Richland County

Biography - Lydia Phillips Gerber

Of the older residents of Claremont township there are few that are better known and more widely respected than the subject of this brief notice, who was born July 14, 1834, in Stark county, Ohio, the daughter of David and Sarah Phillips, her mother's name being Hosler and a native of Stark county. Her father was a Pennsylvanian and moved from there with his parents when almost at the age of manhood. His parents settled in Stark county, Ohio, where they lived for some years before coming to Illinois. About the year 1840, they moved and settled in Claremont township, Richland county, one year before Richland county was surveyed. Lydia Phillips was then but six years of age. In Richland county her parents entered forty acres of unimproved land, the greater part of which was covered with timber. This land he (her father) bought from the government at one dollar and twenty-five cents an acre. He started to clear and improve the land and built a crude log house of hewn logs. Industriously he kept adding to his property until he had two hundred acres at the time of his death. When two years in Illinois his parents left Ohio and made their home with the younger family, where they remained until their deaths, which took place when they were well on in the eighties.

Lydia Phillips remained with her parents on their farm until her marriage to William Gerber, which was celebrated on June 20, 1856. She and her husband settled on forty acres of land in Claremont township, at a later period they bought more, making a total of one hundred acres. Here they remained in peaceful married life and working hard until the death of William Gerber, which event occurred on January 3, 1896, when he had reached his sixty-sixth year. He was the son of Phillip and Susannah Gerber, his mother's name being Sager, both of them being natives of Pennsylvania, where William was born on February 24, 1830. He moved with his parents to Sandusky, Ohio, then to Indiana, and later returning again to Ohio. Afterwards they moved to Illinois and settled in Richland county, where his parents died. They are buried in Claremont township cemetery.

Lydia Phillips was the eldest of eight children born to her parents, all of whom grew to maturity. She herself was blessed with eight children. All of them grew to maturity, but four have since died. In the order of their birth, they are: Sarah Jane, Elizabeth, Matilda K., John P., George W., Levi D., Ellen and Henry. George is the only child who married. He and his wife live on the homestead with his mother and are the parents of four children, all of whom live. They are: Inez Myrtle, Charles Oscar, Grace A., and Francis W.

Lydia Phillips Gerber attended in her early days the free schools in Claremont township near her home. The building was an old log house with a fireplace which was built of mud and sticks. The seats were four log slabs balanced upon four pegs which stood for legs. The books used were
McGuffey's readers and the elementary speller and a few others which were the principal textbooks of the time. Here she attended school for seventeen years and obtained a good share of information.

Her husband during his life was a Democrat in politics. In religion she and her husband and the grandparents were members of the Lutheran church in Claremont township. During her long life she has never omitted to give her church duties a proper share of attention. She has always been respected in the congregation to which she belongs.

Extracted 26 Apr 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 327-328.

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