Smysor Plaza Portraits
The Story Behind the Portraits
Near Smysor Plaza are eight paintings dedicated to people who have been critical to the development and betterment of Murphysboro.
Various Murphysboro artists
Address: 1203 Walnut Street
GPS - Lat: 37°45'49.8"N Lon: 89°20'10.0"W
George Washington Smith was born in Putnam County, Ohio, and moved with his father to Wayne County, Illinois, in 1850, and learned the blacksmith trade. In 1868 he graduated from the literary department of McKendree College.
He then went to Indiana University, where he received a law degree in 1870. He was admitted to the bar the same year and set up his practice in Murphysboro, serving as Master in Chancery from 1880-1888. In 1884, he married Mary Alice Dailey, also of Murphysboro.
Smith was elected to the 51st and the nine succeeding Congresses, serving from March 4, 1889, until his death on November 30, 1907. He served as chairman of the Committee on Private Land Claims (54th through 59th Congresses). He was interred in the City Cemetery.
Dr. John Logan was born November 16, 1788, in Monaghan County, Ireland, of Scotch-Irish descent. He came to the United States with his parents, John and Elizabeth (Pharrell) Logan, in 1793. He moved to Jackson County in 1822, where he married Elizabeth Jenkins. Dr. Logan served four terms in the Illinois Legislature and became a friend of Abraham Lincoln. In 1839, Lincoln suggested that Logan county be named in his honor. In 1843, Dr. Logan gave land for the new county seat of Murphysboro and soon built the Logan House Hotel on this site. He is the father of General John A. Logan. Dr. Logan died on November 4, 1853, and is buried in Murphysboro, IL.
Sallie Logan was born April 15, 1851, to Sara Ann, a direct descendant of John Hancock, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Sallie and her family moved to the Carbondale area when she was 17.
Sallie and Tom Logan (John A.'s brother) were married August 23, 1873, and in 1891, acquired land located at 18th and Walnut and built a large brick residence.
She was described as "neat and dainty and always met you with a smile. She was very positive in her views and usually won out, but she was generally right...strong and high spirited."
After Tom's death in 1907, she took his place as a director of the Murphysboro Electric Railway, Light, Heat & Power Company and the Murphysboro Telephone Company. She also served a secretary and treasurer of the company and was known throughout the community for her business sense and philanthropy.
Sallie died on April 29, 1936 and wished her residence and property be accepted by the city for use "in perpetuity as a free public library and community and social center for the benefit and common good of the inhabitants of Murphysboro," and that the name "shall always be known as the Sallie Logan Public Library." On Monday, May 2, 1938 the library, in the former Logan home, was opened to the public.
Harry Albert Herring was known for his outstanding work in the field of fire-fighters. Fire Chief Herring retired from active service in September 1945, after serving in that office for 45 years. He organized the Egyptian Fire Fighters Association soon after the tornado of March 1925. He was the only living honorary life member of both the International Fire Chief's Association and the Pacific Association of Fire Chiefs, was a member of the Illinois State Fireman's Association, and president of the Murphysboro Park Board. He achieved national recognition for his organization of fire prevention education in the public schools, a program that he saw become a nationwide part of the public school efforts
The Deal Brothers were legendary figures in Murphysboro, gaining reputations with their blacksmith trade and as civic-minded contributors to the town and Southern Illinois. Visits to their blacksmith and grocery store at 17th and Logan Street created lifetime memories. Jim and Ben came to Murphysboro from Mississippi in 1922, and Jim was later honored on the national television program "This Is Your Life" for his work on the Bald Knob cross. The wisdom they imparted was simple: "when you tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said."
Dr. Andrew R. Esposito of Murphysboro, IL, a veteran of the WW II Army Medical Corps, was a well-known and respected physician/surgeon. He would also become the medical director of the Jackson County Nursing Home, a medical adviser to the county health department, and a practitioner at the Eurma C. Hayes Clinic in Carbondale.
Active in professional groups, civic organizations, and church, Esposito headed the Southern Illinois Medical Association during its 100th anniversary year. He also directed the Jackson County and Illinois Heart Associations, and the Jackson County Mental Health Association, and Jackson County Medical Society. He was also on the board of the Illinois Chapter, American Cancer Society.
Over the years, two separate Murphysboro mayors declared a day honoring his life of service to the city. In 1998 he was grand marshal of the Murphysboro Apple Festival Grand Parade. He also received Quality of Life Services Inc.'s Quality Service Award.
Carl Lee was one of the first blacks to graduate from Southern Illinois Normal University in 1928. (SINU later became SIUC.). While attending SINU, he created the Dunbar Society, which later became the Jackson County Branch of the NAACP. Years later, the Jackson County NAACP honored Carl Lee with a Banquet.
Mr. Lee was appointed by Governor Henry Horner in 1940 to a 15 member State Commission to plan the “Negro Exposition” in Chicago that celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.
He obtained two law degrees from the University of Illinois, but never practiced law, saying he preferred to educate children instead. He attended Bethel AME church in Murphysboro, served on the Murphysboro Zoning Board, and The Murphysboro Retired Teachers Association Board. When prominent members of the community like Flynn Robinson came back to Murphysboro, it was Carl Lee who was asked to introduce them. It is also mentioned in a few articles that he was a poet.
He was the first black person in Murphysboro to have a day proclaimed in their honor in 1976, that day has been recognized each year since by the Murphysboro Black Alumni Society.
Sister Mary Bede, a "spiritual presence in the city of Murphysboro," was a staple of St. Joseph Memorial Hospital since her start there in 1960, including periods as a hospital administrator, nurse supervisor, and Director of Nursing for the facility.
She was the first woman to get a citizenship award from the city of Murphysboro in the 1970s. She was also the first woman to receive the Minerva Award, given by the Murphysboro Chamber of Commerce. She also started and led the annual prayer breakfast for the Apple Festival, which included pastors from all denominations. She was described as "always first with sound advice and a friendly smile."