ELZA T. LISTER. - Elza T. Lister, who is a representative of the building interests of Springfield, was born in Pickaway county, Ohio, November 13, 1850. His paternal grandfather, for whom he was named, was one of the early settlers of that state and was of German parentage. In the year 1857 Alfred Lister, the father of our subject, came to Illinois, where he carried on agricultural pursuits and also engaged in the building of barns and bridges. At the time of the Civil war he responded to the call of the Union and while at the front he sustained injuries which caused his death when he was fifty-seven years of age. He had wedded Mary J. Southward, who was born in Ohio in 1826 and was of English and German lineage. She died in this state in 1899. In their family were eleven children, eight of whom were born in Ohio. Madison, the eldest was killed at the battle of Jackson, Mississippi, during the Civil war; William, who was also a soldier, is now engaged in farming; Mrs. Margaret Collins makes her home in Kansas; Mrs. Elizabeth Cresap is living in Urbana, Illinois; Elza T. is the fifth in the family; Mrs. Susan Gruver is living in Rantoul, this state; Mrs. Mary Woods makes her home in Omaha, Nebraska; Pleasant is located in the Indian Territory; Mrs. Melinda Doty is living in Fayette county, Illinois; Belle is located in Rantoul, Illinois; and one child died in infancy. All of the children obtained common school educations and Mrs. Collins and Mrs. Cresap engaged in teaching in the district schools of DeWitt county. For many years the family home was in that county.
Elza T. Lister, of this review, was only about seven years of age when his parents removed to DeWitt county, Illinois, and in the common schools of that locality he acquired his education. He was reared upon a farm and early became familiar with the duties and labors that fall to the lot of the agriculturist, but, not wishing to follow the plow as a life work, he entered upon an apprenticeship to the carpenter's trade. He afterward carried on farming and carpentering for many years and in 1877 he left Illinois, going to Kansas, where he continued to engage in agricultural pursuits in connection with carpentering for a short time. He spent ten years in the Sunflower state and while there was employed in the bridge department of the Union Pacific Railroad. For six years he lived in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he began contracting and building on his own account. In 1894 he returned to Springfield, where ht took up the same line of business and he is now largely engaged in the erection of dwellings.
While in Kansas Mr. Lister was married in 1881 to Miss Harriett E. Kent, who was born in London, England, in April, 1862, and was brought to the United States when ten years of age. The family located in Kansas and her parents are both deceased. Her mother died in Kansas and her father was killed in a railroad wreck in England. Mrs. Lister has two brothers: Frederick William Kent is a potter by trade and is now a carpenter and expert stair builder, residing in Lincoln, Nebraska. Sydney John Kent, born in 1855, has been a prominent factor in the knights of Labor. He served for four years as commissioner of industrial statistics in the state legislature of Nebraska and was a Labor candidate for a position on the Lincoln board of education, to which he was selected by the largest majority ever given any man in that city. He acted in that capacity for three years and for one year was its secretary. In 1900 he was elected to the international trade conference and for several years he has been one of the organizers of the American Federation of Labor. Mrs. Annie Harper, a sister of Mrs. Lister, was a stenographer in the London general postoffice for fifteen years and still resides in that city.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Lister have been born nine children, of whom eight are living. Francis G., who is a graduate of the Springfield ward schools and completed a two years' course in mechanical engineering in the State University of Nebraska, where he was graduated, is now a mechanical engineer in the employ of the Wabash Railroad Company. Cecil L., a graduate of the Springfield high school, winning the highest honors and per cent of the class of 1902, is now in the Teachers' Training School. Sydney Madison, who is a graduate of one of the ward schools of Springfield, served an apprenticeship in the blacksmithing department of the Wabash Railroad shops, but was compelled to give up that work on account of the smoke and gas and is now assisting his father. F. Pleasant, Esther A. and Anna V. are all in school. Edgar W. and Kent are at home, and one child died in infancy.
Mr. Lister has taken quite an active part in politics. While in Lincoln, Nebraska, he and his brother-in-law were instrumental in organizing an independent movement in their ward to elect a candidate over a saloon man and were successful at the election. The next year they elected a mayor on the same ticket and from that independent movement sprang the Populist party. Fraternally Mr. Lister is connected with Court Camp, No. 454, M. W. A He was venerable consul one term and he served for two years on its board of managers. He also belongs to the local Carpenters' Union, No. 16. He and his wife are members of the West Side Christian church and the family take an active part in its work, laboring earnestly for its upbuilding and the extension of its influence. In his business affairs Mr. Lister has become well known and many of the fine residences of Springfield stand as monuments to his skill in the builder's art.