CAPT. W. A. HIGHT, merchant, etc., Wetaug. When we study the history of self-made men, persevering industry and energetic effort seem to be the great secret of their success. What is usually termed genius has little to do in the success of men in general. It is rather a matter of experience, sound judgment and a determined power of will. Such, in a measure, were the characteristics of the man whose name stands at the head of this sketch, and whose portrait appears elsewhere in this volume. He came of an old Virginia family, and possesses in an eminent degree that courtesy and genuine hospitality for which the true gentlemen of the Old Dominion are everywhere noted. He was born in Richmond, Va., January 27, 1820. His parents were Robert and Mary (Davis) Hight, the former a farmer who took a leading part in the affairs of his community. During his long and active life, he was identified with many movements calculated to promote the prosperity and welfare of the people and the neighborhood in which he lived. He served in the war of 1812, and was a great admirer of Gen. Jackson, and accepted him as his particular political patron saint. He died in May, 1871, at the age of about seventy-nine years. His wife survived him but one year, and died at the age of seventy-four years. They were the parents of eight children, of whom but four are now living — William (our subject), Emeline, Parlee and Robert M. The early education of our subject was attained in the old-time subscription schools near Nashville, Tenn., whence his parents removed when he was quite small. He afterward accompanied an uncle to Missouri, and while there attended the St. Mary's school some two years. He then rejoined his parents, who had, in the meantime, removed to Union County, Ill. Here he attended school for about three years, completing his education. At an early age, he launched out into the world, with a brave heart and a strong arm, and firm in the determination to carve out his own way to fortune. His grand aim was to become a warehouse boy, and to gratify this laudable ambition he engaged to cut cord-wood, as the first step toward the realization of his dreams, and when, some time afterward, he went to Grand Tower, Ill., where he received the position of clerk in a store, the full fruition of his hopes was attained. He remained in Grand Tower for five years, and then went to Jonesboro, where he opened a store on his own account, which he operated for some two years, and then took in a partner. For about a year the firm was Hodges & Hight. In 1844, he, in company with Daniel Hileman, removed to Pulaski County, and located on the Jonesboro & Caledonia road, about twelve miles south of Jonesboro. Here they carried on a general store until 1861, at which time Mr. Hight purchased the interest of his partner, and has since continued the same business. In 1859, before the retirement of Mr. Hileman, they removed to a point convenient to the railroad, which had been built since the commencement of their business intercourse, and which is still Mr. Hight's location. In 1876, Mr. Henry Mowery was taken in as a partner, and the present firm is Hight & Mowery. During his business life, Mr. Hight has been engaged in various enterprises, in all of which his keen sagacity and sound judgment have carried through successfully. He owns near four thousand acres of land, over two thousand acres of which lie in Pulaski County, and the remainder in Johnson County. He made a donation recently of about six hundred acres to the Catholic order of Benedictine. In 1877, he completed a fine flouring mill, known as the Wetaug Mills. They contain four run of buhrs, and do a large and profitable business. He also has the management of the Wetaug saw mills, and is interested in a number of other business enterprises in different parts of the country. He is at present one of the County Commissioners of Pulaski County, and is a Republican in politics. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, and belongs to Caledonia Lodge, No. 47. Mr. Hight has five children living — Alexander, Arnette, Alice, Adelia and Josephine. As a business man, Mr. Hight ranks among the first in the county. He is decided, yet kind; firm and resolute, yet indulgent, and an open-hearted, generous and true friend to all who win his trust and confidence.
Extracted 02 Nov 2014 by Norma Hass from 1883 History of Alexander, Union and Pulaski Counties, Illinois, Part V - Biographical Sketches, pages 320-321.