Marion County


One of the sterling citizens of Marion county is he whose name initiates this paragraph, being engaged in farming in Tonti township. As a result of his industry, integrity and genuine worth he is held in high esteem by the people of this vicinity, mainly as a result of his principal life work the noble profession of teaching.

James R. Richardson, the son of John and Sarah A. (Chandler) Richardson, was born in Williamson county, Illinois, at Bolton, December 19, 1841. The Richardson family are of Irish descent. John Richardson was born in ticking county, Ohio, and he was eight years old when his parents died. He was reared by a family named Decker, a farmer at Groveport, Ohio. He received his educational training in the public schools in the Buckeye state, which was somewhat limited, owing to the primitive condition of the public schools of that early day. He was a man of no extraordinary ability but he was a hard worker and succeeded in making a comfortable living. He came to Illinois about 1838, settling near Peoria, where he remained a few years. He moved to St. Clair county, Illinois, and thence to Williamson county and later he came to Marion county in 1853, buying a farm in Tonti township, where he lived until his death in March, 1856.

The Chandler family came from Pennsylvania. The father of Sarah A., our subject's mother, came to Ohio and engaged in farming, but not on an extensive scale. The mother of the subject was educated in the public schools of Franklin county. She was a woman of many estimable qualities. Eleven children were born to this couple, ten girls and one boy. Sarah A. was married to John Richardson about 1838, and she passed to her rest in 1870. Mr. Richardson was a large land owner in Marion county, this state, and he was regarded as a man of many sterling qualities.

James R. Richardson, our subject, was the second child in a family of eight children. He remained under the parental roof tree until he was seventeen years old. He received his education in the district schools and later at Salem. He was an ambitious lad from the start and outstripped most of his contemporaries. After finishing the public school course, he was not satisfied with the amount of textbook training he had received and consequently entered the State Normal School at Bloomington, Illinois, where he made a splendid record for scholarship, and where he graduated in the class of 1871, with high honors.

After leaving school Mr. Richardson at once began to teach, first in the county schools, having soon become principal, and he was principal in several places. Becoming known as an able instructor, his services were in great demand. He was principal of the schools at Woodson, Franklin, Stanford, Morton and Marseilles, all in Illinois, and he also taught a year in Kansas. He gave the greatest possible satisfaction as an instructor, being well grounded in the texts then included in the public school curriculums, and he was very popular with his pupils, owing to his friendliness and kindness. His teaching extended over a period of twenty-six years during which time his reputation extended not only to adjoining counties but he attracted the attention of the ablest educators of the state, receiving much laudable comment on his work in the school room.

Mr. Richardson could not restrain the wave of patriotism that pervaded his whole being when, in the dark days of the sixties, our national integrity was threatened, and, believing that it was his duty to sever home ties, leave the school room and offer his services in defense of the flag, he accordingly enlisted in Company G, Twenty-first Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and was in the regiment assigned to Grant's army during the first part of the war. He was in the great battle of Stone River and the still bloodier conflict of Chickamauga, and many other smaller engagements. He was taken prisoner at Chickamauga, and was in prison at Richmond and Danville for six months. He effected his escape, but was recaptured, and later exchanged. After performing gallant service for a period of three years, he returned home and entered the University of Illinois in 1864, where he completed his education.

Our subject's domestic life dates from December 25, 1876, when he was united in marriage with Sarah Martin Williams, a highly educated woman, a native of Cass county, Illinois, where she was born March 10, 1856. She lived in Morgan county, this state until seventeen years old, when she entered the State University at Bloomington, and was a student there for several years, where she made a brilliant record for scholarship. No children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Richardson. Mrs. Richardson is a faithful member of the Christian church in Salem. Our subject is a Prohibitionist in his political affiliations.

Extracted 03 Nov 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 307-309.

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