Newspaper Articles Highlighting Michael L. Sullivant’s Life

To go along with my Fanny Willes Sullivant post, I have included several newspaper articles chronicling Michael L. Sullivant trials and tribulations along with his achievements as a farmer.


Mrs. Fanny Sullivant, wife of “farmer king” of Ford County, Ill., denies the truth of the statement that her husband “sleeps in a pauper’s grave.” 

She writes: “While great ruin has indeed overtaken us in fortune, I have sufficient means of my own to lay him in his honored grave in his own family place of burial, selected thirty years ago, at Green Lawn cemetery, Columbus, Ohio, where he lived for fifty years, beloved and respected.”
(The Decatur Daily Review~~Decatur, Illinois Feb. 17, 1879)


The late Michael Sullivant, the great Western Farmer, could ride seven miles from border to border on his own land in Ohio, which he inherited. In 1872, he cultivated more than 18,000 acres of corn on his Illinois estate. His Burr Oak Farm in Ford County, Illinois, said to be the greatest corn farm in the world, 42,920 acres, all under one management.   (The Daily Star)


A Western Farmer~~ A friend from Indiana informs us that he met Michael L. Sullivant, who sold his land on the Scioto, last year, on his way to his new home in Illinois, with a force of 100 men and teams and tools, sufficient to put in ten thousand acres of corn this spring. It will be remembered that Mr. Sullivant was one of the largest farmers in the State of Ohio for many years. We have heard he could ride in a direct course fifteen miles through his own cornfields. We hope he will be equally successful in Illinois. The reason he gave for moving was that he wanted more room to expand his operations, and he found the Grand Prairie just suited to his notions of farming on a magnificent scale. (unknown newspaper)


A former “Corn King” now penniless

One of the saddest and most complete financial wrecks of the day is that of the great Sullivant estate. The assignee’s sale of personal property took place last Thursday and Friday, the lands having been surrendered to the mortgages. Everything was disposed of, and today M. L. Sullivant, the great corn king of the world, is without lands and without a roof to shelter his family, that he can call his own. Under the enforced sale and foreclosures, we learn, the estate failed to realize enough to pay indebtedness by $100,000. The melting away of this once kingly estate is a remarkable example of how “riches takes to themselves wings.”

Mr. Sullivant’s farming operations were on the most colossal scale in the country, and his failure only emphasizes the lesson taught by repeated smaller failures on the part of others, that large farms do not pay in this country. It is not likely that farming on the scale carried on by Mr. Sullivant will ever again be attempted in this State, and his magnificent domain of 40,000 acres will doubtless be cut up into numerous small farms. And while we sympathize with Mr. Sullivant in his failures, we cannot but regard this as the best disposition to be made of these fine lands. They will furnish homes for several hundred happy families. (unknown newspaper)


Unfortunately for me, I forgot to write which newspapers printed the last two articles. I’ll have to figure this out and edit the post, after I research and find the sources.  (I guess that’s an OOPS!)  🙂


About hoosierbeth

I have been researching my ancestors, your ancestors and everybody else's since 1981.
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