JACOB AND URIAH RIMBEY
Jacksonville Daily Journal, June 21, 1906
JACOB AND URIAH RIMBEY
Are Rounding Out Honorable
Careers and Long, Useful Lives.
In the south part of Morgan county the name of Rimbey is one which is universally respected
for it is borne by men who are good citizens and fill their places well in the community. Two
patriarchs bear the name most honorably and are regarded by all who known them with respect
for their gray hairs are indeed crowns of honor and glory and before many years the men who
bear them will be walking the streets of New Jerusalem. For many years the writer has known
them and having a little spare time in Murrayville recently he called on them and had a pleasant
visit while he asked them the history of their lives. True, it reads somewhat like the annals of a
quiet neighborhood, but they and thousands like them are the pillars and foundation of our
government and the ones on whom the nation may rely under all circumstances no matter
how trying. The first one called on was
and he was found in his pleasant home busily engaged at some light duties, for he is a man who
can't bear to be idle unless he is sick. In answer to numerous questions of the visitor the old
gentleman gave substantially the following facts:
He was born in Maryland Sept. 15, 1825 so that he is now in the ranks of the octogenarians
or men who have passed the 80th milestone in the journey of life. His early home was in a quiet
village about forty miles from Baltimore where his father lived and carried on a small farm.
The country all around there was historic and he was well informed regarding the great men
of an early day. His grandmother was 99 years old when she died and his mother was past
80, and the former was among the early settlers of that part of the country. She was well
acquainted with the widow Curtis who afterward became Mrs. Martha Washington and knew
many of the heroes of the revolution who won fame immortal in the trying times of the country's
history. Mr. Rimbey's father's name was Uriah, which is a family cognomen and valued by all the
descendants. The family consisted of the parents and children Jacob, Uriah, Henry, Mary and
Nancy, now Mrs. Rousey of Ft. Scott., Kans. When he was 8 years old his father moved to
Montgomery county, Ohio, where they lived a while near Dayton, but getting tired of the Buckeye
state he thought he would try the Hoosiers, so he took his family to a farm near Peru, on the
Wabash river, but they didn't like it at all and staid but a few months when they went back to
Ohio, but about that time glowing accounts of the western prairies came floating over the land
and Mr. Rimbey heard them and decided to try his fortune in the Sucker state, and accordingly
packed his belongings and started. Of the journey many recollections remain. The swollen streams,
the muddy roads, the interminable swamps, the scanty settlements, the great forests, the wild animals,
and a thousand other things were encountered enough to unnerve any but the sturdy pioneers of
that day. All were surmounted and the family arrived in due time and were guided by Providence
and their fellow men to "Greasy Prairie" near Zion church, about five miles southeast of Murrayville,
where they arrived 67 years ago and in which vicinity the brothers have since lived until they gave up
active farm life and removed to the town which is now honored by their presence.
The story of the early days is like that often heard and yet it never gros old. A
log house sheltered them and the huge fire place afforded the only means for cooking and heating
and in one day they used enough wood to run a Tod stove a week or two with more comfort. The
upper story was called the loft and was reached by means of a ladder, and when there were
children to be put to bed up there, as was the case sometimes when there was company, the
parents went up first and the little ones were handed up afterward. Corn pone was the chief
article of diet and it sometimes took long journeys to mill to get it ground and then a turn had to
be waited for weary hours. Hominy was made too, with good corn hulled by lye and made on
appetizing change. The cooking outfit consisted of the tea kettle, dinner pot, dutch oven, a skillet
or two and possibly a second kettle, and with these primitive utensils a meal fit for the kings of those
periods was prepared and it sometimes even happened that good old housewives who had so
long cooked before a fireplace that it seemed second nature, were averse to the use of the
wonderful "step stove" which was such an innovation and wonder. Company was always
welcome and in a genuine manner, for hospitality in those times meant something real and tangible.
The door was hung on wooden hinges and fastened with a wooden latch, which was raised by a
string put through a gimlet home and hanging on the outside. When the string was pulled in or
when the door was tied on the outside with any kind of a string or other fastening it was legally
locked and the person who broke it open was a regular burglar and housebreaker and subject
to the penalties of the law. When a family retired the string was pulled in and that was also a legal
lock and if the man of the house was expecting company later on he would go to bed as usual,
generally about dark, and leave the string hanging out so that the guest or guests could open the
door without getting any one up. From that custom came the old time invitation, "If ever you
come my way be sure you understand the latch string is always out."
And that homely style conveyed more genuine hospitality than is to be found in many an
engraved and perfumed note. The house raising was a time of gathering and merry making always.
The logs were hauled up to the proper place and many hands secured to help with the work and
slowly the structure assumed shape and when done it was primitive, but in those plain tenements
far more genuine happiness reigned than is to be found in many a Fifth avenue mansion.
It was to such a dwelling as this that Uriah Rimbey brought his family in 1839 and began
the work of rearing them for lives of usefulness and good. There he taught them the sturdy lessons
of integrity which have since been their guiding star and there they learned the habits of thrift and
industry which have stood them so well ever since. Schools were few and poor and the most that
could be learned was during a short time in the winter or fall months, for during the rest of the time it
was not possible to pay a teacher and the services of the children were needed on the farm. The
spelling school, the husking bee and a few other means of enjoyment were all they had to vary the
monotony of the time, though sturdy good cheer prevailed and that was a great deal. The singing
master was a character in those times and he was much in demand in many communities and the
singing school was often a means for courting and more than one match has been made in that
manner. The boys were trained to do all kinds of work and the girls had no easy time, but health
was generally good and hardships were endured because better things were not known. There
was lots of wide game to be had, deer, prairie chickens, wild turkeys, quail and squirrels were
plentiful and helped out the family supplies not a little.
Sept. 15, 1848, Jacob Rimbey married Nancy Jane Bradley, and since that time the lives
of the two have flowed peacefully together and they have worked for each other's interests always.
Cares have been many and certainly no taint of race suicide can be found in the family of that
couple, for they were the parents of fifteen children and they were careful to rear them well and
provide properly for their welfare: The names of these children were: Mary Elizabeth-Grossman
(deceased); George Wallace; Robert D. (the well known gentlemanly dairyman); Jacob F.
(deceased); William Frank, of Hutchinson, Kan.; John Wesley, Canada; Benjamin Thomas,
Canada; Harriet E. Rannells, of Murrayville; James Uriah, of Canada; Samuel N., of Canada;
Rebecca Anna Blakeman; Laurenna J. Marshall, Canada; Bartholomew (deceased); Seth W.,
Murrayville; Albert (deceased).
There are also 48 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren in the family, so that the name
of Rimbey is not likely soon to be wiped out.
Mr. Rimbey and his wife are faithful members of the Methodist Church and have
done their best to rear their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord and they have well
succeeded. He cultivated the farm until advancing years warned him that he must give up, so
some fifteen years ago he moved to Murrayville, where he and his good wife are spending their
last days in peace and quiet surrounded by loved ones ready to look after their wants. Their
son, Albert Watson, is a member of the household and daughters and neighbors are always ready
to lend a helping hand if wanted. Mr. Rimbey is somewhat deaf, but aside from that he holds his
own wonderfully well and bids fair to live many years yet. His wife is quite strong for one of her
years and gets around the house as nimbly asa many a lady far younger. She yet dislikes the idea
of a hired girl, for it would be hard to find one who would suit her, as she is somewhat particular in
her housekeeping and the faultless condition of the home, inside and out, shows what a
housekeeper she is.
Mr. Rimbey delights to talk of the past and many times lives over the days long
gone by. He was well acquainted with General Hardin and heard that gentleman make a speech
in raising volunteers for the Mexican war and he had little trouble with his burning words to secure
the men he wanted and had it not been for his reckless bravery he might have lived to return home.
George Rearick, the father of the first girl baby born in Jacksonville, was another well known to
him. He knew Colonel Dunlap when a young man and the veteran hotel keeper, Major Simms,
was also one of his friends. The immortal Lincoln he heard many a time in political speeches while
the elder Governor Yates, Gov. Joseph Duncan, Judge Thomas and others were familiar persons.
His father's home was headquarters for the preachers of the early days, and many times they had
the honor of entertaining Peter Cartwright, Peter Akers, Dr. Trotter and other soldiers of the cross.
Murray McConnel was a character he never forgets and many more of the attorneys of the
primitive times were his friends.
The reporter next sought the home of
better known in the town as "Uncle Rike" and found him at work near by. He is much spryer than
his older brother though he is no youngster by any means. He was born Nov. 22, 1829, and what
has been said of the family will apply to him as well as to his brother. He was married to Thankful
Grossman May 6, 1849, for they believed in early marriages in those days. His wife was born in
Connecticut Feb. 17, 1826. With other children she helped pay for a bell for the church in her
native town by raising onions. She worked as a cigar maker for a while before moving to the
west and knew the hardships of the early days.
It was common for the women to walk to church barefooted and when within a short
distance of the meeting house stop in some bushes and put on their shoes, and after services
repair to the same spot and remove them.
Uriah learned the trade of a brick layer and plasterer and worked hard, often handling
the trowel after dark when helpers would hold a tallow dip or some sort of light for his use. He
knew what toil was and no set hours bounded his day's work. He saved then and is now enjoying
the fruits of his labors. He shows what a man can do who is careful and saving and at the same
time temperate and industrious. His father sold deerskins to get money to buy the first sugar bowl
the family had while a tea urn brought by the mother from Connecticut is a valued heirloom, as it is
more than a century old. His children are: Mary Spencer, of Murrayville; John V., of Ft. Scott.,
Kans.; Martha Million, of Murrayville; Wallace, of California; Beecher, of Murrayville; George,
of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Charles, of Murrayville; Emma, of Murrayville
Some years ago he retired from active work and now he and his wife are blessed in their
old age with the devoted and tender care of their dutiful daughter Emma, who will receive the
reward promised those who honor their parents. A granddaughter, Clara, also makes her home
They have 32 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren and it is rather their boast that
while Jacob beats them in children they are ahead in the other direction, especially great
It is truly a pleasure to meet such persons as these for they carry us back to the days when
life was far more genuine than it is now and when sturdy honesty and purity were at the greatest
premium. May they yet live many years is the desire of their numerous friends including the Journal.
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