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Rev. John D. Gillham - Pastor of the M. E. Church, Cairo - John D. Gillham, clergyman of the medodist Episcopal church, Cairo, Illinois, was born in Jersey County, Illinois, September 17th, 1834. His parents were Ezekiel and Jane (Watson) Gillham. His father had been a soldier in the War of 1812, and afterwards, a farmer, in the modeate way, in Illinois. His moher died when he was but three years old, and his father when he was but ten, and his early life was fraught with trials and privation. For two or three years immediately succeeding the death of his father he made his home with a married sister - Mrs. William Jerome, and when but a mere boy was hired to work by the month on a farm, and in this way earned as much as kept him clothed, while for three months in the winters he attended such schools as teh neighborhood afforded. He never had the privilege of attending college, but by his own unaided industry and perseverance he has become one of the best informed of the day. He is eminently a self made man. In boyhood and youth he was noted dfor the many noble and generous qualities of head and heart which so eminently characterize his maturer years. At the age of eighteen he was employed as clerk in a dry good store in Jerseyville, where he remained two years, when, by the aid of friends, he purchased an interest in a family grocery store, in which business he continued about three years. At teh age of twenty he experienced a change of heart, and became a zealous and ardent member of the Methodist Episcopal church; at the age of twenty-one was licensed to preach teh everlasting gospel; joined the Southern Illinois conference in 1856, and for two years thereafter pursued a preparatory course of studies for the ministry; was ordained a deacon by Bishop Morris in 1858, and an elder by Bishop Simpson in 1860. During the interval he has served as pastor of the following charges: Gillespie, Litchfield, Kane, Upper Alton, Edwardsvills, Salem, Centralia, Nashville and Cairo. He possesses in an eminent degree the most important elements of success - great force of character, with wonderful energy and perseverance. As a minister he ranks among the first of his conference, while faithfulness to duty and actual worth are attested by the success that has attened his labors as a pastor. His sermons are plain, logical, practical and effective, and his name is a treasured keep-sake with the people to whom he has severally ministered.
In politics he has always been a Republican, and at the outbreak of the war was appointed chaplain of the 117th Regiment Illinois Volunteers, which position he filled with great acceptance and usefulness for two years, when failing health compelled him to resign.
He married on the 17th of September, 1857, to MIss Malissa J. Smith, daughter of J. F. and Sarah Smith, of Jerseyville, Illinois, with whom he lived happily till December 4, 1874, when she fell aslleep in Jesus. She was the mother of six children, three of whom survive her - Lewis W., Mary H. and John F. On the 20th of October, 1875, he was married to Miss Sarah A. Shepherd, daughter of F. H. and E. A. Shepherd, of Nashville, Illinois
Source: [The Cairo bulletin., January 18, 1877, Page 3
(From the United States Biographical Dictionary and Portrait Gallery of Eminent and Self Made Men)
Transcribed by Koni Proctor - 12-17-2016]