William was baptized on June 2, 1844, at St. Charles Catholic Church in Marion County, Kentucky. His sponsor was Mary Brewer.
William was one of ten children. His mother died in Marion County about 1864 and Hillary Rhodes, his father, came to Illinois, joining his sons, William and Charles M. Rhodes, who had located there in 1862. Hillary Rhodes remained in Macoupin County, Illinois, until his death.
William M. Rhodes was a resident of Kentucky until twenty years of age. His advantages and opportunities during his youth were very meager. He attended school for only a limited extent and his time was largely devoted to farm work. However, over the years he improved his circumstances and became known as a "well developed man" and kept well informed on current events.
On October 12, 1861, he enlisted as a private at Lebanon, Kentucky, in Company B of the Tenth Kentucky Infantry in the Union army. Military paperwork indicates that he deserted from the company on October 31, 1862, at New Market, Kentucky.
He didn't stay in Kentucky where he would have risked arrest on desertion charges, moving instead to Macoupin County, Illinois, where he began working as a farm hand, being paid by the month. He spent some times working in this fashion until he had saved enough to buy a tract of timber land, of which he cleared ten acres for a house, and another sixty acres to cultivate for crops.
After selling that farm, he bought another tract of eighty acres, on which he lived for about eight years. In all, he bought and sold several farms, making improvements on each and then selling them for a profit.
In 1885 he moved to neighboring Montgomery County, where he invested in eighty acres of land in Raymond township. About a year later he bought an adjoining tract of eighty acres and began to farm his land. He afterward added another eighty-acre tract making for a farm of 240 acres. His farm became known for its improvements, He planted about three miles of hedge fence, using regular fences to divide his property into manageable fields. He also planted two orchards on the farm, built two sets of farm buildings on the property, and besides the crops he grew, he began to raise and feed livestock.
In 1903 he turned that farm over to his two sons and purchased a 69 acre tract in section 17 about one mile from the community of Raymond which he proceeded to improve.
On December 3, 1868, William Rhodes was united in marriage to Eunice Ambrosia Smith, a native of Scott county, Illinois, where she was reared and educated. She died upon the Rhodes' homestead, March 23, 1903. There were nine children born of this marriage, six sons and three daughters: Fletcher, who became a resident farmer of Montgomery county; William, who married and lived upon the old homestead; Archie, who married and resided upon the old home farm; Frank, married and was a resident farmer of Raymond township; Henry who lived with his farther upon the old home place; Shelby, who married and also farmed his father's land; Flora, the wife of Charles Vincent, of Roundtree township; Mary, the wife of Robert Moore, of Raymond township; and Sadie, who acted as her father's housekeeper until he moved to his new home. She married Harry Coonrod in 1904.
William married secondly Mary Adelia Vantuyl, a native of Macoupin County. She survived him, dying on September 17, 1935.
Although born a Catholic, Rhodes later converted to the Baptist church. He was connected with the Modern Woodmen and politically was a Democrat, having cast his first ballot for General George B. McClellan.
He died after a ten day bout of bronchial pneumonia at his home in Raymond, Montgomery County, Illinois on February 3, 1931 and was buried in the Asbury Cemetery in Raymond. A memorial can be found on Find A Grave.
April 1, 1844 - Birth - Born in Marion county, Kentucky.
1850 - U.S. federal census - Hillary is listed as Hillary Rodes in District 2, Marion County, Kentucky, as a 32 year old farmer with his wife, Louisa, 37, and children, Mary C., 9; Charles W, 8; William M., 6; Nancy J., 3; and Louisa, 1.
1860 - U.S. federal census - In 1860, the Rhodes family is living in District 1, Marion County, Kentucky and consists of Hilery, 40; Louisa, 49; Matthew 18; William, 17; Nancy, 13; Eliza, 11; Sarah, 8; John 6; and Frances, 2.
December 3, 1868 - Marriage - Married to Eunice Ambrosia Smith in Macoupin county, Illinois.
1870 - U.S. federal census - Plainview, Macoupin County, Illinois. In the 1870 census, William Rhodes is listed as age 30, and is living in Township 9, Range 8, Macoupin County, Illinois, with his wife, Abrosia Rhodes, 29. Also in the household is Sibley Rhodes, eleven months. William is listed as farming.
1880 - U.S. federal census - In 1880, William is listed as William Rhoads, 36, and is living with his family in Polk, Macoupin County, Illinois. The rest of his family includes his wife Ambrosia, 29, and children, Fletcher 9, Flora 7, William 3, Frank 1, Mary 1, and an infant Rhoads son, 3 months.
1900 - U.S. federal census - In 1900 William was listed as Wm. M. Rhodes, 56, and was head of household living with his family in Raymond Twp., Montgomery County, Illinois. The household consisted of his wife, Eunice A., 48, and children, Mary 20, Henry 18, Shelby 16 and Sadie 14.
1910 - U.S. federal census - The household consisted of William M. Rhodes, 66, and Mary A. Rhodes, 59. They were living in Raymond, Montgomery County, Illinois.
1920 - U.S. federal census - Listed as Wm. Rhoades, 75, with wife Delia M, 68, and living in Raymond, Montgomery County, Illinois. He owned the home they were living in.
1930 - U.S. federal census - In 1930, William M. Rhodes, 86, is living with his second wife, Delia, 78, in Raymond, Montgomery County, Illinois.
February 3, 1931 - Death - At his home, Raymond, Montgomery county, Illinois.
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