William Gaither was born in Washington County, Maryland, on the historic banks of the Antietam, on the 8th day of April, 1813. He was seventh in a large family of children, of whom Zachariah and Elizabeth (Garver) were the parents. The ancestors of Zachariah Gaither, at a very early period, left their homes in England and emigrated to America, making a permanent settlement in the colony of Maryland. The wife of Zachariah Gaither was of German descent. She died at their home in Maryland, in the year 1827. Mr. Gaither, her husband, subsequently moved to Pennsylvania, married, and lived there until his death, which occurred in 1834.
William Gaither, when a boy, attended the district schools of the neighborhood therein laying the ground-work of the rudiments of an English education. Being industrious, and contstantly adding a little thereto, he was enabled to fill many responsible positions with ability and credit to himself. At the age of seventeen he became an apprentice to a cabinetmaker. After completing his apprenticeship, he was desirous of trying his fortunes in a new country, and with that intention, started westward, and traveled overland to the Ohio River, and thence by steamer, landing in Pekin, Ill., in October, 1836. He remained there but a short time, going to Tremont, which was then the county seat of Tazewell County. He there resumed his trade, which he followed for a number of years.
In February, 1844, Mr. Gaither was married to Miss Eliza C. Garrett, then of Tazewell County, but a native of Virginia. From that union were born seven children, three of whom are deceased.
In the year 1850 Mr. Gaither was elected Sheriff of Tazewell County, as the candidate of the Whig party. Under the Constitution of the State, as it then existed, a Sheriff could not be elected to two terms in succession. After the expiration of his term of office, therefore, Mr. Gaither turned his attention to agriculture and his trade, which claimed his attention for several years. In 1862 he was appointed by Sheriff Williamson, his deputy, and during that year performed most of the duties of the office.
In the fall of 1862, Mr. Gaither was nominated for Sheriff by the Republican party, but, of course, was defeated, as the Democrats at that time were largely in the majority in Tazewell County. On the organization of the system of Internal Revenue, Mr. Gaither received the appointment as one of the inspectors for the Eighth District, with jurisdiction at that time extending over Tazewell County. That appointment was made during Lincoln’s first administration, and he continued to hold the office until Andrew Johnson became President. In the fall of 1867, Mr. Gaither was appointed Assistant County Treasurer and Collector. Most of the duties of the office devolved upon him, as Mr. Barber, the County Treasurer, was then in feeble health. The latter died in September, 1869, and the Board of Supervisors appointed Mr. Gaither to fill said vacancy. During that fall he was elected to the office as the candidate of the Republican party, and served the full term, at the expiration of which he was re-elected. He was a resident of the city of Pekin from 1863 until the date of his death, February 11, 1892.
The various official positions which Mr. Gaither had been called to fill by the franchises of his fellow citizens, speak better than anything we could say in attestation of his worth as a man. As County Treasurer, he served for several years without a doubt, as to his honor and integrity as a public official. In early life he had been a Whig, joining the Republican ranks in later years, and acting unswervingly with that party from its organization, voting twice for Abraham Lincoln, and twice for U. S. Grant.
For many years Mr. Gaither was a member of the Baptist Church, and at the time of his decease was Deacon Emeritus in that organization. By consistent, exemplary Christian living, and purity of character, he won the respect of all those who knew him and his death was mourned by a large circle of lifelong friends.
Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Tazewell County - page 1005