FLETCHER, RUFFIN D., superintendent of the plant of the Chicago, Wilmington & Vermilion Coal Company at Thayer, Ill., is a veteran of the Civil War and is highly esteemed in his community. He was born near Clarkesville, Tenn., December 2, 1840, son of John H. and Alice (Bennyworth) Fletcher, the former of Scotch descent and the latter a native of Lincolnshire, England. The Fletcher family emigrated to America and settled in what was known as Scotch Neck, N.C., and the grandfather of Ruffin D. Fletcher married a Miss Winnifred Hunter, afterwards brining his family to Montgomery County, Tenn., locating on the farm which was the home of his son John H. and the birthplace of the subject of this sketch. In the spring of 1851, the Fletcher family left Tennessee and came to Illinois, locating at Fayette, Greene County, where John Fletcher purchased a farm, which he sold in 1855, and moved to Macoupin County, where his death occurred in 1878. His widow survived him many years, dying in 1906, at the age of eighty-four years. Both were buried in what is called Charity Churchyard, six miles west of Carlinville. Mr. Fletcher was born in 1802, and his wife was a daughter of Joseph Bennyworth, born near Boston, Lincolnshire, England, who emigrated to the United States about 1831. They located at Philadelphia, spent about one year at that city, then moved west to Chesterfield, Ill. While on the road from Alton to Chesterfield, Mrs. Bennyworth was taken with cholera and died, and her remains are buried at chesterfield. Mr. Bennyworth and the rest of the family located on a farm near chesterfield but he survived only a short time after the death of his wife, and after his death, his daughter Alice was left in charge of the family as their housekeeper, there being two of her brothers at home and one in Philadelphia.
Nine children were born to John H. Fletcher and wife, of whom eight reached maturity and one, Johnnie, died at the age of four years. The oldest child was Ruffin D., and the others were: Reuben Ross, born in Tennessee, served in Company F, One Hundred Twenty-second Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and fell in the Battle of Parker's Cross Roads, Tenn., December 31, 1862, was buried on the battle field, in 1866, removed to the National Cemetery at Corinth, Miss., his grave being No. 2043, and on Decoration Day in 1908 his brother Ruffin decorated his grave; Narcissa married Jesse Graham and both are deceased, having had three children - Lula, Reuben and Fanny; Sarah W., married Jesse Rhoades, who served for many years as County Clerk of Jasper County, Mo., and lived at Carthage, dying in office, had twelve children, four of whom now survive, and his widow still resides at Carthage; Choron is married the second time, has twelve children, and resides on a farm in Mason County, Ill; Alice, wife of John Corder, a farmer near Nilwood, Ill., and they have seven children; Mary, widow of George R. Moore, her husband having died in January, 1910, and she now resides on the old home near Centralia, having had six children; Johnnie B., above named; Martha, born in 1863, married Samuel McPherson, a farmer near Wichita, Kan. The father and mother of these children were both of the Baptist faith and active workers in the cause. In early life, he was a Whig and later became a Democrat, and while strong in his beliefs, yet accorded others the right to their own opinions and was liberal in his benefactions, never turning from his door an applicant for help, being most kind and sympathetic by nature. He united with the Baptist Church at the age of twelve years and always held his relations with that denomination, being loved and honored for his upright life. He served as Justice of the Peace and his decisions were always just and fair, for he believed the laws were founded on justice to all.
Ruffin D. Fletcher was reared in his native place to the age of twelve years, and there began his education. His father was his first teacher and school was held in a log cabin. The boy was often chastised by the father for his pranks in school, being active and mischievous, but his mind was as active as his body and he always kept a good standing in his class. In 1852, he accompanied his parents and their other children to Fayette, Ill., three years later went with them to Nilwood, and after spending a few years on his father's farm there, became clerk in a store, which position he held until 1862, enlisting July 15th of that year in Company F, One Hundred Twenty-second Illinois Volunteer Infantry, for three years, the company being organized at Camp Palmer, Carlinville. In September of that year, the regiment was sent to Trenton, Tenn., and in December, they participated in the battle at Parker's Cross Roads, where Mr. Fletcher's brother was killed. July 14, 1864, they participated in the Battle of Tupelo, Miss. He served as clerk to Post Quartermaster of the Freedman's Bureau, at Cairo, Ill. Mr. Fletcher was mustered out at Mobile and was honorably discharged at Camp Butler, Ill., July 15, 1865, having spent three years in faithful service. While he was a native of Tennessee his complete sympathy was with the Union cause.
At the close of the war Mr. Fletcher began working for the Chicago & Alton Railroad Company as brakeman, studied telegraphy and continued in the employ of the road at Mason City and Streator, as operator and ticket agent. June 15, 1873, he entered the employ of the company with which he is now connected, at their Streator plant, as shipping clerk and telegraph operator. In March, 1890, he became General manager of the River Bank Coal Company, at Streator, resigning three months later to accept the position of Superintendent of the Chicago, Wilmington & Vermilion Coal Company, at Streator. In 1900, the latter company bought mining lands in the southern part of Sangamon County and Mr. Fletcher was sent to what is now Thayer and opened up mines at that place. He platted the town, got the mines into running order, built eighty-six houses and a twenty-six room hotel. He also erected a large store building and a handsome residence for himself, locating permanently in the town July 17, 1900. He has been one of the most successful superintendents of central Illinois and is the second oldest employee of the company, the oldest being A. L. Sweet, its President, who has been with it since its organization, about 1867. Mr. Fletcher and his secretary, R. H. Hayes, were the original settlers of the village of Thayer, and Mr. Fletcher has made it possible for the miners to own the homes they occupy, only two residents of the town being renters.
Mr. Fletcher was married January 12, 1872, to Miss Rachel S. Proctor, born July 5, 1855, on a farm near New Berlin but in Morgan County, Ill., a daughter of Richard and Rachel (Harris) Proctor, natives also of Eastern Tennessee. The Proctors moved to Tennessee from South Carolina and they were also loyal to their country's flag at the time of the Civil War. Mr. Proctor came to Illinois in 1846. He was a stanch member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and strong in his convictions. No resident of Morgan County was more highly honored for his many good qualities. He had a limited education but became well-to-do, having great business ability. He died at the age of eighty-eight years, his mother having lived to the age of one hundred and four years. Mr. and Mrs. Fletcher became parents of two children, Edna M., at home, a clerk in her father's office, was born May 4, 1873, was graduated from Streator High School with a standing of 100 per cent in mathematics and has a business education, and Ralph P., born January 12, 1877, died April 11, 1889.
Mr. Fletcher has for many years been a member of the Masonic Order, which he joined in July, 1867, and he now belongs to Virden Lodge No. 161, A.F. & A.M., to Auburn Chapter No. 92, R.A.M., and to Elwood Commandry No. 6 of Springfield. His wife is a useful member of the Presbyterian Church. He is one of the successful self-made men of central Illinois, and at the age of seventy years, is in splendid health, being of a long-lived race through both his mother and father. He is pleasant and cheerful of manner and readily makes and retains friends. About 450 men are in his employ, and the mines have a capacity of 2400 tons of coal each day.
In 1892, Mr. Fletcher made a visit to his birthplace and engaged an artist to take pictures of the scenes of his boyhood. Though the old home was in the possession of strangers, he visited at the home of an uncle, Drew S. Fletcher, and also with a cousin, Philander conger. He drank from the old spring, he had left in 1852, and saw the cabin in which he was born, built about 1800. He has made several other trips to this and other places, and greatly enjoys this form of recreation. In politics he is a Republican.