First Families in Vanderburgh, IN
Submitted by Norma Hass.
Biography from The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois published in Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company. 1896.
John LITCHFIELD, a retired farmer whose home is on section 7, Bennington township, Marshall county, was born in Cambridgeshire, England, December 11, 1821, a son of Richard and Sarah (KENDRICK) LITCHFIELD. In the fall of 1836 the family left London, bound for the United States, but it was thirteen weeks before they reached the shores of this country, as they encountered several severe storms and were also becalmed. They were three weeks in getting out of the British Channel, were delayed for one week at Teneriffe Island, and were several days in trying to enter the Mississippi river. Finally landing at New Orleans, they took passage on a river boat, and proceeded to their destination – Vanderburg county, Indiana, where they arrived early in the year 1837, and were numbered among its pioneer settlers. There the father opened up and developed a small farm, on which he spent his remaining days.
Amid the scenes of frontier life our subject grew to manhood, and acquired a fair common school education in the primitive log school house. He gave the benefit of his services to his father until he had attained his majority, and then began life for himself by working as a farm hand by the month, and also ran flatboats for a couple of years. In 1848, Mr. LITCHFIELD was united in marriage with Miss Ann PALMER, by whom he has one son, Edward, now engaged in the banking business in Flanagan, Livingston county, Illinois.
In 1849 Mr. LITCHFIELD came to Illinois, locating first in McDonough county, but two years later came to Marshall county, where he is numbered among the early settlers. He entered land in Bennington township, and located thereon when there was no one living between his place and Long Point on the east. He met with success in his farming operations, and is now the owner of four hundred acres of valuable land, lying partly in Livingston county. He assisted in the organization of his township, which was at first a part of Belle Plain, and while they were still together served as town clerk. He became the first clerk of Bennington township, which position he acceptably filled for several years, was later supervisor for a number of terms, and also school treasurer. After taking out his naturalization papers, he cast his first vote for Henry Clay in 1844, but supported Pierce in 1852, and has since been an ardent democrat. He is one of the representative men of the county, widely and favorably known, and during his long residence here has gained the confidence and respect of all with whom he has come in contact, either in business or social life.
After the death of his first wife, Mr. LITCHFIELD married her sister, Emily PALMER, and to them were born ten children, who are still living: George, a lumber dealer of Flanagan, Illinois; Sarah, wife of J. W. PARKER, of Toluca; William R., a merchant of Flanagan; Martha J., wife of W. R. STRATTON, of Toluca; John P., who is a business man of Toluca; Robert I., May E., Charity D., Joseph G. and Emily Louise, all at home.
Of this family, Robert I. LITCHFIELD was born on the home farm in Bennington township, May 24, 1864, and was provided with a good common school education. In April, 1888, he led to the marriage altar Miss Ada Naomi STRATTON, of Bennington township, a daughter of James and Marsha (SCHALCRAFT) STRATTON. They have become the parents of three interesting children: Emily M., born in Bennington township, March 22, 1889; Ray D., born in the same township, July 10, 1891, and Ruth, born in Belle Plain township, January 2, 1894. Mr. LITCHFIELD is now living upon a farm of his father’s in Belle Plain township, is a strong democrat in the political views, casting his first vote for Grover Cleveland in 1888. He was elected highway commissioner of Bennington township, but, owing to his removal to Belle Plain, did not serve. For one term he filled the office of school director. He is one of the most progressive and energetic agriculturists of the community, and one of its honored and respected citizens.
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