Past & Present


Mr. Hamner came to Atlas without a dollar, bringing a tent with him and living in it in Jockey Hollow in Atlas township through the greater part of one summer. He is truly a self-made man, acquiring his possessions entirely through his own efforts. At the present time he is enjoying a creditable and gratifying measure of prosperity, having become the owner of a good tract of land, which he has placed under a high state of cultivation, so that he annually harvests good crops that bring him a very desirable financial return. He has not allowed himself to become discouraged and disheartened by any obstacles or difficulties in his path, but has regarded such as an impetus for renewed effort; and his indefatigable energy has been one of the strongest features in his success. In politics he has ever been a stalwart republican, and fraternally he is connected with the Modern Woodmen of America. He now has a large acquaintance in Pike county; and no man is more deserving of representation in this volume, among its representative citizens, than Henry Jasper Hamner.

                               J. H. BILLINGS

Of the younger men who have won prominence in Pike county by reason of superior business ability, none are more deserving of mention in this volume than J. H. Billings, a capitalist of Rockport, who from a humble financial position has worked his way steadily upward, his business careen being such as any man might be proud to possess. Characterized by strict adherence to the rules which govern unfaltering industry and unabating energy, he has so utilized his opportunities that he stands today among the most successful business men of the western part of Pike county. He was born in Atlas township, near Rockport, on the 28th of February, 1864, and is a son of Samuel and Fannie (Bowman) Billings. The father was a native of Scott county, Illinois, and became a prominent farmer of pike county. In 1884 he removed to Dutch creek, where he died in 1893, his remains being interred in the Taylor cemetery, about four miles from Rockport. His wife survived until March 13, 1903, and died in Louisiana, Missouri, after which her remains were brought back to Pike county for burial by the side of her husband in Taylor cemetery.

J. H. Billings is indebted to the country schools of his native township for the educational privileges he enjoys. He was reared upon the home farm, and gave his entire attention to agricultural pursuits until 1895. In the meantime his earnest labor had brought him capital sufficient to justify his purchase of land; and in the conduct of his farm he had acquired a handsome competence, which he saved, sufficient, in the year mentioned, to enable him to become a factor in the money-loaning interests of the county. In connection with other business affairs he became a financial broker; and he now has at his command twenty thousand dollars, which he loans out from time to time on real estate, and chattel mortgages. He has also for ten years done a note-brokerage business, and is the owner of a well cultivated farm of seventy-eight acres, situated on Dutch creek, in Atlas township. His property holdings also embrace two of the best residences in Rockport; and his real-estate business interests are the visible evidence of a life of well directed energy and thrift. He has been intimately associated in business affairs with Dr. J. H. Welch for some years. They were reared together, being playmates in their boyhood days; and a warm friendship has since existed between them that has also been maintained in intimate relations in business affairs. They are now associated together in a number of business concerns.

On the 19th of October, 1904, Mr. Billings was married to Miss Minnie M. Miller, a daughter of Newton J. and Julia (Ward) Miller, both of whom were natives of Pike county, having been born in Atlas township. The father died in that township, near Rockport, April 10, 1891, and was buried in the West cemetery near Pittsfield. John Ward, the grandfather of Mrs. Billings, was a native of Ohio, and came to Pike county in 1844. He cast in his lot with the early settlers of Atlas township, where he followed the occupation of farming for many years. He died in that township near Rockport, and his remains were in-

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