GEORGE W. PILLERS. In the great political upheaval that has swept the country from end to end a man may confess with pride that he is mayor of his town, or it may be that he is mayor to his shame, for during the last few years the forces that have been pitted one against the other have been those of "Good Government" and of the machine. Therefore it is with pride that the citizens of Pinckneyville point to their executive head, George W. Pillers, for he was the leader of this modern progressive movement, and the triumph of his party came only after a hard fight. George W. Pillers is not a politician, he is a plain business man who has no patience with the wiles and
tricks by which the professional politician wins his way into the confidence of the people. He stands for honesty and openness, and believes in the practicality of that doctrine that is supposed to have died a natural death years ago from disuse, that is, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
George W. Fillers was born on the 11th of September, 1876, four miles south of Sparta, Illinois. He is a descendant of one of the earliest settlers of Randolph county, where his father and his father's father were born and lived. His grandfather was Peter W. Pillers, the son of James M., the founder of the Pillers family in Illinois. This old pioneer was from Kentucky and settled near old Kaskaskia about 1873. Here he passed the remainder of his life, as a farmer, and he now lies buried not far from the scene of his labors. His son Peter W. followed in his father's steps and devoted his life to farming and the raising of stock in a small way. His death occurred in April, 1890, near Sparta. Peter W. Pillers was married to Jane M. Wilson, a daughter of another pioneer of Randolph county. She is still living, and resides with her children in Sparta, Illinois. The children of this couple were James M.; Henry C., of Sparta, who, following inherited instincts, is a farmer and stock-raiser; Charles E., of Denver, Colorado; Ada and Albert, both living in Sparta; Scenic, the wife of William Graham, of St. Louis; and Aldo, a teacher in the Sparta public schools.
James M. Pillers, the eldest of these children, is the father of George W. He was born on the 2nd of March, 1854, in Randolph county. and passed his youth near Sparta. His education was received mainly at the schools of Sparta, and he graduated from the high school of that city. I-Ic showed his independence by starting out as a merchant in Steeleville, soon after the completion of his school life. He also was in the hotel business there, but the greater part of his life has been spent in planting and harvesting his crops and in breeding the fine horses and cattle for which his farm is well known. He is actively identified with the community about Steeleville, and is one of the leading men of his section.
James M. Pillers married Emma M. Garven, who was a daughter of George Garven. The latter was a farmer near Sparta, and hailed from the land of the thistle. Perchance it is this Scotch strain in Mayor Pillers' blood that makes him so intolerant of oppression, and so insistent upon the rights that every man should possess for himself. Mrs. Pillers died on the 1st of October, 1911, leaving two sons, George W., of Pinckneyville, and James M., Jr., a member of a drug firm in the same city, and one daughter Rose G., who also lives in Pinckneyville.
George W. Pillers spent a childhood much like that of any other boy going reluctantly to school, doing chores on the farm, gazing with longing eyes after the circus wagons, when they left after their annual visits, and registering a vow that when he grew up he was going to be a clown. The ambition died, however, and by the time he was through school he was willing to become that much prosaic and perhaps more comfortable thing, a druggist. He entered Dr. Robinson's drug store at Stillwell, Illinois, and remained here until 1898, by which time he had mastered the business and was fully prepared as a practical pharmacist. Returning to Pinckneyville, he became the moving spirit in the establishment of the drug business which bears the family name, father and sons being equally interested. The name of the firm is James M. Pillers and Sons, and they handle a large amount of business.
The manifestly sincere and earnest citizenship of George W. Pillers won the confidence of the Pinckneyville populace and he was obviously the man for whom they were looking to head the ticket of the "Good Government" party in 1909. He accepted the candidacy and was elected mayor in April of that year, as the successor of W. W. Sims. Two years later he was re-elected and his administration is everything that the people of Pinckneyville had hoped for, he and all of his family are Republicans, but they have never been politicians. He is eager to modernize the facilities of Pinckneyville and make of it an up-to-date town, as was evidenced by the enthusiasm with which he entered into the project of a local telephone company. He was not only one of the promoters of the Pinckneyville Telephone Company, but is at present its secretary and treasurer.
On the 15th of November, 1905, Mr. Pillers celebrated his marriage with Carrie Gilster, a daughter of the late Louis H. Gilster, one of the most prominent business men of Chester. He was a pioneer merchant, and held large interests in various financial concerns, being a well known banker of Chester at the time of his death. Mr. and Mrs. Pillers have one child, Marion C.