Oglesby, Richard James
- Mark A. Plummer
Oglesby, Richard James (25 July 1824–24 April 1899), soldier and politician, was born in Oldham County, Kentucky, the son of Jacob Oglesby, a merchant-farmer, and Isabella Watson. Oglesby’s mother, father, two brothers, and a sister died in the cholera epidemic of 1833. The family’s only slave, known to Richard as “Uncle Tim,” was among the assets auctioned as part of the settlement of the meager estate, a scene that Oglesby later claimed made him an abolitionist. He was sent to live with relatives who migrated to Decatur, Illinois, in 1836. Oglesby received only a few months of formal schooling, but his oratorical skills attracted attention at an early age. In 1845 he read law in the office of Judge Silas Robbins, a prominent Springfield attorney, and he was admitted to the bar the same year. He practiced law in Sullivan and Decatur, a part of the Eighth Judicial Circuit, where he met and became an admirer of another ambitious, Kentucky-born Whig, ...