Richland County


Mr. Madden is one of the veterans left to us who, in the stormy and turbulent days of the Civil war, participated in Sherman's famous march to the sea; and this was but an event in the military portion of his career. At the close of the Civil war, on obtaining a creditable discharge, he settled down and began his career as a farmer, in which sphere he has attained prosperity and no little recognition in public life.

George Madden, of Richland county, Preston township, was born July 25, 1842, on a farm near Ashland, Ohio. He was the son of John Thomas and Mary (Poff) Madden, Pennsylvanians, who came with their parents to Ohio when quite young. John Thomas Madden was the eldest child of his parents' family. He remained with his parents on their Ohio farm until his marriage to Mary, the daughter of George and Mrs. Poff, his marriage occurring sometime about 1834. He then moved to several small places near Ashland, where he worked at his trade of shoemaker. In the fall of 1844 he came to Illinois in search of land. Here he settled upon eighty acres, or rather took them as a squatter's claim and started in to improve the spot. However, another party rode into Palestine and registered the land as his holding, which John T. Madden had failed to do. He thereby lost the farm and the improvements made thereon. In the course of the three or four following years he bought eighty acres on Sugar Prairie in Richland county (Madison township). Here he remained and his family came to join him the following spring. The journey, as were all the journeys of the period, was made overland, and the usual trials and hardships attendant upon long land journeys encountered. The land on Sugar Prairie was in its primitive condition. John T. Madden started in to erect a log house and log stable and enclosed the place with fences. At this period the elder brother of the subject of our sketch hauled all the rail for fencing with a yoke of cattle. John T. Madden meanwhile worked at his trade of shoemaking, having his shop on the farm, leaving his ons to do the farmwork. John T. Madden remained here until the death of his wife, which event occurred in the fall of 1876, at the age of sixty-five years. She is buried in Richland cemetery. In time the farm was well improved, and good buildings erected.

George Madden remained at home with his brothers, helping his father until his twentieth year, when the Civil war broke out. The military enthusiasm of the period seized him and in the fall of 1861 he enlisted in the Sixty-third Illinois Regiment, Company L, under the command of Captain John Craig. He was first sent to Jackson, Tennessee, where he remained but a short time, hurriedly breaking camp to march on Vicksburg, but the rebels had cut off supplies, and the Union army retreated, returning to Memphis, Tennessee. In Memphis he remained with ultory fighting and marching were indulged the troops till spring, when once more desin. He served all through the siege of Vicksburg, Missionary Ridge, Atlanta, and other engagements, with much bravery. He not only followed the valiant Sherman to the sea but marched with him back to Washington, where they got a memorable reception. He also attended the grand review of the soldiers at Washington in 1865, and was mustered out of the service at Louisville, Kentucky, going from there to Springfield, Illinois, where he received an honorable discharge about a month later, on the 2ist day of July, 1865, having served three years and eight months of valiant military service. He had the good fortune never to have been wounded in all that eventful time.

At this time George Madden returned to the family farmstead where he remained up to the time of his marriage. Later in life his father sold the family farm and lived a retired life and dying in March, 1884, at the age of seventy-five. George Madden's mother's death had occurred previously. As stated before, she was the daughter of George and Mrs. Poff, natives of Pennsylvania. They both died in Richland county, Illinois, where they had lived (Madison township). George Poff reached the age of eighty, and his wife died about the same age. They are laid to rest at Parkersburg cemetery, Richland county, Illinois.

George Madden was the fourth of a family of seven boys and one girl, all of whom grew to maturity with the exception of one boy, aged fifteen years. He married on June 14, 1866, Mary Jane Coons, in Richland county. She was a native of Kentucky, where she was born December 19, 1846. Her parents originally belonged to that state. Her mother died in Kentucky at the age of forty-four when she was but twelve years of age. Her father then came to Illinois, but afterwards returned to Kentucky, where he died in 1902, at the age of eighty-four years, having been born February 14, 1818. Her mother (deceased) was born December 20, 1814.

At the time of his marriage George Madden settled on a farm of one hundred and one acres, all timber, east of Parkersburg. He paid twelve dollars an acre for this land. Here he built a house and cleared about fifteen acres when he sold the place and rented farms for several years and following the occupation of threshing for several seasons. In 1885 he bought fifty-six acres in Preston township where he settled and where his wife died on December 4, 1899, at the age of fifty-three years. Mrs. Madden bore her husband one child, Annie Lou, who is now the wife of William L. Murry, and resides upon the home place with her father and husband.

George Madden attended the subscription schools as a boy and later the common schools. Owing to the heavy work done on the farm for his father he did not have a very great opportunity to advance very far in his studies. He was, however, attending school at the period he volunteered for service in the Civil war. In the religious realm he has always been a practical worker. In his younger days he attended the Methodist church, but now, and for many years, he has been a member of the New Light branch of the Christian church. A marked characteristic of his family and himself has been their activity in church affairs. He was ordained a deacon, of his communion eighteen years ago, a position he still holds.

In politics he has taken somewhat of an active part at various times in his township and county. He held the office of Township Trustee in Madison township, Richland county, for three terms. On his being elected to office for another period of three years, he served but two, as he removed out of the township. He is a Republican and a firm believer in the efficacy of his party. He has also been a member of the Knights of Pythias of the Olney lodge.

Mr. Madden holds an honored place in the prosperous community in which he resides.

Extracted 21 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 451-454.

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