Henry Hummel. Perhaps to no one nation does America owe more for the successful development of its farms than to Germany. No better or finer class of people ever came to this country than the German colonists of the ’40s. On the broad prairies and in the forests of the West, in peace and in war, in every branch of human endeavor and human achievement, by brave and honest service they made compensation to the land of their adoption.
One of this class of citizens long identified with Champaign County is Mr. Henry Hummel of Dewey. He was born near that historic place celebrated in song and story, Bingen on the Rhine, August 28, 1840. His parents were Philip and Katherine (Bloss) Hummel. He was one of a family of seven children, four sons and three daughters, and it is an indication of the virility of the family stock that all these children are still living, all of them in America and five residents of Champaign County. Philip Hummel was a native of the same locality as his son Henry, and gave the best endeavors of his long lifetime to farming. In 1843, with the purpose to better his condition and secure better opportunities for his children, he set out for the New World. He and his family traveled on a sailing vessel and landing in New York City proceeded west to Kaneville in Kane County, Illinois. Like many of his compatriots he arrived poor in purse but rich in energy and resources of mind and body, and in Illinois he began work as a wage earner. He continued that until he was able to buy a team of horses, and in 1861 he came with his family to Champaign County. In this county he lived the rest of his days, and passed away in 1906. At the time of his death he owned 244 acres in East Bend Township, a farm adjoining that now owned by his son Henry. Politically he became a Republican. He was a strong friend of public education, served his school district as a director, and he and his wife were active members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church at Dewey. His wife was born in the same locality of Germany and has been dead now for many years. Both are interred in the Beekman cemetery, where monuments mark their last resting places.
Henry Hummel was three years old when he came to the United States. His parents were poor, and there were few opportunities for him to attend school when a boy and his best training was acquired by the wholesome work of the home place. He largely educated himself by study outside of school. He continued to live with his parents until he was twenty-seven, and all his active years have been given to farming and stock raising.
When it came time for him to make an independent start in the world he lacked none of the courage which had enabled his father to establish a home in a new and strange land. He bought eighty acres. After paying his brothers and sisters their share he assumed an additional obligation of $1,200. He also bought another tract of eighty acres, where his beautiful country home now stands, at a cost of $3,000. Thus he started farming with the heavy incumbrance and handicap of a debt of $4,500. It was only an incentive to increased effort. With the aid of his good and loyal wife, and in spite of sickness, bad crops and interest rates frequently as high as fifteen per cent, he paid out dollar for dollar and after acquiring the 160 acres was still in his prime and ready for further efforts and extension of, his holdings. Today, in 1917, he owns 529 acres, all of it in East Bend Township, and there is no other farm in the entire township which shows a finer outfit of barns and other equipment nor a more beautiful country home. Not a dollar of debt stands against this property, which has been won by his capable efforts and which represents a greater value today than almost any other form of wealth.
On February 10, 1879, Mr. Hummel married Miss Mary Catherine Hannagan. Six children, two sons and four daughters, have come into their home, and all of them are still living. Charles A., the oldest, is a resident of East Bend Township and engaged in agriculture, and in politics has been affiliated with the Republican party. He married Laura K. Nickell and they have a little son, Henry C. Both are active members of St. Malachi Catholic Church at Rantoul. Ellen E., the second child, is now the wife of Frederick Federer, a Champaign County agriculturist living in Rantoul Township. Both are members of the Catholic Church. Catherine A. was educated in the common school, has taken musical instruction and is still at home with her parents. She is a member of the St. Malachi Catholic Church at Rantoul and is active in the Rosary and the Altar societies. Margaret is the wife of Ernest Lorenz, a resident of Decatur, Illinois. Mrs. Lorenz is a Catholic and her two children are Charles and Mary Catherine. Aloysius is still with his parents and in active charge of the home estate. He was educated in the common schools, is a Republican and a member of the Catholic Church. Theresa Jane, whose church affiliation is also with the Catholic, married William Quirk, who is a plumber by trade and is now employed by the City Waterworks of Champaign, where he and his family reside. The despot of the Quirk home is their little son Billie. Mr. and Mrs. Hummel have every reason to be proud of their children, who have shown themselves young people of ready attainments and resourcefulness, capable of helping themselves and of rendering service to others.
Mrs. Hummel was born in Grundy County, Illinois, November 15, 1849, a daughter of Felix and Ellen (McCormick) Hannagan. Her parents had eleven children, five sons and six daughters, and all of them but one lived to adult age. Felix Hannagan was born in County Tyrone, Ireland, and when fifteen years of age came with his mother to America. He lived first in Rhode Island, and the mother subsequently moved to Philadelphia and later to Grundy County, Illinois. Mr. Hannagan had grown up in the East, and was a married man when he came to Illinois. For a number of years he followed agriculture in Grundy County, but in 1866 removed to Champaign County and this was his home until his death about 1894. Politically he was a strong Republican and was an active member of the Catholic Church at Rantoul. His family remember his great interest in reading, especially on historical subjects. As a farmer he acquired 160 acres of land in Compromise Township of Champaign County. Mrs. Hannagan was also a native of Ireland and came to the United States when about eighteen years old. She was a devout Catholic and a gentle, kind and loving mother. Mrs. Hummel was educated in the common schools and in the Catholic Academy of St. Joseph at Bloomington and for six months was a student in the Illinois State Normal. Before her marriage she was engaged in teaching and put in ten years in the school rooms of Champaign County. To her task as a homemaker and mother she brought this long experience as a teacher and those qualities of true motherhood and devotion to all of life’s best interests.
Mr. Hummel is a Republican. He has for a number of years served as a drainage commissioner of Champaign County and is as forceful in his public work as he is in his private business capacity. He is a director of the public schools and is a member of the German Lutheran Church at Dewey. His father aided in the construction of the church building there. Mr. and Mrs. Hummel have attained those things that are the best rewards of character and worthy ambition. They have a beautiful home, have the companionship of noble children, and have the respect and esteem of a large community. Their beautiful country estate bears the appropriate name of Forest Lawn.