STROTHER G. JONES - Strother G. Jones, deceased, was, during a lifetime of intense and well-directed activity, one of the most forceful factors in community affairs in Springfield. He entered upon the active duties of life unaided by influential friends or adventitious circumstances. He was the sole architect of his own fortunes, molding his own character and shaping his own destiny. He came to be a business man of commanding ability, yet his labors were not restricted to the advancement of his own personal interests. He extended his efforts to various fields in which, as an acknowledged leader, he championed the highest interests of the municipality and of the people at large, and with such success that his name came to be held in high honor while he lived and his death was regarded with a sorrow that was at once general and sincere.
Mr. Jones was born in Lincoln county, Kentucky, December 18, 1813, a son of Josiah and Elizabeth (Finley) Jones, who had a large family. In the maternal line he was descended from a distinguished and wealthy family of the blue grass region of Kentucky, but his father was in rather limited circumstances in early life. Although he began life with limited capital, he attained success and prominence and was well-to-do at the time of his death.
Strother Jones attended school in one of the old log buildings common at that day, with the mud and stick chimney and rude furnishings. There was an immense fireplace in one end of the room and the writing desk was formed by placing a board upon pins driven into the wall. Each scholar paid his tuition. While attending school Mr. Jones was apprenticed to the farmer's trade and thus paid his own tuition. At the age of twelve he left home and remained with Samuel Harrison, his employer, until twenty-one years of age. He was quite a good-sized lad before he owned a pair of shoes, for both boys and girls went barefooted in those days until the weather became very cold when they were supplied with buckskin moccasins.
It was in the early days of Springfield's development that Mr. Jones came to this city. Upon his arrival he opened a hotel opposite the station of the Chicago & Alton Railroad, and after some time he discontinued that business and became extensively engaged in real estate dealings and speculations. He owned the land were the recruiting station was located at the time of the Civil war, and at one time he owned Clear Lake and also the site of the present town of Dawson. Later he went with his family to the town of Dawson, where he also established a general store, which he conducted in connection with his large farm for nine years. He then returned to the old homestead in Mechanicsburg township, and developed a splendid farm. He raised high grades of stock and being a lover of fine horses he always had some fine specimens on hand. As an agriculturist he was progressive in all that he did and was largely instrumental in promoting farming interests in his community. He continued to reside upon the old homestead on which he had located on coming to the county, until 1882, when he took up his abode in a fine brick residence about two miles southwest of the city, on a site known as Forest Hill. There he lived in honorable retirement, surrounded by all the comforts of life, until called to his final rest.
Mr. Jones was first married in 1834, in Lincoln county, Kentucky, to Miss Lucy Newton, and unto them were born six children, of whom three are now living: Mrs. Eliza Nove, of Mattoon, Illinois; James W., of Kansas; and Mrs. Lucy E. Burnes, of Dawson, Illinois. After the mother's death Mr. Jones was again married, June 14, 1865, his second union being with Miss Lucy E. Cass, a popular school teacher of Mount Pulaski, Illinois. She had been reared and educated there, graduating from the high school, and subsequently she acted as a teacher in the primary and intermediate departments there. She also taught two years in a district school. The children of the second marriage are M. Ashton; who married Miss Rose McIntyre and has five children; Shirley A., who married Miss Anna Hildebrand; Ernest S., who married Miss Caroline J. Mather; and Jessie M. C., now the wife of Sidney W. Disbrow. The last named is the only daughter and was born in Dawson, Illinois, May 15, 1871. She was educated in Bettie Stuart Institute of Springfield, and was married there. Her husband has been identified with newspaper interests all his life, and in every capacity up to that of editor and manager, and at present he is operating a linotype machine in Springfield. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Disbrow were born two children: Emma Lucile and Phoebe Katherine. After her husband's death Mrs. Jones traveled for some time and is now making her home with her daughter.
In the early days Mr. Jones took quite an active interest in public affairs. He served as postmaster of Dawson, Illinois, was deputy sheriff many years ago and for a long period served as constable, justice of the peace and clerk of the school board of Dawson. He also was a director of the Forest Hill School near Springfield. In politics he was a Democrat, never faltering in his allegiance to the party, nor was he remiss in any duty of citizenship, but faithfully performed every task allotted to him to the best of his ability. He earnestly desired the best interests of the county and he labored for the welfare of central Illinois with singleness of purpose. His business affairs carefully conducted, and characterized by honest and straightforward dealing, brought to him prosperity that enabled him in his later years to enjoy all the comforts of life. He died March 18, 1901, at the advanced age of eighty-seven years and three months, and thus passed away one who was a well
known figure in the early history of the county as well as in the period of its later progress. He demonstrated, through his labors, the resources of this part of the state, and he left behind him an honored and irreproachable name.