Owen Gearlds is one of the best known and numbered among the most representative citizens in the county of Sheboygan. He is a native of the Empire state, having been born in Oneida county, October 20, 1842. He is a son of Edward and Catharine (Evans) Gearlds. His grandfather on the paternal side was also a native of New York.
Edward Gearlds was born in that state in the year 1819 and was there united in wedlock to Miss Catharine Evans. To their union six children were born, five of whom are living: Owen; Edward, deceased; Nancy, the wife of Elvin Estey, a retired farmer living at Riverside in this county; Elizabeth, the wife of George Gould, retired, their home being at Sheboygan; John, by trade and occupation a carpenter, who is married and lives in Sheboygan; and George, who is married and is engaged in the construction of railroad bridges. Edward Gearlds is still living at the advanced age of ninety-three years and makes his home with his daughter in the city of Sheboygan.
Owen Gearlds was reared in his father's home and received his early education in the district schools of his native state. At the age of thirteen, in company with his parents, he removed to the west, making the journey by team to Oswego, from there to Toronto and thence to Collingwood, Canada. There the family embarked on board one of the passenger steamers and came direct to Sheboygan after a prolonged journey by water of eleven days. Their landing was made at the old historic pier at Sheboygan, a far-famed structure of its kind in its day, having long since passed out of existence.
At the time of the arrival of Owen Gearlds in Sheboygan the city consisted of about twelve hundred inhabitants. Nearly all of the surrounding country north, south and west was a virgin wilderness, with here and there isolated settlers struggling as pioneers in their efforts to carve for themselves a home out of the wilds of Wisconsin.
Indians were everywhere to be seen and upon the hillsides wandering bands of Chippewas, Menominees and Winnebagoes constituted one picturesque feature of life in this part of Wisconsin at that time. Wild game also was plentiful, the fur-bearing animals and the feathered tribe could everywhere be found and large herds of deer were often seen feeding near to the city limits and were always to be found roving through their native forest haunts.
Mr. Gearlds, on starting life for himself, obtained his first position as a teamster in the employ of T. M. Blackstock. This business required him to drive his team to McCrea's pier, which at that time was used for shipping wood and brick, his employer being the foreman of the work at the pier. He received as compensation for his services eleven dollars per month. After remaining for some time in the employ of Mr. Blackstock he purchased property located on the old State road, a road long since made famous by its historical associations in the early days of pioneer life in Wisconsin. This road followed the Indian trail between Milwaukee, Port Washington, Sheboygan and Green Bay and was the famous thoroughfare for north and southbound travelers for very many years. Its days of usefulness and popularity were signalized by the tollgate system then in vogue throughout the country.
Mr. Gearlds was united in marriage on the 2nd of March, 1866, to Miss Ruth Ann Goold, a native of Nova Scotia, her parents being William and Ruth Goold. To Mr. and Mrs. Gearlds three sons and three daughters have been born: Ellen, who married Frank Goold, a traveling salesman, and is the mother of two children; Carrie, who became the wife of Edward Henges, a farmer, and lives in Minnesota; Mabel, deceased; Edwin and Edward, twins, both of whom are married and live in Minnesota; and Owen, deceased, who was the fourth in the order of birth.
Mr. Gearlds was again married, this time choosing as his partner for life Miss Anna L. Gibbons, a native of Wisconsin and for many years a teacher in the public schools. Her parents, who were both natives of Ireland, have long since passed away. The wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Gearlds occurred on the 16th of December, 1892. To their union one child has been born, Owen, now living at home with his parents.
Mr. Gearlds has for many years been a consistent member of the democratic party, following the fortunes of that great political organization in its national and state campaigns. He has been chairman of the board of Sheboygan township for the past twenty-six years always having been elected on the democratic ticket, and for the past twenty years he has been treasurer of school district No. 2 and has also been a member of the county board and has held the office of supervisor for several years. Mr. Gearlds has spent nearly his entire life in this county and during that time he has so lived as to gain and to retain the universal respect of his fellowmen. He is regarded as a man of integrity and in every way a useful and influential citizen.
Information gathered and adapted from History of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, Past and Present
Carl Zillier, Editor
Pubished by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912, Chicago, IL