Biography - George Richardson

GEORGE W. RICHARDSON, of Shelbyville, has for many years been closely identified with the agricultural interests of Shelby County, and is regarded as one of its most honorable and reliable citizens. He is descended from good old Revolutionary and pioneer stock, and is a native of the State of Indiana, born in Warren County August 13, 1836. His father, James Richardson, was also an Indianian by birth, born in Parke County, of which his father, John Richardson, was a very early settler.
The grandfather of our subject was a native of North Carolina and the son of a Revolutionary soldier who lost his life in battle while fighting for the freedom of his country. John Richardson passed his boyhood in North Carolina, and was there married to Mary Salers, also a native of that State. In 1800 he left his old home with his family to establish a new one in the forest primeval of the Northwestern Territory. He penetrated to the wilds of what is now Indiana, and was one of the first white men to settle in that territory, locating in what is now Parke County. When the land was surveyed and came into the market he purchased a tract heavily timbered, from which by hard labor he cleared a farm. He was a resident of Indiana until 1834, when he sold his property there and again became a pioneer, coming to this county and buying Government land in what is now Windsor Township. He improved a large farm, upon which he lived some years, and he then once more changed his residence to still another State, going to Missouri, where he remained a few years ere he returned to this county, where his earthly pilgrimage was at length brought to a close December 31, 1865, he having attained a ripe old age. His venerable wife survived him until 1875, when she died in Big Spring Township.
The father of our subject was reared in Indiana, and in due time took unto himself a wife, marrying in Warren County, that State, Delilah Small, a native of Ohio, and a daughter of Knight and Lydia Small. He bought a tract of land in that county and farmed it until 1839, when he, too, imbued with the same spirit that had characterized his ancestry, became a pioneer, coming to this State with his wife and two children, making the entire journey by land, bringing his household goods and camping by the wayside at night. He settled in what is now Windsor Township, where he entered Government land, besides buying other land, which he has since improved into a fine farm, which is still his home. He and his family first lived in a log house that stood on the land when he bought it, but some years later he replaced that humble abode by a more commodious frame structure, and erected other suitable farm buildings. He is held in great respect by his fellow-citizens as one of the pioneers of the county who has materially contributed to its growth. Death has deprived him of the companionship of the wife of his early manhood. They reared two children — our subject and his brother John, the latter of whom occupies a part of his father's old homestead.
George W. Richardson was but three years old when his parents brought him to Illinois, and it may he said that he grew with the growth of the county which has ever since been his home, as at that time it too was in its infancy. The country round about their new home was almost in its primitive condition, and the land was mostly in the hands of the Government, which has since disposed of it at $1.25 an acre, or at a smaller price. Our subject attended the first schools opened in the county, that were taught in log houses. The seats were made of slabs or logs split and one side hewed smooth, and wooden pins were inserted for legs, and there were no backs to the seats. The schoolrooms were lighted by an aperture made by the removal of a log, greased paper serving instead of glass. A slab laid on pegs driven into holes that had been bored into a log in the side of the building was the primitive arrangement for a writing desk for the older pupils. When the family first came to the county deer, wild turkeys and other game in abundance roamed where are now finely cultivated farms and busy towns. St. Louis, one hundred and twenty miles away, was the nearest market to the settlers of this region, nine days being consumed in making the round trip. The people lived mostly on the products of their farms and the women spun and wove the cloth in which their children were clothed.
Our subject remained an inmate of the parental home until he married and established one of his own. After attaining manhood he worked a part of his father's farm a few years and then bought a farm for himself in the same township. In the busy years that followed he greatly increased its value by judicious cultivation and by the many fine improvements that he made, and under his thrifty care it became one of the choicest farms in the township of Windsor. In 1888 he took up his residence at Shelbyville, though he still owns and superintends his farm.
That our subject has a happy home replete with comfort is partly due to the active co-operation of his estimable wife, from whom he has always received a cheerful assistance and helpful counsel. They were united in marriage in 1855. Mrs. Richardson was in her maiden days Mary E. Bland. She was born in Licking County, Ohio, and is a daughter of Joel and Harriet (Dittenhauer) Bland. Her marriage with our subject has been blessed with children, of whom these three are living: Ebenezer A., Palmyra and Stephen. The latter is a prosperous farmer in Windsor Township. Ebenezer, the eldest son, is one of the leading lawyers of the county. He received his early education in the district school and subsequently attended the Wesleyan University at Bloomington. He studied law with Judge Ames and H. J. Hamlin, was admitted to the bar in 1883, and has since practiced his profession at Shelbyville.
Mr. Richardson is a man of solid worth, possessing those traits that command respect in the business world and win esteem among his neighbors and associates. He and his wife are sincere Christian people as is attested by their every day conduct in all the relations of life that they sustain towards each other, towards their children and all about them. They and two of their children are members in high standing of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In his political views our subject is a decided Democrat. He has held important public positions with credit to himself and to the benefit of the community. While a resident of Windsor Township he represented it as a member of the County Board of Supervisors, and he was also Justice of the Peace while he lived there. He has likewise been an incumbent of that office since he came to Shelbyville, having been appointed to it in 1889, and he was re-elected to the same position in 1890.

Extracted 05 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 195-196.

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