Biography - George Mathis

GEORGE WASHINGTON MATHIS. Many of the men who have been instrumental in keeping the agricultural standard high in Johnson county have started their careers in other vocations and have been unable to resist the call of the soil even though they have attained success in different lines. There is a certain fascination in the life of the farmer to those who come of families whose main occupation has been the tilling of the soil, and one who has returned to farming and achieved considerable success is George Washington Mathis, of Bloomfield township, who was for many years well known as an educator. Mr. Mathis comes of an old and honored Johnson county family, and was born not far from his present residence, July 18, 1869, a son of Robert D. and Lucinda (Fairless) Mathis.

John Mathis, the great-grandfather of George W., was a native of Virginia, and one of the original pioneers of Trigg county, Kentucky. He married Margaret Brown, and in 1846 they migrated to Randolph county, Illinois, where both passed away. Among their children was William Mathis, who was born and reared in Kentucky, and was there married to Cynthia Scott, of Trigg county, daughter of William and Mary (Moore) Scott, and to them were born five children, namely: Robert D., Elizabeth E., John B., Margaret A. and James P. William Mathis accompanied his father's family to Randolph county, Illinois, in 1846, but in 1849 migrated to Johnson county by ox-team, purchased Government land in Bloomfield township, and there built a log cabin and settled down to clearing his farm. He spent the remainder of his life in farming, and died November 22, 1860, his widow surviving until June, 1888. They were well known all over Bloomfield township, and Mr. Mathis had the reputation of being an excellent farmer and progressive, public-spirited citizen.

Robert D. Mathis was also born in Kentucky, and was a lad when he accompanied his parents to Randolph county. He was brought up there and in Johnson county, and his education was secured in the district schools of his day. When he was married he settled on rented land, but after six years was able to purchase a farm of forty acres, to which he added from time to time until he was the owner of a finely-cultivated tract of one hundred and forty acres. He was active and influential in local Republican politics, and his fellow citizens manifested their confidence in his integrity and ability by electing him collector of taxes two years, township treasurer for ten years and justice of the peace for a long period. He was successful in his agricultural operations, and the same enthusiasm and conscientious labor that give him a position among the substantial men of his district were brought into play in his public service, and the manner in which hie discharged the duties of his various offices stamped him as a man who had the best interests of his community at heart. Mr. Mathis married Miss Lucinda Fairless in 1858, daughter of Robert and Matilda (Buchanan) Fairless, natives of Gallatin county, Illinois, and they had a family of four children: John P., George W., Olonzo F. and Lillian V.

George W. Mathis was brought up to the life of a farmer, and his education was secured in the Bloomfield township and Vienna public schools. At the age of nineteen years he began teaching in Bloomfield, and in all followed that profession for thirteen years, the greater part of this time being spent in Johnson county, and seven years of it in Bloomfield. He also had a school for one term in Oklahoma. During all this time Mr. Mathis had carried on farming during the vacation periods, but it was not until 1903 that he began to give all his attention to agricultural pursuits. In 1893 he had purchased a tract of one hundred acres situated in section 16, Bloomfield township, one mile north of the homestead, but in 1896 he sold this and secured twenty acres adjoining his present property. He subsequently disposed of the latter tract and bought forty acres, which adjoined thirty-three and one-half acres owned by his wife, and he now has the entire tract in a high state of cultivation. Mr. Mathis has carried on general farming and his operations have been very successful. His land is highly productive and he finds a ready market for his cattle in the nearby cities, his stock being of a superior grade. Although his own interests have kept him busily employed, he has found time to engage in local politics, and he is a member of the Republican County Central Committee, and an influential worker in his party's ranks in this section. Fraternally he is affiliated with Vesta Lodge, No. 340, I. O. O. F., at Vienna.

On August 23, 1893, Mr. Mathis was united in marriage with Miss Minnie E. Morray, daughter of J. B. and Gussie (Haley) Morray, both of whom are deceased, and eight children have been born to this union, namely: Gussie V., a graduate of the county high school; Alvin, a student in the eighth grade of public school; and Mabel E., Kate Lucinda, Archie, George, Wayne and John H.

Extracted from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 655-657.

Templates in Time