|W. C. ARTHURS
Holding distinctive precedence as a captain of industry, the subject of this sketch fills a large place in the manufacturing and business circles of his own and other states and as executive head of one of the largest and most important industrial enterprises in Southern Illinois, has earned a reputation second to that of none of his compeers. Beginning life under many unfavorable circumstances and early obliged to rely entirely upon his own resources, his career has indeed, been truly remarkable and to him in the true sense of the term belongs the proud title of a "self-made man."
W. C. Arthurs, president of the Mount Vernon Car Manufacturing Company, and one of the leading citizens of his city and state springs from sturdy Scotch ancestors who in their native land went by the name of MacArthurs, but during a long period of residence in the United States the descendants of the original immigrant to this county have gradually dropped the prefix, leaving the patronymie as it now appears.
Joseph W. Arthurs, the subject's grandf ther, was a native of North Carolina, where his birth ocurred in 1806. He left that state in an early day and migrated to Illinois, settling at Hillsboro, Montgomery county, where he worked for some time at the tailor's trade, dying there in the year 1849. Joseph W. Arthurs married Lydia Morrison, November 26, 1835, who was born in Iredell county, North Carolina, April 9, 1810, and died at Camden, South Carolina, on the 13th of March, 1844. Her father, James Morrison, also a native of North Carolina, was born in the county of Iredell, November 30, 1769, and her mother, who bore the maiden name of Margaret Grace Wilson, was born in the same state and county on January 17th of the year '179.
Among the children of Joseph W. Arthurs and wife was a son by the name of James M. Arthurs, who was born in Hillsboro, Illinois, and who in early life learned the trade of blacksrnithing which he followed for many years in his native town. He entered the army at the breaking out of the Civil war and served till the downfall of the Confederacy, participating in a number of bloody battles and earning an especially honorable record as a brave and gallant soldier. He was a member of the Ninth Illinois Infantry, Colonel Phillips' regiment, and for meritorious conduct was promoted second lieutenant of Company H, which office he held when discharged at the close of the war. Some time in the nineties he moved to Kansas and departed this life at Hutchinson, that state, in the year 1903.
Emma Cram, wife of James M. Arthurs, was born near Hillsboro, Illinois, February 10, 1842, and from the most reliable data obtainable, appears to have been a descendant of the celebrated Von Cram family of Germany. She was a woman of many sterling qualities greatly esteemed by all who knew her, and her death, which occurred on October 1, 1865, was felt as a personal loss in the community where she spent the greater part of her life. Latinus M. Cram, father oi Mrs. Arthurs, was born at Portland, Maine, October 30.1810. He married at Norfolk, Virginia, August 13, 1836, Ann Hart, whose birth occurred in Suffolk county on Long Island, New York, July 19.1811, and who belonged to one of the 01d and well known families of that part of the Empire state. When a mere lad Latimus Cram was bound as a cabin boy on a vessel plying the Atlantic and ever afterwards followed the sea. gradually rising from his original humble station to become master of a ship, a position he held for many years. He was drowned in the Ohio river, near Cairo, Illinois, April 9,1842. His widow survived him many years. dying at Hillsboro, December 27, 1893.
The Harts were among the early residents of Suffolk county, Long Island, Philetus Hart, father of Ann Hart, having been born there on the 6th day of May, 1768. His wife, Mary Hart. also a native of the same county, was born September 22,1778. and died in the city of New York in February, 1831, her husband departing this life in September of the previous year, 1830.
W. C. Arthurs, whose name introduces this sketch, is a native of Montgomery county, Illinois, and the son of James M. and Enma (Cram) Arthurs. He was born at Hillsboro, received his education in the schools of that city and Litchfield and while still a mere boy began making his own way in the world by working on a farm. Indeed, so small was he at the time of finding his first employment, that he could barely hold the handles of a plow, but blessed with good health and a strong body, and endowed with an unusual amount of energy for one so young he persevered in his labors and not only earned the small wages received, but so pleased his employer that the latter parted with his services very reluctantly when the lad saw fit to change his mode of life. From the fields he entered a grocery store where he clerked for some time and obtained a practical knowledge of business and subsequently accepted a similar position in a drug store. After an experience of a few years in the latter capacity he entered the shoe business and sold shoes at retail for a number of years, leaving the retail shoe business to engage as traveling salesman with a boot and shoe firm whose interests he represented on the road for a number of years. Meanwhile he prepared himself for a business life by taking a course in a commercial college at Jacksonville and on being graduated from that institution was well fitted to grapple with the problems which usually confront the ambitious young man at the beginning of his career.
Early in life Mr. Arthurs resolved to make his employer interests his own, and prove faithful to every trust reposed in him. By always acting in conformity with this resolution he was enabled to hold a number of important positions and it is a fact worthy of note that he was never discharged by an employer, nor in any way lost the confidence or incurred the ill-will of those to whose service he devoted so much of his time and energy.
On quitting the road, Mr. Arthurs in partnership with certain friends built a shoe factory at De KaIb, Illinois, but by reason of the failure of his associates the enterprise did not prove a success and had to be abandoned, following which he entered, in 1887, the employ of the Litchfield Car & Machine Company as cashier and paymaster, which important position he held during the two years ensuing. Severing his connection with the above enterprise at the expiration of the time indicated Mr. Arthurs in 1890 accepted the post of secretary and treasurer of the Mount Vernon Car Manufacturing Company, and after discharging the duties of the same in a highly creditable manner for a period of seven years he was made receiver, which place he filled to the satisfaction of all concerned from 1897 to 1902 inclusive, bringing the concern out of bankruptcy, paying its debts, greatly improving the property and turning same back to the original stockholders without a sale of the property. In the latter year he was further honored by being elected vicepresident and treasurer of the enterprise and after six years of faithful and acceptable service in that capacity, he succeeded in 1908, on the death of Mr. Settlemire to the presidency, which responsible and honorable office he still holds and in which he has displayed sound judgment, a comprehensive grasp of the principles essential to success and executive ability of a very high order.
The Mount Vernon Car Manufacturing Company was organized in 1890 since which time it has grown into one of the largest and most successful industrial enterprises of Southern Illinois, advancing from the original capacity of ten cars and one hundred car wheels per day, to the present daily output of twenty-five cars, or four hundred and fifty wheels, and affording employment to considerably over one thousand mechanics and skilled artisan, many of whom have been with the company ever since it was established. The pay roll of this large and rapidly growing industry averages something in excess of sixty thousand dollars per month, and the average yearly product is five million dollars. Since beginning business a little more than eighteen years ago the company has paid for labor alone, the enormous sum of four million dollars, besides large amounts for material and all of which has been spent in Mount Vernon, proving a great impetus to the business interests of the city, and adding very materially to its reputation as an important industrial and business center.
Mr. Arthurs is a business man in the broadest meaning of the term and to him more perhaps than to any other is due the continuous growth of the company since he became president and its present high standing in manufacturing circles throughout the country. Wide-awake, enterprising and remarkably energetic. his influence is felt in every department of the business which he manages and being fam'rliar with its every detail, he understands well how to obtain the largest possible results, at the same time maintaining those mutually pleasant relations with his subordinates which have made them his loyal friends and for which the establishment has long been noted. Aside from his official position with the Mount Vernon Car Manufacturing Company, Mr. Arthurs is identified with a number of other enterprises in this city and elsewhere, being a director of the Mechanics-American National Bank, of St. Louis, one of the largest institutions of the kind in that city, a director of the Third National Bank, of Mount Vernon, and of the bank of Waltonville, besides owning stock in thirty-six other companies and corporations, and sustaining the relation of director in a number of them, in all of which he manifests a lively interest and keeps in close touch with their growth and success.
Although deeply immersed in business matters, Mr. Arthurs is identified with and a friend to all enterprises which tend to advance the material growth of his city and county or in any way benefit the people. He is a Republican, but not a politician, although well grounded in the principles of his party, thoroughly informed relative to the great questions and issues before the public. He has the courage of his convictions upon all matters of local and general interest and is a splendid type of the intelligent American citizen who loves his country and makes every other consideration subordinate to its welfare.
In religion he is liberal in all the term implies, belonging to no church or fraternal organization, but according to everybody the same right of private judgment which he claims for himself. He is a friend of the church, however, and belleves Christianity to be the greatest and most influential factor in modern civilization. He also does considerable charitable and benevolent work, and is ever ready to assist any laudable means for the comfort and welfare of those whom fortune has neglected and to contribute liberally to the varius humanitarian institutions which have done so much for the poor and indigent of the community.
Mr. Arthurs is a man of strong domestic tastes and the beautiful and luxurious home on North street is one of the finest and most attractive in the city. It is the one happy place where he can divert himself of the cares and distractions of business and enjoy the quiet atmosphere of a circle which approaches very near the ideal. The presiding spirit in this hospitable household is a lady of intelligent, varied culture and gracious presence to whom he was united in the bonds of wedlock on November 28, 1888, and who previous to that time bore the name of lola E. Settlemire. Mrs. Arthurs was born at Gillespie, Illinois, and is the daughter of D. O Settlemire, formerly a prominent resident and manufacturer of Litchijeld and for a number of years president of the Litchfield Car & Machine Company, of that city. Mr. and Mrs. Artilurs have one child, David Clifford Arthurs, who was born Marcli 8, 1907.
In closing the review of one of the leading captains of industry of Illinois it is only necessary to state that he is a gentlema of progressive ideas and generous impulses, highly esteemed by his fellow men, and filling a place in the public view which has brought him Prominently to the front, not only in business circles but in the domain of citizenship as well. Of fine personal presence and cornmanding influence he moves among his fellows as one born to leader-ship, nevertheless he is kind and affable, easily approachable, and all wh0 enjoy the favor of his acquaintance and friendship speak in the highest terms of his many sterling qualities of mind and heart.
SOURCE: Walls History Of Jefferson County 1909 pgs 431-437
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