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Carroll County Biographies

JOHN A. GAAR

John A. Gaar, of York Township, is the fortunate possessor of his father's old homestead, which consists of eighty acres of land, and is pleasantly located on section 29. The family came to this county during its pioneer days, and endured all the hardships and privations incident to life in a new settlement. It may be well, before proceeding with the futher history of our subject, to refer to those from whom he drew his origin.

John P. Gaar, the father of our subject, was born in Orange County, Ky., Sept. 15, 1809, and lived there until reaching man's estate. Upon leaving the Blue Grass regions, he emigrated to Marion County, Ind., where he met Miss Elizabeth Shoemaker, and where, May 9, 1839, they were married. This lady was born in Pregble County, Ohio, Dec. 12, 1812.

After marriage Mr. and Mrs. John P. Gaar came to Illinois, arriving in this county Oct. 31, 1843. The father took up land from the Government, for which he paid $1.25 per acre, and upon which, it is hardly necessary to say, there were no improvements whatever. He built a log house, and a rail fence around his premises. The dwelling was 19 x 20 feet in area, the roof covered with clapboards, a huge fireplace extending nearly across one end, and the chimney was built outside, of earth and sticks. The wooden-hinged door was secured by a latch of the same material, lifted by a string, and the latter would be drawn in at night, so that no intruder could gain an entrance. They brought two children with them, and in this humble dwelling all the younger ones were born. Here also the father died, April 25, 1855.

The children of this union are recorded as follows: Dorcas M. was born April 3, 1840, and was married to Calvin St. Ores April 24, 1856. They had eleven children, of whom ten survive. Cornelius I. was born Feb. 17, 1842, and died in infancy. Rosanna S. was born March 17, 1843, married Andrew J. Miner, and became the mother of six children, four of whom survive. Lavina M. was born Oct. 27, 1845, and was married to Elijah H. Dyson July 26, 1863. John A. was born Jan. 21, 1848, married Miss Mary Switzer Nov. 23, 1875, and is the father of six children, all living. Mary F. was born Sept. 18, 1850, married G. G. Lambert Jan. 1, 1868, and is the mother of six children, two of whom are deceased. Lucretia C. was born Oct. 25, 1852 and died May 7, 1853.

The father was an active memeber of the Presbyterian Church, and died triumphantly in that faith. He was especially interested in the Sabbath school. As there was no society of this denomination is this county, he usually attended the Baptist Church of his neighborhood. The mother is still living, residing in the village of Thomson, and is in the enjoyment of good health.

John A. Gaar pursued his early studies in the primitive schools of his neighborhood, which were carried on in a structure similar to that of the humble dwelling already described, and also attended the Sabbath school inaugurated by his father and the Rev. Ernest Ingham, the elder Gaar officiating then as Superintendent. John at an early age was taught to make himself useful about the homestead, and chose farming for his life occupation.

Upon reaching man's estate, he was married, in Jo Daviess County, Ill., on the 22d of November, 1875, to Miss Mary Switzer, daughter of Israel and Ann (Hawk) Switzer, who were natives of Pennsylvania. The father was born July 25, 1816, and the mother May 29, 1820. They were married Jan. 2, 1844. The record of their children is as follows: Washington was born in Chester County, Pa., Jan. 29, 1846, and married Miss Rachel Phillips Dec. 8, 1869; she was born May 30, 1851. Mary, Mrs. Gaar, was born in Chester Co., Pa., March 15, 1851. Sarah J. was born in this county, Oct. 14, 1859, and married Norman Millard, son of the Rev. J. E. Millard, of York Township, this county, Feb. 26, 1889.

Mr. Switzer came to this county in 1855, and located first near Mt. Carroll, where he lived about five years, and then came to York Township. Here he planted a vineyard of ten acres at a time when the nearest railway station was at Mt. Carroll, and continued to live there several years. His death occurred in Jo Daviess County, June 31, 1881.

To Mr. and Mrs. John A. Gaar there have been born the following children, namely: Archie H., born Nov. 28, 1876; Lawrence I., Nov. 20, 1878; Mark C., Jan. 9, 1881; Harry S., May 9, 1883; John A., April 10, 1885; and Ethel M., July 28, 1888.

Politically, Mr. Gaar votes the Republican ticket, although meddling very little with public affairs. Socially, he belongs to the Masonic fraternity, being a member of Thomson Lodge No. 559.

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