Pulaski County

Biography - James Weaver

JAMES R. WEAVER. Conspicuously identified with Mounds for upwards of five years as a coal and ice dealer and as a member of the livery and trading firm of Scruggs & Weaver, James R. Weaver is one of the best known and most prominent men in Pulaski county. He was born at Wathena, Kansas, November 29, 1862. His mother died at his birth, and his father, Barnett Weaver, brought his two children back to their old home at Grand Chain, Illinois, around which point the son, James R. Weaver, remained until his removal to the county seat to assume the duties of the office of sheriff of the county, in 1902.

Barnett Weaver, the father of James R. Weaver, was born in Union county, Illinois, in 1832, and he passed his youth near Mount Pleasant, where his father, Barnett Weaver, Sr., had settled as a pioneer in early days, and where he passed away after rearing a family of six children. Barnett Weaver, Jr., was an average citizen of his community from the standpoint of education, and came from a home where patriotic sentiments flourished. He with his two brothers, Jasper and John, were volunteer soldiers and are Civil war veterans. At the cessation of hostilities Barnett Weaver removed to Indian Territory and was a resident there when he died, in 1908. He is buried at Sapulpa, Oklahoma, where his family by his second marriage still lives. His first wife was Susan White, and besides James R., she left a daughter, Florence, now Mrs. Abe Mobley, of Seattle, Washington.

The childhood of James R. Weaver was passed under the guardianship of one of the eccentric characters of Pulaski county, Dr. James B. Ray. The Doctor practiced medicine at Grand Chain for a number of years, coming to Southern Illinois before the war. He was a native of Kentucky and was reared in a household which took up arms against the Union. He became a most rabid, uncompromising and partisan Republican, and this, with other peculiarities, marked him conspicuously among his fellows. His ward, young "Jim" Ray, as he was called, imbibed many of the traits of the singular old Doctor. As a school boy, Jim cared little or nothing for books. He abused his privileges in school by inventing schemes to evade his responsibilities as a student, and his school days were a continuous round of frivolities, rather than the serious preparation which the average youth finds necessary. He was later sent to Ewing College, where he might have taken a degree, but for the old failing which clung to him with the passing years. When he left school he was as little inclined for serious work as he had been in his school days, and for several years he roved about through the west, securing occasional employment when necessary, but for the most part getting money from home for his needs. As he neared the close of the third decade of life he began to show a disposition to fasten to something serious and make a name for himself, and he was encouraged in his new motives by being chosen as constable of his township; he was shortly thereafter elected justice of the peace, and while the encumbent of that office acquired a solid footing with the politicians and voters of his county, which eventually resulted in his being chosen to the office of county assessor and treasurer. In his political opinions Mr. Weaver is a Republican and believes that all good and true policies of a political nature emanate from the Republican party. In 1898 he was chosen assessor and treasurer of Pulaski county, as mentioned previously, and after serving four years in that capacity he was elected to the office of sheriff and collector, and when his term in that capacity expired he was returned to the office of assessor and treasurer, in all passing twelve years in the courthouse in the service of Pulaski county. Save for the execution of Eli Bugg for conspiring to murder Chris Mathis, Mr. Weaver's regime as sheriff was void of incident beyond the regular routine of duty.

On January 6, 1890, Mr. Weaver married at Olmstead, Illinois, Miss Myra Smith, a daughter of Judge H. M. Smith. Mr. and Mrs. Weaver became the parents of three children: Susie, born November 4, 1890; Mid, born January 22, 1894, died January 1, 1896; Maurice, born March 14, 1896, died October 30, 1901. Susie attended the public schools of Mound City, following which she became a student in the M. C. F. I. at Jackson, Tennessee, and was duly graduated from that institution in 1907. She married on April 27, 1909, to Fred S. Keiser, of Union City, Tennessee. Mr. Keiser is a graduate of Vanderbilt University. At the time of their marriage he was in the employ of the Illinois Central Railroad Company at Mounds. They now reside in Chicago, where Mr. Keiser is in the employ of the same company in their general offices.

Following the years of his public service as an official of Pulaski county, Mr. Weaver moved to Mounds and engaged in the livery, ice and coal business with George M. Scruggs, which firm deals actively as traders in horses and mules for the home markets. The firm has contributed to the improvement of Mounds in the erection of a concrete barn and in building a number of cottages to rent. Mr. Weaver has other permanent interests in the county, and leads rather a busy life, but he always has plenty of time for his friends and is always glad to meet them.

Extracted from A History of Southern Illinois, 1912, Volume 3, pages 1461-1463

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