Gideon "Matt" Ashmore: Kindhearted Civilian
(1810-1892) Matt was one of the few abolitionists in northern Coles County in 1847.  He had been the school teacher and was a businessman, running a tavern at the corner of Pike and Main Streets in the town, Independence (now Oakland), that he had founded.  He is the first person to come to the aid of the Bryants: he sheltered and fed them, then raised the money to pay for their legal defense including a large donation from himself.  He drove the family to Quincy after the trial to start their trip to Liberia.  At the time of the trial, he was married to Polly and they had three boys and two girls all under the age of 12 with the youngest being a newborn.  His business and social standing in the community was damaged by his aiding the Bryants, and resulted in his leaving in 1848 to found the town of Arena, Wisconsin where he successfully lived his remaining years. Matt's descendants have been told that Anthony continued to write to him after they arrived in Liberia.