Among the many worthy and enterprising pioneers of Calhoun County, none are more deserving of representation in this Album than the gentleman above named. He came hither in his youth and assisted his father in the arduous labor by which a portion of Hamburg Precinct was reclaimed from its primitive condition and made into a fruitful tract of land. He knows what it is to wield the ax on heavy timber, to burn brush and grub out stumps, and in fact understands the entire process of making the wilderness blossom as the rose. Looking backyard, he recalls the days when wild game was abundant here and some of the more savage animals still lingered in the wilds making it dangerous to be out after nightfall. He also recalls the old fashioned schoolhouse with its subscription school, and the institution of the public schools, which, although not equal to those of the present day, were a decided advance on those which had preceded them.
The Blue Grass State claims Bradford Gresham as one of her sons, and his parents, Abner and Patsy (Blakeley) Gresham, were also born therein, both being of Irish ancestry. The natal day of our subject was February 19, 1830, and in 1845 he accompanied his parents to Calhoun County, Ill., their home being established on section 36, Hamburg Precinct. The father secured one hundred and sixty acres of heavily-timbered land and with the aid of his family brought it to a good condition of improvement and cultivation. He lived here over forty years, surviving until March 9, 1886. The wife and mother had breathed her last several years before that date. They were the parents of nine children, but our subject is now the sole representative of the family circle.
The farm now owned and occupied by Mr. Gresham consists of one hundred and forty acres of land, a part of which belonged to the old homestead. The pleasant dwelling is under the immediate supervision of an efficient housekeeper and devoted companion, who bore the maiden name of Elizabeth Neil and was united in marriage to our subject December 3, 1863. She is a native of Missouri. The union has been blest by the birth of one son, Logan, who is occupying a home of his own in the same township as his parents.
In April, 1865, Mr. Gresham enlisted in the Fifty-third Illinois Infantry and started to join Sherman's Army, but before he arrived at the front, Lee had surrendered and the war been brought to a close. He was discharged and returned to his home after an absence of a few weeks. Mr. Gresham has been School Trustee of Hamburg Precinct and School Director of his district. He and his wife are active members of society, respected by all who know them, and Mr. Gresham is especially esteemed for the part which he has had in bringing Calhoun County to its present condition. He is an excellent type of the sturdy, intelligent, honest pioneer, conscientious and upright in all his dealings, and a man whose word is as good as his bond.
Extracted 08 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Album of Pike and Calhoun Counties, Illinois, published in 1891, pages 212-215.
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