WALKER W. MOCREERY.
A name that looms up large in the history of Frankjin county and Benton is that of Mr. Walker W. McCreery, whose activities and interests entitle him to a place in the forefront of the list of leading citizens of this part of the state. Mr. MeCreery was born on October 10, 1858, becoming one of the fourth generation of his family in this state, the first member of which, John McCreery, migrated to Southern illinois in 1787. He was a man of sturdy courage to thus push his way to the frontier beyond civilization, and his young wife who accompanied him must have possessed the same quality in large degree. It is stated that when the young couple journeyed from their Kentucky home to become the first white settlers in Gallatin county, now Saline county, they had but one horse to ride and they took turns in mounting it, and accomplishing the long, dangerous trip
by slow stages, albeit with final success. Indians were their only neighbors for a time, but they proved to be friendly and the hardy young settler and his wife were never molested by them in any way. He became a trader and a farmer and accumulated a large fortune for that day. His was the distinction also of being the first Squire in the county of which he was the first settler.
Next in line came Alexander McCreery, son of John, who came to Illinois with his father; the third generation was headed by J. W. McCreery, son of Alexander, born January 10, 1821, who in turn became the father Walker W. McCreery, of this sketch. J. W. McCreery married Mary E. Pace, who was born in 1824, the daughter of Joel Pace, an early settler of Jefferson county, who built the first brick house in that section and was one of the most prominent citizens there. He filled the office of clerk of court for a number of years and was also circuit clerk at one time. Mr. McCreery was an agriculturist and lived on and cultivated the same farm all his life. He was a man who took a leading part in public affairs and was widely known, having been a member of the county board of supervisors for many years and postmaster at Cave Post Office for forty years and until that office was abandoned. He was of Republican political faith. His business affairs were carefully conducted and at the time of his death, on January 7, 1892, he was well fixed financially. His wife survived him many years and died in 1903. Mr. and Mrs. McCreery were both devout members of the Methodist Episcopal church, were people of high moral principles and their passing was mourned by a large circle of friends who held them in the highest respect and esteem.
Walker W. McCreery received his education in the common schools of Franklin county, but these were of the best class, with superior teachers, and when he ceased his studies he was possessed of more than the average learning. He had spent his life as a boy and young man on the farm, but in starting out on an independent business career chose to engage in livery work and made his initial venture in that business at Thompsonville. In 1886 he located at Benton, conducting a livery stable for a time and later engaging in the lumber business, at first with J. T. Chenault, but subsequently buying out the latter's interest and becoming sole owner of the business. Flattering success was his and by judicious investment and the exercise of excellent business foresight he was able to accumulate large financial interests. He retired from the lumber business and erected the McCreery Block, an extensive property in which is located the McCreery Hotel, the postoffice, a drug store and a large number of fine up-to-date offices. Mr. McCreery conducted the hotel that bears his name for one year, but has since leased it to other parties. In 1909 he further added to his already large holdings by purchasing the Benton Flour Mills, a large plant with capacity for producing one hundred and twenty-five barrels per day, and the product of these mills is shipped not only to all points in Illinois, but enters into interstate commerce extensively. Besides his city properties Mr. McCreery has some valuable farm holdings and is, altogether, rated as one of the wealthiest men of this section. He has lately made some large investments near Rosewood, New Mexico, and will probably spend the winters there. His success is but the natural result of the exercise of the superior business talents he possesses in the conduct of his commercial and industrial operations. A man of great capacities, he produces large and important results in whatever line of endeavor he elects to devote his time and attention.
On June 6, 1883, occurred the marriage of Mr. McCreery and Miss Lizzie Swain, daughter of John F. Swain, a merchant of Charleston,
Mississippi. Five children have been born of this union, Kate, William N., W. W., Jr., Vashti and John Alexander. All of the members of the family belong to the Methodist Episcopal church and are important factors in the moral and religious uplift of the community, as well as influential members of leading social circles. Mr. McCreery belongs to several fraternal orders, including the Masonic, being a past master of Benton Lodge, No. 64, and is also first chancellor commander of the Knights of Pythias.