William Riley Blackwelder, a retired farmer living in Litchfield, is numbered among Montgomery county's native sons, his birth having occurred July 28, 1840, upon his father's farm ten miles southwest of Hillsboro. He is a son of Alfred and Joanna (Scherer) Blackwelder, the latter a daughter of Frederick Scherer, a farmer of German descent. The father, Alfred Blackwelder, was born in Cabarrus county, North Carolina, July 17, 1811, and was also of German lineage, and his wife was a native of the same state. In April, 1838, he became a resident of Illinois and began working for Judge Rountree at ten dollars per month, being thus employed for three years. When he arrived in Illinois be owned a small sorrel horse and had ten dollars in money. Though poor, he possessed a courageous spirit and ever made the most of his opportunities. On the 19th of April, 1837, he was married to Miss Joanna Scherer, and later he rented land, on which he lived until 1840, when he purchased eighty acres, on which he built a house, making that place his home for sixteen years. He then sold out and bought two hundred and forty acres, a part of which is now within the corporation limits of Litchfield. He afterward added one hundred and eighty acres to his tract, so that his landed possessions comprised four hundred and eighty acres in all. This is now highly improved land, constituting one of the valuable farms of the county. Mr. Blackwelder continued in the active management and cultivation of the farm until 1878, when he retired to private life.

Unto him and his wife were born twelve children, of whom four died in early childhood, while the others, who are yet living, are residents of Montgomery county and are identified with farming interests here. These are: Daniel M.; William R.; Minerva C., who is the wife of Robert Morrison; Jacob Francis; David Alexander; John M.; Harriet Louise, the wife of Gideon Davis; and Samuel R.

Alfred Blackwelder was a member of the Lutheran church and came of a family long identified with that denomination, the representatives of the name in different generations being of a deeply religious nature. He, too, took a very active and helpful part in church work and filled various offices in the church through more than a half century. His political allegiance was always given to the Democratic party. His wife died January 31, 1876, when more than sixty years of age, and after a happy married life of forty years. His death occurred in 1900, when he was about eighty-six years of age. He was one of the venerable citizens of the county and an honored pioneer resident who, casting in his lot with the early settlers, took an active part in laying broad and deep the foundation for the present development and progress of this part of the state.

William Riley Blackwelder obtained his education in the common schools and remained under the parental roof until after the inauguration of the Civil war, when, in August, 1862, be enlisted in Company A, Ninety-first Illinois Infantry, with which he served for about three years, being mustered out in July, 1865. He was promoted from the rank of third sergeant to orderly sergeant and commissioned brevet lieutenant in 1865. He served under Canby at the capture of Fort Hudson and Fort Blakeley. On the 28th of December, 1863, at Elizabethtown, Kentucky, he was captured by General Morgan's troops and was later paroled and sent to St. Louis, Missouri, where he was exchanged in June, 1864, after which he returned to active service. He was wounded at the battle of Morganza and he participated in the battles of Mobile, Spanish Fort and Fort Blakeley. He was a war Democrat, advocating the cause of the Democracy, yet at the same time being an unfaltering supporter of the Union cause.

On the 1st of December, 1865, not long after his return from the army, Mr. Blackwelder was married to Miss Mary Jane Fogleman, and they became the parents of seven children: Ira Ulysses, who was named in honor of General Grant, was born September 25, 1866, and is engaged in business as a dealer in agricultural implements in Raymond, where, having been married, he maintains his home. Eva J., born November 19, 1867, is the wife of J. W. McCowan, of Kansas City, Missouri, and they have two children. Julius A., born February 21, 1869, is married and resides upon his father's farm. He has five children. Amanda R., born December 3, 1872, is the wife of Frank Stuttle and resides near Raymond. John W., born March 19, 1874, is a coal miner of Raymond, and is married and has two children. Annie M., born December 3, 1872, died at the age of twenty-one. Nellie H., born December 23, 1876, died December 24, 1890. The children have been provided with excellent educational privileges, and Ira, Eva and Rosa were students in the Indiana Normal School at Valparaiso and were successful school teachers. For his second wife Mr. Blackwelder chose Amanda E. Fogleman, a sister of his first wife, their marriage being celebrated August 6, 1878. They had three children: Mary E, who was born March 23, 1882, and died June 22, 1883; Ella M., who was born January 10, 1884, and died February 16, 1893; and Bertha F., born October 5, 1886. The youngest daughter will graduate from the high school of Litchfield in the class of 1905.

Mr. Blackwelder is a member of the English Lutheran church, takes a most active part in its work and is now a teacher in the Sunday-school. The cause of education also finds in him a warm friend, and he does all in his power to advance its interests. Public spirited, he has ably supported many measures for the general good, and his efforts in behalf of public progress and improvement have been far-reaching and effective. His business career has been attended with success, and he still owns a farm of one hundred and twenty acres, which is in excellent condition, the land being well tilled. He also raised good stock and his business affairs were capably conducted. He is new a stockholder in the First National Bank of Raymond. Throughout his entire life he has been known as a man of integrity and unfaltering honor, and in his business dealings is always straightforward and reliable; in fact, his religion is manifest in his everyday life and is a motive power in his kindly and just treatment of his fellow men.

Extracted 11 Apr 2020 by Norma Hass from 1904 Past and Present of Montgomery County, Illinois, by Jacob L. Traylor, pages 34-35.

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