Biography - Stephen Redden

Stephen Redden was born in Bracken county, Kentucky, April 14, 1818, and was a son of James Redden, who having a large family of children growing up resolved to give them a better chance by going west. Consequently he made a flat-boat, and, with his family and several of his neighbors and their families, he embarked on the Ohio river for what was then considered the far west. Stephen Redden was at that time four years old. At Louisville they would not trust the flat boat to carry them over the falls, but were put ashore and either walked or were conveyed in some other manner to Portland, just below the falls, where the boat landed and took them on board. They landed at Evansville, Indiana, sometime in the fall of 1822, and after disposing of the flat boat and investing in an ox team Mr. Redden and family started for the land of promise, the Pairie state, while the other families cast their lot with the Hoosier state. It was no uncommon thing for them to meet bands of blanketed Indians and see droves of deer, or to be "lulled to sleep" at night by the "music of the wolves," on their journey from the Ohio river to the small village of Terre Haute, Indiana, which at that time consisted of a tavern, a few saloons and stores, and a horse ferry to cross the Wabash river. They located on Big Creek, Edgar county, where they remained until 1830, when they removed to Coles county, now Douglas county. Here Stephen Redden grew to manhood at the hard labor of making rails and breaking the new prairie soil with ox teams, but occasionally taking a little pastime with his trusty rifle and his faithful dogs, and many noble bucks dropped at the crack of his rifle and many a sheep's life was saved by his dogs getting the wolf before the wolf got the sheep. In his later days, while suffering in his last sickness, he would forget the racking pains while telling of his hunts in his boyhood days. At that time there were no schools that he could attend, and all his education was received by reading from the light of hickory bark burned in the old fire place. He never learned to write but his mark on any note was worth one hundred cents to the dollar.
He was married to Vashti Winkler in March 1840; he made rails all day and was married in the evening. His wife was born in Warwick county, Indiana, February 2, 1818, and was a little over two months older than him. He bought eighty-four acres of land a short time after he was married, at twenty-two dollars per acre, and by frugality and strict economy he paid for the land and built a house in which he lived until his death. His beloved wife departed this life March 2, 1878, leaving him without any children. His home was desolate, but Providence ruled that it last but a short time, and he was again married, this time to Mrs. Mary A. Tinkle, of Charleston, Illinois, November 3, 1880. She has been to him a loving wife, a faithful companion, and during his last sickeness a trusted nurse, prolonging his days by her untiring and constant attention. Uncle Steve, as he was familiarly known, was strickly honest in his dealings. He peacefully fell asleep in the arms of his Saviour at eleven o'clock a.m., April 17, 1897, at the ripe age of seventy-nine years and three days. His widow, Mrs. Mary A. Redden, has two children living by her first husband: Aaron T., in Kansas, and Malissa, wife of H.B. Morgan, of Murdock. Mrs. Redden resides a great deal of her time at South Haven, Michigan. She owns three hundred and four acres of land in Sargent township and forty acres in Bowdre township.

Extracted by Linda Lang from the Historical and Biographical Record of Douglas County, Illinois, pages 124-125.

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