MICHAEL BODDY. The attention of the traveler passing the homestead of this gentleman is invariably attracted by the air of thrift and prosperity around it, and the evidences of cultivated tastes and ample means. Similarly, the attention of the reader is attracted to the fine engraving of his home, with its air of refinement and cultivated surroundings. The dwelling is set in the midst of evergreens and a tasteful shrubbery; there is a fine vineyard adjacent to the farm buildings, an apple orchard in good bearing condition, producing choice fruit, and other evidences of the enterprising and progressive agriculturist. General farming is carried on in this place, and Mr. Boddy is also quite extensively engaged in stock-raising. The property is pleasantly located on section 18, township 15, range 1, and came into the possession of the present proprietor in March, 1868.
A native of Yorkshire, England, our subject was born Feb. 20, 1829, in Thornton Parish, which was also the birthplace of his parents, Robert and Susannah (Hewbank) Boddy, both of excellent English stock. The Boddy family has been represented in that shire for several hundred years and, with few exceptions, consisted of people honest and well-to-do. The father of our subject was the greater part of his life employed as keeper of a rabbit farm comprising 1,000 acres of land, where were bred annually thousands of these animals. He naturally became familiar with their habits, and was an expert in this line of business. He was taken away in the prime of life, however, when only forty-five years old. The wife and mother survived her husband many long years, coming to America with her children, and dying in this county when past the age of ninety years. She came of a long-lived race, some of her ancestry attaining the age of over one hundred years. They were mostly Wesleyan Methodist in religion, and stanch adherents of the principles of the founder of Methodism.
The subject of this sketch was born after the death of his father, being the youngest of the three children comprising his mother's family. At the death of her husband the mother was left in straightened circumstances, and Michael, as soon as old enough, was required to assist in the maintenance of the family. His advantages for education were very limited, but he was a thoughtful boy and embraced every opportunity to acquire useful information, so that, by the reading of good books and studying as he had opportunity, he became quite well informed. He remained a resident of his native county until after reaching his majority; then, in 1851, emigrated to America, settling at once in this county. Four years later he returned to England with the intention of enlisting as one of a staff corps during the Crimean War. Upon landing at Sebastopol an armistice had been declared, and young Boddy accordingly returned to his old home in Yorkshire. He then opened a store of general merchandise, which he conducted four years, and in the meantime was married to Miss Ann Harrison.
Some time after his marriage Mr. Boddy, accompanied by his wife, once more sought the shores of America, and coming to this county the second time, located on a tract of land in township 15, range 11, where he confined his attention to agricultural pursuits, and was greatly prospered in his labors as a tiller of the soil, building up a comfortable homestead and accumulating something for his old age. In his labors and struggles he had the full sympathy and assistance of his estimable wife, who remained his faithful helpmate and companion until her decease, Sept. 20, 1882. She was born Jan. 22, 1834, and her history was similar to that of her husband in two respects. Both were natives of the same county in England, and both were reared in the doctrines of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. Industrious and devoted to her family, she was not only deeply mourned by her immediate friends, but regretted by all who knew her.
Of his first marriage there were born to our subject a family of nine children, only two of whom are living - Ann and John - who remain at home with their father. The only one married was a daughter, Sarah, who became the wife of J. N. Harvey, and is now deceased. Mr. Boddy contracted a second marriage, in 1882, with Mrs. Mary (Parr) Harvey, a native of Leicestershire, England. Her father, William Parr, was nearly all his life in the employ of the Government at Belvior Castle, where he died, at the age of fifty-eight years. Her mother had been in youth Sarah Norton, of Lincolnshire. She lived to be eighty-one years old, and spent her declining years in the place of her birth. Both the father and mother were members of the Church of England. They were parents of seven children, of whom Mrs. Boddy was the youngest. Two died in England, and five came to America.
Miss Mary Parr was first married, in Wisconsin, to John Harvey, who died in Illinois, March 3, 1878. Of this marriage there were seven children. Mrs. Boddy received a common school education, and lived with her parents until her marriage. Our subject, upon becoming a voting citizen, allied himself with the Democratic party, and has held nearly all the offices of his township, in which he has been a prominent man for many years. His well-regulated homestead stands as a monument of his industry and perseverance, and, in thus redeeming a goodly tract of uncultivated land from its original condition, he has contributed his full quota toward the development of his adopted county.