The late Mathias Weber was known throughout Southern Illinois as one of the most famous fighters in the state. He was trained in the German army and loved war for its own sake. His was a bold and venturesome spirit, and his life was replete with experiences from which the man of average courage would shrink. Not so Mathias Weber. He was born December 4, 1828, in Baden, Germany, and was the son of John Weber. When he was nineteen years old Mathias Weber immigrated to the L T nited States, arriving in Boston in 1847, going thence to New York. He volunteered as a soldier in the Mexican war almost immediately, and fought through that war with General Scott and General Taylor. He was one of the aides who gave chase and captured Santa Ana's wooden leg, which is now to be seen in Springfield, Illinois. After the war he served for a time at the Woolwich Arsenal in Boston, Massachusetts, thus finishing out his term of enlistment. He then came west to Pittsburg, where he followed tne trade he had 'learned in Germany, that of a machinist and blacksmith. With regard to his training in Germany, let it be said that he attended school until he reached the age of thirteen years, after which he took a special course in scientific mechanics. In Pittsburg he found work in the Hamilton Plow Shops, and was in the ordnance department for two years. In 1849 Mr. Weber joined the throng of gold seekers and made his way to California, locating in a spot in Sutter county, fifty miles from San Jose, then the nearest postoffice. He remained there one year and returned to Pittsburg, making the trip by way of South America and crossing the Andes. He took ship at Rio Janeiro for New York. When he returned to Pittsburg he married Mary Kayler, and in the latter part of 1854 journeyed down the Ohio river to Evansville, thence to West Salem, where he located. He was accompanied by Mike and George Kayler, and when they first saw West Salem the public square, which is now a beautiful park, was not more than a brush filled clearing. The population of the village at that time numbered about twenty persons. He bought a farm and settled down, but the death of his wife caused him to give up his interests there, and he returned to Pittsburg. Soon thereafter his love of adventure and the discontent brought about by the breaking up of his pleasant home caused him to make another trip to the west, locating this time in Pike's Peak, Colorado, and making the trip with an ox team. He remained in the gold fields of that region for about two years, in which time he panned out $5,000 in gold nuggets. Once more he made his way back to Pittsburg, and after three months he found himself started for Edwards county and his farm near West Salem. There he married Mary Elizabeth Ely, the daughter of Samuel Ely, a pioneer settler of this region. He settled on his farm again and there lived quietly and industriously, improving his farm and becoming established in the community, until, with the breaking out of the Civil war in 1861, the old fighting spirit was up in arms again, and when President Lincoln called for volunteers, Mathias Weber was one of the first to respond. He bought a horse from Mike Barnheart, paying for it $240 in gold, and enlisted in the Seventh Illinois Cavalry. The company formed at the old District Fair Grounds at Grayville and marched to Camp Butler at Springfield, and on to Cairo. They fought at Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain, Shiloh, Missionary Ridge and Vicksburg. He was with Garrison on his raid and for sixteen days never rested, finishing with Sherman's march to the sea. His regiment was sent from Savannah westward on the chase after Johnston and his army and was present at the surrender of General Pemberton on July 4. He was then made commissary sergeant, in which capacity he served until the close of the war. When his company was mustered out at Springfield Mr. Weber was held there for two months and was given up as lost by his friends, and was so reported by returning soldiers; but he arrived at his cabin home in West Salem in the summer of 1865, and once more assumed the duties of a civilian. He gave himself up strenuously to the task of cleaning up his farm nad making it a creditable possession, and prospered in a measure consistent with his efforts. His original tract of two hundred and forty acres he cleared and improved, and increased his holding until he became the owner of five hundred acres of valuable farm lands. Here he lived and reared his family, passing away on the farm home which had represented the scene of his activities for so many years. His wife still survives him, and still makes her home at the old place. Ten children were born to them, all of whom are living but one, who died in infancy. They include: John, Jr., a wealthy live stock grower, who lives on the old Ely farm; Dr. T. C. Weber, of West Salem; Philip Mathias Weber, a prosperous farmer of Edwards county; Hillard L., located in Seattle, Washington, where he is engaged in the contracting and real estate business; Dr. William C. Weber, who is associated in practice with his brother. Dr. T. C., and who graduated from Barnes University of St. Louis, Missouri, on June 16, 1910, after which he engaged in practice with his brother; Rachel, married to a Mr. Kortge, and lives near West Salem on a large farm; Sarah lives at home with her mother on the old home farm; Mrs. Rebecca Schultz, who lives on a large stock farm near West Salem; and Stella is the wife of Dr. Frank Leslie, of Carmi, Illinois.

Extracted 11 Nov 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 History of Southern Illinois, by George W. Smith, volume 3, pages 1686-1688.

Templates in Time