Richland County
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Biography - JAMES AUSTIN RICKEY

Mr. Richey is the owner of one of "the banner" farms of his county, and there are very few indeed among his friends and neighbors who envy him the success which his honest efforts and steady onward plodding has brought him.

James Austin Richey, of German township, Richland county, Illinois, was born August 10, 1848, in Meigs county, Ohio, near Pomeroy, the county seat. He was the son of Thomas L. and Elizabeth (Frank) Richey. His father, who was born May 5, 1810, was a native of Pennsylvania; his mother, who was born March 2, 1808, was a native of Germany. Grandfather Richey was a native of Ireland. Thomas L. Richey came from Pennsylvania to Meigs county, Ohio, with his parents and remained with them on the family farm until they died, his father dying first, and his mother survived for several years. Thomas L. Richey then worked for a man who was engaged in running produce boats down the Ohio river. He later worked on steamboats running from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, to New Orleans, continuing in this employment for several years. In Meigs county, Ohio, about the year 1834, he married Elizabeth Frank. At this time he bought forty acres of land which he improved and sold, and with the proceeds of the sale he bought an eighty acre farm nearby, on which he remained until he sold out in 1855, and started with his wife and four children for Illinois. They took the riverboat at Racine, Ohio, down the Ohio river, landing in Evansv'ille, Indiana, in the fall of 1855. Thomas L. Richey then made a prospecting trip to Illinois, where he bought one hundred and twenty acres in German township, Richland county, then returned to Evansville and brought his family to their new home, arriving in November, 1855. /About thirty acres of the land was already cleared and a combination log and frame house stood in the clearing. This land had first been entered by Joseph Basden, his deed from the government being written on a piece of sheepskin. It was from Mr. Basden that the father of our subject bought the farm.

At the time of the family migration to Illinois James Austin Richey was but seven years old. As soon as he was large enough to work his services were enlisted in the hard work of the clearing and farming processes. In those far off pioneer days great herds of deer roamed the woods and prairies and flocks of wild turkey and much wild game of all kinds were abundant. He worked hard and faithfully assisted his parents until their deaths, his father dying in the fall of 1874, at the age of sixty-five. His mother died in January, 1877, aged sixty-six years. Both are buried in Lone Tree cemetery in Prairieton, Lawrence county. They were the parents of six children, only four of whom grew to maturity, James Austin being the youngest in order of birth. John Andrew and Sarah Matilda are deceased. Mary died some years ago; the two other children dying in infancy. James Austin Richey, the only living member of his family, was married to Mary W. Richey on the 1 4th of October, 1879. Mary Richey was born in Meigs county, Ohio, on the 1 9th of February, 1857. She was the daughter of Hugh David and Cyrena (Nease) Richey, both natives of Ohio. Her grandparents on both sides are now dead and are buried in Meigs county, Ohio. Her parents were married in April, 1856, and lived in Syracuse, Ohio, until they came to Illinois in the same year, where they remained but a few months. Her father had bought a farm in Richland county and his son, David, had come to live upon it. After a few months the family returned to Ohio, where Mary W. Richey was born. They remained in Ohio till 1864, when they again returned to Illinois and settled in Richland county, where they remained on a farm in Claremont township until 1881, when a change was made to Flora, Illinois. Here Mrs. Richey's father died on January 30, 1904, at the age of seventy-one years, and was buried in the cemetery at Flora. His widow still survives him and lives in Flora, reaching the age of seventy-two years on September 30, 1908. Mrs. Richey's parents had four children born to them. Her brothers Arthur and William E., are still living and a sister, Ida, died when eighteen months old.

James Austin Richey and his wife at the time of their marriage settled on the farm in which they still live. Previous to his marriage he built the present substantial house at the cost of one thousand dollars. Other good improvements on the farm were also made. Upon the death of a sister, James Austin Richey, together with the members of his family, moved to Arkansas, where the family lived for about two years and a half in Green county. After the death of his elder brother in Illinois, the subject of our sketch and the members of his family returned to Richland county in the year 1905. During his farming career in German township he has been successful and is now the possessor of a farm which embraces two hundred and forty acres.

Three boys and two girls constitute the family of Mr. and Mrs. Richey; all are now grown up, the youngest being fourteen years old. In the regular order their names are: Thomas E., who is married to Clara B. Alsey, and they live on a farm in German township; Clem D. is the husband of Mamie Young; they reside on a farm in German township. Bessie Blanche, Cerena Maude and William Earl, all three reside at home with their parents and are single.

The subject of our sketch attended several winter terms of the free common school in Amity school district. When sixteen years of age he had to devote himself entirely to farm life and thus his education was not of a very complete nature. He obtained a good general training, however, becoming proficient in reading, writing, arithmetic and spelling.

James Austin Richey's father and elder brother, John, served through the Civil war, his father having enlisted December 1, 1861, and his brother in 1862. Father Richey joined the- Sixty-third Illinois Regiment, Company A, under Captain Glaze (afterwards promoted to colonel, Captain McClure taking charge of the company). Thomas L. Richey was soon promoted to the rank of sergeant and went to the sea on the march with Sherman. On the I3th of July, 1864, he was mustered out of service, obtaining surgeon's certificate of total disability, his term of service having covered two years and eight months. John Richey served but a little over a year, being discharged in St. Louis in the spring of 1863, from the hospital there on account of his broken health. He was attacked with the measles at Memphis, Tennessee, brought about by the hardships entailed and lack of shelter.

James Austin Richey has served as School years, while his wife served' in the capacity of post mistress at Amity post-office in German township, for over three years. He also served as Road Supervisor for two terms in German township. He has a good record as a resident of German township, having lived for fifty-two consecutive years in the same school district. He was in the township when the first school-house was built in the year 1855.

In the arena of party politics, James Austin Richey is a strong Republican, having always voted a straight national and state ticket. His first vote went to Lincoln to help him into office for a second term. He has never taken a very active part in local politics as he has always strenuously objected to be foisted into public office.

Mr. and Mrs. Richey are members of the Methodist Episcopal church in German township, where they have always held membership with the exception of the two years spent in Arkansas, when membership was transferred to the church there. The Richeys have always been active in church work and church duties.

Extracted 21 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 396-399.


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