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Clemmons, Selden Perry
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Clemmons, Selden Perry
Contributed by Barbara
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Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Pike and Calhoun Counties, Illinois, 1891; Page 775 – 777

SELDEN PERRY CLEMMONS. For more than a decade this gentleman has been connected with the business life of Milton, Pike County, and he has built up a fine business as the proprietor of a livery and feed stable. He began this business in 1879, building a stable and placing therein as his outfit two horses and two buggies. The demand for more equipages and steeds has been supplied, and the stable is now fully equipped with all the appurtenances needed to carryon a first-class business. Prior to engaging in this pursuit Mr. Clemmons had become known in and about Milton, and the people were the more ready to patronize him when his stable was built. The Clemmons family is traced back to the time of Cromwell, Gregory Clemmons having been a large landholder in Huntingdonshire, England, and one of the Members of Parliament who signed the death warrant of Charles II. Under the Protectorate he was Minister to Spain, and in the city of Cordova he was wedded to a Spanish lady. Upon the accession of Charles II, he was tried as a regicide, condemned and his estates confiscated to the crown. His widow and children and two brothers fled to America and purchased a farm near Stanton, Va., whence the family has spread to other parts of the United States.

The father of our subject was George Reed Clemmons, who was born in North Carolina October 24, 11807, and in 1823 came to this State with other members of the family. Grandfather Clemmons settled in Pike County two years later, the country being then the haunt of wild animals and Indians frequently visited his cabin home. After growing to maturity George Clemmons married Susan Tucker, daughter of Nathan Tucker (see sketch of Mrs. C. E. Bolin), who was born in Kentucky July 7, 1815. The young couple settled on section 1, Detroit Township, clearing land on which to build a log house and lived there until 1855, when Mrs. Clemmons was called hence. The husband removed to Milton, and in partnership with J. O. Bolin carried on a mercantile business four years. He then sold out, and with his son, our subject, began the sale of a general stock, but several years later disposed of his interest and returned to his farm. There he remained a few years with his son, Conway, then became an inmate of the home of our subject with whom he continued until his death, which occurred September 8, 1874. The son, Conway, is now living in Arkansas; he is married and has one child, a daughter, Mollie.

The subject of this biographical sketch was born June 4, 1838, in the township above mentioned and passed his early school days in a log schoolhouse with slab seats, one of his earliest instructors having been L. J. Smitherman, father of the present Supervisor of Detroit Township. When seventeen years of age he begun his own career, his first employment being as clerk in the store of George Underwood in Milton, and his wages $120 per year and board. At the end of the year he received $99 in gold, having spent but $21 and that sum including the payment for his washing. He then worked for his father two years, next going to Pittsfield to attend school and paying for his board by working evenings and Saturdays in the store of Hubbard & Johnson. After six months of study he returned to Milton, became a partner with his father, but after the establishment was sold turned his attention to farming. He gave $5,000 for a farm of one hundred and three acres, operated it a year and a half, and then sold it for the same price that he paid. Returning again to Milton he built a brick store on the corner of the square, and in the spring of 1867 opened the first store which was devoted exclusively to the sale of groceries in that place.

We next find Mr. Clemmons disposing of his stock to Henry Clemmons, and buying an interest in the steamer "Gem," plying between St. Louis and Peoria, and taking the position of second clerk. After the boat was sold he accepted a position in the general store and warehouse of William Cumby, of Montezuma, receiving $40 per month and board for his services during the ensuing three years. He then bought out the proprietor and carried on the store and warehouse, also having charge of the lumberyard of Merrill, Burt & Benson. After two years he abandoned the lumber business and gave his entire attention to the store and warehouse. In 1874 he sold out the business, and coming again to Milton operated a farm for a twelvemonth, then bought and sold stock for two years. He next turned his attention to the carpenter's trade, at which he worked two years, and on the expiration of that period embarked in the business which he is now following so successfully.

July 20, 1870, Mr. Clemmons was united in marriage with Miss Mary Jane Armstrong, daughter of William and Jane (Knox) Armstrong, natives of Ireland. Mrs. Clemmons was born in the Emerald Isle in May, 1845, and is the youngest of five children, four of whom are now living. Her mother died when she was but two years of age, but her father survived until 1876, marrying a second time and having several children by the union. Both he and his first wife belonged to the Methodist Church. Mr. Clemmons came to America in 1869 and direct to this State. She is the mother of eight children, six of whom are now living, viz: Nolan M., Selden Okie, Mary Ellen, Della Jane, Anna Belle and Charles Reed. Mr. Clemmons is the father of two living children by a former marriage, their names being Ella May and Viola Catherine.

In 1871 Mr. Clemmons was initiated into the Masonic order in Milton and he is also an Odd Fellow. He has been Assessor of Montezuma Township and School Director in Milton. He is much interested in educational affairs and his own children are receiving excellent schooling. Politically he is a Republican. He and his wife have been members of the Christian Church for more than twenty years. Mr. Clemmons is a clear-headed man, knowing how to keep his own counsel when it is best to do so, but frank and honest in his business dealings and social intercourse.

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