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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SAMUEL LOVEJOY TAYLOR is editor of the Sparta Plaindealer and has
been identified with local journalism during practically his entire life
time. The dissemination of news, the discussion of the public questions
and the promotion of the general welfare of his community through the
columns of his paper have constituted life's object with him as a private
citizen. His public services, both to his city and his county, have been
no less important and earnest and the period of twelve years in which he
dispensed justice from the bench of the Randolph county court mark
him as one of the influential and prominent citizens of this section of
the state.

Judge Taylor was born at Sparta, Illinois, October 31, 1848. His
father, John Taylor, was born in Lincoln county, Tennessee, in 1816, and
left that state because of his dislike of the ulcer of slavery which then
afflicted the whole south. John Taylor was a son of Clark Taylor and a
grandson of Hugh Taylor, the latter of whom was a Scotchman, born near
Glasgow, Scotland. Hugh Taylor married Nancy Gault and came to


America during the colonial regime, locating in Lincoln county, Tennes-
see. He was a planter of that early time and his abode was situated
within the danger limits of hostile savages, at whose hands he lost his
life while on a horse-hunting expedition on Red river in the adjacent
territory of Kentucky.

John Taylor was educated in Tennessee and at the age of twenty-
three came to Illinois, where was solemnized his marriage to Jane Haw-
thorne, a daughter of James Hawthorne, one of the pioneers of Randolph
county and one of its early county recorders or circuit court clerks, when
the county seat was still at Kaskaskia. John Taylor died in 1876 and his
wife passed away in 1879. John Taylor affiliated with the Whig party
until the formation of the Republican party, when he became one of the
first to align himself with that organization. In the political contests
between Lincoln and Douglas in Illinois he was a strong partisan of Mr.
Lincoln and during the war between the states he was government official
for assessing and collecting the various federal taxes for the prosecution
of the war. He was not a public speaker or debater, not endowed with
the art of fluent expression, but he was a conscientious doer of deeds
among the people and was an elder in the United Presbyterian church.

The children of John Taylor and wife were: William B., John G.,
Samuel L., Albert, Lydia B., and Alice. All have passed through life
thus far without marriage save Judge Samuel L., and all excepting him
are members of the old family home. The brothers have a common in-
terest in merchandising at Sparta and Samuel and Albert have passed
their lives actively in newspaper work, the latter being business manager
of the Sparta Plaindealer. Samuel L. was postmaster at Sparta for five
years and Albert was his deputy. All were trained in the schools of
Sparta common to their student days, and in addition to that discipline
Samuel L. attended the University of Michigan, where he studied law
up to his junior year.

Judge Taylor's first independent efforts were expended in the office
of the Randolph County Democrat, of Chester, published by H. B. Nes-
bit, who is still living. Following his work there he spent the last year
of the war in Ann Arbor, and when he returned home the opportunity
to become the owner of the Sparta Plaindealer existed and he seized it.
This paper was founded by Rotrock Brothers over fifty years ago as a
Republican paper and the principles and policies of that organization
have dominated its columns ever since. They sold it to General J.
Blackburn Jones, who disposed of it to Nichol & Watson, from whom
Fred Alles obtained it. At this point Judge Taylor became connected
with it, for he purchased it next. He conducted it for seven years,
when he sold it to Campbell & Deitrich, Charles M. Campbell bought
out Campbell & Deitrich and Campbell Brothers were proprietors of the
Journal for a time. Finally George H. Campbell became sole proprietor
and Judge Taylor resumed his connection with it as editor. When Mr.
Campbell sold the paper to E. I. Smith the Judge again took charge and
has been editor ever since, for Taylor Brothers purchased the plant in
1899. When founded the Plaindealer was a four page folio, while now
it is a seven column quarto.

Judge Taylor was admitted to the Illinois bar by the circuit court of
Randolph county, but he never entered into the active practice of law.
He served as city attorney of Sparta for a time ; was also city treasurer
and mayor. He was a delegate from his congressional district to the
Republican national convention at Minneapolis in 1892. As already in-
timated, he was a stalwart Republican in his political convictions and in
1894 was elected county judge. He retired from that office after a faith-
ful service of four years, but in 1902 was again elected and four years


later was chosen his own successor. Having at the expiration of his
second term served the county twelve years, he declined to stand again
as a candidate, although urged by petition and otherwise to do so. He
resumed his old place at the editorial desk of the Plaindealer and now his
paper and other business affairs occupy all his time. Personally and
through the medium of his paper the Judge exerts a splendid influence
on community affairs and he is recognized as one of the most prominent
and public-spirited citizens of Sparta.

On January 28, 1879, Judge Taylor married Miss Mary J. Caudle,
and the issue of their union are two daughters, Gail and Vera. The
family are devout members of the Presbyterian church and Judge Tay-
lor has served on the board of trustees of that body.

PRANK M. DAVIS. An able, intelligent and enterprising journalist,
Prank M. Davis, of Breese, Illinois, editor, manager and proprietor of
the People's Interest, has been actively identified with the advancement
of the newspaper interests of Clinton county since attaining his majority.
He is a self-made man in the best sense of that term, whatever success
has come to him having been honestly earned by hard work and unflag-
ging devotion to his profession. A native of Illinois, he was born in
Louisville, Clay county.

His father, William M. Davis, who was born in Waterford, Ohio,
April 14, 1852, came with his parents to Illinois when a small child, and
was brought up on his father's farm in Kinmundy. He subsequently
worked at various occupations in and around that town, finally locating
at Sailor Springs, Clay county, where he spent the closing years of his
life retired from active pursuits, passing away March 23, 1900. He was
an uncompromising Republican in politics, and a member of the Old
School Presbyterian church. He married Maria T. Critchlow, of Louis-
ville, Illinois, and to them five children were born, as follows : Florence,
the wife of George Bateman ; Prank M. ; Pearl C., the second son ; Claude
P. and Lucy May. The wife survived him many years, dying in March,

Frank M. Davis spent his childhood days in Illinois, in Wakefield and
Farina, subsequently acquiring his preliminary education in the public
schools of Sailor Springs, and later being graduated from the Clay City
high school. For five years, from the age of fourteen until nineteen, he
was employed in a drug store. Embarking then upon his journalistic
career, Mr. Davis became affiliated with the World, one of the leading
papers of Sailor Springs, having a half interest in the sheet. At the
age of twenty-one years he bought out his partner's interest and con-
tinued to publish the paper until 1906. In January of that year Mr.
Davis moved his plant to Breese, and the following month, in February,
1906, established the journal with which he has since been associated as
proprietor and editor, the People 's Interest, a paper that is in every way
true to its name, being a non-partisan sheet, devoted to the best and high-
est interests of the people and the community, and gladly championing
all enterprises conducive to the public good. Mr. Davis started busi-
ness, with a partner, at Sailor Springs with no other assets than a
courageous heart, an active brain and plenty of ambition and energy,
and has since built up a substantial business, having a large, well
equipped newspaper plant, which he is managing successfully.

Mr. Davis married, June 17, 1911, Allie Patton, of Beckemeyer, Illi-
nois. Politically Mr. Davis is a staunch advocate oT the principles of
the Republican party; fraternally he is a member of the Independent
Order of Odd Fellows ; and religiously he belongs to the Methodist Epis-
copal church.


REV. G. H. HAERTLING. The Lutheran church of Neunert, Illinois,
the strongest Lutheran congregation in Jackson county, is fortunate in
having for its pastor the Rev. G. H. Haertling, a man whose qualities of
mind and heart have made him beloved by all who know him, and one
who has proved himself not only an able pastor and efficient business
man, but also a friend and advisor to all who will place confidence in
him. Born at Cape Girardeau, Missouri, May 8, 1876, Rev. Haertling is
a son of Herman and Sophia (Koenig) Haertling.

Herman Haertling was born in Saxony, Germany, February 16,
1841, and came to the United States when about twenty-two years, lo-
cating in Cape Girardeau county, Missouri, among the heavy timber.
Clearing his original land, he added to it from time to time, becoming
eventually one of his section's most prosperous men. In political mat-
ters he was a Republican, but he never cared for public preferment, and
the time he could spare from his private affairs was all devoted to the
work of the Lutheran church, of which he was an active and useful
member, holding several official offices and being a deacon for a number
of years. A good man and true Christian, the world was better for Mr.
Haertling having lived in it, and at the time of his death, which occurred
July 13, 1904, his community lost not only an able agriculturist, but a
man whose life was so spent that those who came after him could look
back upon his career with a sense of pride. His widow still survives and
makes her home with a younger brother of Rev. Haertling on the old

Rev. G. H. Haertling was the fifth of nine children born to his" par-
ents, and his early education was secured in the parochial schools. When
he was fourteen years of age his father sent him to college at Concordia,
Missouri, and in 1894 he was graduated at which time he went to Mil-
waukee and was graduated from college there in 1897. Returning to
Missouri, he was a student at Concordia College, St. Louis, until his
graduation in 1900, and at that time was ordained. His first charge was
at Menno, Hutchinson county, South Dakota, where he remained for
two years, and then received a call to Hanson, Brown county, in that
state, remaining there until 1904, then going to the Fountain Bluff con-
gregation. The Rev. P. S. Estel, whom Rev. Haertling succeeded as pas-
tor of the present congregation had been in charge here for twenty-two
years. During Rev. Haertling 's administration, the congregation, com-
prising seventy-eight active members, has erected a new church edifice
at Neunert, made necessary by the extensive growth of its attendance.
Rev. Haertling is sincerely loved in his parish, enjoys the fullest con-
fidence of the members of his church, and is accorded the highest respect
of all who know him. He has a deep sense of the high duties of his
position and the responsibility he has assumed in caring for the spiritual
needs of those who have been entrusted to his charge. His eloquence in
the pulpit and his sincere interest in the welfare of his people have en-
abled him to accomplish much good, and he has administered the finan-
cial affairs of the church to the advantage of that organization.

In 1901, Rev. Haertling was united in marriage with Miss Louisa
Koenig, of Cape Girardeau county, Missouri, daughter of Julius Koenig,
and to this union there have been born four children : Concordia, Lorna,
Paula and Milta.

DRAKE H. RENDLEMAN. In the early days of the "West the more fav-
ored districts naturally drew-to themselves the men of greatest ambition,
foresight and business sagacity. These sought the fields that held out
the most to them in the way of promise for the future, and settling there
they bent their energies to laying the foundation of prosperity for them-


selves and their posterity. Thus it is that Union county has been for-
tunate in the character of its pioneers. They were not only of sturdy
stock, fit to endow their descendants with the physical strength to build
up a great community, but they were also above the average in mental
grasp and moral fibre. They were able to discern the opportunities
which the region held forth for agriculture, manufacture and commerce,
and possessed the sound judgment, courage and perseverance to organize
these and direct them to their full fruition. Of this sort were the
ancestors of Drake H. Rendleman, seven generations of whose family
have lived on his present farm, an excellent tract of two hundred and
thirty acres located near Jonesboro.

Mr. Rendleman 's great-grandfather on his mother's side secured
the present farm from the government during the earliest settlement
of Union county, and died here at the remarkable age of one hundred
and two years, about 1814 or 1816. His son, who grew up here, went to
Missouri in 1841, considering that this section was becoming too thickly
settled, and died in that state at the age of ninety-six years. He was
possessed of a fine head of red hair, and for this was greatly respected
by the Indians. Drake Harris Rendleman, the father of Drake H., was
born in North Carolina, November 16, 1801, and in 1815 came to
Union county with four brothers. He was a tanner by trade and had a
tan yard on the present property, but subsequently became engaged in
farming, in which he continued for the remainder of his life, his death
occurring in October, 1886. Mr. Rendleman married Catherine Hun-
saker, who was born on this property in 1813, among the Indians, and
here she spent all of her life, her death occurring in 1905, when she
was ninety-two years old. Both branches of the family have been widely
and favorably known, and it has been their boast that no member has
ever been brought before a court.

Drake H. Rendleman was reared among pioneer surroundings, hav-
ing been born January 10, 1841, on his present land, where in his boy-
hood he remembers often seeing wild turkeys and deer in the farmyard.
His preliminary education was secured in the district schools, and
later he attended a seminary here and Lebanon College, from which he
was graduated in 1864. Securing a teacher's license, Mr. Rendleman
followed the profession of an educator for sixteen years, but since that
time has devoted all of his attention to agricultural pursuits. His fine
farm is in an excellent state of cultivation, and he has given a great
deal of attention to the raising of berries. He is vice president and a
stockholder in the Anna Creamery and the Union Fruit Package Com-
pany, and a director in the Fruit Growers' Association of Anna, and is
recognized as a business man of more than ordinary ability. Politically,
he is a Democrat, but he has never cared for public office. He has
been prominent in Masonry since 1862.

In 1864 Mr. Rendleman was married (first) to Miss Goodman of
Union county, who died in 1886 leaving the following children : Cora,
Daisy. Clara, Arthur, Zoe and Charles. In 1887 Mr. Rendleman was
married a second time, when occurred his union with Miss Nettie Eddie-
man, who was born in this county in 1863, and they have had two chil-
dren : Edith and Mary, both of whom reside with their parents. Mr.
and Mrs. Rendleman are consistent members of the Lutheran church,
and have been prominent in religious and charitable work for a number
of years.

FOUNTAIN E. JAMES. Born on a farm near Cobden, Union county,
Illinois, on September 28. 1874. Fountain E. James is the son of George
W. James and Mamie (Condon) James, and the grandson of Wilson



James, who first settled in Union county in the early pioneer days. For
fifteen years Fountain James has been an esteemed and honored citizen
of Alto Pass, where he is known as one of the most progressive and rep-
resentative fruit growers in Union county, with a reputation for skill
and adeptness in the business that is second to none in that district.

The early schooling of Fountain E. James was secured through the
avenues of the common schools of his home town. When he attained
his majority he started life for himself by acquiring a farm of one hun-
dred and forty-six acres in Alto Pass, and there he has lived since that
time, cultivating his land and building up a business that has placed
him among the first rank in the producers of Union county. On one hun-
dred acres planted to apples and peaches, mostly young trees just com-
ing into bearing, in 1911 he harvested a yield of four thousand bushels
each of apples and peaches; an average crop, all things considered.
On his place he has erected a fine modern dwelling on a high ridge
overlooking the town. It is a thoroughly up-to-date and modern resi-
dence in every respect, costing him something over $4,000 when com-
pleted. His other buildings compare favorably with the best in his

In 1894 Mr. James married Miss Ava Asbury, the daughter of
Charles and Edna Asbury, and they have been the parents of four chil-
dren: Layman and Norma, deceased; Herbert, . aged seventeen, and
Louise, now ten years of age.

LEVI BROWNING. Three generations of Brownings have left their
indelible stamp upon the history of Illinois, the first representative set-
tling in what is now Franklin county, but which then (1796) was un-
explored, unsurveyed and unsettled country. They were pioneers in the
purest sense of that most expressive word, and have been identified since
the coming of the first Browning to Illinois with the civilizing, settling
and general growth of the state. Levi Browning, a son of the first of
his name to locate in Illinois, lived a life replete with good works in be-
half of his fellow men. His benefactions in money alone would ag-
gregate an enormous sum, while his material gifts were freely supple-
mented by the greater charity of time, love and labor on his part towards
those who needed his ministrations. Although he lived to the venerable
age of eighty-four years, his passing on July 22, 1905, marked the close of
an unfinished work, for he was active and ambitious to the last, continuing
his good work with an energy seldom seen in a man of his years. The
educational interests of Southern Illinois ever found in Mr. Browning a
staunch supporter, not alone in a material way, but by his personal aid
and influence, and it has been estimated that he gave more in time, labor
and money to the various educational institutions of his section of the
state than any other man in Franklin county.

Levi Browning was born in 1820, at Browning Hill, which point was
first settled by his father, John Browning, in 1804, the latter being the
first man to locate in what is now Franklin county, then an unpierced
wilderness. John Browning was a Missionary Baptist minister, born in
North Carolina in 1781. He moved first to Tennessee, thence to Illinois
in 1796, moving into the Jordan Fort in order to be safe from Indians.
This fort was three miles south of Fitts Hill. Here John Browning was
engaged as guard for the mail carrier who made the trip between Kas-
kaskia and Shawneetown semi-weekly, and continued in that employment
for some little time. He eventually married Nancy Kitchen, and they
reared to maturity a family of twelve children. Today John Browning
has fully one hundred and fifty descendants living. As mentioned
above, he built a home on an elevated site which he named Browning


Hill, and this was his home throughout his life. He came of a family
of Baptists and he himself entered the ministry and gave a lifetime of
service to his church and his people in Franklin county. He was known
and loved throughout his county and Southern Illinois by a wide circle
of admiring friends, who keenly felt his loss when he passed away at
an advanced age at the family home on Browning Hill.

Levi Browning, his son, received his early education in the home of
his boyhood. In his youth opportunities for the education of the young
were not as numerous as today, and in Southern Illinois that this is
longer the fact is due largely to the efforts and generosity of himself in
later years. Always deeply interested in the cause of education, he
exerted every influence he possessed to secure for this section of the
state schools and colleges of the best class, so that the children of this
day may secure advantages of an educational character unsurpassed by
those of any part of the country. He helped to found Ewing College
at Ewing, Franklin county, and was one of the first trustees of Shurtleff
College at Alton, Illinois. In 1840 Mr. Browning first came to Benton,
where he lived until the day of his death. He saw the town grow from
its first day of life, being there when the town was laid out and the
first lots sold. In 1841 he opened up a general store in Benton, and he
continued in that business until he retired from commercial life in 1888.
His early experience in business life was attended by many trying con-
ditions. For years he was compelled to "tote" his goods from Chicago,
then a small town, by ox-team. He remembers the great business
thoroughfare, State street, when it was not more than an ill kept road,
and on one occasion when driving out of Chicago with a load of mer-
chandise for his Benton store, Mr. Browning 's team became mired in the
most prominent part of State street, so bad was the condition of the
road. Thus from a small beginning, Mr. Browning continued his mer-
chandising for nearly a half a century, having built up a splendid busi-
ness before his retirement. The first flour mill in Franklin county
was built by Mr. Browning, and it was in operation until a few years
previous to his death. He also built the first sawmill to be operated in
the county, and with the aid of John G. Buchanan, built the first ice
house known in Franklin county. Furthermore, he was instrumental
in causing to be erected the first church in Benton, now the house of
worship of the First Baptist church of the city. He assisted in making
the original plat of the city, and was the owner of much Benton real
estate. It is estimated that his name appears on the transfer deeds to
more Benton real estate than does the name of any other man in the
county. In 1854 Mr. Browning was appointed a member of the Illinois
drainage commission, which position he retained up to the time of his
demise, and during his tenure of office he disposed of more than forty
thousand acres of swamp land. Among his official acts was the con-
struction of what is known as pond ditch, made to drain Buckner pond,
a work of vast importance to the surrounding country and at that time
regarded as a most difficult undertaking. Through his efforts a large
acreage of swamp lands were thus reclaimed, and is now held as valu-
able farming land.

Not alone in business and educational affairs was Mr. Browning an
active promoter, but in religious circles also his influence was most
pronounced. For fifty years he was a deacon in the Baptist church, of
which denomination the Browning family has long been the adherent,
and he was familiarly known as Deacon Browning. He was the last of
the original organizers of the Franklin Baptist Association, of which
he was clerk until a few years prior to his death. The records of this
Association bear witness to the fact that Mr. Browning's father, John


Browning, was the first white man to be baptized in the waters of Big
Muddy, and that the officiating clergyman was Rev. Isaac Herrin, whose
descendants are now so prominent in the affairs of Williamson county,
and who was the grandfather of Ephraim Herrin, the founder of the
city named Herrin. The interest of Mr. Browning in Shurtleff Col-
lege, which he helped to found, was most beautiful to behold, and he
was the last member of the original board of trustees of that College.

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 76 of 98)