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Chicago: Chapman Bros., Publishers


JACOB STRAWN was a native of Pennsylvania, and was born May 30, 1800. His father was Isaiah Strawn, who came of a family of nine sons born to Jacob Strawn, Sr., the latter being born in the city of London, England, and left an orphan when he was a small boy. In company with his mother, in his boyhood days, Jacob Strawn, Sr., emigrated from England to America, coming on a ship that had among its passengers, William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania. When the widow Strawn and her son, Jacob, landed in Philadelphia after a long voyage, they were strangers and friendless. When the boy grew to manhood, the removed to Bucks County, Pa., where many of his descendants now reside. He was married to a Miss Purcely, whose parents had emigrated from Wales to Pennsylvania when she was quite young. They had nine sons and three daughters, and those who grew up to maturity, had families. This couple died in Pennsylvania, and their son, Isaiah Strawn, the father of the subject of this sketch, married Miss Rachael Reed, of Sussex County, N.J. Just after their marriage they removed on to a farm in Turkey Bottom, Somerset Co., Pa., and there Isaiah and his wife spent the rest of their active days as farmers, and there also their children, four sons and two daughters were born, Jacob being the youngest child. In 1817 some of the Strawn family moved to Licking County, Ohio, where the elder children had settled, having grown up and married there.

It was in 1837, that we find the first families of Strawns settling in this State, locating in Putnam County, where Isaiah S. died at very advanced age, Aug. 4, 1844, his wife dying ripe in years April 4, 1843. They were Quakers, and came of a hardy robust stock. Such is a brief account of the Strawns in America. The progenitors of this family were of good, old honest sort of people, that it would be refreshing to see in these latter days.

Jacob Strawn in early life had limited advantages for obtaining an education, and as the people of Sommerset County, Pa., were as a rule, not well off in this world's goods, the district schools were operated on as economical a plan as possible. But Jacob was a determined boy, of good habits, and possessed a great deal of physical endurance. He went through the district schools in a satisfactory manner, and thereupon decided to make his life work that of a cattle raiser and dealer in livestock; and with this determination in his mind, he set out to fight his way through the world. When seventeen years old, his parents removed to Licking County, Ohio, and at the age of nineteen, he was married to Miss Matilda Green, daughter of the Rev. Joseph Green, of Licking County. As a basis upon which to erect a fortune, this young couple started out in life with an indebted ness of $7. From that time forward Mr. Strawn's financial success in life was extraordinary. The first $100 he made, was invested in wild land in Ohio, and while there he bought and sold cattle quite largely, but believing that Illinois was a better field for more extensive operations, he came to this state in 1828, and was struck with the rich soil of the prairies, and the remarkable fattening qualitites of the grasses. Instead of purchasing cattle with his money, Mr. Strawn invested it in land, a part of which afterward became his homestead. In 1831 he returned to Ohio, where he disposed of his property, and came back with his family, settling in Morgan County, on land he had previously purchases at such a low price.

Mr. Strawn at once started out on the highway of prosperity, and in his long march, which covered a great many years, he never met with an obstruction. And it was not luck that was the foundation of his remarkable victory. He was clear headed, energetic, and above all, exhibited excellent judgment in all his investments. He became one of the largest cattle-dealers of the United States, and besides this, was a very extensive land holder in Illinois. When he died he was the wealthiest and best known man in Morgan County. His death occurred in 1865.

Jacob Strawn was a man of generous instincts, and possessed an eminently Christian spirit. He did not seek political preferment, and would have nothing to do with politics as a business, but he always exhibited great interest in his party. He was an Old-line Whit, and a Republican. During the War of the Rebellion he was very enthusiastic in doing what he could to support stalwart war measures, he being a friend of Abraham Lincoln, and willing to follow where the great war president might lead.

1889 Index
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