RAHILLY, John, Sr., The opportunities afforded by the new world to young men of energy and resolution are nowhere better exemplified than in the life and character of John Rahilly, Sr., one of the most successful men now residing in Rochelle. Born in County Limerick, Ireland, in January 1827, he passed his boyhood years amid scenes of poverty and destitution. The ill-fated land of his birth could scarce provide for its suffering sons and daughters, and many of them were led to seek a home across the ocean, among these being John Rahilly, who in 1854 landed in New York and traveled westward as far as St. Charles, Ill. During the same year he came to Rochelle, where he secured employment in the building and ballasting of the railroad. Next he spent one season in Iowa working at railroad construction west of Clinton, and on his return to Rochelle, began work as a teamster.
The operating of rented land gave Mr. Rahilly his first start in life, and after having rented for almost twenty years, in 1875, he began to buy land with his savings. At first he purchased 280 acres, some five years later he buying 125 acres. The purchase price originally was aboout $30 per acre, but later he paid as high as $55. The land is now worth far beyond his most enthusiastic expectations, and he rents his estate of 405 acres for six dollars per acre. For fifteen years he has made his home in Rochelle and has rented the farm, meanwhile maintaining the best improvements on the place. Considerable tiling has been done where needed. Substantial barns have been erected, with every facility for the storage of grain and the shelter of stock. The farmhouse is commodius and adapted to the needs of the inmates.
The Rahilly farm lies in a body east of town and extends one mile north and south, being bordered on one side by the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Railroad for one mile and on the other side by the Chicago & Northwestern Road. While living on the farm Mr. Rahilly kept a hay press and pressed large quantities of hay grown on his own place, besides buying and baling hay for miles around. One of his specialties was the raising of sheep on his own land and the buying of sheep raised by others, to facilitate which work he owned sheep-feeding yards near the railroad stockyards. In every line of agriculture hw was an authority and as a result of his industry, knowledge, and sagacity, he attained an unusual degree of prosperity. Besides his large income from his farm he has other sources of revenue and has invested more than $12,000 in buildings in town.
Much to his credit for his success Mr. Rahilly gives to his wife, who was a native of County Limerick, Ireland, and bore the maiden name of Catherine Mead. They became the parents of ten children and have thirty-three grandchildren, of whom they are very proud. The names of the children are as follows: John, a well-known citizen of Rochelle; James, who died at thirty-one years of age; Josie, who married William Hope and lives at DeKalb, Ill; Mary, Mrs. J. Harman (Hermann), of Lee County; Michael, who died at the age of eleven years; Anna, who died unmarried at the age of twenty-two years; Emma, who is married and lives at Fox Lake, Ill, her husband being propietor of a hotel there; Katie, Mrs. Edward Harmon, of Lee County; Susan, Mrs. William McDermott, of DeKalb; and Lizzie, who is the wife of Maurice Riley of Rochelle.
At the time of settling in Rochelle, Mr. Rahilly found no services in the church of his choice, Roman Catholic, but later Father Dwyer came from St. Charles to minister to the spiritual needs of the few members in this section, and afterward Father Boyd from Dixon took charge of the work. A small house of worship was erected and Mr. and Mrs. Rahilly still hold membership with the congregation. Throughout all of his life Mr. Rahilly has been a strictly temperate man and has never chewed nor smoked tobacco, nor has he ever shot off a gun or pistol. In early life he had neither leisure nor money for pleasure or, indeed, for anything but the strictest necessities; and temperate habits were thus formed that have clung to him throughout all of his years. He has been a life of hard work, and with the constant aid of his wife, he has risen to a degree of success beyond his hopes when he landed in this country, a stranger in a strange land, without money or friends, and with nothing to aid him but a robust constitution and an industrious disposition.
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