JOSEPH W. GAUNT, stock and grain dealer, New Grand Chain. The growth and prosperity of a whole country, or even a small hamlet, depend largely, if not altogether, upon the character of the men who make up its population. While nature gives to some localities special advantages over others, the genius and enterprise of man often times turns the scales to the advantage of the least favored in this direction. Hence we now see large and prosperous cities throughout our land, which in the days of their infancy were compelled to struggle against the greatest of natural disadvantages, are now the centers of the trade world, and are connected with points in all directions by rail, water and telegraph. The little village which suddenly springs up in the wilderness, requires the tenderest of care. It has no churches, schools, mills, stores, or anything which would kindly say to it. Thou shalt live and prosper. The enterprise and energy of its citizens are loudly called for, and the results of the earnest endeavors of those who respond thereto are plainly seen in its near future. The subject of this sketch, Mr. Joseph W. Gaunt, a portrait of whom will be found elsewhere in this work, is a man whose life has been made up of ambition, industry and perseverance. The village of New Grand Chain owes two-thirds of her present buildings to his enterprising efforts in her behalf, and he has otherwise contributed largely to her success and material growth. He is a Kentuckian by birth, Hopkins County, that State, being his native county. He was born May 23, 1827, to Thomas and Maria (Mott) Gaunt, both of whom were natives of Virginia. They had been raised together as children, one's father having married the other's mother. Thomas Gaunt was a carpenter by trade, but in after years was engaged in agricultural pursuits. He died in 1847. He participated in the battle of New Orleans, under Jackson. His wife had died some years previously. Their married life had been blessed with ten children, five of whom yet survive — John M., Joseph W., Christopher, Ambrose G. and R. M. Our subject obtained some schooling in his native county, and his parents, when he was young, removing to Pulaski County, Ill., permitted him to attend the schools here for some time. He chose farming for an occupation in early life, and was thus engaged for several years. Boating upon the river afterward claimed his attention for about six years, and about 1861, he went to merchandising in Old Grand Chain, and was in the business for some time. He took in his brother as a partner and the business was continued, until a disastrous fire swept away everything in 1865. Having no insurance, they sustained a total loss. They built another store, however, and the business was continued by them until their disposal of it shortly afterward to Bartleson & Steers, when our subject retired from active business for awhile. When the railroad was built, he came to New Grand Chain and erected a large store, and also shortly afterward a fine residence. He re-engaged in merchandising and continued it until March, 1883, at which date he sold out to Bartleson & Porter, since which he has been interested in various enterprises, and at present gives his attention to stock and wheat, which he buys for the market. He also owns several pieces of land, in all about 285 acres. He was first married to Caroline Hall, who bore him five children, two of whom are living — Maria and Geogianna. The former married R. B. Brown, and the latter T. E. Berry. His second marriage was with Margaret Ray, widow of Calvin Ray, of Kentucky. His third marriage was with Addie Copeland. This union has been blessed with three children, two of whom are living — Fred and Joseph. Mr. Gaunt is a member of the K. of H., and also the Good Templars. Politically, he is a Democrat.
Extracted 02 Nov 2014 by Norma Hass from 1883 History of Alexander, Union and Pulaski Counties, Illinois, Part V - Biographical Sketches, pages 304-305.