JAMES C. MITCHELL
is a man of versatile abilities. He is cashier of the First National Bank, is an ex-clerk of Williamson county and ex-mayor of Marion, and in whatever capacity his services have been given he has made an enviable reputation. As a public official he proved public spirited and progressive and he is rated as a financier of superior capacity and ability, his business methods having always been very popular with all concerned. He has been identified with Marion since 1867, when he came to it as a youth of fifteen from the country nearby. He was born in Northern precinct of Williamson county, October 30, 1852, and his father was William N. Mitchell, who came to Illinois in 1832, while Franklin county embraced the territory of Williamson, and he was from McNairy county, Tennessee, where he was born in 1814.
William N. Mitchell was yet in his 'teens when he came alone to the then frontier country of Illinois, and he located at Old Frankfort, where he became a teacher of subscription schools. He learned surveying later, became a public surveyor and ran the lines separating Williamson county from Franklin and subsequently served Williamson county as its public surveyor. He settled in Northern precinct, now township, and regarded himself as a farmer. When the Civil war broke out he enlisted in Company E, Sixtieth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and became captain of his company. He was wounded in battle, resigned from the service and soon after his return home was elected county clerk (in 1865). In politics he was originally a Whig, but became a Republican shortly after the organization of the party. After retiring from office he remained a resident of Marion until his death, December 30, 1879. His other public service, following that of county clerk, was as postmaster of Marion, his service continuing during the administration of President Grant and through a portion of that of President Hayes. He was not liberally educated and was not gifted as a speaker, but he was none the less a force in politics and was among the leaders of his day and generation.
William N. Mitchell married Rachel Roberts, a daughter of John Roberts, who came out from his own state as a settler of Illinois. Mrs. Mitchell died August 30, 1866, the mother of Chloe, who married Robert Huncheliff, and resides in Williamson county; of James C., the subject of this sketch; Lou, who became the wife of William Hincheliff and died here; and of Edward Mitchell, state treasurer of Illinois. James C. Mitchell entered upon a business career in Marion with a common school education. He left the farm as a youth, as already stated, and became a drug clerk in Marion. Subsequently he engaged in the drug business and followed it several years, and while so occupied was elected county clerk. After serving four years he was re-elected for another like term in 1890. When he assumed office Williamson county was staggering under a bonded debt of $100,000. This he succeeded in funding at four and one-half per cent, payable $5,000 annually, and it is all paid but $15,000. The debt was incurred in aid of the Carbondale & Shawneetown Railroad, and the county paid $172,000 on the bonds before it was funded.
Because of the character of his business life, Mr. Mitchell has been more closely identified with the county records than any other one citizen of Williamson county. He has signed more documents of moment to the
municipality and has been closer to the actual making of much of the county's history. Before his official service ended he was elected cashier of the First National Bank, but he assumed his duties only when he had completed his term. When he came to the bank its capital was $50,000 and its deposits were $30,000. Today its capital is $100,000, its deposits $550,000 and its surplus $100,000, after having paid an annual dividend from six to fourteen per cent. The original stockholders have received all their investments and more in dividends.
Mr. Mitchell was married October 21, 1872, his wife being Lillie White, a daughter of Colonel John H. White, who belonged to one of the early families of Williamson county and who was killed as a Union soldier, February 14, 1862, at Fort Donelson. He was colonel of the Thirty-first Illinois Infantry, Colonel Logan's old regiment, which he helped to raise and get into service. Mrs. Mitchell was born in Marion and passed away November 22, 1900. Their children were: John, who is in the oil business in Marion; Frank, who is connected with the brick business here; James, assistant cashier of the First National Bank of Carbondale; Rose, now Mrs. Fred Taylor, of Marion; Verna, who became Mrs. Samuel Parker and resides in Harrisburg, Illinois; Miss Dessie, teaching in Carlyle, Illinois, who was educated in the Woman's College at Jacksonville, Illinois; and Edward Everett, a student in the University of Illinois at Champaign.
On December 7, 1901, Mr. Mitchell married Miss Julia Dunaway, a daughter of Thomas Dunaway, of Marion. No children have been born to this union. They maintain a delightful and hospitable home, where they enjoy the society of hosts of friends.
Marion is indeed fortunate in the possession of a citizen of the type of Mr. Mitchell, than whom, it is safe to say, no one has done more for the upbuilding of the city, his unselfish devotion to its best interests having won him the confidence and high regard of all. He is widely known and as he walks along the streets it seems as if he has a nodding acquaintance with almost everyone he meets. He is a successful man; he has done many things and made his imprint upon many enterprises. No one is better entitled to representation in this volume, recording the lives and achievements of the men and women who have made Southern Illinois, than James C. Mitchell, of Marion.