John Rice Caldwell was the great grandson of William Caldwell who was born in Scotland and the grandson of John Caldwell, who was born in Ireland and who later settled in Ross County, Ohio, and who in 1807 was united in marriage to Mary McClure of York Co, Pennsylvania. Captain William Caldwell, the father of John Rice Caldwell, was born in Ross county, Ohio, in 1808, and his father John Caldwell served in the war of 1812 against Great Britain. Captain William Caldwell was united in marriage July 26, 1831, to Mary Pearson, who was born near Cape May, N.J., February 24, 1806. John Rice Caldwell, the subject of this sketch, was born on the same farm on which his father was in Ross county, Ohio, June 13, 1832. In 1833 Captain William Caldwell, with his family and aged mother, moved to Noble county, Indiana, where they remained until 1849. The Caldwell’s were pioneers of Ohio and Indiana, and lived among the Indians, who were especially friendly and whose language they learned to speak.
In 1843 Captain William Caldwell married Elizabeth Christie, who was born in Ross county, Ohio, in 1822. William Caldwell moved his family from Noble county, Indiana, to Andrew County, Missouri, in 1849. They made the trip by wagon and during the entire trip did not cross a bridge or a railroad track. They crossed the rivers by ferry and forded the streams. Arriving in Andrew county in August, 1849 they settled in Rochester.
Captain Caldwell bought a mill property and built the first bridge across the Platte river at Rochester. J. R. working in the mill with his father in his early manhood, and later engaged in the mercantile business. In April, 1865, he moved to Savannah where he served as deputy circuit clerk under his father. In 1868, he was elected judge of the probate court and re-elected in 1872. After retiring from the probate office he engaged in the practice of law and mercantile pursuits until 1877, when he moved to Kansas to engage in the banking business. He retired form business and returned to Savannah in 1905, where he resided until his death.
In 1871 Judge Caldwell was married to Miss Elizabeth Farley. To this union three children were born, Dr. Clyde F. , Charles and Mrs. Grace E. Hall. He is survived by his wife, six children, nine grandchildren, and one great-grandchild and three brothers.
He united with the Presbyterian church in 1869, was elected deacon in 1870 and ruling elder in 1880. When a very young man he joined the I.O.O.F. in Rochester and was thought to be the oldest continuous member of the Savannah lodge.
Judge Caldwell was very devoted to the church and under no circumstances would he permit any thing to interfere with his church attendance and duties, and at the day of his death he was the senior member of the session.
He came from that sturdy Scotch Irish stock which always stood for the right and his influence for good will long be felt in this community. His going is not alone felt by his family, but by many old friends, who have sat with him in the church or the councils of the godly."
Source: An Andrew County newspaper, 18 January 1918
Submitted by: Pam DeWitt November 2006