SAMUEL F. GAMMILL. There is no broader field for a man to become familiar with the phases of
human nature, than in the business of a merchant, nor can one gain a more intimate knowledge of
family life, unless it be in the legal profession, and a broadsouled man who is in sympathy with
his fellow-creatures has in this calling an unparalleled opportunity for doing good. Especially
is this true of one engaged in general merchandise, for one will make many sacrifices of pride
and self-respect if one family is in need of the necessities of life, and happy is the man whose
position enables him to respond to his generous impulses and relieve these necessities.
The gentleman of whom it is our pleasure and privilege to here give a short biographical sketch
is a general merchant in the village of Gays being the oldest merchant here who has been thus
engaged. He was born in Whitley Township, this State, June 20, 1841, and is a son of Andrew and
Jane (Whittes) Gammill, both natives of North Carolina, who with their respective families,
moved to Tennessee. Our subject was but two years old at the time of his emigration to that
State, having been carried thither on horseback from North Carolina to Tennessee, in which county
the young people married, and after which in 1832, they emigrated to this State, settling in
Whitley Township, being among the first settlers on Whitley Creek. There they entered some land
and pursued their calling of farming. They continued to reside here, with the exception of the
years 1847 and 1848, when they lived in Coles County, one year of which time they make their
home in the house built and formerly occupied by Thomas Lincoln, father of Abraham Lincoln.
The father of our subject died in 1867, at the age of sixty-seven years. The mother passed away
in 1876 at the age of seventy-four years. For years they had been consistent and conscientious
members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Eleven children clustered about their fireside
and board. One of these died in childhood and ten lived to be grown. They are by name Adaline,
Caroline Lucinda, William Janes, James Newton, Madeline, Louisa, Samuel F. and Nancy L. and Elem W.
Adaline married Joseph Hendricks, and died at Ottumwa, Iowa. Caroline married John Shoemaker, of
Coles County; Lucinda was united to J.H. Whetstone, of Pamona, Kan. William resides in Woodford,
Cal. James was a member of Company E, of the Fifth Illinois Cavalry, and died of small pox
while in service, James Newton is a resident of Hickman, Neb. Madeline is the wife of John
T. Alexander, of Ottawa, Kan. Louisa has been three times widowed, her first husband was
George Curry, the second was James Renner, and the third Joseph Hayden. She now resides at
Pomona, Kan. Elem W. is the wife of Thomas Kimball of Whitley Township.
Our subject was reared upon a farm. His school days were limited but being an ambitious boy
and fond of reading, he made up by outside work, many of the deficiencies of his school life.
During the early part of the war, soon after the firing of the first gun, our subject enlisted,
September 7, 1861, and was mustered into service with Company H. of the Seventh Illinois Cavalry.
He was mustered out November 4, 1865, having re-enlisted in 1864. He entered as a private, but
was advanced to the post of First Lieutenant, having filled all the ranks below, except those
of Orderly Sergeant and Second Lieutenant. That long period of bloodshed was one in which our
subject lived a life-time of adventure and experience, most of which was of a bloody and terrible
character. He was a participant in the following engagements: that of Madron, Mo., Corinth, and
was in the lead of Grant's army to Coffeyville, Miss., on the Grierson raid from LaGrange, Tenn.,
April 16, 1863, and landed at Baton Rouge, La., May 2, 1862. During this march they covered eight
hundred and fifty-three miles and the raid is memorable in the memory of him of whom we write as
being the hardest trip taken during the war. He was also present at the siege of Ft. Hudson, a
participant in the battle of Collierville, Tenn., Campbelliville, Tenn., and was with Gen. Smith
in Mississippi, starting with his army in February of 1864. The battle of Nashville, Tenn.,
September 15 and 16, 1864, has left a deep and lasting impression on the memory of our subject.
He also took part in several minor engagements.
On returning home, Mr. Gammill resumed farming and in 1869 came to Gays and established his
present business house. His marriage took place in 1873 when he was united to Margaret C. Wilson,
a daughter of John and Charity Wilson. She was born in Ash Grove Township, Shelby County. Four
children have been the outcome of this marriage. Their names are Mack, Tola J., Stella May,
and one who died in infancy. Mr. Gammill affiliates with the Republican party and in recognition
of his loyalty as well as his fitness as a man of intelligence and firm standing in the community,
he was appointed Postmaster at Gays, which position he held for twelve years. In his religious
preference, he with his wife, is a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He is one of
the thinning ranks of the Grand Army of the Republic, being a veteran who thoroughly enjoys,
when at reunions, a recital of the striking experiences that he or other comrades had while in
the war. Not slow to recognize bravery in friend or foe, many a piquant and spicy story is at
his tongue's end.
Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties, 1891 - p. 343/344
Transcription copyright 2003/2007, Moultrie County ILGenWeb/USGenWeb