ROUTT, WILLIAM REUBEN , Jacksonville, one of the most widely known and highly esteemed citizens of Morgan County, was born in Woodford County, Ky., April 1, 1832, a son of Harvey and Catherine Maria (Springer) Routt, who came to Illinois in 1834 and settled on a farm eight miles southeast of Jacksonville. He was reared on this farm, attending the common schools of the neighborhood. Early in manhood he bought a tract of land located near his father's home, to which he added by purchase and inheritance from his father and his brother, Charles L. Routt-a sketch of whose life will be found in an adjoining part of this work. Though he has made large gifts to charity, education and religion, he is still regarded as one of the wealthy men of Morgan County. In 1886 he relinquished the active operation of his extensive farming interests and removed to Jacksonville, where he has since lived in practical retirement, though still, in conjunction with his son, Harvey J. Routt, retaining a general supervision of his properties. He owns considerable real estate in Jacksonville, principally in the business portion of the city, is a Director in the Hockenhull-Elliott Bank, and in the Jacksonville Gas & Electric Light Company. He is a Democrat in politics, but has always declined to accept nominations to public office.
Mr. Routt was originally a member of the Christian Church, in which he was reared by his parents, and which he entered at the age of sixteen years. For many years he served as Elder and Deacon. But he was for a long time unsettled in his belief and finally, in 1896, two years after the death of his brother, embraced the Roman Catholic faith and entered the Church of Our Savior at Jacksonville. Like his brother, he has been extremely liberal in his gifts to that church and its dependencies. The magnificent pipe organ in the church was donated by him. The old Routt Club House on East State Street he transferred to the parish for educational purposes, and also built the addition to Our Savior's Hospital. His most noteworthy gift in late years has been the sum of $15,000 and the ground for the foundation of Routt College, which is named in his honor, and which he endowed with $50,000 on the day of its dedication.
In 1870 Mr. Routt was united in marriage with Martha Ann Ransdell, a native of Morgan County, and they have one son, Harvey John Routt, who is preparing to carry on the work undertaken by his father. Harvey J. Routt, who is their only child, gave $10,000 toward the founding of Routt College and is a professor in that institution. He is young man of a literary turn of mind, and a most ardent lover of truth for its own sake. High-minded, fearless and uncompromising in the things that make for lasting peace, he is recognized as a potent factor in the community and will certainly sustain with dignity the honorable name bequeathed him by his ancestors.