Transcribed by Mary Ann Kaylor
LIGHTFOOT, Gabriel M. - Pioneers of Sangamon County can appreciate the remarkable changes effected during the past half century, as can many others who were born before the county was fully settled. Prior to 1850 much of the county was a wilderness, with the sod unturned and giant trees covering the land along the water courses. It was the work of the early farmers to develop this land, clear it of timber and plant it to productive crops. One of the native sons of the county who belongs to a pioneer family, is Gabriel M. Lightfoot, born January 18, 1846, a son of Philip and Margaret S. (Lightfoot) Lightfoot. Philip Lightfoot was born in Alabama, while his wife was born in Kentucky.
Phillip Lightfoot was a physician, who came to Sangamon County in pioneer days, but after a few years' residence there, went to Morgan County. He had been a school teacher in Sangamon County, but after going to Morgan County, practiced medicine in Manchester and Murrayville, later going west. After some time, during which he continued his practice, he returned to Illinois, buying a practice at Roodhouse. Still later he was in practice at Winchester, but eventually returned to Murrayville, where he died in January 1906. Although eighty-three years old at the time of his death, he was still in active practice. He and his wife had seven children, three of whom survive. The Lightfoot family originated in Virginia where some of its members still reside.
Gabriel Lightfoot went to school in the little log cabin of his neighborhood. He with the other pupils, sat on slab seats, their feet resting on a floor built from puncheons. A hug fireplace heated the room in winter, but in summer it was very warm, the only air and light coming from the door hole. Books were a luxury, and the teachers often were mere boys themselves, and yet these primitive schools have turned out some of the smartest men Illinois has ever known. Mr. Lightfoot has been a farmer all his life, operating in various parts of the county. His son owns four acres of land which is devoted to small fruit.
The marriage of Mr. Lightfoot occurred in the old Central Hotel of Springfield, in September, 1876, when he was united with Henrietta Davis, born in Pike County, Ohio, February 6, 1848. Her parents were born, reared and died in Ohio, coming of old pioneer families of that State. Mr. and Mrs. Lightfoot have had children as follows: John, deceased; Anna M., married Charles Gray and they live at Rochester. They have an adopted son, Eugene.
Mrs. Lightfoot is a member of the Methodist Church and is one of its most efficient and earnest workers. Mr. Lightfoot was a small boy when Mr. Lincoln was first elected president and lacked a few years of his majority when the president was assassinated. Some of his most pleasant recollections are of this great man, and his stories of the times when the nation's martyr was a resident of Springfield are intensely entertaining. While not entering into the public life of the township, Mr. Lightfoot has always had its best interests at heart, and is proud of the progress of his county. He has borne his part in its development and can always be relied upon to support all measures looking towards the securing of good government and moral uplift. In his various transactions he has proven himself to possess strict integrity, and his business associates, as well as his friends, count on him as a man whose word is as good as his bond.