One of the progressive and well known business men of Salem, Marion
county, Illinois, is the subject of this sketch, who has spent his life in
this vicinity, a life that has been very active and useful, for he has not
lost sight of the fact that it is every man's duty to aid in the upbuilding
of his county in all lines of development while he is advancing his own
interests, and because of the fact that he has ever taken an interest in the
public weal, has led an honorable and consistent career, being at present
one of the best known druggists of the county, the publishers of this work
are glad to give him proper representation here.
Walter C. Irwin, of the Salem Drug Company, was born in Iuka, this county, in October, 1866, the son of Dr. J. A. Irwin, a native of Johnson county, Missouri, who came to Iuka at the close of the war, having been a surgeon in the Confederate army under General Price's command. He was at the battle of Wilson's Creek, near Springfield, Missouri, and also the battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, in addition to many other smaller engagements. He successfully practiced his profession from 1865 to 1905, and is now living at St. Augustine, Florida, where he went in 1905 on account of his health.
The mother of the subject was Mary Dubbs, a native of Pennsylvania, who came to Illinois in 1865. She was a woman of many praiseworthy traits and passed to her rest in 1894 at Iuka. Four children were born to the parents of our subject, named in order of birth as follows: Walter, subject of this sketch; Byrdie, the wife of Charles A. Bainum, cashier of the First National Bank at Bicknell, Indiana; J. Max is practicing medicine at St. Augustine, Florida; Maggie Alice died in 1880.
Walter Irwin was reared at Iuka, where he attended the common schools, later taking a course in Lincoln University at Lincoln, Illinois, which he attended for two years, making a brilliant record as a student. After this he attended the Business University at Lincoln for one year, having graduated from the same. He then returned to Iuka and was engaged in general merchandising and the drug business until 1894, when he came to Salem and embarked in the drug business. While at Iuka he was postmaster under Cleveland and resigned to come to Salem, and his father was appointed postmaster in his place. Our subject has been in Salem ever since, with the exception of two years spent as a traveling salesman, when he resided in Bloomington, this state.
The Salem Drug Company was organized August 26, 1907. Prior to that time Mr. Irwin owned the store, having established it in 1904, and with the exception of the two years noted he has been continuously identified with it, building up an excellent trade with the people of Salem and the entire county, as the result of his unusual knowledge of this line of business and his courteous and impartial treatment of customers.
Mr. Irwin was married in 1892 to Maggie Stevenson, who was born in Stevenson township, this county, the accomplished daughter of Samuel E. Stevenson, now deceased, for whom the township was named. He was a prominent citizen of the county for many years.
One son, a bright and interesting lad, has added cheer and comfort to the home of our subject, who bears the name of Eugene E., and whose date of birth occurred November 5, 1893, while the family was residing at Iuka.
Mr. Irwin has prospered as a result of his well directed energies and has considerable business interests besides his drug store, among which may be mentioned a half interest in the Fibernie Sweep Clean Company, manufacturers of a preparation for cleaning floors, carpets, etc., the main office being located at Salem with branches in Springfield, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee, and Fort Smith, Arkansas. The business of this concern is growing at a rapid stride. Mr. Irwin is a stockholder and director in the Salem National Bank. He is also proprietor of the White Foam Company, which manufactures a preparation for cleaning fabrics without rubbing and which at present promises to become in immense demand. Our subject is also a stockholder and director in the Oleite Manufacturing Company, of St. Louis, which manufactures leather dressings.
Mr. Irwin has served in a most acceptable manner as a member of the Salem Board of Education. In his fraternal relations he is a Mason, a member of the Knights of Pythias, the American Home Circle, Ben Hur and the Eastern Star, and Mr. and Mrs. Irwin are members of the Presbyterian church. They live in a modern, comfortable and nicely furnished home, which is presided over with rare grace and dignity by Mrs. Irwin, who often acts as hostess to numerous admiring friends, and everyone who crosses its threshold is made partaker of the good will and hospitality that is always unstintingly dispensed here, and because of their genuine worth, integrity, uprightness and pleasing manners no couple in Marion county enjoy to a fuller extent the esteem and friendship of all classes than our subject and wife.
Extracted 09 Jul 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 28-29.