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Fayette County, Iowa
Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910
Author: G. Blessin
B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana
Vol. I, Biographical Sketches
JOHN T. GAGER
Holding prestige among the successful business men of Fayette county, John T. Gager, although now living in honorable retirement at his comfortable home at Alpha, Eden township, has had much to do in advancing the material interests of his county and making it one of the important agricultural and commercial sections of the great Hawkeye state. The study of such a life cannot fail of interest and incentive, as he has for many decades been distinctively representative of his sphere of activity and has contributed in no small measure to the general prosperity and uplift of the locality, at the same time establishing a lasting reputation for honor and integrity.
Mr. Gager is the son of Ambrose Sutherland and Amanda (Thursteon) Gager. The father’s death occurred at Downer’s Grove, Du Page county, Illinois, in 1874. He was a man of many fine characteristics, was successful in business and was highly honored by all who knew him. His wife was the representative of the old English family whose genealogy, a long, complete and interesting one, was recently compiled and printed. The first THURSTONs came to America in old colonial days and many of them served in the Revolutionary war. The death of the subject’s mother occurred on June 19, 1909, at Bourne, Kendall county, Texas, at the remarkable age of ninety-seven years. She was a grand old lady and an inspiration to her many friends. She and her husband were the parents of these children: Harrison, their eldest child, and Martha, the second, died in infancy; Anna M., born in New York in 1837, married George Groupe, with whom she moved to Kenoma, Missouri, later moving to Fairland, Oklahoma, are both now deceased; John T., of this review; Charles M., born April 14, 1843, now lives at Oelwein, Iowa; Joshua R., born October 4, 1845, now lives in Los Angeles, California; Mary C., born April 27, 1848, married James Sucher, of Downer’s Grove, Illinois, and she died July 20, 1885, leaving three children; Lydia M., born in New York in 1850, married George H. Talmadge, and she died in Texas in January, 1900; Abbie, born in 1853, married Daniel Foote and resided at Bourne, Texas; Ambrose S., born in York, Illinois, in 1855, died at San Antonio, Texas.
During the boyhood of John T. Gager his family moved to Illinois, locating in Downer’s Grove, where, after he had attained to man’s estate, he was united in marriage with Sarah F. Austin, on October 29, 1865. She was born December 23, 1841, in New York, the daughter of Burgess and Lucinda (Jenks) Austin, the former a native of Massachusetts and the latter of New York. In their family were five children, of whom Sarah F. was the third in order of birth.
Ten children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. John T. Gager, namely: Clara A., born July 27, 1866, taught school in this county for some time, and is now the widow of Dr. J. W. Robinson, who was a physician in Chicago; she lives at Alpha, this county, with her two children, Violet and Alice; Charles H., born October 30, 1867, married Eliza Miller, and he died on his farm in Bethel township, this county, in January, 1908, leaving a widow and three children, Alva, Alta and Ada; Charles G., born September 4, 1869, married Helen Miller and lives on his father’s old homestead; he and his wife have three children, Charles, Eveline and Verla; Ada L., born April 21, 1871, died April 28, 1878; Edith, born March 11, 1873, died September 13th following; Eva M., born August 16, 1874, is living at home; Alice M., born July 2, 1878, died in September, 1900, at the age of twenty-two years, unmarried; she was a young lady of much promise, had been a teacher in the Sunday school, an active church and lodge worker and prominent in society; Elmer E., and Ernest R. (twins), born November 29, 1881, conduct a general store at Alpha; the former married Lillian O. Gibson and they have three children, Ralston, Clover and Violet John.
The mother of this family passed to her rest on September 28, 1886, and in September, 1888, Mr. Gager wedded Mrs. Sarah A. Paul, widow of Oscar S. Paul, a native of Monroe county, New York. She was born near Rochester, New York, October 17, 1835, the daughter of Oliver and Catherine (Spears) Perkins. Her father was born in Rhode Island in 1800, and her mother, a native of New York, was born in 1808. Sarah A. Perkins became the wife of Oscar S. Paul in 1853, and five children were born to them. Mr. Paul died in Walworth county, Wisconsin, in 1876. Of his children, Edward M. Paul married Fanny Clark and they have these children: Allie, Oscar, Ray, Wanda, McKinley, Harley and Freeman; Frank M. Paul is farming in Eden township; Carrie R. married Seth L. Clark, of Alpha, and they have these children: Sarah and Frank M.., the latter living in Tacoma, Washington; he married Lillie Burbank and they have two sons, Carl and Gordon. Laura A. Paul married L. G. Liddle, of Eden township, this county, and they have these children: Clifford, Paul and Russell. Kittie A. Paul is the wife of Will E. Stamp, of Waterloo, Iowa, and they have three children, Althea, Lyle and Ruth.
John T. Gager was one of the loyal sons of the North who offered his services to the Union during the dark days of the early sixties, enlisting at York, Illinois, July 29, 1862, in Company B, One Hundred and Fifth Illinois Infantry. The regiment was assigned to duty with the Army of the Ohio. In the fall of 1862 the troops went on a forced march from Louisville to Frankfort, Kentucky, arriving just in time to save the railroad bridge from burning . Leaving there, they participated in the campaign of Kentucky and Tennessee by the invasion of Bragg and Morgan, the entire fall of 1862, marched to Scottville, thence to Bowling Green, and at length to Gallatin, Tennessee, where they guarded the south tunnel of the Louisville & Nashville railroad. They participated in the engagement at Laverne and Murfreesboro and garrisoned Fort Negley at Nashville during the winter of 1863-4. Afterwards this regiment joined the Army of the Cumberland and subsequently was with the Army of Georgia, participating in the engagements at Resaca, Burnt Hickory, Kenesaw Mountain, Peach Tree Creek and the battles incident to the siege and capture of Atlanta and the Atlanta campaign. Mr. Gager enjoys the distinction of having been one of “Sherman’s Bummers,” and follows Sherman to the sea, and back to Washington, where he took part in the grand review of the victorious armies; in that city the regiment in which Mr. Gager served was mustered out, and he was honorably discharged near there on June 7, 1865, after having most gallantly served his country for three years.
Mr. Gager returned to the parental home at York, Illinois, at the close of the war, and in October following was married. He devoted himself assiduously to farming upon land which was purchased from savings from his army salary, and in 1872 came to Fayette county. He owned a fine farm of two hundred and forty acres in Bethel township, and he has been very successful as an agriculturist and stock raiser. He owns a famous pleasure ground in Eden township, having set out a two-acre grove of maples, box-alder, elm, with some native timber, on the banks of Crane creek and it has become popular as a picnic ground. He has a boat house, row boats, gasoline, launch, etc. For years he has raised a fine grade of Poland-China hogs. He has made his home in Alpha since 1892. He has been extensively interested in the Alpha Farmer’s Creamery Company, of which he is secretary. His annual report on the business and general standing of this firm during the past two years shows that this is one of the leading concerns of its kind in this part of the state. This company was organized on October 17, 1888, since which time the annual business has gradually increased until its cash receipts during the past year were nearly forty-five thousand dollars. It is fully equipped with modern appliances, occupying a modern stone, brick and cement building.
Mr. Gager is now a member of the Sutherland Post of the Grand Army of the Republic at Waucoma, being the present commander of the post. He is a loyal Republican and has taken an active interest in everything calculated to advance the county’s interests. He and his wife are faithful members of the Congregational church.
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