All civilized lands have furnished their representative men to America, and the Emerald Isle has supplied her full quota of reliable citizens who have become identified with American institutions and have aided in the development and substantial upbuilding which have placed this country on a par with the old powers of Europe. Mr. Gillen was born in Ireland, in county Antrim, on the 19th of May, 1840, and is a son of Alexander Gillen, who was of Scotch lineage. During the last Irish rebellion members of the family suffered death and their property was confiscated. Paddy Boyd, one of the great-grandfathers of our subject and a great-granduncle of President McKinley were hanged in Ireland, near the same spot, for their participation in the rebellion against the authority of the British. Their estates went to enrich the crown, while the remains of these martyred men were laid to rest, the former in Armagh and the latter at Derry Keighon. On the maternal side Mr. Gillen, of this review, is descended from the O'Neals, of Shayne's Castle, and they were descended from Shonie Rue O'Neal, one of the old kings of Ulster. Alexander Gillen was the father of the following children, namely: Hugh, who is living in Oklahoma; Betty, the wife of Hugh McMullen, of Effingham, Kansas; Neal, who died leaving a family at Nortonville, this state; Mrs. Jane Gillen, of St. Joseph, Missouri, and Alexander, who died leaving a daughter, who is now living near Los Angeles, California, and another who resides in Honolulu.
William Gillen acquired a common-school education, but in his later life has improved his opportunities and probably throughout the county in which he makes his home there could be found not one so well informed on the history of his native land. He spent his childhood and youth in the Emerald Isle and after attaining his majority wedded Miss Elizabeth Gillen. Their marriage occurred March 11, 1863, and ten days afterward they boarded a westward-bound steamer which brought them to the United States. For a short time they were residents of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and also spent a few months in Norristown, where their first child was born, March 23, 1864. Upon leaving Philadelphia, Mr. Gillen made his way westward to St. Joseph, Missouri, then the terminus of the railroad and soon after took up his abode on a farm in Doniphan county. His time has since been given to the work of plowing, planting and harvesting, and he has become the owner of a good property.
Of the children of Mr. and Mrs. Gillen we make the following observations: Alexander C., who died at the age of twenty-one years and ten months; John L., of Farmington, Kansas, who wedded Jennie Donahue and has two children -- Marie and Dorothy; Hugh N., of Effingham, married Sadie Bishop; Elizabeth A. is the next of the family; Margaret E. is the wife of John E. Murray, who is in the employ of the Central Branch Railroad Company at Wetmore, Kansas; William M., of Union township, married Eva Doran and is now engaged in the insurance business, but during Presideut Cleveland's first administration served as the postmaster of Dentonville; Marie L. is the wife of Albert Albers, of Wayne township, and they have a son, Robert; Jennie O., Samuel J. T. and James Arthur are the younger members of the family.
Mr. Gillen is a stalwart supporter of the principles of Democracy and also of the expansion idea, believing that we should retain possession of the colonies and islands acquired in the recent war with Spain. For a quarter of a century he has served as justice of the peace, discharging his duties with impartiality. He came to America with the hope of bettering his financial condition and has not only gained a good home, but has also won warm friends who esteem him very highly for his sterling worth.