MASTERS, SQUIRE DAVIS, (deceased), agriculturist and stock-raiser, Jacksonville, Ill., was born on his father's farm near Murrayville, Morgan County, Ill., August 8, 1848, and died at Citronelle, Ala., in the year 1904. He was a son of James Madison and Ann Rebecca (Dinwiddie) Masters, and a member of one of the oldest and most honored pioneer families of Morgan County. (See sketch of his father elsewhere in this volume). Mr. Masters received his education in the common schools and at Illinois College, which he left in his sophomore year to engage in business with his father. During the active years of his father's life, after S. D. Masters began his farming and stock operations until the retirement of the former, the two were closely and very successfully associated in business.
Securing from his father a tract of land, Mr. Masters at once began the raising of stock, in addition to general farming. But it was as a stockman that he became best known. The operations of both father and son became very extensive. Early in life S. D. Masters began the shipment of hogs and cattle to the markets. Demanding high prices from the outset of his career. Inasmuch as it became evident that the stock he handled was invariably of a superior quality, he received the highest prices quoted in the market. For five years he bought cattle in Texas, drove them to Morgan County himself, here fattened them for the market, and sold them at a high figure. He also dealt extensively in hogs. It is worthy of note that Mr. Masters at one time, during the later years of his life, reared a herd of 165 cattle whose average weight was 1,843 pounds - the highest average weight, considering the number, of any stock ever shipped from Morgan County.
In addition to the splendid business tact which guided him in all his operations, he applied strict scientific principles to his agricultural and stock-raising operations. There was little of the element of luck in his transactions. He was not only an expert judge of land values, which enabled him to accumulate land of the most productive quality, but he was one of the best judges of live-stock in the Middle West. He would never send a single head of stock to the market when it was in a condition which others would describe as "good enough"; he demanded that its condition should be as nearly perfect as the best of care and attention could render it. He was constantly on the lookout for methods of improving his land and the condition of his stock, and scarcely a day passed but that he visited some portion of his property. He accumulated an estate which includes over 3,200 acres of fine farming land, lying mostly in Morgan, but partly in Greene County, and much of this is said to be the equal of the finest land in Illinois for agricultural purposes. While a large portion of his estate was inherited from his father, Mr. Masters managed the property with far better judgment than most other men who commence life with paternal aid of this character; and it was solely due to his business ability that the property increased to the extent noted.
During all his mature life Mr. Masters was an active member of the Presbyterian Church. In young manhood he became a communicant in the Presbyterian Church at Murrayville, and upon removing to Jacksonville, in 1881, united with the State Street Church, in which he served for several years as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. He was intensely interested in the work of the Sunday School and the Young Men's Christian Association, and devoted much time to the former work outside of Jacksonville. Largely through his instrumentality, eighty new Sunday-schools in Illinois were organized; and the aid that he rendered in this direction cannot be overestimated. For several years he was President of the Morgan County Sunday School Association, and for about twelve years was a director in the Jacksonville Young Men's Christian Association, whose work he promoted in every way possible. Like his father he was a radical Republican in his political views, but he neither sought nor consented to occupy public office.
Mr. Masters was untied in marriage December 30, 1874, with Ella A. Lightfoot, daughter of Dr. P. F. and Sarah (Edwards) Lightfoot, of Murrayville. Dr. Lightfoot is now living there in retirement, after a long and useful career in medicine and surgery, being one of the oldest and most highly esteemed citizens and practitioners in that section of the State. (A more detailed record of his life will be found on other pages of this work.) To Mr. and Mrs. Masters the following named children were born: Leonard L., born December 8, 1875, graduated from Illinois College in the class of 1897, entered the law department of the University of Michigan (where he spent one year), and died suddenly of pneumonia May 5, 1900, at the age of twenty-five years, having married Rena French, daughter of Charles S. French, of Chapin, Ill.; Mary L., born November 6, 1887; Arthur Madison, born in Murrayville, July 31, 1878, graduated from Whipple Academy and Jacksonville Business College, and on September 1, 1898, married Lulu Gertrude, daughter of Carey Francis and Margaret Jane (Grimes) Strang, of Murrayville, and became the father of two children - Eleanor Strang and Florynce L.
The remarkable success which attended the operations of S. D. Masters undoubtedly was due more to his peculiar genius in estimating land and stock values than to any other individual agency. Inheriting from his father a keen business instinct, his foresight and sagacity developed rapidly as he began his independent operations. Though his transactions were frequently very large and important, he had the faculty of carrying on business so quietly that few persons knew the extent of his dealings. He was invariably prompt and reliable in business matters, discharging all obligations with scrupulous exactness. While very devoted to his family and always ready and anxious to do everything possible for their comfort and pleasure, he also assisted others when he was convinced that their cause was worthy. He never paraded his generosity, but all his benefactions were bestowed unostentatiously. He admired honesty, ability, and persistent effort in the right direction quite as much as he admired success. In all his dealings with his fellow men he was eminently fair and impartial, and his integrity both in business and in social life was never questioned. Such a record as this should prove not only a source of inspiration to the present generation, but of pride and gratification to his descendants.