Biography - Gus H. Bridges

Gus H. BRIDGES. One of the substantial business men of Vienna who has been prominently identified with the city's commercial interests for many years is Mr. Gus H. Bridges, who is connected with one of the leading financial institutions here, the Drovers State Bank, in the capacity of assistant cashier.

Mr. Bridges is a member of the fourth generation of his family to have been residents of Johnson county, his great-grandfather having been one of the earliest pioneer settlers in this section, coming to Southern Illinois from North Carolina. One of his sons, Alfred, who was born in North Carolina and was brought with the family to Illinois, was the grandfather of the present representative of the family, Gus H. Bridges.

Gus H. Bridges was born July 14, 1859. in Vienna, the son of James J. and Elizabeth E. (Gibbs) Bridges. His father was born on a farm near Vienna in 1830 but after the death of the mother of the family, when James J. was an infant, removal was made to town and he subsequently made his home with his uncle, Colonel Bridges. James worked in a Vienna store until the outbreak of the Civil war, when he enlisted in the army and entered service under arms for his country as second lieutenant of Company D, Thirty-first Regiment of Illinois Infantry. After several months campaign with that company Mr. Bridges returned home and organized Company I, One Hundred and Twentieth Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and went into the field at the head of that company, serving as its commander. The company took active part in several important campaigns and battles, among them being the engagements at Port Donelson, Shiloh and Guntown, Mississippi. Mr. Bridges later became a provost guard at Memphis and after long years of patriotic and honorable service was mustered out of the army in 1865. Upon returning home to take up the pursuits of peace he decided to engage in mercantile endeavors and continued to be so employed throughout the remainder of his life, his death occurring in 1880.

On the maternal side of his family Gus H. Bridges comes of illustrious pioneer stock. His mother, Elizabeth E. Gibbs, was born and reared in Southern Illinois, and was the daughter of Dr. Worthington J. Gibbs, the first practicing physician to locate at Vienna and one of the first in Southern Illinois. Dr. Gibbs was a native of Virginia and a graduate of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Philadelphia. When migrating to Illinois he in company with several other families journeyed by way of the Ohio river on a flat boat from Wheeling, Virginia, landing without mishap in due course of time at Metropolis, Illinois. After his marriage to Sebrina Renfraw he located at Vienna, where he built a house on the site now occupied by the Vienna Public Library building. His practice extended over a wide territory and the necessities of the pioneer times compelled him to make many of his journeys on horseback over trails, penetrating the country as far distant as Jonesboro. He was a great figure in his day, well known and greatly beloved, and his death in 1858 removed from the field of action in this world one of the most interesting men of this section of the state. His family consisted of four children. Dr. J. A. Gibbs, now of Alexandria county; W. J. Gibbs, deceased, who was prosecuting attorney of Johnson county for many years; Mrs. Maria Benson; and Mrs. Bridges, the mother of our subject.

Gus H. Bridges was an only child, and after completing his education in the public school of Vienna, at the age of seventeen years, he became a clerk in his father's store. Later he was given a partnership in the business and co-operated with his father in its conduct until the death of the latter in 1880. The son continued the business independently for several years but subsequently disposed of the store in order to turn his attention to other matters. In 1897 he became connected with the Johnson County Bank, and two years later accepted the position of assistant cashier of the Drovers State Bank, the duties of which office he still discharges. In connection with his other activities he also transacts a large fire insurance business and has represented nine of the leading companies since 1904.

This briefly covers a history of the commercial life of Mr. Bridges, embracing his private activities, but he has also been a public official of prominence during a considerable portion of the past years. For eight years he proved his just title to the reputation of a man of marked financial ability and unimpeachable personal integrity by acting as city treasurer of Vienna for eight years, and he has also filled the office of treasurer of Vienna township since 1901. He is a man of broad interests and takes an active part in social and religious affairs of the community. The Congregational church numbers him as among its most liberal and influential members. In fraternal circles he is held in high esteem, holding membership in the A. F. & A. M., belonging both to the Blue Lodge and the Chapter, and in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. In every department of life which holds his attention he manifests enthusiasm and to whatever he puts his mind and hand applies intelligence and energy that compel success. He has a large circle of friends and acquaintances and is highly esteemed by all.

The marriage of Mr. Bridges and Miss Zora Wise, a daughter of John Wise, of Johnson county, occurred on October 20, 1880. Two children blessed this union, James J., who lives in Vienna, and Charles A., who is a tonsorial artist and also resides in this city.

Extracted 14 Jan 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 699-701.

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