JAMES M. BURKHART.
For many years James M. Burkhart has been connected with the upbuilding of Marion, Illinois, where he is most successfully engaged in the general merchandise business, and he has just reason to be proud of the fact that to his efforts can be traced many a substantial enterprise or advancement contributing greatly to the growth and prosperity of this section of the state. In every sense of the word he is a representative citizen and a business man of marked capacity. It is to the inherent force of character and commendable ambition and the unremitting diligence of Mr. Burkhart himself that he has steadily advanced in the business world until he now occupies a leading place among the active and representative men of Marion.
James M. Burkhart was born in the vicinity of Knoxville, in Knox county, Tennessee, the date of his nativity being the 8th of June, 1841. His father, Peter Burkhart, was born at Hagerstown, Maryland, in 1785, and he removed from his native place to Abingdon, Virginia, in 1800, at which time he was a lad of fifteen years of age. He grew to maturity at Abington, where he was educated in the subscription schools and where his father, George Burkhart, was a tavern keeper. George Burkhart was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States. The children of George Burkhart were: George, who died near Bristol, Tennessee, John W., who removed to Oregon about 1847, there entering large tracts of land and rearing his family; and Peter, who was father of the subject of this review. Peter Burkhart served in Jackson's army in the Creek war, in Colonel Williams' regiment, the latter having been the hero of King's Mountain in the War of the Revolution. Peter Burkhart participated in the famous battle of Horseshoe Bend. He settled in Knox county, Tennessee, and in addition to farming operations he was also an expert carpenter. In spite of his southern birth he became a strong Union man and a Republican at the time of the war between the states. He was a man of strong character and broad human sympathy and he never failed to lend a helping hand to those less fortunately situated in the way of worldly goods than himself. His religious faith was in harmony with the teachings of the German Lutheran church, in the various
departments of whose work he was a most zealous factor. His death occurred in Tennessee, in 1868, at a patriarchal age. He was twice married, his first wife having been Rachel Owens. The following children were born to this union: Margaret, who became the wife of James Zachary, is deceased; Eli died in the state of Tennessee, at the age of eighty years; Caroline died in Georgia, the wife of Richard Kelley, and left a family at the time of her death; Elizabeth wedded George Falkner and she died in Grayson county, Texas; George P. died in Tennessee at an advanced age; Priscilla married Frank Brown and died in Bond county, Illinois; John W., died in his native state of Tennessee; Evaline married T. W. Swan and died in Williamson county, Illinois; and Morgan T. passed his life in Tennessee; he was a major in Governor Bronlow's cavalry during the Civil war and died in Tennessee. For his sec? md wife Peter Burkhart married Anna Gilliam, an orphan girl who was reared in the home of her uncle, Thomas Frazier, of a prominent Tennessee family. She was summoned to the life eternal in 1890, at the age of eighty-nine years. Her children were: Thomas J., who passed his life in Tennessee, was born a cripple and left a family at death; James M., is the immediate subject of this sketch; and Martha married A. J. Lawson and passed her life in Tennessee.
James M. Burkhart, of this notice, was reared to the rugged discipline of farm life and he acquired his early educational training in the subscription schools of the locality and period. Upon reaching his majority he came to Illinois, settling in Williamson county, where he taught school for a time. When he gave up teaching he turned his attention to carpenter work, following that line of enterprise in Marion and the surrounding country for a period of ten years, at the expiration of which he entered a branch of commerce as a clerk for Messrs. Goodall & Campbell, tobacco merchants at Marion. Subsequently he was in the employ of the firm of Goodall & Campbell in the capacity of salesman, doing business upon the corner where his own store is now located. Eventually becoming interested in the general merchandise business on his own account, he formed a partnership with Hardin Goodall. This mutually agreeable alliance lasted for eleven years, at the end of which time Mr. Burkhart became sole proprietor of the business by purchase. Later he admitted A. J. Binkley to partnership and the firm of Burkhart & Binkley did business for a number of years. Mr. Binkley retired, and the firm of J. M. Burkhart & Sons was added to the list of Marion merchants for the second and last time. Associated with him in his mercantile enterprise at the present time, in 1911, is his son Jean.
In 1891 Mr. Burkhart joined some of his friends in Marion in a banking enterprise, the same resulting in the organization of the First National Bank, of which Mr. Burkhart was cashier for a time. When the Marion State & Savings Bank was incorporated he was one of its stockholders and was chosen as vice-president of that now flourishing institution. He was also one of the organizers of the Marion Electric Light & Power Company.
On the 5th of May, 1872, Mr. Burkhart married Ellen Spiller, a daughter of the pioneer Elijah Spiller, of a numerous family of Williamson county. Mrs. Burkhart was born in this county in 1850, and she is the mother of the following children: Annie and Lena died in childhood; Carl was graduated in the Southern Illinois Normal University in 1897 and is now cashier of the Benton, Illinois, State Bank; William S. was educated in the Marion high school and is assistant cashier of the First National Bank of Marion; Jean is associated with his father in the general merchandise business; Miss Kate remains at home; Ethel is Mrs. Len Colp, of Marion; Ralph is a student in the Northwestern University,
at Evanston, Illinois; and Miss Ruby was graduated in the Marion high school as a member of the class of 1911.
In politics Mr. Burkhart is a stanch Republican. He voted for Lincoln in 1864 and has cast his ballot for every Republican nominee for president since that time. For a number of years he served on the Marion board of education and he has also been one of the trustees of the Southern Illinois Normal University, holding that position for a period of five years. He has been a valued and appreciative member of the time-honored Masonic order since 1865. He is several times a past master, for seven years served as district deputy grand master and is high priest of the chapter of Marion. He is very philanthropical minded and has done a great deal to advance the welfare of Marion and of the state at large. He is everywhere honored and esteemed for his fine moral worth and sterling integrity of character and he is deeply beloved by all with whom he has had dealings.