“The Scully Family – Farming the Prairie”
The final Elkhart Historical Society dinner/lecture of 2011 was on November 4 at The Wild Hare Café in Elkhart, IL. Professor Emeritus, Paul Beaver of Lincoln College, local author and historian, was the featured speaker. Many know Beaver as a nationally recognized authority on Abraham Lincoln, but his knowledge of another local individual, William Scully, was the focus of his November presentation. He is the author of “William Scully and the Scully Estates of Logan County, Illinois.” Beaver’s early research explored the vast farmland holdings of the Scully family in Illinois and other parts of the mid-west. Scully began to drain his Illinois prairie land around 1870, using big open ditches similar to the type he was familiar with in Ireland. He was the first to use a drainage system in Logan County, and Scully tenant farmers were able to get into their fields two weeks earlier than the other farmers as a result. His son, Thomas, continued the vast drainage system, enlarging and maintaining by adding grass waterways, small dams and promoting conservation and improvement of the soil. Paul has authored several other books, one being his 2010 Abraham Lincoln in Logan County, Illinois 1834-1860. Paul's latest endeavor, The Last Farm Boy (2011) will be the subject of an up-coming Elkhart Historical Society dinner/lecture this summer.