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Clarence G. Richey

Posted by Jean Crowl 8 May, 2009

From the Portrait and biographical record of Hancock, McDonough and Henderson counties, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county (1894) May, 1894. Lake City Publishing Co.

CLARENCE G. RICHEY, who is successfully engaged in dairy farming and stock-raising on section 7, Walnut Grove Township, was born in Henderson County, on the 10th of August, 1859, and his entire life has been spent upon the home farm. His parents were Thomas G. and Lavina (Randall) Richey. His grandfather, Judge Richard W. Richey, was born in Charlton, Saratoga County, N. Y., November 22, 1802, and was the eldest child of Andrew and Polly (West) Richey, the former a native of Cambridge, N. Y., and the latter of Connecticut. The father died when Richard was quite young, and the lad received but little schooling. In early life he worked at tanning and carpentering, and at the age of eighteen went to Cambridge and engaged in the tanning and currying business. In 1823, he married Miss Nellie Green, of Cambridge, and unto them were born five children. After the death of his first wife he was married, in 1840, to Miss Agnes Green, of Ohio, and emigrated to Henderson County, Ill., which then formed a part of Warren County. He settled at Walnut Grove and bought eighty acres of land, on which he built a double log cabin, 18x50 feet, and a story and a-half in height, containing three-apartments. This building is still standing. During the Mormon disturbances at Nauvoo, at the request of Gov. Ford, of Illinois, he raised a company to assist in preserving the peace. He did not take his troops to Nauvoo, but visited the seat of hostilities and was requested by the Governor to take command of the militia there at the time. In 1854, he was elected County Judge, and filled that office until 1875, with the exception of four years. During that time he made his home in the county seat. His second wife died in 1856, and the following year he married Mrs. Cornelia Day Moir, widow of Alexis Phelps. The Judge was a life-long Democrat and a member of the Presbyterian Church.

The father of our subject, Thomas G. Richey, was a native of Washington County, N. Y., born April 25, 1825. By occupation he was a farmer. In 1840, he started for Illinois, making the journey with an ox-team and wagon. He purchased one hundred acres of land, paying for it $2 per acre, with money he earned in California. To this he kept adding from time to time until he owned a most excellent farm, upon which he made his home until 1884, when he removed to Kirkwood on account of his wife's health. Shortly afterwards, however, he went to Olena, where he was taken sick, and died December 15, 1885.

During the excitement attendant upon the discovery of gold in California, Thomas G. Richey crossed the plains with an ox-team and remained in the West about two years. He was by common consent placed at the head of the vigilance committee which was formed after the Brook tragedy, and it was largely due to his skill and energy that every horse-thief in the county from the time of the formation of the committee was brought to justice. Mr. Richey was a devoted member of the United Presbyterian Church and an earnest worker in its interests.

Mrs. Richey, our subject's mother, was a daughter of Roswell and Charlotte Randall, natives of New York, and with her parents she came to Warren County, Ill., in 1845. In the family were six children, all of whom are now living, namely: Mrs. Helen S. Ferris, now of South Dakota; Charles E., who makes his home in Chicago: Lillian M., wife of Dr. Cowden, who is living in Winfield, Iowa; Frank, who is engaged in the creamery business in Somonauk, Ill.; Dora A., wife of A. G. McCowen, of Henderson County: and Clarence G.

Our subject acquired his education in the common schools, which he attended until sixteen years of age. To his father he gave the benefit of his services until he had attained his majority, and then started out for himself, working as a farm hand by the month. Thus he was employed until his marriage, which occurred on the 4th of October, 1881, Miss Jessie M. Spears becoming his wife. The lady is a daughter of Alexander and Mary McElrov Spears, the former a native of Pennsylvania, and the latter of Ohio. They came to Illinois in 1840, and the father engaged in blacksmithing and farming in Henderson County. In their family were eleven children: Matthew, Mrs. Margaret Campbell, Mrs. Jane Stewart. James, Mrs. Emeline Pogue, Samuel, William A., Mrs. Mary E. Whiteman, Clara and Mrs. Jessie M. Richey. Seven of these children are yet living.

The marriage of our subject and his wife has been blessed with four children, namely Ross S., who was born September 24, 1882; Grace, born March 11, 1885; Mary B., born July 8, 1887; and William H., born May 5, 1893. The parents are both members of the United Presbyterian Church, and are highly-respected citizens of this community.

Upon his father's death, Mr. Richey bought the interest of the other heirs in the home farm, and is now the owner of three hundred and eighty-acres of valuable land, which is under a high state of cultivation and well improved. It constitutes one of the finest farms in this locality. The owner is now engaged in stock-raising and in the dairy business, and along these lines is meeting with good success. In politics, he is a Republican, and is now serving as School Director. Socially, he is connected with the Modern Woodmen of America. He has always lived in Henderson County, where he is widely and favorably known. His stanchest friends are among those who have known him from boyhood, a fact which plainly indicates a well-spent and honorable life.