Henry County >> 1906 Index

Biographical Review of Henry County, Iowa
Chicago: Hobart Publishing Company, 1906.

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Biographies submitted by Polly Eckles.

Roger S. Galer

Roger S. Galer, one of the prominent attorneys of Mount Pleasant, where he has been located in the practice of his profession for twelve years, was born in Hillsboro, Henry county, Iowa, June 27, 1863, his parents being W. M. and Lucinda (Terrell) Galer. The father was born in Ohio in 1823. His father was a native of Germany and in 1775 crossed the Atlantic, becoming a resident of Pennsylvania, whence he afterward removed to Ohio. In the latter state W. M. Galer was reared and in early manhood he removed to Illinois, where he was variously employed until coming to Iowa in 1852. After a brief residence in Lee county he went to Salem and later to Hillsboro, this state. He was one of the early teachers of Iowa, and followed that profession for several years, contributing to the early intellectual development of the state. In 1864 in response to his country’s need he enlisted in the First Iowa Battery and continued with the army for some time after the close of hostilities. Following his return to Hillsboro he was appointed by President Johnson to the position of postmaster and by re-appointment served continuously in that office for twenty-six years, or until President Cleveland’s second administration, his record surpassing in length of service that of any other postmaster in the state up to that time. On his retirement from the postoffice he permanently put aside business cares.

Long an active worker in the ranks of the republican party, he attended its conventions and put forth effective and far-reaching effort in behalf of party successes. His fraternal relations were with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Grand Army of the Republic. In 1850 he married Miss Lucinda Terrell, the wedding being celebrated in Michigan and they became the parents of four children, who reached adult age. The father died on the 17th of March, 1905, and the mother is still living.

Roger S. Galer began his education in the public schools of Hillsboro, Henry county, and afterward attended Howe’s Academy, at Mount Pleasant, subsequent to which time he entered the State University of Iowa, from which he was graduated in the class of 1885, with the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy. Subsequently the Master of Arts degree was conferred upon him. He, too, was identified with the educational progress of the state, teaching for two years in Howe’s Academy, while for five years he was principal of the Southern Iowa Normal School at Bloomfield, and for two years principal of the Iowa City Academy. In the meantime he had entered upon the reading of law and by examination before the supreme court was admitted to the Iowa bar in 1893.

Mr. Galer at once located for practice in Mount Pleasant, where he has continued successfully as a member of the bar to the present time. He is accorded a large, general clientage, connecting him with much important litigation tried in the courts of the district. He possesses an extensive library with the contents of which he is largely familiar and in his law practice he shows a thorough comprehension of the principles of jurisprudence and correctness in application and logical deduction in argument that have proven the basic elements of his advancement in a calling wherein success depends entirely upon individual merit and capability.

Mr. Galer has gained more than local distinction as an orator, particularly in support of republican principles. An active worker in the party he has served as chairman of the county central committee for a number of terms and has been a delegate to the higher conventions of the party. In his campaign addresses he presents his subject with a clearness and force that never fails to impress his auditors, and while his arguments are based upon strong logic and active reasoning, they are at the same time presented with a simplicity that cannot fail to touch all of his hearers. For six years Mr. Galer served as referee in bankruptcy and he is now a member of the board of education of Mount Pleasant, filling the position for the second term. Deeply interested in the cause of education, his efforts have been a tangible factor in improving the school system of the city and to his labor is largely attributed the revision of the high school course and the establishment of the kindergarten. He has also used his influence for the erection of two additions to school buildings of the city. In addition to his law practice and his public service he is a factor in the business life of this portion of the state, being the vice president of the Hillsboro Savings Bank and the vice president of the Mount Pleasant Telephone Company.

On the 23rd of March, 1887, Mr. Galer was married to Miss Lola Goan, of Mount Pleasant, a daughter of Andrew Goan, for many years a prominent resident of this city. She was educated in the public and high schools of Mount Pleasant and for many years was a successful teacher here and likewise president of the County Teacher’s Association. She has also gained prominence and favorable comment in eastern Iowa as an eloquent and effective speaker, having delivered many addresses at reunions of various kinds, and is today perhaps one of the best known women upon the public platform in this state.

Mr. and Mrs. Galer have one son, Paul B., who is a student in the Iowa Wesleyan University of the class of 1909, having completed preparatory work which gained him entrance into that institution. The family home is a fine residence on East Washington street and their social position is among the most prominent of Mount Pleasant’s citizens. Fraternally Mr. Galer is connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, is chairman of its board of trustees, and thus handles its funds. Gifted by nature with strong, intellectual endowments and cultivating his latent talents and through the industry and enterprise which he has brought to bear in the practice of law and in his political work he stands today as a representative citizen of Mount Pleasant, whose influence has been far-reaching.

Dr. Homer J. Gilfillan , engaged in the practice of medicine in Mount Pleasant, is a native son of Iowa, his birth having occurred in Milton, Van Buren county, on the 28 th of April, 1868. He is a son of Dr. George W. and Josephine (Swartz) Gilfillan. His paternal grandparents were Dr. Edward and Mary (McKinley) Gilfillan, the former born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the latter in West Virginia. The grandfather engaged in the practice of medicine in Washington county, Pennsylvania, for forty years, and was the beloved family physician in many a household. He died there in 1853, while his wife passed away in 1854. In the family were eight children, of whom two are now living, John F. Oberlin Gilfillan married Sarah Reed and is a retired farmer residing in Milton, Iowa.

The other surviving member of the family of Dr. Edward Gilfillan is Dr. George Gilfillan, who was born in West Alexander, Washington county, Pennsylvania, October 25, 1835, and acquired his early education in the common schools there, after which he attended the academy in his native town. Following his father's death he took up the study of medicine with Dr. Swartz as his preceptor, and under his direction pursued his reading and qualified for practice. He came west in 1855, making his way direct to Keokuk, Iowa, where he attended school for two terms and then came to Van Buren county, Iowa, first practicing in Bentonsport.

On the 9 th of May, 1861, Dr. George Gilfillan was married to Miss Josephine O. Swartz, a daughter of Dr. Swartz, of Keosauqua, Iowa, his former preceptor. She was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, in 1836, and was educated in the seminary in Washington, Pennsylvania, of which she is a graduate. Unto this marriage eight children have been born, of whom two died in infancy. The others are: Edward, a book merchant residing in Chicago; Dr. H. J. Gilfillan, of this review; Marietta, the wife of Dr. James Hainline, of Denver, Colorado; Stella, a teacher of instrumental music in Chicago; Nellie, who is also a music teacher in that city; and Maud, who is a teacher in the schools of Henry county.

Dr. George W. Gilfillan is a Mason and both he and wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and Mrs. Gilfillan belongs to the Woman's Relief Corps. They reside at No. 301 North Main St. In his practice Dr. Gilfillan makes a specialty of the diseases of the stomach and bowels, and has been very successful in this branch of medical science. In 1861 he settled in Milton, Van Buren county, Iowa, where he remained until August, 1895, when he removed to Chicago, where he continued in general practice until 1901.

He then came to Mount Pleasant, and as his health does not permit general practice he is confining his attention to stomach troubles. Mrs. Gilfillan has taken a most active interest in music since she was graduated in 1854 from the seminary in Pennsylvania and has been extremely successful as a music teacher. Although now a grandmother she still keeps up her practice in music, and gives lessons. Both Dr. and Mrs. Gilfillan have many excellent qualities of heart and mind that have endeared them to all with whom they have come in contact and the family is one of prominence in Henry county.

Dr. H. J. Gilfillan was educated at the common schools and the high school of Milton, after which he was with the Milton Herald for four years. And then he established the Tri-County Independent, a weekly newspaper at Milton, which he conducted successfully for a time. He then took a course in pharmacy at the Highland Park College, at Des Moines. He then entered the college of Physicians and Surgeons, at Keokuk, from which he was graduated with the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1896.

Soon after his graduation he located at Trenton, this county, where he established a good general practice. Selling his practice he took a post-graduate course in Chicago, in 1901, and then located in Mount Pleasant in October, the same year. He is a member of the Henry County Medical Society, the Iowa State Medical Society and the American Medical Association, and is also examiner for a number of the most prominent life insurance companies.

Here he has a well equipped office on North Main street and enjoys a large patronage, which includes an extensive country practice. He keeps in touch with modern research along medical and surgical lines, and is a scientific practitioner, whose ability is well indicated by the liberal patronage that is accorded him.

Dr. Gilfillan has a beautiful home with elegant surroundings located a 412 North Main street, where he has all the comforts of a modern home.

On the 24 th of August, 1893, Dr. Gilfillan was married to Miss Clara M. Moon, of Milton, Iowa, a daughter of William T. and Arminda (Pabst) Moon, both of whom were natives of Ohio. Mrs. Gilfillan was born in Ohio, October 21, 1873, and began her education in the schools of that state, while later she continued her studies in Milton, Iowa. Six children have been born unto Dr. and Mrs. Gilfillan, all of whom are living: Pauline, Esther, William, Harold, Dorothy, and Clarence.

Dr. Gilfillan is connected with the Odd Fellows and both he and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, of which he has served as a trustee. In his practice he has made a creditable name, adhering closely to a high standard of professional ethics, and conducting his business along scientific lines, which has resulted in successful accomplishment.

EDWIN SPENCER GILL, a retired farmer now residing in Mount Pleasant , was born near New Baltimore, Fairfield county, Ohio , October 5, 1828 , a son of Selmon and Margaret (Dorette) Gill. The father was born in the state of Maryland on the 15 th of December, 1790 , while the mother's birth occurred in that state October 6 th , of the same year.

In early life Mr. Selmon Gill learned the trade of an edge tool maker, which pursuit he followed for ten years. He enlisted for service in the war of 1812, and although he was never called out for active duty, he stood ready at all times to respond in case of his country's need of further aid. It was on the 19 th of December, 1813 , that he wedded Miss Margaret Dorette, the wedding ceremony being performed by Rev. M. Beverley Waugh, who was the second bishop in America . In the year 1820 or 1821 Selmon Gill removed with his family to Ohio and there he carried on farming and blacksmithing with excellent success until 1843, when he came to Iowa, settling on a farm in Lee county, where he made his home with his son Edwin up to the time of his death, which occurred in 1862. The mother passed away three years after their arrival in Iowa , her death occurring in 1846.

Mr. Gill gave his early political support to the whig party, and afterward endorsed republican principles. Having lost his first wife he was married again in Ohio on the 7 th of July 1850 , his second union being with Miss Margaret Chamberlain. By the first marriage there were nine children: William, Henry H., Elenorah, Joshua, Selmon, Margaret, Mary William, Edwin Spencer, Amanda and Rosanna Matilda, but Edwin S. is the only one now living. There were two children of the second marriage, James Harrison and Lucretia.

Edwin Spencer Gill pursued his education in the district schools of Ohio until fourteen years of age, when he came to Iowa and here he spent twenty days in school. The schoolhouse had been built three years after he arrived in Lee county, and it was there that he continued his studies for the brief period mentioned. He first worked on his father's farm, being thus employed until he was able to buy a farm of his own, when he invested in one hundred and sixty acres of land in Franklin township, Lee county. He first erected the small buildings which were most needed, and from time to time he added further improvements. This farm he sold in the fall of 1861, and in January, 1862, he bought a new raw farm of one hundred sixty acres, in Cedar township, which farm was later one of the finest in this section of the state, not having any land that was not tillable and productive, building fine barns and granaries, and at the time he left the farm, about nine years ago, he owned the finest house in the neighborhood, it having been erected in 1875, at a cost of three thousand dollars.

He placed his fields under a high state of cultivation and annually harvested good crops as a reward for his labors. On selling that farm, in 1900, to W. B. Seeley he purchased a tract of land in Henry county, about six miles from Mount Pleasant, which he owned until September 24, 1905, when he sold this property and bought a fine farm of one hundred and ninety-two acres, five miles west of Mount Pleasant. In May, 1898, he built a beautiful cottage on the corner of Locust and East Clay streets in Mount Pleasant , where he has since resided. It stands in the midst of a well kept lawn, adorned with fine roses and flowers of all kinds. There are also various kinds of fruit, including pears, plums and apples, and he has a nice garden.

On the 25 th of January, 1853 , Mr. Gill was married to Miss Nancy McCracken, a daughter of John and Elizabeth (Perrin) McCracken. The mother died during the early girlhood of her daughter. John McCracken was born in Delaware , October 1, 1802 . When three years old he removed with his parents to Franklin county, Ohio . He grew up as a farmer, and in 1824 married Elizabeth Perrin. She died in 1837, and three children survived. He was a class leader of the Methodist Episcopal church for forty years. His death occurred January 7, 1890 . He followed farming throughout his entire life and died in Iowa . By his first marriage he had three children: Susan, who became the wife of Harrison Brown, and after his death married Wesley Harrison, a prominent man of Lee county; Nancy A., who became Mrs. Gill; and Jacob Elijah, who married a Miss McCord, and afterward wedded Miss Garrett. Following the death of his first wife John McCracken wedded Miss Elizabeth Collins, who is now living with her son, near LaCrew , Iowa , at the advanced age of eighty-four years.

Mrs. Gill was born in 1830, and for more than a half century our subject and his wife have traveled life's journey happily together. They have become the parents of seven children: Elizabeth Ellen, born in 1854, is the wife of Emery Pease, of Sharon , Iowa , and has two children. Nancy Amelia, born in 1856, is the wife of Augustus McKey, of California ; Flora Anna, born in 1858, is the wife of Samuel Hampton, of LaCrew, Lee county, Iowa . Fannie Alice died when twenty-three years of age. Edwin Herbert married Aggie Gardener and follows farming near Dover , Iowa . John Francis died at the age of six years. William died when about three years of age. He and his brother John died of diphtheria. The children who have reached mature years have all been afforded excellent educational privileges, some of them attending college in Salem and some having been students in Howe's Academy at Mount Pleasant , Iowa . Two of the daughters, Elizabeth Ellen and Nancy Amelia, have been successful teachers of Lee county.

In politics Mr. Gill has always been a stalwart republican and for a very long period served as school director in Lee county. The cause of education has always found in him a stalwart friend and he has put forth earnest and effective effort to improve the public school system. He and his wife hold membership in the Methodist Episcopal church, of which he has been a trustee for twenty-five years and for some time has been church steward. When Mr. Gill came to Iowa , this part of the state was an unbroken wilderness, covered largely with timber. He is an intelligent man whose life has been characterized by enterprise and who has ever displayed a pleasant, genial nature, so that he has won many friends. In the early days the Indians were more numerous than the white settlers and there were many difficult conditions of pioneer life to be met but as the years passed Mr. Gill overcame all of the hardships in his path and worked his way steadily upward to success, being now in possession of a comfortable competence. His kindly spirit, genial disposition and honorable principles have greatly endeared him to those with whom he has been associated and he is respected by all.