Clay County

Biography - James F. Hyatt

"Through struggle to triumph" seems to be the maxim which holds sway for the majority of our citizens, and, though it is undoubtedly true that many fall exhausted in the conflict, a few by their inherent force of character and strong mentality, rise above their environment and all which seems to hinder them, until they reach the plane of affluence toward which their face was set through the long years of struggle that must necessarily precede any accomplishment of great magnitude. Such has been the history of Mr. Hyatt, proprietor of the well-known Linden Lawn Dairy, and in his life record many useful lessons may be gleaned.

James F. Hyatt was born in Versailles, Indiana, January 7, 1855, the son of Hiram and Bythynia (Alley) Hyatt, the former a native of Indiana, and the latter of Kentucky. The subject's father was a stockman and farmer, and for many years carried on a stock business on an extensive scale near Versailles, having died in Clay City, Indiana, in 1905. His widow, a woman of many praiseworthy traits, like those of her husband, is still living at this writing (1908). They were the parents of five children who grew to maturity, and who reside in Indiana, with the exception of the subject, who is the eldest of the family. He was reared in his native county where he received a common school education, having attended the Quaker Academy for two years at Butlerville, Indiana. He decided to become acquainted with the manufacture of woolen goods, and accordingly early in life went to work in a woolen mill, also worked in a flourmill owned by his father, where he remained for several years. When twenty years old he went to what is now Clay City, Indiana, it being a railroad terminus before a post-office was established. A coal mine had been developed there. He secured employment with the coal company as weigh boss, later in a clerical capacity, having given the company entire satisfaction in this work. In 1878 he started a small merchandise business which was successful from the first, and also became interested in coal mining, brick manufacturing, milling and various enterprises which he carried on with his usual successful methods, and operated stores in a number of different places, in fact, he purchased large stocks of goods in various eastern cities, shipping the same to different states and closing them out. His advancement was rapid and most successful. In 1894 to 1896 he sold all his interests in Indiana, having previously got possession of large tracts of land in Arkansas, establishing a colony in northeastern Arkansas, and has been instrumental in locating many families from the northern and eastern states on the same. He still carries on this business with gratifying results. He went to Chicago to live, where he resided until coming to Olney in 1900.

At the time he came to Olney he purchased the Linden Lawn Dairy, which he has since managed in a most successful manner, having made many improvements, increasing the capacity of the dairy, enlarging the barns, improving the fertility of the land, and in many ways making it one of the model dairies of the state. He has one hundred head of dairy stock. There is a great demand for all that his dairy produces in Olney, where all his dairy products are readily disposed of. This business was originally established by the Linden Lawn Farming Company, a corporation organized or promoted by C. S. Mace, now deceased. Mr. Mace conceived the idea of forming a corporation for carrying on farming and dairying on an extensive scale, with the idea of also making it a cooperative institution. All employees invested twenty-five per cent of wages in stock and received pro rata of profits of the business. It grew to extensive proportions, consisting of farming, horticulture, dairying and stock raising. Modern buildings and equipment were provided. At the time of the death of Mr. Mace, the promoter, in 1900, the stockholders decided to close the corporation and sell the property. Accordingly in September of that year, James F. Hyatt, our subject, purchased the same and has since carried on the work on a paying basis, assisted by his wife, who is actively connected with the management. The dairy has eighty stalls for milk cows, besides large sheds in close proximity. There is a silo with four hundred tons capacity, which was one of the first built in this county. Linden Lawn consists of one hundred and sixty-three acres, all inside the corporate limits of Olney. Land on part of three sides is platted and partly improved. The land is in a high state of fertility. Sixty-five acres are in bearing order in fine condition. The dwelling is of pressed brick, stone trimmings, slate roof, is commodious, convenient, and has all modern conveniences and appliances, large verandas, stone, brick and concrete walks, large well, beautifully shaded lawn. The building occupies elevated ground, giving a splendid view of the city. The barn is metal roofed and has every modern equipment for furnishing high grade sanitary milk. The barn has steam and electric power, electric lights, running water, concrete floors, and is in every way up-to-date. The dairy herd is mostly full blood Jersey. In fact, this is without doubt one of the very finest farms in Illinois, and one would be compelled to search long and far to surpass it in any state.

Mr. Hyatt was united in marriage in 1888 to Iva Grim, a native of Coal City, Indiana, the daughter of Henry and Charity (Gray) Grim, natives of Ohio, both now deceased. The father of Mrs. Hyatt was a farmer and merchant, a civil engineer and surveyor, and a pioneer of Coal City. One son, Frederick, a lad of much business promise, now seventeen years old, has been born to Mr. and Mrs. Hyatt.

In 1902 Mr. Hyatt purchased the opera house block, a three-story brick structure. He remodeled the interior and converted the top floors into a modern opera house, refurnished and entirely overhauled the same. The interior decorations and arrangements compare favorably with the smaller opera houses in the large cities. This splendid, safe and comfortable playhouse is greatly appreciated by the citizens of this community and much credit is given the owner for its establishment.

In his political relations Mr. Hyatt is a Republican. He is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Lodge No. 926, at Olney. He is president of the Business Men's Association of Olney. Mrs. Hyatt is a member of the Christian church.

James F. Hyatt is a thoroughly practical businessman, which fact, coupled with his undoubted ability as an organizer and promoter, contains the secret of the success of the institution of which he is the head.

Extracted 27 Apr 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay & Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 172-174

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