Shelbyville Daily Union

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January 27, 2011

Barrett/Bowman/Johnson Farm Sees 6 Generations

SHELBYVILLE, IL. — A Civil War veteran inherited a parcel of Shelby County land from his wife’s father and kept it in the family name through four more generations.

The Barrett/Bowman/Johnson farm, located at 700N and 1400E in Lakewood Township, is currently owned by Jeff Johnson of Shelbyville.

John Barrett, Johnson’s great-great-great grandfather, purchased the 160 aces from the U.S. government in August 1852. Part of that land was passed to his daughter Leah and her husband Caleb V. Bowman (1843-1919).

Although Johnson does not know much about Barrett, he has obtained information about his veteran great-great grandfather Caleb V.

Bowman was a member of the IL 41st Regiment of Shelby County. He saw fighting at Ft. Donelson, Tenn., and Shiloh during his time in the Civil War. Johnson has a copy of a letter sent to his great-great grandfather in 1917 from another veteran of his regiment sharing the memories of their time in the War. The letter writer had been wounded in one of the battles and referred to Caleb’s wounding and recovery. There were no details about Caleb’s wounding.

Caleb V. and Leah had a son, Caleb A. (1872-1959) who is Johnson’s great grandfather. Caleb A. and his wife Mollie bought out his brother and sister’s shares of the land and made their home on the family land, living in the family farm house. Mollie, who lived into the 1970s, continued to host family dinners for her extended family until the early 1960s.

“I remember going to Sunday dinner and spending Sundays at the farm house,” said Donna Johnson, Jeff’s mother. “She (Mollie) probably spent Friday and Saturday preparing for the meal. It was always fun to go there. You were back in another era of time.”

“I remember going to the farm as a child. We went up a long lane to go up to the house,” said Debbie Hammond, Johnson’s  sister. “I don’t remember anything about the house, just the long lane.”

The old farmhouse was the original home and did not have any modern conveniences, still using a pump outside and having a number of outbuildings. There was no indoor plumbing or electricity.

Johnson’s aunt Kathryn Cordray, Mollie’s granddaughter, said she remembers celebrating Caleb A. and Mollie’s 50th and 60th wedding anniversary in the home. She also remembered that Caleb A. used horses for his grain farming - he never had a tractor or car.

Mollie lived to be almost 103 years of age, passing away in 1977. She lived with her son Virgil in the Lakewood area during her final years.

The home was rented out for a short time and eventually torn down after Mollie’s death.

Caleb A. and Mollie’s daughter Vera married Clayton Murrel Johnson who owned the farm after Caleb A. Vera and Clayton were the parents of Warren, Johnson’s father, and Kathryn. Kathryn married Herschel Cordray.

Johnson received half of the 60 acres from his father and bought Kathryn’s share in 1998.

The farm received centennial recognition in 1972, the first year of the Centennial Farm program.

“I plan to apply for the Sesquicentennial recognition,” Johnson said.

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