Born in Somerset County, Pennsylvania on May 30, 1800, Jacob moved to Licking County, Ohio when he was 17. There he married and began his life as a stockman raising cattle and horses.
He came to Illinois in 1828 to buy horses. Impressed by the quality of the land he instead bought property near Jacksonville in Morgan County. Returning to Ohio he continued his business there and did not re-locate to Illinois until 1831. His wife died at the end of that year and Jacob re-married in July, 1832.
His cattle business flourished. Initially he shipped his cattle to St. Louis and for a time controlled that market. Eventually he sent cattle to New Orleans and to the major eastern cities. To meet his needs he bought cattle throughout Illinois and was among the men who got stock from Iowa, Missouri and Texas. He was one of the largest cattle dealers in the country.
Jacob is credited with being the first to feed steers in Morgan County. He also was the first in Illinois to stall feed cattle with corn.
Besides his stock raising business he also had a butchering plant and a flour mill. With them he supplied Jacksonville with both beef and flour. In 1841, he was one of 39 founders of the Illinois Agricultural and Stock Association, a group designed to encourage and promote agriculture in the state.
Jacob's career was very successful. At the time of his death on August 23, 1865 he owned around 20,000 acres of land and had an estate estimated at $1,000,000.
History of Morgan County, Illinois: Its Past and Present – 1878
The Centennial History of Illinois: The Era of the Civil War 1848-1870 – Arthur Charles Cole - 1919
Jacob Strawn and John T. Alexander: Central Illinois Stockmen – Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society – Clarence P. McClelland – June, 1941
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