Putnam County


Ransom O. CALDWELL, residing on section 20, La Prairie township, is classed among the representative farmers of the township and one of its most highly honored citizens. He is a native of Greene county, New York, born twelve miles west of Coxsackie, on the Hudson river, June 13, 1821. His parents, Obadiah and Sally Ann (GREEN) CALDWELL, were originally from Putnam county, New York, but who located in Greene county at a very early day, purchasing a farm which extended across the Greene county line into Albany county. Of their family of five children three are now living. The parents have long since passed to their reward.

The boyhood and youth of Ransom were passed on his father’s farm in the old empire state and his education was received in the common schools, finishing his course in the Greenville academy. He was a studious youth, and at a very early age began to teach in the common schools of his native state. For a time he entertained the idea that he was to adopt some other calling than that of a farmer, and so secured a situation as a clerk in a store at Brandy Hill, Greene county, and later in country stores in Albany county. A short time previous to his removal west he was a partner with his brother in a store in Coeyman’s Hollow, Albany county.

The great west was now being rapidly settled, and, in common with thousands of others, he felt the opportunity for future advancement would be improved by his removal to one of the new states. Illinois seemed to him the most attractive, and with a much brighter future than any of its sister states in the Mississippi valley, and to this state he determined to come. Before taking this step, however, he took the more important one of marriage with the one he had chosen to go with him through life’s journey, and in 1845 his marriage occurred with Miss Sally Marinda STEWART, a native of Albany county, New York. This was a happy union, and for forty-six years they endured the joys and sorrows of this life together, reared their family of children, who proved a blessing to them, and lived in the consciousness of each other’s love. She passed away July 22, 1891, leaving a blessed memory that will be cherished by husband, children and friends while life shall last. Of their family of six children, Armina A. is housekeeper for her father, Frances died in infancy; Laura A. married Wesley POWELL, of La Prairie township; Andrew died at the age of seventeen years; Adelbert married Caroline BRIGGS, and lives on a part of the home farm; and Rosetta is the wife of Fillmore CALDER, and is also residing upon a part of the home farm.

About one year after his marriage Mr. CALDWELL came to Marshall county, Illinois, and purchased land in La Prairie township, which is part of his present farm. He came by way of the lakes, and while upon Lake Michigan encountered a severe gale, which had a very depressing effect upon the eight hundred passengers aboard the vessel, the entire number, with the exception of perhaps twenty-five, becoming violently seasick.

On landing at Chillicothe, Mr. CALDWELL found his entire cash capital was but fifty-six dollars, but he purchased his land, consisting of one hundred and sixty acres of the military tract, for which he paid $120 for the tax title. At this time much of the land in the military tract was defective in title, and much trouble, inconvenience and loss were occasioned by the early settlers before the cloud was removed from the title of their lands. For some years after his settlement here Mr. CALDWELL acted as agent for other parties in perfecting land titles, making somewhat of a study of the subject. Probably the title of half of the land in La Prairie township was passed on by him as agent for would-be purchasers.

To his original purchase of one hundred and sixty acres Mr. CALDWELL added from time to time until his main farm consisted of three hundred and sixty acres. He also owned for some years a half section in Stark county, for which he paid twice on account of defective title, but which he sold some years ago. While Mr. CALDWELL came to the county in 1846, it was not until 1848 that he removed to his farm, where he has since continued to reside, and where he has devoted himself to his farming interests with good success, having a fine farm, well improved in every respect. For some years, however, he has practically lived a retired life, turning the farm over to his sons. The first house built by him is a part of the present dwelling, the lumber for which was hauled from Chicago, which then required from a week to ten days in making the round trip.

Politically, Mr. CALDWELL is classed as a democrat, though he is not a bitter partisan. In the discharge of his duties as a citizen he has filled almost all the township offices, with credit to himself and his constituents. For some years he was a member of the Christian church, but now attends the Methodist Episcopal church of La Prairie township. As a citizen he is respected and honored by all who know him.

Source: The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois  published in 1896, page 463.

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