top of page

The Gates

           Timothy Gates (1777 – 1844) was a settler who came all the way from Maine to Illinois. Along the way he had many children, some born in Massachusetts and some in Ohio, with his wife Margaret Hughs. They settled in McLean County in 1828 with six of their children, three daughters having died in Ohio. Timothy was a veteran of the War of 1812 and very active in local politics. In 1840 he built a fabulous 20 foot canoe from a single walnut tree for the campaign parade of Dr. John F. Henry. He accompanied the canoe and the Bloomington band to Peoria where Dr. Henry gave a speech. The event is depicted in a large painting in the Politics gallery of the McLean County Museum of History. A vivid description of the parade and festivities was recorded by one of the granddaughters of Seth Baker.


            After the death of a settler, the departed’s belongings would be auctioned off, to settle debts or liquidate the estate. Timothy Gates auctioned off the belongings of Major Seth Baker after his death. Almost every man in the town took some part in the legal or political doings of the town, if only to sit on a jury.


            Charles and Stephen Gates both volunteered during the Blackhawk War, both as sergeants.


            In 1866 the children of James Gates (1817 - 1860) were orphaned. There were very few Gates left in Bloomington, so Henry’s three children were parceled out to the Jacobys, the family of their mother. William and Perry lived with two different uncles, and Mary Jane was living with Samuel and Elizabeth Dooley in Padua. Mary Jane continued to live in Illinois until January 23, 1880. This fact is established by a newspaper story about her “shotgun” wedding. Mary Jane brought charges against John Fisher, who had seduced her the previous year. When he was leaving town to settle in Kansas, she suggested that he might at least come to her home and kiss his baby. Little did he know that she would have the police waiting for him. He was arrested and compelled to marry her for the sake of their baby. They moved to Kansas and had four additional children. One has to admire her bravery in confronting her seducer and then making a success out of a bad beginning.


            No Gates remained in McLean County to continue that line, unless William and Perry Gates were successful surviving childhood and finding wives in McLean County.  

bottom of page