Alexander County

Biography - John P. Glynn

JOHN P. GLYNN. Pioneers of Cairo who have followed the steady ascent of John P. Glynn up life's ladder are agreed that the highest encomiums are due to the man who has made such an unbiased and unqualified success of a life which, in its beginning, was attended by many hardships and adversities. A more or less cursory review of his early life will be of interest to all, in view of his enviable position in the town in which he was born and where he has spent his life thus far.

John Glynn was born in Cairo, Illinois, September 4, 1860. No pomp or ceremony heralded his advent as a babe into the city in which he was destined to become a prominent and useful citizen, despite the untoward circumstances attendant upon his birth. For he was a son of the soil, in very truth. His father, a humble and of necessity illiterate "Son of Erin," immigrated early in life to fair America. "While still a young man he took a wife. In spite of the trials that go largely to make up the sum of human existence, they lived a quiet and happy life, both living until about the age of sixty-five years. They were the parents of four children who reached years of maturity. Three daughters, Mrs. Thomas H. D. Griffith, of Springfield, Illinois; Mrs. C. W. Wheeler, of Mounds, Illinois, and Mrs. John H. Kierce, of Cairo, Illinois, and John P. Glynn, the subject of this sketch, and, incidentally, the pride of his father's heart.

It was to this boy, the only son, to whom it was given to stir the slumbering fires of ambition in the breast of the Celtic father. Until the son began to be a factor in the life of the elder Glynn, life had been a quiet and humdrum affair. But the budding boy aroused in him the memory of his own youth and the thought of what might have been for him had he been blessed with a little of the education which may be had for the taking in the country of his adoption. And so young John P. was sent to school. It was the plan of the father to enable his son to attain a sufficient education to help him do victorious battle with the great forces in the industrial world. Michael Glynn himself was not a successful man, in the more broadly accepted sense of the word. He somehow lacked the peculiar executive ability necessary to the proper management of the small draying business he had conducted with indifferent success during these years. The growing needs of a family of four children, the eldest three being girls, became so pressing that when the son John, had reached the age of seventeen and had barely begun as a student in Cairo High School, he readily recognized the pressing need for young blood, energy and tact in the management of his father's business interests. Loath to leave his books, fighting sorely against the need to forego, even for a time, the chance to study and fit himself for his chosen profession, his sense of duty was such that he bravely decided to surrender his ambition and give his time to the upbuilding of his father's draying business, which was the sole means of support for the family.

Thus it was that John P. Glynn, with his father's reputation for square and honest dealing, and his father's one horse dray as a foundation for the future, began the upbuilding of a general drayage and transfer business which rapidly grew out of all proportions to his most sanguine hopes or expectations. For a time the boy found himself in a somewhat awkward predicament. He disliked to take the reins of authority from his father's hands, but his innate business ability was such that he knew that very thing to be what the ultimate success of the business demanded. But the father, possessing his own share of wisdom, even though not of the variety which makes wealthy men, early recognized in his bright young son the making of a thorough-going business man, and when he saw that his fellow townspeople Were inclined to place confidence in the boy and, moreover, to throw unusual business in his way, and when he saw the ready ability of the boy to handle the business quickly, accurately and with the minimum expense and the maximum profit, he was glad to shift the burden of responsibility to younger shoulders and content to step down to second place and permit his stripling son to succeed him as head of the business. Thus, from a humble origin, was evolved one of the most flourishing business organizations known to the city of Cairo.

The one horse dray soon became a heavy truck of the regulation order, drawn by a pair of stout and willing horses. Later another dray was added, and gradually the business grew from a mere hauling of trunks and boxes and odd jobs of all kinds to a dray and transfer business, embracing every detail of practical and efficient service, such as Cairo had never known before and well knew how to appreciate.

"The boy is father to the man" it is said, and true enough in the case of John P. Glynn and his father. The prosperous, ambitious and successful boy made the father's later years the happiest of his life, and great was his joy in his ability to do so, but no less great was the father's pride in the son who had helped him to make a success of his later years of business life.

As the city grew the dray and transfer business of the Glynns expanded accordingly, and it became obligatory for them to make some preparations for future housing. Already John Glynn's natural business acumen has caused him to acquire various and sundry bits of property in the business and residence district of the city, and when it became apparent that the crying need of the business was a building of commodious space for a home for their ever spreading interests, he decided to build in the down-town district. He accordingly, in the year 1906, erected a three story building on Commonwealth street, at No. 1214 and 1216, with a depth of one hundred and twenty-five feet. The business, however, proved itself in the short space of three years to be entirely inadequate to their needs and in 1909 he was encouraged by local financiers, who were not slow to recognize his splendid possibilities, to increase his building. This he did by erecting a similar structure at 1210 and 1212 Commonwealth street, immediately adjoining his first building. Tins structure bears the happy distinction of being the only absolutely fireproof building in Southern Illinois. It is built completely of cement and equipped with a thoroughly modern sprinkler and firefighting apparatus, installed at an immense cost, while two elevators ply busily to and fro and further bear out its distinctly modern character.

Additional space made it possible for Mr. Glynn to again branch out into hitherto unexplored waters. He now added to his already ample outfits complete equipments for the safe and easy moving of household goods, pianos, etc., and more modern means of handling freight in car load lots. He opened his fireproof storage rooms to the public, and gave over a portion of one floor to the business of dealing in second hand and new furniture of all kinds. He engaged in the furniture and carpet business, and later established an implement, wagon and harness line, having a large implement warehouse, covering a space of one hundred and twenty-five by two hundred feet. In short, this splendid building is entirely given over to the carrying on in its various departments and branches the mammoth business which has grown apace from the hour of its inception-or, more correctly speaking, since the boy of seventeen years took the reins into his young hands and willed to make of his father's ill paying business a financial success.

Today John P. Glynn commands a place of highest respect in the town of his birth and in the lives of all who have known him. Great enthusiasm is one of his most marked characteristics. No obstacle is too great to be removed by his unfailing optimism and will to overcome every difficulty. A brilliant mind, a vigorous body, indomitable will, courage and unfailing cheerfulness, all unite to form a combination that Fate must surely find hard to vanquish for long.

Three times has Mr. Glynn fared forth on matrimonial ventures. His first wife was Miss Elizabeth McCarthy, who died, leaving a son of eighteen years, Joseph Glynn, who has been educated in business methods to be his father's helper in his later years. He later married Mary Clare Byers, of Nashville, Tennessee, of which union one daughter, Marie Byers Glynn, is the result.

Mr. Glynn, contrary to the average man of Celtic origin, has held himself aloof from all political entanglements. He has eschewed everything that might be calculated to take his mind from the work of conducting the splendid business of which he is the heart and soul. He has never been affiliated with any financial or business society, with the single exception of connection with the Building & Loan Association of Cairo. The property holdings of Mr. Glynn are of great scope, and exceedingly well conducted. One of the finest things ever done for the upbuilding of Cairo was the reclaiming by him of a vast tract of swamp land in the city and the subsequent erecting of modern homes for tenants. In myriad ways has the life of John P. Glynn been a boon and benefit to the city of Cairo and its people-and best of all is the undying example of the truth of the old saying: "Great oaks from little acorns grow." For in very truth, the splendid organization which has come out from the little acorn of honest manly endeavor is today a great oak that flourishes abundantly in the city of its establishment and growth.

Extracted from 1912 History of Southern Illinois, Volume 2, pages 600-602.


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