Biography of John W. Reardon

John W. Reardon. The people of a large section of central Illinois as well as northwestern Champaign County know the name Reardon because of its prominent associations with the live stock industry as well as with agriculture and commercial affairs. The Reardon family established its home in Champaign County nearly half a century ago, and with a farm as the foundation of their efforts steadily progressed until they became large and extensive land owners. A younger representative of this family is Mr. John W. Reardon, whose field of enterprise has been gradually extended until he has almost a statewide, if not an interstate, reputation as a breeder and importer of fine draft horses.

Mr. Reardon was born in Champaign County, October 3, 1869, the only child of James and Ellen (Burns) Reardon. His father was a native of the Emerald Isle, born there in 1832. He lived long and usefully and well, and died on Washington’s birthday, February 22, 1916. The close of his life found him honored, esteemed and to a degree a man of wealth. Far otherwise was it with him when he came to America at the age of fourteen. He was a penniless boy and arrived to find himself alone and among strangers. He had come across the ocean on one of the old-fashioned sailing vessels. He left the city of Cork, his native county being Cork, and landed in Baltimore. Here he soon found employment with the construction forces of the Pennsylvania Railway System. He aided in building one of the lines of that road to Pittsburgh.

James Reardon came to Illinois in 1857. He was then a young man without capital and started at the very bottom round of the ladder and climbed up from rung to rung, at first for several years as a renter in Carroll County, then four years as a wage earner in Bloomington, and with such modest capital as he had been able to accumulate during these years he came to Champaign County and bought forty acres west of Fisher. In that community he had his home and was actively engaged in superintending his landed interests until 1914, when he retired to the village of Fisher, where he died two years later. His success as a farmer and business man was represented by the accumulation of 840 acres of the rich and fertile soil of Champaign County. Politically he was a Democrat and was an active member of St. Malachi Catholic Church at Rantoul. He aided in the construction of the church edifice there. His good wife was a native of County Cork, Ireland, and her Burns ancestry originally had its seat in Scotland. She was an active and devoted member of the same church as her husband.

John W. Reardon had only the rudiments of a common school education. From boyhood he recognized life as a great opportunity for experience and the expression of the best talents within him, and his activities have occupied no restricted limits. For years he was active as a farmer, manager of his father’s large estate, but some years ago he engaged in the importation of the noted draft horse’s of the Belgian and Percheron breeds, bringing them from France and Belgium before the war. That business he has followed for fourteen years, and is accounted an authority on these two strains. He has sold horses all over central Illinois, and has been the means of raising the standard and type of the animals that perform the heavy labor of this farming region. At present he has about ten head of fine horses, both mares and stallions, containing some of the best blood of the Belgian and Percheron breeds. The highest price he ever obtained for a horse was $2,200. He has bought and sold large numbers of these animals.

The live stock industry has always made a strong appeal to his tastes and inclinations, and he has been successful in that field since early manhood. He has raised and sold cattle, horses, sheep and hogs for a number of years. Mr. Reardon is the owner altogether of 610 acres, most of it in Illinois and some in the State of Texas.

His business field has also been extended to dealing in agricultural implements and automobiles. He represents some of the best known manufacturers, including the Case, Mitchell, Chevrolet, National and Olds makes, and has sold a great number of the high class cars over central Illinois, a district with a population that can well afford automobiles. Mr. Reardon since 1910 has also conducted a grain business at Osman, where he has a large elevator with a capacity of 40,000 bushels.

Politically Mr. Reardon is a Democrat. His business affairs have taken his time and energies to the exclusion of politics, and he has never been an office seeker. He belongs to no fraternity, but is a very consistent and regular attendant and worshiper in St. Malachi Catholic Church at Rantoul. Thus his career has been spent in the county where he was born and where he grew up, and he is a man of the highest business standing and of unimpeachable citizenship.



Stewart, J. R. A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York. 1918.

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