Biography - HON. HAMILTON MURRAY GALLAGHER
Without doubt one of .the most public-spirited and representative citizens that Peru ever had was the gentleman whose name forms the heading of this brief tribute to his worth and ability. Everything connected with the city's progress and advancement, in whatsoever lines of industrial enterprise or improvement, its municipal government, its educational system, and in short in all things which affected the permanent welfare of the place, received his earnest attention and elicited his zealous interest.
Bernard Gallagher, the paternal grandfather of our subject, lived in Virginia during the progress of the war of the Revolution and rendered effective service to the colonial army under Washington by carrying provisions and supplies to the troops. On one of these expeditions he was captured by a band of the enemy but was soon exchanged. He died in Alexandria, Virginia, and left five or six children to perpetuate his name. One of the number, Charles Henry, was the father of Hon. H. M. Gallagher. He was born in the Old Dominion, but possessed the spirit of enterprise which led so many of the sons of that state to explore the west and todevelop its wonderful resources. After spending a few years in New York city, engaged in the dry-goods business, he went to Moniteau county, Missouri, some years prior to the outbreak of the civil war. In the vicinity of Boonville, he owned and carried on a large plantation, and there he continued to dwell until he was summoned to the silent land, at the age of eighty-two years. His wife, whose maiden name was Sophia Cole, survived him about one year, and was over sixty-five years of age at the time of her death. She was a native of Virginia, but her father and ancestors were Pennsylvanians and of the old Dutch stock which did so much for that great state. Seven of the nine children of C. H. and Sophia Gallagher are yet living, namely: Sarah, wife of George Reynolds, of Missouri; Kate and Mary, unmarried, and residents of Tipton, Missouri; Milton and Peyton, of Missouri; Newton, of Peru, Illinois; and Jesse, of Waco, Texas.
The boyhood of our subject was spent in the vicinity of his birthplace, near Tipton, Missouri, his nativity being on the 26th of April, 1841. He was a studious lad, and though his advantages for obtaining an education were not of the best in that western state, he made the best of his opportunities, and attended the private school in Boonville which had at its head Professor Kemper, a man of considerable ability. Before attaining his majority Mr. Gallagher took up the study of law, and after being admitted to the bar engaged in practice in St. Louis for a few years. In 1865 he went to Ottawa, Illinois, where he was occupied in his professional labors for about a year, after which he came to Peru, thenceforth to be his home. Here he was the city attorney for a number of years, and conducted an excellent and representative practice as long as he lived. During some six or eight years he was the editor of the Peru Herald, manifesting his unusual talents as forcibly in this new field of effort as in any which he had hitherto undertaken.
The Democratic party of this section of the state, in whose councils Mr. Gallagher ranked high, found in him an able supporter and friend. He attended numerous conventions in the capacity of delegate, and acted upon many important committees. Elected to the office of mayor of Peru, he served to the entire satisfaction of all of our citizens during a number of terms, and at the time of his demise he was a supervisor and a member of the board of education. In 1870 and 1871 he represented this district in the Illinois legislature, winning fresh laurels for himself and party. Socially he was a Master Mason, and also belonged to the Odd Fellows order.
In 1867 Mr. Gallagher married Miss Martha A. Brewster, who departed this life about four years subsequently. Their only child, Charles D., was one of the gallant Seventy-first Regiment of New York Volunteers in the late Spanish-American war. The second marriage of Mr. Gallagher took place November 18, 1874, Miss E. Lena Kellenbach becoming his bride. They became the parents of three children, namely: Kate Murray, Harry Milton and William Hamilton. The parents of Mrs. Gallagher, Anton and Margaret (Birkenbeuel) Kellenbach, esteemed citizens of Peru, are natives of Prussia, Germany. They came to this country in 1856, and, locating in this place, the father was actively engaged in working at his trade, as a brick and stone mason, and as a contractor on the Rock Island Railroad, for many years. His father died in Germany, and his wife's father, William Birkenbeuel, died on ship-board, on his way to America. He was then over three-score and ten years of age.
The extremely active and successful life of H. M. Gallagher came to a close while he was in the prime of manhood, his vigor of mind and body unimpaired. The summons came April 13, 1888, and he was laid to rest near the city which he dearly loved and with whose fortunes his own had been so closely interwoven. His record as a business man and citizen, as a friend and in the home circle, was above reproach, and his children have just cause to be proud of his honorable name and fame.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 232-2234.