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felt more keenly than did Mr. Gale. To his
trained and reflective mind, the problem pre-
sented itself, how to enlist young men of piety
and talent, and afford them proper training?
His own experience had shown him students
discouraged for want of means, abandoning
their studies to earn money which was indis-
pensable for their prosecution, and undermin-
ing their health by an intense effort to make
up the time thus lost. Most of them were ac-
customed to the outdoor life of a farm, with
physical exercise, and it occurred to him that
if each student were given, each day, a suffi-
cient amount of such work to relieve the mental
strain inseparable from hard study, and at the
same time to aid in defraying the expense nec-
essary to his education, better results might be
obtained. He tried an experiment. He took
into his family a half dozen young men, to
whom he furnished books and gave instruction
in consideration of three hours' daily work
upon his farm. Out of this project was de-
veloped the Oneida Institute, at Whitesboro,
New York, which was founded mainly through
his efforts. He personally solicited the funds
necessary for the purchase of a farm and the
erection of buildings. Instructors of ability
and repute were secured, dormitories and shops
built, a college curriculum adopted, and the
project fairly launched. Three hours' daily
labor on the farm paid for room rent and
board; work in the shops was paid what it
might be worth. The Institute was soon filled
with students, and the pervading atmosphere
was intensely religious, while strong temper-
ance and anti-slavery sentiments were de-
veloped. From 1827 to 1834 Mr. Gale remained
at its head, but in the latter year he retired
from the management to enter upon the forma-
tion of the Galesburg Colony and the founding
of Knox College. For a detailed account of his
efforts in this direction and the success wiih
which they were crowned, the reader is referred
to the articles entitled Galesburg and Knox

He first visited the site of the city named in
his honor in 1836, when he devoted considerable
time to looking into the affairs of the colony and
making ready a home for his family, whom he
brought out later, returning to Whitesboro to
accompany them. Their journey to their new
home occupied six weeks, and was accom-
plished by canal to Buffalo, by lake to Detroit,
and by wagon to the cabin in which they were
to reside. Finding this filled with sufferers
from an unfortunate canal boat expedition (see
"A Canal Boat Journey"), he found quarters
for his wife and seven children in the already
crowded cabins of helpful, sympathetic neigh-
bors, and put up another cabin for the winter


from green logs. In the spring he built another
and better one at what is now the corner of
Seminary and Grove streets, and four years
later erected a bouse, yet standing, at the cor-
ner of North and Cherry streets.

From its founding until his death, which oc-
curred September 13, 1S61, Mr. Gale was prom-
inent in the management of Knox College,
serving as trustee all the time, and as a Pro-
fessor from 1S41 until 1S56. He was also active
in the affairs of the church, and for several
years filled the pulpit of the First Presbyterian,
long the only church in Galesburg. besides de-
voting much time to the establishment of other
churches, in the surrounding country. In 1857,
he was smitten with a paralytic stroke, but was
gradually regaining his strength until, within
six months before his death, he began to
weaken. Gangrene finally set in, causing his
death within a few days after its appearance.

The following tribute to his memory was
paid by Rev. Dr. Boardman. of Philadelphia.
an eminent Presbyterian divine, who knew him
well: "His intellect was strong, clear, acute,
penetrating, active, well furnished and well dis-
ciplined. His judgment of men and things was
sound, his hopefulness large, his faith confid-
ing, his will resolute, his fortitude unshrinking,
and his courage unfaltering. His piety was a
governing principle, a part of his very being,
and controlling his plans, his labors, his com-
forts and his purse. His works praise him, and
his memory will long be fresh and fragrant In
the church.'

Mr. Gale was three times married. His first
wife was Harriet Selden, a daughter of Hon.
Charles Selden and Abigail Jones, his wife, to
whom he was united at Troy, New York, in 1820.
She was delicately reared, and a young girl at
the time of her marriage. The income from
her small fortune enabled him to prosecute his
plans for doing good, and she cheerfully fol-
lowed his fortunes; if not with enthusiasm, at
least without complaint. In 1S41. a year after
her death, he married Mrs. Esther Coon, a
daughter of Daniel Williams, at Galesburg; and
after her demise he was joined — in 1844 — to
Lucy Merriam, at New Haven. Connecticut. He
was the father of seven sons and three daugh-
ters; William Selden. born in 1822. and now
living at Galesburg; Harriet Yonvet, born in
1823; George, born in lS2fi. and died in 1872;
Josiah. born in 1S27, and died in 1863; Mary
Elizabeth born in 1829. and now the widow of
Rev. Edwin L. Hurd. D. D.; Margaret, born in
1831, who became the wife of Professor Henry
E. Hitchcock, of Knox College and the Ne-
braska State University; Charles Selden, born
in 1835 and died in 1836; Joseph Dudley, the
first male white child born within the present
limits of Galesburg. born in 1837 and died in
1856; Roger and Henry Williams, both of whom
died the year of their birth, the former in 1840
and the latter in 1842.


William Selden Gale is a fine type of the best
American citizen. A New Yorker by birth, a

New Englander in characteristics, he brought
to the West in early life the ideas so peculiar
to that part of our country, that all government,
to be worthy of the support and loyalty of the
people, must rest upon a pure and efficient ad-
ministration of local affairs. As society at large
rests upon the family, so the State and Nation
must rest upon the' township unit. Honesty,
efficiency, and economy in the conduct of local
interests will as surely reappear in the adminis-
tration of the State and Nation as will morality
and all the tender sympathies of a human
brotherhood be found in a state of society,
where the sacredness of family ties and obliga-
tions are observed with the sincerity of a re-
ligious conviction.

All through Mr. Gale's life, prominent and
above all other considerations, this principle has
been manifested; and when called to look after
interests extending beyond the purely local, and
touching the State at large, the influence which
his measures might have upon local affairs were
still uppermost in his mind. If Mr. Gale has had
ambition to work in larger fields (and doubtless
he has, for he has been eminently fitted for
such service), such ambitions have always been
subordinated, not only to a feeling of obligation
to perform the local duties that are ever pressing
upon a competent man in any community, but
also to a feeling of distaste to an active political
life; for not one of the many positions of trust
and honor which Mr. Gale has held was he ever
an active candidate, until made so by his friends.
In all his relationships to his fellow citizens,
his bearing has been cordial, his criticisms not
harsh, but based upon a sound Judgment, an'd,
therefore, never used to feed a vindictive spirit.

He stands then a man to whom every young
person may look as a specimen of a typical,
highminded citizen.

He was liorn February 15th, 1822, at Adams,
Jefferson County, New York, where his father,
the Rev. George Washington Gale, afterwards
of Galesburg, Illinois, was then Presbyterian

His mother, daughter of Hon. Charles Selden,
was born at Lansingburg. New York, in 1800,
and was married to Rev. Mr. Gale at Troy. New
York, in 1820.

Charles Selden was born at Lyme. Connecti-
cut. He graduated from^ Yale in 1777. in the
presence of General Washington, from whom
he received, with others of his class, a commis-
sion on graduation day, and entered the army.
He was made Captain and served until a year
after the war. He became a merchant, was
State Senator, and a member of the State Board
of Regents of the I'niversity.

Col. Samuel Selden. father of Charles, com-
manded a Connecticut regiment, was in New
York at the time of the battle of Long Island,
and was left behind sick when the .\mericans
evacuated and the English entered the city.
He died a prisoner. Thomas Selden and Rich-
ard Ely. ancestors of Charles Selden. came to
I^yme. Connecticut, about 1836. where some of
their descendants still reside.

Mr. Gale was married in 1845 to Caroline


Eliza, daughter of Silvanus Western F'erris, and
granddaughter of Silvanus Ferris, who was so
prominent in the formation of the Galesburg

There were eight children boi-n to Mr. and
Mrs. Gale; William Selden, George Washington,
Charles Selden, Caroline. Harriet, Joseph Dud-
ley, Josiah, and John. William S.; George W.;
Caroline, the wife of J. Gibson Lowrie, D. D.;
and Harriet, are now living. Josiah died in
1889, and was at that time Clerk of the Circuit
Court of this county. The other three sons died
young. Though not a college graduate, Mr.
Gale's education has been a liberal one. H'e was
fourteen years old when he left New York for
Illinois. At that time he was prepared for col-
lege, but was considered too young to enter. A
plan for home study was begun with the expec-
tation of entering college later, but in an ad-
vanced class. Systematic study, however, was
gradually dropped on account of some business
cares and the desire for an active life incident
to a new and hopeful country. Having a phe-
nomenal memory, and great powers of analysis
and application, the habit of reading history,
political economy, and other subjects of like
practical interest to the citizen, made him one
of the most liberally educated men of this

Tempting opportunities for useful and profit-
able vocations presented themselves. That of
merchant and general trader at first seemed
most attractive. His eighteenth and nine-
teenth years were years of education in
that capacity, while in the employ of
Colonel Herman Knox and James Knox,
brothers in business at Knoxville, and of Ralph
H. Hulburt, of Mt. Sterling. He became inter-
ested in real estate and other property, how-
ever, which turned his attention to the law. He
was admitted to the Bar in 1S46. Without the
usual waiting for practice, so universal with
young attorneys, his business and certain duties
of citizenship absorbed all his time. His knowl-
edge of the law was of great service to him in
what was afterwards his life work.

Another preparatory experiment was the
management of "The Newsletter." a paper pub-
lished with the assistance of Dr. James Bunce
and George C. Lanphere. It may be said that
here Mr. Gale began his efforts to make Gales-
burg a railroad center.

Railways at that time were thought to be
principally useful for overland transportation,
connecting lake with lake and river with river,
the waterway being still considered means of
traffic. The Peoria and Oquawka, the
Rock Island and Peoria, the Illinois
Central, the Northern Cross (Galesburg
to Quincy), the Michigan Central, and
Michigan Southern roads were all figuring
for Illinois business. Knoxville and Monmouth
both seemed to lead Galesburg in the chances
of railroad connections: Galesburg was, there-
fore, greatly discouraged. It came to the
knowledge of Mr. Gale that the managers of the
Michigan Southern road were about to under-
take the extension of the Rock Island and Peo-

ria to Chicago. It was supposed that this line
would come Within thirty miles of Galesburg.
Mr. Gale at once called attention to these facts
in an editorial. A great stir was made, commit-
tees were appointed to confer with Chicago and
Eastern parties, and everything looked favora-
ble for the construction of a branch to connect
with this road. Galesburg people obtained a
charter for this branch, which was to be known
as the Central Military Tract Railroad. The
Rock Island and Peoria people agreed
to take up its construction, but were, as it
proved, a little too slow. The Michigan Cen-
tral Railroad Company was about to extend
the Chicago and Aurora line to connect
with the Illinois Central at Mendota. Mr.
Gale saw the advantage of this line at once,
and the negotiations begun with the same par-
ties to take up the Central Military Tract road
were entirely successful. A direct line to Chi-
cago, through Mendota and Aurora, was thus
secured, and, as predicted by Mr, Gale, the
Peoria and Oquawka and the Northern Cross
came to Galesburg to make their Chicago con-
nections. These roads now constitute an im-
portant portion of the splendid "Burlington"
system. A large part of Mr. Gale's time was
freely given to this enterprise, the wisdom of
which is fully demonstrated by the great, intel-
ligent, and prosperous communities that have
grown up along its lines. With the completion
of this railroad, "The Newsletter" was trans-
ferred to other parties, to the great relief,
though substantial pecuniary loss, of the ed-

The public offices held by Mr. Gale comprise
almost everything of a local character, as well
as certain positions of more general jurisdiction.
From 1SI9 to 1853 he was Postmaster of Gales-
burg; 1853 to 1895, with the exception of five
years. Supervisor of Knox County; 1871 to ISS2,
and 1891 to 1895, Alderman of the City of Gales-
burg; 1861 to the present time. Trustee of Knox
College; Member of the State Constitutional
Convention, 1802; Member of the State Legisla-
ture, 1869; Member of the State Revenue Com-
mission, 1885 and 1886; Trustee of the Illinois
Western Hospital for the Insane, 1895 to lS97;
Presidential Elector, 1872. In 1853 he was nom-
inated for County Judge during his absence
from home. He did not desire the oflBce. made
no canvass, and was defeated.

He was a member of the whig party, and at-
tended, as a delegate, most of its conventions
until its dissolution, and then joined the repub-
lican party. He has been in State and National
Conventions, and supported the candidates,
though sometimes doubting, and even regret-
ting, the policy.

Mr. Gale is entitled to a brief consideration of
his more important public work, as it will serve
to bring out more clearly his natural mental
tendencies and power of analysis of public ques-

The Constitutional Convention of 1862 con-
sisted of as many delegates as there were mem-
bers of the Legislature, and they were elected
from the same districts. No reapportionment



had been made tor twenty years. Representa-
tion was. therefore, very unjust to the repub-
licans in the northern portions of the State,
which had in the meantime become very popu-
lous. Union conventions to nominate delegates
were held in many counties. Knox among them,
and the result was only thirteen republican
members in the convention. It contained many
able men. and among the democrats were many
strong Southern sympathizers. What, then,
should be the attitude of Illinois in case the
Union shojild be broken up, was a serious ques-
tion to many, and the authority of the conven-
tion to declare it was urged. The influence of
Douglas and Logan, together with Union vic-
tories. Anally put discussions of this character
aside, and the convention settled down to more
legitimate work. Mr. Gale, though one of the
very small minority, secured the adoption of a
plan, giving county Boards, under certain con-
ditions, power to submit to a vote of the people
questions as to removal of county seats, the ob-
ject being to take such questions out of politics.
Knox County was then divided into factions on
this subject, and at a decided disadvantage in
every district and State convention. The prop-
osition was dropped on final revision, through
fear that it might cost the constitution votes in
some localities. In the work of apportionment.
Gale was successful, having his own way as to
his own locality. He had been placed on the
judicial and congressional apportionment com-
mittees, and the work of congressional appor-
tionment was mainly done by Mr. Gale, and
Lewis W. Ross, of Fulton County. The consti-
tution failed before the people, owing to preju-
dice created by the unfortunate character of its
opening provisions.

In the Revenue Commission of 1883-6, Mr.
Gale again displayed his knowledge of the
details m every department of local adminis-
tration. His appointment was made at the earn-
est solicitation of every member of the Knox
County Board of Supervisors, the county ofli-
cers, and the City Council of Galesburg, besides
others equally prominent in matters of the
public welfare — all of whom knew of his
thorough fitness for such an important work.
The commission was composed of twelve mem-
bers, six from each political party. The Hon.
Milton Hay, one of the most eminent attorneys
of the State was chairman. The assessment of
property in the State had developed into a con-
test between the assessors, to see which could
so assess as to obtain the most relief tor his
township or county, in the payment of State
taxes. The Commission saw that this contest
was unavoidable, unless the State taxes were
assessed and collected in an entirely different
manner from all local taxes. The Commission
plan, therefore, struck at the root of the diffi-
culty. It was opposed by interests directly af-
fected by the proposed changes, and so the
work came to naught. No member of the Com-
mission left plainer marks than Mr. Gale. The
work was mostly done in committee of the
whole when he was chairman.

In 1868, the people of Galesburg decided, if

possible, to secure Hie passage of a lilll. submit-
ting to a vote, the removal of the county seat
from Knoxville to Galesburg. They put forward
Mr. Gale as their candidate for the l..egislature,
and he received the nomination. The democrats
nominated Alfred M. Craig. The county seat
question figured largely in the issue, but Mr.
Gale was elected. Mr. Gale was made chairman
of the committee on penitentiaries and was
also placed on the railroad committee. The
county seat bill was presented and passed after
a hard struggle. This was the last session of
the Legislature permitting special legislation.
Ever.v member was, in consequence, very active.
Mr. Gale had about thirty bills and succeeded
in getting them all passed. Mr. Gale's interest
in local affairs began when, as a boy, he listened
to the plans of the founders of Galesburg before
they left New York, to find the spot whereon
was to be built the college and around which
the village and future beautiful city was to

The plan worked out by the Rev. George W.
Gale, and in which Mr. Selden was so much in-
terested, has been substantially followed. The
first city charter of Galesburg was drafted by
Mr. Gale. Geo. C. Lanphere and Oliver S. Pitcher.
Mr. Gale declined a place in the council at that
time, and afterwards until 1871. when he was
elected without opposition. He remained in the
council until 1882. and had an opposing candi-
date but once during that time. He was chair-
man of the finance committee during his entire
service as Alderman. In the first period of his
service he refunded the city debt on terms
especially advantageous to the taxpayers, and
which were thought impracticable by local
bankers. He negotiated the purchase of the City
Park, and the year after the close of his second
period of service, from 1891 to 1895, he was
chairman of the committee to revise the city

Township orgpiiizatidii wms :iilciiited in Knox
County in IS.'.:;. 'V\,r liist im \,;iis subsequent
to this Mr. Gale w:is rl.i t.-.l Sii|>'i visor without
opposition. The liv.- yr^ns In- was the sole
representative from Galcsliurg; then two repre-
sentatives were allowed. At the beginning there
were still the remnants of an early prejudice
against Galesburg, as a Yankee, Presbyterian,
Abolitionist settlement. The town was increas-
ing rapidly, and large bills were necessarily pre-
sented to the county for the support of the
Galesburg poor, the poor being entirely a county
charge at that time. Moreover, the rapid growth
of Galesburg was exciting the suspicions of the
people that .sooner or later a successful effort
would be made to remove the county seat from
Knoxville to Galesburg. This feeling was shared
by a majority of the county Board. .Mr. Gale
exerted more influence in the Board than any
other man, and many of the representatives
were accused by their constituents of allowing
themselves to be hoodwinked by him. The
simple fact, however, was. that coupled with his
ability were a thorough knowledge of the situa-
tion and a spirit of perfect fairness ami justice,
and to be associated with him in the transaction


of the county business, enabled all to see the
justness of his propositions and the sincerity
of his purpose. In 1863, he was not re-elected.
In 1865, his services were again demanded, and
he was returned with H. R. Sanderson as an
able associate. Galesburg was soon restored to
her proper degree of influence. Prom this time
until 1878, when the question of locating the
county seat at Galesburg was finally settled, Mr.
Gale had the care of many important measures.
He secured an order of the county Board divid-
ing the town of Galesburg, drawing the division
line in such a way that it made two towns, each
entitled to two supervisors, thus increasing the
representation of Galesburg by two members.
Later he drew a bill, which passed the Legis-
lature, dividing the City of Galesburg from the
to.wnship, allowing the city representation in
proportion to the population. This gave Gales-
burg six representatives in the county Board.
This bill possessed one entirely new feature.
It gave the city a township, as well as city,
government. He devised the present mode of
caring for the poor, dividing the responsibility
between township and county, which has been
so satisfactory.

The elegant three-story court house, com-
pleted in January, 1887, was mainly planned by
Mr. Gale, the architect taking the floor plan en-
tire as submitted by him. He was chairman of
the building committee during the entire time
of the court house construction. His part in
determining the plan tor the jail and letting the
contracts for construction, was practically the
same. The same may be said of the construc-
tion of the first insane annex to the Alms
House, although he did not remain in the Board
until the building was completed.

Limited space prevents the enumeration of
all that Mr. Gale has done for this community;
to repeat here what his opponents have said
in his praise would appear fulsome in the ex-
treme. One thing, however, his friends have
seriously regretted, that he ever allowed him-
self to be drawn from the profession of the
law; for they feel that when the conclusion
was reached, that his work lay along other
lines, this county lost its opportunity of fur-
nishing to the State one of its foremost attor-
neys. Mr. Gale is still in active life, attending
to his large farming interests in Knox and War-
ren counties. A. J. PERRY.


George Candee Gale was born at Galesburg,
Illinois, July 12, 1873. His father, George
Washington Gale, a son of William Selden
Gale, was also born at Galesburg. and his
mother, Frances Candee, was born at La
Fayette. Indiana. His father has always fol-
lowed the occupation of farmer, and is a lead-
ing citizen in his community. His mother, like
his paternal ancestors, was of Presbyterian
stock and was the daughter of an Old School
Presbyterian minister. Young Gale, therefore,
very naturally, entered the Presbyterian
Church. The mental qualities and ten-

which children inherit are quite
likely to control them in the selection of the
organized groups of thought to which they at-
tach themselves; and so it often happens that
an examination of a person's associates, indi-
vidual and collective, will disclose traits of
character in such person which at first would
not otherwise be discerned. This rule applieO
to George C. Gale would indicate that, Presby-
terian like, he is a man who would insist upon
a great deal of individual liberty in matters of
opinion; that he would claim his rig^t to feed
in every corner of the civil and religious pas-

Online LibraryNewton BatemanHistorical encyclopedia of Illinois → online text (page 151 of 207)