THOMAS DENBY is one of the class of farmers who believe that mixed husbandry is the only safe method for an Illinois farmer to pursue. He is an extensive stock-raiser of this part of Morgan County, making a specialty of swine, and intelligently following this business, in which he has accumulated a fortune. He is a man who reads the literature bearing on the business in which he is engaged, and he is reaping the benefit of this most commendable plan of doing. There are many people engaged in agricultural pursuits who are firmly intrenched in the belief that no real knowledge is gained from books that bear upon practical farming. Of course, they are wrong, and Mr. Denby is one who believes that this idea is erroneous.
Mr. Denby has always bred the Poland-China breed of hogs, and he believes - and his experience is corroborative of this belief - that this strain of hogs is the best. He has been feeding swine since 1845, and during that long period has given this branch of stock-raising his undivided attention. He has the deserved reputation of raising the finest and largest hogs in Illinois, as a few figures will illustrate: In 1852 or 1853 he shipped to Beardstown, Ill., a lot of comprising eighty hogs that weighed on an average 437 ½ pounds net, and the heaviest of these animals weighed 610 pounds, while the lightest was 404 pounds. This is said to be the heaviest lot of hogs ever shipped from Beardstown.
Mr. Denby owns 202 acres of land on section 21, township 15, range 11, and it is safe to say that there is not a better cultivated piece of land in this region than his. Upon this farm is erected a brick house which is a model of comfort and convenience, and the barns, sheds, etc., are all in keeping with the place. The farm is well watered and is admirably adapted to the business in which Mr. Denby is engaged. He spares no pains to buy the best appliances to carry on his farm, believing that the best is none too good for a farmer and stock raiser who would succeed.
Mr. Denby was born in Yorkshire, England, July 17, 1822. He is the son of Thomas and Ellen (Conderd) Denby; the former is a native of Lincolnshire, and the latter of Yorkshire, where they were married. After the senior Denby marriage, he began to farm in Yorkshire, and there all his children, four in number, were born. In 1832 he concluded to try his fortune in America, and accordingly, on April 3, shipped at Liverpool on board a sailing vessel, and started for the New World. While on the Atlantic, their ship encountered a terrible storm, which continued unrelentingly for eight days and nine nights. During this storm there seemed to be no hope that the ship would ever reach land, but the passengers, of whom there were a great many, were stout Englishmen and Scotchmen, and by hard and persistent work at the pumps they managed to keep the boat from sinking. They finally reached New York City on the 1st of August, having been nearly three months on the ocean. The ship contained over a thousand people, who suffered all the tortures of death. After the senior Denby had landed he proceeded at once to Morgan County, which he had heard spoken of as the garden spot of the United States. Here he purchased 200 acres of land, the same now occupied by his son Thomas. The father, in 1847, decided to go back to England, and while making the trip was attacked by a fever, and died while on the Atlantic. His body was buried at sea. He was then about fifty-three years of age, and seemingly had before him years of happiness, but Providence decreed otherwise. His wife died in Jacksonville in the fall of 1847, the same years in which her husband passed away. They were universally regarded as persons of intelligence and virtue.
Mr. Thomas Denby was only ten years of age when he came to America with his parents. His first marriage occurred in Morgan County and was to Martha R. Sparks. She was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1821. She died in 1846, and left behind her the reputation of being a hard working and intelligent woman. She left one son, George T., who died at the age of twenty-one. The second marriage of Mr. Denby was to Mary J. Wells, who was born in 1821, in Morgan County, where she has remained since. She is the mother of five children, two of whom are dead, namely: Sarah E., wife of George W. Kilham, who died leaving a son and a daughter; and Thomas E., who died when he was two and a half years old. The living are: Mary E., wife of George V. Ramson; they live on a farm in the same township as their parents; Anna M. is the wife of T.O. Graves, who is also farming in the same township; Ann E. is the wife of John W. Leach; they are also living on a farm here. Mrs. Denby is a member of the Methodist Protestant Church, and there is not a lady in all the country around who is more respected than she. Mr. Denby politically affiliates with the Democratic party.