Hon. Robert Ralph Gibons

Taken From The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois
Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company 1896

Page 26, 29-30

Hon. Robert Ralph Gibons is one of the leading attorneys of Bureau county, and a man well and favorably known, not alone in this section, but throughout the state. His life has been an active and honorable one, well worthy of emulation by the young. He was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, December 7, 1840, and there remained until seventeen years of age, receiving a good academic education. His father, John S. Gibons, was born in Vermont, and early in life removed to Pennsylvania, where he lived and died.

Prior to his coming to Princeton our subject had learned the printer's trade in his native city. Soon after arriving here he formed a partnership with James S. Eckles, and the two published the Bureau County Democrat for one year, when he retired, and thus ended his career as a newspaper man. He then went to Nebraska with his brother Rupp, and there worked on a farm for a year or two.

The great struggle between the north and south had now begun, and returning to Princeton, Mr. Gibons made up his mind to take part in the contest. Assisted by Judge Stipp, he raised a company, of which he was commissioned second lieutenant, and which became a part of the famous Yates Shooters, the Sixty-fourth Illinois Volunteer Infantry. This regiment saw active service in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, and among the battles in which it participated may be mentioned Kenesaw Mountain, first and second battles of Corinth, Iuka, and Farmington. On the field Lieutenant Gibons was promoted captain, and served as such until his discharge. He was mainly with the company, but at one time was on detached service for a short period at provost marshal at Glendale, Mississippi. At Kenesaw Mountain he received a gunshot wound in the head, and also buckshot wound in the side. He was carried to the rear and placed in a hospital, where he remained for awhile, and was then transferred to the commissary department. He was honorably discharged in January 1865. The Yates Sharpshooters had an enviable record in the war, and it goes without saying that no company did its duty more faithfully than that commanded by Captain Gibons.

On receiving his discharge, Captain Gibons returned to Princeton, and read law in the office of Stipp & Gibons, the junior member being his brother G. G., who later moved to Chicago and there died. Under their instruction, he pursued his studies, and was duly admitted to the bar after a thorough examination before the Supreme Court at Ottawa, Illinois. On the removal of his brother to Chicago, he was admitted to partnership by Major Stipp, under the firm name of Stipp & Gibons, the partnership continuing until the election of Mr. Stipp to the bench. The son of Judge Stipp was then his partner for a time, and later M. U. Trimble, who is now deputy county clerk. In 1886 the present firm was constituted under the firm name of Gibons and Gibons, the junior member being Ira C. Gibons, a graduate of the Chicago Law School, and a son of our subject. The firm has a large practice in the various state courts, and rank among the ablest practitioners at the bar.

Captain Gibons has been a lifelong democrat, and has taken a more or less active part in every campaign since 1860, except those years spent in the United States service "down in Dixie". Living in a part of the state where democracy has usually been in the minority, his opportunity for distinction in a political way has not been so great as in other localities. Still he has served two terms as mayor of Princeton, four years as county judge, and in 1894 was nominated and made the race as the democratic candidate for congress in the ninth congressional district. He made a thorough canvass of the district, but went down in the landslide of that year, which proved so disastrous to democratic hopes. In every convention of his party in this section he has been familiar for years, and he has endeavored to hold aloft the standard of his party. On the financial question he is now to be found with those advocating the restoration of silver to its rightful place, and in this connection he follows the lead of Senator Vest of Missouri.

In August, 1962, Captain Gibons was granted a leave of absence, and returned home on a recruiting expedition. While on this service he was united in marriage with Miss Margaret M. Thompson, a daughter of Robert E. Thompson, an old merchant of Princeton, and one of the pioneers who located here in 1939.

One son was born of this union, Ira C., who, as already stated, is engaged in the practice of law, as a partner of his father. He is a young man of ability and give promise of future usefulness in life.

For twenty-five years Judge Gibons has been a member of the Christian church, of which body is wife is also a member. Both are active workers. Mrs. Gibons is a member of the various missionary and benevolent organizations of the church. Fraternally, the judge is a Mason, holding membership with the blue lodge, chapter and commandery. He is well read from all standard works and in the current literature of the day having a good library which is for use and not for ornamental purposes. In educational matters he has also taken a lively interest, and for three years has been a member of the board of education. As a citizen he is highly respected and honored by all, without regard to religious or political bias.

Page 26

John S. Gibons

Ralph Gibons' father, John S. Gibons, was born in Vermont, and early in life removed to Pennsylvania, where he lived and died. John S. Gibons was one of the leading attorneys of the Allentown bar, and was quite prominent as a democratic politician, known throughout the length and breadth of the state. As a member of the Pennsylvania state senate, he introduced the act, and secured its passage, creating the free school system of the state. He was elected a member of congress in 1848, but died before taking his seat. Of his family of seventeen children, one son, G. G. Gibons, an attorney, died in Chicago some years ago; Rupp F Gibbons came to Bureau county, from which place he removed to Nebraska, later to Oregon, where he now lives; Clarence H. Gibons also came to Bureau county, and is now residing in Princeton; H. A. Gibons is a jeweler at Aurora, Illinois; one daughter is now Mrs. Blanch C. N. Stevens, of Gainesville, Texas; another daughter, Eliza J., was married to William J. Dobbins, of Peoria, and is now deceased; the eldest daughter, Hannah S., who was the wife of Alfred McKee, came to Princeton and here died; M. Amanda was married to John G. Stiles, an attorney of Allentown, Pennsylvania, and ex-member of congress, now deceased. The mother also came to Princeton, in 1860, where she died some years ago.

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