Mary F. Casteen Ravenscroft
Biography


From: "Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois 1892", by Biographical Review Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois; pages 411-413, a reprinted by Stevens Publishing Co., Astoria, Ill., 1971, is sold by the Schuyler County Historical Society, Rushville, Illinois.
  Mrs. Mary F. Ravenscroft, is the widow of the late Ashford D. Ravenscroft, and is a native of Versailles, Woodford county, Kentucky. Her father was Henry Casteen of Virginia, and her mother was Lucinda (Peters) Casteen, also of Woodford county. The parents of our subject came to Illinois in May, 1832, when she was but a small child and the long trip was made by water. The first home of the family was on land one mile north of Versailles, on which her father had secured a claim in 1830, when he came through on horseback, and bought the improvements of a squatter settler. They moved into the small, crude, log cabin which this settler had built, and here they lived for a short time until her father could build a good two-story frame house. There were then in the family four daughters and one son, and two daughters and one son were born here in Illinois, making a family of eight children. The mother of Mrs. Ravenscroft died April 16, 1839, and the children she left were: Louisa, who died in the bloom of maidenhood; John A. Casteen, who was for many years a merchant of Versailles and died here September 29, 1887, at the age of sixty-five years; Mary, of this sketch; Martha, residing in Versailles with her sister, Mrs. Julia Bond, widow of the late Dr. John Bond; Catherine, who died at the age of seventeen years; Elizabeth, who died at the age of four years; and William who died in infancy, soon after his mother. The father was again married, to Elizabeth Hewett, of Springfield, Illinois, a native of Versailles, Kentucky. By this union there were three children, one son dying in infancy. Thomas Henry died in Versailles, June 27, 1892, aged forty-nine years; and Joseph, a resident of Versailles but now viewing the wonders of Montana. He has a wife and four children. Henry Casteen died April 14, 1854, aged sixty-five years.
  The marriage of our subject took place November 21, 1841, to A. D. Ravenscroft. He was born near the north branch of the Potomac river in Hampshire county, Virginia, at Romney June 22, 1808, and died in Versailles, Illinois, April 19, 1872, in his sixty-fourth year.
  Ashford D. Ravenscroft was the son of James and Charlotte (Dowden) Ravenscroft. His paternal ancestry was of English descent and were old settlers of the Old Dominion. His maternal ancestors were an old family in Virginia. He had one sister and four brothers, and was reared in Virginia, where he had a common-school education, and he had a good business education. Being a bright and brainy man he became a strong, influential business man, developing the characteristics of the statesman and leader among men. He left his native place at the age of twenty-four years and went to Hillsboro, Ohio, in 1832, and while here was elected Sheriff. During his four year's residence he made a trip to Illinois and soon moved to this State, coming in 1836. This county was a part of Schuyler county and the town of Versailles was only projected, but was attracting attention; so with a limited capital of about $1,000, the savings of his own labor, he decided to embark in the mercantile trade here. In the winter of 1836-'37, he built a small frame building of two rooms for a store, which he filled with a stock of goods in the following June. This was the first store in Versailles and still stands, a relic of pioneer times and primitive Versailles. To the first rooms he built an addition and to this home he brought his bride, and they lived here in happiness some time. Soon competitors came and with varying success, but Mr. Ravenscroft was steadily succeeding, and by his business qualities he built up a prosperous business in his line and became an owner of a part of the town site. Stimulated by the growth of the place, perhaps, or more by his genial manner and upright dealing, he gained the confidence and friendship of the people of this section and built up a trade which made him a wealthy man in the course of many years of merchandising. The first entry on his books was made June 25, 1837, and the large piles of his account books corded up in the library of his handsome residence, where he lived until death, show something of the volume of his trade in his thirty-five years in business here. The last few years of his life he was afflicted with rheumatism, but was confined to his couch but a short time and up to the time of his death he was around looking after his business. But the summons of that stern Sheriff came suddenly on the 19th of April, 1872. A vast concourse of people at his obsequies testified to the large circle of friends and admirers. It is said to have been the largest funeral in this pleasant little hamlet of Illinois. Mr. Ravenscroft was endowed by nature with more than common energy and talent, and would have been successful in almost any calling in life, especially as a statesman or in a judicial line. He was one of the few great men in his own home and domestic relations. To his devoted wife and daughter still at home, this was an overwhelming sorrow, and his memory is most sacredly cherished by them and his other surviving children.
  Mr. and Mrs. Ravenscroft had five children, one son and four daughters: Mattie Charlotte died at the age of four years, May 15, 1856. The surviving are: William Henry, a resident of Versailles; Lucinda J. is the wife of Thomas H. Graves of Versailles; Lydia A. is the wife of William Yates of Pike county, Illinois, and Virginia C. Ravenscroft.




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