John A. Gaar, of York Township, is the fortunate possessor of his father's old
homestead, which consists of eighty acres of land, and is pleasantly located on
section 29. The family came to this county during its pioneer days, and endured
all the hardships and privations incident to life in a new settlement. It may be
well, before proceeding with the futher history of our subject, to refer to
those from whom he drew his origin.
John P. Gaar, the father of our subject, was born in Orange [sic] County, Ky.,
Sept. 15, 1809, and lived there until reaching man's estate. Upon leaving the
Blue Grass regions, he emigrated to Marion County, Ind., where he met Miss
Elizabeth Shoemaker, and where, May 9, 1839, they were married. This lady was
born in Pregble County, Ohio, Dec. 12, 1812.
After marriage Mr. and Mrs. John P. Gaar came to Illinois, arriving in this
county Oct. 31, 1843. The father took up land from the Government, for which he
paid $1.25 per acre, and upon which, it is hardly necessary to say, there were
no improvements whatever. He built a log house, and a rail fence around his
premises. The dwelling was 19 x 20 feet in area, the roof covered with
clapboards, a huge fire-place extending nearly across one end, and the chimney
was built outside, of earth and sticks. The wooden-hinged door was secured by a
latch of the same material, lifted by a string, and the latter would be drawn in
at night, so that no intruder could gain an entrance. They brought two children
with them, and in this humble dwelling all the younger ones were born. Here also
the father died, April 25, 1855.
The children of this union are recorded as follows: Dorcas M. was born April 3,
1840, and was married to Calvin St. Ores April 24, 1856. They had eleven
children, of whom ten survive. Cornelius I. was born Feb. 17, 1842, and died in
infancy. Rosanna S. was born March 17, 1843, married Andrew J. Miner, and became
the mother of six children, four of whom survive. Lavina M. was born Oct. 27,
1845, and was married to Elijah H. Dyson July 26, 1863. John A. was born Jan.
21, 1848, married Miss Mary Switzer Nov. 23, 1875, and is the father of six
children, all living. Mary F. was born Sept. 18, 1850, married G. G. Lambert
Jan. 1, 1868, and is the mother of six children, two of whom are deceased.
Lucretia C. was born Oct. 25, 1852 and died May 7, 1853.
The father was an active member of the Presbyterian Church, and died
triumphantly in that faith. He was especially interested in the Sabbath school.
As there was no society of this denomination is this county, he usually attended
the Baptist Church of his neighborhood. The mother is still living, residing in
the village of Thomson, and is in the enjoyment of good health.
John A. Gaar pursued his early studies in the primitive schools of his
neighborhood, which were carried on in a structure similar to that of the humble
dwelling already described, and also attended the Sabbath school inaugurated by
his father and the Rev. Ernest Ingham, the elder Gaar officiating then as
Superintendent. John at an early age was taught to make himself useful about the
homestead, and chose farming for his life occupation.
Upon reaching man's estate, he was married, in Jo Daviess County, Ill., on the
22d of November, 1875, to Miss Mary Switzer, daughter of Israel and Ann (Hawk)
Switzer, who were natives of Pennsylvania. The father was born July 25, 1816,
and the mother May 29, 1820. They were married Jan. 2, 1844. The record of their
children is as follows: Washington was born in Chester County, Pa., Jan. 29,
1846, and married Miss Rachel Phillips Dec. 8, 1869; she was born May 30, 1851.
Mary, Mrs. Gaar, was born in Chester Co., Pa., March 15, 1851. Sarah J. was born
in this county, Oct. 14, 1859, and married Norman Millard, son of the Rev. J. E.
Millard, of York Township, this county, Feb. 26, 1889.
Mr. Switzer came to this county in 1855, and located first near Mt. Carroll,
where he lived about five years, and then came to York Township. Here he planted
a vineyard of ten acres at a time when the nearest railway station was at Mt.
Carroll, and continued to live there several years. His death occurred in Jo
Daviess County, June 31, 1881.
To Mr. and Mrs. John A. Gaar there have been born the following children,
namely: Archie H., born Nov. 28, 1876; Lawrence I., Nov. 20, 1878; Mark C., Jan.
9, 1881; Harry S., May 9, 1883; John A., April 10, 1885; and Ethel M., July 28,
Politically, Mr. Gaar votes the Republican ticket, although meddling very little
with public affairs. Socially, he belongs to the Masonic fraternity, being a
member of Thomson Lodge No. 559.
I enjoyed finding this site, however my grandfather's name was Harry Norwood
Gaar, not Harry S. Thank you .