History of Funk's Grove Township, McLean County, Illinois
From: History of McLean County Illinois
By: Jacob L. Hasbrouck
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka-Indianoplis 1924

Funk's Grove Township. - Taking the name of the earliest and most prominent family of settlers, this township is one of the most noted farming tracts in McLean County. Isaac and Abraham Funk came to this county in 1824, and after looking at the conditions at Blooming Grove and Old Town Timber, they decided to locate at the grove to the west, which afterward took their name. William Brock came with them from Ohio, and he with the Funks set to work in the business of raising cattle. Brock built his cabin on Section 30 and the Funks built theirs on Section 16. Having built up a good business in cattle, Brock was driving a lot to the market in Ohio, when he was taken sick at the home of John Dawson in Old Town, where he died of typhoid fever. The first spring the Funks were here they planted a crop and cleared off a tract in the edge of the grove, meanwhile building a house such as they could from poles and bark of the linden trees, 12 by 14 feet. One window was put in and a puncheon floor laid. Eighteen persons lived in this cabin in the winter of 1824-25. The cabin stood till 1832, when it was burned down Isaac Funk was born in Kentucky Nov. 14, 1797. The family moved to Ohio in 1807 and from there to McLean County in 1824. Isaac Funk had little education, but he was a man of great practical knowledge, being wise in matters of handling cattle. He went into debt $2,000, a great sum for those times, and acquired his first land. Every dollar he could get he invested in more land, until he acquired 20,000 acres. He was married to Cassandra Sharp in 1826, and they had eight children. Land values greatly increased with the coming of the Illinois Central railroad, and shortly after that time Mr. Funk added 12,000 acres to his holdings, for which he contracted debts of $80,000. He fed and marketed large numbers of cattle and hogs, and became known far and wide as the largest dealer of that kind in Central Illinois.

Mr. Funk took an interest in politics and was a man of positive convictions. He was a Whig for years, then joined the republican party. He was a friend of Abraham Lincoln, and in the campaign of 1860 he appeared in a Lincoln parade in Bloomington driving twelve yoke of oxen hitched to a wagon on which was a "float" representing the rail splitter. In 1862 he was elected to the state senate, and finding there much sentiment in opposition to the Lincoln and union war policy, he made a thrilling speech denouncing the opponents of Lincoln as traitors. It thrilled the whole state by its vigor and directness. In the winter of 1865 Mr. Funk came home, was taken sick and died on January 29. His wife died the next day.

The Funk lands were amicably divided among his sons after his death, and they remain largely in the hands of the family to this day, the third and fourth generation being now in charge. The lands were developed along lines different from that of ordinary farms, being devoted to "corn breeding," where new varieties and better qualities of seed are constantly bred, after the manner of breeding stock. The Funk Bros. Seed Company was the outgrowth of this kind of agricultural methods, and this company built up a business in seed corn and other grains which extends all over the country and to many foreign lands. Many of Isaac Funk's sons and grandsons have attained local distinction in other lines than purely agricultural. Benjamin F. Funk, one of the sons, was mayor of Bloomington and congressman, while his son, Frank H. Funk, grandson of Isaac Funk, is the present member of congress from this the Seventeenth district (1923). Another grandson, Eugene D. Funk, was member of the government food commission during the World War. Lafayette Funk, son of Isaac, was state senator for some time; also member of the board of supervisors and chairman of the board at one time.


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