Riley Stevens, a farmer of Pitman township, is a native of the Empire state, his birth having occurred in Madison county, New York, April 3, 1838. His father, Richard Stevens, was born in Vermont within the sight of the Green mountains, and from that state removed to Madison county, where he became acquainted with and married Abbie Reynolds, a native of New York. It was in the county of his nativity that Riley Stevens was reared, mastering the common branches of English learning in the public schools. The west, with its developing business opportunities, attracted him when he was a young man, and in 1858 he came to Illinois, locating first in Sangamon county, where he earned his living by herding sheep. He was thus employed for five years, and he worked for one year as a regular farm hand. He afterward went to Christian county, Illinois, and there he first became a landowner, investing the money which he had saved from his earnings in one hundred and sixty acres, which was partially improved. Upon this tract he began general farming and continued the work of development and cultivation there for four years, at the end of which time he sold that property and purchased another farm of one hundred and sixty acres. This he also operated for a time, but later he rented the farm and removed to the town of Raymond, Montgomery county, where he purchased two residences. These he placed in good condition and he resided in the town for two years, when he sold the property there and purchased his present farm on section 3, Pitman township. Locating in Farmersville, he improved a good residence property there and made it his home for a number of years, but in the spring of 1904 he took up his abode upon his farm, where he has built a good house within a mile of Farmersville. He owns two good farms, the land being rich and arable, so that it returns excellent harvests for the care and labor bestowed upon the fields. His home is commodious and attractive in appearance and everything about the place is in keeping therewith, an air of neatness and thrift pervading the entire farm.

In Springfield, Illinois, in 1862, Mr. Stevens was married in Miss Lottie Way, who was born in that city. She spent her girlhood days there and in Girard. Her father, John Way, was one of the early settlers of Illinois, who came to this state from Pennsylvania. He was a plasterer and brickmason by trade. Mr. and Mrs. Stevens are the parents of four children, of whom three are living. Annie, the wife of Gaston Buchanan, a resident of Pitman township, died .March 23, 1904, leaving four children, including twin daughters. The eldest living child is Harriet, the wife of Frank Flood, a farmer of Bois Dare township. Frank assists in the operation of the home farm. Eddy completes the family.

Mr. Stevens is a Republican who has voted for his party since casting his first presidential ballot for Abraham Lincoln. At local election, however, he is independent, regarding only the capability of the candidate for township or county office. He and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church at Farmersville, in the work of which they take an active and helpful part, and he is now serving on the official board. His business career has been marked by untiring energy, crowned with creditable success, for he came to the west a poor man, anxious to improve his opportunities. Hard and unremitting labor gave him a start, and his economy made possible his first purchase of land, to which he has added as his financial resources have increased. He is known as a man of strict and unfaltering integrity, possessing many sterling characteristics which he inherited from his New England ancestry — a people who have ever been noted for their integrity and genuine worth.

Extracted 11 Apr 2020 by Norma Hass from 1904 Past and Present of Montgomery County, Illinois, by Jacob L. Traylor, pages 23-24.

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