RICHARD M. PURDY, contractor and builder, and one of the leading men in his line, in Macoupin County, has been identified with the interests of Staunton for a number of years. Mr. Purdy was born April 26, 1859, in Dorchester township, Macoupin County, and is a son of John H. and Malitta (Parisher) Purdy.
John H. Purdy was born in 1816 in North Carolina, and died in a hospital at Edwardsville, Illinois, in 1865, from the exposures incident to a service of three years in the Civil War. He was a son of William Purdy, who was a teamster between St. Louis, Missouri, and Springfield, Illinois, when but one house stood on the way. Although William Purdy was a very active and capable business man, and reared a family of nine children, he was small of stature and weighed about 100 pounds. His children were: John H.; William C., of Staunton, who served in the Mexican War; Josiah, who died in a Confederate prison in Alabama during the Civil War; James, who died prior to the Rebellion; and Samuel, George, Nancy, Mary and Celia, deceased. Our subject's grandfather died in Dorchester township, Macoupin County, in 1882, aged 96 years.
John H. Purdy was a small boy when his parents came to Illinois and settled in Dorchester township, Macoupin County. He served in the Mexican War and in 1861 enlisted for the Civil War, in the 3rd Reg., Illinois Vol. Cav., under Captain Sparks and took part in many of the leading battles, including that of Shiloh, and escaped both wounds and imprisonment, but died as stated above. He was a brave soldier. In 1851 he crossed the plains to California with an ox team, and mined for gold for five years, making the home trip by way of the Isthmus of Panama. Soon after, he went to Pike's Peak, and then returned to the home farm shortly before the outbreak of the Rebellion. He married Malitta Parisher, who was born in South Carolina and died in 1881 at Staunton, aged 55 years. Their children were: John M. P., born October 30, 1848, deceased February 3, 1888; Mrs. Anna Maria Walker, born January 30, 1850, deceased May 6, 1877; Mrs. Ida Isabella Small, of Litchfield, Illinois; Richard M., of this sketch; Emma J., of Worden, Illinois; and Elias E., of Worden.
Our subject lost his father when six years of age and he lived with his widowed mother and his brother on the farm until 1874, and then was engaged at various occupations in Staunton for a year. After one year spent working at the carpenter's trade in Northern Louisiana, he returned to Staunton, where he worked by the day until 1880, and then worked a year in a coal mine, ran an engine for one year in a flouring mill and then returned to mine work, a strike throwing him out of employment. All this was fine experience, each kind of work teaching him things desirable for a first class builder and contractor to know. Since then Mr. Purdy has worked at the carpenter's trade and has engaged extensively in house and bridge contracting and building. During the past two years he has completed 25 dwellings and has done considerable bridge work, all of the bridges over the various streams for a radius of 20 miles being of his construction. In 1901 he erected his own handsome residence, one of the finest in the city.
On October 9, 1893, Mr. Purdy married Flora Handley, who was born October 11, 1873, in Montgomery County, Illinois, and is a daughter of Edward G. and Emily Handley, and they have one daughter - Dorcas. In politics, Mr. Purdy is a Democrat. He is a member of the fraternal order of Woodmen.