Lee County Biography

Uriah Gruver

Uriah Gruver is an honored resident of Dixon, where he is pleasantly passing his declining years in retirement from active business as a farmer, though he is still identified with the agricultural interests of Lee County as the proprietor of one of its fine farms. He is a native of Columbia County, Pa., born in the month of October, 1818, in the township of Hemlock. His father, George Gruver, was born in the same State, his birthplace being in Northampton County. He was a son of Jacob Gruver, who is supposed to nave been born in Pennsylvania, and to have come from some of the early German families of the Colonial period. It is known that at one time he owned a tract of land near Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, which he sold, taking his pay in Continental scrip. The latter part of his life was passed in Columbia County.

The father of our subject was reared to the life of a farmer on the old Pennsylvania farm, and when a young man went to Columbia County, and became one of the pioneers of that section, buying a tract of forest-covered land in Hemlock Township. He built a log house and stable, and proceeded to clear his land. The soil was very poor and unproductive, and he found it hard to make a living from it. Therefore, in 1827, he left that place, and went to Berks County, where he rented a tract of land three miles from Reading, and there the last decade of his life was spent, his death occurring in September, 1837, ere yet old age bad come upon him. His wife bore the maiden name of Barbara Waltman, and was born in Northampton County, Pa. She departed this life in 1827. Tho parents of our subject were consistent Christian people, the father a faithful member of he German Reformed Church, and the mother of he Lutheran Church. Of their fourteen children, twelve grew to maturity.

The subject of this biography was in his eighth year when the family removed to Berks County. He remained with his father until the latter's death, when the home was broken up and the brothers and sisters were separated. Uriah entered the employ of Uriah Gilson, who sent him to Amherst County, Va., to act as a steward, Mr. Gilson being a contractor and having a large force of men employed there. He remained there one year, and then returned to Reading. It was on his trip to Virginia that he saw, at Norristown, a railway for the first time. That was in the day of State banks and individual scrip, whee the money issued by the banks of one State was not good for the face value any distance from home.

After his return to Pennsylvania, Mr. Gruver went to Columbia County to serve a two years apprenticeship to learn the trade of a carpenter, receiving his board and $3 a month for his services the first year, and the second year his wages were increased to $4 a month. At the end of the two years he worked at his calling for others for a year, and then after his marriage commenced business on his own account, working both as a carpenter and a millwright. In 1852 he paid his first visit to the Prairie State, traveling by rail and stage to Pittsburg and Cleveland, thence by boat to Toledo, from there by. rail through Chicago to Rockford, and thence by stage to Dixon. He remained here two weeks, and then went back to Pennsylvania. While away, he bought two bales of buffalo hides, which he sold on his return home at a fair profit, and thus paid the expenses of his journey.

In 1854 our subject left his native State with his family to take up his residence in this, as he well knew that practical, wide-awake men were in demand to help develop the resources of the country and to aid in its upbuilding, and he has done both since his settlement here, thirty-seven years ago. He first located in what is now Nachusa Township, and was actively engaged at his trade there one year. The next year he rented a farm in Dixon Township, which he purchased a year later, and retained it in his possession until 1864, when he sold it. In 1864 he bought a farm in Nelson Township, and was busily engaged in its improvement and in tilling the soil for several years. It contains two hundred and forty acres of rich farming land, that is under a high state of cultivation, and is amply provided with a good class of buildings. He still owns it, but in 1884 he rented it, and has since lived retired from active labor, making his home in the city of Dixon.

Mr Gruver was first married in Columbia County, Pa., to Catherine Writz, a native of that county, and of mingled English and German blood. She died in 1862, leaving behind her the memory of a most worthy woman, who was true in all the relations of life. By that marriage these eight children were born to our subject: Joseph, Mary (Mrs. McCleary), Lydia A. (Mrs. Mench), Melinda (Mrs. McCleary), Margaret (Mrs. Hardin), John L., Lincoln and Ellsworth. In 1867 our subject was married to his present estimable wife, who was formerly Miss Elizabeth Kelley, a native of Columbia County, Pa. Their marriage has brought to them one son, William H.

Mr.Gruver is endowed with a thoughtful, intelligent mind, is fond of reading, and keeps himself well posted in regard to all subjects of general interest. As a good citizen ought, he keeps himself informed as to the political questions of the day, and is a firm advocate of the Republican party. He and his wife are people of earnest religious feeling, and they are members in high standing of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Portraits and Biographical Lee County IL 1892


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