Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois
Eighth Edition, Revised and Extended
Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1897
RICHARD YOUNG SPIKINGS is one of the oldest living representatives of the pioneers of the town of Jefferson, and has been intimately connected with its growth. He was born November 14, 1821, near Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, England, where his ancestors had lived for many generations. He is the fifth son of John and Mary (James) Spikings. The former was a farmer and land-owner in Wisbech, where he died in 1847. His wife passed away two years later. They were the parents of fourteen children, eight of whom died in childhood. Six sons grew to manhood, of whom the following is the record: John died in England; Thomas came to the United States, served in the American Army in the Mexican War, and afterward went to South Africa; William came to America, but returned to England, where he died; James was a farmer in Valparaiso, Indiana, where he died; Richard Y. is the subject of this notice; Henry went to Africa as a veterinary surgeon, and subsequently died there.
Richard Young Spikings spent his boyhood on his father's farm. He came to America in 1842, making the voyage in a sailing-vessel, and spending six weeks on the trip from London to New York. He spent one winter in Lyons, Wayne County, New York, and in 1843 came to Chicago. He remained in the city about ten years, working for Archibald Clybourn as a butcher most of the time, and one year keeping the Old Bull's Head Tavern, near the bridge, at Clybourn's Place. During the first few years he made frequent trips to London. In 1852 he bought a farm of sixty acres in Jefferson, where for several years he raised vegetables for the city market, but when railroads began to open greater facilities for transportation, the business became less profitable, and in 1859 was discontinued. In that year he rented his farm and went to Thornton Township, where he managed a large farm for Clarence Dyer. He subsequently became a partner in a brewery, for which he acted as salesman. At the beginning of the Civil War he accompanied an old friend, Maj. Lewis Hubbard, during one year of the campaign in Missouri, having charge of the officers' baggage most of that time. Being called home by sickness in his family in March, 1862, he returned to his farm, and carried on general farming for many years. Upon the approach of old age, he divided the land among his children, most of it still being owned by members of the family.
July 2, 1847, he married Cornelia Augusta Harding, who was born in New York City, and is a daughter of Henry W. and Rachel Harding. The ceremony took place in an old log cabin, then the home of Mr. Harding, which was built by the Indians, and had been the home of their chief. Five children have blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. Spikings, as follows: William, of whom extended notice is given elsewhere within this volume; Richard, who is deceased; Cornelia, wife of John Hebert; Louis, a contractor at Bowmanville, Illinois; Joseph, a contractor in Jefferson, who died in 1896; Zana, widow of James Ferguson, residing with her parents; and George, also a contractor. All those living, except Louis, reside upon the home property.
Mr. Spikings is a member of Providence Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, at Jefferson. He is a Democrat in national political affairs, but in the campaign of 1896 he supported William McKinley for president, believing that the issues were not those which usually separate the two great parties. He has ever been in harmony with American institutions, and though never aspiring to public office, has conscientiously fulfilled his duty as a citizen. He has been a stanch friend of the public schools, and for many years was director in his district. Like the majority of pioneers, he has had to contend with many trials and hardships, and has lived to see the land to which he has devoted the best years of his life become a means of wealth and independence to his children.