McDonough ILGenWeb ILGenWeb

11907 HISTORY
Van B. Gilchrist

GILCHRIST, Van B. — In an effort to create success out of determination and perseverance. Van B. Gilchrist has labored in various fields of activity, and has encountered experiences as broadening in their tendencies as they are interesting when viewed from the standpoint of perspective. A farmer for the greater part of his life, and the owner of a fine property comprising 270 acres in Tennessee Township, McDonough County, he has also been an Argonaut, one of those sturdy men who ventured all on the turn of the wheel of fortune beyond the Rockies. Mr. Gilchrist was born on a barren farm in Windham County, Vt., April 11, 1838, his father, C. G. Gilchrist, having moved thither from New Hampshire. His mother, Minerva, daughter of Joel Holton, was born in Windham County, and was married to C. G. Gilchrist when their combined earthly possessions were discouragingly limited. Van B. was the third oldest of their five children, one of whom was a daughter. The parents came to McDonough County in 1839, and soon after purchased land of Mr. Holton, who was one of the first settlers of Tennessee Township, and was the first Postmaster at Hill's Grove. Their first home was a small log house on Section 29, Tennessee Township, and here they lived twenty-five years, at the end of that time erecting another house in which they lived for the balance of their lives, the mother dying in 1865, and the father in 1882.

Van B. Gilchrist attended the very early subscription schools of the county, and led a busy, uneventful life until his fifteenth year. In the meantime the marvelous stories of gold on the Pacific coast penetrated this quiet agricultural region, sowing the seed of discontent and uprooting many from their monotonous tasks. With all the enthusiasm of his fifteen years Van B. started westward in the spring of 1853, and for five years tried his luck in the various mining camps of Western California. Not securing anticipated success, he then rented a farm and engaged in hauling logs and herding cattle, and finally devoted his land to general farming until returning to Illinois in 1861. In December of the following year, he married Sarah Robinson, a native of Pickaway County, Ohio, who was educated in the common schools of Abingdon, Ill. About this time he purchased 110 acres of land of Isaac Holton, and later added an adjoining 160 acres. His property is highly cultivated, has a comfortable residence and well constructed barns, and is supplied with the most practical agricultural implements.

In politics Mr. Gilchrist is a Prohibitionist, and has served as School Director for about fifteen years. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and for years has contributed liberally towards its support. Fraternally, he is connected with the Masonic Order. Mr. and Mrs. Gilchrist are the parents of four children: Elva, wife of B. B. Rhinehart, of Hancock County, Ill.; Grace, wife of Judd Breeden, of Wyoming; Charles, a farmer of McDonough County; and Corny, wife of William Foley, of McDonough County. Mr. Gilchrist has a memory stored with interesting information of the early days of the county, and he has been one of its substantial and reliable upbuilders, giving his best effort to his farm, his friends and all with whom he has been associated.


Source: The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of McDonough County, compiled by Dr. Newton Bateman, and Paul Shelby, 1907, volume 2, pages 885-886, extracted 04 Jan 2019 by Norma Hass.