JOHN W. IRVINE. The business of the merchant is not only one that may be the road to success, but, what is better, in this country, certainly, it is one of the most honorable of avocations and those engaged in it are, as a class, composed of the very ablest and brightest of the land. It is the way to social distinction, to wealth and to fame, if one wishes the latter. In the list of worthy and honorable business men of Cleburne County, Arkansas, the subject of this sketch appears as one of the brightest and most successful, and is in every way entitled to the confidence and esteem of his fellow citizens.
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He was born five miles east of Heber, Arkansas, in 1865, to Dr. William and Keziah (Magness) Irvine, the former of whom was born in Kentucky and graduated from the Louisville and New Orleans Medical Colleges. When still a young man he came to Arkansas and began practicing his profession in Van Buren County, afterward went to Independence County, and during the great Civil War was a surgeon in the Confederate service from the commencement until the close. He was a skillful physician, had an extensive practice and was highly honored as a citizen. Socially he was a Mason, politically a Democrat, and he had long been a member of the Methodist Church prior to his death, which occurred in 1881, when he was forty-five years of age. The mother of the subject of this sketch died when he was a child and the Doctor afterward married Nancy Arnold, the widow of Clay Tunstall, and she is still living in Independence County. The Magness family is one of the oldest and wealthiest and most prominent in Arkansas, and the maternal grandfather of Mr. Irvine was John A. Magness, and Col. Morgan Magness was his uncle. John W. Irvine has one sister who is deceased and he has a half-brother, C. E. Irvine, who is a resident of Heber.
Owing to the death of his father, John W. Irvine had to commence the battle of life for himself at the age of fourteen years and his first work was as a clerk in a drug store at Newport, where he remained two years, the first year working for his board and clothes. He was then with Drs. Kennerly & Magness at Newark for a time, and upon leaving them he commenced business for himself in Oil Trough Bottoms. In a short time he lost all he had by fire, after which he came to Cleburne County and commenced farming and raising stock, giving particular attention to the latter occupation which he found both profitable and pleasing, for he has always been a great admirer of fine stock of all kinds. He introduced some very fine stock in the way of horses, cattle, hogs and chickens, and continued farming for some time, then sold out and embarked in the general mercantile business at Sugar Loaf, where he has a fine stock of goods and an extended and paying trade. He has always been full of enterprise and push, has been wise enough to see and grasp at all opportunities that have presented themselves, and although he met with some reverses at the outset of his career, his energy has carried him through and he is now independent. He was married to the daughter of William and Jane (Gattin) Taylor of Van Buren County, and they have a comfortable, pleasant and hospitable home.