James Gibbons


Carroll County IL Biography



For a period of nearly forty years the subject of this sketch has been an interested witness of the growth and the development of Northern Illinois, having come to this section in the spring of 1851. He located first in Hanover Township, Jo Daviess County, and thence came to his present location in October, 1870. He has a well-regulated farm, occupying a portion of sections 17 and 8, the dwelling and eighty acres lying on the first mentioned, and twenty-six and a half acres on the last. This he has built up from the primitive soil until it is now a productive farm, yielding him a comfortable income. Mr. Gibbons has effected all the improvements thereon himself and has a comfortable dwelling, a good barn, together with a fair assortment of live-stock and machinery. This property he has built up from first principles, having begun life for himself without other capital than his strong hands and persevering will.

A native of County Mayo, Ireland, our subject was born in the year 1835, and is a descendant of pure Irish stock, being the son of Tobias and Bridget (Maloy) Gibbons, who were also born and reared in County Mayo, where the father operated as a farmer in modest circumstances. To the parents of our subject there were born eleven children, two of whom are living and making their home in Carroll County. The parents lived to a ripe old age, the father dying when seventy-eight years old, and the mother surviving until she had rounded up a long life of one hundred and two years. They were faithful adherents of the Catholic Church. At the age of ninety years the mother set out alone for America and joined her children in Jo Daviess County, after which she made her home with her sons, James and William, and died at the residence of the latter in Hanover Township, in September, 1874. She was a most remarkable woman in many respects, sound in mind and body during nearly the whole of her entire life, and until within three months of her death had never taken a dose of medicine.

The subject of this sketch was the tenth child of the parental family, which consisted of nine sons and two daughters. He attended school in his native county and remained with his parents until a lad of fourteen years. He then set out alone for the United States, taking passage at Liverpool on the sailing-vessel “Zenobia,” on the 20th of February, 1851, which landed him in New Orleans on Easter Sunday following. Thence he proceeded up the Mississippi to Galena, there joining his brother, William, who had emigrated to this region in 1848.

Young Gibbons still pursued his independent course, making his own way unaided with comparatively little difficulty, being blessed with good health, stout muscles, and honesty of purpose. He readily found friends, and in due time, reaching manhood, was married in Galena, May 19, 1855, to Miss Catherine McGuire. This lady was born in County Fermanagh, Ireland, Aug. 12, 1840, and is the daughter of Edward and Mary (Beagan) McGuire, who were natives of the same place, where they spent their entire lives engaged in farming pursuits. Neither lived to be aged. Their family consisted of seven children, three boys and four girls, of which Mrs. Gibbons was the youngest.

Mrs. James Gibbons, after the decease of her parents, and when between fourteen and fifteen years of age, came to America in company with friends, and proceeding directly to Jo Daviess County, this State, they all located at New Diggings. A short time later, however, she took up her residence in Galena, and upon reaching womanhood became the wife of our subject. She proved a most efficient helpmate and companion, assisting him in building up the homestead, performing all her duties as wife and mother in the most praise-worthy manner, and departed from the scenes of earth on the 8th of August, 1888, at her home in Washington Township. She had been reared in the Catholic faith of her forefathers, and to this she clung tenaciously all her life, being identified with the congregation at Savanna many years.

To Mr. and Mrs. Gibbons there was born a family of eleven children, three of whom, Thomas J., Mary E., and Edward, died in early childhood, in Hanover Township, Jo Daviess County; Vinnie died in Washington Township when ten months old, and an infant unnamed also died here. The eldest surviving daughter, Emma J., remains under the home roof, and looks after the domestic affairs of the family. Eva took kindly to her books and received an excellent education in Galena and Fulton. She has for some time been following the profession of teacher in Washington Township, and is very successful and popular. William J., John F., Albert, and Laura remain at the homestead.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Gibbons are people of more than ordinary intelligence. They have reared a fine family of children and made for themselves a good record as neighbors and citizens. Mr. Gibbons cast his first Presidential vote for James Buchanan, and still remains a stanch supporter of Democratic principles. He has never aspired to office, preferring to give his time and attention to his farming interests and let others, who would perhaps not make as efficient farmers, look after the political affairs of the township. His success has been the result of close application to business, and the plodding industry which seldom fails to attain its object.

Transcribed & Contributed by Carol Parrish from Portraits and Biographical 1889 Pg 875

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