genealogy trails

Christian County Illinois

Named after Christian County in Kentucky through the influence of emigrants from that county.

Established February 15, 1839 as Dane County (Laws, 1839, p. 104). Name changed to Christian County in 1840.

Portrait and biographical record of Christian County, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and   representative citizens, together with biographies of all the Governors of the state, and of the Presidents of the United States.  Chicago, Ill. : Lake City Pub. Co., 1893.  Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards, 2007.

HATTEN GASKINS is an old resident and prominent farmer, who makes his. home on section 16, King Township. He is a native of Illinois, having been born in Saline County, May 6, 1835, to Wilson G. Gaskins, whose birth occurred in Howard County, Ky. The father grew to manhood in his native State, and came to Illinois at an early day, becoming a resident of Gallatin County, afterward a part of Saline County, in 1812. He was one of eleven children. In 1818 he married Lydia Bracken, who was a native of North Carolina. He died at the age of seventy-seven years, about 1872, on the farm where he had resided for so many years. Both he and his wife were members of the Baptist Church, and in politics he was a Democrat.

Hatten Gaskins is one of eleven children, and passed his boyhood and youth at his birthplace. He received a limited education in the subscription schools of the day, but as the family was large he was early set to work, and at the age of eighteen commenced to be self-supporting. His ambition was to possess a good farm, but though he was industrious it was many years before his wish was fulfilled.

In 1861 Mr. Gaskins came to this county from Montgomery County, where he had married Miss Delia Davis, who was born on the Lamoille River, twelve miles from Burlington. Her father, Davis, was a native of Vermont, and her grandfather was under Ethan Allen at the capture of Ticonderoga. Mr. Davis had the contract for furnishing the first telegraph poles in the United States. He died in Fremont, Neb., in 1872.

In 1857 our subject purchased eighty acres of land in this county, and four years later settled permanently upon it. He bought two hundred and forty acres at the rate of $12 per acre. The land was in a wild condition, and often herds of from thirty to forty deer were seen grazing near his home. He has converted his land, which was mainly a swamp, into its present condition. Mr. Gaskins has considerable inventive genius, and in October, 1892, received a patent on a pump of an improved type. He also has invented a windmill, which is so constructed that it is better able to resist wind storms than most on the market.

The marriage of our subject was celebrated on Christmas Day, 1857, and by the union have been born the following children: Henry, who died at the age of nine years; Fannie, wife of Samuel Balsley, a farmer of King Township; Rosa May, who lives in Ellis, Kan., and is the wife of Lewis Morton; Berry, who is at home on the farm; and Betsy, wife of Edwin Vigal, of this township. They are all well educated and have made a good start in life. Our subject and his wife have seven grandchildren, of whom they are very proud. They are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church and were among the charter members of the church, which formerly convened in the little log schoolhouse of the neighborhood. Mr. Gaskins himself built the first schoolhouse in King Township, in 1867.

The first ballot of our subject was cast for Buchanan and he was one of the Democratic party until two years ago. He is now a member of the Farmers' Alliance, and as the author of the Farmers' Alliance Song Book is well known in all parts of the Union. He has attended all of the principal meetings of the organization, and was at the Omaha Convention, which was composed of sixteen hundred and forty delegates. He is a member of the local Alliance and is a leading man of his party. A good singer, his voice has been often heard in the meetings and he is the chief exponent of the Alliance in this neighborhood. He is a natural poet, and has been called the poet of the county.

It is his intention to rent his farm and devote himself to making known the merits of his inventions. During the thirty-two years he has lived in this county he has been a witness of the great changes that have taken place. Taylorville was then a small place, with only one church. He was often several weeks on the journey to and from the nearest trading point, and the roads were so bad that it took two days to go fifteen miles to the mill.

In 1859 he went to the Rocky Mountains, across the plains by team, and was twenty-four days going to the Missouri River and twenty-one days on the return from that point. He spent seven months in the mountains and was one of the second party to enter the region. He made considerable out of his venture, and his wife has a ring which was made from the gold he obtained. Everything in the West was extremely high, and he has paid as high as $24 for a small sack of flour.



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