To his own efforts is the success of James M. Ratcliff attributable, for
he started out upon his business career practically without capital or aid
from anyone, but being ambitious and industrious he forged ahead and is the
owner of a good farm in Olney township, Richland county. This, too, is the
visible evidence of his prosperity and industry, for when it came into his
possession it was only partly improved and not nearly so productive as it is
at this writing. Such a man deserves the high regard in which he is held by
James M. Ratcliff was born in Noble township, Richland county, August 20, 1848, the son of John and Mary (Bullard) Ratcliff, the former a native of England, the latter of Noble township, this county. John Ratcliff came to the United States when twelve years old with his parents, William and Mary Ann (Miller) Ratcliff, locating in Ohio, where they remained for a short time, and, later came to Richland county, taking up one hundred and sixty acres of land in what is now Olney township. The country was then wild and uninhabited. They were among the early pioneers. Here William and Mary Ratcliff lived a number of years, developing a good farm, and died on the same, the former November 8, 1868, at the age of seventy-eight years, his wife surviving him several years.
John Ratcliff, father of our subject, born January 27, 1823, was twelve years old when he came to the United States with his parents. He grew to manhood in Richland county, and bought an unimproved farm in Olney township which he developed into a good farm, selling the same in a few years and engaging in merchandising at Louisville. Illinois, for a few years, later going to Texas where he died October 27, 1900. His wife, born May 29, 1827, also died in the Lone Star state, February 10, 1907. They were the parents of thirteen children, seven of whom grew to maturity, five of them living at this writing, the subject of this sketch being the third in order of birth. When he was six years old the family located on a farm in Olney township, where James was reared and where he attended the common schools, receiving a fairly good education. The father of the subject being a preacher in the Methodist Episcopal church, James was compelled to do much of the work on the farm and he did not have the advantages of an education that he desired. He remained under his parental roof until he was twenty-two years old, when he married and settled on a farm which he rented, consisting of one hundred and twenty acres in Madison township, where he remained for twenty years, having thrived from the first owing to his habits of industry and economy. Besides engaging in general farming he raised much good stock.
In 1903 Mr. Ratcliff bought forty acres where he now lives in section 27, Olney township, having previously bought forty acres in Madison township. His farm shows that a man of good judgment and business ability has managed it, for it ranks well with the modern farms of this county in every respect, on which is to be found an excellent, comfortable and convenient residence.
Mr. Ratcliff was united in marriage August 27, 1870, to Levina Stauffer, a native of Olney, and the daughter of Michael and Elizabeth (Lutz) Stauffer, natives of Pennsylvania, who were early settlers in Richland county, near Calhoun. The parents of Mrs. Ratcliff died in Olney. The subject and wife are the parents of three children: Cora, born July 2, 1871, the wife of Harvey Barnes, of Madison township; Oris, born June 15, 1874, who is living at home; Ira, born April 10, 1879, married Elsie Kite and lives in Vinton, Iowa. Mr. and Mrs. Ratcliff also have a (foster) daughter, Lena, who has been in their home since she was two and a half years old, and is now over fifteen years old.
In politics Mr. Ratcliff is a Republican. He faithfully served on the School Board for a number of years. In his fraternal relations he is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America at Calhoun. He and his family are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, in which he has been a steward, class leader, etc., for many years. He and his family are held in high favor by their neighbors and all who know them for their clean and industrious lives.
Extracted 21 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 487-489.