A typical American citizen who has made the most of his opportunities is Walter Colyer, of Albion, secretary of that large and important industrial concern, the Albion Shale Brick company, as well as a former journalist and a man of influence. In addition to his other distinctions he· comes of pioneer stock in Southern Illinois, and is one of Edwards county 's leading Republicans. 1587
Mr. Colyer is a native son of this county, his eyes having first opened to the light of day on July 19, 1856, four and a half miles north of Albion on the farm of his father, William Colyer. The father was born in 1822 and his elder sister, Eliza, wife of George Bunting, was the second white child and the first girl born in the Edwards county settlement. William Colyer was the son of Edward Colyer, a native of County Surrey, England, and he was one of the original settlers of this section, being a member of the British colony headed by Flower and Birkbeck, who located on English Prairie in the year 1817, founding Albion the following year. This stanch pioneer was a farmer by occupation and his brother, John, built the first brick house in New Albany, Indiana. There were a number of brothers and sisters,—one, William, going south and taking up his residence in Indiana. Edward's sister, Sarah Colyer, became the mother of F. W. Farrar, the famous English author and clergyman.
William Colyer married Sarah Hardy, the daughter of Jonas Hardy of English birth, who came from Leeds, England, and on arriving in this country, located first in Pennsylvania and came to Albion in 1836. William reared two children, Morris and Walter of this review. William journeyed to the Undiscovered Country on February 16, 1909, and his good wife preceded him on October 31, 1907, her years exceeding the psalmist's alotment by eleven years and five months. The Colyers have ever been known for a high type of citizenship and it was such as they who laid the paths straight and clean for the progress of civilization in Edwards county.
Walter Colyer received the education provided by the public schools. At an early period in his youth he exhibited an aptitude as a writer, and in 1880, in association with Fred Applegath, he purchased the American Sentinel, this being his first adventure in the realm of the Fourth Estate with which he was to be identified for some quarter century. Other papers with which he was identified were the Albion News, the Edwards County News and the Albiom Journal with which he retired from the field. The last named he first published in association with M. B. Harris, beginning March 14, 1884, two years later buying out Mr. Harris and for sixteen years publishing the paper himself. In 1900 he sold the paper to A. H. Bowman and on February 25, 1903, he organized and became president of the Albion Journal Company and continued in such capacity for several years. He exerted a very definite influence in this important field of newspaper work and through his ably conducted columns assisted in bringing about much of benefit to the community. Mr. Colyer has ever been a stanch adherent of the men and measures of the Grand Old Party and has a record behind him of fourteen years as postmaster, under the administration of Harrison, Cleveland, McKinley and Roosevelt, these terms, however, not being continuous, and five and one-half months being under President Cleveland. During his editorial career he was a member of the Republican Editorial Association and he served as a delegate to the convention in 1896 which nominated President McKinley. He has at times been identified with agriculture and for several years was engaged in fruit-growing. He is a man of versatility and success has usually crowned any undertaking in which he has been a leader.
In 1902, Mr. Colyer assisted in organizing the Albion Brick Company and for five years served as secretary and salesman of this thriving concern. He has also been engaged in the land business in Mexico and has ten times toured Mexico and in that interesting country sold over five thousand acres of land and at present is interested in large holdings there. He is president of the Tamesi Plantation Company. However, one of his leading interests is a local one, namely: the Shale Brick
Company, which was organized February 21, 1910, with a capital of two hundred thousand dollars, and a capacity of one hundred thousand ten pound blocks per each ten hour day. This bids fair to become the most complete and modern brick plant in the United States and well known capitalists from several states are interested financially in its fortunes. L. L. Emerson, of Mt. Vernon, is president of the company.
Mr. Colyer holds membership in the Knights of Pythias, of Albion, and the B. P. 0. E. of Mt. Camel. He is director of the State Historical Society and for several years has been a member of the publication committee of the same. He has contributed historical articles of great value to various magazines and to the state publications. He has, in fact, a reputation as an author and historian and he is well-informed as to archeological research in Mexico and has written on that subject with authority. He is a man of financial standing and one of Albion's most representative and influential citizens.