James Henning, living upon a farm on section 22, Granville township, has reached the age of four score years, having been born in County Antrim, Ireland, September 15, 1826. He comes of Scotch-Irish ancestry, possessing the strong and sturdy qualities which have ever marked the people of that race. His parents were William and Catherine (Nickolls) Henning, the former a native of Dumfriesshire, Scotland, and the latter of 'County Antrim. For twelve years his father served in the British army, being with Wellington at the battle of Waterloo, when Napoleon met the defeat that practically terminated his brilliant career. After leaving the army Mr. Henning rented land belonging to an Irish officer. In fact, he secured a life lease, which, however, he sold on coming to America.
Upon a farm in his native land James Henning spent the days of his boyhood and youth to the age of nineteen years, when he accompanied his parents on their emigration to America. He at once proceeded to Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, where his brother William was working in a mill, and the succeeding five years he was employed in the same establishment, during which time he mastered the business in all its departments and was paid from two and a half to three dollars per day for his services a very good wage for that time. The mill, however, was closed down on account of the lack of business and thus in 1849, with the little capital which he had saved from his earnings, Mr. Henning left Pennsylvania and came to Illinois.
After two years he located at Cheming, Henry county, where he was employed as a teamster, and in the gristmill and general store for a gentleman who was extensively engaged in business at that place. He afterward again spent two years as an employee in the mill at Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, but his residence in Illinois has been continuous since 1874, covering a period of more than a half century. His brother William also came to this state and for ten years was connected with the grain trade at Lostant, where his death occurred. Another brother, Robert, lives at Hennepin, while Samuel has always lived with our subject, and John lives in Hennepin.
While Mr. Henning was living in McHenry county his parents came to Putnam county, settling in Granville township, where his father died, and subsequently returning to this state Mr. Henning joined his mother who made her home with him up to the time of her death. He began farming on rented land, first leasing land from Ralph Ware for three years. On the death of Mr. Ware, the farm, comprising three hundred and twenty acres, was divided into three parts, two .of which Mr. Henning secured, thus becoming owner of two hundred and ten acres, for which he paid forty dollars per acre. Since that time he has greatly extended his landed possessions and he now owns four hundred and fifty-five acres in Putnam county beside a good tract in South Dakota. Although eighty years of age he still has active management of this property but he has now placed it on the market for sale and when he disposes of it expects to retire from business life.
Mr. Henning has given considerable attention to the raising of cattle and horses, feeding about a carload of the latter each year. He finds the breeding of heavy draft horses a profitable source of income, making a specialty of Clydesdale and Shire horses, and at different times making exhibits of his fine thoroughbreds at the various fairs. Corn is one of his principal crops and a glance at his place indicates to the passerby why this district has won its fame as a portion of the corn belt of the country. The soil and climate are principally adapted to this cereal and Mr. Henning has found in the raising of this crop one of his chief sources of income. Upon his place he sunk a well thirteen hundred and fifty feet deep, when he reached artesian water that is brought to the surface by a wind pump. He has a tank of three hundred barrels capacity, which he keeps full, and in this manner his stock is always well supplied. Mr. Henning has added to his place all of the modern equipments and accessories of a model farm of the twentieth century and has kept in touch with modern progress along agricultural lines and his advancement in the business world is certainly creditable. He has been both the architect and builder of his own fortunes and in all of his business affairs has displayed an aptitude for successful management. His political allegiance is given to the republican party, and while never an office seeker he has kept informed on the questions of the day and has loyal attachment for the land of his adoption, while here he has found a home and gained a competence, enjoying its advantages and its protection.
Source: Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois authored by John Spencer Burt and W. E. Hawthorne in 1907, page 498.