John Wesley Yantis (1855-1945) was a prominent member of the Democratic Party in Shelby County, Ill. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Yantis held many local and state political appointments, including supervisor of Shelbyville Township, member of the State Board of Equalization, and secretary of the Illinois Railroad and Warehouse Commission. In addition to those appointments Yantis served the party as an effective campaign consultant and activist, in Shelby County and elsewhere in the state.
Yantis also held leadership positions in many political and social organizations, including the Knights Templar, International Order of Odd Fellows, Ancient Order of United Workmen, Knights of Pythias, and Modern Woodmen of America. He was a board member of the Orphans' Home in Lincoln, chairman of the Old Folks' Home in Mattoon, and secretary of the Century Coal Company in Tower Hill, Ill.
This collection contains correspondence pertaining to the 1908 election, the Century Coal Company, William Jennings Bryan, Yantis' interest in becoming U.S. Marshall of the Eastern District of Illinois (1913-14), the experiences of Yantis' friend L. M. Kagy as a member of the Joint Land Commission at the Panama Canal (1914-15), and a vacancy on the federal bench of the Eastern District of Illinois (1917). The collection also includes political campaign materials, including pamphlets, fliers, and newspaper clippings, from the elections of 1908, 1912, and 1914.
John A. Yantis of Shelbyville, Ill., donated the collection to the Illinois Historical Survey in 1974.