PETER W. RICKARD, an intelligent and progressive farmer of Cass county, Illinois, residing in township 19, range 9, was born in Windham county, Connecticut, August 26, 1823.
His parents were Peter and Mary (Healy) Rickard, both natives of Massachusetts, the mother's birth having taken place in Dudley, of that State. The father died one month previous to the birth of the subject of this sketch. Grandfather Rickard was a brave and efficient soldier in the Revolutionary war, and died in the service. The Rickard family is of French ancestry and took a prominent part in early Colonial times. Our subject's mother was a daughter of Stephen and Rhoda (Marcy) Healy, also natives of Massachusetts, both of whom were related to old and respected families of that State. They died in the Bay State between tile ages of seventy and eighty years. Both her father and grandfather were distinguished soldiers in the Revolutionary war, although the fame of her grand father, Major Nathan Healy, rather outshone that of her father, the elder gentleman receiving a liberal pension from the Government for his able services in that memorable struggle. The Healys were originally from England, and, as far as known, were successful farmers. On the maternal side, Mr. Rickard's mother was an own cousin of William L Marcy, at one time Governor of New York. Their revered parents had eight children, of whom our present subject is the sole survivor; some of these were tradesmen and successful merchants. The mother died in Windham county, Connecticut, aged about sixty-nine years, universally lamented for her kindly ways and Christian character.
The subject of this sketch lived with his mother until he was eight years of age, when he went to live with a brother-in-law, with whom he remained until he was fourteen. He, then, found employment by the day or month, and at the same time diligently prosecuted his studies in the free school, which he continued to attend until he attained the age of twenty-one.
He then started for the West, Illinois being the objective point, then on the extreme frontier. In these days of rapid transit, it is interesting to note, by way of contrast, the time consumed by the journey. He went by cars and boat to New York city, and thence, via the Erie canal and Cumberland stage route, to Philadelphia and Wheeling, which took four weeks' time. He thence proceeded by the rivers to Beardstown, Illinois being twenty days en route, arriving at the latter place in the fall of 1844. He taught a subscription school for several terms, after which he taught a free school, continuing thus for many years, teaching in the winter and farming during the summer. He first purchased 120 acres in his present township, on which he settled soon after marriage. He afterward kept a general store for a year in Chandlerville, when, in 1857, he sold his first farm and bought 240 acres, on which he now resides. He lived on the old farm while the present one was being prepared for occupancy. Besides this valuable and extensive property, he owns a fine tract of forty acres in this vicinity, all of which is devoted to mixed farming, in which he is very successful, being numbered among the most prosperous farmers of the county.
Mr. Rickard was first married June 22, 1846, to Miss Elizabeth Pease, an intelligent lady, and a native of Ohio. Her parents were Aborn Pease and wife, natives of Connecticut, prominent and early settlers of Illinois, who died at an advanced age. By this marriage, Mr. Rickard has one son, Henry A., who was born February 12, 1848; he married Julia Hardin, and has two children. Mr. Rickard's union was destined to be of short duration, his wife dying on the old farm, in the twenty-seventh year of her age.
November 5, 1854, Mr. Rickard was again married, his second wife being Miss Mary Harbison, an estimable lady, a native of this county and a sister of Moses Harbison, a prominent resident of this locality: (See sketch in this book.) By this marriage there was one child, now deceased. This union was also suddenly dissolved by the hand of death, before whose power all must how. This gentle and beloved lady expired October 6, 1856, leaving many friends to mourn her untimely taking away.
April 21, 1856, Mr. Rickard was married to Miss Mary C. Taylor, well and favorably known in this community, where she was born March 21, 1840. Her parents, Henry B. and Mary P. (Hawthorn) Taylor, are honored pioneers of Illinois. Mrs. Rickard was a pupil of her husband when he taught school here in the early day. She is well informed and intellectual, being well adapted to be a companion to a person of her husband's superior ability and training. By this marriage there have been nine children, five now living; all born on this farm. Those surviving are: Charles E., born July 28, 1860; John T., born June 29, 1862; Francis M., born October 8, 1867; Mary, born March 4, 1871; James A., born December 25, 1879.
Mr. Rickard was formerly an old line Whig, and cast his first vote for William H. Harrison, at a time when there was no tickets, each person writing the name of the candidate of his choice. He has taken an active interest in the politics of his township, and has held the position of superintendent and other local offices, discharging his duties in his several capacities with ability and integrity.
Mr. and Mrs. Rickard and all the family are earnest and useful members of the Congregational Church, of which Mr. Rickard is a Deacon and Trustee. The entire family are prominent in temperance work and all matters tending to the material and moral advancement of the community.
Although caring less for pedigree than our English cousins across the water, yet we tacitly admit that tendencies and early training have much to do with shaping a man's career through life. While Mr. Rickard has worked out his own prosperity and salvation, yet he has, no doubt, often drawn inspiration from the contemplation of the virtues of his illustrious ancestors, whose example he has insensibly been left to emulate.
Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois, Biographical Review Publishing Co., Chicago, 1892, pages 189 to 191.
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