Marion County

Centralia Mayors

Matthew C. Kell was the first Mayor of the City of Centralia. He served five terms, 1859, 1860, 1861, 1870 and 1874. During these years, a city election was held each year. Mr. Kell, a prominent merchant, gave up a thriving business in Walnut Hill to come to Centralia against the advice of friends who were sure the new town "could never amount to much."

Samuel Storer was the second man to be elected Mayor of the city. He served five terms, 1862, 1863, 1867, 1868, 1873, and was one of the men whose signature appears on the city charter. He built the residence at 302 S. Cherry.
Among his other activities he was an early paymaster for the Illinois Central in the days when the men were paid in gold and the paymaster and his crew travelled the length of the Illinois Central line on an open hand car. On one occasion he is said to have successfully resisted an attempted hold-up.

J. G. Cormick was the third Mayor of the city of Centralia. He served two terms, 1864 and 1865. "Joe" Cormick (as he was familiarly known) was an Illinois Central railroad conductor and at the time of his death in 1879 was said to have been the oldest man in point of service on the railroad. He served in the Mexican War and during the Civil War was commissioned as a Captain.

Elias W. Welden, eleventh mayor of Centralia, served for two terms in 1883 and 1884. Mr. Welden was a school teacher in Ohio and later moved to St. Clair County, Ill., where he studied law. He was admitted to the St. Clair County bar in 1855, and practiced law in DuQuoin, Ill., from 1858 to 1861. During the Civil War he came to Centralia and began work as a postal clerk for the Illinois Central railroad, resigned his position to assume duties as Warden of the Menard State Penitentiary.

Berthold M. Haussler, was the 12th and 15th mayor of Centralia, Serving in 1886, 1887, 1897 and 1898. He was a prominent business and political leader in Centralia for serveral decades. Along with his mother and his sons, he managed the family's furniture and undertaking business.

Fayette D. Rexford, mayor of Centralia in 1888, served only one term. He was owner and manager of the Rexford House, Centralia's first hotel and gathering place for celebreties during the "gay nineties." It stood where the Illinois Central Depot once stood.

Simpson A Frazier, 16th mayor of Centralia, was elected in 1899, 1900, 1909, 1910, 1911 and 1912. He was a prominent Marion County attorney. During his term as mayor he was instrumental in building the old reservoir and planting the beds of Egyptian lotus that blloom in the lake were brought here through Mr. Frazier's effort. Interested in the study of Ecomomics, he acquired a large personal library, which was later presented to Drake University.

Robert Rohl, 17th mayor of Centralia, was elected in 1901 and 1902. He established the Centralia Bottling Works with which he was always identified and helped organize sports in Centralia. He was manager of the Centrlia White Sox, a team that sent serveral players and its umpire to the major leagues.

Norman M. Rexford, 18th mayor of Centralia, served in 1903, 1905, 1906. He was the son of Fayette D. Rexford, who served in 1888. He was a prominent in business and social circles in Centralia.

Fred Pullen, 20th mayor of Centrali, was elected in 1913, 1914. Prominent in Centralia business circles, he operated the Centralia Ice and Cold Storage Co. for many years. He was an ardent sportsman and was particularly fond of hunting.

Louis Peifer, 24th mayor of Centralia was elected in 1935 for a four-year term. A native of German, Mr. Peifer has acquired success through years of perseverance. For many years he was associated in the cigar manufacturing business with his brother, Jacob, and in 1910 he took charge of the Southern Illinois Cigar Co. He resided with his wife at 326 Melrose.


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