JOHN GAY, an enterprising and intelligent farmer of Empire Township, owns and occupies a comfortable homestead of 200 acres on section 3. He is a native of Pickaway County, Ohio, and was born in 1842, being the son of James Gay, deceased.

The latter was also a native of Ohio, his birth occurring in Pickaway County on the 1st of April, 1809. The father of the latter, John Gay, Sr., removed from his native State of Pennsylvania to Pickaway County, Ohio, being among the earliest settlers of that region.

He purchased a tract of timber land, cleared a farm from the wilderness, and established a comfortable home, where he passed the remainder of his days. There James Gay, the father of our subject, grew to manhood, and was married to Miss Permelia Ross, a native of New Jersey.

He inherited a part of the old homestead in Pickaway County and lived upon it until the fall of 1852. Then, accompanied by his wife and ten children, he started overland to Illinois. After twelve days' travel they landed in Piatt County, where James Gay cultivated a tract of rented land for two years and then coming into McLean County, purchased the northeast quarter of section 3, in what is now Empire Township.

Thirty acres of this was broken and fenced, and there was upon it a frame house and log stable. Here, the father of our subject settled with his family, and here his life terminated on the 6th of July, 1881.

He had been prosperous in his farming and business operations, and at the time of his death his land was finely improved, well fenced and under a good state of cultivation. The wife and mother departed this life Feb. 17, 1871.

One child was born to them after coming into this State, and of the eleven born to them the record is as follows: David died in Empire Township; Mary was married and her husband died in the army, and she now lives at Weedman Station; Margaret, the widow of Abner Brown, lives with her brother on the old homestead; Martha became the wife of Chamber Dynes, and died on the homestead in 1870; our subject was the next in order of birth; Elizabeth married F. M. Rutledge, and lives in Empire Township; Eliza, Mrs. C. H. Best, lives in Shelby County, Iowa; Reason R. lives in Hancock County, Iowa; William, in Farmer City; Sarah, Mrs. Frank McFarland, in Nobles County, Minn.; Mary F., Mrs. Jacob Williams, in Empire Township.

John Gay was a lad of twelve years old when he came to this county with his parents. His youth and childhood were spent in attendance at the district school and assisting his father on the farm, and he lived with his parents until one year before his marriage.

He then engaged with his brother David in operating a rented farm for about five years, and afterward rented a farm by himself west of Le Roy, upon which he remained until after the death of his wife. He then returned to the old homestead for a year, and with the exception of the time that he was engaged with his brother William, has been a resident there since.

His marriage with Miss Mary L. Buckles occurred in 1867, at the home of the bride's parents in Downs Township. Mrs. Gay was born in Empire Township, and is the daughter of Peter Buckles, one of the early pioneers of this county.

Our subject is Democratic in politics, and in all respects is fulfilling the obligations of a good citizen.

Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States.  (Chicago:  Chapman Brothers, 1887), 321.  Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards. 


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