Biography of Alva Gilmore

Alva Gilmore. With all due credit to the great metropolitan dailies that keep people informed of the life of the world, the local paper now as always has its great field of influence and value and is an indispensable factor in the life of a community. One of the leading papers of Champaign County is the Fisher Reporter, which has been regularly published since 1890 and is now a weekly visitor to all the leading homes in the northern part of the county. Since 1902 its editor and proprietor has been Mr. Alva Gilmore, a practical journalist and business man, who has made his paper a medium of communicating his public spirit and enterprise to the public in general.

Mr. Gilmore is a native of Champaign County, where he was born January 15, 1871. He is the second in a family of seven children, consisting of three sons and four daughters. Their parents were David B. and Maria (Edwards) Gilmore. Only two of the children are living. Mr. Gilmore’s younger sister, Minnie, is living at Fisher with her mother. She was educated in the common schools and is an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

David Gilmore was born in 1835 in that section of old Virginia now the State of West Virginia. He grew up in his native state, and on coming West lived for a short time near Columbus, Ohio, and in 1869 located in McLean County, Illinois. He had a common school education, and in early days taught schools when education was furnished on the subscription plan. For the greater part of his years he was identified with agriculture. From McLean County he moved to Newcomb Township of Champaign County and bought 100 acres, which in time he increased to 180 acres and developed it as one of the model farms of the county. He also owned town property. His success in life was due to strenuous effort, since he began without capital, and in early years he paid interest at the rate of 12 per cent on borrowed money. In 1894 he retired from his farm to a home at Fisher, where he died in 1912. He was a great admirer of “the Little Giant,” Stephen A. Douglas, and cast his first presidential vote for that Illinois statesman. Afterwards he went into the Republican party. He stood firm in his principles, was positive in his convictions and was always able to discern the difference between right and wrong. Popular as a citizen, he served as township clerk for several years, as assessor, road commissioner, township school treasurer and school director, and his community properly esteemed him as one of its most useful citizens. He and his wife were active Methodists and he assisted in the erection of the beautiful church of that denomination at Fisher. He also served as an official of the Shiloh Methodist Episcopal Church in Newcomb Township and was teacher and superintendent of its Sunday school for a number of years. His forefathers back in Virginia had been strong Methodists, and he was interested in religion and the work of his church from early boyhood. His body now rests in the Willow Brook Cemetery at Fisher, and a monument stands sacred to his memory. His wife was born in McLean County, Illinois, near Leroy, about 1847, and is still living in Fisher. She had a common school education and, like her husband, has always been a member of the Methodist Church. She was a splendid mother, and her home, her children and her church have given her the best interests of her life. In ancestry her lineage goes back to Wales. She and her daughter Minnie now occupy the old home at Fisher.

Alva Gilmore attended the common schools, but gained most of his education by self-application. He also attended the business college at Champaign when J. B. McKee was president. This school is now one of the chain of excellent business colleges conducted by the Brown Business College Company.

By the time he was eighteen years of age Mr. Gilmore had acquired a practical experience as a farmer on the home place. At that age he began teaching and taught two terms at East Bend and Newcomb Township. For eighteen months he was in the employ of the Pacific Express Company at Champaign, and then joined his father in the general merchandise business at Fisher. They began merchandising there in 1895, and had built up a handsome trade. In 1902 their store was consumed, along with many other business structures, in the great fire of that year, and their total loss through this disaster was $7,000.

In August, 1902, Mr. Gilmore bought the Fisher Reporter and has since been its sole proprietor and editor. It is a quarto paper, independent in politics, publishes all the news of interest through the northern part of Champaign County, and is an instrument for the effective welfare of that district.

Mr. Gilmore himself is a Republican. His first presidential vote was cast for McKinley. He has served as a trustee of the village board and is now a police magistrate for Fisher. He and his wife are members of the Methodist Church.

On November 30, 1906, Mr. Gilmore married Miss Anna M. Beckham. Mrs. Gilmore is a daughter of Nathan H. and Rebecca (Bishop) Beckham. Her parents reside at Leroy in McLean County. Her father was born near Bowling Green, Kentucky, was educated in the common schools there, and when a young man, about 1861, came to McLean County, Illinois. His work has been that of an agriculturist and he now enjoys the profits of a fine farm of 400 acres in McLean County and also owns town property. He has always stood high in farming circles in that rich agricultural district. Politically he is a Democrat, has for many years been a Mason, and he and his wife are active members of the Christian Church. He contributed to the building of the church home in which he and his wife now worship. He has held the office of school trustee and director. The Beckham lineage is traced back to English Quakers. Mrs. Gilmore’s mother was born in McLean County, and her father was one of the pioneers of that section.

Mrs. Gilmore received her early education in the common schools. She is an active member of Chapter No. 244 of the Eastern Star at Fisher. They have a home of comfort and hospitality at Fisher and are moving ‘ spirits in the social life of the community.


Stewart, J. R. A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York. 1918.

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