GUSTAVUS PAPE is a retired merchant of old, historic Kaskaskia, and he has resided in Chester since 1899. He is one of the few remaining pioneers of the early thirties of the Kaskaskia region and dates his connection with the county from 1834. The span of the citizenship here covers a multitude of events of historic moment, which began with the removal of the Indian tribe from which the first capital of Illinois took its name. Then came the great Mississippi flood of 1844, next the exodus to the gold fields of California and eventually the Civil war. He witnessed the high tide of navigation of the Father of Waters and saw it dwindle and die from a overdose of railroads; and last and latest he witnessed the encroachment of the Mississippi upon the Okaw, saw it cut through into the latter stream, leave its old channel and, in a day, move almost a township of Illinois to the Missouri side of the river, thus threatening and eventually swallowing up in its rushing waters Kaskaskia, the French outpost and pioneer capital of the state.
By birth Gustavus Pape is German. His native heath is Herschberg, Westphalia, and his natal day January 18, 1826. The Papes in Germany, grandfather and grand-uncle of Gustavus, were in the employ of the Government, as was also Casper A. Pape, father of him to whom this sketch is dedicated. Caspar A. Pape was born in 1786, received a liberal education in his youth and as a young man entered the service of his king. He married first a Miss Pape a cousin, and later sailed with his family from Bremen, Germany, on the "Champion," to the United States. After a voyage of seven weeks the family disembarked at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, took a boat thence to Baltimore, Maryland, and from the latter city started west on the first and only railroad then in operation in the United States. The track of this road extended out to Frederick, Maryland, and the Pape family of nine persons was found ample to fill one coach. From Frederick the family staged it to Cavetown, Maryland, where the father left the family with an old German friend and himself proceeded by stage to Wheeling. From the latter city he went by boat down the Ohio river, his destination being Kaskaskia. When he had found a suitable location his family followed by the same means and route and joined him in the autumn of 1834. Caspar A. Pape purchased a small tract of land from James Atkins, the same being situated nine miles west of Kaskaskia, on the
Kaskaskia river, and he was there actively engaged in developing himself a home when his death occurred, in 1851. Concerning his children, Theodore is deceased; Sophia married John G. Ruehle and died in 1851; Henrietta became the wife of Charles Tillman and passed to the life eternal in 1909; Charles is deceased; Theresa married Dr. Otto Kominsky, of Chester, and passed away in 1872; Gustavus is the immediate subject of this review; Edward is deceased; William is deceased; and Bertha, born in Randolph county, Illinois, is the wife of Henry Lortz and resides in St. Louis, The first two children were by his first wife. His second wife bore him seven children. Her maiden name was Theresa Hildebrandt, and she was a native of Germany.
As Gustavus Pape passed his youth in a new country his chances for a good education were very slim. He resided on the old homestead farm in Williamson county until he had reached his twenty-fourth year and then began his mercantile career. For several years he clerked in a store at Kaskaskia and subsequently went to St. Louis, where he was similarly engaged for a short time. Returning to Kaskaskia about the time of the outbreak of the Civil war, he embarked in the mercantile business as a partner of his old employer and there continued to be identified with the general merchandise business until 1898, when he retired. He owned and remodeled the old capital building, used as the first meeting place of the Illinois legislature in territorial days, and he utilized the same as his business house. That historic building was erected in 1803 and was constructed from large, oldfashioned brick brought around from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, in keel boats. It was nearing its one hundredth anniversary when it slid into the river in 1899. Mr. Pape was well acquainted with old Kaskaskia, having dwelt there for some fifty years; he knew many of the historic characters connected with its development, namely,_the Chouteaus, the LaCledes and the Menards.
In his choice of political parties Mr. Pape, on reaching manhood, selected the Democratic party and cast his first vote in 1848. He has never participated actively in public affairs except as postmaster of Kaskaskia, retaining that position for more than a quarter of a century. He has been a Mason since 1855 and has been treasurer of both the Blue Lodge and Chapter of Chester for many years.
On November 30, 1867, at Kaskaskia, Mr. Pape was united in marriage to Miss Mary E. Feaman, a daughter of William Feaman, whose birth occurred at Shepherdstown, Virginia, but who passed. the major portion of his life at Hardinsburg, Kentucky. Mr. Feaman married Elizabeth Jeffreys and Mrs. Pape was the third in order of birth of their ten children. Those living in 1911 are Mrs. Elizabeth McGeary, of Hardinsburg, Kentucky; Mrs. Emma Wade, of Louisville; and Mrs. Belle Warren, of St. Louis. Mrs. Pape is a niece of Captain Feaman, one of the pioneers of Kaskaskia, who, as a servant of the United States Government, had much influence in bringing settlers from the Old Dominion state his native place, to Randolph county, Illinois. Mr. and Mrs. Pape have no surviving children.
Although past eighty-five years of age, "Gus" Pape, as all his friends address him, is of vigorous constitution and of normal and active mentality. His wonderfully retentive memory is stored with a rich fund of information bearing on incidents and people of his old haunts during a mighty period of our national life. His feet were crippled when a child and thus his locomotion is impeded but he has faced the world without a hint of favors and has achieved results in the commercial world. His life has been exemplary in all respects and as a good citizen
and man he commands the unqualified respect and love of all with whom he has come in contact.