Shelbyville Daily Union

November 26, 2010

Comptons Boast Centennial, Sesquicentennial Farms

VALORIE EVERSOLE - Daily Union Staff Writer

SHELBYVILLE, IL. — Two brothers originally from Virginia trekked on foot from Ohio to southern Shelby County in the late 1830s and through their lifetimes acquired nearly 750 acres each in what was then known as Holland Township.

The parcels of land were passed down through generations of the two family branches until one descendent brought them back into one family.

Paul Compton, 85, and his son Gerry now own 148 acres of the land that belonged to brothers Charles and Jonathan Compton.

“The brothers walked here from Ohio because caring for horses along the way would slow them down,” said Paul. The brothers settled across the road from each other - Charles on the south side and Jonathan on the north - and began acquiring their acreage.

The land owned by Charles has been recognized as a sesquicentennial farm. The land was acquired from the State of Illinois under the Homestead Act in 1838. Gerry now lives on 80 acres of that land in Clarksburg Township near the intersection of county roads 700N and 1900E. The other 68 acres is located in Section 16 of Clarksburg Township just north of the Mt. Zion Cemetery on the Clarksburg Blacktop

Paul purchased Charles’ land from his distant cousin Charles Flenner in 1967. Flenner was Charles Compton’s great grandson.

“I just wanted to keep it (the land) in the family,” Paul said. “I didn’t think about it being a centennial farm.”

Paul’s great-grandfather is Jonathan. Jonathan’s land was owned by the Gollogher family for a time. It was bought back by Paul’s grandfather Charles (Jonathan’s son) in 1884. The land was passed on to Paul’s father Leverett, then to Paul, and finally to Paul’s son Gerry.

“The Gollaghers, Allens and Comptons all came to the area about the same time,” Paul said. The Comptons and the Allens became related by marriage.

“When I went to Holland School, there were 40 kids in the school and I was related to 36 of them,” Paul mused.

Like many land owners of the area, the Comptons were grain and livestock farmers. An old barn still stands on the property of the centennial farm along with a concrete milkhouse that was built by Leverett with help from a very young Paul.

Paul and Mary did the research for the centennial farm. Part of the land was sold but the remaining acreage was given to Gerry as a birthday gift. It wasn’t until they were looking through an 1870 plat book and began researching the family history over a decade ago that he discovered his great-great-great uncle Charles’ land had never been out of the family hands.

“We didn’t realize it until we tracked the lineage that it was a sesquicentennial farm,” Gerry said.

They applied to the State Department of Agriculture for the corresponding  recognitions for the farms. In 2001 Senator Duane Noland and Representative Bill Mitchell presented the Sesquicentennial Farm plaque to Gerry and his wife Rose and the Centennial Farm plaque to Paul and his wife Mary. Gerry now owns both farms.

The Comptons do not plan for the land to be leaving the family line anytime soon. Gerry and Rose said they will leave the land to their son Jason with the hope that it will continue to be a family farm for future generations.

“He (Jason) does have an understanding about the farm,” Rose said.

“Hopefully it will become a 200 year farm,” Gerry said.

Mary added that the hardest thing about getting the recognitions was getting the documentation necessary to establish the continuing family ownership of the land.

“I think that if everybody wrote things down and put it in a family Bible, that would help,” she said.