The most elaborate history is necessarily an abridgement, the historian
being compelled to select his facts and material from a multitude of
details. In every life of honor and usefulness there is no dearth of
incident, and yet in summing up the career of any man the writer needs touch
only those salient points which give the keynote of the character, but
eliminating much that is superfluous. Thus in giving the life record of the
gentleman whose name initiates this sketch sufficient will be said to show
that he is one of the enterprising and progressive citizens of Richland
county, being a well-known horticulturist and hardware merchant.
John F. Jolly was born at Grayville, White county, Illinois, December 2, 1850, the son of John B. and Elizabeth (Ferriman) Jolly, the former a native of Edwards county, of English parents, and the latter of Jamaica, who came with her parents to Edwards county when a child, settling in Albion. Stephen Jolly, grandfather of our subject, emigrated to America from England, locating at Albion, Edwards county, this state, where he died soon after the birth of J. B. Jolly, who is now eighty-four years old and the oldest resident at Grayville, having removed to the latter place about 1847, where he engaged in merchandising for many years. He accumulated a comfortable competency and is now retired. His wife passed away in 1851. The subject is the only child of his parents, his mother having died when he was an infant. He was reared in Grayville, having been educated in the public schools there, also went to school at Normal, Illinois. He became deputy postmaster at Grayville, which position he held for about four years, when he engaged in the mercantile business under the firm name of Jolly, Spring & Hollister, for about four years. Soon afterward, in 1877, he came to Olney and engaged in the hardware business under the firm name of Prunty & Jolly, in which business he has continued successfully ever since. A few years later the firm name became J. B. & J. F. Jolly. In 1904 the present firm organized as Jolly, Wieland & Richardson. These two men had been with Mr. Jolly as clerks for many years, the former as manager of the store and the latter as manager of the manufacturing department of plumbing, tinning and heating. The change was due to the impairment of Mr. Jolly's health.
They carry an extensive line of hardware, stoves, tinware and in fact a complete and carefully selected stock of such things at all times, and they carry on a very extensive trade throughout the county.
Mr. Jolly was united in marriage in 1880, to Mary Morrison, a native of Olney, the daughter of George D. and Kate (Snyder) Morrison, the former a native of Ohio and the latter of Lawrence county, Illinois. The Mormons were originally from Virginia, and the Snyders of Kentucky. The mother resides with her daughter, Mrs. Jolly, in Olney. The father died in 1873, at the age of forty-one years. One daughter has been born to our subject and wife, George Elizabeth, who was educated at Olney in the high school and at Wellesley College. She is a winsome and talented young lady and popular in whatever society she enters.
Mr. Jolly is an active Republican. He was chairman of the County Central Committee for twelve years, and was Mayor of Olney from 1895 to 1896, during which time he did many things that will be of permanent benefit to the town, leaving more money in the treasury at the expiration of his term than ever had been and has been since. His was a most excellent business administration.
In his fraternal relations he belongs to the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Mrs. Jolly is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and is president of the Ladies' Guild, which has raised more money than any similar organization, being largely responsible for the erection of the new church building.
In 1889, owing to poor health, Mr. Jolly went to California and after many months returned to his home much improved. When he came back to Olney it was with the intention of quitting the confinement of the store and engaging in outdoor pursuits, and he accordingly became interested in horticulture, and in the spring of 1890, planted the second commercial orchard in Richland county of eighty acres adjoining Olney. Since then he has bought adjoining tracts and planted additional acreage until now he owns two hundred acres of fine fruit land, set a well selected variety of trees, nearly all of which are bearing. He has been very active along these lines and is one of the best posted and well known horticulturists in Southern Illinois. His work and practical experience and demonstrations, have contributed much to the interest taken by others in bringing Richland county to the front as one of the leading fruit sections in this part of the state, and he now has one of the finest and best kept orchards in the state, from which in 1902 from one hundred acres he sold the apple crop for ten thousand dollars, it having produced ten thousand barrels. He employs modern methods in his horticultural work, and his farm buildings and equipment are of the latest and most up-to-date in this section of the state. The spraying plant is without doubt the most complete in Southern Illinois, if not in the state. He has tanks for manufacturing spray, and the cooking of the same for four thousand gallons capacity, the cooking being done by steam, and gasoline engines for power in spraying. Being enthusiastic in horticulture, it naturally follows that he is a student and active in societies of this nature. For the past ten years he has been president of the Richland County Horticultural Society, which was organized about 1888, although its greatest and best work has been accomplished of late years. He has also been a member of the Illinois Horticultural Society, and for more than seven years a member of its advisory committee, which has been of great benefit to horticultural interests of Richland county. The state makes appropriations for experimental work in various parts of Illinois and the money is judiciously expended by the advisory committee at such points wherein their judgment the best results can be obtained.
Mr. Jolly is a public-spirited man, always ready to do what he can in furthering the interests of the county, and he is regarded by all as one of the county's most useful citizens, and numbers his friends by the scores.
Extracted 26 Apr 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 134-136.