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Robert E. Ridley, 1833-1925


Posted By: Emmet County IAGenWeb Coordinator (email)
Date: 3/10/2011 at 19:16:42

Robert E. Ridley, a well known resident of Estherville, was born in Litchfield, Maine, July 5, 1833, a fact which makes him a venerable citizen of Emmet county, for he has passed the eighty-third milestone on life's journey. His parents, Robert P. and Sophronia (Watson) Ridley, were also natives of Maine and in the year 1857 they removed to Emmet county, Iowa, establishing their home upon a farm here at a period when the work of improvement and development had scarcely been begun within the borders of the county. Both passed away in this county and the community thus lost two of its worthy pioneer settlers. Their original home was a log cabin, which they occupied for a number of years. In their family were ten children, four of whom yet survive.

R. E. Ridley was reared and educated in Maine. In 1856 he started west, going first to Michigan, where he spent one winter, and in the spring of 1857 he came to Emmet county, Iowa, which was then a frontier district in which few settlements had been made. Much of the land was still in the possession of the government and Mr. Ridley took up a claim in Estherville township on what is now the site of the city of Estherville. There he built a blockhouse and he has since erected more than one hundred dwellings in the city, which he has sold. He thus contributed much to the development of the city and he also built the first mill there.

At the time of the Civil war Mr. Ridley put aside all business and personal considerations to espouse the cause of the Union and became a member of Company C. Second Iowa Infantry, in which he enlisted in 1864. He was with Sherman on his march to the sea and participated in several hotly contested engagements. With the close of the war he was mustered out at Washington; D. C., and returned to his home with a most creditable military record. Through the intervening period he has remained continuously in Emmet county.

In 1855 Mr. Ridley was united in marriage to Miss Esther A. Allen, who was born in Maine in 1832 and is a daughter of John and Sarah (Bennett) Allen, who were also natives of the Pine Tree state, in which they spent their entire lives. They had six children but Mrs. Ridley is now the only survivor. By her marriage she became the mother of two daughters and a son: Annie J., who was the first white child born in Emmet county and who is now the wife of Milo Dana, of Wisconsin; Lucy E., deceased; and George E., a resident of Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Ridley are members of the Baptist church and he is serving as one of its deacons. In the work of the church he has taken most active and helpful interest, doing everything in his power to advance the cause of religion. In politics he is a republican and has been honored with the offices of both treasurer and recorder of Emmet county. He also served as justice of the peace and married the first couple in the county. It will thus be seen that he is closely associated with many events that have shaped the history of this section of the state. He and his wife are numbered among its honored pioneer people and have been witnesses of its growth and development through all the passing years since 1857, or for much more than a half century. Mr. Ridley has long been a moving spirit in promoting the upbuilding of the section in which he resides, and no history of Emmet county would be complete without the record of his life.

Source: History of Emmet County and Dickinson County Iowa: A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement, The Pioneer Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1917.


Emmet Biographies maintained by Lynn Diemer-Mathews.
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