T. O. RUTLEDGE, one of the honored pioneers of McLean County, and in former days one of its most useful and
valued citizens, having now arrived at the advanced age of eighty years, is spending his declining days in comfort
and retirement at the home of his son-in-law, William W. Elder, of Heyworth. During these long years he has built
up for himself a good record, and has earned the good will of all with whom he has come in contact. His familial
form upon the streets is regarded with that peculiar veneration accorded the first settlers of the Prairie State,
and there are none who do not wish that his last days may be his best.
Mr. Rutledge was born near Augusta, Ga., Sept. 18, 1806. His father, Robert Rutledge, was also a native of the same State, and his grandfather, John Rutledge, whose birthplace is not now known, died in White County, Ill. Both the father and grandfather of our subject were engaged in farming pursuits. Robert Rutledge grew to manhood in his native State, and was married to Miss Jane Officer, who was reared in Georgia, but it is believed was born elsewhere. They became the parents of eight children, all born in the latter-named State, and of whom our subject was the eldest. The family removed to Henderson County, Ky., in about 1820, and engaged in agriculture. There the father died a few years later, in the faith of the Presbyterian Church, leaving behind him a good record as a citizen, neighbor, father and friend.
Shortly after the death of her husband, the mother of our subject came with her children to White County, Ill., at an early period in the history of that State, in 1820. The land was then mostly wild and unbroken, but in common with the other pioneers of that day they had prepared themselves to meet with courage the difficulties which might beset them. They engaged in farming as before, but in 1826 removed to what is now McLean County, Ill., and located south of Randolph Grove, in what is now Randolph Township, on section 36. They settled on a squatter's claim, and when the land came into market secured it by purchase. Mr. R, of this notice first secured eighty acres, and afterward added to his landed possessions until he finally became the owner of 1,000 acres, which he has since mostly divided among his children. He has, however, retained for his own use one fine farm of 240 acres, the proceeds of which yield him a handsome income.
Mr. Rutledge made his advent into McLean County, driving an ox-team with a small wagon. After coming to Illinois the family lived one year in Sangamon County. Our subject was poor in purse, as the father had not left any property, but with the courage of youth he bravely began the struggle of life and set about the establishment of a future home. He was remarkably successful in his undertakings, but after a short time his labors were interrupted by a call for troops to defend the whites from the dangers which ensued on account of the Black Hawk War. Our subject, in this as in all other respects, bravely armed himself for his duty, went into service and remained until the conflict was over, escaping unharmed. He was, however, one of the very few of his company permitted to return to their home, the others being carried off either by disease or the missiles of the enemy. Mr. R. was in the fight at Dixon, Ill., and his company was commanded by Capt. M. L. Covell, of Bloomington, Ill.
On the 1st of January, 1829, Mr. Rutledge was married in Randolph Township, then in Tazewell County, Ill., to Miss Cynthia Rutledge, a native of Henderson County, Ky. She came to this State in 1812, when a very small child, and was among the early settlers of Randolph Township. She departed this life in this township in February, 1883, and her name is held in tender remembrance by her family and a large circle of friends. She was a devoted member of the Presbyterian Church, and was possessed of all womanly virtues, being a tender and affectionate wife and mother, and at all times a faithful friend and helper of the afflicted and distressed. Mr. Rutledge has also been connected with the Presbyterian Church for many years, and officiated as Elder for a long period. In politics, he has always been an uncompromising Democrat, and cast his first presidential vote for Gen. Jackson.
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), 598. Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.