Our Shaw family ancestors emigrated from Wales in the early 1600’s and farmed in the Copenhagen, New York area for about 200 years before heading west. My (Alex) Great-great-great-great grandfather, Martin Shaw and his wife, Margaret came to Knox County Illinois with their 4 children in 1847. Some family members moved on to California, but Martin’s son, John Calvin, remained on the farm and married Cynthia Robbins in 1861. Their oldest son, Ernest, continued the farming tradition which was passed down to his son, Irving, his grandson, Charles, and his great-grandson Willard; and hopefully one day to Willard’s son, Alex.
One son in each Shaw family generation has continued to farm. Each generation added land which was farmed by Irving & Nellie Shaw from 1926 to 1956, Charles & Audrey Shaw from 1956 to 1994 and Willard & Brenda Shaw from 1982 - Present.
The family farm is located in Sparta and Ontario Townships in Knox County, Illinois. Willard and Brenda live in the home they built in 1990 at the farmstead and Charles & Audrey live in the Hammond House about 2 miles away. Their beautiful home is the oldest brick home in Ontario Township. All of the land we currently farm is within a 2 mile radius from the farmstead which provides us with quite a few benefits.
The farm and family have seen many changes; machinery, technology, farming practices, and farming economics have all changed dramatically over the decades. Willard was the first family member to take a second job off the farm because of lagging farm income in the 1980’s. All members of Willard’s family help on the farm when needed – Jessica prefers the combine, Alex prefers the tractors, and Brenda has done a little bit of everything. Currently we grow soybeans, field corn, sweet corn, winter wheat, black oil sunflowers, and hay. Willard is always willing to try new things – so who knows what is in the future.