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Robert E. Ridley, 1833-1925


Posted By: Emmet County IAGenWeb Coordinator (email)
Date: 3/10/2009 at 07:00:25

Founder of the City of Estherville Passes Away in California on Saturday Last.
Our City Was Named After Mrs. Esther Ridley

Roy J. Ridley, of this city, received a message last Tuesday morning from [Altadena, Los Angeles Co.] California announcing the death of the original settler of this city, Robert E. Ridley. Mr. Ridley has been in failing health for this past nine months and his extreme age of ninety-two gave him but little chance of recovery. Mr. Ridley resided here until a few years ago when he moved to California to spend his declining years.

Estherville was named after his wife, Mrs. Esther Ridley, and they were the first settlers in this city and were its founders and to their memory one of the finest little cities in the land, named after the wife remain as a monument to them hereafter.

The Ridley family came to Emmet County in the year 1857 and erected here a block home hewed from native timber. The home was a massive construction for the time being, sixteen by twenty-two feet, and a half-story in height. The home lacked a floor as did most of those pioneer homes. The family resided here for eighteen months. As the history goes this building stood about where the Rock Island roundhouse now stands.

Mr. Ridley pre-empted a hundred sixty acres where Estherville or a portion of it now stands. After eighteen months Mr. Ridley erected a log house across the river at the west end of the Rock Island bridge. This was the same size on the ground but was a story and a half high. Here the Ridley family resided for five years and it was here that the two oldest children were born. The next five years were spent in a home built on the town site near the corner where now stands The First Trust and Savings Bank. They resided here about a year and sold out and moved to a homestead, about two miles southeast of Estherville. He again moved to Estherville and resided on what was known as the Bartlett addition and lived there for a time and then erected a home on the opposite side of the street and occupied it. This was in the year 1889.

During his early residence here he occupied his time with his land and did whatever work he could find to do. He endured all the hardships it was possible to endure during that early period. He hewed the timber during his first year for a saw mill, and he with his father, Robert P. Ridley, and Adolphus Jenkins erected a mill and built a dam across the Des Moines river. They operated this mill for three years when he sold his interest in the mill. He was a diligent worker for his town of Estherville and the park on which the court house and the library now stand were donated to the city by him.

Robert E. Ridley was a native of the state of Maine, born in Litchfield on the fifth day of July, 1833. His father was engaged in the mercantile business there and was a carpenter by trade.

Robert E. Ridley was married to Esther A. Allen in the year 1855, she being also from the state of Maine. To this union there were three children born: Annie, Lucy E. and George E. Their daughter, Annie was the first white child born in Emmet County according to the history of the county.

Mr. Ridley served his country in the Civil War and was a diligent member of the Grand Army Post in this city. He was affiliated with the prohibition party and was of extremely strong temperance principals.

During his later residence in this city he lived a quiet life but was always a great lover of his city and willing to do anything which would promote its welfare.

Arrangements for the funeral services have not been made at this time but it will be several days before the remains, which are to be brought here for burial, will arrive.

All the information thus far received is the message received by Roy J. Ridley.

The following additional information is from the Vindicator and Republican.

April 1, 1925--Besides the many friends who mourn Mr. Ridley's passing there are in Estherville, a granddaughter Mrs. Vance Noe, a nephew Roy J. Ridley, and a niece Mrs. R. D Soper. Mr. Ridley's son, George E of Cheyenne, Wyo., will accompany the remains to Estherville.

Submitted by: Ruth Hackett. Source: Estherville Enterprise, Estherville, Iowa, April 1, 1925.


Emmet Obituaries maintained by Lynn Diemer-Mathews.
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