REUBEN J. WHEATLEY, bookkeeper for the Willis Coal & Mining Company for a considerable number of years, has passed his life thus far in the various phases of the coal business, and is well and favorably known among the men of the craft in local mining circles. Previous to his connection with Percy, Mr. Wheatley was a resident of DuQuoin, in which city he was prominent in the politics of that district as well as in the administration of the affairs of the Miners Union. He has seen a variety of serviee in the mining business, rising from the humble position of car-greaser as a youth in DuQuoin to his present position of importance.
Born April 5, 1870, Reuben J. Wheatley is the son of Dr. Isaac L. Wheatley, who was for many years identified with the medical fraternity of Franklin county. He was also a blacksmith. Dr. Wheatley was one of the first Christian preachers in his locality, and helped to build the first church of that denomination in DuQuoin. He was a man of wide education and was prepared for the medical profession. He served in the Federal army as a surgeon in the Eighty-first Illinois and passed through his period of service without being wounded or captured. He married Martha M. Turner, of Wheeling, West Virginia. She was a daughter of Samuel Turner and died at the age of sixty-five years. Children were born to them as follows: Venia, the wife of M. L. Skinner, of West Frankfort, Illinois; William, of Elkville, Illinois; Laura, who married William Pumlee, of DuQuoin, Illinois; Isaac N., of Riverside, Indiana; Reuben J., of this sketch; Joseph W. of DuQuoin; and Ono K., of DuQuoin.
The education of Reuben J. Wheatley was of a rather meagre order, and his brief training in the common schools of DuQuoin was the only preparation he had for life in that respect He was not of the sort, however, to remain at the bottom of the ladder merely because circumstances had denied him a proper equipment to insure successful climbing, as the accomplishments of later years will show. When he was sixteen he secured employment in a printshop of DuQuoin, but he soon decided that the work was not sufficiently promising to warrant his continuing with it, and he went to work as a car-greaser for the St. John Coal Company, later for the Central Coal and Salt Company in the same capacity. He tried his hand at blacksmithing, with fair success, and finally entered the employment of the Greenwood Coal Company in a mechanical capacity. He soon was promoted to a position as check-weighman, a position which he held for eight years, after which he served in a similar capacity for three years with the Lake Mining Company. In 1903 he came to the Willis Coal and Mining Company, serving them first at DuQuoin, and one year later he came to Percy, and as bookkeeper for the company is responsible for the accounts of the Percy mines of the company. He has continued in that position for several years, amply demonstrating his ability as an expert accountant.
Not alone has Mr. Wheatley done good work in his private capacity, but he has given valuable service to the city of DuQuoin, with which
he was connected for so many years. He served on the council of that city for two terms, and in various ways was able to perform valuable labors in behalf of his home town. He is a Republican and has always been a staunch supporter of the cause. Twice has he served as village president of Percy, filling that position in a praiseworthy manner. While in DuQuoin he first became active in the interests of the Miners Union, of which he was a member, and was local secretary of the lodge in that place. He was made sub-district representative by that lodge and was sent as a delegate to the state meetings, where he was chosen as a delegate to attend the National Miners convention in Indianapolis in 1900. In all his associations with that organization he has performed valuable service for his local lodge and won the hearty cooperation of fellow men in his labors in their behalf.
On June 12, 1887, Mr. Wheatley was married at DuQuoin, Illinois, to Miss Nannie McCollum, a daughter of Riley M. McCollum. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Wheatley are Shelby, who is a miner and who is married to Ruth Short; Marion, Fay, Karl and Charles. The family are members of the Christian church, and Mr. Wheatley is a Master Mason.