JOHN FORESTER, president of the Forester Coal and Coke Company of DuQuoin, is a prominent figure in the industrial life of that city. Since the organization of that company in 1903 Mr. Forester has been up and doing in the industry represented by this rapidly growing firm, and much of its development is due to his energy and ability as promoter and manager of the company of which he is the head.
Born in Northumberland, England, August 7, 1852, he came to the United States with his father, John Forester Sr. who in 1856 settled in DuQuoin and here lived until his death, in 1874. The mother, Elizabeth (Thompson) Forester, survived him until 1903, when she passed away at Hallidayboro, on December 13. The children of the family were: Robert, a resident of Murphysboro; John, of DuQuoin; Joseph, who died at the age of forty, at Murphysboro, Illinois; Elizabeth, who died at DuQuoin; William, a resident of Galatia; and James, of Hallidayboro, all in Illinois.
John Forester was reared in a humble home, but what it lacked in elegance was made up in thrift, industry and other equally valuable traits, which were all important factors in the careful rearing of the family of children. He was given such educational advantages as the grades of the public school offered, and as a boy was variously employed about the mines in minor capacities. At the age of twenty-one, in 1873, he began the serious work of his life as a clerk in the store of W. P. Halliday at St. John, where he remained for a number of years. He worked diligently and he was rewarded by frequent promotions, passing rapidly through the various departments of subordinate work until he was made assistant superintendent and then superintendent of the company. While employed by Mr. Halliday he erected the Halliday Coal and Coke Company's plant at Hallidayboro, placed it in operation, and then returned to St. John, where he erected the Halliday Salt Works in 1899, and, assuming management of the plant on its completion, remained in that position until it was abandoned years later. He yet has charge of the Halliday Estate interests in this vicinity, being continuously in the employ of W. P. Halliday and his estate for thirty-nine years. It was in 1903 that he organized the Forester Coal and Coke Company, erecting its plant at DuQuoin, and as president of the company has conducted its operation since organization. The company has a capitalization of one hundred thousand dollars, with a capacity of one thousand, eight hundred tons per day. As an employer of something like four hundred men, it ranks among the larger labor
users of this vicinity in the coke industry. The other officers of the company are W. P. Halliday, Vice President, and Robert J. Forester, superintendent in charge of the works.
Mr. John Forester is also president of the DuQuoin Planing Mill Company, a director of the First Bank and Trnst Company and a member of the firm of Forester & Company, general merchants, of IPuQuoin. Mr. Forester is a Democrat, but is interested in politics only to the extent that he sustains by his vote those policies which have proven best for the advancement of the general welfare. He has always been active in local affairs, and has been a member of the board of education of the township high school for twelve years, or, more correctly speaking, since its organization in 1900.
On July 20, 1880, Mr. Forester married at DuQuoin Miss Kate W. Jackson, a daughter of J. B. Jackson, formerly of Columbus, Ohio, where Mrs. Forester was born. The children of their union are J. Howard, Robert J., Walter J. and Frederick L. The eldest son, J. Howard, is associated with the Forester Coal and Coke Company. Robert J. is also the electrician of the Forester Coal and Coke Company, and a graduate of the electrical engineering department of the University of Illinois. Walter J. is a bookkeeper for the company, and Frederick L., a graduate of dental surgery of the Northwestern University at Evanston, is located at Faring, Illinois, in the practice of his profession.