From: "Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and
Brown Counties, Illinois 1892", by Biographical Review Publishing
Company, Chicago, Illinois; pages 423-424, a reprinted by Stevens
Publishing Co., Astoria, Ill., 1971, is sold by the Schuyler County
Historical Society, Rushville, Illinois.
Reverend William S. Garner was born in what is now Cass county,
Illinois, December 16, 1837. He has passed his whole life in this
county, and has witnessed the changes which have transformed the
frontier into a well improved and thickly populated section of country.
His father, Rev. James Garner, was born in North Carolina,
October 7, 1792; when very young went to Kentucky, and subsequently to
Clark county, Indiana, where he was married and resided till 1830. He
was converted when a young man, joined the Methodist Episcopal Church,
and became identified with the ministry. He was a member of the Indiana
Conference, and preached in different places in that State till failing
health compelled him to relinquish his labors. It was then that he came
to Illinois. He made the journey to this State with a four horse team
and wagon, being accompanied by his wife and four children. They cooked
and camped on the road, and after their arrival here settled in
township 17, range 10, where they lived a year or two. Mr. Garner then
entered a tract of Government land in section 2, township 17, range 9,
on which he put up a log house, built after the fashion of those days,
with rived boards for roof, stick and mud chimney, etc. In this humble
abode William S. was born. It was some years before there were any
railroads here. The first railroad built in this vicinity was from
Springfield to Jacksonville, the rails being of wood, and the cars
drawn by horses. After his settlement in Illinois, James R. Garner
became a local preacher. He was frequently called upon to marry couples
and to preach funerals. Often he would ride a number of miles to
perform a marriage ceremony, and receive 50 cents or $1 for his pay. In
politics he was a Whig, and afterward a Republican. He was a strong
anti-slavery man. The subject of our sketch remembers when Beardstown
was the chief market and depot of supplies for many miles around. The
merchants in Springfield used to go to Beardstown with teams for their
goods. The price of all farm products was very low. Dressed pork sold
for 75 cents to $1.50 per 100 pounds; corn and oats, 10 to 15 cents per
bushel; a cow and calf, $8 to $10. Deer and wild turkey were plentiful
throughout the State. The people lived on wild game and the products of
their own land, dressed in homespun, and withal were as happy, if not
more so, than they are today. It was not unusual to see the pioneer
women walking two or three miles to church and carrying their shoes,
putting them on as they neared the church.
In 1855 Mr. Garner divided his land among his children, and
moved to section 36, township 18, range 9, where he improved a farm and
resided till his death, September 11, 1862. The maiden name of his wife
was Elizabeth Robertson. She was born in Clark county, Indiana, October
15, 1795, when that State was a part of the Northwest Territory. These
worthy pioneers reared ten children, viz: Mahulda married George Beggs;
Greenbury, Jane Redman; Susan J. Fox; Amos, Lucy Bingley; Mary J.,
Robert Robertson; James R., Margaret Wilson; John W., Lucy Carver, and
after her death, Melinda Downing; Sarah A., Henry Sherrer; and William
S. All their sons joined the Methodist Episcopal Church in youth, and
became ministers of the same. Greenbury and Amos united with the
Illinois Conference, and the other became local preachers.
The subject of our sketch received his education in the
primitive schools of his native county. As soon as he was old enough he
began to assist his father on the farm, and remained with his parents
till their death. He was converted at the age of nineteen, joined the
church, and a few years later was licensed to preach. All his life he
has been true to the cause he espoused in his youth, ever showing by
example as well as precept that he is a true follower of the Lord. In
1870 he moved from the old homestead to his present farm of 120 acres.
Besides this he owns other land, making in all 210 acres.
Mr. Garner was married in 1858, September 30, to Nancy M. Crews,
a native of Sangamon county, Illinois, and a daughter of Jesse and
Susan (Sneed) Crews, natives of Kentucky and pioneers of the county.
Their union has been blessed by the birth of eight children, namely:
Hanson A., Nellie May, James H., Lena U., Belle, Jesse, Gertie and
Pearl. Nellie May married Charles A. Schaeffer (of whom see sketch in
this volume) Lena U. is the wife of LaFayette Shankland.
Politically, Mr. Garner is a Republican. He has served as a
member of the School Board, as Justice of the Peace two terms, and as
Such is a brief outline of the life of one of Cass county's well known and highly esteemed citizens.