SAMUEL S. GARST. Of German origin, the family of our subject settled in an early day in the Southern States and the gentleman himself was born in Washington County, E. Tenn., October 15, 1839. He now resides on section 9, Nilwood Township. His father, Jacob Garst, was born in Roanoke County, Va. His mother was Catherine (Wrightsman) Garst and was also born in Virginia, where they met and married and from there emigrated to Tennessee where the mother died in Washington County. The father removed to Macoupin County in the fall of 1868 and settled in Nilwood Township where he lived until about 1866 when he went to Montgomery County, to live with a daughter, Mrs. Mary Brown. One son was the fruit of the marriage of Jacob and Catherine Garst. That son is the subject of this sketch.
The original of this sketch arrived at manhood while in Washington County, Tenn., and when about twenty years of age he came to Greene County, Ill., and in the fall of 1859 and the following spring he came to Girard, and soon after engaged himself in farming in Nilwood Township. Agriculture has been his chief business in life. Since his removal from Tennessee he has spent the major portion of his time in Nilwood with the exception of about four years when he was in the army. When the first call for volunteers was made Mr. Garst enlisted in the fall of 1861, in the Second Regiment of Illinois Light Artillery of Company G. He served during the war until it closed and his memory is stored with incidents that are striking and interesting as historical events.
Mr. Garst took part in many of the engagements that had the most important effect. He was present at the battle of Marion City, Tenn., also Jackson, Tenn, Oxford, Miss., at the siege of Vicksburg, Tupelo, Miss., and Nashville, Tenn. He was, however, sent out with a foraging expedition at Coldwater, Miss., where he was taken prisoner and was held for eight months. During this period he was confined in the rebel prison at Selma, Ala., Cahauba, Ala., Macon, Ga., and at Andersonville. Only the last of these places is known to the general public in all the terror which it presented to the prisoner who was confined within its awful inclosure. Only a veteran of the war who has undergone a similar experience of confinement can appreciate the situation of one who has thus suffered. The other prison of minor note were bad enough, but Andersonville seemed to have among its guards men who were natural instruments of torture. While en route from Macon to Andersonville, Mr. Garst effected his escape, but he was recaptured in about one month by the efforts of the bloodhounds which were put upon his track. To the imagination the baying demons of the chase would seem bad enough, but think of the victim of their pursuit cowering before their angry, foamflecked, yawning mouths. It was either to yield to his captors or to be torn to pieces by the hounds and the sweet hope of life forbade him to yield himself to those dread pursuers in death.
While in Andersonville our subject was detailed on a wood party and finding a good opportunity he hid in a ditch until night when he made his escape. About seven weeks later he was again caught by the bloodhounds and was taken in chains to Macon, Ga. Here he was paroled for nearly two weeks and was then sent back to Andersonville. He had been there, however, but a short time when the prisoners were taken out to be exchanged, and while thus free for a time he again made his escape and in about one week he succeeded in reaching Wilson's Cavalry and was safe.
When the war was over and he had received his discharge our subject returned to Nilwood and resumed his occupation of farming. He has here resided ever since with the exception of three years when he lived in Montgomery County, Ill. He was married in Nilwood Township, March 1, 1866 to Miss Nancy Thacker, a daughter of Z. Thacker, a sketch of whom may be found on another page of this volume. The lady was born near Palmyra, Macoupin County, February 10, 1847.
Mr. and Mrs. Garst are the parents of eight children, their names being respectively: Mary A., who is the wife of M. P. Clarady; Ida V., Samuel L., Nancy A., Charles M., Ethel M., and Jesse T. One child died in infancy. Mr. Garst has held the offices of Highway Commissioner and School Director for some time. He is a member of Luke Mayfield Post, No. 516, G.A.R. He is a member of Chapter No. 132 of Girard Lodge, No. 171 F. & A.M. He has been Counsel of the G.A.R. for three terms. Politically the original of this sketch is an adherent of the Republican party having cast his vote with them for many years. He has also been a member of the County Central Committee for several years.
He of whom we write has erected a very pleasant home upon his place which comprises three hundred and eighty acres of good land, well improved and in an excellent state of cultivation. His home is comfortable and convenient and the presiding genius thereof, his estimable wife, gives it a tone that only a woman of delicate refinement and extreme adaptability is capable of doing. Mr. and Mrs. Garst are members of the Baptist Church, doing all in their power to uphold the religious teachings of that body in their community.