MARCUS N. MCCARTNEY. Vast as is the field of educational uplift and achievement, its discussion as pertains to Southern Illinois rarely fails to call to mind among the well-informed the name of McCartney. For years it has been a synonym for earnest effort and noteworthy achievement in this greatest of American institutions. For not alone has one individual achieved distinction in this respect, but son has followed father in perpetuating the distinctive honor that attaches to the name.
Marcus N. McCartney, who is superintendent of the city schools of Metropolis, comes from one of the illustrious families of Massac county, his distinguished father being one of the pioneer settlers of Southern Illinois. Born in Metropolis, December 2, 1863, Professor McCartney is a son of the late Captain John F. McCartney, who won prominence as an early educator, as a lawyer, in business, in politics and by the sterling worth of his individuality.
Captain McCartney was of sturdy Scotch descent, born in Scotland in 1834. He died in Hot Springs, Arkansas, on November 12, 1908. He was brought to America in 1836, and grew to manhood in the Western Reserve of Ohio. Graduating from the Kingsville Academy where he was offered the chair of mathematics, and later he was also tendered the chair of mathematics in Vermilion College, Ohio.
The newer country called to him in 1856, shortly after attaining his majority, he and a schoolmate named Morford fared forth to seek their fortunes. They descended the river to Caledonia, a community in Pulaski county, Illinois, where they were forced to stop and replenish their finances, as Mr. McCartney had but thirty-two cents remaining when they reached that point. They went to work in a sawmill, but the residents soon discerned that they were men of refinement and education, and a man named Bell induced them to become permanent residents of the locality, secure license and take up teaching. They did so and Mr. McCartney for two years taught the Grand Chain school, the place at that time being known as’’ The Nation,’’ from the presence and influence of the Indians about there.
After he had been settled for several months in the school work at Grand Chain Mr. McCartney returned to Ohio, completed his college course, and then returned to his new home, married and resumed his school work. He went to Metropolis in 1860, his friend Morford having preceded him and taken a school, being its first principal. The school was in a two-story house occupying the corner of the lot upon which the Central School now stands.
Mr. McCartney had been occupying his spare time in the study of law under the direction of Judge H. M. Smith, of Caledonia, then the county seat of Pulaski county, and had been admitted to the bar and engaged in practice for several months when Judge Green, of Metropolis, induced him to locate there and take charge of the schools, which he did, as the successor of his friend Morford. During the second session the war spirit became so intense that it was useless to continue the school. It was accordingly dismissed and Captain McCartney raised a company early in 1862 for service in the Union army. As recruiting officer he raised Company D of the Fifty-sixth Regiment, Illinois Volunteers, and was commissioned its captain.
The regiment saw service with both Grant and Sherman. First attached to Grant's forces, it took part in the capture of Fts. Henry and Donelson, was in the siege and capture of Vicksburg, and then marched across and united with the troops operating against the Confederates in Tennessee. They formed a part of General Sherman's army for the Atlanta campaign, where a battle was fought every day during the one hundred days that were required to reach and take Atlanta. Captain McCartney continued with the victorious army on its famous march to the sea, and then when by the countermarch through the Carolinas the Southern forces were cut in twain. At Goldsboro, North Carolina, the victors received the surrender of General Johnston's army and continued to Washington, where they participated in the Grand Review at the close of the war.
When he doffed his shoulderstraps for the habiliments of the private citizen Captain McCartney decided to resume his law work. He took up the practice of this profession at his old home in Southern Illinois and speedily won a place of prominence. Soon he was elected state's attorney of the southern circuit, and for many years was looked upon as a leader in Republican politics. The breadth of his capacity and his extensive enterprises aside from his law practice would have taxed the energies of most men, but Captain McCartney is remembered as having made his mark in a number of varied lines. His business acumen, as evidenced by his investments, showed that he could have been a leader in any line. He bought heavily of city property, and improved it with some of the best business houses of the city. Among these instances are the State Hotel block, the Herald building, the National State Bank building and the Opera House building, in which is located the library, and which property he left by testament to the Christian church, that they might use it as the nucleus for the erection of a permanent home.
Captain McCartney was a firm believer in ground as an investment, and his operations were not confined to city property. Farming land was equally attractive to him. He believed that all wealth originated from the soil, and that it was the firmest foundation of a fortune as well as the most constant and assured contributor to man’s efforts. This belief he showed by acquiring a large amount of land in Massac county. His country home was known as one of the beautiful and perfectly appointed residences of the region. It was located on a tract of several hundred acres,- and was built to his idea, possessed of all the necessaries and conveniences to make the estate ideal for the last years of a strenuous life. Here his widow and daughter, Miss Hope McCartney, reside at the present time. The Captain was as thoroughly interested in the welfare of the dweller in the country as he was in the prosperity of the city man, and his contributions for the improvement of the public highways were frequent and generous.
The field of journalism attracted him, and soon after leaving the army and returning to Metropolis he founded the Promulgator, a Republican weekly which was eventually absorbed by the Journal-Republican. Some years later the Captain's political sentiment changed, he revised his views and founded The Metropolis Times, through the columns of which he strongly advocated the principles of prohibition. So interested did he become in the question that he was urged with unanimity to take the nomination of the Prohibition party for Congress, and polled the largest vote accorded to any Prohibition candidate before or since that time.
It was natural that one with such extensive property interests should be a close observer and active participant in financial matters. Captain McCartney was one of the prime movers in the organization of the First National Bank of Metropolis, and became its president. Later he assisted in directing the organization of the National State Bank, and was its president when he died. He was an organizer and became a director of the National Bank of Golconda, and was at the time of his death the president of the National Bank of Brookport. These were not honorary capacities by any means, but the Captain gave to the direction of the affairs of these flourishing institutions the benefit of his skilled mind and vast experience. His knowledge of all kinds of investments was unequaled, and he knew the rating of those with whom he had business dealings far more intimately than any information that could be furnished by the cold figures of a financial agency.
His splendid mind and tireless energy sought varied avenues of employment. He became a state director for the Farmers' Institute, representing his district as such at the time of his death. He spent years in lecturing on agricultural subjects and visited European countries for the purpose of acquiring at first hand knowledge that would be useful to his farmer-friends in his commonwealth of the New World. In the preliminaries which resulted later in the locating of the C., B. & Q. Railway bridge and incline at Metropolis, he was one of the first consulted and it was through his grasp of the possibilities and presentment of the situation very largely that the negotiations with the company were successfully terminated. He was president of the Metropolis Commercial Club when he passed away, and the widespread enterprises with which he had been associated mourned the loss of a real chief and paid proper tribute to his memory when he was laid away. He was an active man in the Christian church and kept its material welfare constantly before him. When General Logan and other national leaders organized the Grand Army of the Republic, Captain McCartney, himself the veteran of more than a hundred engagements, applauded the idea and gave it his earnest co-operation. He was identified with the Masonic and Odd Fellows fraternities in an active way until increasing business cares curtailed these social connections to some extent.
While located at Caledonia Captain McCartney married Elizabeth McKee, a sister of Judge Hugh McKee and of F. M. McKee, two men of prominence in Pulaski county. She died in Grand Chain during the latter part of the war, while he was away in the army, and is buried in the little cemetery at that place. There were two children by this marriage. A daughter, Lizzie, married Frank Stroud, and is a resident of Seattle, Washington. Marcus N. McCartney is the other child. Captain McCartney’s second wife, who survives him and resides at the old home place in Metropolis, is a native of Hanover, Germany, her maiden name being Minnie Luekens. Her family has one of the best known relationships of Massac county, her father, William Luekens, did not migrate from his native land, but his family came to the United States when Mrs. McCartney was a young girl. The children of this union are: Grace, wife of F. A. Trousdale, one of the prominent citizens of Metropolis, and who was formerly a member of the Illinois General Assembly; Mrs. Anna Slimpert, of Metropolis; Mrs. Hattie Fouts, of Seattle, Washington; Carrie, wife of John Weaver, an educator of Metropolis; Mrs. Kate Holifield, cashier of the National Bank, of Brockport, Illinois; Thomas Franklin, cashier of the National State Bank of Metropolis and an ex-superintendent of the city schools; and Miss Hope McCartney, who is assistant cashier of the same bank.
Marcus N. McCartney, the senior son, was educated in the public schools of his home city and later in the old Metropolis Seminary, from which he graduated. While completing his education he took up teaching in the country schools, and attended the Normal School at Normal, Illinois, and the Holbrook Normal University at Lebanon, Ohio, where he received the degree of B. S. in 1885. Six years later the University conferred upon him the degree of A. B. He has been carrying on the work for his Master's degree in Columbia University while doing the work incumbent upon him as superintendent of schools.
The history of Professor McCartney's progress in his chosen vocation is one of steady advancement. In the beginning he taught two years in the district schools of Massac county. His first directive capacity was as principal of the schools at Grand Chain, where his father had first taught, years before. Then he was superintendent for six years at Mound City, and successively superintendent at Vienna, Illinois, for ten years, acting superintendent at Carmi, Illinois, for part of a session, city superintendent of schools for Bloomfield, Missouri, for four years, and then city superintendent for two years in Metropolis, where, like in Grand Chain, he followed in the footsteps of his honored father, just fifty years intervening between their work in that capacity in Metropolis.
The measure of years, however, does not express the fullness of Professor McCartney's work in so telling a fashion as the concrete expressions of accomplishment. He instituted the high-school in Mound City and graded the schools there. He performed a similar service for Vienna, creating the high school course; reconstructed the high school at Bloomfield, Missouri, and put both Vienna and Bloomfield schools on the accredited lists of their State Universities. In Metropolis he raised the credits of the high school from fifteen to seventeen, and saw it attain to the high water mark of an enrollment of twelve hundred, a teaching force of twenty-four and the accumulation of sixty thousand dollars worth of school property. For twenty-two years Professor McCartney has been engaged in county institute work through Missouri and Illinois. He was president of the Southern Illinois Teachers' Association in 1892 at East St. Louis, and is financial secretary of the Association at the present time. In addition he holds membership in the Illinois State Association, and has served most acceptably on the High School Course of Study Committee of the state organization. He is a member of the National Educational Association and attends its annual sessions. In company with his family he has traveled extensively through the United States, north, east, south and west, and keeps in close touch with all the approved movements that aid in the education of the young. He is a close observer, a deep student, and a logical thinker. Ready of speech he makes a forceful, interesting talk, brimful of ideas and valuable theories.
Professor McCartney was married to Miss Ida Huckelberry at Mound City, Illinois, on August 29, 1895. His wife graduated from Holbrook Normal University with the degree of B. S. in 1891, and follows teaching, being one of the representative educators and woman's club devotees of Southern Illinois. She was born in Metropolis, a daughter of David B. and Mary Herrington Huckelberry. Her father was a soldier in the Carmichael Cavalry from Illinois during the Civil war, dying soon after the close of hostilities from the effects of the arduous campaign. His widow married Captain Romeo Friganza, well known as superintendent of the navy yard at Mound City during the Civil war. Professor and Mrs. McCartney have had three children in their family, Mary Neele, who died in infancy, Marcie May and Alice Elizabeth. In his religious sentiments Professor McCartney is a member of the Christian denomination. Socially he fraternizes with the Masonic order, having membership in the Blue Lodge and Chapter. His public and private life, his personality and his attainments have stamped him as a man among men, a shining monument of latter day nobility.
Extracted from A History of Southern Illinois, 1912, Volume 3, pages 1566-1569