HENRY M. BALDRIDGE - The history of mankind is replete with illustrations of the fact that it is only under the pressure of adversity and the stimulus of opposition that the best and strongest in men are brought out and developed. Perhaps the history of no people so forcibly impresses one with this truth as the annals of our own Republic. If anything can inspire the youth of our country to persistent, honest and laudable endeavor it should be the life record of such men as he of whom we write. The examples of the illustrious few of our countrymen who have risen from obscurity to the highest offices in the gift of the nation serves often to awe our young men rather than to inspire them to emulation, because they reason out that only a few can ever attain such eminence, but the history of such men as Mr. Baldridge proves conclusively that with reasonable amount of mental and physical power success is bound eventually to crown the endeavor of those who have the ambition to put forth their best efforts and the will and manliness to persevere therein. Mr. Baldridge is today carrying on one of the important industries of Sangamon county, being actively engaged in the manufacture of tile and brick in Illiopolis, where he has conducted business for twenty-six years.
A native son of Illinois, Mr. Baldridge was born in Clinton county, August 23, 1853, and is a son of Joseph Baldridge, whose birth occurred in Iredell county, North Carolina, in 1800. The grandfather, William Baldridge, was a farmer of that state and reared his family there. Joseph Baldridge was married in North Carolina and subsequently removed to Clinton county, Illinois, casting in his lot with its pioneer settlers. He entered land from the government and thus developed and improved a farm. After losing his first wife he was again married in Clinton county, his second union being with Rebecca Smith, also a native of North Carolina. There were four children of the first marriage, three of whom reached years of maturity, while of the nine children of the second marriage six are now living. On one or two occasions Joseph Baldridge removed from Clinton county, Illinois, but each time he returned and there he died in 1854, when his son Henry was a child of but one year. His widow survived him and reared her family, which she brought to Sangamon county about 1856.
Henry M. Baldridge spent the days of his boyhood and youth in Sangamon, Christian and Macon counties. He is largely a self-educated as well as a self-made man, for his school privileges were very limited in his early youth. He had to start out in life for himself when a mere lad and he worked as a farm hand until 1872, when he secured employment in a brick yard in Taylorville, there spending three years. During that time he learned the business in all of its various departments. In 1875 he established a yard in Shelby county and continued in the manufacture of brick there for two seasons He then came to Sangamon county and began business as a manufacturer of brick on the Sangamon river, where he continued for four years, when he purchased a tract of land and removed to his present location. Here he began to manufacture tile and each years burns many kilns. Subsequently he enlarged his business by adding to it the manufacture of brick and in this he has continued until his output is now about five hundred thousand brick annually and he burns as many kilns of tile as of brick. There is a local demand for his entire product and his business has proven very profitable. He likewise owns a half interest in a factory at Mount Auburn and another at Stonington.
Mr. Baldridge was married near Centralia, Jefferson county, Illinois, June 2, 1881, to Miss Harriet J. Porter, who was born in Jefferson county, Illinois. Her birth and her marriage occurred in the same house. Her father was William Porter of that place. Mrs. Baldridge died in Illiopolis, April 28, 1889, leaving one son, Cecil, whose death occurred on Christmas day of 1899, his death resulting from an accident. Mr. Baldridge was again married in Springfield, on the 19th of March, 1890, to Ida Spaulding, a native of that city and a daughter of John Spaulding, who was born in New York and married Margaret Day. He possessed considerable mechanical ability and was a shoemaker by trade, following that pursuit in Springfield. During the war of the rebellion he joined the cavalry and was killed in the service. Unto the second marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Baldridge have been born two children, Balcolm C. and Palmos Alleyne. They occupy a good residence in Illiopolis which was erected by Mr. Baldridge.
He is a stanch Republican and has supported every presidential nominee of the Republican party since casting his first vote for Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876. He has served as a member of the town council for three or four terms and his co-operation is heartily given to every movement for general progress and improvement. He and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church and she takes a very active part in its work, being connected with a number of church auxiliary societies. Mr. Baldridge is also identified with the Knights of Pythias fraternity and the Modern Woodmen camp. His entire life has been spent in Illinois and he had made for himself an excellent reputation as a man of business. Viewed in a personal light he is a strong man of excellent judgment, fair in his views and highly honorable in his relations with his fellow men. His integrity stands as an unquestioned fact in his career. His life has been manly, his actions sincere, his manner unaffected and his example is well worthy of emulation.