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Thomas C. Yard

YARD, Thomas C. — It is impossible to follow the long career of Thomas C. Yard without feeling the uplift of encouragement and renewed appreciation of those qualities which, since the beginning of time, have led men to wealth, honor and noble citizenship. The advantages of good birth and good training were included in the equipment of this early pioneer. During the brief sojourn of his parents in historic Stamford, Fairfield County, Conn., he was born December 4, 1830. His father, Job Yard, was a native of Somersetshire, Southwestern England, and as a young man came to the United States and lived for a time in New York City. He later married Frances Chorley, also born in Somersetshire, England, a daughter of William Chorley, and with his wife moved to Connecticut, settling on a farm near Stamford for a couple of years. His next venture was as a merchant in New York City, and while thus employed he contracted the western fever and decided to identify his fortunes with the prairies of the Central West. Reaching McDonough County April 18, 1833, he found a great expanse of sparsely settled country, offering unlimited opportunity to men of courage, patience and forethought. Purchasing 160 acres he set himself to the task of turning its primeval sod to the light of the sun, of putting in seed, and in the fall gathering his harvest. With this went the privation incident to living in a pioneer home, of subsisting on few articles of diet, and depending largely upon the game that fell before the marksmanship of the settlers. The work of improving the land was necessarily slow, and at the time of his death in 1839, six years after his arrival in the county, Mr. Yard had but forty acres under the plow. His wife survived him until 1875, having bravely performed her task as helpmate and mother of succeeding pioneers. She had seven children, of whom Thomas C. is the third in order of birth. A resident of McDonough County since he was three years old, Thomas C. Yard has witnessed every stage of growth in the heart of a splendid agricultural region. He has seen towns arise and lend vigor and vitality to the prairies, and witnessed the failure and success of new arrivals, according as they were strong or weak in weathering the storms of adversity. For a few months each winter, when his labor was not in demand at home, he attended the crudely built school some distance from his father's farm, but in later life the meagerness of this opportunity came to him with insistent force, driving him to add to his scant knowledge whenever opportunity offered. Today he is a well informed and keenly intelligent man, abreast of the times and able to renew his youth in a contemplation of the aims and ambitions of the rising generation.

Upon the marriage of Mr. Yard and Louise Phelps, of Oneida County, N. Y., December 28, 1854, a change was effected in his plans, the young people starting up housekeeping on a small farm of fifty-four acres, which then represented the extent of their purchasing power. As a money maker this property did not long meet the demands of its occupants — a difficulty easily remedied, as their harvests were abundant and their household conducted with strict economy. More land was purchased from time to time until Mr. Yard was the possessor of 730 acres, 210 of which comprised the old homestead in Emmet Township. From the time of his marriage until June, 1895, Mr. Yard lived on the same farm, and during that time a transformation took place which seems hardly possible to the boys of today who witness the unexampled prosperity surrounding them. In June, 1895, Mr. Yard removed from the farm to the home he had purchased in Macomb, where he still lives, and near where he owns another house and lot. He has one of the largest incomes from personal property of any of the retired farmers of the town. Mr. and Mrs. Yard are the parents of nine children: Frances Elizabeth, William C., Emma L., Leander F. (all deceased); Clara A., wife of H. L. Booth; Thomas A. (deceased); Edmund L., of Florence, Colo.; Truman P., of McDonough County, and Jessie O., wife of J. Ledgewood, also of that county. Mr. Yard is a Republican in politics, and in early life was an active local worker. His fine personal qualities have drawn to him the friendship of many and the good will of all, and his career of great usefulness, of integrity and worth, stands clearly outlined on the history of this fertile and well favored county.

Source: The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of McDonough County, compiled by Dr. Newton Bateman, and Paul Shelby, 1907, volume 2, pages 1050-1051, extracted 26 Oct 2020 by Norma Hass.

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