HISTORY OF THE JAMES AND JULIA LARKIN FAMILY'S FARM in McLEAN COUNTY, ILLINOIS Farm is located 5 miles east of Towanda By Jim Larkin From "The Family of James and Julia Hogan Larkin 1. Great Grandfather James Francis Larkin left Tipperary County, Ireland in 1851 because of the Potato Famine. The story goes that James landed in New York with 10 cents in his pocket. He was 17 years old. He worked in New York for 2 years then came west, spending 6 months in Cincinnati, Ohio then moving on to Pontiac, Illinois. He secured work west of Lexington for a Peter Hefner who, with his wife, took a liking to James, helping him rent land around 1857 and then acquiring land of his own in Money Creek Township. In 1857, James' brother Patrick left Ireland to come to Towanda. On the ship he met Julia Hogan. Through this acquaintance, James Larkin and Julia Hogan were married in 1859. Later, Patrick Larkin married Julia's sister Mary. Patrick Larkin's descendents still live � of a mile away. 2. The family history goes that when this land was first farmed, only the hilltops could be farmed, because most of the other ground was wet or swampy. This is one reason the immigrants could afford to buy this land. It wasn't worth much until the Dutch and Germans settled here and they knew about underground tiling from the old country. This tile, much of which is still working, had to be dug by hand with a spade. Some of these tile lines run 2 or 3 miles back from the outlet and have many secondary lines hooking on to them. This must have increased the productivity of the land tremendously, because from 1860 to my great grandfather's death in 1906, he owned 1040 acres of land. 3. In 1888, a new house was built. There is a picture of the house soon after it was built. My family is the 4th generation to live in this house which was built, wallpapered, painted and ready to move into at a cost of $2500. You could not have the house painted for that now. The original slate roof is still on the house. After my great grandfather's death, my grandfather, his brother and 2 brothers-in-law farmed the land. All went well until the Depression of the 1930's. About half the land was lost. Today, different descendents of James and Julia Larkin own 440 of the original acres.
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4. My father, Bill, started farming in the 1930's and I started helping him in the 1960's. Some of my fondest memories farming with my father are: socializing with other area farmers at the Merna Tap, attending 4th of July celebrations, first at Cooksville and later at Towanda, and my father pointing out to me where the doctor's office, the bank and Ford dealership used to be in downtown Towanda. The following are major changes that have taken place in farming since my father started farming. The earlier events were told to me by my father and the later ones are events I have lived through. From 1930 to the present: 1. Tractors replace horses. My father was one of the first to switch. He said it was because they didn't have very good horses! 2. Electrification of rural areas in the late 1930's. 3. Hybrid corn. My father bought the first hybrid corn from Lester Pfister. 4. Introduction of soybeans as a cash crop. 5. Disappearance of livestock from farms. 6. Chemical farming. Farmers began using herbicides, insecticides, and fertilizers. 7. Combines, drying, and storing of shelled corn instead of ear corn. 8. Minimum and no till farming. 9. Concentration of agriculture. By Jim Larkin � from a bound history including genealogy, "The Family of James and Julia Hogan Larkin," reprinted 1980, located in the Towanda District Library under Local Histories, 929.2 .
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Illinois State University, Milner Library, Normal, IL, 61790 - for the Towanda Area Historical Society/Towanda District Library
Towanda Area Historical Society/Towanda District Library
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