Reverend William S. Garner

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 Township Trustee.
  Such is a brief outline of the life of one of Cass county's well known and highly esteemed citizens.

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