Lee County Biography


F.E. Gates is a retired farmer residing at Paw Paw. He found in his business interests as an agriculturist the opportunity for the attainment of success, and making wise use of his time, he eventually gained the competence that now supplies him with all of the comforts of life. He resides in Paw Paw and has been a resident of Lee county since 1847, arriving here when but two years of age.

He was born at Sugar Grove, Kane county, Illinois, March 20, 1815, and is a son of Erastus and Martha M. (Page) Gates. The father came from Knox county, Ohio, to this state at an early day and for many years engaged in teaching school in Kane county and also in Paw Paw. In conjunction with that profession he became one of the extensive farmers of his district, managing important property interests. He died in 1876 at the age of sixty years, while his wife passed away at the age of thirty-six years. Mr. Gates' remains were interred in the Sierra Valley cemetery of California, to which state he went in 1851. His wife lies buried in Knox county, Ohio. The family was of English lineage and the ancestry is traced back to Sir Thomas Gates of England and Stephen Gates, who came to this country in 1637. Among the ancestors were also those who won fame in connection with military affairs, including Captain Stephen Gates and General Gates, who was one of the commanders of the American forces in the Revolutionary war.

F.E. Gates acquired his education in the district schools and in the academy at East Paw Paw, where he continued his studies to the age of twenty years. However, when a youth of eighteen years he had volunteered for service in the Civil war and had become a member of Company H, Thirty-fourth Illinois Volunteer Infantry. In 1865 he returned to the academy and there remained until 1867. For a year he engaged in teaching school and afterward began farming on his own account, having four acres which he devoted to the raising of hogs. With the profits of the crop he purchased seventy acres and from time to time increased his holdings until he was the owner of twelve hundred acres. He engaged in general farming, cattle raising and dairying, conducting the business along extensive lines until he disposed of his land. He is now making investments in real estate in Illinois and Florida and also engages in making loans. When Mr. Gates was a small boy he hired out to a farmer, who sold his farm and with it young Gates, just as he disposed of the chattels and goods. This is an experience which perhaps no other man in the county has had.

Mr. Gates was married July 7, 1866, to Miss Polly M. Robinson, a daughter of Nathaniel and Dorcas Robinson, both now deceased, their remains having been interred in the South Paw Paw cemetery. Her father was one of the pioneer farmers of the county. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Gates have been born three children: Andrew, a civil engineer of Monmouth, Illinois; Albert R., an attorney at law with offices at No. 100 Washington street, Chicago; and Carrie W., the wife of Frank Pulver, a farmer of Indiana.

Mr. Gates is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and has filled all of the offices in his local post. In politics he is now a progressive. He has filled the office of justice of the peace for ten years and for many years has been a school director. He holds membership in the Baptist church and his has been a consistent Christian life. He has never neglected his church duties or his obligations to citizenship, even though his business affairs have been most extensive and important. He has erected a fine home and two other residences in Paw Paw and he improved all of the farms which he owns, thus contributing in substantial measure to the material development and prosperity of the county. In the winter he resides in St. Petersburg, Florida. The most envious cannot grudge him his success, so honorably has it been won and so wisely used.

Transcribed by Karen Holt - 1914 History of Lee County Illinois Vol 2 by Frank E. Stevens.

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