THE LEADING CITIZENS OF MADISON COUNTY

CONTENTS
Preface
Names Index
Portrait Index


  ROBERT D. RIDDELL, a highly successful farmer and horticulturist, living near the village of Chittenango, a man skilled in various handicrafts, representative of a very ancient and noble family of the sunny land of France, was born November 2, 1834, in the town of Sullivan, Madison County, N.Y., son of David and Nancy (Joiner) Riddell. The family had not always the double consonant in the middle of their name, as they can trace their lineage to the year of our Lord 86o, when lived one Walgrinus Ridell, a native of France, who is said to have been related to Charles the Bald, King of France and Emperor of Germany, who was born in 823 A.D. Walgrinus died in France in 886; and the family have been well known through Normandy, Great Britain, and Ireland for many generations. The grandfather of our subject, Robert Riddell, was born in Londonderry, N. H., January 27, 1768, and in 1784 married Miss Jemima Long, who was born in Massachusetts. They moved to the town of Sullivan about the year 1806, coming to wild and uncultivated land, forests inhabited almost solely by wild beasts and game; for few indications of civilized life were near. Few sounds were heard but the songs of the birds and the rustle of the winds in the trees, except when at night the cry of the wolf' and the heavy footstep of the prowling bear startled them from. their uneasy slumbers.
  The hardy, fearless grandfather and his equally brave wife built their log cabin in these wild woods, and settled themselves to their life of hard labor and many privations. Fortunately, they found the Indians almost uniformly friendly and hospitable. They became the parents of eight children, as follows: Polly, born in 1785, and died in 1848; Sally, born in 1787, died in 1859; Jemima, born in 1788, and died in 1869; Patty, born in 1790, and died in 1862; Robert, born in 1792, died in 1861; David, born in 1794, died in 1884; Susan, born in 1795, died in 1808; Thompson, born in 1798, and died 1877. The father of these children died on August 11, 1808; and his wife followed him September 14, 1822. They were members of the Baptist church, and Mr. Robert Riddell was a strong adherent of the Democratic party.
  David Riddell, father of Robert D., was born in Massachusetts in 1794, and came to the town of Sullivan with his father when he was but twelve years of age. When he grew to manhood, he learned the trade of tanner and currier in Peterboro, N.Y., and afterward went to Chittenango, where in 1815 he formed a partnership with his brother Robert in the business of tanning and currying leather. This firm continued for forty years, carrying on one of the most flourishing industries in the village. David Riddell also owned lands in the vicinity, including a part of the very farm on which the subject of this sketch now resides. He was a very prominent and influential man in these parts. He died December 27, 1884, in his ninety-first year, his wife having preceded him to the grave September 19, 1851. They attended the Dutch Reformed, now Presbyterian church; and the wife was a most devoted adherent, being in full membership. Fraternally, Mr. Riddell was a member of Sullivan Lodge, No. 148, A. F. & A. M.
  Four children were born to this family, namely: Angeline F., born January 31, 1819, and died in 1882, unmarried; William Wallace, born October 20, 1820, and died April 11, 1888--his widow now resides in the village of Chittenango, N.Y.; Hannah M., born February 5, 1829, and died December 25, 1830; and Robert D. The last-named is the theme of our sketch. He was brought up in the village of Chittenango, and attended the schools of that village. When very young, he learned the carpenter's trade, and was not only handy with tools, but had a very marked talent for mechanical construction. He did not make a business of his trade, but is perfectly capable of doing his own work in that line, having built his present handsome home. He always remained with his parents on the farm, and also assisted his father in running the tannery. At the death of his father the whole farm near Chittenango Village came into his possession. He has added to this land until he now has one hundred acres under cultivation, of which wheat, oats, corn, and hay are the main crops; while he also has splendid orchards of apples, pears, plums, quinces, and other fruits. He has three acres devoted to grape culture, having twenty varieties of vines. He also manages a dairy, and has a fine herd of Holstein and Jersey cattle. Mr. Riddell has not yet found his fate, but still resides at his home in a state of bachelorhood. In politics he is a stanch Democrat, and in his religious views is a Presbyterian.
  Mr. Riddell is singularly fortunate in these days, when the subject of heredity is attracting the attention of scientists and genealogy is becoming a popular study, in being able to trace his ancestry to so remote a period. A harmonious blending of races is seen in the evenly balanced character of this gentleman, who is deservedly popular in his village, and is one of the real live men of the place, being of an energetic as well as pleasant disposition, and courteous in manner.

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