genealogy trails

Christian County Illinois

Named after Christian County in Kentucky through the influence of emigrants from that county.

Established February 15, 1839 as Dane County (Laws, 1839, p. 104). Name changed to Christian County in 1840.

Portrait and biographical record of Christian County, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and   representative citizens, together with biographies of all the Governors of the state, and of the Presidents of the United States.  Chicago, Ill. : Lake City Pub. Co., 1893.  Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards, 2007.

JAMES BENJAMIN RICKS, a member of the law firm of Ricks & Creighton, is one of the leading lawyers of Taylorville. Probably no man in this city has been more prominently connected with its growth and upbuilding than he, and the prosperity of the place is due in no small degree to his untiring efforts in its behalf. Christian County claims him as one of her native sons, his birth having occurred in Bear Creek Township, on the 23d of December, 1852.

Mr. Ricks is the eldest in a family of five children whose parents were John Bond and Docia B.(Hines) Ricks. When he was a lad of twelve years his parents removed to Taylorville, and, after attending the public schools of that city, in 1869 he entered the Wesleyan University of Bloomington, Ill., where he pursued his studies until 1872. A professional life furnished attractions for him, and he began the study of law with Judge Andrew Simpson and John B. Jones, attorneys of Taylorville. Having successfully passed a thorough examination, he was admitted to the Bar in June, 1874.

On the 23d of December, 1872, on his twentieth birthday, Mr. Ricks was united in marriage with Miss Pammie L. Geltmacher, of Bloomington. Their union has been blessed with three children, who are still living: Agnes, who is now the wife of W. H. Houser, D. D. S., of Taylorville; Jesse and Glenn, aged respectively fourteen and nine years. In social circles this family ranks high, and the household is the abode of hospitality.

Immediately after his admission to the Bar, Mr. Ricks began practice, and continued alone until 1885, when the present partnership was formed. He is an able and successful lawyer, and the public affords him a liberal patronage. In politics, he is a stalwart supporter of the Democratic party, and has taken an active part in campaign work, doing all in his power to promote the interests of Democracy. He has frequently served in positions of public trust, and spent three years in Washington as Supervising Examiner of the Pension Bureau, from the Hudson District, having about one hundred special examiners under his charge. In June, 1892, he served as delegate to the National Democratic Convention in Chicago, and strongly advocated the nomination of President Cleveland.

In 1889 he was elected Mayor of Taylorville, serving a term of two years, and his administration proved to be a prosperous era in the history of the city. During his term the electric-light system was established, and many other works of public improvement were put in operation. Mr. Ricks started the petition for the establishment of water works.

While reading law with Mr. Jones, he drew plans which changed the old town to a village, and after one year drew up a petition to make Taylorville a city, which was done. While running for Mayor he plainly stated that he would not accept the office unless the water works system was strengthened, and so during his term this commendable work was accomplished. The water supply was doubled, the original plant, worth $20,000, was supplemented by one worth $50,000, and then miles of mains were laid.

Every work calculated to benefit the community and promote the general welfare receives the hearty support and co-operation of Mr. Ricks, and the gratitude of the city is due him in no small degree.

He was also one of the promoters and is one of the Directors of the Gas Company, and was one of the prime movers in establishing and building the Antlers Hotel.

In social circles, Mr. Ricks is also prominent. A member of the Knights of Pythias, he served as Grand Chancellor in 1885 and in 1886, and is now Past Grand Chancellor. He was made a member of the fraternity in Mystic Lodge No. 64, K. P., and has passed all the chairs of the local order. He is also a member of the Arion Club, and takes an active part in its gatherings. A pleasant, genial gentleman, Mr. Ricks is very popular, and his friends throughout the community are many.



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