HIRAM E. GARDNER is one of the prosperous farmers and the second vice-president of the Farmers National Bank of Springfield. Through long years he has been a resident of Sangamon county, but Kentucky is the state of his nativity, his birth having occurred in the village of Milton, near the banks of the Ohio river, April 28, 1831. His parents were John and Mary (Duncan) Gardner, both of whom were natives of Trimble county, Kentucky, where they spent their early days. It was in the year 1833 that the father removed with his family from Kentucky to what was then the village of Springfield, Illinois. He took up his abode on a farm near the town and there devoted his energies to the cultivation of the soil and the raising of stock, with the result that his labor brought to him a well merited degree of success as the years passed by. Through thirty-five years he continued his farming operations here and then was called to his final rest in the year 1868. In public affairs he had been prominent and influential and he served as a member of the committee that organized Sangamon county into townships and framed its form of government. His wife survived him until October 14, 1888. Her death was deeply mourned, she having been a devoted wife, a loving mother and a faithful friend. In the family were eight children, seven of whom reached years of maturity. They were Hiram E.; Sarah Anna; John P.; James, a farmer by occupation; Mary, deceased; Lucy; and William.
In the usual manner of farmer lads Hiram E. Gardner spent the days of his childhood and youth attending the district school, which was conducted in the primitive manner of the times. Later, however, he continued his education in a school conducted by Professor Morrison, who was a native of Pennsylvania, and an excellent educator. Under the parental roof Mr. Gardner remained until he reached man's estate, when he started out in life on his own account, following the pursuit to which he had been reared. He settled first upon a farm in Gardner township, which adjoined his father's old homestead, comprising four hundred acres, and there he lived until 1857, at which time he purchased a tract of two hundred acres. In 1864 he bought about five hundred acres additional, owning in all about nine hundred acres in this locality, besides property elsewhere. As his financial resources increased he extended the scope of his labors and in the production of grain and the raising and feeding of stock he became well known, and for some time he was also successfully engaged in the breeding of thoroughbred shorthorn cattle. He likewise bred Clydesdale horses, and when his labors had brought to him a sufficient financial return to justify the purchase of more land, he extended the boundaries of his farm until today he is the owner of nine hundred acres which he has placed under a splendid state of cultivation. In the quality of the soil, the condition of the fields and the improvements placed upon his land there is no better farm to be found in this section of the state. He resided thereon until 1892, when he took up his abode in Springfield, where he has since made his home, and to the personal supervision of his agricultural interests he yet devotes considerable time.
As a companion and helpmate for life's journey Mr. Gardner chose Miss Harriet E. Bradford, and unto them were born four children: Eliza, now the wife of William Hopping, a resident of Tacoma, Washington; Hattie, who is the wife of William J. Brown, of Kansas City; Harry B., of Springfield, and John J., who now has charge of his father's farm. The mother was called to her final rest in 1888 and for his second wife Mr. Gardner chose Adeline Barney, a daughter of Benjamin F. and Jane C. (Stephens) Barney, both of whom were natives of New York state.
Mr. Gardner owns a fine residence on South Sixth street and in 1882 he joined with others in the organization of the Farmers National Bank, of Springfield, of which he became at that time a member of the board of directors, while at the present he is serving as second vice-president, having acted in the latter capacity since 1890. A Democrat in his political affiliations he served for several years as a member of the board of supervisors of his own county, proving a capable officer. Though his early education was meager he has achieved for himself by conflict with obstacles and continuous interest in every great question of the age an education which many a student might covet and which the thoughtful lines of his face and the simplicity of his bearing at once reveal. He stands in his more advanced age, when clothed with the honor of wealth and surrounded by a host of friends which his life work has won, just where he stood when he was a poor young man beset with difficulties - for the
best elements of progress, for education, for absolute justice and for the dignity of manual labor. Such lives are well worthy of study and win the respect and admiration of all.