JOHN T. RUTLEDGE, a prominent farmer of Empire Township, owns and occupies a fine homestead on section 11, township
21. He is a native of this township, and was born Nov. 13, 1833. His father, James Rutledge, was born in Kentucky,
and his grandfather, Robert Rutledge, in South Carolina. The latter removed to Kentucky at an early period in its
settlement, and in 1820 proceeded north to Illinois, settling first in White County, whence he removed to that
part of Tazewell now in McLean, and located at Randolph Grove. With his brother Thomas he made a claim, a part
of which he improved and occupied a year or two, and then made another claim on sections 33 and 34, on what afterward
became Empire Township. There he erected two log cabins, one for himself and one for his mother.
At the time of his marriage he settled on his claim and commenced housekeeping. There was no sawed lumber used in the construction of this cabin, the floor being made of puncheon and the roof of clapboards made with the draw-shave, and in this humble abode our subject was born, and the father lived until his death, which occurred Dec. 15, 1863.
The nearest markets at that early,day were Peoria and Chicago, which were also the depots for supplies, and it took about eleven days to make the round trip to Chicago. In 1845 the father of our subject took a load of wheat to Chicago, and on his return brought back a load of lumber, with which he finished the frame house in which he spent the last years of his life. He, however, built a brick addition to the house some years before his death. He was successful in his agricultural and business operations, and at the time of his death owned over 500 acres of land.
He was married, in McLean County, Ill., to Miss Prudie Vandeventer, who was born in Tennessee, and was the daughter of John Vandeventer, an early pioneer of this county. Mrs. Prudie Rutledge died at the home of her daughter, Melinda Sageser, at Le Roy, on the 27th of November, 1881.
John T. Rutledge was the eldest child of his parents' family. He attended school in the pioneer log cabin with puncheon floor and benches, and chimney of dirt and sticks, built up on the outside. The fireplace occupied nearly the entire end of the cabin, and light was admitted through a square hole in the logs and covered with greased paper. He finished his education, however, in a frame school-house, the erection of which was considered quite an event.
Our subject assisted his parents on the farm, and remained under the home roof until his marriage. He then cultivated a part of the old homestead for two years, whence he removed to the farm which he now owns and occupies on section 11. At the time of taking possession of this, it was wild prairie, with the sod yet unturned. He labored industriously for its improvement and cultivation, and now has a fine estate with a good brick house, frame barn and all other necessary and convenient out-buildings.
The marriage of our subject with Miss Sarah Gilmore was celebrated on the 15th of February, 1855. Mrs. Rutledge was born in Harrison County, Ohio, and was the daughter of William and Phoebe (West) Gilmore. Her father was a native also of Harrison County, Ohio, where he was reared to farming pursuits. In 1850 he emigrated to McLean County, Ill., first settling in Downs Township, whence he removed to Empire Township and purchased land on section 10. Both he and his wife are still living and are now residents of West Township. Mr. and Mrs. Rutledge became the parents of twelve children, seven now living, the record of whom is as follows: Flora Belle married George W. Wilson, and lives in Empire Township; Cyntha, Prudie, Maggie, Presley, Bertha and Joseph are at home with their parents; Belle, Cyntha, Prudie and Maggie are highly educated, and are all teachers. Cyntha will graduate from the State Normal [ed., Illinois State Normal University] this season; two died in infancy; James William when six weeks old; Mary, the third child, was born July 1, 1860, and died March 7, 1881; Leila, the tenth child, was born Jan. 19, 1875, and died July 30, 1881. Mr. and Mrs. Rutledge are members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and our subject politically is an uncompromising Prohibitionist.
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), 426. Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.