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Posted By: Debbie Gerischer (email)
Date: 7/2/2005 at 19:14:38


Alvan S. Gilliland, whose death, on November 4, 1916, was regarded as a distinct loss to the city of Jefferson, which he had honored with his citizenship for over thirty-five years, was a man of more than ordinary qualities. Not only had he efficiently and faithfully discharged the duties of the public offices which he held, and managed his business affairs in a manner that won him public esteem, but he had so conducted himself in private life and as a citizen that he was universally looked upon as exemplary in every respect, his life dignifying his community.

Mr. Gilliland was born in Granville, Putnam county, Illinois, on the 2d of December, 1846, and was a son of Stephen W. and Ruhamah (Harmon) Gilliland. His father, who was the scion of sterling old Scottish stock, was born in Brown county, Ohio, in 1809. After attending the public schools, he learned the blacksmith trade, which he followed until his health failed, when he turned his attention to farming. In 1852 he moved to Iowa, first locating in Louisa county, where he lived until September 27, 1857,, when he brought his family to Greene county, locating on a farm one mile north of the Dallas county line, in Washington township, of which locality he was one of the earliest settlers. There he created a good farm and operated it for many years, eventually retiring and moving to Rippey, where his death occurred at the advanced age of eighty-five years. He was a strong abolitionist and was a conductor on the historic "underground railroad." He was twice married, having several children by the first union. His second marriage was to Ruhamah Harmon, who was born in Randolph county, North Carolina, and who died at the age of seventy-five years, while on a visit to a daughter in Nebraska. To this union were born seven children, namely: Alvan S., the subject of this memoir; M. W., of Bagley, Guthrie county, Iowa; Elizabeth, deceased, who was the wife of S. Q. Free, of Nebraska; Mary, the widow of Archibald Heater, of Nebraska; Willis L., who died at the age of twelve years; Narcissa, who became the wife of E. E. Kupfer, of Rippey, Iowa; and Evaline, the wife of Charles Towne, of Jamaica, Iowa.

Alvan S. Gilliland remained at home until twenty-four years of age, receiving his education in the primitive pioneer schools of that day. However, the deficiency of this training was made up in after years by habits of reading and close observation, so that he became a man of wide and accurate information and able to hold his own in any company which he might enter. In 1870 he bought and improved an eighty acre farm in Washington township, where he engaged in farming for two years, when he moved to Jefferson, where he was appointed assistant postmaster, which position he held for three years. In the meantime he had shown a deep interest in public affairs and considerable aptitude as a politician, and he was elected to the office of county treasurer, the duties of which he capably and satisfactorily discharged for six years. He had meanwhile in a measure become acquainted with the abstract business, which appealed to him, and on leaving the treasurer's office, in August, 1880, he bought a half interest with G. G. Lawrence in an abstract and real estate office, to the operation of which he thereafter devoted himself, with ability and success. At his death the business was taken over by his son, Ross L., who had been associated with him and who is still running the business.

In 1870 Mr. Gilliland was united in marriage to Miss Louisa E. Rhinehart, who was born in Champaign county, Illinois, February 7, 1850, and whose death occurred April 22, 1920. Her parents were Elhanan and Margaret (Corey) Rhinehart, the former a native of Pennsylvania and the latter of Scioto county, Ohio, and both of whom died at the home of their daughter in Jefferson. To Mr. and Mrs. Gilliland were born seven children, as follows: Nellie, who had charge of the woman's department for the Chicago Tribune for some time, afterward accepted a position in the treasurey department at Washington, D. C., under Lyman J. Gage, then secretary of the treasury, and while there met and became the wife of W. W. Barclay, who later was sent by the treasury department to Iloilo, in the Philippine islands; Chalmer, who was a soldier in the Spanish-American war, served in Havana, Cuba, and was later transferred to the Philippine islands, where his death occurred at Fort William McKinley; George, who became an electrical worker in Chicago; Pearl; Alice; Lawrence, who died at the age of twelve years; and Ross L., who now conducts the abstract business in Jefferson.

Mr. Gilliland was a member of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons and was a stanch republican in his political views. His wife was an earnest member of the Presbyterian church. A man of sterling integrity, his actions were the result of careful and conscientious thought, and when once convinced that he was right no suggestion of policy or personal profit could swerve him from the course he had decided upon. His career was rounded in its beautiful simplicity; he did his full duty in all the relations of life, and he died beloved by those near to him and respected and esteemed by his fellow citizens.

-transcribed by Debbie Gerischer

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