SAMUEL R. STEIDLEY, of Palmyra, is a native of this county, who was one of the brave citizen soldiers that it sent to the front during the late war, and who has also borne an honorable part in promoting its agriculture, and has been prominent in its public life. He was born on a farm in South Palmyra Township March 25, 1838. His father, Joseph B. Steidley, was a native of Virginia, and resided near Fredricksburg many years. After marriage he removed to Ohio in 1830, and spent the ensuing six years amid the wilds of that State. In 1836 with his wife and six children he came to Illinois, making the entire journey by land, and bringing their household goods with them. Mr. Steidley bought a tract of land located four miles from the present site of the village of Palmyra, and in the log house that stood thereon our subject first saw the light of day. A few acres of land were cleared and fenced, and the father busied himself constantly in making improvements until his death in January, 1861. The maiden name of his first wife, mother of subject, was Elvira Rowland, and she was born in the Shenandoah Valley, Va., a daughter of Samuel Rowland. She died on the home farm in 1849. Eleven of the children born of her marriage were reared to manhood and womanhood, namely: Daniel G., Mary Elizabeth; Solomon J., Sarah Ellen, Lucy Ann, Elvira V., Samuel, Joseph S., James William, Luzetta Jane and Thomas J. Mr. Steidley's second wife was Elizabeth Cherry, and she bore these four children, - Henry M., LaFayette, Harriet J., Wilmer L.
The subject of this biography was reared to man's estate in his native township, which at the time of his birth was sparsely settled, and the surrounding country was in a wild condition. For some years Alton was the nearest market, where the farmers sold their produce and obtained their supplies. Deer, wild turkeys and other game helped to eke out the scanty fare of the pioneers, as the people had to live on what they could raise on their farms, and many things now considered indispensable were then unknown luxuries. The mother of our subject used to cook before the fire in the open fireplace of old times, and her busy hand spun and wove the cloth with which she clad her children.
Mr. Steidley obtained his education in the primitive pioneer schools of that day that were conducted on the subscription plan, the first that he attended being held in a log house. As soon as large enough he became useful on the farm, and continued to assist his father until he had attained his majority. His father gave him his time when he was twenty years of age, and he continued to help him a few months, and then worked for others a few months. After that he worked land on shares until the war broke out.
In the month of September of the opening year of the rebellion, when he had settled up his affairs preparatory to joining the army, our subject threw aside all personal aims and ambitions to aid his Government as a soldier, enlisting in Co. A, Thirty-second Illinois Infantry and he served nineteen months with credit, retiring from the ranks only because he was no longer able to do military duty on account of injuries received in battle. He helped capture Ft. Donelson and was present at Shiloh. He was twice wounded in the first day's battle by a bullet striking the right breast and coming out under the right shoulder blade, and while lying on the field after that he was hit in the shoulder by a piece of shell, and while suffering mortal agony he was captured by the enemy. The next day he was rescued by the Union soldiers and was taken to the hospital at Mound City, where he was honorably discharged from the army March 25, 1863 on account of disability from his wounds. His brother, James W., was in the same company as himself, and was killed at the battle of Shiloh.
As soon as he was able after his bitter experience of military life, our subject resumed farming, buying a farm in Barr Township, which he retained in his possession until 1869, when he sold it at a good price and bought another in Bois D'Arc Township, Montgomery County. He actively engaged in agriculture in that locality for several years, but in 1887 he retired to Palmyra, where he has a pleasant home, replete with comfort and abounding in contentment and happiness.
Mr. Steidley and Miss Susan E. Range were united in marriage April 7, 1864. Mrs. Steidley was born in Washington County, Tenn., and is a daughter of Jefferson and Elizabeth (Hall) Range.
Our subject's patriotism and the value of his citizenship has been proven no less since the war by his conduct as a civic official and in all the relations of life, than when he helped to defend and preserve the Union. He is an influence for good in the public life of his community and in promoting its special and moral status. He was formerly a Democrat, but since the war, the Republican party has found in him a strong advocate. He served three terms as Justice of the Peace in Bois D'Arc Township, but resigned that position when he removed to Palmyra. In 1890 he was the choice of his fellow citizens for the important office of Mayor and he gave the city a good administration. He has been a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church since he was eighteen years old, and his name is associated with its very good work. He served as Class-Leader eighteen years, and he has also been Trustee, Steward, and teacher in the Sunday school. His wife has been a life member of the American Bible Society since 1875.