Biography - George Rich

GEORGE D. RICH, one of the most prominent farmers and orchardists of Union county, is a man who has turned the mind of the scientist and investigator to the business of farming. Equipped with the desire to know, he has tried numberless hitherto untried fruits and vegetables in the soil of his native county, and each time has obtained remarkable success, proving not only his own good judgment, but the extreme fertility of the soil and the adaptability of the climate to a great variety of crops.

During the childhood and boyhood of Mr. Rich he had many opportunities to obtain unconsciously the knowledge which in later life made him a successful farmer, for he was born, on the 17th of September, 1856, on the farm where he spent his youth. His father is John M. Rich and his mother is Anna (Uffendill) Rich. The mother was born in England in 1828, coming to this country with her father, Michael Uffendill, when quite a small child. They first settled at Cairo, Illinois, but later went to Eight Mile Prairie, east of Carbondale, where they lived for some years. Later they settled in Jonesboro, and here the father died.

John M. Rich is a native of Alabama, where he was born in 1827, the son of Thomas Rich. The latter was one of General Andrew Jackson's most valued soldiers, having fought under him in the Seminole Indian war. Later, drawn by his desire to serve his country, and by his devotion to his old commander, he returned to fight under "Old Hickory" at the battle of New Orleans and during the war of 1812. In 1832 he moved from Alabama to Union county, becoming one of its first settlers. He had three sons, the youngest of whom is the father of the subject of this sketch, and three daughters, all of whom married. The youngest of the sons, John M., has become a very successful farmer, gradually buying up land until he now owns four hundred acres in different sections. He is the father of eight children, seven of whom are living.

George D. Rich received his education in the Cobden schools, and then turned his attention to farming, receiving wise advice and valuable training at the hands of his father, with whom he lived until twenty-four years of age, when he married Harriet, the daughter of Martin Rendleman, on April 28, 1881. Like himself, his wife is a member of one of the old pioneer families of the section. After his marriage the young farmer started out for himself on a farm which had been deeded to him by his father. Assisted by his wife, he saved enough to increase the size of his farm until he had fifty-five acres. Here he lived until 1890, when he sold the place and bought one hundred and seven acres of fine land one and a half miles north of Cobden. In 1907 he added to his broad fields by buying the Amos Pool place of eighty acres across the railroad from his home farm.

The variety of his crops is almost endless. He has sixteen acres of apple trees, most of which are young; twelve acres of asparagus, from which he shipped fifteen hundred cases in 1911, in spite of the shortness of the season; two and a quarter acres of rhubarb, producing an excellent crop of three hundred and fifty bushels during this year; and five acres of sweet potatoes, but the crop in 1911 was light, aggregating only one hundred barrels. In 1911 Mr. Rich leased thirty acres of bottom land and raised a thousand bushels of fine corn. In addition to these crops he raises many varieties of small fruits and vegetables, such as blackberries, raspberries, early grapes, tomatoes, muskmelons, cantaloupes, cucumbers, peas, beans, Irish potatoes, in fact practically any temperate zone fruit or vegetable which he may select. One of the most attractive sights on the big farm are the vineyards, when the vines are loaded with the purple fruit. It is safe to estimate that Mr. Rich has averaged a clear profit of a thousand dollars annually from his farming operations in the past thirty years. Mr. Rich is not purely a farmer, but is interested in other lines of business owning, in partnership with his brother, a sweet potato storehouse in Cobden, which is valued at five thousand dollars.

He believes firmly in the spirit of brotherhood as found in the fraternal orders and is a member of the local chapter of the Knights of Pythias. He is a regular attendant and firm supporter of the Presbyterian church, and in politics is a strong Democrat, who has been many times an active party worker.

Mr. Rich has had five children, only two of whom are living, namely, Claude W. and George R. Having lived in Union county all of his life, Mr. Rich has had innumerable opportunities to prove to his friends and acquaintances his strength of character, business ability and genuine interest in those matters pertaining to the general welfare of the community. He is therefore a valued citizen, honored by all who know him, a man whom Union county is proud to claim as her own.

Extracted from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 580-582.

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