Biography - David Bridges

DAVID Y. BRIDGES was born in Johnson County May 11, 1838, and now occupies an important place among those who are actively forwarding its interests as one of its most industrious, thoroughly practical and independent farmers, his farm on section 2, Cache Township, comparing favorably with the best in the vicinity in point of equipment and cultivation. Our subject is a grandson of one of the earliest pioneers of the county, who ventured into the wilderness to found a home, and settled in what is now Elvira Township. He had to begin life here in poverty and had to endure many hardships and privations ere he was fairly started. There were no railways, mills or other conveniences of modern civilization, and but few settlements in the country, which was then but little advanced from its primitive wildness. The father of our subject built a hewn-log house, which still stands, putting in some lumber which he had made with a whip-saw. While clearing his farm he had log rollings, and a good deal of good timber was burned to get rid of it. Money was a scarce article with the pioneers, and as Mr. Bridges needed some knives and forks, he went down the river to cut wood to obtain the means to buy some. His diligence and perseverance were amply rewarded, and in due time he became better off than any of his fellow-pioneers.
The father of our subject, John Bridges, was born in a log house and was brought up amid pioneer surroundings, whereby be was strengthened and hardened for the struggle with Nature's forces that lay before him when he should take up his life work as a farmer on his own account. The rudely furnished, roughly built log schoolhouse of his day afforded but few educational advantages, and he learned more by the use of his eyes and brain outside of the school than in. He was a good worker, an excellent manager, and sound in judgment, and he accumulated a comfortable property, becoming one of the substantial citizens of the township, whose growth was forwarded by his labors. Of the eight children born to him and his wife four are living: Lucretie, wife of T. Ragsdall, of Union County; Abbie, wife of James Gordon, of Cache Township; Melinda, wife of William Ragsdall; and David Y.
The subject of this sketch, David, was born while this county was in its infancy, so to speak, and grew with its growth. The log schoolhouse of olden times had not been abolished in his boyhood, and moreover, in order to get to the one that he attended, he had to walk five miles, though that may not have been considered a hardship by the healthy, active boy used to out-of-door life. The primitive structure in which he gleaned his knowledge of the common branches of study was made of logs and poles, with a log cut out one side to admit the light, while a hewed piece of timber, fastened like a shelf on one side of the school-room, served as a writing-desk. The earth served as a floor to the building, which was heated by a rude fireplace, the chimney being made of mud and sticks.
At the age of eleven our subject was unfortunately deprived of his paternal care and guidance by the death of his father, at the time when the headstrong boy needed wise and kindly control. In a few years he left home with no thought of what he should do or any settled purpose in life, and wandered about somewhat aimlessly, visiting East Tennessee and Missouri. But while he saw something of the country and added to his experience, he accomplished nothing, and after three years of such life, he decided to settle down and make something of himself. It was a woman's good influence that brought about this manly determination. In Missouri he met Miss L. L. King, and the admiration that he felt for her soon ripened into warmer feeling, and he eventually won her hand in marriage. After that important step he bought a farm in Laclede County, that State, and began life in earnest.
Our subject had harvested two good crops when the war broke out. He was in a community of non-Union sympathizers, and whatever were his sentiments, at the call to arms he could not do otherwise than enlist in the Confederate army. He served nearly twelve months, and then returned home with impaired health only to find his affairs in a ruinous condition, as all his possessions but his land had been confiscated. His wife was struggling bravely as possible under adverse circumstances, having rented the land, and was doing the best that could be done. They concluded to abandon that farm, and coming to Illinois, Mr. Bridges bought a place in Johnson County with the money he had managed to save, but he soon traded it for another, and subsequently exchanged the latter for the farm upon which he lives on section 2, Cache Township. Thirty-five acres under cultivation and a hewed log house constituted its chief improvements. Mr. Bridges has since wrought a great change, beginning here with but little means, but working steadily and with good courage and accomplishing his self-appointed task with the utmost success. He has his one hundred and sixty acres of fine farming land under admirable tillage, and has erected a substantial set of buildings. He built a commodious frame residence, which was one of the best in the county in regard to architecture and appointments, but this beautiful home was destroyed by fire. Since then he has replaced it by a less elegant but comfortable dwelling, in which the family lives very cozily and happily.
Mr. Bridges is sound in political convictions and is a firm adherent of the Democratic party. He is interested in schools, desiring to have his children well educated, and he cares for all things that will in any way advance the township and county. He and his wife have had four children, of whom two are dead, John and David. Their daughter Laura is the wife of Alexander Rennals, of Texas; and their son Charles is married and is engaged in farming the homestead.

Extracted 17 Apr 2016 from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 178-179.

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