JAMES T. RIGSBEY. There is no record which the American citizen holds in higher honor than that of the man whose strength of character, determination of purpose and indefatigable energy have enabled him to work his way upward from a humble position to one of affluence and who through his business career has followed a straightforward, honorable course, that neither seeks nor requires disguise. Such has been the history of James T. Rigsbey who from a poor boy has worked his way up in the business world until he is one of the most substantial and affluent men of Macoupin county.
He was born on the 23d of April, 1863, in Garrett county, Kentucky, a son of William and Margaret (Kennedy) Rigsbey. The father was born in the same county in 1843, and his parents were also natives of the Blue Grass state, both passing away, however, prior to the birth of their grandson. The mother, who in her maidenhood was Margaret Kennedy, was born in 1845, a daughter of David and Margaret (Faulkner) Kennedy, also natives of Garrett county, Kentucky, where they died when about ninety years of age. The Kennedy and Faulkner families have long been residents of that county, where representatives of the name have been very prominent both socially and politically.
The family of William and Margaret (Kennedy) Rigsbey consisted of eleven children, as follows: Mary, the widow of Frederick Shaw, of Garrett county; Eliza, the widow of B. Conn, also fo that county; Margaret, who married Benjamin Lunsford, of Garrett county; John William, of Macoupin county, Illinois; Parmelia, the widow of David Ross, of Garrett county, Kentucky; Harriet, who married James J. Hawley, of Garrett county; David, also fo that county; Lucy, the wife of James Anderson, of the state of Texas; James T., of this review; and Robert H. and Andrew, both of this county.
In the public schools of his native state James T. Rigsbey acquired his education and his father's farm in Kentucky was the training ground upon which he received his preparation for life's practical duties. He was but seventeen years of age at the time of his marriage, after which he came to Illinois, locating at Chesterfield, Macoupin county. He was but a lad in years and was in very straitened circumstances, but he possessed a determined spirit and resolute will and at once set about earning a livelihood. He secured employment as a farm hand, working by the month, and was thus engaged for about a year. His ambition, however, urged him onward toward the goal of independence, and he took up his residence upon a farm of eighty acres, which he operated as a renter for ten years. This period was fraught with unceasing toil and a perseverance that never faltered, and at its expiration he had saved sufficient money with which to purchase land. Consequently he invested in a tract to which he added as his success continued, until at one time he was the owner of ten hundred and eighty acres. In addition to the cultivation of the soil he became interested in the grain and stock business, buying at Chesterfield, his operations amounting to fifty thousand dollars the first year. In 1906 he discontinued his farming to devote his entire attention to his grain and stock business, which he has greatly developed until today his sales amount to practically a half million dollars per year. He is an extensive cattle feeder and is a large landowner, possessing some of the finest and best equipped farms in Macoupin county.
On the 13th of May, 1880, Mr. Rigsbey was united in marriage to Miss Carrie C. Adams, a daughter of John Quincy Adams, of Garrett county, Kentucky, of which state her grandparents were also natives. By this union were born seven children, as follows: Ora Lee, the wife of H. G. Loper, of Macoupin county; Arthur, who passed away at the age of seventeen years; Will Q., residing in Macoupin county; Ida May, deceased; Edna, who married T. I. Dowland, of this county; and Edward and Alvena, both at home. The wife and mother passed away in October, 1899, and in 1900 Mr. Rigsbey was again married, his second union being with Miss Annie D. Snidle, who was born March 6, 1878, a daughter of James and Emma (Coatney) Snidle, of Macoupin county. The father was born in Yorkshire, England, a son of Edward and Nancy Snidle, who came to America a few years after the arrival of their son in Macoupin county, Illinois. The maternal grandparents of Mrs. Rigsbey were born in this county. By the second marriage of Mr. Rigsbey there were five children, as follows: Cleo, who died at the age of ten years; and Vivian, James T., Jr., Clarence and Anne May, all yet at home.
Mr. Rigsbey is a faithful member of the Methodist church and fraternally he is identified with the Modern Woodmen of America. Although he gives his support to the democratic party at the polls, he is liberal in his political views and public-spirited in his citizenship. He has never had time nor inclination for participating actively in the public life of the community, for his extensive business interests have demanded his entire attention. Few men of Macoupin county more richly deserve the proud American title of a self-made man, for, on the strength of his own resources, through the constant application of perseverance, coupled with hard work and careful management, he has been able to rise in the business world from comparative penury and obscurity to a position of prominence among the most successful and representative citizens of this county, and his prosperity is all the more creditable from the fact that it has been honorably won, his methods ever being fair and aboveboard.