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TAMPICO TORNADO March 10, 1911

OLDEST CITIZEN IS DEAD

Rufus Aldrich, Pioneer Citizen, Dies of Grip at Advanced Age of 93

Rufus ALDRICH one of the oldest citizen of Tampico township died at his home here Thursday morning at 9:10 o'clock at the remarkable age of 93 years. Death strangely enough was not caused by his advanced years but resulted from an attack of grip and pneumonia with which he suffered for two weeks. His rugged vitality which had been one of his chief characteristics through life, endured to the end. His sprightly step; active, alert mind when nearing the century mark of his existence were so remarkable as to be commended upon by many.

The funeral services were held Friday afternoon at 2 o'clock at the late residence here. Rev. J. E. SNEED of the Baptist church officiated, and a quartette composed of Mesdames Fred BREWER, Roy McKENZIEHERRICK and ISHERWOOD rendered several appropriate solutions. The floral tributes were beautiful. Interment was in the Tampico cemetery. The pall bearers were L. K. BRAINERD, Henry DENISON, George BERGE, O. D. PITNEY, Andrew WYLIE, Levi HOPKINS.

Born in Binghamton, New York, May 20. 1817, he came from the sturdy old eastern stock whose ancestors had settled and conquered the wilderness of America. When he was ten years old he went with his parents to Smithfield, Penn., where he remained until he was married to  Miss Mary Ann KING, Sept. 14, 1839 and to this union seven children were born, six of whom survive. They are: John H., Ataline K., Juliaett, Charles R., Mary Jane, Emma and Halbert. His wife a splendid woman died in September 1893. This home was an ideal and very happy one for more than fifty years and was  always a place of refuge for the homeless, distressed or anyone in need and this meant much in the early days when houses were small and few and accommodations but scant.

In 1843 he removed from Smithfield, Penn., to Boone county, Illinois, making the journey overland in one of the old prairie schooners and enduring the hardships incident to a long trip through unsettled country infested with some too friendly Indians. At this time there were no railroads and  the nearest market was Ft. Dearborn, an Indian trading post which is now Chicago the second largest city in the Untied States. The couple remained in Boone county for six years when they returned to Smithfield and again in 1855 *** with his family struck out for the unknown great west this time settling in Tampico township which had been his home since. In 1859 in quest of gold, he and his brother John and other parties made a trip to Pikes Peak a large portion of the journey being on foot and he endured the hardships of travel in this toilsome manner. The route lay through Denver then a huddle of Indian wigwams and other shacks. He was not very successful in the quest of gold and returned to Tampico the same year.

His young manhood was spent in occupations that built  for him a rugged physic and a splendid character. For several years he followed rafting down the turbulent Susquenna river and had some very trying experiences. It was long before the day of railroads and the water highways were then what the trunk lines of our great railway systems are now. One time he was compelled to pack on his back and unload his raft of shingles four times and at another time he missed the boat and thought nothing of the fifty mile walk he made in one day to reach home and family. He was also a stage driver from Smithfield, Penn., to Towanda, when it required nerve and fortitude to face possible highway men at any turn in the road.

While yet a young man he united with the Presbyterian church and throughout his life he remained in that faith. At an early day he was superintendent of a Sunday school near Tampico. His Christian life was one that he lived every day - as he was on Sunday so he lived on every other day of the week.

He was the first assessor of Tampico township and held this office for some 12 years. He was also engaged in the grocery business in Tampico in the early days. He was considered a good mechanic in hisyounger days and several of the houses and buildings in Tampico are monuments to this fact. Most of his life was spent in farming and in this he was successful. He did not have the modern labor saving tool that farmers are accustomed to use now but conquered with an old fashioned plow, the cradle and gleaned by hand.

In the year 1895, Jan. 30 he was again united in marriage to Mary E. POWELL of Tampico, and his last union was a happy one. She has cared and loved and nursed him and he has been a strong support to her. As a husband and father he was all that could be desired. All who knew him will testify to his noble, upright manhood and his exemplary life.

Mentally and physically he was clear and strong to the very last. He was a man who s=was old, very old in years, but always remained young in heart. Before his last sickness he would walk downtown, a distance of several blocks from his home and his stride and step were springy, active and sprightly showing the splendid physical vigor. His mind was keen, bright and alert to the last and he would talk like a man in his prime keeping posted on current events and preferring to talk on the live topics of today.

His life was surely spent in the golden century of the country's progress, In his boyhood the telephone, telegraph, cable, threshing machine, steam cars and other modern modern inventions were but hazy dreams of then called foolish people. He has lived to see all these triumphs of modern science and skill used for the benefit and enjoyment of mankind - and what was wonderful in his early days came to be used by him as common place in his later life.

During his residence in this vicinity of over a half century he has lived to see the wild, coyote and Indian infested prairies changed to a thickly settled community, he has seen the old frontier give way to the advancing settler and with him helped hew the path for posterity that has made the community, the beautiful, peaceful law abiding township and county which we all love and enjoy.

Uncle Rufus as his friends loved to call him spent a long, happy, useful life in this community and did his part and did it well to make Tampico township one of the best bits of the great Mississippi valley. He has built a monument that prosperity can never forget and left a heritage greater and richer than millions.

TAMPICO AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY - MUSEUM - FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY/RESEARCH CENTER  119 Main St., P. O. Box 154,  Tampico, IL  61283   www.tampicohistoricalsociety.com   tampicohistoricalsociety@gmail.com  President Joan Johnson, 815-438-7581 or garyjoan@thewisp.net  Family History Coordinator, Denise McLoughlin 815-718-3617. We are an all-volunteer organization so your donations are always appreciated!  Sign up to receive our e-newsletter. Thank you!  Visit us on FACEBOOK, too.