JOHN GWILLIM. Few successful men of Macoupin county deserve greater credit for what they have accomplished than John Gwillim, who came to America from a foreign land as a boy of seventeen and in the face of many difficulties has won his way to a place of large responsibility. His farm is one of the most attractive properties of its size in the county and he has just cause to take pride in its neat and application. He is a native of Llangwm, Monmouthsire, England, born August 31, 1853, and is a son of James Gwillim, , who was born on the C. W. M. farm, in the parish of Abbeydoor, Herefordshire, in 1825, and died February 28, 1901. The mother, whose maiden name was Temperance Griffiths, was born in Tylloyd, Llansoy Parish, Monmouthshire, in 1829. The Gwillim and Griffiths families were both long established in Wales, but lived for many generations in England.
James Gwillim, the father of our subject, received his education in the public schools and continued on his father's farm until twenty-one years of age. He then engaged in work upon a farm with his brother and two years later was married to Temperance Griffiths. After his marriage he farmed on his own account and, being a man of unusual energy and good business judgment, he was remarkably successful. In 1881 he purchased twenty-five acres of land for which he paid about seven hundred and fifty acres an acre. In 1895 he increased his holdings by seventy acres, being also the owner of two cottages. He was a deacon in the Episcopal church at Llansoy and was a man of high standing and wide influence. In his family were ten children: Elizabeth, who died at the age of eighteen years; Julia Temperance, who is now living near Ross, in Herefordshire; John, of this review; Alfred, who held the trophy as champion plowman of England for twenty years and is now living near Ross, in Herefordshire; Clara, who married Caleb Madley and lives on the Pill Farm, at Magor, Monmouthshire; Sarah, who was a school teacher and died at the age of thirty; Ellen, who died at the age of five years; Percy, who died in infancy; George, who is a farmer of Shipman township; Macoupin county; and Arthur, who lives at Magor, Monmouthshire.
John Gwillim was reared under the paternal roof and received his education at Raglan, which he obtained under some difficulties, as he was obliged to walk four miles to school. He continued with his parents until seventeen years of age and then came alone to America, being desirous of finding out for himself concerning the possibilities in this country for an ambitious young man. He spent three months at Penn Yan, New York, and then returned home where he remained until March, 1871, when he crossed the ocean once more, going direct to Virden, Illinois. He worked for several months on a farm and then secured employment in a grain elevator at Virden. During the winter following he engaged in coal mining. He next turned his attention to farming and well repairing and applied himself industriously until 1874, when he returned to his old home in England and engaged in farming on his own account in Monmouthshire for seven years, carrying on his operations on the Penearrig farm, in Raglan Parish. He returned to Virden with his wife and son in 1881 and went to work in a meat market, also engaging in mining coal during the winter. As an evidence of his frugality at this time it may be stated that in eighteen months as a laborer he saved seven hundred and seventy-five dollars besides supporting his family. In 1883 he removed to Wahoo, Saunders county, Nebraska, and leased school land which he purchased in 1885. He was a resident of Nebraska for nine years, during which time he engaged in farming and also in operating a threshing machine. He disposed of his land in 1891 and returned to Virden, purchasing eighty acres on section 24, Virden township. Later he acquired more land, until he became the owner of two hundred and forty acres in one tract. His land was underlaid with coal and proved a highly profitable investment, as he disposed of the mining privileges for twenty dollars per acre. In 1905 he sold his farm and purchased two hundred and twenty-five acres in Shipman township, later acquiring eighty acres adjoining, so that he owned three hundred and five acres on sections 7, 8 and 9; he disposed of eighty acres in 1911 and purchased 155 acres in Missouri, so that he now owns three hundred and eighty acres. He has greatly improved the place by tiling and remodeling and erecting buildings and fences, setting out shade and ornamental trees, etc., making it one of the most attractive homesteads in the township. He is an extensive stock feeder and also raises Poland China hogs and Polled Angus cattle.
On January 10, 1874, Mr. Gwillim was married to Miss Anna Williams, whose father lived upon the Dufferin farm at Llansoy, England, and was a member of an old Welsh family. Two children were born to his union: John Alfred, who married Selina Mortimer and is engaged in the real estate business at Shipman; and Thomas Albert, who is living at home. The mother of these children died July 5, 1892, at the age of forty-six years, and is buried in the cemetery at Virden. Early in 1894 Mr. Gwillim went to England and on April 4 of the same year was married to Mrs. Elizabeth (Shepard) Fullen, widow of Philip Pullen and a daughter of Richard and Susan (Green) Shepard, of Magor, Monmouthsire, both of whom are now deceased. The father was a farmer and belonged to a well known family whose members had lived in Monmouthshire for many generations.
Mr. Gwillim is identified with the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church at Medora and takes an active interest in the Sunday school, being one of its most efficient workers. Politically he is an advocate of the principles of the republican party in national elections, but in local affairs he votes irrespective of party, selecting candidates that are in his opinion best qualified to fill the offices irrespective of party ties. He has never aspired to the honors or emoluments of public office, but served efficiently for nine years as a member of the school board in Girard township. Thoroughly honest in all his dealings, he is fully entitled to the high esteem in which he is held by his friends and by all who know him in Macoupin county.