JAMES W. GIBSON. There is probably no family in Virden Township more thoroughly in sympathy with the most progressive movements of the day, both social, religious and educational than that which is represented by the name which appears at the head of this sketch. For the early history of the family the reader is referred to the biography of C. C. Gibson, of Girard Township which is found on another page of this Record.
Our subject, who is the eldest son of his father's family was born in Morgan County, Ill., January 9, 1847, and was about eighteen years old when his parents removed to Macoupin County. He remained under the parental roof until the date of his marriage and has continued to make his home in this county. Agriculture has ever been his life work and upon his father's farm when he was a boy he received that careful drill which has given to him the success which is now his. He received such educational advantages as his parents could give him and made such abundant use of them as to fit him for an intelligent manhood and a life of usefulness.
The happy marriage day of James Gibson and Mary M. Wright, was February 27, 1868 and this union was solemnized in Virden Township at the home of the bride's parents, Preston and Susan (Dawson) Wright. The father of Preston Wright was Allen Wright, who was born November 26, 1789, probably in Hart County, Ky., and died December 17, 1855, in the same county. He took an active part in religious work and was an earnest and consecrated member of the Methodist church. His wife, who bore the name of Hannah Peebles and was also a native of Kentucky, was born July 30, 1793, and died in Hart County, Ky., September 12, 1854, having been the mother of a large family. She was a woman earnestly devoted to her religious work and a consistent member of the Methodist Church.
The father of Susan Dawson (the mother of Mrs. Gibson) was Thomas T. Dawson, a native of Bedford County, Va., where he was born February 19, 1792. He was the son of a native of Normandy, France, who died in Virginia. Thomas Dawson was a man of wealth and his last days ended in Hart County, Ky., December 8, 1879. The mother of Susan Dawson bore the maiden name of Nancy Fitzhugh, and her natal day was August 4, 1794. She passed from earth in Hart County, Ky., June 25, 1883. Mrs. Gibson is thus honorably connected with a number of the most highly respected and intelligent families of Kentucky in the early days and it is not too much to say that in her own life and conduct she abundantly fulfills the record which might be expected of one who is so descended. Her parents were married in Kentucky and removed from that State to this in the fall of 1849, making their home in Virden Township, where the mother died. The father long survived but finally passed away June 29, 1888. He was a prominent man in every circle and for many years acted as School Director most efficiently and advantageously.
The German Baptist Brethren Church is the religious body with which this couple have been long united and for a number of years Mrs. Gibson has been largely connected with church work in the direction of the development and religious training of the little folks. Her truly maternal heart has found in this work what she loves best and the sphere of activity in which she can do the most good and it is indeed a blessing to the community that one so wise and judicious should be bending her energies to the best method of developing the religious life of the children of the church that they may grow into systematic and beautiful Christian lives.
This family occupies the old homestead of the late Preston Wright, comprising some one hundred acres of finely improved land. Upon it is a beautiful residence that is delightfully surrounded and within the walls may be found a harmonious home and the abode of true hospitality. This public spirited man has ever taken a great interest in all matters of public note.
In this connection we give more fully the ancestral history of Mrs. Gibson. John Wright, her great grandfather, was born in 1760 and died in 1839, at the age of seventy-nine. His wife, Phebe, was born in 1754, and passed from earth in 1826 at the age of seventy-two. Their family comprised eight children - Vincent, Allen, Carter, John, Nicy, Elizabeth, Sarah and Anice. The second son, Allen, was born November 26, 1789, and died December 17, 1855. He married a lady whose maiden name was Hannah Peebles, and who emigrated from South Carolina to Hart County, Ky., She was born July 30, 1793, and closed her eyes on the scenes of earth September 12, 1854. Eleven children came to bless their home, viz: John, born October 24, 1811; Elizabeth, July 15, 1813; Sallie, August 9, 1815; Carter, June 9, 1917; Lewis, December 14, 1819; Preston, June 8, 1822; Blatchley, August 31, 1824; Phebe, March 2, 1827; William, December 29, 1829; Robert, February 26, 1832, and David, April 29, 1835.
Mrs. Gibson's great-grandfathers Wright and Lee, served in the Revolutionary War, and the former with his son owned mills and operated as a farmer. Great-grandfather Peebles and his wife reared a family of children whose names were: Abram, Jessie, Bird, John, Mary, Hannah and Betsy. Preston Wright, the fourth son of Allen and Hannah Wright, was born in Hart County, Ky., June 8, 1822, and died January 31, 1888, aged sixty-five years, seven months and twenty-two days. A man of honest principles, he was liberal to the poor and kind to all. His wife, Susan, was born in Hart County, Ky., May 3, 1822, near Munfordsville, in a two-story brick residence along the pike road leading from Louisville to Munfordsville. She was a noble woman, with fine brain power, somewhat poetical, generous, kind hearted, devoted to her husband and children, religious, temperate in all things, and naturally was highly esteemed by all who knew her. Her death occurred October 3, 1865, and was very sudden, with but a few moments warning to husband and children.
Going back four generations in the Dawson family we find it originated in Normandy, a province of France; Mrs. Gibson's great-great-grandfather, Dawson was with William the Conqueror when he subdued England, and held high office in his army, for which his skill and bravery especially fitted him. He possessed commanding talents, and was a Protestant. At an early day he settled in Bedford County, Va., and laid the first plank floor in Winchester, Va. His occupation was that of a gunsmith, carpenter and warrior. Great grandfather Dawson was born in Bedford County, Va., and was a soldier in the Revolutionary War under Gen Green. He was a Methodist in religion and lived to a good old age. He possessed a superb physique, being over six feet tall and a well proportioned man. Late in life he removed to Kentucky. His wife bore the maiden name of Nancy Dollard, was of Scotch-Welsh descent and also attained to great age. Her temperament was poetic and her intellectual abilities of a superior order. Their eight children were named - John, Susan, Thomas, Nancy, Elizabeth, Malinda, Ransom and Boicy Ann. All were Methodists.
Thomas Dawson, the grandfather of Mary M. Gibson was a native of Bedford County, Va., and was born in 1794. He accompanied his father to Kentucky and married Nancy Fitzhugh. To them ten children were born: Elizabeth, born in 1812; Robert, 1814; Nancy, 1816; Mary, 1818; Jeremiah, 1820; Susan, (Mrs. Gibson's mother) 1822; Martha, 1824; Peter, a physician, 1826; Malinda, 1828; Thomas, 1830. The mother of these children was born in Hart County, Ky., and her father, Peter Fitzhugh, served in the Revolutionary War under Gen. Green. Peter Fitzhugh's family comprised the following children: John, Gabriel, George, Robert, Saul, Patsey, Mary and Nancy. The Fitzhugh family was English by descent, a noble race, heroic and honorable, and several members were officers in the Mexican War and also served in the late rebellion.
The ceremony which united the destinies of Preston Wright and Susan Dawson was performed December 14, 1841, and thirteen children were born unto them: Nancy Jane, born October 26, 1842; David Allen, January 2, 1844; Sarah Frances, November 16, 1846; Carter E., May 31, 1848; Mary Margaret, April 10, 1850; an infant unnamed, July 6, 1851; Malinda Darinda, July 26, 1852; Phebe C., April 5, 1854; Thomas Benton, April 16, 1856; Almira Reed, June, 1858; a child unnamed, November 20, 1859; Arabelle, November 16, 1860; Carrie A., February 10, 1865. The parents removed from Hart County, Ky., to Macoupin County, Ill., in the fall of 1849, accompanied by their four children. The fourth child, Carter C., died the day they arrived with friends and relatives at Chesterfield. After visiting there a short time they came twenty or thirty miles northwest and settled upon the fine prairie land. Preston Wright and his brother purchased farms of one hundred and sixty acres each at $3 per acre and built log houses within a quarter of a mile of each other.
At that time deer, wild turkeys and poisonous reptiles were in abundance, and Preston Wright broke many acres of the prairie land in and around where Virden now stands. The nearest market was Alton; hogs brought from two to three cents per pounds, and wheat from seventy five to eighty five cents per bushel. The parents endured all the hardships incident to frontier life and the present generation is now enjoying the rich blessings of the labor of their hands. Five children survive - Nancy Jane, Sarah Frances, Mary M., Malinda D., and Thomas B. The four daughters are farmers' wives. Thomas B. is a Methodist minister, and prior to beginning his ministry was a school teacher receiving the highest salaries for country schools, $80 and $85 per month. He is a good exhorter, a splendid singer and a wise counselor among his flock. From generation to generation the members of the Wright family have been good singers and zealous working Christians of honest principles.
The lady who became the wife of our subject was born April 10, 1850, and was united in marriage with James W. Gibson February 27, 1868. This being 1891 is the twenty-third year of their wedded life and during the past ten years they have resided at the home of Mrs. Gibson's childhood days, which is as lovely a spot as the eyes of our human nature may behold. Seven children have been born to bless this happy union, viz: Carrie B., born January 5, 1869; Laura E., April 1, 1872; William E., November 27, 1873; Preston C., September 25, 1875; David C., September 20, 1878; Lemuel E., December 7, 1880, and Eva Lena, September 29, 1884. Laura E. died at the age of ten months. Carrie, the eldest child, commenced teaching school at the age of nineteen and is now, at twenty-two, holding a first-grade certificate with the honor of getting the highest grade of any one in the county.
Mrs. Gibson has made it the object of her life to work for Christ and Him crucified, striving to honor Him in word or deed. It was always her longing that Christ would give her a life-work for His sake, and this He did when she was thirty-six years old. In working in the Childrens' Mission in behalf of the German Baptist faith, in writing for the press, addressing the children, collecting pennies for the spread of the Gospel in its primitive purity and simplicity, her time is fully occupied and she may feel she is doing something in His name and for His glory. It is her prayer that the good work may go on and be kept sacred after all that is mortal of her shall be laid away in the silent earth. It has been her delight and her husband's also to take into their home orphan children and reared them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, together with their own children, all of whom accepted the cross of Christ in their youthful days.