COBB, WILLIAM HENRY, the efficient foreman of the C.P. & St. L. R.R. blacksmith department, at Jacksonville, Morgan County, Ill., was born at Scarborough, England, July 8, 1857. He is a son of Hugh and Katherine (McPhail) Cobb, natives respectively of England and Scotland. His father was born in Scarborough, July 8, 1828, and his mother in Edinburgh, in 1829. They were married in 1852 and came to the United States in 1869, locating at Winchester, Ill., where for five years Hugh Cobb followed the occupation of a carpenter and cabinet maker. He then moved to Jacksonville, where he spent the remainder of his life, dying August 18, 1899. His wife had passed away November 15, 1892.
Wm. H. Cobb received his early mental training in the grammar schools of his native country and in 1870 followed his father to the United States, joining the latter at Winchester. While there he worked on a farm for four years, and then moved with his father to Jacksonville. There he served a four years' apprenticeship as a blacksmith, with John W. Hall, and subsequently worked two years for George Jamieson. When the old Jacksonville Car Company was organized, he secured employment with that concern as blacksmith, and continued thus during the company's existence. He afterward obtained a similar position in the shops of the Jacksonville Southeastern Railroad Company. When that company was merged into the C.P. & St. L. R.R. Company, and the latter built its new shops, he was employed in similar work there. In 1894, on account of his careful and efficient service, he was promoted to be foreman of the blacksmith department of the shops. Altogether, during its various changes, Mr. Cobb has been connected with this road for a period of twenty-four years. He is a member of the Railroad Master Blacksmiths' Association of the United States and Canada, and of the C.P. & St. L. Mutual Benefit Association.
On December 7, 1880, Mr. Cobb was united in marriage, at Jacksonville, with Margaret Brown, a daughter of Burton and Margaret (Hilligas) Brown, who were among the earliest settlers of Morgan County. Her father served in the Civil War as Captain of Company K, Fifty-ninth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry. Her great-grandfather, Elijah Smith, was a soldier of the Revolutionary War, and is its only veteran buried in Jacksonville. Three children resulted from this union, namely: Clara K., born in 1883; Harry Edward, born in 1885; and Florence Margaret, born in 1889.
In politics Mr. Cobb is an active and influential Republican, and has ever manifested a lively interest in municipal affairs. In 1899 he was chosen Alderman from The Third Ward of Jacksonville, and in 1901 was elected City Treasurer. He was also elected Alderman in 1903 and 1905; was a delegate to the "deadlock" Gubernatorial Convention at Springfield, Ill., in 1904, and a member of the first Board of Commissioners of the Jacksonville Cemetery. At the time of the great railroad strike at St. Louis, he was connected with the old Jacksonville Light Guards, which served in that disturbance.
Religiously, Mr. Cobb was identified with the established Church of England, but during the period of his residence in Jacksonville attended the Christian Church with his family, who are all members of that denomination.
Fraternally, Mr. Cobb is a member of Harmony Lodge, No. 3, A.F. & A.M.; of Illini Lodge, No. 4, I.O.O.F.; Rebekah Lodge, No. 13; Rena Tent, No. 12, K.O.T.M., and Jacksonville Lodge, No. 682, B.P.O. Elks.