JOHN ROBERT CROSS. An eminent member of the legal profession of Southern Illinois, whose connection with a number of important cases of litigation has brought out his legal talents and his knowledge of law and jurisprudence, is John Robert Cross, of McLeansboro, ex-mayor of this city and a man who for many years has held positions of honor and trust within the gift of his fellow-townsmen. Mr. Cross belongs to a family that has been connected with the history of Hamilton county for more than seventy years, and was born on a farm not far from McLeansboro, December 15, 1859, a son of Pleasant Marion and Sarah A. (Williams) Cross.
Pleasant Cross, the grandfather of John Robert Cross, was born in 1799, near Ellijay, Gilmer county, Georgia, and came to Hamilton county, Illinois, in 1839. He was a mechanic by occupation and also owned a farm, which he hired others to operate for him, his shop being situated about six miles west of McLeansboro. He was a Democrat in his political views, and religiously was connected with the Methodist church, his wife being a Presbyterian. Mr. Cross was married in Tennessee, to Elmira Stacy, and they were the parents of twelve children, as follows: Angelina, who married Alfred Cams and lived in Gallatin county; Lucinda, who married William Whipple and resided in Hamilton county; Matilda, who married Thomas Babbington, and moved to Nevada; John C., who married Nancy Burton and resided in Hamilton county, Christopher C., who died young; Elizabeth, who married Asa Cross and lived in Hamilton county; Sarah, who became the wife of Charles Epperson, now deceased, and then married Jacob Stelle, and now lives in McLeansboro; Pleasant Marion; Elmira, who became the wife of J. W. Goins, of Hamilton county; Nancy, who married Maston Williams and now lives in Mt. Vernon, Illinois; Lury Ann, who married John Davis and resides near McLeansboro; and Mary Jane, who married Elijah Goins and lives in Hamilton county.
Pleasant Marion Cross was born January 8, 1833, in Tennessee, and came to Hamilton county, Illinois, in 1841, the remainder of his life being spent in agricultural pursuits on the old Cross homestead, which was situated about six miles northwest of McLeansboro, where he died March 4, 1891. He was a Mason and a Democrat, and with his wife attended the Missionary Baptist church at Middle Creek, Illinois. On August 26, 1856, Mr. Cross was married in Hamilton county to Sarah A. Williams, who was born March 20, 1835, in Tennessee, and came to Hamilton county in 1837 with her parents, Wiley and Mahala (Bond) Williams. Mrs. Cross died June 24, 1903, in Hamilton county, having been the mother of four children, as follows: Pleasant Walter, who married Nancy Jones Clore and now is engaged in farming in Hamilton county; Gilbert Wiley, also a farmer of Hamilton county, who married Elizabeth J. Cates, daughter of J. A. and Sarah Cates; John Robert, of McLeansboro; and Elza Marion, who married Mary Tennyson and lives in this county.
John Robert Cross attended the common schools in the vicinity of his father's farm, on which he worked until he was twenty-one years of age, and also spent one year in teaching school. He was married May 29, 1881, in Hamilton county, to Emma Ellis, who was born February 9, 1863, in Shelby county, Indiana, daughter of Lewis and Olive (Bassett) Ellis, and to this union there have been born four children: Iva M., born January 20, 1882, married Isaac Hardesty, of McLeansboro, and has two children, Helma and Walter Wade; Inez M., born June 1, 1884, who married Joseph F. Reeder; and Nona, born April 13, 1888, and John E., born July 20, 1900, who live with their parents.
After his marriage Mr. Cross continued to farm until 1889, when he moved to McLeansboro and purchased a residence. On November 4, 1889, he began to read law with Judge T. B. Stelle, and on June 27, 1892, he was admitted to the bar. He practiced in partnership with Judge Stelle until 1905, when on account of ill health he was obliged to give up his activities and retire. On June 1, 1907, having recovered his health, he entered into a partnership with David J. Underwood, this association continuing until April 1, 1911, when the firm was mutually dissolved, and since that time Mr. Cross has practiced alone. He has been very prominent in Democratic politics, serving as city attorney for four terms and as mayor of McLeansboro from 1909 to 1911.
Fraternally he is connected with the Odd Fellows and the Woodmen, and is a consistent member of the Missionary Baptist church, in the faith of which he was reared. Mr. Cross has proven his ability as a lawyer in a number of notable cases. Of a sound, logical mind, he is also possessed of the gift of oratory, being an effective and convincing speaker. In his handsome residence in McLeansboro he has one of the finest and most complete law libraries to be found in Hamilton county, and in addition to valuable city property he is the owner of several tracts of excellent farming land near McLeansboro. The family is very well known in this part of the state, where its members have achieved prominence in every walk of life, and Mr. and Mrs. Cross are popular with all who know them, especially in church circles, where they have been active workers.