Lee County Biography


James H. Gilman, who is recognized as one of the leading and influential citizens of Nachusa Township, is now engaged in general farming on section 18. He is a native of the old Granite State, his birth having occurred in Rockingham County, October 4, 1826. His father, Theophous Oilman, was born in Brentwood,N. H., and was an own cousin of Gen. Cass, and belongs to the same family from which ex- Governor Gilman sprung. By occupation he was a farmer and followed that business throughout his entire life. In his native State he married Miss Anna F. Roby who also came of an early New England family of prominence, ex-Governor Roby being one of her kinsmen. She was a member of the Congregational Church and died in her native State. When about sixty-five years of ago, Mr. Gilman was accidentally scalded with hot water and his death resulted from the injuries sustained. In their family were three children who grew to mature years, but our subject has only one sister now living and one half-brother, Daniel a, resident of Tacoma, Wash. Mr. Gilman has been twice married, his first union being with Miss Mary Fogg, who died leaving one son, Jerome, now a house and carriage painter of Wellington, Kan., who married Gertrude Cox.

Returning to Providence, R. I., he was joined in wedlock with Marcy Healey, who on the maternal side is a direct descendant of Roger Williams, the founder of the Rhode Island Colony. Her father was James Healey and her grandfather was John Henley. They both spent their entire lives in Rhode Island where the former followed the trade of a tanner and the latter engaged in farming. Prominent men of their day, they were well known throughout the community. The mother of Mrs. Gilman was Martha Angel, daughter of Capt. Jesse Angel, who was a sea captain for many years and died at the age of eighty. Mrs. Healey passed away at the age of seventy-two years. Both the Healey and Angel families were members of the Society of Friends.

When the late war broke out, James H. Gilman responded to the President's call for troops, enlisting in August, 1862, as a member of Company K, Fourteenth New Hampshire Infantry, under Capt. Oliver Martson and Col. Robert Wilson. The regiment went into camp at Washington, D. C., and after spending some time in the vicinity of that city went to Harper's Ferry later to New York City and subsequently to New Orleans, in March, 1863. In June, following, we find the troops at Morgans Bend, where the regiment joined the Nineteenth Army Corps tinder Gen. Banks. They marched north, participating in the campaign in the Shenandoah Valley, met the enemy at the battle of Winchester and in the Cedar Creek engagement. After three years of faithful service, during which time he won credit and honor as a loyal soldier, Mr. Gilman was honorably discharged and returned to his home in New Hampshire.

It was not long after this that Mr. Oilman again went South for the purpose of raising cotton, but this venture proved a failure and he came to Illinois, where he has made a good home and become a successful and progressive farmer. In 1869 he purchased laud on section 18, Nachusa Township, to which he removed the following year, and in the period which has since elapsed has made of it one of the best homes in the community. The neat and thrifty appearance of the place indicates the enterprise of the owner, who is a careful and painstaking manager. In connection with general farming Mr. Oilman also engaged in teaching for many years with marked success, and the same profession was followed by his estimable wife from the age of fifteen to fifty years. For some time after her marriage she continued to pursue that vocation, in fact, did not abandon it until 1879. She is a lady of culture and refinement who presides with grace over their comfortable home, where hospitality and good will reign supreme. Both Mr. and Mrs. Oilman are people of superior intelligence and their friends throughout the community arc many. In politics, he is a stanch Republican, and in religious belief his wife is a Freewill Baptist.

Portrait & Biographical 1892


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