Marshall County

RIDDELL, Archibald

Archibald RIDDELL, deceased, was for many years one of the most enterprising and public-spirited men in Marshall county, and to him the people owe a debt of gratitude which, in all probability, they will never meet. He was a native of Scotland, born in Glasgow, January 30, 1822. He there grew to manhood, his boyhood and youth being mainly spent on a farm. However, for one or two years, in company with a brother, he engaged in the mercantile trade in his native city.

Stories of the new world began to reach his ears, and the desire came into his heart to come to this favored land, and here try his fortune in competition with others. With him the desire for a thing brought about its fulfillment, and so, in 1844, he crossed the Atlantic, and arriving in New York, he proceeded at once to Ohio. After traveling for some time in Missouri and other states, he finally located in Chillicothe, Illinois, where he engaged in the mercantile business in partnership with his brother Robert. In 1846 he made his first purchase of land, securing the tract on which his son William now resides in La Prairie township. There were no improvements upon the place at the time of his purchase, and he at once set about the cultivation of the farm. Erecting a small log house he kept “bachelor’s hall” for about one year, when, realizing that “it was not good for a man to be alone,” he was united in marriage June 19, 1847, with Miss Janet DAVIDSON, of Steuben township, and a daughter of George DAVIDSON, the first Scotchman to locate in the township.

Taking his young bride to the primitive home prepared for her reception, he set about in earnest what was to be his life’s work. The partnership between himself and brother Robert continued until 1849, when the latter was stricken with the gold fever, and disposing of his interest to our subject, he went to California, the lately discovered “Eldorado.” But farming and not mercantile trade was now the chosen occupation of Mr. RIDDELL, and in a short time he added to his original purchase of land until his home farm consisted of three hundred and sixty acres. For the erection of his barn he hauled lumber and shingles from Chicago with ox teams, a trip requiring three weeks. This was rendered necessary from the fact there was no mill in this section of the country. The barn then built still stands the same to-day except for a new roof. It was an exceptionally fine barn, and for years the church meetings were held in it. All the early settlers of southern Marshall and northern Peoria counties remember this barn, which to-day is one of the old landmarks.

In the beginning of this sketch it was stated that Mr. RIDDELL was an enterprising and public-spirited man. This was well illustrated in the erection of the Lacon woolen mill, in which he was the prime mover. He stood by the enterprise and backed it up with his means until his death, owning two hundred and five shares of the stock, which is still held by the family. For some years he was president of the woolen mill company and gave it much time and attention, though never receiving any compensation for his services.

In 1866 Mr. RIDDELL was bereft of his wife, who had truly been to him a loving helpmeet. To them were born five children: John, who died at the age of twelve years; George D., a grocer and hardware dealer of Watseka, Illinois; William D., on the old home farm; Archie, who married Lydia GALLUP, a daughter of William A. GALLUP, and who resided on the old home place, but died in May, 1893, at the age of thirty-seven years, leaving no family, and Jessie, who died in infancy.

Mr. RIDDELL subsequently married Margaret SOCKWELL, of Canada, where she now lives, having returned to her old home after the death of her husband. To them was born one daughter, Martha, now a stenographer in the Great Northern hotel at Chicago.

Politically, Mr. RIDDELL was a republican from the organization of the party until within a few years of his death, when he separated from the party, and on one occasion voted the democratic ticket. For years he was an active worker in his party, and his face was a familiar one in all conventions. During the war he was an enthusiastic supporter of all measures for the suppression of the rebellion, and had the utmost faith in the great emancipator, Abraham Lincoln. In religious views he was advanced and was well read in the scriptures, having a wonderfully retentive memory for scriptural quotations. He delighted in discussing Biblical subjects, and his great knowledge of the Word of God enabled him to catch preachers of the gospel in misquotations, and it did him good to corner them. His death occurred August 30, 1892, while in his seventy-first year. He left not only a sorrowing family, but a very large circle of friends throughout Marshall and adjoining counties.

William D. RIDDELL, the son of Archibald and Janet (DAVIDSON) RIDDELL, was born May 8, 1852, in the house in which he now lives. Here his entire life has been spent, and on Christmas day, 1888, he married Miss Ellen STEPHENSON of Sparland, a native of Woodford county, Illinois, and with his wife has made the old farm his home.

In company with his brother Archie, now deceased, William RIDDELL worked the old farm for a time, when he bought thirty acres near by, and on the death of his brother purchased the interest of the other heirs, and now owns all the farm, consisting of three hundred and fifty acres. He devotes his attention to mixed farming and stock raising, and has been a successful farmer. Politically he is a stanch republican.

Extracted March 2011 by Norma Hass from The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois, 1896.

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