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RODERICK MacKENZIE. – Any compilation that gives mention of the pioneers of Union county would be open to serious criticism were there failure to incorporate an epitome of the sturdy pioneer, leading farmer, and prominent citizen, whose name is at the head of this article, and who has wrought for many years for the advancement of this county and the development of its resources having won here the smiles of fortune by the display of untiring energy, wise management and unswerving integrity, while he is to-day one of the real builders of our county and one of its distinguished citizens.
To Robert and Catherine (Macbeath) MacKenzie, on February 14, 1834, in Sheildaig, on the Applecross estate, in Rosshire, among the highlands of Scotland, was born the subject of this sketch. His father died when Roderick was a child, and he remained with his mother until he had arrived at the age of twelve, then embarked with an uncle on a sailing vessel, bound for the fishing regions, and for four years he filled the position of cook, subsequent to which he spent two years in fishing off the east coast of Scotland, then was a sailor before the mast on a trading vessel out from the ports of England to the neighboring countries. In the spring of 1857 he came on a sailing vessel to Montreal, Cambria, of Greenock, was the good ship, and six weeks were consumed in the trip. Our subject came from Montreal to Buffalo and thence to Chicago by rail. He spent some time as sailor on the great lakes, then worked on the Mississippi river, then back to the lakes and finally turned his attention to farming in Illinois. In December 1861, Mr. JacKenzie married Miss Maggie Ross, a native of Inverness, Scotland, who came to this country in 1859, and three children were born to them; James A.; Donald; Katie, wife of L. Rinehart. In the spring of 1863 Mr. MacKenzie prepared the horse team outfits and took up the dangerous journey across the plains in company with six families. Being escorted across the most dangerous prtions of the road by soldiers, they were not seriously injured by the hostile Indians, although they suffered several attacks. He came direct to Union county and located his present place on Sandridge, trading a team for the improvements on a quarter. Few settlers were in the valley, there being only three log cabins on the entire ridge. He built the fourth, a cabin twelve by fourteen and covered with dirt. His first wheat was tramped out by horses and winnowed by the breezes, but for this crop he received ten cents per pound. It is of note that when Mr. MacKenzie landed here he had the sum of five dollars in cash, and his present magnificent holdings are the result of his labor and sagacity. He owns an estate of one thousand acres, well improved with good buildings, orchards and other accessories. He has a hundred head of fine stock, and as many hogs, owns four houses in Summerville, a fine large livery and feed stable, and much other property. He resides in Summerville, and is considered one of the leading men of the county. For a number of years he filled acceptably the office of city councilman.
Death came to the happy home of Mr. MacKenzie and snatched thence his wife. He married Miss BelleThompson, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, and three children have been born to them; Alexander, Clyde and Leroy. Politically Mr. MacKenzie is affiliated with the Republican party and he has always sought the interests of the county and has displayed commendable zeal for the welfare of all.