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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



RICHARD M. BRITT, a prominent and enterprising farmer and stock-raiser of Mt. Hope Township, owns and occupies a fine homestead on section 18, and in the various departments of his agricultural pursuits is meeting with success. He is a straightforward business man, honest and upright in his transactions, and enjoys the confidence and good-will of his neighbors and associates.

Mr. Britt is a native of Tazewell County, Ill., and was born in Hill Township on the 5th of September, 1837. His father, Jefferson Britt, was a native of Virginia, born on the 20th of March, 1802. His grandfather, William Britt, was one of the early settlers of Virginia, a man of great industry and enterprise, and prominent in the affairs of his community. The family is an old and excellent one, and noted for their high moral principles and excellent traits of character.

Jefferson Britt, the father of our subject, was a lad of only twelve years when his parents removed from his native State to Kentucky. They made the journey overland and located in Logan County, being among the earliest settlers of that region. There the grandfather died, and there his son Jefferson grew to manhood and was united in marriage with Mrs. Mary (North) Dills. She was a native of Grant County, Va., was born near Petersburg, and removed to Kentucky with her parents when a child. After marriage Jefferson Britt and wife located in Logan County, where they remained until the fall of 1835, and then started with their three children for the prairies of Illinois.

They made the journey overland with teams, and first halted in what is now Logan County, where they rented land for two years and then, in the spring of 1837, removed to Tazewell County. There they made a claim in township 22, range 2 west, now in Hill Township, where the father erected a log house, having a puncheon floor and doors, and split thatches for the roof. He entered land from the Government, when it came into market, improved and cultivated his purchase, established a comfortable home, and remained there until 1853. He then removed to Atlanta, where he spent the last years of his life, and departed from the scenes of his earthly labors on the 14th of October, 1885, at an advanced age. The companion of his youth and the mother of his children died the year previous, on the 24th of January. Their union had been blest by the birth of four children, who are recorded as follows: William S. lives in Normal; Martha E. married Dr. J. B. Tenney, and lives in Atlanta; Mary H. married J. H. Burt, and lives in Hill Township; Richard M. is the subject of this sketch.

Richard M. Britt of this history was the youngest child of his parents' family. He spent the first sixteen years of his life on the farm, and received his education in the old log school-house. This rude structure was in marked contrast to the elegant buildings where "young America" now receives his first lessons in expensive and scientific text-books. The floors were of puncheon, the window-panes of greased paper, and the chimney was built upon the outside with dirt and sticks. The fireplace occupied nearly the whole of one end of the building, and would take in a large log. After a few seasons spent in this primitive structure, the family of young Britt removed to Atlanta and he attended school there, being esteemed quite proficient in his studies for those days. He was indeed fond of his books and had made good progress, and after leaving school officiated as a pedagogue for two terms. He continued to make his home with his parents until his marriage, and for a period of four years had charge of the farm, and boarded with the family who cultivated the farm after his father had removed to town.

Young Britt remained with his parents until his marriage, and then located upon the homestead which he now owns and occupies, and which his father had purchased from the railroad company.

The latter had made some improvement in its original condition, and after his son, our subject, came into the possession of it he continued its improvement, and cultivated the soil with uniform success. He is now the possessor of 240 acres, all improved and supplied with a good set of frame buildings. The residence is a model of convenience and comfort, and gives indications in all respects of cultivated tastes and ample means. Besides the home farm Mr. Britt owns eighty acres in Tazewell County, besides forty of pasture in the same county and some timber land in Logan County.

The marriage of Richard M. Britt and Miss Rhoda C. Medbery was celebrated on the 27th of June, 1864. Mrs. Britt was born at Fonda's Bush, Saratoga Co., N. Y. Her father, Henry Medbery, was a native of Rhode Island, and her mother, whose maiden name was Julia Lansing, was born at Lansingburg, N. Y., and was of German descent. The parents of Mrs. H. removed to Michigan in 1844, and thence to Wisconsin twelve years later, locating in Dodge County. Afterward they went into Winnebago County, where the father died and where her mother still resides. Mrs. Britt when a young lady came here to visit a brother who was teaching. He enlisted in the army and Mrs. B. took charge of the school.

Of the union of Mr. and Mrs. Britt there have been born three children Hallie, William H. and Bessie L. The parents and two of the children are devoted members of the Christian Church. Although the immediate descendants of the old pioneers grew up with but little opportunity for an education, many of them, yes most of them, are noble, high-minded men and women, and are generally among the foremost to make sacrifices to secure for their children a substantial education. This rule has been splendidly exemplified in the case of our subject, who has given his children the benefits of a good education.

Mr. B. is Republican in politics, and casts his vote in support of the principles of that party. He has contributed his full quota toward the business and industrial interests of this section, and in all respects is entitled to be classed as an honest man and a good citizen, and as such we present his portrait in this connection.

[SOURCE: Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887). Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.]


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