Marion county numbers among her wealthy men who has perhaps
surpassed all others in the amassing of a fortune and who is a recognized leader
in practically every known local enterprise demanding the application of capital
and executive ability, as well as many others of a similar nature in various
other sections of the country. As a capitalist Gustave E. Eis is in the front
ranks in his city and county. As a good citizen and a family man his position is
no less prominent.
Gustave E. Eis was born in Dayton, Ohio, January 6, 1857. He is the son of John and Mary (Engle) Eis, the former a native of France and the latter of Germany. He was the son of Henry Eis, who lived and died in France; a tanner by trade, and nicely situated with reference to worldly endowments. He gave his son John a suitable education, and when he came to America in 1836 he engaged in teaching. He first settled in Newark, Ohio, but later removed to Dayton, Ohio. There he married, and was for many years an instructor in the French language in Dayton. He enlisted in the One Hundred and Fourth Ohio at the inception of the Civil war and returned home on a furlough after three years of service. He met his death shortly thereafter by drowning in the Licking river.
Gustave Eis was one of a family of nine children. His maternal grandfather was Frank Engle, a native of Germany, who came to America in 1833. He settled in Newark, Ohio, but later moved to Dayton, where he passed the remainder of his life, dying there at the age of ninety-six. He was a merchant and always prominent in the business and social life of the city in which he made his home. The education of Gustave Eis was of necessity of a very meager nature, as the exigencies of fortune made it incumbent upon him to begin life's struggle alone at the tender age of thirteen years. In Kentucky, where he found himself after some traveling about, he became employed in a cigar factory, and in the eleven years of his residence there he thoroughly learned the trade of a cigar maker. He then removed to Franklin, Indiana, where he remained for three years, and on May 15, 1881, he arrived in Centralia, which has been the scene of his principal operations in the years which have since elapsed. He began his career in Centralia by opening a cigar factory, and he continued in that business until 1910, when he sold out his interests and engaged in the real estate business, which had become particularly attractive to him by reason of his extensive holdings of Marion county realty. He deals in real estate, stock and bonds and since he became connected with that line of business the industry has taken on a renewed activity, as a result of his modern methods and his reputation for square dealing. Mr. Eis has acquired an interest in practically every financial or industrial organization of note in the county. He is a director in the Old National Bank, and holds one twentieth of the stock in that institution. He is a one-fourth owner in the Marion Coal Mine property, and a stockholder of prominence in the Centralia Envelope Factory. He is the principal stockholder in the Home Building & Loan Association, and has always evinced deepest interest in the operations of the Association as an instrument in the upbuilding of the city. He is heavily interested financially in the Conly Frog & Switch Works at Memphis, Tennessee. He is president of the Wizard Products Company, the largest manufacturers of sweetening compounds in the world. The main factory of this firm is in Chicago, with a prominent branch in Nashville and another in Wichita, Kansas. He is president of the Lead & Zinc Company at Galena, Illinois, and is secretary and treasurer of the Ten Strike Mining Company at Galena, Illinois. This is a particularly rich and productive mine. He is president of the Florence Lead & Zinc Mining Company, another extremely rich property. The company own three hundred and twenty acres in the heart of the lead and zinc district, much of which has already been proven, and a portion of which is now being worked. The property is particularly rich in moulders sand, and is considered to be one of the most valuable holdings in the neighborhood of Galena. Mr. Eis is also one of the principal stock-holders in the Glen Ridge Mercantile Company at Junction City, Illinois. Undoubtedly Mr. Eis is one of the wealthiest men in Marion county today, and his phenomenal success in the world of finance may be ascribed solely to his own inherent ability.
On September 16, 1884, Mr. Eis married Miss Anna Merkel, a daughter of Edward Merkel, a native of Germany. Four children were born of their union. They are: Clarence M., an instructor of voice in Chicago; Walter R., employed in the office of the Centralia Envelope Factory; Valette R., also with the Envelope Factory; and Florence M., a student at the Rockford, Illinois, College.
Extracted 07 Nov 2017 by Norma Hass from History of Southern Illinois, by George W. Smith, published in 1912, volume 3, pages 1315-1316.