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Billings, J. H.
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Billings, J. H.
Contributed by Barbara
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Source: Past and Present of Pike County, Page 721-722


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 career 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 enjoyed. 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 interred in the Hornback cemetery, in Derry township. His wife, Mrs. Rhoda Ward, was also a native of Ohio, and died at the age of seventy-five years on the same farm on which her husband's death occurred, her remains being then interred by his side.

In his political views Mr. Billings is an earnest republican, having supported the party since attaining his majority. He belongs to the Masonic fraternity and the Modern Woodmen camp, and is popular in both organizations. His life is a splendid illustration of what may be accomplished through energy, determination and laudable ambition. In early manhood he worked for eight years for William H. Gay, being employed by the month at a salary of from thirteen to twenty-four dollars per month. By the careful husbanding of his resources and his sound business judgment, supplementing his unfaltering industry he stands today among the capitalists of the county, and is an honored representative of its financial interests.

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