WILLIAM S. PAYNE.
The sheriff of Jefferson county, William S. Payne, is known throughout the county for his personal bravery and for his faithful devotion to his rather arduous duties. He comes of an old pioneer family, his grandfather having been one of the first settlers in Jefferson county, and his father having been born in this county. Mr. Payne is in reality a farmer and a very successful one, but he operates his farm from the city of Mount Vernon, where he lives mainly to give his family the advantages they might not be able to have on the farm. Although in his duties as sheriff he is forced into contact with the seamy side of human life and sees much that might shake his faith in humanity, he is a firm believer in the innate goodness in every human being and it is perhaps the knowledge of this kindly trait that makes him so popular throughout the county.
William S. Payne was born in a big old farm house on the 9th of November, 1867. The house of his birth was situated in Shiloh township, Jefferson county, and his parents were Joseph T. Payne and Monica (Hutchinson) Payne. Joseph T. Payne was born in 1846, and was raised in the section where he first saw the sunlight, namely, Shiloh township. His father, Joseph Payne, was a native of Tennessee, but spent most of his long life in Shiloh township, dying at the age of
eighty. Joseph T. Payne devoted himself to agricultural pursuits during many years of his life. But this was only a side issue, for he felt that his real work was in his service as a Baptist minister, and all of his life he has labored for the betterment of humanity and the improvement of the conditions under which we live. He is now retired and is living quietly at home on the old farm, but his influence, though no longer an active one, is still strongly felt and the memory of words he has spoken are treasured up in many hearts. His gift of eloquence was of great service to him when he was elected to the state senate as a member from the forty-sixth senatorial district, and he gave efficient service to his constituents during his term of four years.
William S. Payne is the eldest of fourteen children, eleven of whom are living. Besides William these are James H.; Ella, who is Mrs. Watkins, wife of the cashier of the bank at Woodlawn; Lawrence, who is a farmer; Alpha (Webb), who married a farmer; Hattie (Alvis), the wife of one of the principals of the city schools of Cairo, Illinois; Joseph H. and Arthur, both farmers; Gleason; Edith, a teacher in the Mount Vernon schools; and Gincie, as yet a student in the township high school.
William S. Payne was reared on the farm and brought up to realize that the simplest joys in life are the hardest to get and the easiest to lose, and that the possession of these are what brings the most happiness, consequently he has never hungered for the possessions of a millionaire or the evanescent joys of life in a big city. He received a liberal education in the schools of the district, but being the oldest in his family his help was too valuable to permit him to leave home and take work in any higher institutions of learning, so he remained at home and helped his father until he was twenty-five, when he began to farm for himself. He purchased a farm of a hundred and forty acres, which he still owns and operates. He lived on the farm until 1906, when he removed to Mount Vernon.
In politics Mr. Payne has always been an enthusiast, his affiliations being with the Democrats. His election to his present office took place in November, 1910, and the term for which he was elected is one of four years. Fraternally Mr. Payne is a member of the Odd Fellows and of the Red Men of Mount Vernon. With the father that Mr. Payne has it is small wonder that he is an active member of the church to which he belongs, namely, the First Baptist church of Mount Vernon. He is a regular attendent, at both the church services and at Sunday-school, and is one of the deacons, taking much of the responsibility of the financial affairs of the church upon his shoulders.
Mr. Payne was married on the 16th of November, 1892, to Miss Minnie Jones, the daughter of S. W. Jones. Mr. Jones was one of the oldest pioneers in Jefferson county, and met a sad death in an accident on the railroad in September of 1906. Mr. and Mrs. Payne have had three children, two of whom died in infancy, leaving Howard, a bright little chap of seven years, his birthday being on the 20th of November, 1904.