Biography - James Slack

JAMES M. SLACK, a resident of township 15, range 4, and Superintendent of the Poor Farm of Massac County, is a son of John Slack, who was brought up a farmer in Johnson County and lived here nearly all his life, spending the last one and a-half years of his life in Carbondale, Jackson County, and dying May 25, 1880. He was, as has been stated, brought up on a farm, obtained his education in the common schools and remained at home until he was twenty-one years old, when he was married to Sarah Ann Alexander, a native of Tennessee, who came to Illinois and settled in Williamson County when a child. Both her parents are now deceased. After his marriage, our subject's father, having no money, taught school, and in this way got his start in life. He next began farming and worked some of the time at the carpenter's trade. His farm was located in Johnson County and he became a successful farmer. Upon his first farm, which consisted of forty acres and was located near Vienna, he built a house and made upon it other improvements. In 1851 he sold out and entered a tract of land covered with timber, but with no buildings upon it. Of this land he cleared seventy-five or eighty acres, improved it otherwise, and erected a good log house and barns. Upon this farm he lived like others in that part of the State, in true pioneer style, until the war came on, and during the war he sold his farm. He was a very successful farmer for those days. His first wife was Sarah Ann Alexander, who died May 2, 1864. He was married the second time, January 17, 1865, to Nancy E. Wymore, who came from Kentucky. John Slack was the father of nine children, viz.: Wilford, of Metropolis; Sarah A., wife of William King, a farmer of Acton, Tex.; James M.; Mary E., wife of Thomas E. Keith, of Salina, Kan.; Amanda, wife of Vander Light, of Pontotoc, Tex.; John W., a farmer of Simpson, Johnson County, Ill.; Isaac W., a farmer also of Johnson County; Thomas Franklin, a school teacher of Oklahoma; and Norman G., of Texas.
James M. Slack, the third child of his father's first wife, was born in Johnson County March 16, 1849, and was brought up on a farm, working hard from the time he was eight years old until he was nineteen. In the meantime he received a fair education in the common schools, but desiring a better education and having no money, he pawned a horse to get money with which to go to school. He attended school eight months at Vienna, and then in order that he might increase his knowledge still more, he taught school four winter terms and worked on a farm in summers in Johnson County.
Our subject married Mary A., daughter of William K. Hoil, January 21, 1872. After his marriage he farmed on rented land until 1879, making a good living. He then engaged in the marble business in Cairo as a traveling salesman for three years, becoming thoroughly familiar with the business. At the end of three years he began business for himself at Metropolis and was there four years, beginning in 1882. He lost heavily, however, by the great flood of 1884. At the end of his four years in business in Metropolis he went back to farming, and in 1887 was appointed Superintendent of the Massac County Alms-house. His wife died June 30, 1891, having borne four children, viz.: Oliver O.; and Ada, both at home; Clarence, deceased, and one that died in infancy. Politically, Mr. Slack is a Republican. He is a genial gentleman and is very popular. He is a successful manager of the farm and has given satisfaction to all concerned.

Extracted 29 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 471-472.

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