Jacob Rhoads, the grandfather of Charles Rhoads, emigrated from Pennsylvania to Kentucky shortly after the close of the Revolutionary war. He settled in Hardin county, close to the present town of Elizabethtown, and was one of the pioneer settlers of that part of Kentucky. He was then a young man and unmarried, and lived for a time in a fort near Elizabethtown, and was often called upon to engage in the pursuit of the Indians, who frequently committed depredations on the scattering white settlements. Samuel V. Rhoads, the father of the subject of this sketch, was born in Hardin county, Kentucky, in the year 1791. He was raised in the county of his nativity. He was a soldier in the war of 1812. He was one of the Kentucky volunteers under Gen. Harrison, and took part in the battle of the Thames in Canada, at which the Indian chief, Tecumseh, was killed. He married as his first wife, Jane Pennybaker, whose father was a native of Pennsylvania. He experienced religion when twenty years of age, and became connected with the United Baptist Church. From hardin he had removed to Grayson county, Kentucky, where he lived till 1834, and then removed to Illinois, and settled in Chesterfield township, about a mile from Rhoads Point, or as it is now called, Medora. About the time of his coming to Illinois he began preaching, and continued his ministerial labors until old age and infirmity prevented him from performing active service. He was instrumental in organizing several United Baptist churches in this part of Illinois, most of the churches of that denomination in Macoupin county having in fact been founded by him and his brother, the Rev. Jacob Rhoads. He died September 16, 1877.
Charles Rhoads was born in Grayson county, Kentucky, August 12, 1819. He was consequently about fifteen years old when he came to Macoupin County. The part of Kentucky in which the family had lived was poor and thinly settled, and had no good schools. The same state of circumstances in regard to educational facilities existed in Macoupin county. The school houses were built of logs, with an opening along the sides where a log had been left out as the only apology for a window. Mr. Rhoads lived at home till his marriage. This event occurred on the 6th of October, 1842. Mrs. Rhoads was formerly Miss Nancy E. Cawood. She was born in Sullivan county, Tennessee, November 19th, 1822. Her grandfather, John Cawood, was an Englishman, who on coming to America, first settled in Virginia, and afterward in North Carolina. His home in North Carolina was in the extreme northwest corner of the state. When the state lines came to be definitely established, his farm was thrown into three different states, North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. He lived on this farm till within a few days of a hundred years old, when he died. Mrs. Rhoads' father, Joshua B. Cawood, was born there, and on reaching manhood, married Eleanor Haynes. He served in the war of 1812. He first was employed as a teamster in Gen. Jackson's command, and returned home. He then enlisted a second time as a soldier, and took part in the battle of New Orleans. He lived in Sullivan county, Tennessee; afterward removed to McMinn county, in the Hiawatha purchase, in the same state; came to Morgan county, Illinois, in 1837; settled in North Palmyra township in this county, in the spring of 1838; moved thence to Shipman township, south of Medora, and in 1845 to Hilyard township, where his death occurred the same fall.
After his marriage, Mr. Rhoads moved to his present location in section six of Hilyard township, where at that time no farm had been improved. He has since been one of the substantial farmers of the township, and a man esteemed for many good qualities as a neighbor and a citizen. He owns two hundred acres of land. He was originally a member of the old whig party, and cast his first vote for President for Gen. Harrison at the exciting campaign of 1840. His father, and most of his relatives, though natives of a slave state, had been anti-slavery in their sentiments, and when the slavery agitation became prominent, and the republican party came into existence he became a republican. He and his wife have been members of the United Baptist Church since 1842, and w3ere among the original members of Harmony United Baptist Church, who worshiped near his residence. He was one of those mainly instrumental in erecting, in 1854, the present commodious church building. Mr. and Mrs. Rhoads have had seven children, of whom four are living. The oldest one, Jacob H. Rhoads, enlisted when eighteen years old, in the 30th Illinois regiment during the late war of the Rebellion, and served three years; he is now farming in Kansas. Sarah E., the oldest daughter, died when an infant. Carrie L., is the wife of P. G. Richard, and resides in Kansas. Margaret J., the next oldest, died in infancy. Th death of Mary A., occurred on the 19th of June, 1872, at the age of twenty years and five months. E. C. Rhoads and Hettie E., who married Charles W. Jolley, are the two youngest children.