Biography of Jesse Meharry

Jesse Meharry. One of the largest farming estates in Champaign County is that of the Jesse Meharry family, now managed and operated by the sons of the late Jesse Meharry. Mr. Meharry was a notable figure in Champaign County affairs, not only as a land owner, farmer and stockman, but as a public spirited citizen.

He was born in Montgomery County, Indiana, October 9, 1835. He was of Scotch-Irish and Welsh extraction. Concerning his ancestry it is said that during the reign of “Bloody” Queen Mary his forefathers escaped by going to Ireland. After several generations some of the family located in Pennsylvania, near Connelsville. Later they moved to Adams County, Ohio.

The parents of Jesse Meharry were Thomas and Eunity (Patton) Meharry. Thomas Meharry was born April 27, 1799, in Adams County, Ohio. Eunity Patton was born in Brown County, Ohio, August 16, 1802. They married in December, 1827. Soon after their marriage the young people moved to near Wingate, Indiana, in Montgomery County, where they lived the remainder of their lives. He was a man of splendid business ability and acquired a large amount of land not only in Indiana but in Illinois. Thomas Meharry died January 29, 1874. He was the father of seven children: Mrs. Jane P. Dick, William, Mrs. Ellen Martin, Jesse, Mrs. Polly A. McCorkle, Abraham P. and Isaac.

Jesse Meharry was raised on his father’s farm in Indiana, attended the local district school and spent two years at Asbury, now DePauw University, at Greencastle, Indiana. He taught the local district school for two winters. He cast his first presidential vote for John C. Fremont in 1856, and voted for Abraham Lincoln in 1860. He remained loyal to the Republican party throughout his life.

Jesse Meharry came to Champaign County in 1862, herded and fed cattle on the prairie between Mattoon and Rantoul for three years. In 1865 he took up his permanent residence in Philo Township on a tract of land of 640 acres which was raw prairie. There he occupied himself in bringing his farm to a high state of cultivation and in feeding and raising live stock. In 1893 Mr. Meharry moved to Tolono, Illinois, where he held residence till his death.

Mr. Meharry served his fellow citizens as supervisor of Philo Township for eleven years and was a commissioner of highways in Philo Township for several terms. He had been a member of the Republican County Central Committee since 1888, serving a longer term than any other member ever had served.

On June 4, 1887, Mr. Meharry united with the Tolono Methodist Episcopal Church. He served over forty years on the official board and acted as Sunday School Superintendent for twenty-two years. He was a member of the building committee when the new church was erected.

He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Illinois Wesleyan University, at Bloomington, Illinois, for the seven years prior to his death.

On February 27, 1873, Mr. Meharry was married at New Lenox, Illinois, to Miss Addie A. Francis, the daughter of Abraham and Mary A. J. (Davison) Francis, and of this union the following children were born: Jesse Erie, George Francis, Edwin Thomas, and Paul Francis.

Jesse Erie Meharry was born near Tolono, Illinois, December 31, 1876, and was graduated from the Tolono High School in 1895 and from the University of Illinois in 1899. He was married to Katharine I. Hay of Carmi, Illinois, September 22, 1916. He is a farmer and breeder of Poland China hogs, his herd being classed with the best six herds of Poland Chinas in the United States.

George Francis Meharry, born at Tolono, Illinois, June 12, 1880, was graduated from the Tolono High School 1899, and from the University of Illinois 1905. He was married to Miss Sophie Mary Voss of Champaign, Illinois, February 27, 1912. He is engaged in farming.

Edwin Thomas Meharry, born near Tolono, Illinois, November 30, 1881, was graduated from the Tolono High School in 1900 and from the University of Illinois in 1906, and is a farmer by occupation.

Paul Francis Meharry was born March 23, 1888, near Tolono, Illinois, was prepared in the Tolono High School and the University of Illinois Academy, and finished his education at the University of Illinois. He was married to Miss Stella Blanche Dougherty of Fairmount, Illinois, on February 3, 1914. He follows farming.



Stewart, J. R. A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York. 1918.

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