Marshall County

STRAWN, William

William STRAWN, the eldest son of Colonel John and Mary (McCLISH) STRAWN, was born in Ross county, Ohio, October 16, 1814, and in September, 1829, reached Marshall county, Illinois, locating in Richland township. The year previous his father had visited this place, and by driving a stake in the grass established his claim to a tract of land. In the fall of 1829, with one covered wagon, with six horses attached, he brought his family to this spot and unloaded his goods. William was then in his fifteenth year. He became an expert hunter and killed many deer and wolves in this locality. His rifle was also brought into play while he was serving as a volunteer of the home guards during the Black Hawk war.

William STRAWN remained with his parents until twenty-six years of age, when on the 30th of September, 1840, he married Helen M., daughter of Lunsford BROADDUS, of Hopewell township, Marshall county. He then secured eighty acres of land, a half mile from his father’s home, and in a log cabin they began housekeeping. He was a tireless worker and would leave home early in the morning, taking his dinner with him and remain in the forest until night, cutting wood. He would cut three cords per day, and haul it two and a half miles to the nearest town; thus his land was cleared and as the trees disappeared crops were planted. He continued to actively operate his farm until seventy years of age, such was his enterprise and perseverance, and to his original purchase he added until he owned over fifteen hundred acres. He was also extensively engaged in stock raising, and in 1850, he began raising apples. He was told by the old farmers that his fruit could not be successfully cultivated on the prairies, but for twenty years he gathered large crops of apples and thereby materially added to his income. He made extensive improvements upon his farm in the way of buildings and fences and his money was always invested in more land until he became one of the largest owners in this section of the state.

Mr. STRAWN was in early life a zealous democrat, but afterward united his interests with the greenback party, and later became a prohibitionist. He was always an active political worker, although he never sought office. He was ever well informed on the issues of the day, studied the question of the civil war from both the northern and the southern standpoints, and was extremely well read on general literature. For thirty years he was a member of the American Bible society, and had a number of diplomas for his faithful service therein. His church relationship was with the Methodist denomination in early life, but he afterward united with the Congregational church, and for many years was superintendent of its Sunday school.

Mr. and Mrs. STRAWN lived to celebrate their golden wedding, at which was present his sister, Susan, who had witnessed the nuptials of the young couple fifty years before. For some time prior to his death Mr. STRAWN never weighed more than one hundred and forty pounds, but his muscles seemed of iron, and his constitution could endure almost anything. He died on the old homestead June 21, 1894. His property was divided by will and the day before his death he had the details of the funeral arrangements written out and signed it, desiring that his sons should act as pall-bearers. He retained his consciousness almost to the last moment, and then passed away quietly and calmly, ending an honorable life, which furnishes many examples which are well worthy of emulation. His obituary was written by an old-time friend, George O. BARNES, and his funeral was one of the most largely attended in Marshall county. His remains were laid to rest in Lacon cemetery, but the memory of his life remains as a blessed benediction to all who knew him. His widow still resides on the home farm, a kindly old lady who has the respect and love of all.

Extracted May 2011 by Norma Hass from The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois, 1896.

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