Biography - Francis X. Gress

FRANCIS X. GRESS, who is the proprietor of the furniture and undertaking establishment in Stewardson, is one of the most substantial business men of the town, having represented the business there in the abovenamed branch since 1876, and as the town was founded in 1875, he is one of its pioneers. Mr. Gress was born Bavaria, Germany, February 5, 1836. His father lived and died in Germany. His mother came to the United States about 1874, and passed from this life to the better world, while making her home in Prairie Township. Our subject's mother had one brother, after whom our subject is named. He also, was a settler in the State and died in Shelby County, leaving a wife and three children. She also had a sister who was unmarried, and died at St. Louis, Mo.

At the age of fifteen years, our subject was apprenticed to learn the trade of a cabinet maker. He served his apprenticeship for three years and then went to work at his trade near the place of his birth where he remained until 1857, when he lefl the Fatherland, taking a vessel at Bremen and after a voyage of fifty-two days, be landed in Baltimore and at once went to Chicago, the journey at that time between the two cities, occupying eight days. For a time after coming hither he was engaged as a cooper in a brewery near Chicago; there being no opportunity to work at his trade he gave his time in this way in order to pay his board

In January, 1858, Mr. Gress came to Shelbyville, having previously been promised work at that place. He remained there for about two weeks, but as his funds grew scarce, and work seemed remote, he went to Sullivan where he found an opportunity to employ himself at his trade. In the Spring of 1863 he went to Chicago, where he was engaged as a cabinet maker. He staid there for some months and in August, 1864, he went to Nashville, Tenn., and worked as a carpenter in Government employ. In February, 1865, he returned to Sullivan, but only remained a few months, when he again went to Chicago, and in July, 1865, he married Mrs. Josephine Weisbrick, nee Altman. Her first husband was a soldier in the Civil War and was killed. In 1868, our subject removed to Shelby County, and settled on a farm in Prairie Township, occupying himself with tilling the soil, until he removed to Stewardson.

Our subject and his wife, who have always been prudent, energetic people, are now the owners of four good building lots in the place where they reside. One child has been given them to grace their home and be the comfort of their declining years, a daughter whose name is Mary. The family are in their religious views devout Catholics, and are generous supporters of that body. Politically Mr. Gress is a Democrat. He has held several local offices.

Formerly Mr. Gress was associated with Joseph Steidle, under the firm name of Steidle & Gress. They were owners and proprietors of a packing house at Stewardson, which was built by the gentleman of whom we are writing.

Extracted 17 Dec 2018 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 563-564.

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