One of the progressive and active citizens of Des Moines county, who was born in Pleasant Grove township, on the farm where he now resides, over sixty-two years ago, is George Gallaher. He is a son of George and Lavina (Zion) Gallaher, his birth occurring May 10, 1842. His father was born in the State of Tennessee, came to Iowa in 1836, and located in Pleasant Grove township, Des Moines county, his farm of three hundred and twenty acres being one on which our subject now resides, and which he bought of the heirs, except the life interest of his mother. When he first obtained this place it was a vast wilderness, but he set about to clear it, and from time to time added one improvement after another as they were needed. The old frame house is still standing, but his son has erected a more modern two-story building. Mr. Gallaher was a very prosperous and progressive man of his day, meeting with much success in this business career. Besides his farming operations he also raised considerable stock. His death occurred April 11, 1842, and his remains were interred on the home place. He was one of the organizers and first members of the Cumberland Presbyterian church in this section of the country, and for some years the church services were held in his home.
The mother of our subject was born in Virginia, is eighty-five years old, and resides with her daughter Mary, who is the wife of John Ritchey, a farmer of Pleasant Grove township. She, too, is a charter member of the Cumberland Presbyterian church, and is the only one of the original members that is now living. She became the wife of Mr. Gallaher in Virginia when she was but sixteen years old, and became the mother of three children, two of whom are living; Benjamin, now deceased, was a wholesale grocer, and resided in Omaha, Nebr.; Amanda is the widow of A. C. De Lee, and also makes her home in Omaha; and George, the subject of this review.
Mr. Gallaher was a widower with the following four daughters when Miss Zion married him: Elizabeth, deceased, was the wife of David Brown, near New London; Sarah, also deceased was the wife of Edward Brown, of Hamburg, Iowa; Permelia is married to Isaac Fleenor, of Nebraska; and Harriet is the widow of Norvin Bridges, and lives in Riverside, Nebr. When our subject was ten years of age his mother married David L. Davis, of Pleasant Grove township, who was an early settler of this township, and died when he was about seventy-five years old. By this union five children were born, four of whom are living: David T., of Missouri; Milton, of Nebraska; John, also of Nebraska; Mary, wife of John Ritchey, a farmer of Pleasant Grove township; and Sarah, who died when she was five years old.
Our subject received his education in the common schools of his native township. His father died in 1842, and he lived with his step-father until the Civil War broke out, when he enlisted in September, 1861, at Davenport, Iowa, in Company K, Second Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and served till the close of the war. He was in the Army of the Tennessee battles of Shiloh and Corinth, and with Sherman on the march to the sea, July 22 at Atlanta in the Atlanta campaign, and in the battle of Vicksburg. After being honorably discharged at Louisville, Ky., July 9, 1865, he returned home, and again took up farming on his present farm in Pleasant Grove township, where he bought out the interest of the heirs, and where he has resided ever since. He is a very successful farmer and stockraiser, as well as a very progressive man of the day. He owns land adjoining his farm, one tract consisting of one hundred and sixty acres, and the other one of eighty acres. The last farm, of eighty acres, he deeded to the contractor who erected his home. Mr. Gallaher's father deeded this land to build the first frame house built in the country.
On March 15, 1866, Mr. Gallaher was united in marriage with Miss Sarah Ellen Thomas, a daughter of David Thomas, one of the early settlers of Des Moines county, being a prominent farmer in Franklin township, where he died at the advanced age of seventy-seven years. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Gallaher were born four children, of whom but two are now living: (1) Rosella, deceased, was the wife of Finus E. Dodds, a farmer of Pleasant Grove township. (2) Amanda E., also deceased, was the wife of William Archer, of Colorado, and had the following eight children: Myrtle; Bernice; Gladys; Helen; Robert, dead; George, dead; Gertrude, dead; and Florence. Those motherless children live with their father in Colorado. (3) Laura was born in Colorado, and is the wife of Frank Vandermark, of Franklin township, and they are the parents of three children: Lillian, Willis, and John B. (4) Winnifred is at home. All of the children of Mr. and Mrs. Gallaher were born in Des Moines county except Laura. Mrs. Gallaher died on the home place, Feb. 5, 1883.
Mr. Gallaher's second wife was the widow of Thomas Asby, of Jefferson county, who was a school-teacher, and later was engaged in the practice of law, and who died in Wapello county at the age of thirty-five years. He left five children: (1) Lillian Asby, now the wife of William B. Smith, of Washington township, a son of F. N. Smith, who is a banker of Yarmouth, Iowa. Mr. and Mrs. Smith have two children: Margaret, deceased; and Laura. (2) Thomas E. resides in Washington township. (3) Orin lives in Mediapolis, where he clerks in the bank. (4) Eunice, who died when eight years old. (5) Paul is a mail carrier on the rural route out of Roscoe. By the marriage of Mr. Gallaher and Mrs. Asby two children have been born in Pleasant Grove township: Georgia, fourteen years old; and Benjamin L., eleven years of age. Mr. Gallaher has accomplished much for his community in the way of improvements, and was a brave and true soldier in the defense of his country. In business he has avoided the numerous quicksands of speculation, in which so many mercantile fortunes have been sunk, and has steadily accumulated a large and valuable property, and acquired the reputation of an enterprising, upright, and honorable man.