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Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company

Page 299

R. B. GODBEY, who is the owner of six hundred acres of the rich farming land of Menard county, and whose business capacity has been demonstrated in his successful control of his agricultural interests, was born in Rush county, Indiana, January 14, 1830. His parents, Russell and Elizabeth (Brown) Godbey, were natives of Virginia and in 1829 left that state for Illinois, but stopped during the winter in Indiana, where the birth of our subject occurred. In the spring they continued on their way and located a mile south and a mile and a quarter west of where R. B. Godbey now resides. The father built a log house upon a tract of land of one hundred and sixty acres, which he had entered from the government, and began the improvement of a farm, transforming the wild prairie into richly productive fields. He afterward added to his property and at the time of his death was the owner of two hundred acres of valuable land. He took an active part in the pioneer development of this part of the state and aided in laying broad and deep the foundation for the present progress and prosperity of the county. He located here when this was a pioneer district and he not only assisted materially in the upbuilding of the county, but was also acquainted with many of the prominent men of the time. He was a warm personal friend of Abraham Lincoln, who at one time surveyed a piece of land for Mr. Godbey and the latter paid Lincoln for his work with two dressed deer skins, which Lincoln took to Aunt Hannah Armstrong, who sewed them upon his pants to protect him while he was going through the brush. Mr. Godbey died December 25, 1888, at the age of eighty-eight years, his birth having occurred November 2, 1800. His wife, who was born February 15, 1799, died in 1854.

R. B. Godbey pursued his education in the subscription schools, which he attended for about three months each year, and he also spent one winter in Jubilee College, in Peoria county, Illinois. He performed the strenuous labor incident to the development of a new farm and remained upon his father's place until twenty-three years of age, when he removed to his present home in township 19, range 6 west. Here he broke the prairie and after placing his land under the plow he planted his crops and in due time gathered good harvests. He erected all of the buildings now upon his place, his home being built in 1864, and he has always kept everything in good repair, conducting his farm work along progressive lines. In connection with the cultivation of grain he has also engaged in the raising of stock, principally feeding cattle, but in recent years he has largely left the active work of the farm to his sons. His landed possessions cover six hundred acres, the greater part of which lies in one body.

On the 20th of March, 1854, Mr. Godbey was united in marriage to Miss Susan Montgomery, a daughter of Charles L. and Eliza Montgomery, who came to this county from Virginia about 1821. Her father engaged in farming and died here about eighteen years ago. His wife, long surviving him, died about three years ago, at the advanced age of eighty-six years. Unto Mr. And Mrs. Godbey have been born nine children: Eliza Elizabeth, born August 19, 1855, is the wife of Clavin Crawford, now of San Bernardino, California; Charles R. born in 1857, died in infancy; Edward Everet, born in 1859, resides near his father; Harry H., born January 12, 1862, died in June, 1902; George, born in 1864, is living upon the home farm; Emma and John died in infancy; Bertha died at the age of three years; and Eva, born April 26, 1874, is the wife of John Downey, a farmer of this county.

Since 1870 Mr. Godbey has been a member of the Masonic lodge of Greenview, and in his life he exemplifies the beneficent spirit of the craft. His wife is a member of the Christian church. Politically a Democrat, he keeps well informed on the questions and issues of the day, but has never been an office seeker. He served, however, for twenty years as a member of the school board. His interest has centered along the lines of public activity which conserve the general good and his co-operation has not been withheld from any movement which he believes will contribute to general progress and improvement.

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