How Can You Find a Farm's Name?

The State of Illinois approved the Farm Names Act providing for the registration of farm names on June 25, 1915. It went into effect on July 1, 1915. A farmer who wanted to name his farm could register the name and a description of the land with the County Recorder for a set fee. This name could only apply to one farm in the same county. If the land was sold or divided, the name of the farm did not transfer with the deed unless stated in the transfer. A certificate with the farm name was printed for the owner. An owner could cancel the name of the farm by paying a fee and filing a notice of cancellation with the recorder.

The original register for Champaign County is located at the Recorder’s office. The Archives has a bound Xeroxed copy of the register index and corresponding entry pages titled “Register of Names of Lands (Farms), Champaign County, (ILL) County Recorder.” The register includes the owner’s name and residence as listed on county tax books, name and address of the farm, description of lands to which the recorded farm name applies, section subdivision, section, township, range, school district no., number of acres, and date. There is also a column for the cancellation of the farm name. The registration dates range from September 16, 1915, to April 12, 1982, with the majority of the entries before 1950.

Register page 37 has an entry for:
T.T. Wilson, Broadlands, ILL., Catalpa Grove Farm, Champaign Co. ILL., S² NE, E² SE, NWSE Sec 3 Town 17 Range 10E 3rd P.M., 3-17-10, School District 152, Feb 9, 1918.

Certificate issued by the Champaign County Recorder’s Office for Catalpa Grove Farm, 1918

The certificate issued by the County Recorder’s office has the farm name typed and misspelled as Catapla Grove Farm instead of Catalpa Grove Farm as listed in the Register. According to the family, the farm was named Catalpa Grove Farm after the grove of Catalpa trees growing there.

Barn at Catalpa Grove Farm owned by T.T. Wilson

T.T. Wilson, 8-17
Catalpa Grove Farm
Thomas T. Wilson, Unknown, Unknown, Helen Thompson Wilson

The picture above was scanned at the Archives from a negative belonging to the Wilson family.  The 8-17 may have been the construction date of the barn, and the picture was taken after the farm name was added.

The barn is no longer standing, and the family home has been sold, but the farmland still belongs to descendants of T.T. and Helen Thompson Wilson.

The Farm Names Act can be found in the book, “Laws of the State of Illinois Enacted by the Forty-ninth General Assembly at the Regular Biennial Session Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Springfield, on the 6th day of January A.D. 1915, and Adjourned Sine Die on the Thirtieth day of June A.D. 1915

- Karla Gerdes
  Archives Assistant