Biography - JAMES A. RICHMAN

James A. Richman is one of the best known farmers in Douglas county, and owns one of the finest and best improved farms and most beautiful homes in the county. His farm is situated in the northern part of Camargo township, and his residence is three-quarters of a mile west of Villa Grove.

Mr. Richman was born near Camargo, Illinois, September 13, 1844, and is the third son of David Richman. He grew to manhood on his father's from near Camargo, and in 1864 volunteered in the Civil war and was a member of Company G, One Hundred and Thirty-fifth Regiment. In 1865 Mr. Richman was mustered out of the service and returned to his former home, and in November of the same year was married to Miss Sarah Williams, who is a daughter of John Williams, a native of Kentucky. The latter was a volunteer in the Union army and died while in the service in 1862. To Mr. and Mrs. Richman have been born six children, five of whom are living: Franklin and Charlie, both engaged in farming; Hattie, wife of Dr. Gilmore, of Villa Grove; Guy, a telegraph operator in Tuscola, and John, at home. An infant daughter died in January, 1875.

In 1869 Mr. Richman bought one hundred and sixty acres of land upon which the homestead now stands, and in April of the same year he moved upon it. By hard labor and shrewd management Mr. Richman was enabled from time to time to buy more land, and now he has equipped one of the largest and best stock farms in the county, he having devoted much of his time to the raising of cattle and hogs. Mr. and Mrs. Richman arc members of the M. E. church at Villa Grove, and are always among the first to give for the aid of the poor and needy. Mr. Richman has always been a strong supporter of the Democratic party.

James A. Richman is a member of the old and prominent Richman family which enjoys the distinction of being the oldest settled family in the county, his grandfather, John A. Richman, having been the oldest resident in the county at the time of his death. He located here over three-quarters of a century ago, the first permanent white settler in the district now embraced in Douglas county. The Richmans are of English and German descent. David Richman was born in Greenbrier county, West Virginia, October 25, 1816. When in his eleventh year his family left Virginia. John A. Richman, his father, had a large family of children and wanted more land, hence his removal from Virginia to Illinois. The cattle, sheep and horses could not be sold at home, and so were driven to their western destination. Arriving in Vermilion county, Illinois, they settled on the head of the Little Vermilion river. Here they lived on rented land, and raised two crops. In company with one Moses Bradshow, Mr. Richman's father visited the Embarrass timber on a bee hunt. In eight or ten days they got three or four barrels of honey. Mr. Richman was so well pleased with the land in the neighborhood of where they encamped that he resolved to remove to that country and take up some of the wild land there. The family left Vermilion county in May following and settled on the Embarrass timber one-half mile west of Camargo. There was not another family of whites living in the present limits of the county at the time. There were no settlers north of Charleston. For a year they remained the only family in the county. In about eighteen months after their arrival they had a neighbor in Isaac Moss, who settled about a mile east of the present town of Camargo. The Indians were in the neighborhood for about three years after their arrival. Bridgeport now occupies the site of their old village. They came in the fall and remained over winter, and in the spring journeyed further north, where they spent the summer. The first summer the Richmans lived in a rough camp built of logs split in two. They commenced farming by trying to break the prairie, but found their teams too weak for this, and so began work in the timber. They kept at work, clearing, breaking and planting, till the 10th of July, when they succeeded in putting fourteen acres in with corn. They then began work at building a house. The logs were hewn out, and part on the ground, when several members of the family were taken down with the ague, seven out of eleven, and for several months were able to do nothing whatever. Their house was not put up in consecjuence till the succeeding summer. This house may still he seen in a good state of preservation, just north of the railroad and half a mile west of Camargo. For many years the family endured the hardships and inconveniences of pioneer life. Their pork was sold for one dollar and a half to two dollars a hundred, but they saved a little money even at these prices and invested it in land, till finally the amount reached seven hundred acres.

At the age of twenty-three David Richman was married to Ruth Haines, a native of Ohio. To them were born seven children: John, George, James, Samuel, William, Taylor and David, of whom John, George and David are deceased. Mr. Richman's life was full of hardships and exposure. In 1832 he contracted a severe cold, which settled upon his lungs and soon resulted in his death.

Extracted 25 May 2019 by Norma Hass from the Historical and Biographical Record of Douglas County, Illinois, published in 1900, pages 192-194.

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