Ransom E. GREGORY is a retired farmer residing in Henry, but for many years he was closely, actively and honorably associated with agricultural interests, thus making for himself a creditable place in business circles in Marshall county. Moreover, he is entitled to representation in this volume as one of the honored veterans of the Civil war, who loyally defended the Union cause through the darkest hour in our country's history. He was born in Auglaize county, Ohio, August 16, 1839. His father, Harrison GREGORY, was a native of Ashtabula county, Ohio, born May 25, 1813. He was both a farmer and merchant. About 1837 he removed with his family to Auglaize county, Ohio, where he remained for six years and thence drove across the country to Illinois, settling upon a farm in Kickapoo township, Peoria county, in 1843. This place was about twelve miles west of the city of Peoria. As he had little capital at the time of his arrival he had to incur indebtedness in order to make the purchase, but he soon discharged his financial obligation and devoted ten years to the improvement and cultivation of the farm, after which he removed to Henry, where he spent the succeeding three years. He next took up his abode in Whitefield township, seven miles west of Henry, where he purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land, this farm being his home throughout his remaining days. In his earlier manhood he had also engaged in teaching school through the winter months for many years, and thus added to his income. Becoming ill in 1882 he went to California for the benefit of his health, but died in Los Angeles, four weeks after his arrival, on the 3d of October, 1882, at the age of sixty-nine years. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Mary SIVERS, was a native of Maryland, born October 29, 1812, and her death occurred July 28, 1876. In the family were ten children, of whom four are now living: Ransom E., of this review; Fannie, who was born August 3, 1841, and is now the wife of Cyrus HUTCHINS, of Los Angeles, California; Laura, who was born February 25, 1854, and is the wife of Charles JENKINS, of Prospect Park, California; and Harry, who was born February 9, 1857, and is proprietor of a department store at Vincennes, Indiana. One brother, Mark G., who for many years was identified with agricultural interests in this county, has now passed away.
Ransom E. GREGORY acquired his early education in the schools of Kickapoo and in the district schools near Henry. He enlisted in the Union army on the 16th of August, 1861 his twenty-second birthday as a member of Company D, Forty-seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under Captain John C. TOWNSEND and Colonel John BRYNER. He joined the army for three years and was mustered out on the 16th of August, 1864, while on duty as chief clerk to Colonel A. J. MEYER, chief signal officer of the United States Army and chief of staff to General E. R. S. CANBY, then stationed at New Orleans, Louisiana. Mr. GREGORY participated in the siege of Vicksburg and was afterward transferred to the signal corps, acting as orderly sergeant of the company and ranking as first sergeant in the signal corps. There were multitudinous delicate and hazardous duties to be performed in that connection, and Mr. GREGORY was always found faithfully at his post. He was detailed at General Sherman's headquarters and was on duty all night previous to the battle of Mission Ridge, receiving and sending messages for "Uncle Billy." He was in the battle of Corinth on the 3d and 4th of October, 1862; in the battle of luka, Mississippi, in September, 1862; and also in the engagement of Jackson prior to the siege of Vicksburg, besides many other minor engagements. He thus saw considerable arduous field service.
Following his return home Mr. GREGORY was married on the 1st of January, 1866, to Miss Ellen Maria WHITE; of Whitefield township, Marshall county, a daughter of John B. WHITE, in whose honor the township was named, being elected its first supervisor. He was one of the prominent pioneer residents of the county and aided largely in its upbuilding and development at an early day. His birth occurred in Vermont and his last years were spent in Henry, where he was engaged in the lumber business at the time of his demise. Unto Mr. and Mrs. GREGORY have been born three children, of whom two are living: Carrie B., now the wife of F. G. SMITH, of Chicago, by whom she has one child, Fay Gregory SMITH; and Elmer B., who is living in Los Angeles, California. The deceased child was Marion Bradshaw, who passed away at the age of nine years.
Mr. GREGORY was at one time identified with farming interests in Marshall county, and in the fall of 1866, at the age of twenty-six years, he was elected sheriff of the county and removed to the county seat, filling the office for one term. His election occurred the same year of his marriage, and the young couple did their first house- keeping in the old jail. In 1884 Mr. GREGORY removed from Illinois to Pierre, South Dakota, where he was engaged in the real-estate business, handling considerable property there. He was also very prominent and influential in public affairs, spending fourteen years in the state, during which time he did effective service in behalf of general progress and improvement. He served as a member of the board of education, and the cause of the schools found in him a stalwart champion and supporter. He was also deputy county treasurer, city assessor and chief of the fire department of Pierre. He likewise acted as postmaster under President Harrison there, and over the record of his public career there falls no shadow of wrong or suspicion of evil, his duties being discharged with the utmost fidelity and promptness. In 1887 Mr. GREGORY removed to Chicago, where he lived three years, being employed as collector for the firm of Rittenhouse & Embree Company, one of the largest lumber firms in the city.
In 1900 Mr. GREGORY returned to Marshall county and is now living retired in Henry, enjoying in well earned ease the fruits of his former toil. He holds membership with the Grand Army post at Pierre and in politics he is a republican where national issues are involved but casts an independent local ballot. All who know him respect him for his genuine worth and many good traits of character, for in all life's relations, whether in business, in public office or upon the field of battle, he has made a creditable and commendable record.
Extracted July 2011 by Norma Hass from Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois, 1907.