PORTRAIT & BIOGRAPHICAL ALBUM OF MORGAN AND SCOTT COUNTIES, ILLINOIS
Chicago: Chapman Bros., Publishers

1889


REID, STEPHEN HOLLAND. The honored name which stands at the head of this sketch has been successively borne by three generations. It is here used to designate an esteemed citizen of the city of Jacksonville - an active and enterprising agriculturist, still the owner of a farm of 250 acres, in the northern part of township 15, range 10. He was born in the blue grass region at Lexington, Ky., April 23, 1815, and lived there until his removal with his parents to Illinois in 1826. His father, Stephen H. Reid, Sr., a native of Boston, Mass., was a marine in the United States Navy at the time of the threatened difficulty during the Presidency of John Adams. Afterward, coming to Kentucky, he married a Miss Prather, and lived in Lexington, working at his trade as a house carpenter.

Twelve bright and interesting children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Reid, of whom the subject of this sketch was the seventh and the eldest son. Deciding to move Westward to get land for his sons, the father first came to Illinois by boat up the river, and then entering Morgan County, took up about two sections of land, in scattered tracts of eighty acres each, hoping thus to get within the borders of a town. Four of these tracts are now included within the city limits of Jacksonville. Mr. Reid then returned to Kentucky for his wife and children and household goods. Starting in the autumn, with two six-horse wagons and a covered carriage, they spent the winter in Illinois, and again setting forth in the spring, reached their destination in Morgan County on the first of May. On account of bad roads the family were left at Olney, Ill., our subject and father pushing on to Morgan County. With no bridges and no roads even, journeying by land was slow and tedious and a veritable slough of despond must have been the three mile stretch between Big and Little Ocho rivers at Vandalia, known as the "Hell and Scissors," which it took three days to cross. The Reid family at once took up their abode in a log cabin built for them during his absence, on the northeast corner of section 17, one mile north and a little west of what is now the public square of Jacksonville.

The next year witnessed the breaking of twenty acres of prairie, the hewing of timber and the framing of a house. The new dwelling was nearly ready for occupancy when the death of the pioneer Reid left the widowed wife and mother with the care of a farm and nine children. They endured the usual privations and hardships of those early days. IN the absence of flour and meal and mills for grinding, bread was made from grated corn, to different members of the family the task being assigned of grating a certain number of ears every evening. A frequent substitute for bread was a preparation of wheat, boiled like rice and called "fermative." For meat there was plenty of venison, with fresh pork and bacon from wild hogs, while prairie chickens, quails, wild turkeys and other gave were abundant. Farm produce was mostly taken to St. Louis for market. As to groceries, they had none to speak of . There was but one little store in Jacksonville. The fields furnished a substitute for coffee, a sweetening syrup was made from pumpkin, a little sugar from the maple. Milk and butter were not lacking. The first grain of genuine coffee that Mr. Reid ever saw was some gathered in Gen. Washington's garden. He ate one green kernel, and decided that he wanted no more. The log school-house was then in the land, and was used for religious as well as educational purposes, its walls often resounding to the fervid eloquence of the itinerant preacher.

The Reid family remained together several years, Stephen contributing mainly to its support, until 1837, when, being at that time twenty-two years of age, he made a journey to Kentucky and brought thence a wife, Martha Capps, a native of Clark County. They had three children of whom only one survives, Stephen Holland Reid, Jr., now a resident of Macoupin County, a farmer and Justice of the Peace, and, indeed, a representative citizen. Caleb C., and John W. died at two years of age. Mr. Reid's mother passed her last years in the home of her daughter, Mrs. Capps, dying at the advanced age of eighty years.

His first wife dying Feb. 28, 1845, Mr. Reid married Feb. 19, 1846, Miss Martha Garratt, a native of Cheshire, England, who came to America when a young lady, with her mother and brother. Seven children were the fruit of this union, six of whom are now living, namely: John Garratt, a physician in Woodburn, Ill., who married Mrs. Mary J. Whittier; Lydia C., still at home; Richard Watson, a lawyer in town, graduate of the Chicago Law School; George W., Enoch S., E. James, the three latter on the farm; Sarah died at the age of six months.

As before intimated, Mr. Reid spent a great part of his active life as a stock raiser and tiller of the soil on a farm in the northwest part of this township, clearing between 700 and 800 acres, and enclosing a part of it which has never yet been out of his hands. The first brick house in that neighborhood was built by him and occupied by his family until 1875, when he moved into his present city home, No. 402, North Church street. Here, in the following year, his second wife died. Both Mr. and Mrs. Reid were consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, as were his father and mother before him. Mr. Reid has been for many years a local preacher, and is now an elder in the church, contributing to its counsels the wisdom and sympathy which come with the varied experiences of a long and earnest life.


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