Biography - John Bridges

JOHN D. BRIDGES, proprietor of a livery stable at Vienna, is a young man of much business ability and enterprise, who bids fair to become one of the solid, substantial business men of this, his native county. He is of the old pioneer stock of Johnson County, and was born on the old family homestead August 16, 1865. His paternal grandfather was a prominent man in Johnson County in his day. He was possessed of considerable wealth, which he acquired by farming and in the mercantile business, having a store in Elvira Township for the sale of general merchandise. He died on the farm that was the birthplace of the father of our subject, and where his family now resides.
John Bridges, the father of our subject, was reared to the life of a farmer on the farm where he was born, and early in life formed habits of industry. He obtained a fair education in the schools of the time, and added to his knowledge by observation and experience as he grew older. When about twenty-one years of age he was married to Miss Caroline Gore, who is also a native of this county. He had a good start in life, having had the wherewithal to buy a farm four miles west of Vienna, which was unimproved when it came into his possession. He lived on it four years and then exchanged it for another in Elvira Township, which was a good place, but had been run down. By careful cultivation and judicious improvement he brought it back to its former condition, and then disposed of it at an advanced price. His next purchase was known as the Russ Farm, and comprised one hundred and sixty acres of land. He added to its improvements, and at length traded it for the Weaver Farm, in the same township. He tilled its one hundred and eighty acres of fertile soil with success until he exchanged it for the Russ Farm, for which he had previously traded it. He took up his residence on that, bought adjoining land, built additional houses, making many substantial improvements, and had a fine place of three hundred and twelve acres, which was his home until death closed his career December 28, 1883, and the township and county lost a citizen of much enterprise and a practical, wide-awake farmer.
Mr. Bridges was twice married. His first wife, from whom he was divorced, is living in Moscow, Union County. By that marriage there were born three children, viz: Melinda J., who is deceased; John D., our subject; and Ida, wife of B. M. Adams, a farmer of Elvira Township. Mr. Bridges' second marriage, which occurred November 10, 1868, was to Sarah Ragans, who was born in Elvira Township October 21, 1854. Her paternal grandfather was one of the pioneers of Union County, where he had a farm, but his last days were spent in Johnson County. Her father, Joseph Ragans, was born in Saratoga, Union County, and was brought up on a farm. In early manhood he bought a tract of timbered land in this county, upon which he built a log house, the same in which Mrs. Bridges was born, and worked hard to reclaim a good farm. His last years were passed in Bloomfield Township.
The mother of Mrs. Bridges bore the maiden name of Mary McGinnis, and she was born in one of the pioneer homes of Union County, a daughter of Rich and Melvina McGinnis. Mrs. Bridges remained with her parents until her marriage, and has always lived in her native county. She attended the district schools in her girlhood, and the first that she went to was a typical pioneer schoolhouse, with rough, home-made furniture — benches without backs, and no desks in front. Her mother carded, spun and wove all the clothes worn by her children, and was an adept at cooking before an open fireplace. Mrs. Bridges has five children living: David G., Josephine, Laura, Narvisa and Sudua Belle.
The subject of this sketch was the second child born to his parents. He was a bright, energetic boy, and managed to obtain a very good education in the common schools, remaining with his father until his removal by death. He was then nineteen years of age, and the next year he spent in Tennessee, working on a farm. Returning to Johnson County, he hired out by the year on a farm, and was found to be an active, steady, trusty workman. During the two years that he was so employed he saved some money, which was encouraging, as he had but fifty cents to his name when he left home. His next venture was to engage in buying cattle with an uncle and driving them to market, and he made that business pay, too. He then rented a farm, cultivating it for one year, and after that rented another farm for a like length of time. He subsequently moved onto the old homestead, repairing a log house to live in, and reaped a good harvest at the end of the season. He continued to till the soil, and also worked for his stepmother.
In 1890 our subject went to Tennessee again, remained there a year and then returned to the old place. He next rented a farm and engaged in agricultural pursuits for a while, and finally rented a small place to live on and engaged in hauling ties, etc. Not long after he bought a farm of one hundred and twenty acres in Elvira Township. It was in a bad condition, and he moved onto it and energetically set about the work of repair and improvement. He so increased its value that he was enabled to sell it at the end of seven months for $1,160, having paid $1,000 for it and having secured a good crop from it besides. Renting a large farm of three hundred acres, he raised a good crop of corn and hay, and then came to Vienna to engage in the livery business. He has a well-ordered and well-conducted establishment, supplied with a good class of horses and turnouts, and, as he is reasonable in his charges, fair and square in his dealings, is building up a good business, and is worthy of a liberal patronage. He is a genial, whole-souled young man, gentlemanly and accommodating, and stands well with the people among whom his life has been principally passed. In politics he is a loyal supporter of the Republican party. Our subject and his estimable wife are the parents of two children, Bessie Ellen and Emily Pearl.

Extracted 16 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 541-542.

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