George RITHMILLER is the owner of seven hundred acres of valuable land, from which he derives an excellent income that now enables him to live retired. Few men can show a more creditable record. A man's success is not measured by his possessions, but is determined by the ability and energy that he shows in working his way from a lowly position to one of prominence and affluence. In the early years of his residence in America. Mr. RITHMILLER encountered many difficulties and obstacles. Having come to the United States empty-handed, the language and customs of the people being unfamiliar to him, he nevertheless by determined and unfaltering purpose worked his way upward, making a business record which any man might be proud to possess.
Born in Wurtemberg, Germany, March 15, 1833, he was a son of George and Christina (FREY) RITHMILLER, who were likewise natives of that country. The father, who was born, in 1796, engaged in farming in Germany on a small farm and passed away there in 1866, when about seventy years of age. In the family were four children of whom Jacob and Gotfried are both now deceased, while the daughter, Mrs. Anna Maria FEAZLE, has also passed away.
George RITHMILLER is thus the only surviving member of the family. He spent the period of his boyhood and youth in his native country and in 1854 came to America, hoping that he might have better business opportunities in the new world. Accordingly he crossed the Atlantic, landing at New York on the 26th of July from the sailing vessel Sir Robert Peel, which was seven weeks in crossing the Atlantic at that time. Mr. RITHMILLER did not remain long in the eastern metropolis, but continued on his journey to Cincinnati, Ohio, in company with a friend by the name of GAMPLER. His friend was a baker and soon obtained a situation, but Mr. RITHMILLER was less fortunate and during the first year after his arrival in America he found it very difficult to secure work. He was employed in a hotel when a certain man wanted to know if there was a raw Dutchman there who desired a position, saying that he had heard they were good workers. Mr. RITHMILLER desired the job and wanted to know what was expected of him. He was told that he must wheel mud to make eight thousand bricks per day and that the pay would be a dollar and a half per day, which was considered good wages at that time, but there was considerable danger attached to the work and Mr. RITHMILLER's friend objected to him accepting the position. About eight miles from Cincinnati he secured work in a starch factory for fifty cents per day and boarded himself. Later he was employed at Cottage Hill at ten dollars per month with board, and while thus engaged he managed to save about seventy dollars. He was then told by a friend that he could obtain a good situation in Cincinnati and he went to the city, where all of his funds became exhausted while he was seeking employment there. He then borrowed money in order to go to Indiana and from that state later came to Illinois, making his way to Bennington township, Marshall county. This proved to be the turning in the tide of his affairs and during his residence in this county he has continuously prospered. At length when his labors had brought him some capital he invested in land and began farming on his own account. He placed his fields under cultivation and his crops brought him a good financial return. He did the first tiling in Bennington township in 1877. As the years passed by he kept adding to his land until he has accumulated a goodly fortune in Marshall county, being now the owner of seven hundred acres of the rich farming land of Illinois, which is equal to any in this great land of ours for the production of crops. In 1901 he went to Oklahoma and purchased three hundred and twenty acres of land, which has since doubled in value.
In 1858 Mr. RITHMILLER was married to Miss Sarah SHILLING, who was born in New Jersey and in her early girlhood became a resident of Ohio, while later she went to Indiana. They were married at Clarksburg, Indiana, and remained in that state for about nine years, after which they came to Illinois, locating about four miles south of Toluca in Bennington township. For many years thereafter Mr. RITHMILLER was continuously engaged in general farming, but is now practically living retired, merely giving his supervision to his landed interests. He makes his home in the village of Toluca and derives an excellent income from his property, which comprises seven hundred acres. He is the oldest representative of the Masonic fraternity in this locality, having joined the order in 1856, and throughout his life he has exemplified its beneficent spirit. The success which Mr. RITHMILLER has achieved seems marvelous when we remember how he started in life in America. Working at fifty cents per day and boarding himself, he eagerly watched for opportunities for advancement and for the improvement of his condition and made good use of the advantages that came to him. His success is due, however, not to any fortunate combination of circumstances, but to his own earnest and persistent labor and his careful, judicious investments. Diligence was the basis of his prosperity and his life record should serve as a source of inspiration and encouragement to others, showing what may be accomplished through unfaltering industry when supplemented by sound judgment and business integrity.
Extracted July 2011 by Norma Hass from Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois, 1907.