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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Alton in Madison County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

First Soybeans Planted in Illinois, 1851

 
 
First Soybeans Planted in Illinois, 1851 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, October 6, 2019
1. First Soybeans Planted in Illinois, 1851 Marker
Inscription.  Bitten by gold rush fever in 1849, Dr. Benjamin F. Edwards, brother to former Illinois governor Ninian Edwards and the Honorable Cyrus Edwards, left Alton and traveled to San Francisco to try to capitalize on the economic opportunity. Days before he began making his way home, 17 shipwrecked Japanese Sailors found floating adrift for 50 days in the Pacific arrived having been rescued and transported to the city. In the food stores of the rescued Japanese were soybean seeds ("Japanese peas"). Dr. Edwards came into possession of several of the peas and he in turn gave six of them to his friend, James Henry Lea, a prominent merchant, upon returning to Alton in April of 1851. Mr. Lea had an interest in agriculture and planted the seeds in his garden on what is now the location of Loretto Towers, thus becoming the first soybeans grown in Illinois. Mr. Lea would go on to share the results of his crop with various horticultural societies, thus playing a significant role in soybean development across the country.
 
Erected 2019 by Lewis and Clark Community College, the City of Alton, and the Illinois State Historical
First Soybeans Planted in Illinois, 1851 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, October 6, 2019
2. First Soybeans Planted in Illinois, 1851 Marker
Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church (on State St) is seen in the background
Society.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Illinois State Historical Society marker series.
 
Location. 38° 53.706′ N, 90° 11.438′ W. Marker is in Alton, Illinois, in Madison County. Marker is on Prospect Street just west of State Street, on the left when traveling south. Marker is in front of an open grassy area at the intersection of Prospect and State streets. It is outside the former home of James Henry Lea. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 417 Prospect Street, Alton IL 62002, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Ruins of First State Prison in Illinois (approx. mile away); Lincoln-Douglas Debates! (approx. half a mile away); Discover History All Around Alton (approx. half a mile away); Ryder Building (approx. half a mile away); The Legend of the Piasa (approx. half a mile away); The Duel That Never Happened (approx. mile away); Smallpox Island (approx. mile away); A Changing Waterfront (approx. mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Alton.
 
More about this marker. Marker was dedicated on August 23, 2019.
 
Regarding First Soybeans Planted in Illinois, 1851. Theodore Hymowitz, Ph.D., emeritus professor of plant genetics at the University of Illinois, first raised the question of where were the first soybeans planted in Illinois, in 1967. Decades later, Reid Memorial Library (at Lewis
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and Clark Community College in Illinois) researchers were able to trace the event to the particular location outside Lea's former home. It was announced in March 2019 that a marker would be dedicated there. Several locals attended the unveiling ceremony, including Hymowitz and Lewis & Clark Community College President Dale Chapman.
 
Also see . . .  Commemorating the origins of soybeans in Illinois (video). News story from KTVI-TV (St. Louis' FOX affiliate) about the unveiling event, uploaded on YouTube. Includes an interview with Theodore Hymowitz, who first asked the question about Illinois' origins of soybeans in 1967. (Submitted on October 7, 2019, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.) 
 
Categories. Agriculture
 

More. Search the internet for First Soybeans Planted in Illinois, 1851.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 7, 2019. This page originally submitted on October 7, 2019, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. This page has been viewed 79 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 7, 2019, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.
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