as follows : Mrs. Saman-
tha Tripp, deceased; Mrs. Kate McMahon; Matilda, twice married, her
first husband having been W. C. Monroe, of Anna, deceased, and her sec-
ond husband is John Halterman, an official in the Anna (Illinois) Hospi-
tal ; Lafayette married Miss Anna Lingle ; Mrs. Eliza Condon ; Mrs. Maria
Hilton; Amalphous, died September 8, 1893, at the age of thirty-five
years ; William J". ; Lou, still in the home of the family ; Lizzie, a success-
ful teacher for twenty years; George W., of Cobden; and one that died
in infancy.

George W. Rich was born in Cobden, Union county, Illinois, on May
8, 1867. His education was in advance of that of the average country
youth, his public school training being supplemented by a course in the
Anna Academy, in which he spent three years devoted to close and care-
ful study. In 1889 he began teaching school, to which he gave five years
in all. He was thus employed from 1889 to 1893, when he discontinued
the work and later, in 1900, he again taught for one year. In 1893, Mr.


Rich was elected village marshal of Cobden, and so well did he carry out
the duties of his position that he was retained in that office for a period of
eighteen years. In 1884 he engaged in the commission and brokerage
business, which he carried on until 1909. At that time he eliminated the
brokerage feature of the business, but is still engaged in the buying and
selling of country produce. With an eye single to the future, and realiz-
ing the intrinsic value of the lands lying in the vicinity of Cobden, Mr.
Rich has gradually acquired a goodly acreage thereabouts. He has four
hundred and twenty acres of fertile land in the neighborhoods of Wolfe
Lake, twelve miles west of Cobden, and near to Cobden he has a par-
ticularly valuable tract of eighty acres. Fifteen acres of this he has
planted to peaches, and the remainder of the land is devoted to apples
and the small fruits. Mr. Rich has no political inclinations whatever.
He is well content to leave the engineering of the political machinery
to others, and beyond the immediate demands of good citizenship gives
no attention to affairs of that nature. He is interested in but one fra-
ternal society, that being the Masonic order, of which he is a member of
Lodge No. 466, at Cobden.

On June 22, 1894, Mr. Rich married Mary E. Hardin, daughter of
L. T. and Elizabeth (Farrell) Hardin, natives of Tennessee, who be-
came residents of Union county in 1836. Mr. and Mrs. Rich are the
parents of four children, one living, A Paul, and three others deceased,
namely, Ryde, Louis and Margaret.

WARREN E. McCASLiN. A public-spirited and highly esteemed citi-
zen of Greenville, now serving his sixth year as county clerk of Bond
county, Warren E. McCaslin comes of pioneer ancestry, and is a fine
representative of the native-born residents of Southern Illinois, his birth
having occurred, July 14, 1867, in Bond county.

His father, the late William G. McCaslin, was born in Bond county,
Illinois, July 13, 1829, and died in the very house in which he first drew
the breath of life on February 13, 1907, at the advanced age of seventy-
eight years. The son of a pioneer farmer, he succeeded to the occupa-
tion in which he was reared, spending his whole life in agricultural pur-
suits. He married Mary J. Steele, a daughter of Walker Steele, a well-
known agriculturist of Bond county, and she still lives on the old home-
stead. Six sons and five daughters were born of their union, Warren E.
the subject of this brief personal record, being the seventh child in suc-
cession of birth.

Warren E. McCaslin received a practical education in the common
branches of learning while a boy, while on the home farm he was well
drilled in the agricultural arts and sciences. Entering upon a profes-
sional career at the age of twenty years, he taught school two years,
after which he took a commercial course of study at a business college in
Danville, Indiana. Returning to Bond county, Mr. McCaslin resumed
his educational work, teaching in various places, for three years being
principal of the Mulberry Grove schools. In 1906 he was elected county
clerk of Bond county, and filled the office with such ability and fidelity
that at the expiration of his term, in 1910, he was honored by a re-elec-
tion to the same office without opposition. Politically Mr. McCaslin is a
straightforward Republican. Religiously he is a member of the Meth-
odist Episcopal church, and fraternally he belongs to the Modern Wood-
men of America ; to the Court of Honor and to the Knights of the Mac-

Mr. McCaslin married, in 1887. Gussie A. Goad, a daughter of Wil-
liam M. and Amanda J. Goad, who are now living, retired from agricul-
tural pursuits, in Greenville. Mr. and Mrs. McCaslin have three daugh-


ters and an adopted son, namely: Ruby B., wife of Ralph G. Bowden, of
Collinsville, Illinois; Gladys A., deputy county clerk; Cora Pearl; and
James Y.

GEORGE W. ROBERTS. At this juncture in a volume devoted to the
careers of representative citizens of Southern Illinois it is a pleasure to
insert a brief history of George W. Roberts, who has ever been on the
alert to forward all measures and enterprises projected for the good of
general welfare and who has served his community in various official po-
sitions of important trust and responsibility. He served twelve years
as a magistrate of Herrin 's Prairie precinct, in Williamson county, and
for several years was the efficient incumbent of the office of school treas-
urer. He devoted the greater part of his active career to agricultural
pursuits but at the present time, in 1912, is living retired on his fine
little estate just outside of Herrin.

George W. Roberts was born in Robertson county, Tennessee, on the
26th of March, 1838, and he accompanied his parents to Illinois in Sep-
tember of the following year. He is a son of Ephraim A. Roberts, known
by his associates in Tennessee as "Young Ephraim," and a native of
Virginia, where he was born in 1811. In early life Ephraim A. Roberts
went with his father, Ephraim Roberts, to Tennessee, where he was
reared on an old plantation worked by slaves. His mother was a Harris
and she bore her husband a dozen children, but died before all of them
grew to maturity.

Ephraim Roberts, Sr., was one of the old-time men of the south. He
carried on his farm with slave labor, owned and operated a distillery, as
was customary with men of means in those days, and seems to have been
a robust figure. He was three times married, but had children only by
his first wife. Those were : William ; Riley ; Winnie, wife of Calvin
Holdeman; Ephraim A., father of the subject of this review; "Booker,"
or Pleasant, as he was christened ; Jesse B. ; Polly, who married Caven
Mason ; Nancy became the wife of Meredith Long, the son of Ephraim 's
second wife ; Martha became Mrs. Robert Thompson ; Rachael married a
Mr. Parker; and Elizabeth married her cousin, Jabez Roberts, who
passed his early married life in Texas and after the war settled in Ar-
kansas. All the above except Elizabeth, Ephraim and Jabez, passed
their lives in Tennessee, where the father was called to the life eternal in
1854, at the age of sixty-eight years.

Ephraim A. Roberts, Jr., married Miss Mary Williams, a daughter
of Rev. John Williams, a Baptist minister who died in active religious
work in Robertson county, Terinessee. Mr. Roberts died not long after
his advent in Illinois, and subsequently his widow married William Par-
sons. They had one son, John S. Parsons, a resident of Herrin, Illinois.
The Roberts children were : Nancy, who died in childhood ; George W.,
the immediate subject of this review ; and Amanda, who married Cap-
tain David G. Young and went to Dade county, Missouri, where she
passed away.

George W. Roberts has always lived in the atmosphere he now
breathes. No other community has contributed aught to him and his
efforts have all been put forth here. He acquired enough education as
a student in subscription schools to enable him to assume the role of
school-master himself. During his boyhood persons aspiring to teach
made up their school by going around and "getting up their scholars"
on a cash basis or other arrangement with the patrons of the district.
When a teacher came to the home of young Roberts his mother seldom
had the money with which to pay tuition for her son and if she couldn't
get in a "pattern of jeans" or -a batch of carded wool or some of the


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 7 of 98)