The death of Jason N. McElvain, which took place at his beautiful home, in Girard, Macoupin County, Illinois, on February 14, 1904, removed from this section a citizen who had been identified with its development for many years, and one who for a long period, had been considered one of the county's most substantial men and astute financiers. Mr. McElvain was born in Simpson County, Kentucky, March 19, 1826, and was a son of William and Jane (Neely) McElvain. His age, at the time of decease, was 77 years, 10 months and 26 days.
The father of the late Mr. McElvain was born in Virginia in 1783, and was a son of Andrew McElvain, a member of a family which is still well represented in the Old Dominion. Prior to coming to Macoupin County, in 1850, William McElvain owned and operated large plantations in his native State, but lived a retired life after coming to Illinois. He reared a large family, all of whom have passed away with the exception of three sons - one a resident of Iowa, one of Oregon, and one of Kansas.
Until the age of 21 years, the late Mr. McElvain remained in Kentucky. Pushing out then for himself, he came to Illinois and began farm work in Sangamon County. In 1851 he came to Macoupin County, locating in Nilwood township where he remained until 1889, when he moved to Girard. In the intervening years he had accumulated much property and owned 640 acres of some of the choicest land in Macoupin County. Under his immediate supervision, he carried on extensive agricultural operations, and, prior to settling in Girard, was known as one of the farmers of prominence in this section.
After locating at Girard, Mr. McElvain looked about for the best investment of capital, and, after due consideration, decided to enter into banking, the prevailing conditions giving him assurance of success for a conservative institution which could be backed by large capital in the hands of representative men. Thus came about in 1893 the founding of the People's Bank of Girard, in which Mr. McElvain was one of the heaviest stockholders. From its founding until April, 1903, he was its careful, watchful, conservative president, until the weight of years made him seek relief from official responsibility and he resigned the position which his personality had made so notable. His name has been associated with other business enterprises, always carrying with it a sense of security not always attached to large capitalists.
On February 13, 1851, Mr. McElvain was married to Mary E. Fletcher, who was a daughter of Capt. Job Fletcher, of Sugar Creek, Illinois, after which he came to Macoupin County and purchased the tract of land upon which his farmhouse now stands. Mrs. McElvain died in August, 1875. On June 18, 1877, Mr. McElvain was married to Nancy J. Ballinger, who is a daughter of Rev. John H. Ballinger, and four children were born to them, two of whom are deceased, the survivors being Joseph and Pearl.
Since 1875 Mr. McElvain had been a consistent, useful and beloved member of the Presbyterian Church, to which he gave most liberal support. From that church, where solemn and befitting services were conducted by Revs. Tarbett and Berryhill, the funeral cortege took its way to Girard Cemetery, where all that was mortal of one who had been beloved by family, friends and fellow citizens, was laid to rest. Like many other men of capital and consequence in the business world, Mr. McElvain was simple in his habits and unassuming in his manner. He honored work and respected those who toiled, and in his home there were no menials, all being regarded with consideration, if they deserved it. His beautiful home, with its many comforts, was thoroughly enjoyed, and he did not despise the social prominence of himself and family, accepting the same, however, with no assumption of superiority. It is recorded of him that one of his maxims was "take life as it comes," implying by this, that cheerful acceptance of trials was a man's duty, a view which his natural genial disposition did much to make easy.
The death of a man of Mr. McElvains's character is a loss to any community, but the influence of a life of business integrity, of liberal public spirit, of exemplary Christian effort, will ever remain. In the great loss his family sustained, it had the sincere sympathy of the whole community.
Joseph McElvain, the only surviving son of the late Jason N. McElvain, is one of the prominent business men of Girard, junior member of the large dry goods firm of Enslow & McElvain. This business house was established by Enslow Brothers April 1, 1901, and was conducted by them until September 1, 1903, when Joseph McElvain purchased a half interest in the business. Removal was soon made to larger quarters, a store space of 40 by 80 feet now being used, and with the introduction of all modern appliances and conveniences business is carried on here with a showing which would be very satisfactory in cities of much larger size. The firm carries a most complete and carefully selected stock of goods, and have the prestige of being the largest exclusive dry goods house in Macoupin County.