Agriculture has been the true source of man's dominion on earth ever since the primal existence of labor, and has been the pivotal industry that has controlled for the most part all the fields of action to which his intelligence and energy have been devoted. Among this sturdy element of Richland county whose labors have profited alike themselves and the community in which they live, is the gentleman whose name appears at the head of this sketch.
Edmund C. Baughman, a well-known farmer and stockman of Olney, was born in Coshocton county, Ohio, December 27, 1837, the son of Jacob and Matilda M. (Houser) Baughman, the former having been born near Baltimore, Maryland, and the latter on the Potomac river, Virginia. Grandfather Baughman was a native of Maryland and was a contractor in Baltimore for many years, where he also carried an extensive factory for those times in the manufacture of sash and doors, blinds, etc. In an early day in the history of Coshocton county he went there and entered land, having crossed the Alleghany mountains on horseback, and had bear meat and wild honey on the trip. However, he did not live in Ohio but died in Baltimore, where his wife also died. Jacob Baughman was reared on a farm near Baltimore, and when young went to Coshocton county, Ohio, where he bought land and erected a hewn log cabin in the heavy timber, in which there was all kinds of wild game, deer, wild turkey, bear, etc. He married in Coshocton county, his wife having come to the county from Virginia with her parents who were pioneers. They cleared and improved the land, and there they lived and died. He was a member of the state militia but was never called upon to serve in any war. He died of pneumonia at the age of sixty-eight years, and his wife survived for several years, dying at the advanced age of ninety-two. Eight children were born to them, six of whom are living. Two sons served in the Civil war, George and Zenos, the latter with Sherman's army, both serving until the close of the war, receiving honorable discharges. Zenos suffered from sunstroke from which he never fully recovered. The subject, who was the fourth child in order of birth, was reared on the old homestead in his native county and received a good education, first in the country schools, later at the academy in West Bedford, Ohio. He remained at home until he was twenty years old, assisting with the farm work, finally going to Indiana, where he taught school for a while, but in the spring of 1860 he came to Richland county, bringing all the earthly possessions he had - a team, wagon, a shepherd dog, a trunk and less than one hundred dollars in money, having driven the entire distance. After reaching here he located on one hundred and twenty acres of land given him by his father in Madison township, which had previously been entered by his father, on which he went to work and improved it, making an excellent farm, building a house, barn, etc.
Our subject was a good manager and was successful. After he married he purchased six hundred acres in Wayne county, on which he lived for a time, later moving to Olney, where he has recently built a beautiful home, up-to-date in every detail. For many years he has been extensively engaged in stock raising, being an excellent judge of stock and always keeping many good varieties. He is a man of great energy and a hard worker, possessing excellent judgment, conservative in his business transactions. He deserves a great deal of credit for what he has accomplished, for he started with only one hundred and twenty acres of raw land and has gradually increased his holdings until he now owns four thousand acres of valuable land in the Yazoo Valley, Mississippi, also three thousand acres of timber land, together with lands in Texas and the old homestead in Ohio, which he bought from the heirs.
In 1890 Mr. Baughman organized the bank at Tuscola, Illinois, under the name Baughman, Orr & Company, with a capital stock of thirty-five thousand dollars, which was successful from the first, and has continued with increasing prestige ever since, the stock having been increased, it being one of the soundest institutions in this part of the state. One of the subject's sons is looking after his interests. In 1902 he disposed of his interest in the bank to his partners. Mr. Baughman is still very active but does not handle stock on a very extensive scale at present, which proved to be so profitable during his earlier business career, making a fortune, being easily the richest man in Richland county, and not a dishonest dollar has passed through his hands.
Mr. Baughman was married March 28, 1861, to Gabriella Reeder, who was born in Cincinnati, the daughter of Elijah and Lucinda (Smith) Reeder, who were born near Dayton, Ohio, and who came to Richland county in the fall of 1853, settling on a farm in Madison township. In 1871 they moved to Kansas, later to Missouri, and died in Harrison, Arkansas.
Our subject and wife are the parents of eight children who grew to maturity and are still living, as follows: Edmund J. resides in Duncan, Mississippi, where he owns a plantation and also manages that of his father, and is a very successful business man; Lucinda married James Wilson, who resides on a farm in Wayne county, where she died in 1900; Lottie married J. M. Winans, a groceryman of Olney; Harry C. resides in Greenville, Mississippi, where he owns and operates an extensive plantation; William R. resides in Southwestern Texas, being engaged in farming and the land business; Ola married George H. Bainum, who died in Independence, Missouri, in 1904, leaving one daughter, Ella M., who lives with the subject and wife; Frank graduated from the Olney schools in 1901, then spent three years at the University of Illinois, at Champaign, having stood at the head of his class in chemistry and making an excellent record as a student. During certain experimental work he was poisoned by gases from which he died in February 1907. Carl R., the subject's youngest child, resides at Richland, Washington, where he is engaged in the fruit industry. These children are industrious and well situated in reference to this world's affairs.
Mr. Baughman is a Republican, but he is not a politician, not having time to devote much attention to the affairs of his party.
He was appointed by Governor John P. Altgeld one of the trustees of the State Normal University at Carbondale, having been on the financial and building committees. He served as Supervisor of Richland county for one term, during which time bonds were refunded to the amount of two hundred thousand dollars, which redeemed the bonds over which there had been litigation to the amount of more than three hundred thousand dollars.
Mr. and Mrs. Baughman are members of the Methodist Episcopal church at Olney, and liberal subscribers to the same, Mr. Baughman having been one of the principal supporters of the new church building recently erected, which would be a credit to cities much larger than Olney.
In business matters Mr. Baughman is prompt, energetic, trustworthy. He has a good fund of that quality too often lacking in the business world - common sense. Since starting out in life for himself he has been self-reliant and progressive. It is all attributable to the splendid qualities of head and heart of which he is possessed, and which he has most judiciously exercised. And because of his honest and active career no resident in Richland county is more deserving of honorable mention in this volume.
Extracted 26 Apr 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 154-157.