Gaither C. Walser, Civil war veteran, one-timed carpenter, and for many years a prominent business man and financier of West Salem, ranks high among the leading men of Edwards county. A native of the county, he has since his boyhood been up and doing in the interests of humanity and of the commonwealth and nation. Ever a citizen of the most impregnable integrity, his life has added much to the well-being of the community in which he has made his home for so many years, and many of the leading industries and financial concerns of the county have felt his influence and his help, and are in a great measure guided by his acknowledged wisdom and business sagacity.

Mr. Walser was born on a farm near West Salem on January 22, 1843, and is the son of Brittain and Jane N. (Hutchins) Walser. Brittain Walser was born May 3, 1799. He was a native of North Carolina of German descent, who migrated to Illinois in 1830. His father, Jacob Walser, was at one time made a prisoner by the British and pressed into the training service, but he made his escape. Brittain Walser was one of the early pioneers of Edwards county, and he saw frontier life in Illinois when it was indeed worthy of the name. He passed the remainder of his days on his farm near West Salem, and died there on December 26, 1876, in his seventy-seventh year. His wife, Jane N. Hutchins, was born April 3, 1805, at Salisbury, North Carolina, and she passed away at the family home in West Salem on March 28, 1875. Nine children were born to these parents, namely: James, deceased; Margaret, deceased; Sarah, now seventy-nine years of age; Hiram H., a Civil war veteran, was captain of Company E, Sixty-third Illinois, and died in June, 1885, at the age of forty-nine; Laura E.; Susan, deceased; Gaither C.; Frank B., a Civil war veteran of Company 1, Sixty-sixth Illinois, also deceased; and Mary Jane, married to S. A. Harris.

Gaither C. Walser received a somewhat limited education, such as the schools of a half a century ago were apt to afford, and was reared on his father's farm to the age of nineteen, at which time he took employment in a general merchandise establishment. He remained there until the war broke out, or until January 31, 1863, when he enlisted in Company I, Sixty-sixth Regiment of Illinois Volunteers. He served until the close of the war, and during the term of his enlistment saw a deal of active service. He went to the front and participated in the Atlanta campaign of one hundred and twenty days; he marched to Savannah with General Sherman, and through the Carolinas. He fought at Bentonville and Goldsboro and was in the Raleigh campaign. With the news of Lee's surrender, they continued their march to Washington, and in May, 1865, took part in the Grand Review. From Washington the regiment was sent to Parkersburg, thence down the Ohio river to Louisville, then to Springfield, where he was finally mustered out on July 18, 1865.

Peace restored and civilian life being again resumed, Mr. Walser took up carpentering, and followed that trade for several years. In 1882 Mr. Walser entered the grain trade, and continued in it for many years, with great success. In 1899 he was appointed postmaster of West Salem and has served continuously in that office up to the present time. In 1909, he, with other West Salemites, established the First National Bank, in which he is a stockholder, a director and the vice-president. He is also vice president of the Bone Gap Banking Company at Bone Gap, this county.

Mr. Walser is Republican in his political allegiance, and is staunch and firm in his beliefs and opinions. He is a member of West Salem Post No. 222 Grand Army of the Republic, and holds membership in the Moravian church, of which his first wife's father was the founder.

Mr. Walser has been twice married. His first wife was Miss Sarah A. Houser, daughter of Rev. Martin Houser, who was the founder of the Moravian church in West Salem, and who also is distinguished by being the founder of the village of West Salem. She was born at Hope, Indiana, October 26, 1842, and died on March 7, 1875, on the eleventh anniversary of her wedding. She left four children, viz.: Gertrude L., married to John C. Stone, is the mother of two children, Lucille and Sydney; her husband is professor of mathematics in the State Normal at Mount Clair, New Jersey, where they reside. Conrad is an attorney at Little Rock, Arkansas; he is married and has three children, Maurice, Quincy and Mildred Agnes. Eva is married to Rev. Samuel Allen and lives in Jamaica, West Indies; she has five children, Walser Allen, a student in Nazareth, Pennsylvania; Dorothy; Constance; Russell and Miriam. Emma, now Mrs. Allbright, lives in Bloomington, Illinois, and has four children Bernice May, Norma Aline, Helen and Robert William.

On November 21, 1875, Mr. Walser married Mary J. Lopp, born July 24, 1843, in this county, a daughter of George Lopp, a native of North Carolina, of which state he was an early pioneer. Three children were born of this union, two of whom are now living. They are: Ethel, wife of Prof. Howard Kingsbury of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and they have two children, Charles Howard, and an infant son: Stewart L. is assistant postmaster in West Salem, and Charles is deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Walser are members of the English Moravian church.

Extracted 11 Nov 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 History of Southern Illinois, by George W. Smith, volume 3, pages 1619-1621.

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