HENRY C. SHOLTY, one of the most extensive farmers of Dale Township, came to the Prairie State during the period
of its early settlement and has watched the growth and progress of this section with the interest which every intelligent
man feels in the development of the country or State which he calls his home.
Mr. Sholty was born in Lancaster County, Pa., on the 7th of March, 1833. His father, Jacob Sholty, was also a native of the Keystone State, and was born in the county of Lancaster in 1805, and his grandfather, William Sholty, was a native of Holland and came to America when a young man.
He was poor, and not having money enough to pay his fare over, the ship's Captain sold his time and he worked three years and nine months to liquidate the debt.
After coming into Pennsylvania he purchased a small tract of land in Lancaster County, upon which he carried on farming operations for the balance of his life. While a young man he had learned the blacksmith's trade and also engaged in this in connection with his agricultural pursuits.
Jacob Sholty, the father of our subject, was reared in his native county and assisted his father in the blacksmith-shop until he was twenty-one years old. He then learned the milling business, in which he was occupied the greater part of his time until 1837, when he removed to Indiana.
It was before the days of railroads, and he started overland to Dayton, Ohio, where he stopped six months and then completed his journey, locating in Delaware County, Ind. He had with him $100 in cash, and he purchased eighty acres of land at $2 per acre, paying only a part down. He built a log cabin on the place and commenced to clear a farm.
About this time he received a letter from home upon which was due twenty-five cents postage. He had no money, and his wife took six chickens to the nearest village and sold them for twenty-five cents, thus raising money to pay the postage.
Mr. Sholty worked out days to earn money upon which to support his family, and at night labored at home improving and cultivating his land. In 1845 he bought a small flouring-mill, and soon afterward, in company with another man, erected a larger mill on White River, three-fourths of a mile from Selma. He lived there with his family until 1849, when he sold out and started for Illinois, accompanied by his wife and seven children.
Their traveling outfit consisted of one yoke of oxen, three horses, two wagons and a carriage. They carried their household goods with them and camped and cooked by the wayside. They arrived at Bloomington, Ill., in about twelve days from the time they started, and camped on the spot which is now occupied by the First National Bank.
They had selected Fulton County for their location, but meeting a friend, Mr. John McGoun, were persuaded by him to settle in McLean. Mr. S. consequently rented a log house near town into which he moved his family, and then purchased 125 acres of land on section 34, Dale Township. Upon this there was a log house, into which Mr. S. moved his family and commenced the improvement of his land. This remained his home until his death, which occurred in October, 1880.
Jacob Sholty was very prosperous, and as time passed on added to his acreage, and at his death was the possessor of 551 acres, mostly under improvement, a beautiful residence, and the finest barn in the county. He was a straightforward business man, a substantial and reliable citizen, and highly respected in the community which he had assisted in building up.
The maiden name of his wife, the mother of our subject, was Mary Kaufman, a native of his own county in Pennsylvania, and of German ancestry and parentage. She was the daughter of Michael and Annie (Funk) Kaufman, and is still living, making her home with her son, the subject of this sketch.
Henry C. Sholty was the second child of his parents, and was four years old when they removed from his native State to Indiana. He was a youth of seventeen years when they came into McLean County, Ill.
He had been reared to farming pursuits and also assisted his father in the mill. At the age of twenty-one he commenced to learn the carpenter's trade, at which he worked a part of the time for ten years. He was skillful at his trade, and among other fine buildings which he erected was his father's barn, already spoken of, and which was the largest building of its kind in McLean County.
In 1854 Mr. Sholty settled upon the farm which he now owns and occupies. He followed his trade only a part of the time afterward and devoted the remainder of his time to the improvement and cultivation of his land. He built the house in which he now lives in 1855, but subsequently, in 1874, remodeled, enlarged and improved it, and it is now one of the finest farm residences in this section. His estate embraces one of the most splendid tracts of land in McLean County, comprising 720 acres, all in one body, and with a living stream running through the farm, which is in a fine state of cultivation with a generous tract of pasture, upon which roams some of the finest stock exhibited in this section.
The subject of our sketch was united in marriage with Miss Susan Swinehart, in March, 1859. She is the daughter of George and Susannah (Saylor) Swinehart; they were also natives of Pennsylvania and farmers. They both died on their farm near Harrisburg, in York County, Pa. Mrs. S. was born in Montgomery County, Pa., July 30, 1828, and by her union with our subject has become the mother of four children.
Mary died Oct. 11, 1880, aged twenty years; William married Annie Bozarth, and lives on a part of the homestead; Jacob married Florence Staley, and they also live on a part of the home farm; Elizabeth married Elmer Zeiters, and likewise lives on the home farm. Thus it will be seen that the children of this esteemed couple are married and settled around them. From their own door they can see each of their residences.
Mr. and Mrs. S. are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and in politics Mr. S. is a stanch Republican.
Everything in and around the Sholty homestead is indicative of cultured tastes and ample means, and he and his family are surrounded by all of the comforts and many of the luxuries of life. Like his father before him, Mr. S. is possessed of unlimited enterprise and energy. He is straightforward and systematic in his business methods, prompt to meet his obligations, and occupies a prominent position among the business and industrial interests of this section. He is highly esteemed by a large circle of friends and acquaintances, and by his fellow-citizens as possessing, in a marked degree, all the qualities of an honest man and a good citizen. His success in life has been largely due to his own energy and industry, and he is but reaping the reward of what is justly due him for worthy effort.
A fine lithographic view of the residence, outbuildings and farm of Mr. Sholty appears in the work. We also show a portrait of Jacob Sholty, the father of Henry C. Sholty, who during his lifetime was one of the honored settlers of McLean County.
Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 364. Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.