First Soybeans Planted in Illinois, 1851

First Soybeans Planted in Illinois, 1851 (HM2LKJ)

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N 38° 53.706', W 90° 11.438'

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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.
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Illinois State Historical Society series
Year Placed2019
Placed ByLewis and Clark Community College, the City of Alton, and the Illinois State Historical Society
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, October 7th, 2019 at 5:01am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15S E 743647 N 4308888
Decimal Degrees38.89510000, -90.19063333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 53.706', W 90° 11.438'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 53' 42.36" N, 90° 11' 26.28" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling North
Closest Postal AddressAt or near , ,
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