William S. Payne

The sheriff of Jefferson county, William S. Payne, is known throughout 
the county for his personal bravery and for his faithful devotion to his 
rather arduous duties. He comes of an old pioneer family, his grandfather 
having been one of the first settlers in Jefferson county, and his father 
having been born in this county. Mr. Payne is in reality a farmer and a 
very successful one, but he operates his farm from the city of Mount Vernon, 
where he lives mainly to give his family the advantages they might not be 
able to have on the farm. Although in his duties as sheriff he is forced 
into contact with the seamy side of human life and sees much that might 
shake his faith in humanity, he is a firm believer in the innate goodness 
in every human being and it is perhaps the knowledge of this kindly trait 
that makes him so popular throughout the county. William S. Payne was born 
in a big old farm house on the 9th of November, 1867. The house of his birth 
was situated in Shiloh township, Jefferson county, and his parents were 
Joseph T. Payne and Monica (Hutchinson) Payne. Joseph T. Payne was born in 
1846, and was raised in the section where he first saw the sunlight, namely, 
Shiloh township. His father, Joseph Payne, was a native of Tennessee, but 
spent most of his long life in Shiloh township, dying at the age of eighty. 
Joseph T. Payne devoted himself to agricultural pursuits during many years 
of his life. But this was only a side issue, for he felt that his real work 
was in his service as a Baptist minister, and all of his life he has labored 
for the betterment of humanity and the improvement of the conditions under 
which we live. He is now retired and is living quietly at home on the old farm, 
but his influence, though no longer an active one, is still strongly felt and 
the memory of words he has spoken are treasured up in many hearts. His gift 
of eloquence was of great service to him when he was elected to the state 
senate as a member from the forty-sixth senatorial district, and he gave efficient 
service to his constituents during his term of four years. William S. Payne 
is the eldest of fourteen children, eleven of whom are living. Besides 
William these are James H.; Ella, who is Mrs. Watkins, wife of the cashier 
of the bank at Woodlawn; Lawrence, who is a farmer; Alpha (Webb), who married 
a farmer; Hattie (Alvis), the wife of one of the principals of the city 
schools of Cairo, Illinois; Joseph H. and Arthur, both farmers; Gleason; 
Edith, a teacher in the Mount Vernon schools; and Gincie, as yet a student 
in the township high school. William S. Payne was reared on the farm and 
brought up to realize that the simplest joys in life are the hardest to get 
and the easiest to lose, and that the possession of these are what brings 
the most happiness, consequently he has never hungered for the possessions 
of a millionaire or the evanescent joys of life in a big city. He received 
a liberal education in the schools of the district, but being the oldest in 
his family his help was too valuable to permit him to leave home and take 
work in any higher institutions of learning, so he remained at home and 
helped his father until he was twenty-five, when he began to farm for himself. 
He purchased a farm of a hundred and forty acres, which he still owns and 
operates. He lived on the farm until 1906, when he removed to Mount Vernon. 
In politics Mr. Payne has always been an enthusiast, his affiliations being 
with the Democrats. His election to his present office took place in 
November, 1910, and the term for which he was elected is one of four years. 
Fraternally Mr. Payne is a member of the Odd Fellows and of the Red Men of 
Mount Vernon. With the father that Mr. Payne has it is small wonder that 
he is an active member of the church to which he belongs, namely, the First 
Baptist church of Mount Vernon. He is a regular attendant, at both the church 
services and at Sunday-school, and is one of the deacons, taking much of 
the responsibility of the financial affairs of the church upon his shoulders. 
Mr. Payne was married on the 16th of November, 1892, to Miss Minnie Jones, 
the daughter of S. W. Jones. Mr. Jones was one of the oldest pioneers in 
Jefferson county, and met a sad death in an accident on the railroad in 
September of 1906. Mr. and Mrs. Payne have had three children, two of whom 
died in infancy, leaving Howard, a bright little chap of seven years, his 
birthday being on the 20th of November, 1904.

Source: History of Southern Illinois George Washington Smith, 
Page 1340 - 1341

Submitted by Robert W. Loman 

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