Biography - Gilson Slack

GILSON SLACK. The career of this gentleman has been one of honor and profit to himself and of great benefit to the community in which he resides, for he has not only been energetic, but also public-spirited and enterprising. His father, William Slack, was a Kentuckian by birth, his natal year being 1795, and his youth was spent on a farm, his education being limited to the common schools, which were of a very primitive description during the period of his youth. At the age of eighteen years he enlisted as a private soldier in the War of 1812, and was an active participant in the battle of New Orleans, when Packenham was put to flight by the strategy of Gen. Jackson. After the termination of that war he returned to his home, where he learned the trade of a carpenter, but after his removal to Illinois in 1815, he turned his attention to farming, becoming the owner of a large tract of timber land, on which no improvement had been made. He at once erected thereon a log cabin, and with his usual energy began the work of cultivation and clearing, and in due course of time he was the owner of a highly productive and well-tilled farm, on which some very valuable improvements had been made in the way of buildings and fences. He is a man of genuine merit, has always been of a strong and self-reliant character, and his success was, without doubt, owing to the attention he always paid to each minor detail of his calling. About 1818 he married a Virginia lady, Miss Mary Finney, to which union thirteen children were born: John, deceased; Salinda, wife of J. M. Benson; Mariah and Sarah, deceased; Gilson, the subject of this sketch; William, deceased; James; Mary; Louisa, deceased; Melissa, widow of James Taylor; Emily and Norman J., deceased; and Margaret, widow of George Elkins.
Gilson Slack was born September 29, 1831, in Johnson County, Ill., and there on the farm of which his father was the owner his youthful days were spent and were characterized by hard work. He was early initiated into the mysteries of farming, and being a bright and energetic youth he soon mastered its details. The summer months were usually spent in attending the schools of the rural district, which were conducted in the primitive log building of pioneer days, with which our ancestors were familiar. In 1849, as a means of obtaining his own living, he began the cultivation of forty acres of land, which had been given him by his father, but after giving his time and strength to this business for three years he abandoned it to remove to Vienna, Ill., where he followed the calling of a merchant, and continued to make his home until July 15, 1861. Knowing well that his country needed his services, he unhesitatingly offered his life for the preservation of the land of his birth, and was mustered into Company H, First Illinois Infantry, and after one year's active service was honorably discharged at St. Louis, Mo., after which he raised a company and returned to the front. He was elected Major of the One Hundred and Twentieth Illinois Infantry, and served to the close of the war. He at once returned to Vienna, and after conducting a mercantile establishment there for one year he gave up that business to engage in carpentering, and to this occupation his attention has since been devoted, and numerous are the substantial and handsome buildings which stand as monuments to his skill throughout this portion of the Prairie State.
Since 1887 he has been a resident of Metropolis. Here he purchased a few acres of land, erected a handsome residence, and in it he and his family now reside. He is at present engaged in the bee business. His marriage was celebrated on the 28th of September, 1854, with Miss Mary E. Smith, a daughter of B. S. Smith, of Tennessee, and they have a family of three children: Henry F., a resident of Metropolis; William B., a citizen of Lexington, Ky.; and Oscar G., who is an employe on a railroad. Mr. Slack belongs to the honorable orders of the Ancient Free & Accepted Masons and the Odd Fellows, and he and his wife are communicants in the Baptist Church, with which they have long been closely identified, and to which they are generous contributors.

Extracted 16 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 409-410.

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