JUDGE JOHN HOOD RIVES, viewing the world with its opportunities and its duties, from a practical and also a humanitarian standpoint, so lived as not only to gain success in business but also win the regard and respect of his fellowmen. His enterprise and energy gained him a place with the more prosperous citizens of Greene county, while his charity and kindliness won the gratitude of many and caused his death to be deeply deplored.
Mr. Rives was born in the eastern part of North Carolina, on the 4th of August, 1826, a son of Rev. James and Elizabeth (Hood) Rives. The father was one of the zealous and influential local ministers of the Methodist Episcopal church and instilled into the minds of his children lessons which in due time bore rich fruit. He removed with his family to Christian county, Kentucky, when his son John was only three months old, making the journey through a thinly settled country in a cart drawn by one horse. Reaching his destination he secured a tract of wild land which he at once began to improve, continuing its cultivation until the fall of 1834, when he removed to Illinois, settling in Greene county on section 24, town 10, range 10. The family bore the difficulties and hardships incident to settlement in a frontier region, the sons assisting in the arduous labors of cultivating the first crops on a hitherto unplowed tract of land, while the daughters performed the many household tasks which came to the early pioneers, when most of the spinning and weaving was done in the home, as well as fashioning the cloth into garments. The mother died in 1851 and the father, leaving the old homestead in 1853, removed to Greenfield, where he resided until his death, which occurred in 1866. His influence had been an active factor in the moral development of the community, his labors in the church greatly promoting the cause of Christianity, and at the same time he had assisted in the material development of this part of the state in pioneer time, aiding in reclaiming the wild land for the uses of civilization.
John Hood Rives, but eight years of age at the time of the removal to Greene county, was reared on the old family homestead, sharing with the others in the privations as well as the pleasures of this frontier existence, at a time when the homes were widely scattered and the work of improvement and progress seemed scarcely begun. His educational privileges were somewhat limited, but in the school of experience he learned many valuable lessons, and observation and reading broadened his knowledge, bringing him into touch not only with local affairs, but with the great questions of national progress and policy.
Farm labor early became familiar to him through the active assistance which he rendered in the work of the fields, doing more and more each year to improve the home place as his age and strength increased. He sought a companion and helpmate for life's journey in 1848, and was married, on the 23d of August, of that year, to Miss Elizabeth Ann Randle, a daughter of Rev. George and Lucy Randle, the wedding ceremony being performed in the little log cabin which stood on the hill a mile south of Rockbridge, near where the wagon road crosses Macoupin creek. The young couple with little of this world's goods but with stout hearts, began their domestic life on section 30, Barr township, Macoupin county, purchasing the farm of Dr. Milton Metcalf, and there they lived until 1853, when they became occupants of the old Rives homestead, at the father's removal to Greenfield. There where his boyhood days were passed John H. Rives continued farm work until his life's labors were ended in death. They lived in the old house until February, 1868, when they took up their abode in a new brick residence which he had erected, a short distance east of the old homestead. Here they reared their family and Mr. Rives carried on agricultural pursuits with continually increasing success, adding again and again to his landed possessions until he had fourteen hundred acres in Greene county and four hundred and eighty acres in Cumberland county. His business career proves the force of industry and honesty in winning success. He was never known to take advantage of the necessities of his fellowmen, was always just and straightforward, and through the legitimate process of trade and the tilling of the soil he accumulated a competence that enabled him to became one of the most extensive landowners of the county. Generosity was ever one of his salient traits and he was charitable almost to a fault. Such a career is unconsciously a critical commentary on those who claim that success can not be honorably won and who selfishly guard their own interests, caring not if they intrench on the rights of others.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Rives were born ten children, of whom two died in infancy, while Ella died in 1870, at the age of fifteen years, and Edward N., the second son, died in Morrisonville, Illinois, February 28, 1904. Those surviving are: Andrew J., of Greenfield; Charles W., of Greenfield; John, of Palmyra, Illinois; Elizabeth, wife of Ralph Metcalf, of Greenfield; George, of Fayette; and Robert of Muldon, Mississippi. The wife and mother died January 31, 1894, after forty-five years of happy married life. Mr. Rives continued upon the home farm and actively assisted in the operation of the farm until about a year prior to his death. During that time, while his health compelled him to remain indoors, he supervised the farm work. He passed away June 24, 1904, when almost seventy-eight years of age, while his residence in Greene county covered the Psalmist's allotted span of three score years and ten. His life formed a connecting link in this county between the primitive past and the progressive present, joining pioneer experiences with modern advantages. He was always public-spirited and supported any worthy cause which he deemed would prove beneficial to the county. He was a strong believer in civic virtue and put forth every effort possible to secure honorable men in office. He himself served for a time on the board of county commissioners, discharging his duties with promptness and fidelity, and he was the first supervisor from Rockbridge township when township organization was established in Greene county. While attending McKendree College, in the winter of 1857-8, he joined the Methodist Episcopal church, of which he was ever after a faithful adherent, and the church found him a supporter of its various activities, his aid proving a helpful factor in its advancement. No trust reposed in him was ever betrayed in the slightest degrees; it is doubtful if ever he weighed a single act in the scale of policy and throughout his long life he wrought along the lines of great good, his career distinguished by diligence, by charity and by honor.