STRAWN, GATES, was born on a farm known as "Grass Plains", five miles southwest of Jacksonville, Ill., the son of Jacob and Phebe (Gates) Strawn, the former a noted farmer and cattle dealer of Morgan County. (For genealogy of the family, see sketch of the father, Jacob Strawn, preceding in this volume.) Gates Strawn was educated in the local public schools, Illinois College, the Ohio Wesleyan University and Harvard Law School, graduating from the latter in 1865. For a time during the Civil War (in 1862) he served as a member of Company E, Eighty-fourth Ohio volunteer Infantry, under the veteran General Wood, who had previously been a soldier in both the War of 1812 and the Mexican War. Later he traveled overland to California, and thence took ship for South America, while there crossing the Andes three times. Then returning home, in 1869 he was married to Miss Almyra Trabue, a member of a prominent family of Jacksonville, later making a trip to Europe, where he spent about one year.
A zealous Republican in his political opinions, Mr. Strawn has not been a seeker for office, buy by appointment of Gov. John R. Tanner, served one term as President of the Board of Trustees of the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb at Jacksonville. Though not a church member, he is a regular attendant upon the services at the State Street Presbyterian church, Jacksonville, and is a member and President of its Board of Trustees. Unselfish and public spirited, he takes a deep interest in enterprises affecting the welfare of his home city, and entertains a just pride in his descent from two such parents as Jacob and Phebe (Gates) Strawn, the first of whom died in 1865, and the latter on February 6, 1906.