STRAWN, JULIUS E., one of the most prominent educational characters, and well known as one of the most extensive land owners in Morgan County, Ill., was born December 2, 1835, at Grass Plains, that county, five miles southwest of Jacksonville. He is a son of Jacob and Phebe (Gates) Strawn. Jacob, who was a son of Isaiah Strawn, was one of a family of six children and a native of Pennsylvania. The father of Jacob Strawn married Rachael Reed, of Suffolk County, N.J. They moved to a farm in Turkey Foot township, Somerset County, Pa., where six children were born to them, four of whom were sons - Jacob being the youngest. At a later period the father located in Licking county, Ohio, and in 1837 Isaiah Strawn settled in Putnam County, Ill., where he died April 4, 1843, at the age of eighty-four years. His religious faith was that of the Methodist Episcopal church.
In 1828 Jacob, the father of Julius, purchased the "Cobb Farm", on which he settled in 1831 and which continued to be his home until his death, August 23, 1865. For that farm he paid $10 per acre, at that time the highest price ever paid for farming land in Morgan County. On that tract was a log house which originally contained one room, but at the time of purchase had two, with a loft above. Mr. Strawn paid $1,600 for the property, and some time before his death he was the owner of 18,000 acres of land. In 1857 he sold 3,000 acres for $100,00.
Julius E. Strawn was a delicate child, weighing but twelve pounds at the age of one year. As there was no school in the vicinity of his home, when only ten years old, he was sent to a private school conducted by the Rev. William Eddy, who afterward became a celebrated missionary. Subsequently Mr. Strawn was a pupil in the private school of Messrs. Talmage Collins and Wilder Fairbanks, riding on horseback to and from his home. Afterward he attended the district school taught by James Henderson, and recited his Latin lessons under the tutorship of Paul Selby. In the fall of 1856 he entered the preparatory school of Newton Bateman, where he spent one year and was prepared to begin his classical course in the Freshman year at Illinois College, which he entered in 1857. From this institution he was graduated in 1861. After spending several months as an agent for his father in New York City, in connection with cattle shipped to that point by the latter, eh went to Philadelphia, where he remained a few months, and then returned home. He was next occupied, for two years, in cultivating a portion of his father's land in the eastern part of Morgan County. During the Civil War he received, unsolicited, an appointment on the staff of the War Governor, Richard Yates. In the autumn of 1865 he went abroad for a three years' European trip. He remained some time in London, where he was the recipient of courtesies from Charles Francis Adams, the United States Ambassador to Great Britain. He also visited Ireland, and attended the World's Fair, held in Dublin. After including, in his travels, many points of historic interest in Scotland, he returned to London, and thence journeyed to Paris where he made an extended stay. From Paris he went to Belgium, traveling over that kingdom, passing through the Rhine country, and stopping several weeks at Aix-la-Chappelle. He then took a trip up the Rhine, and remained some weeks at the baths in Crenznach. While there he made an excursion to Russia. In that country he was well received by the United States Minister, Cassius M. Clay, who obtained for him an introduction to the Winter Palace, and the picture galleries and private apartments of the Czar, where he viewed the crown diamonds and other royal treasures. Returning to Germany, he visited Frankfurt; made a tour of Baden; and spent several weeks at Heidelberg. Thence he traveled to Munich, and over the Alps, via the Brenner Pass to Verona and Genoa, Italy, and then, with some German friends, made a trip by coach over the Riviera to Nice. He returned to Italy by sea and spent several weeks in Rome, again reaching Germany by way of Geneva, Switzerland. While traveling in Switzerland he was advised of th serious illness of his sister, Mattie Strawn, and hastening to London, boarded the mail train to Queenstown, Ireland, where he caught the steamer which had left Liverpool the day before. He took passage on the steamer "City of London", Capt. Brooks in charge, who commanded the "City of Washington," on which he had made the voyage to Europe. His sister died before he reached home. After his return he resumed the charge of his lands and farm, but made his home with his mother on the old homestead until 1882, when Mrs. Strawn and family located in Jacksonville, where she continued to reside until her death in February, 1906.
Mr. Strawn has always been a warm friend and supporter of Illinois College, and the Presbyterian Academy. He was made a Trustee of the former institution in 1876, and also of the Presbyterian Academy. Since the death of L. M. Glover, D.D., in 1882, he has been President of the Board of Trustees of the Jacksonville Female Academy. He has served as Trustee of Illinois College under each President and each Acting President since the presidency of Dr. Edward Beecher. During the winter of 1904-1905 he was Acting President of that institution for three months. On the resignation of President Barnes he was elected Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustee, and Acting President until the regular election. Mr. Strawn has been a stockholder in the Jacksonville National Bank since 1871, and a member of the Board of Directors since 1884. On the resignation of President O. D. Fitzsimmons, he was elected to the vacancy, but declined to serve. In 1905 he was again elected President of the bank, and this time accepted.
Politically, Mr. Strawn lends his support to the Republican party. Religiously, he has worshiped with the congregation of the Presbyterian church since his childhood. He is one of the most Prominent representative citizens of Morgan County, and is regarded as a pillar of strength in the community of which is a conspicuous member.