GLEASON, Moses William
Past and Present of the City of Rockford and Winnebago County, IL, C. A. Church. Chicago: Clarke Publishing Company, 1905, p 791-2
One of the most active and energetic of the early pioneers who located permanently in what is now Winnebago County was M. W. GLEASON, of Guilford Township. His birth occurred at Williamstown [Berkshire County], MA, 15 Sep 1814, and he was the second son of Jesse and Mary GLEASON. He, with his brother Chase, arrived in the early spring of 1836, selected land and made a claim, receiving a deed therefor when the U. S. government first opened a land office at Galena [Jo Daviess County], IL.
William had learned the trade of blacksmith in Bennington, VT, therefore his forge and anvil were a part of the furniture in his hurriedly built log cabin, being the first and only blacksmith shop for many miles around. Some of his customers came long distances, often requiring two days for the trip. He soon made friends among the Indians, who were delighted with the new idea of having their ponies shod and their hunting implements in better shape. [p 792] They soon became very free to come to him for aid in different ways and manifested their gratitude in generous gifts of vension, fish, etc. When the tribe of Pottawattamie decided to move, a son of their chief wished to remain with the blacksmith, but his father would not consent.
The brothers built a more commodious residence and sent east for their father and family, who arrived during the summer of 1837. In this GLEASON home religious services were frequently held, and at one of these meetings in June 1838, the first Sunday school was arranged for, the first superintendent being elected one week later. The mother and two sisters were among the first teachers. This Sunday school has an interesting history, and is now known as "Pioneer Union" Sunday school, and is in a flourishing condition.
William GLEASON made the molds in which the first bricks were shaped in this vicinity, and in 1840 erected a brick residence, then considered a fine house. In 1842 all was ready, and he returned for his waiting bride, Miss Eunice A. GILBERT, of Pownal [Bennington County] VT. She was called to her higher home in 1852, leaving three daughters who are yet living: Mrs. F. S. DUBOIS, Mrs. J. H. POTTER, and Mrs. Job ALEXANDER. [See also the Winnebago County IL bio of Job ALEXANDER.]
Aside from his trade and agricultural pursuits, Mrs. GLEASON engaged quite extensively in sheep husbandry, which he made profitable. All who knew him felt the influence of his cheerful, helpful disposition; he was active in all work for the public benefit and especially interested in the welfare of young men; often sought for in cases of illness; and had the happy faculty of knowing the best thing to do at the right time. He was very fond of music and sincerely patriotic, following the practice of reading, or having read, the Declaration of Independence every 4th of July. He never sought public office, but served in the capacity of supervisor of Guilford Township several years; also school trustee. The last 21 years of his life he was elected as a justice of the peace, and was chosen administrator of several estates. One of his mottoes was "Aim to leave the world better for your being in it." When he was called from his earthly existence, 22 Apr 1883, every one who knew him felt that they had lost a true friend.
Submitted by Cathy Kubly.