Jonas Gates, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Jonas Gates

JONAS GATES. Almost all of his natural life has Mr. Gates been identified with Porter county. It is fully three quarters of a century since as a child he was brought to this county, and hence the review of his career is a pioneer record, a personal history which covers the development of this county from the time it was still in the domain of the wilderness. His life has been characterized by honesty and integrity and in large degree of material prosperity, so that no name may be more properly introduced upon the pages of this history.

Jonas Gates is a native of Ohio, Medina county, and was born June 20, 1836, the second in a family of seven children, three sons and four daughters, born to Moses and Hepsibeth (Pennock) Gates. Mr. Gates is the oldest of three children now living. Amy, one of his sisters, is the wife of Drayton Skinner, a former real estate man of Chicago but now retired. Isabelle, the other sister, is the wife of Harry Corgan, of Oklahoma, who was formerly engaged in the trade of carpenter and joiner.

Moses Gates, the father, was a native of Vermont, where he was born in 1808, and was reared there, his first occupation being that of shoemaker, but afterwards he became a farmer. He lived to the advanced age of ninety-five years, and passed away in Porter county in 1903, one of the last of the very early pioneer settlers. His education was obtained in the common schools of his native state, and his first migration toward the west took him to the state of New York, thence to Ohio, and in 1837 came to La Porte county, Indiana, where after a brief stay he moved over to Porter county. At that time the Pottawotomies had not yet passed on to the west, and the country itself was only one step removed from its primitive state of wilderness. At the location where his son Jonas now resides, the father bought a small tract of forty acres, and later a similar amount, and on this farm, developed by his labor, he spent the remainder of his long life. His wife, who died in 1878, was born in Vermont in 1810. Her parents were members of the Methodist church. Both parents now rest in the Fleming cemetery of Porter township. This branch of the Gates family is directly descended from the General Gates family of the Revoultion, so that the present generation is entitled to the honors of the Revolutionary societies.

Jonas Gates thus became a Porter county resident when he was one year old, and was reared in the pioneer environment of the '30s and '40s. The school that furnished him a meagre education was kept in an old log building in Porter township, eighteen by twenty-two feet, constructed of white-oak logs, with a fireplace at one end and a mud and stick chimney. The seats were long boards supported on wooden pins, and the scholars' desk was a broad board fixed at an angle to the side walls. The goose quill pen was made by the teacher, and the figuring was done on a slate. The text books he remembers were the Davies arithmetic and the McGuffey readers. The old school he has seen pass away, to be replaced by the modern and comfortable educational equipment and facilities which boys and girls now enjoy. When he was a boy he helped thresh out the grain by riding a horse over the grain on the barn floor, and he has swung the old-fashioned cradle and scythe from morn until night. The little market where the home got its supplies was Uncle Jerry Hamill's in Valparaiso, which was then a hamlet, and there was not a railroad in the entire county. He recalls the visits of Indians to his uncle's place, and that they lay before the fireplace on their blankets. After he had become a vigorous boy able to handle a rifle with expert skill he has seen as many as sixty deer in one drove and he has killed many. He was one of the skillful local nimrods and trappers, and his hunting expeditions have extended from the Kankakee swamps to the wilds of Minnesota. One of his experiences in early-day farming was breaking the sod of the prairies with an ox team, and within the survey of his own life have been introduced practically all the notable inventions and improvements that characterized the material civilization of the last century.

On February 29, 1860, Mr. Gates was married to Miss Lucinda Ensley, and six children, two sons and four daughters, were born to them. Of the four now living the oldest is Emma, who received her education in the common schools, and is now the wife of Minor Green, a farmer near Ford City, Missouri. They have five children, Flossie, Matilda, Estella May, Floyd W., Leora and Alvah. Mr. and Mrs. Green are members of the Christian church. Estella, the second of the children, is the wife of Charles Story, a prosperous farmer of Porter township, and their three children are Howard Charles, William Harry and Elsie. Theodore, who received his education in the common schools, resides at home and is engaged in farming. Arvilla May is the wife of Henry Kacher, a farmer of Porter township, and they have two children, Bessie and Ralph.

Mrs. Gates was born in Indianapolis, April 9, 1840, the daughter of George and Elizabeth (Davis) Ensley, and is the only one living of their six children, three sons and three daughters. Her father, who was of English lineage, was a miner by occupation. For more than half a century Mr. and Mrs. Gates have been companions in life, and are among the few whose happiness is extended to the golden anniversary of their wedding-day. Mr. Gates voted in the first Republican presidential campaign, and he is one of the few men still living whose citizenship has been continuous with the history of the Republican party. Mrs. Gates has always adhered to the Methodist church. This worthy couple, who for many years have resided on their eighty acre farm within four miles of Valparaiso, represent the solid pioneer character which was so valuable in the early development of this country, and they enjoy the thorough esteem of all their friends and neighbors in this community.

Source: Lewis Publishing Company. 1912. History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. 881 p.
Page(s) in Source: 519-521

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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