Published by Brink, McDonough & Co., Philadelphia
HISTORY OF MACOUPIN COUNTY, ILLINOIS
DESCRIPTIVE OF ITS SCENERY,
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF SOME OF ITS PROMINENT MEN AND PIONEERS.
CAPTAIN THOMAS S. GELDER was born in Yorkshire, England, March 1, 1809. His father was John Gelder, and his mother Elizabeth Shearburn, and the subject of this sketch was the second of a family of five children, of whom only two are now living - Capt. Gelder and his sister Sarah, widow of the late Judge Ambrose Sycoff of Jersey county. In the year 1831 John Gelder emigrated with his family to America, settling in Chesterfield township on the farm now occupied by his son. He built a log cabin, which at the time of its construction was the largest log building in the county, with the exception of the courthouse. He died December 23, 1851, at the age of seventy-three years and four days. His wife, Elizabeth, died March 24, 1847, aged sixty-one years. During their lifetime they were both communicants in the Episcopal church. Capt. Gelder's father assisted in organizing the Episcopal church at Chesterfileld, and was one of its wardens till he died. He was a whig in politics, and a man of many excellent traits of character.
The subject of this biography secured his early education in Yrokshire, England. He attended the common parish schools, and also a boarding school at Whiston, near Rotheram. After leaving school he assisted his father on the farm. He concluded to emigrate to America, and landed at Baltimore July 16, 1830. Traveling through Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky, he reached Carrollton, in Greene county, in November, about a year earlier than the date at which his father reached this country. In June, 1831, he enlisted for the Black Hawk war, in Capt. Smith's company. He took part in the various campaigns against the Indians, and was stationed for a time at a place opposite Fort Armstrong, where he was discharged from the service at the close of the war. He received for his services a dollar day, and had to find his own horse and accoutrements. In the fall, of his return, his father reached Carrollton with the family and Capt. Gelder settled with them in Macoupin county. He was shortly afterward naturalized, and was the first person of foreign birth to make application for citizenship after the organization of Macoupin county.
October 1, 1836, he married Ann Quarton, daughter of Thomas and Lydia Quarton. Her parents were natives of Yorkshire, England; came to America in 1829, and settled near Linnville, in Morgan county. By this marriage there were nine children, four of whom are deceased. Of those living, the only son, John Gelder, resides at Virden, and is one of the large and successful farmers of Macoupin county. The oldest daughter, Elizabeth Ann, is the wife of Lewis Terrel, a farmer of Jersey county. Mary Frances married Charles Lewis, a resident of this county. Sarah Ellen is the wife of F. W. Shearburn, and resides in Sangamon county. The youngest daugher, Clara, married Peter G. Randolph, a hardware merchant of Morrisonville, in Christian county. His first wife died on the 12th of December, 1855, aged forty years. His second marriage occurred May 14, 1857, to Ruth Louisa Chapin, daugher of Daniel Chapin. She was born at Newport, New Hampshire, and is a lady of more than ordinary culture and refinement. She was a member of the first class which graduated from the Monticella Female Seminary.
Capt. Gelder has been one the successful farmers of the county and a man of high personal character and standing. In early life he was a whig, and the first vote after his naturalization was cast for Henry Clay for president. He has voted at every subsequent presidential election. On the dissolution of the whig organization he became a republican, and was one of the strong supporters of the politics of that party in opposition to the extension of slavery into the Territories, and afterwards when the Rebellion broke out, vigorously seconded the efforts of the administration to save the Union. He had the honor of voting twice for Abraham Lincoln, with whom he was on terms of personal acquaintance, and with whom he served in the Black Hawk war. During the late war of the Rebellion, Macoupin county did not have a more patriotic citizen. He contributed liberally of his means, so the the wives and children of the soldiers absent in the army should be comforably clad and fed. He was appointed agent to assist in sending provisions to the soldiers, and aided largely in collecting the supplies sent South through the department at Springfield. He came to this county with scanty means, but his native ability, honesty and integrity soon placed him on the sure road to success and independent circumstances. He has dispensed a liberal and generous hosptiality, and in the earlier history of the county has entertained under his roof many men prominent in the history of the State, among whom were Stephen A. Douglas, Governor John Reynolds, Governor Thomas Carlin and Richard Yates. He is a member of the Episcopal church at Chesterfield, of which he has been senior warden since his father's death. Mrs. Gelder is a Congregationalist.
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