Biography - Rob Roy Ridenhower

ROB ROY RIDENHOWER, who occupies the responsible office of Sheriff of Johnson County, is a fine type of the native-born sons of this section of southern Illinois, who are taking a leading part in conducting its various interests and are also identified with its public life. Our subject is classed among its capable, enterprising young farmers, and he owns and superintends a part of the farm in Vienna Township that formerly belonged to his father, Harris Monroe Ridenhower, Sr., a native of North Carolina, who was the most prominent man of his time in the early days of the settlement of this county, and of whom an extended account appears elsewhere in this work in the sketch of Harris M. Ridenhower, Jr.
Our subject was the eighth child of his parents, and was born April 14, 1861, on the old farm in Goreville Township, then occupied by his parents, and where his mother now makes her home. The paternal grandfather of our subject was a German by birth, who came to this country and settled in North Carolina, where he pursued his trade as a tanner until he died. The father of our subject was instructed in the same trade by his father. He was married in Rowan County, his native State, to Lavinia Miller, who was born in that county, and in 1845 he and his wife set out to traverse the intervening mountains and wilderness between their old home and Illinois in a one-horse carryall, taking with them their household effects and personal property. They took up their abode in a lonely log cabin in Union County, and he divided his time between farming and teaching. He was a man of fine mental endowments, although he was mainly self-educated, but he had studied to a good purpose, and had a good command of both English and German, as well as a practical knowledge of mathematics and other branches, and he had a wide reputation as a pioneer educator in the sparsely settled country where he lived. He often taught a long distance from home, and his brave young wife would be left in solitude for days and nights, the only noise to break the silence when darkness reigned being the howling of the wolves outside of the little dwelling, and the occasional cry of a panther.
In 1857 Mr. Ridenhower, our subject's father, disposed of his place in Union County and coming to Johnson County, entered a tract of land in what is now Goreville Township, and here they commenced to build another home. In 1863 that farm was sold to George Gibson, and another partly improved was bought two and one-fourth miles southeast of Vienna, upon which the father of our subject spent the remainder of his life, dying in 1869. The mother continued to live upon this farm until 1883, when she was married to George Gibson, the purchaser of her former home in Goreville Township, and went back to preside over it again. By her marriage with Mr. Ridenhower she became the mother of the following children, nine in number: Otto Lebref, who sacrificed his life for his country during the late war, having contracted measles while in the army, and returning home to Johnson County, died shortly after; Peninna Ardanissa, who died in Johnson County; Erastus Kimber, a farmer and teacher, residing in Hamilton County, Tex.; Mary Ann, wife of W. A. Snow, a farmer of Vienna Township; Harris Monroe, Jr., a resident of Vienna; Carrie Levina, who graduated at Carbondale with high honors, and subsequently died in the midst of a successful career as a teacher; Addie May, wife of Alvis Berry, a teacher and farmer in Saline County; Rob Roy; and Fleta, wife of James Gibson, a farmer of Goreville Township.
Our subject's boyhood was spent on the farm which was his birthplace, and as he was but seven years old when his father died he had to help his mother as he was large enough to be of use in doing the heavy farm work, or his share of it. He remained with her until she married again, when he began farming for himself, still remaining, however, on the old homestead, a part of which he owns, and which he still makes his home, except when he is engaged at his official work in Vienna. He keeps his farm up to a high standard of cultivation, and has a neat and well-ordered place, from which he derives a good income by careful and thrifty management.
When he began life for himself in 1883, our subject also took another important step by his marriage to Miss Alice Carter, a native of Johnson County, of which her parents, who were from Tennessee, were early settlers, her father still living in the county, while her mother is dead. Mr. and Mrs. Ridenhower have had three children, of whom Rob Roy, Jr., is the only survivor. The others were Lotta Lavina and a child that died in infancy.
Our subject was brought up a Republican, but, finding himself of recent years more in sympathy Willi the People's party, he has transferred his allegiance to it, and is an enthusiastic advocate of its principles. In 1890 he was made the candidate of his party for the important office of County Sheriff, and was triumphantly elected. He possesses fine qualifications for the position, whose functions he performs in a manner highly creditable to himself and pleasing to his constituency, always placing duty above personal interests, and acting with tact, discrimination and firmness. He is genial and open-hearted, and, though he may have incurred the enmity of some, he has many strong friends.

Extracted 23 Apr 2016 from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 212-214.

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