of the notable men of his day and generation, who has gained success and
recognition for himself and at the same time honored his county and state by
distinguished services in important trusts, is Hon. Charles E. Hull, of
Salem, who holds worthy prestige among the leading business men of Southern
Illinois. Distinctively a man of affairs whose broad and liberal ideas
command respect, he has long filled a conspicuous place in the public eye,
and as a leader in many important civic enterprises as well as a notable
figure in the political arena of his day, he has contributed much to the
welfare of his fellow men and attained distinction in a field of endeavor
where sound erudition, mature judgment and talents of a high order are
required. Aside from his honorable standing in private and public life,
there is further propriety in according him representation in the work, for
he is a native son of Marion county, which has been the scene of the greater
part of his life's earnest labors, his home being in the beautiful and
attractive little city of Salem, where he it at present the head of a large
and important business enterprise, and where he also commands the esteem and
confidence of all classes and conditions of the populace.
Mr. Hull belongs to an old and highly esteemed family that figured in the early history of Kentucky, to which state his great-grandparent, John Hull, emigrated from New Jersey in 1788. Here Samuel Hull was born in 1806. About the year 1815 the Hulls disposed of their interests in the South and migrated to Illinois, settling at Grand Prairie, Clinton county, where John Hull died in 1833. Before his death he sent his son, Samuel, into what is now the county of Marion to a place near the site of Walnut Hill, where he, in 1823, at the age of seventeen, attended the first school ever taught in the county. At this time Marion was created from Jefferson county and the young man remained here, marrying in 1831 Lucy, the daughter of Mark Tully, the founder of Salem. He was made Recorder in 1833, which office he held until 1837, when he was made Sheriff, filling the latter position by successive re-elections six terms, the most of the time without opposition. Later in 1849 he was further honored by being elected County Judge, this being under the old law which provided for two Associate Judges, but Mr. Hull's knowledge of law together with his fitness for the position enabled him to discharge his judicial functions without much assistance from the honorable gentleman who occupied the bench with him. He proved an able and judicious judge, and during his incumbency of four years transacted a great deal of business and rendered a number of important decisions, but few of which suffered reversal at the hands of higher tribunals. Shortly after retiring from the bench he was appointed by President Pierce postmaster of Salem, and four years later he was reappointed by President Buchanan, holding the position during the latter's administration, and in this, as in the other offices with which he was honored, proving a capable and popular public servant.
Samuel Hull was a pronounced Democrat and influential member of the party until the breaking out of the Rebellion, when he became a Republican and a great admirer of President Lincoln, whom he supported in the election of 1860, and for whom he ever afterward entertained feeling of the most profound regard. He was a prominent figure in the affairs of Marion county for over eighty years, during which period he became widely and favorably known, and his influence was always on the side of right as he saw and understood the right. During his later years he lived a life of honorable retirement at his beautiful rural home near Salem, having purchased the land from the Government shortly after coming to Marion county, building with his own hands in 1831 a double log house, which still stands — the oldest building in Marion county. This sterling citizen and faithful official lived to a good purpose and his memory is cherished as a sacred heritage not only by his immediate family and friends, but by the entire community, all with whom he was accustomed to mingle, feeling his death as a personal loss. He reached a ripe and contented old age and it is a fact worthy of note that he and his faithful wife and helpmeet died the same night after a mutually happy and prosperous wedded experience of fifty-nine years. Samuel Hull and wife were held in high esteem by nearly every citizen of Marion county, their circle of friends and acquaintances being large and their names familiar sounds in almost every household in both city and country. He served in the Black Hawk war, besides participating in many other exciting struggles during the pioneer period, as he was a leader among his fellow men and always stood for law and order, sometimes, too, at his personal risk. The land which he entered and improved and on which he spent the greater part of his life is now owned by his grandson, Charles E. Hull. This piece of land, now within the city limits of Salem, has the unique distinction, of the fewest transfers, it having been transferred by purchase from Samuel direct to Charles.
Erasmus Hull, son of the aforementioned Samuel and father of the subject of this sketch, was born August 31, 1832, in Marion county, Illinois, and spent his entire life near the place of his birth, having for many years been identified with the town of Salem, and a leader in its business and financial interests. He was a merchant and banker and in addition to achieving marked success in those capacities he was also an enterprising man of affairs, public spirited in all the term implies and wielded a strong influence in behalf of all measures and movements having for their object the material advancement of the community and the social and moral welfare of the people. A leading spirit in the organization of the Salem Bank, in 1869, and one of the original stockholders, he was a member of the board of directors from that time until his death, and to his mature judgment, sound business ability and familiarity with financial matters were largely due the continued growth and signal success of the institution. He was also interested in the Marion County Loan and Trust Company, the predecessor of the bank, and always kept in close touch with the finances of the state and nation as well as with general business affairs, on all of which he was well informed and on not a few was considered an authority.
Mr. Hull was the first Supervisor of Salem township, also Chairman of the County Board for a number of years, besides serving a long time as School Director. In these different capacities he discharged his official duties faithfully and effectively, taking a leading part in educational matters and using his influence in every laudable way to promote the prosperity of the community and the happiness of the people. In addition to his mercantile and financial business he was quite prominently interested in the manufacture of flour and lumber, beginning to operate a mill in 1853, and continuing the business with encouraging success as long as he lived. He also conducted a large packing house in Salem before the days of trusts and combines and built up an important and far-reaching industry, buying nearly all the hogs in the adjacent country and shipping his meats to the leading markets, where they commanded good prices. He was a man of brain and of practical ideas, combined with solid judgment, wise foresight and he seldom failed in any of his undertakings. In politics he was an unswerving Democrat, and an influential worker for the success of his party and its candidates, though not a partisan in the sense of aspiring for office. He discharged his duties of citizenship in the spirit becoming the progressive and broad minded American of the day in which he lived, while the deep interest he manifested in his own locality made him a leader in all laudable enterprises for its advancement. His career, which was strenuous, eminently honorable and fraught with great good to his fellow men and to the world, terminated with his lamented death on the 16th day of June, 1896, in his sixty-fourth year; his taking off, like that of his father, being keenly felt and widely mourned in the town where he had so long and creditably lived, and where his success had been achieved.
Before her marriage Mrs. Erasmus Hull was Dicy Finley. Her father, Rev. William Finley, a well known and remarkably successful minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian church, came to Marion county in an early day and for many years labored zealously to disseminate the truths of religion among the people and win souls to the higher life. During the years of his activity, he traveled extensively throughout Southern Illinois, preaching and organizing churches, and it is said that the majority of Cumberland Presbyterian societies in the central and southern portions of the state were established by him, while others and weak congregations were strengthened and placed upon solid footing through his efforts. Mrs. Hull bore her husband three children and departed this life on May 16, 1903, beloved and respected by all with whom she came in contact. Of her family one of the children died in infancy, Mrs. Mary Bradford being the second in order of birth, and Charles E. Hull, of Salem, the subject of this review, the youngest of the number.
On his father's maternal side the subject dates his family history to the earliest settlement of Illinois, his great-grandfather, Mark Tully, migrating to what is now Marion county, while the feet of savages still pressed the soil and settling near the site of Salem, where there was no vestage of civilization within a radius of eight or ten miles, his rude cabin having been the first human habitation where the thriving seat of justice now stands. He moved here from Indiana and entered a tract of land from which in due time he cleared and developed a farm, and later when the county of Marion was set off and organized, he donated ground for the seat of justice, which was surveyed and platted in 1823, and to which he gave the name of Salem. In honor of the town in the Hoosier state from which he came. He took an active part in the county organization, was its first Sheriff and held a number of offices from time to time, and to him belongs the credit of keeping the first tavern in Salem, which appears to have been quite well patronized, while the town was being settled and for eighty years thereafter, being kept after his death by a daughter. He also erected a mill, the first in Salem, which was highly prized by the pioneers for many miles around, although a primitive affair equipped with the simplest kind of machinery, and originally operated by means of a sweep. Later it was somewhat improved and operated by horses or oxen in what was called a tread, but after the lapse of several years the original structure was remodeled, a large addition built, and new and improved machinery installed, and steam power introduced, this being the first mill in the county to be run by steam. Mr. Tully was a true type of the sturdy, strong willed pioneer of his day. He was energetic, public-spirited, distinctively a man of affairs, and to him as much perhaps as to any other, is the town of Salem indebted for the impetus which added so materially to its growth and prosperity. As a leader among the pioneers of his time, he did a work that few could accomplish and wielded an influence which had a decided effect in establishing the social status of the community upon a high moral plane. After a long and useful career he was called from the scenes of his earthly struggles and triumphs in the year 1867, leaving a number of descendants, some of whom still live in Marion county, and are among the substantial and respected people of the communities in which they reside.
Hon. Charles E. Hull was born November 7, 1862, in Salem, and spent his early years like the majority of town lads, assisting his parents where his services were required, and during certain months pursuing his studies in the public schools. While a mere child, he evinced a decided taste for books and his progress in his studies was so rapid that he completed the high school course and was graduated at the early age of fourteen, standing among the best students in the class of 1877. Actuated by a laudable desire to add to his scholastic knowledge he subsequently entered the Southern Illinois Normal University, at Carbondale, where he took the full classical course, which he finished in three years, one year less than the prescribed time, graduating in 1880 with the class honors.
Shortly after receiving his degree from the above institution Mr. Hull engaged in merchandising at Salem, continued to the present time a business established by Samuel and Erasmus Hull, in 1853, and since that time his life has been very closely identified with the business interests and general prosperity of the town, in addition to which he has conducted several mercantile establishments at other points and become a prominent figure in the public life of Marion county, and the state at large. Possessing sound sense, well balanced judgment, and a natural aptitude for business, his mercantile experience soon passed the experimental stage and within a comparatively brief period he built up a large and lucrative patronage, and became one of the best known and most popular merchants of the town. Advancing with rapid strides and outstripping all of his competitors, he was soon induced to project his business enterprises into other parts, accordingly, as already indicated, he established stores in various towns and villages of the county, and at one time had five of these establishments in successful operation in addition to his large general mercantile house in Salem, all of which proved successful and in due season made him one of the financially solid and reliable men of Marion county. After some years he closed out two of his stores but he still retains the other three, two in Salem and one in Kinmundy, and enjoys a well merited reputation as one of the most enterprising and successful business men in the southern part of the state.
In addition to his large mercantile interests Mr. Hull is connected with other important business enterprises, having been a director of the Salem bank since 1895, and cashier of the institution during the years 1906-7, and in 1889 he organized the Salem Creamery, which he operated for a period of fifteen years, during which time he did an extensive and lucrative business, using as high as twenty thousand pounds of milk per day, and making a brand of butter for which there was always a great demand. By reason of indifference on the part of the farmers in the matter of supplying milk, Mr. Hull disposed of the creamery at the expiration of the period indicated, the better to devote his attention to his other interests, which have become important and far reaching in their influence, adding much to the material prosperity of the city and to his fame as a leading spirit in business circles. Among the various enterprises of which he is the head, is the Salem Brick Mill, which, under the firm name of Hull & Draper, has become one of the successful industrial concerns of the place, also the Hull Telephone System, established in 1898, and of which he is sole proprietor. This important and much valued enterprise, one of the best of the kind in Illinois, extends to all parts of Marion county, connecting all the towns and villages and numerous private residences, besides having connection in the adjoining counties, thus bringing Salem in close touch with all the leading cities of the state and nation, and proving of inestimable value to the people as well as to the business interests of the various points on the line. Under the personal management of Mr. Hull, who has operated the plant ever since it was established, the system has been brought to a degree of efficiency second to no other.
Since the year 1894, Mr. Hull has owned The Salem Herald Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Marion county, the history of which dates from 1853. The paper originally was established by John W. Merritt, and since the above year has been the best patronized and most successful sheet in Marion county, and one of the most influential in Southern Illinois, being the official organ of the local Democracy, and a power in the political affairs of this part of the state. Under the management of Mr. Hull it has steadily grown in public favor, and now has a large and continually increasing subscription list, a liberal advertising patronage, and with an office well equipped with the latest machinery and devices used in the art preservative, and its columns teeming with the news of the day as well as with able discussions of the leading questions and issues upon which men and parties are divided, it promises to continue in the future as it has been in the past, a strong influence in political affairs and a power in moulding and directing opinion on matters of general interest to the people.
Aside from the various enterprises enumerated, Mr. Hull for a number of years was quite extensively interested in the Sandoval Coal and Mining Company, of which he was general manager until disposing of his shares in the concern, and he is now and long has been one of the largest holders of real estate in Marion county, being an enterprising and up-to-date agriculturist. In the midst of his numerous and pressing duties, he finds time to devote to other than his individual affairs, being interested in the community and its advancement and in all worthy enterprises for the good of his fellow men. Ever since arriving at the years of manhood he has been a leading factor in public matters, and in a material way has been untiring in his efforts to promote the prosperity of Salem and Marion county, taking an active interest in all movements and measures with this object in view besides inaugurating and carrying to successful issue many enterprises which have tended greatly to the general welfare of the community. In political matters and kindred subjects he has not only been interested but has risen to the position of leader. He has been a life-long Democrat, and since his twenty-first year has exercised a strong influence in the political affairs of Marion county, and became widely and favorably known in party circles throughout the state, a prominent figure in local, district and state conventions, he has borne a leading part in making platforms, formulating policies; as a campaigner, he is a judicious adviser in the councils of his party, a successful worker in the ranks, and to him as much if not more than to any other man in Marion county, is the party indebted for its success in a number of animated and exciting political contests.
In 1896 Mr. Hull was elected to represent the Forty-second Senatorial District, composed of the counties of Clay, Washington, Marion and Clinton, in the Upper House of the State Legislature, in the campaign of which memorable, year he ran far in advance in his home town of any other candidate on the Democratic ticket, receiving more votes than were polled for William Jennings Bryan, the popular head of the national ticket, and the idol of Democracy. Mr. Hull's career in the General Assembly was eminently honorable, and he took high rank as an industrious and useful member, who spared no effort in behalf of his constituents, besides laboring earnestly and faithfully for the general good of his state. In 1904 he was re-nominated by his party, and in the ensuing election his Republican competitor withdrew from the race, it being evident that he would be overwhelmingly defeated. The district that year was composed of the counties of Marion, Clay, Clinton and Effingham. In the senate he became the minority leader, and in addition to serving on a number of important committees, took an active part in the general deliberations of the chamber, participating in the discussions and debates, and to him belongs the credit of leading in the fight for a direct primary, also of being the only minority leader who ever succeeded in holding his party together on minority legislation. Mr. Hull's senatorial experience is replete with duty ably and faithfully performed, and such was the interest he manifested for his district that he won the confidence and good will of the people irrespective of political alignment, all of whom speak in praise of his honorable course and the broad enlightenment spirit which he displayed throughout his legislative career. As already stated he is a familiar figure in the conventions of his party, both local and state, and for a period of twenty-eight years he has not missed attending a Democratic national convention.
For several years Mr. Hull owned and occupied the place where Mr. Bryan was born, but after the campaign of 1896 he sold it to Mr. Bryan, between whom and himself the warmest friendship has ever prevailed. The two were classmates when they attended high school, since which time they have labored for each other's interests, and as stated above, their attachment is stronger and more enduring than the ordinary ties by which friends are bound together. Mr. Hull has served the people of his city as School Director, and for a period of two years he was president of the Inter-State Independent Telephone Association, besides being for a number of years a member of the executive committee. He also served for a series of years on the executive committee for the operators on the scale of agreement, with the United Mine Workers of America, a position of great responsibility and delicacy, as is indicated by the fact of his having devoted one hundred and twelve days in one year to the settlement of wage scales and of disputes between the contending parties, besides having been called upon repeatedly to adjust differences and harmonize conflicting interests, which arose from time to time, between the two organizations.
The domestic chapter in the life of Mr. Hull dates from May 10, 1883, when he was happily married to Miss Lulu Hammond, the accomplished and popular daughter of Hon. J. E. W. Hammond, the latter a prominent merchant and influential politician of Marion county, Illinois, who served in the Legislature, on the County Board of Supervisors, and for many years was one of the public spirited men and representative citizens of Salem. On her mother's side Mrs. Hull traces to the Lovells and Hensleys, who were among the earliest settlers of Marion county, as is mentioned elsewhere in this volume. Senator Hull's beautiful and attractive home on North Broadway, the finest and most desirable private dwelling in the city, is brightened and rendered doubly attractive by the presence of two intelligent and interesting daughters, namely: Lovell, born January 8, 1888, and Louise, whose birth occurred on the 31st day of May, 1897, these with their parents constituting a happy and almost ideal domestic circle.
Senator Hull's fraternal association represents the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks', the Knights of Pythias, Independent Order of Red Men, and the Modern Woodmen, in all of which he has been an active and influential worker, besides being honored with important official positions from time to time. In the midst of his many strenuous duties as a business man and public servant, the Senator has not neglected the higher obligations which man owes to his Maker, nor been unmindful of the claims of the Christian religion to which deep and absorbing subject he has devoted much profound study and investigation, and in the light of which he has been led into the straight and narrow way which leads to a higher state of being here, and to eternal felicity beyond death's mystic stream. Subscribing to no human creeds or man-made doctrines, he takes the Holy Scriptures alone for his rule of faith and practice, and as an humble and consistent member of the Christian, or Disciple, church, demonstrates by his daily life the beauty and value of the faith which he professes. He has been identified with the religious body since his young manhood, and for more than twenty years has been the able and popular superintendent of the Sunday school, besides filling other official stations. Mrs. Hull is also a faithful and devout Christian, an active member of the church, and deeply interested in all lines of good work under the auspices of the same. Since her fourteenth year she has been the accomplished organist of the congregation in Salem, as well as an efficient and enthusiastic teacher in the Sunday school. Senator Hull is a liberal contributor to benevolent enterprises, and it was through his initiation and influence that the present handsome temple of worship used by the Christian church, was erected, his contributions to the building fund being twenty-five dollars for every one hundred dollars contributed by the congregation. In addition to his munificence already noted, the Senator has given largely to various worthy objects of which the world knows nothing, in this way exemplifying the spirit of the Master, by not letting the left hand know what the right hand doeth, or in other words, doing good in secret in the name of the Father who hath promised to reward such actions openly.
Senator Hull is a splendid specimen of well rounded, symmetrically developed, virile manhood, with a commanding presence and a strong personality, being six feet in height, weighing two hundred and thirty-four pounds, and moving among his fellows as one born to leadership. He is a noticeable figure in any crowd or assemblage, and never fails to attract attention, not only by his powerful physique, but by the amiable qualities of mind and heart, which show in his face, and always make his presence pleasing to all beholders. He has directed his life along lines which could not fail to effect favorably the physical as well as the mental man, having from his youth been singularly free from thoughts which lower and degrade self-respect, and from those insiduous habits which pollute the body and debase the soul, and which today are proving the destruction of so many young men of whom better things have been expected. Mr. Hull is a total abstainer in all the term implies, having never tasted, much less taken a drink of any kind of intoxicants, nor used tobacco in any of its forms; neither has he ever taken the name of God in vain. He is pleasing and companionable, a favorite in the social circle, and a hale and hearty spirit, whose presence inspires good humor, and who believes in legitimate sports and pastimes and in the idea that fret and worry are among the greatest enemies of happiness. With duties that would crush the ordinary man, he has his labors so systematized that he experiences little or no inconvenience in doing them. He believes in rest and recreation and is an advocate of vacations, and he invariably takes one every summer, but not in the manner that many do, by locking his office and hieing away to the seaside, lake or forest, to spend the season in tiresome sports. His vacations, which are always enjoyable, are spent in the hayfield, where he finds the recreation conducive to good health and a contented mind.
Personally Mr. Hull is a gentleman of unblemished reputation, and the strictest integrity and his private character and important trusts have always been above reproach. He is a vigorous as well as an independent thinker, a wide reader, and he has the courage of his convictions upon all subjects which he investigates. He is also strikingly original and fearless, prosecutes his researches after his own peculiar fashion, and cares little for conventionalism or for the sanctity attaching to person or place by reason of artificial distinction, tradition or the accident of birth. He is essentially cosmopolitan in his ideas, a man of the people in all the term implies, and in the best sense of the word a representative type of that strong American manhood, which commands and retains respect by reason of inherent merit, sound sense and correct conduct. He has so impressed his individuality upon his community as to win the confidence and esteem of his fellow-citizens and become a strong and influential power in leading them to high and noble things. Measured by the accepted standard of excellence, his career, though strenuous, has been eminently honorable and useful, and his life fraught with great good to his fellows and to the world.
Extracted 08 Jul 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 32-41.