JAMES A. LEDBETTER, a resident of Cave in Rock, Hardin County, is a son of Matthew Ledbetter, who was born in 1799 in South Carolina. When the latter was a small boy his father bound him out to Jacob Woolf, by whom he was brought up without education. At length his taskmaster became so oppressive that at the age of eighteen young Ledbetter ran away. He located in Caldwell County, Ky., and engaged in blacksmithing, and in 1842 came to Illinois and engaged in the practice of medicine. He was also a preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and later in the Christian Church. In 1847 he removed to Deslia County, Ark., where he practiced medicine until his death, which occurred February 14, 1850. He was married in 1818 to Rachel, daughter of William Wood, who was a Captain in the Revolutionary War. To this marriage ten children were born, seven of whom grew to maturity, namely: Jane and Wiley, deceased; William, in California; James A., the subject of this sketch; J. N., living at Elizabethtown, Ill.; Nancy supposed to be dead, and George W., deceased.
James A. Ledbetter was born June 19, 1827, in Kentucky, where he was reared to the carpenter trade, and having natural mechanical ability he was soon master of his trade. His education was obtained more by his own efforts than by any schooling he received, though he did attend a subscription school about five months. In 1845 he began life for himself, and in 1848 went with his father to Arkansas, where he engaged in farming on rented land. After his father's death, in 1850, he returned to Illinois, but very poor, and bought a small tract of land in Hardin County, upon which he erected a log cabin, in which he lived four years. He then fitted out a trading-boat with a small stock of merchandise and traded on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, afterward engaging in merchandising at Elizabethtown, Ill., in which he was very successful, retiring from business in 1879.
Mr. Ledbetter was married February 23, 1845, to Mary, a daughter of Chatman Scoggins, a native of South Carolina, and to this union there were born eight children, namely: John Q. A., whose biographical sketch appears elsewhere in this volume; James A., Jr., whose life we have herein written; George W., whose biography is also introduced into this work; Mary H., wife of L. F. Twitchell, Jr., now in Colorado; Henry, of Elizabethtown, Ill., and three others. Mr. Ledbetter has been very liberal with his children, giving each of them $5,000. He has been a life-long Democrat, and both he and his wife are members of the Christian Church.
James A. Ledbetter, Jr., is a son of James A. Ledbetter, Sr., and was born October 28, 1856, at Elizabethtown, Ill., where he was reared to the mercantile business and educated in the schools. When he was eighteen years old he engaged in business for himself, running a mill which his father had given him and his brothers, and has continued in the milling business ever since, accumulating quite a handsome fortune thereby. He was married September 13, 1876, to Dora, daughter of James S. Herod, of Hardin County, Ill. To this marriage there have been born two children, namely: James and Charles Millard. Mr. Ledbetter votes with the Democratic party, and he is a member of Lodge No. 54, I. O. O. F. Our subject is a public-spirited citizen, one of the wide-awake and intelligent business men of the community.
Extracted from Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, published in 1893, page 418
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