William Robinson George, a representative business citizen of Staunton, Macoupin County, junior member of the hardware firm of Godfrey & George, was born in Mercer County, Ohio, November 6, 1851, and is a son of Rev. William F. and Martha (Speers) George.
The George family originated in Wales. John George, the great-great-grandfather of our subject, was born in Scotland, to which country the family had removed, and his son Jonathan was the founder of the family in America, coming hither at the age of 20 years. Jonathan George took part in the War of 1812, and a bit of interesting history is connected with his service. During the stay of the troops in New Orleans, when food was scarce, he saved himself from actual starvation by eating a part of the leather cover of a Bible, which he had carried through all adventures. This relic was in the possession of our subject for a long period. The family name of his wife has been lost, and also the names of his 12 children, with the exception of that of Alexander, the grandfather of our subject. Alexander George was born in Pennsylvania, in the vicinity of Pittsburgh. He was a man possessed of ample means, later removed to Ohio and owned a large tract known as "Bear Forests," where our subject one time witnessed four bears killed in one morning. His children were named: Robert, Mary, William F., Christina, Helen and Thomas.
Rev. William F. George was born in November, 1821, in New Concord, Ohio, and died in 1879 at Staunton, Illinois. He was a man of superior education and was educated for the ministry in Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati, and later became instructor in dead languages at Northwood, Ohio. In 1851, he accepted a charge at Macedon, Ohio, where he remained until 1858, when he removed to Illinois. He, with his brother Robert, owned at one time 2,000 acres of land and the earnings of a successful mercantile business carried on at Lodi, Illinois, where he was associated with his brother. Both lost all they possessed by the failure of "wild cat" or State Banks, to which they had entrusted their funds, and both died poor. Rev. William F. George married Martha Spears, who was born in 1823 in Ohio and now resides with a daughter at Staunton. They had these children: Robert, of St. Louis, Missouri; Albert H., of Raymond, Illinois; William Robinson, of this sketch; Mrs. Adella M. Stanton, of St. Louis, Missouri; John B., of La Salle, Colorado; James R., of Washington, Iowa; A. V., a druggist, who died in Staunton, Macoupin County, in 1884; Arthur, of Peoria, Illinois; and Anna B., of Staunton, Macoupin County.
William Robinson George was seven years of age when his parents came to Illinois. They lived in Iroquois County until 1860, when they removed to Randolph County, and located in Staunton in 1871. Mr. George attended school in Randolph County, spending three years in the high school at Coulterville and the clerked in a general store for the same length of time. After settling with the family in Macoupin County, he assisted his father on the farm for two years, and then became clerk in the general store and was also connected with the flouring mill, where he remained until the fall of 1879. then he went to St. Louis and in the following year was graduated at Jones' Commercial College. Upon his return to Staunton, Mr. George became bookkeeper for the hardware firm of F. R. Fritz & Company; after three years, eh organized a company and bought the business, which he operated under the firm name of Williamson, George & Company for three years and three months. On account of failing health, Mr. George sold his interest and went on the road for the Wood Machine Company until the fall of 1888, when he engaged to work for his brother-in-law, E. E. Godfrey, in the hardware business which he conducted until 1890, when he formed a partnership with Mr. Godfrey, and ever since the business has been conducted under the firm name of Godfrey & George.
Mr. George has always been an enterprising and public spirited citizen, but has remained an independent in politics. He has filled a number of the local offices and has served at various times as collector and township clerk, his constantly increasing business responsibilities making him unwilling to enter into very active political life, although he never shirks what he deems a civic duty.
On May 2, 1882, Mr. George was united in marriage with May Godfrey, who was born January 26, 1859, in Staunton township, Macoupin County, Illinois, is a daughter of Frank and Mary Godfrey, very prominent residents of the locality for many years. They have two children: Elvin David and Leslie.