The coal fields of Southern Illinois have added greatly to the prosperity of this section, and in their operation large companies have been formed employing a vast army of people. In this connection it is not inappropriate to speak of the Carterville Big Muddy Coal Company, and of Grant Cruse, connected with the offices of the plant at Cambria. Mr. Cruse comes of an old family of Williamson county. He was born January 2, 1879, on the farm on which the company employing him is now operating, and which his father settled and developed into a productive homestead from the virgin timber. His father was John M. Cruse, who migrated to this state from Christian county, Kentucky, in 1868, marrying and following the vocation of his father, the farm. His father, a native of Virginia, moved first to Tennessee, settling in Ray county, where he died during the childhood of his son, leaving a wife and the following children: Martha, Delilah, Nancy, Amanda, and John M., father of Grant Cruse.
John M. Cruse failed to have the advantages of the ordinary schools of his day and did not learn to read or write until after his marriage. He enlisted in the Union army when the Civil war came on and was a member of the Seventeenth Kentucky Infantry, raised about Hopkinsville. His regiment formed a part of the Army of the Cumberland, and was in the engagement at Shiloh, the campaign against Vickshurg, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, participated in the Atlanta campaign and after the capture of the city returned north with the army, following the Confederate General Hood, and fighting him at Franklin, his army being annihilated at Nashville. In all of these engagements and more Mr. Cruse took a very active part, serving three years and eight months, but receiving neither scratch or blemish. As a citizen he was noted for his industry and his sympathy with progress and for his loyalty and local activity in Republican politics. His lack of education hampered him no little, but he made the most of what he had and was ever regarded as a valuable citizen. He married Rebecca Sizemore. She died in 1879, leaving children as follows: Anna, who married W. Albert Perrine, of Herrin, Illinois; Martha; Manthus, the wife of J. B. Crowell, V. S., of Marion; James B., living in Salina, Kansas; Alice, who died as the wife of S. A. Crowell; Jennie, the wife of L. B. Sizemore, of St. Louis; Oscar, on a farm near Carterville, Illinois; Grant; Robert R., mine manager of Cambria; Ethel, the wife of S. L. Brainerd, of Fordville, Illinois; and Mrs. Emma Schuttee, of Champaign. Mr. Cruse was an active Free Will Baptist church worker from early manhood.
Grant Cruse acquired a liberal education. He attended the Illinois State Normal School for two years, and was then a teacher in the public schools for two years, then returning to the old farm, on which he has since resided. He owns the old home, having bought it after his father's death, in 1908. In 1903 the coal was leased to the Carterville Big Muddy Coal Company, and at the same time Grant entered their office as clerk, in which capacity he still continues. Like his father, Mr. Cruse is an adherent of Republican principles, but, while he is just as earnest, he has not been as active as was his father. His religious belief is that of the Free Will Baptist church.
Grant Cruse was married April 13, 1902, to Miss Florence E. Williams, a daughter of Walker Williams, who brought his family to the United States from Oxfordshire, England, in 1866, and is now a retired mine manager. Mrs. Cruse is one of seven children and was born in
Perry county, educated in DuQuoin and Carbondale, and taught in the public schools for seven years. She and Mr. Cruse have three children: Rebecca, Harold and Dean.