HON. RICHARD P. BLAND. From poverty and obscurity all the eminent men of the West have fought their way in the battle of life, and by their own persistence and perseverance have attained to prominence and honor. They have given permanency to every enterprise that they have honored with their patronage and have stamped upon them their own individuality. The subject of this sketch is a man well known to the people of Missouri, and needs no eulogy from the pen of the biographer, for his deeds are his monuments and will endure long after he has moldered into dust. He was born near Hartford, Ohio County, Kentucky, August 19, 1836.
His parents Stouton E. and Margaret (Nall) Bland, both of whom were born on Blue Grass soil. The family originally came from Virginia, but emigrated to Kentucky in the time of Daniel Boone, and were among the early settlers of that country. The father devoted his life to the occupation of farming, and at the age of thirty-five, when just in the prime of life, was called upon to pay the last debt of nature, his widow surviving him several years. Of the four children born to them three are now living: Richard P.; Charles C., who is judge of the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit of Missouri, and Elizabeth, wife of Frederick Tutley, of St. Francois County, Missouri.
Young Richard P. received his initiatory training in the public schools in the vicinity of his rural home, and afterward finished his education in Griffin’s Academy. In 1855 he left the home of his childhood and took up his residence in Wayne County, Missouri, after which he taught school at Patterson for one term, and in the fall of the same year went to California, where he studied law. In 1859 he located in Virginia City, Nev., and was admitted to the bar by the United States Court at Carson City. He at once opened an office in Virginia City, where he remained until November, 1865, when he returned to Missouri and located at Rolla, at which place he and his brother, C. C. Bland, practiced law in partnership until 1869. He then came to Lebanon, Laclede County, where he practiced his profession until 1872, at which time he was elected to Congress, and has been reelected ever since, thus holding his membership for twenty years. The fact of his knowing but little of a father’s guidance and support, probably more than anything else, formed within him the spirit of self reliance that has characterized him through life.
During his long years of public life he has placed himself securely on the list of Missouri’s statesmen, and his brilliant record is but the natural sequence of his brilliant mind applied in the right direction. Few men have seen more of public life, and very few have been more useful. He has many friends and few enemies, fewer enemies than any man of his decided mental nature, strong will and public worth, but even these can say naught against his honor. In 1877 he purchased the fine farm where he now lives, consisting of 160 acres, and built thereon a commodious and handsome brick residence. While in Utah he was elected treasurer of Carson County, which position he held until 1863, and at various times he was also engaged in war-fare against the Indians. Since his election to Congress he has given up his profession, although as a lawyer he was preeminently a success; well and deeply read, with a clear and logical mind, which had been disciplined and strengthened by laborious study. The many eulogies pronounced upon him by the bar of the State evince the high estimation in which he was held by his legal brethren.
On the 19th of December, 1873, he was married to Miss Virginia E. Mitchell, of Rolla., Missouri, by whom he has five children: Fannie, Theodric R., Ewing C., George V. and Margaret. Mr. Bland is a Knight Templar in the A. F. & A. M. He is a man of noble and generous impulses and throughout the temptations of a long public career he has been strictly just in all his actions, never stooping to intrigue himself nor permitting it in others if he could prevent it, and has always shown supreme indifference to the opinions of enemies, his sole ambition being to serve his country faithfully in his line of duty, in which desire he has been preeminently successful.