VALORIE EVERSOLE - Daily Union Staff Writer
SHELBYVILLE, IL. —
When one Shelby County man willed his property to his grandchildren, little did he know some of the tracts would be later recognized as centennial farms.
Descendants Bonnie Furr Clark, Donna Lupton and Tom Horsman of rural Shelbyville own portions of the land that once belonged to William G. Furr. Some portions of Furr's 410 acres have been sold to other land owners, but some portions remain in the family.
William G. was the son of John Furr John was born in Indiana but lived in Shelby County most of his life. He returned to Indianapolis later in life. William was born in Shelby County, but left the area for a time as a young man.
Furr returned to Shelby County in 1886 after spending three years in Vicksburg, Mississippi, where he worked ditching (tiling) land. In August 1891 he purchased 160 acres, the first of several tracts of land, in the Robinson Creek bottom from John S. Gordon and George Fringer. The land, located at Route 16 and 1300E west of Shelbyville, also held natural springs that helped to enrich the fertility of the soil. Furr tiled the land himself to harness the water. He grew corn and raised Norman mares and colts as work horses.
“Grandpa was considered the 'corn king',” said Clark. “That’s what made him thrive - the corn.”
Furr bought another 40 acres in 1908 and an adjacent 160-acre tract in 1909.
Furr was considered a wealthy man at the time and his home was supplied with modern conveniences of the day. The Furr home was one of the first houses in the area with an upstairs bathroom. It was also heated by a Delco generator - a new innovation for the era. The home was located on the original 160 acres on the north side of Route 16, land which is now owned by Tom Horsman, son of Grace Furr Horsman. This tract has also been recognized as a centennial farm
Furr's land was split among his nine children in 1937 upon his death. Furr's will revealed that his intent was that the land would be passed down to his grandchildren.
“The land was actually left to his grandchildren,” Clark said.
Clark, daughter of Roy Furr, owns and resides on 20 acres of the land to the south of the highway. Lupton, granddaughter of Clara Furr Lupton, co-owns and resides on 28 acres also located along the highway to the south. She shares ownership with her brothers Dean, Jim, and John. Her sister, Vivian Lamb, also shared ownership. Another descendent, Todd Furr, also lives in the home of Roy Furr on a parcel of the land adjacent to the Lupton and Clark land.
In 2009 Clark's property was recognized as a centennial farm by the Illinois State Department of Agriculture. Lupton's parcel received the recognition in December 2009.
“We (Bonnie and Donna) had been waiting for the centennial to get this (recognition),” said Lupton.