WILLIAM S. TITUS.
One of the moving spirits of the town of Lawrenceville is William S. Titus. There is scarcely an industry in which he has not had a share in some way, either as promoter, stockholder, or as the man who was instrumental in persuading them to locate in Lawrenceville. A great part of his energy has been given to making Lawrenceville a modern and prosperous city. He was twice elected mayor, and during these terms the campaign of publicity that he inaugurated brought some of the largest and most important industries that the city now owns knocking at her doors. The successful man of today is either fawned on by parasites or looked at rather askance by respectable people who have not been able to win any very large portion of this world's goods. In the case of Mr. Titus, however, the parasites know flattery is useless, and his methods are so open and above-board that he has the trust of all people, be they successes or failures.
William S. Titus was born at Mount Camel, Illinois, on the 24th of July, 1868. His father was Daniel E. Titus, who was a native of Canada, having been born at Burmosh, Nova Scotia, in 1826. When Daniel Titus was only a small boy he was taken to Toronto to live, and there he grew up. He was educated in the public schools, and when the time came to choose a profession he selected engineering, so in addition to his earlier schooling he had a course in engineering. He came to Illinois a widower with one child, Ruah, and with the engineering crew of the Cairo and Vincennes Railroad, as it was then called. The line is now part of the Big Four and the New York Central System.
Mount Camel was very attractive to the young engineer and he decided to locate in the town. He built a furniture factory and soon had a flourishing business established. For many years the operation of this plant was his occupation, but one night it was destroyed by fire, and since his health had been failing for some time he did not rebuild, feeling that. the strain and responsibility of this business was too great. During the later years of his life he went into the insurance business and was very successful. He followed this line of work until his death, which took place in 1901, on the 2nd of March.
Daniel Titus married Judith Harvey, of Mount Carmel. Five children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Titus, of whom William Titus was the third child. Mrs. Titus lived until March, 1911, and was able to enter into and sympathize with her son in his successes. Mr. Titus was an enthusiastic Democrat, but he never cared to hold office. He and his wife were both members of the Methodist Episcopal church and he was a member of the Odd Fellows.
The boyhood of William Titus was spent in Mount Carmel and his elementary education was received in the public schools of the town. All during his school life he was eager to enter the business world, and as soon as he was released from the school room for his vacation he
immediately entered on his business career as a clerk in different stores. Thus while he was yet a school boy he began to acquire a reputation for keenness and business ability. During the four years of Cleveland's first administration he served as deputy postmaster. He then came to Lawrenceville and entered the Bank of Lawrenceville. This bank was later organized as the National Bank and subsequently became known as the First National Bank. Mr. Titus was first the assistant cashier and then was elected cashier. He held this place for nineteen years, resigning four years ago to go into the real estate business. After one year in which he conducted the business alone he went into partnership with Thomas T. Jones. The main part of this business is operated on the plan of the building and loan associations. The company builds houses and then sells them on monthly payments. This method is not only profitable to the firm, but it enables men to own their homes where it would be otherwise impossible.
Mr. Titus is a director of the First National Bank and also of the Citizens Banking Company. He is a stockholder in the Farmer's Bank and is vice-president of a private bank known as the “Bank of Birds.” It will be seen from his connection with these various institutions that his financial abilities are of a high order, and that they have speedily been recognized by his associates in the world of finance. He is one of the stockholders in the Citizens Telephone Company, and is a heavy stockholder in the Lawrenceville Laundry Company. One of his chief interests is located outside of the state of Illinois. This is the Adrian Gas and Oil Company, which is located at Adrian, Texas. He is president of this company, which struck salt in large proportions on their property a few years ago, and soon expect to begin operations for mining this mineral.
Mr. Titus is a Democrat, and has served two terms as city treasurer. He was first elected as mayor on the non-license platform, and his second term was won on the street paving platform. It will be seen from these platforms that Mr. Titus stood for the progressive element, and that he was determined that Lawrenceville should be the equal of any town of her size in the land. His enthusiasm and insistence on the practicability of the measures he wished passed fairly forced the council to vote as he desired. During his administration the street lights, sewers and paved streets came into being; the water mains were extended and the city hall was built; the area of the city limits was extended, and many manufacturing concerns were induced to locate here. Among these were the Indian Refining Company, which is capitalized at a million dollars; the Central Refining Company, which operates a half a million dollar plant; the American Asphalt and Rubber Company, with a large plant. In fact this was the Golden Age for Lawrenceville, and Mr. Titus was the power that made all this possible.
To an active man like Mr. Titus the very practical ways in which the fraternal orders live up to their principles, and the large amount of good which they accomplish in an unostentatious manner, would naturally have a strong appeal. This is seen to be the case in the number of orders of which he is a member. He is a Mason, belongs to the Knights of Pythias, to the Elks, the Modern Woodmen of America, and to the Yeomen of America.
Mr. Titus was married on the 28th of September, 1890, to Adda E. Musgrave, of Lawrenceville, a daughter of Joseph and Amanda Musgrave.