It is a pleasure for the writer to take up the careers of men who through long years of residence in Southern Illinois have by their upright lives and splendid deeds won for themselves the enduring respect and regard of their fellow-citizens. Major Edwin W. Halliday was so conspicuously identified with the affairs of Cairo for nearly forty years that it is meet, now that his work here is finished and he is now retired to his California home, to set forth some of the essentials of his active and successful life, that the reader and student of events and men of local renown may not be deprived of the knowledge of one character who made his influence felt in building a commercial mart at the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Major Halliday was born in Meigs county, Ohio, June 11, 1836, a son of Samuel Halliday, who served as auditor of Meigs county for thirty-five years.
Edwin W. Halliday left the parental roof as a youth, equipped with
a fair education and bent on hewing his path among the almost unblazed courses of the Ohio Valley. He chanced to enter upon a career of steamboating on the Ohio river and made himself so useful that he was soon given the position of clerk on a packet that ran those waters, his river career only terminating when his zeal to get into the military contest between the north and south urged him to enlist. Notwithstanding the origin of his birth, he chose sides against his home and entered the Confederate army, becoming a member of General N. B. Forest's cavalry, and won a major's commission before the doom of the Confederacy was sealed at Appomattox. When there was no longer need of his services as a soldier, Major Halliday sought a business opportunity in Cairo, where some of his four brothers had already located, and with one of them, W. P., he engaged in the merchandise business here. While success came to him as a merchant, his old love for the river seemed to force him again into some feature of its trade and he engaged in business at the wharf, establishing a wharf-boat company, putting a fleet of tugs and other boats in service to do tbe local “switching,” subsequently, in 1873, incorporating the wharfboat company and remaining its president until he removed from the state. His foresight enabled him to discover the future of rapid transit in Cairo, and at a critical stage in the affairs of the company which promoted the street railway he took over its stock and for many years owned and operated the system. He witnessed the growth of this and the Cairo City Electric Light and Gas Company, which he brought into existence, into a valuable property, and in 1903 he sold these holding to the W. P. Halliday Estate. He was a large owner of the stock of the Halliday Hotel and new life sprang into it when the magic touch of the Hallidays was applied. From early life the Major seemed to regard a dollar as a measure of personal energy spent in its acquirement and he felt it his bounden duty to apply his accumulations where they would yield returns that would be productive of the best results to the community at large. His life was strikingly domestic, in that when he was not at business he was with his family. He made his sons his companions, and when they were ready he took them into business with bim and taught them the scheme of life as it had unfolded itself to him. He declined proffers of public office, as did all of his brothers except Thomas W., who was mayor of Cairo for ten or twelve years. He was not a member of any fraternity and never joined the church, although he was liberal in supporting movements of a religious nature;
Major Halliday was married during the war to Miss Emma Witherspoon, and both now reside in their home at San Diego, California. Their children were: Miss Alice, who resides in San Diego; Samuel, a prominent business man of Cairo; Edwin L., president of the Cairo Ice and Coal Company; Mrs. Walter H. Wood, whose husband is the senior member of the firm of Wood and Bennett Company, of Cairo; Mrs. J. J. Jennelle, Jr., of Seattle, Washington; Mrs. Edward L. Gilbert, of Cairo; Miss Martha, living at San Diego, California; Mrs. E. L. Kendall, of Chicago; and Fred D., who is secretary and treasurer of the Globe Milling Company, of San Diego, California.
Samuel Halliday, the major's first son, succeeded him as president of the Cairo Wharfboat Company, and is the senior member of the firm of Halliday & Phillips. He was born at Columbus, Kentucky, September 4, 1869, and has resided in Cairo since 1871. After being educated in the high school he became associated with his father 's interests as a youth and in 1901 was made president of the wharfboat company. On Febrnary 25, 1895, Mr. Halliday was married to Miss Nellie B. Gilbert, daughter of Miles Frederick Gilbert, one of the leading 1694
members of the Cairo bar, and one child, Louise, has been born to their union, June 20th, 1899.