ROBERT H. RUTLEDGE, one of the oldest settlers of Randolph Township and McLean County, came into this section
while Illinois was yet a Territory, in 1812, and the experiences through which he has passed, combined with the
changes which he has witnessed during a period of seventy-five years, would make a most interesting volume.
The grandfather of our subject, John Rutledge, was born and reared in Dublin, Ireland, where he was married and learned the trade of a shoemaker. His bride, formerly Miss Jennie Offise, was a lady of most excellent family, of pure Irish descent, and highly educated and accomplished. They became the parents of several children, and emigrated to the United States, settling in Charleston, S. C., where their son Thomas, the father of our subject, was born, being the first child born to them in America. Later John Rutledge removed North to Pennsylvania, and afterward to White County, Ill., where he and his wife spent the remainder of their lives, being the first white persons who were laid in the virgin soil of what is now White County, Ill. The grandfather of our subject was very skillful at his trade of a shoemaker, and a man of the strictest integrity, and universally respected by all who knew him.
Thomas Rutledge, the father of our subject, remained under the parental roof until after he had attained his majority. He then went South to Georgia, and was there married to Miss Sallie Smith, who was born in that State and of pure English parentage. After the birth of one child they started North to Tennessee, whence they proceeded to Kentucky and afterward to Illinois, arriving in the Territory, as before stated, in 1812. Fourteen years later they came into McLean County, and at once located in Randolph Township, of which they were among its earliest settlers. Here Thomas Rutledge died, four years later, Aug. 20, 1830, and being born Oct. 17, 1768, was consequently a little over sixty-two years of age. The mother, Mrs. Sallie Rutledge, who was born Aug. 20, 1778, survived her husband thirteen years, and died in this township, Dec. 12, 1843, being sixty-five years old. Thomas Rutledge became a prominent man in the affairs of this locality, being made Justice of the Peace, and having jurisdiction over a large extent of territory.
He performed the marriage ceremony for more people in White County, Ill. than any man before or since, as is shown by the records. He and his excellent lady had a family of twelve children, six sons and six daughters, of whom one son and one daughter died in infancy, and ten lived to be married. Of this number, Robert H, of our sketch is the only one surviving.
Robert Rutledge received a limited education in the pioneer schools of White County, Ill. He still remembers when the soil was new and unbroken and Indians numerous, and it was often necessary to seek a barrack or fort, which served as a protection from the vengeance or cruelty of the redmen. In these the pioneers would frequently spend their nights, some sleeping, while others acted as sentinels. A few years later regular block houses were constructed, where the pioneers dwelt together for mutual protection. The first corpse of a white man which our subject ever saw was that of a Mr. Morgan, who had been killed by the Indians. The latter not long afterward, on account of their depredations were driven off by the whites and punished to such an extent that they never returned.
Our subject remained under the home roof until his marriage, the license for which was the first one of the kind issued by the authorities of McLean County. The wedding of himself and Miss Charity Weedman occurred on the 9th of June, 1831. Mrs. Rutledge was the daughter of George and Charlotte (Hune) Weedman. Her parents were both born and reared in Pennsylvania, whence they came later to Perry County, Ohio, where their daughter, Charlotte, was born July 21, 1812. Her parents remained in the Buckeye State until the fall of 1830, when they started for the farther West, and coming into McLean County settled in Randolph Township, where they both died in the same log cabin which had first become their home. Of this marriage there were born thirteen children, six now deceased: Mary J. is the widow of John Halsey, and resides in Boone County, Iowa; Sarah L. married Joseph T. Martin, a farmer of Randolph Township; George T. married Miss Maria Wagener, and they reside on a farm in Randolph Township; Nancy E., Daniel and Leander are also residents of this township; the latter married Miss Mary A. Tilghman; Marcius Lafayette resides with his father on the old homestead; the deceased are Harriett, Benjamin, Charity A., Robert M., Americus C. and Martin A. Mrs. Charity Rutledge, the mother of these children, died at her home in this township May 27, 1882. She was in early life connected with the Methodist Episcopal Church, but later identified herself with the Christian Union Church. Since coming to this county Mr. Rutledge has been identified with its industrial and agricultural interests, and has materially aided in its development and progress. He has been a friend of temperance, a supporter of the laws, and a member in good standing of the Christian Union Church. Politically he coincides with the principles of the Democratic party, with which he has uniformly cast his vote since exercising the right of suffrage.
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), 642. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards.