WILLIAM ALBERT PERRINE.
The man to whom all Herrin turns in gratitude for the prosperity which has come to her, largely through the work of his brain, started out in life in a modest way, as a country school teacher, and now he is president of two mining corporations,
handling an output of three thousand tons of coal a day. This is in brief the remarkable success of William A. Perrine. Aside from the leading part he has played in the industrial world he has been almost equally active in the political world, the long list of public offices with which he has been honored culminating in his election as a delegate to the National Republican Convention in 1908.
William Albert Perrine was born only a few miles from Herrin, in Bainbridge Precinct, on the 17th of October, 1858. His father, the venerable Daniel Perrine, was one of the ante-bellum settlers of the county of Williamson. He was of rural stock, his parents living in Mercer county, Pennsylvania, at the time of his birth in 1831. With commendable energy he acquired enough education to make him capable of teaching a country school. When he came to Illinois this, therefore, was his first undertaking until the inpouring rush of settlers offered such a rich field of the carpenter that he abandoned the blue-backed speller for the hammer and saw. Later he returned to the simple life of the farm, and save for his absence during the Civil war, has been content to remain a modest farmer. So for fifty-five years he has been an influential member of that large body of sincere and high principled citizens who make Williamson county their home.
In his political alliance Daniel Perrine is a strong Republican, and in the election of 1860 was an enthusiastic partisan of Mr. Lincoln, having the distinction of being one of the three men in his precinct to east a ballot for the martyred president whom we have all come to almost worship. In 1862 Mr. Perrine enlisted in Company G of the Eighty-first Illinois Infantry, and his command formed a part of General Sherman's army, operating in Mississippi. In the engagement at Guntown, on the 10th of June, 1864, he was taken prisoner, and after undergoing many hardships reached the dreaded stockade at Andersonille, where much worse things than hardships had to be endured. Six months of this existence had to be borne before he was exchanged and was enabled to rejoin his command and to take part in the last sad scenes of the fall of the Confederacy and the surrender of gallant Lee and his army. He was mustered out after the Grand Review at Washington, and visited his parental home in Pennsylvania before returning to his family in Illinois. For twenty-four years he has acted as justice of the peace, a long and faithful service. He is a Master Mason, belonging to a family noted for its strong Masonic allegiance. In religious matters he has been a member of the Missionary Baptist church since 1866.
Daniel Perrine married, in Williamson county, Illinois, December 10, 1857, Susan Reeves, a daughter of William and Mary P. (Moore) Reeves, of Robinson [Robertson?] county, Tennessee. Mrs. Perrine was born there in 1833, coming to Illinois with her parents as a baby in 1835. She lived to witness the success of her sons, dying on the 18th of September, 1911. Mr. and Mrs. Perrine had three children, William A., of Herrin; George H., also a citizen of this city; and Melissa, who married Samuel Evetts and died on the 3rd of November, 1880.
William Albert Perrine grew up amid country surroundings, receiving his education at the district schools. His first ambition to become a teacher was soon gratified, and for seventeen terms he led the strenuous and disciplinary life of a country school teacher in the vicinity of Herrin. With this for a winter diversion, he carried on farming in season, but eventually abandoned both to take up what afterwards became his life work. Foreseeing in the development of the coal fields all about Herrin a source of future wealth and power, he turned his tireless energy towards making this development as rapid as possible, with the result that Herrin, with its wonderful growth, bids fair to rival the
county seat for metropolitan honors. Mr. Perrine first engaged in the lumber business at Creal Springs, but only remained a lumber dealer for three years before turning to mining. He opened a number of the leading properties between Herrin and Marion, the list of mines embracing the Chicago-Herrin, the Carterville Big Muddy, the Hemlock, the Watson's Pittsburg and the Big Muddy. Having opportunities to sell at considerable profit, he disposed of all save the last two named, and he is the chief stockholder and president of both of these companies. He has handled the development and management of these companies alone until recently, when skilled successors reared in his own household and under his own direction assumed much of the responsibility.
Mr. Perrine has taken considerable part in the actual building of Herrin, erecting many houses for renting, and, being shrewd enough to forsee the trend which real estate was likely to take, has bought and sold considerable land from time to time. He is financially interested in the First National Bank of Herrin, being a stockholder, and, knowing that in a growing town one of the greatest aids to its growth is a Building and Loan Association, he lends his support to the one in Herrin as one of its directors. He was the propelling force which brought the Coal Belt Electric Railroad into Herrin, and together with others secured about half the right-of-way between Herrin and Marion.
Mr. Perrine has been identified with political thought longer than he has been a voter. His Republicanism is as old as he is and his activity at conventions and as a member of the county committee covers a period of more than twenty years. He has several times served his party as a delegate from his county to the Illinois State meetings. In 1908, as a delegate to the national convention, he had the honor of casting his ballot for the nomination of President Taft. On the 1st of April, 1909, he was appointed postmaster by “wire'' and succeeded Mr. A. Gasaway in that office.
In his fraternal relations Mr. Perrine has shown his steadfast devotion to a cause, for in spite of the many advantages which might accrue to him if he became a member of other secret orders, he has preferred to give all his interest and attention to Masonry. He has filled all the chairs of the Blue Lodge, having been worshipful master seven terms. He was the first high priest of Herrin chapter, No. 229, and he is a member of the Metropolis Commandery, No. 41. He is also affiliated with the Chicago Masons, being a member of the Oriental Consistory and of Medinah Temple of that city. Three generations of his family have been members of the Herrin lodge and all have received the degree of Master Mason from it or its predecessor.
On the 1st of August, 1880, Mr. Perrine was married to Miss Mary A. Cruse, a daughter of John M. Cruse, of Tennessee, and of Rebecca A. (Sizemore) Cruse, of Kentucky. Mrs. Perrine is the oldest of eleven children. Of the children born to this successful capitalist and his wife, Bert E. is superintendent of the Watson Coal Company and is married to Sudie Tune; Cass C. is superintendent of the Pittsburg Big Muddy Coal Company, his wife being Meda Russell; Bessie May is the wife of W. A. Wilson, of Herrin; Jesse J. died as a young boy; Susie C. is Mrs. Chester Childress, of Herrin; John D.; Melissa; McKinley and Effie, both of whom died in infancy; W. A. Jr.; and Joseph Edward.
The life of this man should be of especial interest to young men, for it shows how, unaided, a man with courage, perseverance and constant care can win a position for himself where he not only possesses great wealth and prestige, but where he has the chance to aid others
on the upward journey. Mr. Perrine has always been so closely identified with his town that Herrin would not be Herrin without him, but had he been born in some other section of the country, where there was no opportune mineral wealth to be developed, his ability would have found some other outlet, for his is the nature that never knows defeat, whose calm optimism forces others to believe in him; in short he is a natural leader of men, a strong and forceful personality in whom other men naturally trust and believe. However, his is a leadership not through hate or fear, but from admiration and respect.