AARON P. RHODES, a wealthy and influential resident of Bloomington Township, owns and occupies a fine estate
on section 24. He comes from a prominent family, the first representatives of whom in this section, settled in
this part of the Prairie State before the land had been surveyed, in 1823. They located a "squatter's"
claim, which, when surveyed, embraced sections 22 (for the house and a small portion of land), and 14 and 15. This
land is yet in possession of the family, and our subject owns the homestead as it was first laid out. The father
was accidentally killed by an engine of the I., B. & W. R. R., near his home, Aug. 20, 1875, and was nearly
eighty years of age. He was a man greatly respected and of fine abilities, kind and generous in his disposition,
and exercised a good influence over all with whom he came in contact. His wife, who before her marriage was Miss
Mary Johnson, a native of Kentucky, came North in early youth, and met her husband for the first time in Champaign
County, Ohio. She was a most amiable and lovable Christian lady, and by her noble qualities of mind and character
was well fitted to be the companion of such a man as her husband. She came to Illinois with him, and departed this
life in, Bloomington on the 15th of February, 1845.
The paternal grandfather of our subject, Ebenezer Rhodes, was a native of Maryland, where he was educated and reared to manhood. In his native State he made the acquaintance of Miss Mary Starr, which soon ripened into a mutual attachment, and in due time she became his wife. After their marriage they came to Illinois, where Mr. Rhodes, who was of a deeply religious turn of mind, became a local minister of the Baptist Church. They spent the latter part of their lives in Bloomington Township, and here closed their eyes forever to the scenes of earth.
Aaron P. Rhodes of our sketch was the youngest of his parents' family of nine children, which was composed of three sons and six daughters, of whom two sons and one daughter are yet living. He received an early education in the log school-house, and being studious and fond of books, in due time was prepared to enter college. About this time came the call for volunteer troops for the defense of the Union, and young Rhodes, laying aside his personal interests and inclinations, responded to the call and enlisted as a soldier in Co. G, 17th Ill. Vol. Inf., their Captain being O. A. Burgess, Principal of the college where young Rhodes intended to pursue his studies. They were assigned to the Western division of the Mississippi Valley, and participated in the battles of Frederickstown, Ft. Henry, Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth, luka, Jackson, Memphis and Vicksburg. They were also at the siege and capture of the latter city, and afterward in the engagement at Yazoo, Miss. Mr. Rhodes escaped through these many engagements and other skirmishes without being seriously injured or imprisoned, and at the close of the term for which he enlisted received an honorable discharge at Springfield, in July, 1864, having served his country faithfully for more than three years, and reported for duty each time without fail from the hour that he heard of the firing of Ft. Sumter until he was mustered out. He did not enter the army for amusement or glory, but simply because he realized the importance of the preservation of the Union, and with thousands of other brave spirit he was willing to yield his life for this cause should it be the will of Providence.
After the close of the war, and after Mr. Rhodes had been transformed from a soldier to a civilian, he returned to his home in Bloomington Township, and at once commenced farming on his own account. He soon felt the need of a helpmeet and sympathizer, and accordingly on the 9th of November, 1864, he was married in Bloomington Township, to Miss Martha M. Cox. This lady was born in McLean County, Aug. 9, 1834, and died at the home of her husband, in Bloomington Township, Feb. 20, 1876. Mrs. R. became the mother of two children: Edward, a bright and promising young man, who completed his business and law education at the Evergreen City Business College, and is now in the Normal School at Valparaiso, Ind.; and Ora M., who is attending school with bright prospects for a good education, as he is fond of his books and applies himself faithfully.
Mr. R. was the second time married, in Randolph Township, this county, on the 13th of October, 1880, to Miss Lottie E. Reid, who was born in Champaign County, Ohio, on the 22d of March, 1848. Her parents subsequently removed from that State and are now residents of Randolph Township, McLean County. Mrs. R. received her early education in Ohio, and came to this county with her parents in October, 1875. She began teaching when twenty years of age, and followed this profession for a period of ten years. She is an amiable and accomplished lady, and is highly respected in this community.
Mr. Rhodes is the possessor of 800 acres of some of the finest farming land in this section of the Prairie State. It is finely improved and cultivated, and in addition to the ordinary pursuits of agriculture Mr. Rhodes is giving much attention to the breeding of fine stock. He has also been engaged in the purchase and sale of mules for the past ten years, and has brought to the State some of the finest draft animals ever exhibited in the Mississippi Valley. His possessions, with the exception of about 16O acres, have been the accumulation of his own industry and perseverance, and he has illustrated in a marked manner what a resolute will can accomplish.
The family residence is a model of beauty and comfort, and in all its appointments is indicative of cultivated tastes and abundant means. The grounds around it and the barns and out-buildings correspond with the dwelling, being shapely and tasteful structures, which embellish the place and add to the general effect of stability and attractiveness. He has valuable and costly farm machinery, and all the appliances of a modern farm estate. Mr. Rhodes has contributed his full quota toward the development of this section, and is held in the highest esteem for his excellent personal traits of character and the qualities which have rendered him a valued citizen.
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), 246-7.
Transcribe by Judy Edwards