The future is full of possibilities for the young man who has secured a foothold in almost any place in the Great West, for he has none of the conditions with which to contend that clustered around the early settlers. The difference between the pioneer and the young man who becomes a tiller of the soil to-day, is about the difference that exists between a path in the woods and a modern boulevard. The difficulties surrounding early citizenship have been relegated to the past, and the conditions now, if not luxurious, are at least comfortable, and if one becomes the happy owner of an Illinois farm it is all ready for the reaper and the plow. There are now no wild unbroken prairies to subdue, no swamps to drain or trees to fell. This preliminary work has been done by a hardy set of pioneers, and it is only necessary for those who follow them to reap the benefits of their labors. And the one of whom we write is entitled in every respect to the honor that inevitably attaches to the names of those who fought the unequal battle in a manner that made it possible for the prairies of Illinois to teem with plenty.
Richard Mathews, Sr., as has been before stated, came here in 1823, at the time when the celebrated author of the Monroe Doctrine was President of the United States, and, as a matter of course, his father, Richard S., purchased his land of the Government. Our subject was married four times; he had five children.
Richard Mathews, Jr., whose name appears at the head of this sketch, was married, Feb. 1, 1866, to his present wife, and resided on the homestead continuously up to the time of his death, which occurred May 22, 1878. He was the father of five children, whose records follow: Martha H., born Oct. 28, 1866; Sarah M., born Jan. 2, 1869; Lilian M., born April 3, 1871; Richard R., born May 4, 1873; Fred M., born Oct. 13, 1875. The children are all living at home with their mother.
Mr. Mathews owned at the time of his death a magnificent estate comprising 587 acres of land, with fine buildings, and the land is in a good state of cultivation. The farm has, since the decease of Mr. Mathews, been subdivided, the heirs getting the parts due them, and is now carried on in an excellent manner by the elder son. They do a general farm business, and are, like their father before them, extensive handlers of cattle, horses and hogs.
Mr. Mathews was a man of sterling character, who commanded the respect of all with whom he came in contact. He was successful both in a business and social way. He held the office of Deputy Sheriff for a long time and acquitted himself in a highly creditable manner. Charity, to him, was a cardinal virtue, for he was ever ready, and without ostentation, to lend a helping hand to those who were pulling hard against the stream. He belonged to the Methodist Church and also the Masonic order.
Our subject was a Republican in politics, simply because he believed that party to be right. When Richard Mathews died the world was the loser.