Biography - Andrew Steidley

ANDREW J. STEIDLEY, a well-known resident of Moweaqua, Shelby County, is of Southern birth and ancestry, and is also a representative of one of the pioneer families of Illinois. He was born in Frederick County, Va., December 23, 1829, and is a son of Solomon Steidley, who was born in Frederick County, Md., August 21, 1789. His father was about fifteen years old when his parents removed to Frederick County, Va., where he was reared to agricultural pursuits, and there he was married October 25, 1811, to Rachel Barr, who was born in New Jersey, November 28, 1793. Her father, James Barr, was a Revolutionary soldier, and was with Washington at Valley Forge.

The parents of our subject left their Virginia home in October, 1834, to seek a new one in the wilds of Macoupin County, this State, the journey being made with teams, a part of the household goods being taken to furnish their pioneer abode. At length, after traveling five weeks, they came to what is now Barr Township, which at that time was literally in the wilderness, where deer, bears, and other wild animals roamed at will, and the surrounding country had but few white inhabitants. The nearest post-office for some time was fifteen miles distant from their dwelling. Postage stamps were not then in use, and it cost twenty-five cents for each letter. The father of our subject bought forty acres of land a mile south of the present site of Barr's Store. There was a log cabin on the place, and the land was fenced and partly improved. Alton was the nearest market, where the people purchased their sugar, salt and coffee, which were the principal supplies bought at the stores, as the settlers were mostly home-livers, subsisting on what they could produce on their farms, and on game. The women carded, spun and wove flax and wool for all the cloth used for garments or other purposes. Mr. Steidley was prospered in his new home, as he was a man of untiring diligence, and he bought other land until he owned four hundred and eighty acres at the time of his demise, all lying in Barr Township. His life was cut off by his death November 18, 1848, while yet in the midst of his usefulness, and his county was deprived of the services of one of its most industrious and worthy pioneers. His wife survived him until August 11, 1860, when she breathed her last in the old home. She reared these seven children: James B., Betsy A., Frederick, John S., Margaret H., Mary C. and Andrew J.

Our subject was in his fifth year when his parents brought him to Illinois, he attended the pioneer schools of Barr Township, which were taught on the subscription plan, in primitive log houses, that were rudely furnished with seats made by splitting small logs, hewing one side smooth, and using wooden pins for legs, the seats being without desks or backs. Mr. Steidley commenced to assist in the farm work as soon as large enough, and lived with his mother until his marriage, affording her great assistance in managing the farm. He taught one term of school before his marriage, later taught two terms in Barr Township, and then gave his attention to the mercantile business at Greenfield two years. He next went to farming near Fayette, Greene County, and was thus employed there a year and a half. After that Macon County was his destination, and he sojourned there the summer of 1857. Returning to Fayette, he remained there two years, and then went back to his old home, Barr Township, and the succeeding two years farmed there, except in the winter season, when he resumed his old vocation of teacher. In the fall of 1862, we find him once more in Fayette, where he had charge of a school two terms. In the spring of 1864 he came to Moweaqua to accept a position as clerk for H. F. Day, and was with him for four years. Smith & Keiser, dealers in lumber and agricultural implements, were his next employers in that capacity, and he staid with them two years. Since then he has been engaged in various branches of business.

In 1885 Mr. Steidley took a new departure, and entered upon the printers' trade in the office of his son in Maroa. He then commenced at the foundation of the editor's profession by learning to set type. He remained in the office at Maroa until 1888, when he came back to Moweaqua, and for fourteen months was a clerk in a drug store. At the expiration of that time he commenced setting type in the office of the Call-Mail with his son, and has continued thus engaged ever since, he is a man of versatile genius, of much culture, possessing an interesting fund of general knowledge, and wherever known is respected. Politically he is a sound Democrat. His social relations are with the Masonic fraternity.

Our subject was married in 1852 to Miss Nancy E. Jayne, who was a native of Greene County, Ill., born July 31, 1836. She was a most estimable lady, and her death, February 26, 1881, was a sad bereavement to her family and many friends. She left four children — Edgar C., Thomas J., Emily R. and Wilmer A. Mrs. Steidley was a daughter of Thomas and Emily (Renshaw) Jayne, natives respectively of Kentucky and Tennessee, and early settlers of Greene County, Ill. Her father was a prominent attorney, and at one time was in partnership with Senator John M. Palmer, at Carlinville, Ill.

Extracted 09 Apr 2018 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 471-473.

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