ROBERT R. LINK. On June 4, 1893, was summoned to the Great Beyond the soul of a man whose sterling integrity and most exemplary character have left an indelible impress upon the hearts of his fellow men. At the time when he was called from the scene of his mortal endeavors he was in his sixty-first year, and it may be said of him that he was even then in the very prime of life, and his memory will long remain a fair heritage and example to the younger generation. It may indeed be said of him with all due conservatism that he was one of the finest and most prominent men who ever lived in Ewing. He was the friend of all measures calculated to advance its prosperity and it was one of his distinctions to be one of the five men who founded Ewing College .in 1868, of which institution he was ever the staunch friend and benefactor. Mr. Link was one of the leading Prohibitionists in Illinois, running for state treasurer on that ticket in 1890 and for governor in 1892. His vocation was that of an agriculturist and an educator.
Robert R. Link was born in Wilson county, Tennessee, on the 4th of December, 1832. He was the son of James A. and Catherine (Newman) Link, both of whom were born in North Carolina, where they met and married, removing in the days of their youth to Tennessee. James A. Link was a farmer and slave owner during his lifetime. Robert Link came to Illinois in 1861 and located upon a farm in the vicinity of Ewing, which he had bought previous to his coming, and this farm was the scene of his subsequent life until death called him. In a short time he had gained the confidence and respect of all with whom he came in contact, and eventually became one of the leading men of Ewing. In the early years he taught school in the winter seasons and farmed in summer. In the autumn of 1865 he was elected county superintendent of schools and in 1869 was re-elected by an increased majority, and too much can not be said of the meritorious work he did for the public schools of Franklin county during this trying period
As previously mentioned, Mr. Link was one of the five men who founded Ewing College in 1868, an institution which has ever been the pride of Franklin county, and in which many of the most estimable and successful people of the county have received their education. The worthy spirit of the founders has never been lost in all the intervening years and their example remains a material, intellectual and spiritual blessing to this thorough and progressive college. Mr. Link filled the office of secretary of the institution from its founding until the day of his death, and he always gave freely of his time, talent and substance to the college, and encouraged others to do likewise, and the existence of the institution today is in a greater measure due to his efforts than to any other influence or combined influences brought to bear. He left his regular business affairs to solicit funds and students for the college, and not until it was established on a firm and solid basis did he relax his efforts in its behalf in any degree. In fact, he always spoke of the college as his life work, his other business being regarded by him merely as a means to an end. Never was there a more generous hearted man than Robert R. Link. The boys were his principal responsibility, and
his dearest laborswere in the aiding of poor and orphaned boys to secure an education. Many' a homeless orphan, untutored and without hope owes his education and present position in life to the benignant heart and mind of this kindly gentleman. Instance upon instance might be cited to bear out this fact of his life, but it is sufficient to state that it was so in this review. All who knew him can bear witness to the fact, and those who owe all to his generosity and patient love are ever ready to give eloquent testimony, both by word of mouth and lives of well-spent endeavor. As one who worked his own way through college, he was well able to give timely counsel and aid to other boys similarly situated, and he made frequent reference to his own straitened circumstances in dealing with his proteges. His father, James A. Link, at one time was a wealthy planter and slave owner, but became much reduced financially, so that the education of his son, Robert R. was a matter of which that son of necessity bore the greater responsibility in a financial way. He was fond of relating to hard-working students that once in his college days he needed a pair of shoes, but lacked the wherewithal to make the purchase. He walked home on Friday night, a distance of seven miles, cut a cord of wood, hauled it to town and bought his shoes on Saturday, and walked back to school before Monday morning. It was a favorite recital with him when a Ewing college boy was in need of money for any purpose, and he always finished his story by offering the boy a team, wagon, wood and a market_and it is needless to say that many a worthy youth has relieved his pressing needs in that manner. Never less than eight boys were in attendance at Ewing College under his guidance, and most of them earned their own way, as a result of his careful and wise management. He was always busy. At work upon his farm, lecturing in the interests of the temperance cause, or laboring in the behalf of the beloved college, he might always be found occupied at something. Four o `clock in the morning was his rising hour, and it was not an unusual occurrence for him to arise at two in the morning and drive eighteen miles to meet an early train. His outdoor exercise kept him always in fine physical condition, and at the age of sixty he never expected any man to chop more wood or pitch more hay than he did_and it required a well conditioned man of any age to keep up with the pace he set. His wife partook of the same kindly, generous and energetic nature that characterized him. She was one of the most active women in Ewing, and in her own home was the moving spirit in its domesticity. A woman of plain and quiet instincts, economy was everywhere practiced in the maintenance of the home, but with the college, the church, or any other worthy cause. she was liberal to a fault. To the dependent boys who were always to be found sharing their home she was a veritable Lady Bountiful, and the needy of the community knew the fullness of her large and generous spirit, and it is safe to conjecture that the books of church and college in Ewing will evidence that they gave many times the amount of their personal expenditures to the worthy institutions in which they held so deep an interest. Both Mr. and Mrs. Link were strong advocates of woman suffrage, another manifestation of the fine and progressive spirit of a man who passed to his reward almost ten years before that subject came to be a national issue as it is today. Mr. Link was a gifted orator, possessing gifts of logic and forcefulness which made him a power in any cause he embraced. His whole heart was in the cause of prohibition, and he devoted much of his time to the work of the party. When a nominee for governor on the Prohibition ticket he canvassed the entire state of Illinois, thereby greatly enlarging his acquaintance. His death in 1893, the
year following the campaign, was a matter of deep and widespread regret, and it may well be said of him,
Mr. Link married on October 12, 1862, Miss Eliza Jane Webb, the daughter of Elijah T. and Nancy (Clark) Webb. Elijah Webb was born in Franklin county in 1818 and was one of the first children born in the county, his parents being among the earliest of the pioneers. He answered the dual calling of a farmer and Primitive Baptist minister. His death occurred in 1879, and his wife followed him in 1884.
Of the children born to Mr. and Mrs. Link, four survive at the present time. The eldest, William C., was a graduate from the commercial department of Ewing College, and after successfully filling several positions as a bookkeeper he went on the road as a commercial traveler, was later one of the organizers of the Egyptian Hustlers, and after a remarkable success as a salesman acquired the Hotel MeCreery, in which his success has been even more remarkable.
Alice completed the musical course in Ewing College and occupied the chair of music in that institution for several years, until she married John Richeson, A. M., one of the ablest scholars and teachers Ewing College ever was privileged to own. He was born and raised on a farm near Ewing College, where he was educated. For more than ten years he taught in the `college at different times, holding with distinction nearly every chair in the college. In vacation seasons he traveled all over Southern Illinois, acting as instructor at teachers' institutes in almost every county south of the Mason and Dixon line in the state, and always with unqualified success. When he left that institution he went to the schools of East St. Louis, where he is remembered with love and respect by everyone who was privileged to know him. From there he went to St. Louis, Missouri, as principal of the industrial school, where he still remains, and where his labors are `attended by the same success that has followed him through life.
Effie L. Link graduated in the teachers' course at Ewing College, and was valedictorian of her class. A few weeks subsequent to her graduation she married J. F. Roberts, a wealthy commercial man of Cairo, Illinois, where they now live.
Nancy L. was graduated with high honors in the musical course at Ewing College and she acted as choir leader in college and in church for several years. She was repeatedly offered the chair of music in the college, which she declined. She is now the wife of Robert J. Hall, of Ewing.