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The Gridleys

             The story of the Gridley family is far too well known to bear repeating here. Asahel Gridley came here as a bachelor and began building his empire almost immediately. Although faced with setbacks in the form of national depressions, he persevered and was instrumental in building up the city of Bloomington and County of McLean. He was a banker, a legislator, a lawyer and entrepreneur. He owned the first public utility and was a primary influence for the establishment of the railroad in Bloomington. Without the railroad, Bloomington would not have prospered, farming in McLean County would not have been as profitable and life here would simply be unrecognizable. 

              Mrs. Paist was interviewed by Madame Annette in 1899 and told some stories of old McLean. She recalled what seemed to be the romantic adventure of Asahel and Mary Enos Gridley. Mary was from Pittsburg and when Asahel Gridley was there on business he was introduced by her brother. It was a case of love at first sight, in Mrs. Paist’s memory. She recalled that after they were married and boarding at the hotel, Mrs. Gridley would sit on the upstairs balcony and people used to pass there just to get a “glimpse of her youth and beauty.” 

               Although the Gridleys had four children, their family line in McLean County expired with the second generation.

               Full biographies of Asahel and Mary Gridley can be found at the McLean County Museum of History website. 

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