Improvement and progress may well be said to form the keynote of the
character of our subject, and he has not only been interested in the work of
advancement in individual affairs but his influence is felt in up-building
the community, where he has always resided. Mr. Vawter has been a very
industrious man all his life, striving to keep abreast of the times in every
respect, and as a result every mile post of the years he has passed has
found him farther advanced, more prosperous, more sedate and with a larger
number of friends than the preceding.
John H. Vawter was born in Salem, Illinois, in 1860. His father was Reuben T. Vawter, a native of Tennessee who came to Marion county about 1850, when he was yet a young man, settling in Salem, where he established a tailor shop, having always been a tailor by trade and a first class workman in this line. He lived here and met with worthy success until his death which occurred in 1862. The mother of the subject was known in her maidenhood as Eleanor M. Kimball, a native of Tennessee, who was a woman of many beautiful traits, who was called to her rest in 1903. Besides the subject of this sketch Mr. and Mrs. Reuben T. Vawter were the parents of another child, A. K. Vawter, now living in Oklahoma, where he is known as a man of good character and much business ability. The subject's mother's second marriage occurred about 1867, to William Metcalf. John H. Vawter made a splendid record while attending the common schools in Salem. After reaching maturity he went into the coal and teaming business, later entered the produce business, prospering at each of these, but he decided that the hardware business was more to his liking and consequently he entered this field in his home town in the spring of 1901. His success was assured from the first, and his business has rapidly grown, making it necessary for him to gradually increase his stock, which he has done until at present he has one of the most complete and carefully selected hardware stocks in Marion county. He has been in his present location ever since he entered the business and he numbers his customers from all parts of the county, and owing to his courteous treatment and the excellent quality of goods he handles, together with the fact that they are always sold at reasonable figures, his reputation has been firmly established and gained for him not only hundreds of loyal customers, but at the same time hosts of friends.
Mr. Vawter was married in 1883, to Maggie T. Garner, the refined daughter of Albert C. Garner, a well-known and highly respected family of Salem, and to this union four interesting children have been born, as follows: Lillian G., whose date of birth occurred in 1886; Hattie N., who was born in 1889; Marietta's birth occurred in 1891; and Irene first saw the light of day in 1901.
Mr. Vawter has always taken a conspicuous part in public affairs and as a result of his humanitarian impulses his fellow citizens have honored him by electing him Mayor of the City of Salem, which responsible office he at present (1908) holds, the duties of which he ably performs to the entire satisfaction of this vicinity, and during his administration he has done much for the betterment and material progress of the city, with the result that Salem is one of the cleanest, most inviting and well governed cities in this part of the state. He also served faithfully for four years as Alderman.
Mr. Vawter is a staunch Democrat and well-fortified in his political beliefs, being at all times ready to lend his support to the party's good, and his counsel is often sought and always heeded in local conventions and elections, for the public knows that Mr. Vawter always stands for the best man possible in local offices, and whoever he places the stamp of approval on is sure to be acceptable to the public at large. In his fraternal relations, he is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias and the Woodmen. Salem is glad to number him as one of her leading merchants and among its representative citizens. The record of his business career might be summed up in the terse expression that he is "above want and below envy."
Extracted 03 Nov 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 284-285.