EDWARD G. BRITTON, as the head of the dairy industry in Mounds, has been instrumental in developing to its present high standard that line of endeavor in Pulaski county, and he has demonstrated to the public the splendid possibilities of the genus bovine as a source of profit to the systematic farmer.
He began the dairy business in the summer of 1890, in an exceedingly small way, when on August 7th of that year he sold his first supply of milk at Mounds. The incident was an unimportant one at the time, but it marked the beginning of a permanent industry and one which has developed into a gigantic enterprise in comparison with the sphere of activity of the average Pulaski county farmer. The few cows from which Mr. Britton drew his supply of milk were grazed upon an eighty acre tract not his own property, and there were various other conditions unfavorable to the best success of a tenant farmer in the dairy business. As a result, Mr. Britton decided to become the owner of a piece of land whereon to pasture his cattle. He began his operations in that direction by securing a portion of the old Fawnbell farm, then somewhat run down and abandoned, which served as the nucleus of his present domain of three hundred and seventy five acres situated one and a half miles north of Mounds. His place is an illustration of what can be done by way of restoring land to its original fertility, and should act as an incentive for others to do likewise. His infantile business expanded with remarkable swiftness and precision, and made immediate demand for additional grazing grounds and additional acreage for growing feed, and for more modern equipment for housing and feeding his herd. He set about expanding the premises, and the acme of his preparations for the care of his stock was reached when in 1908 he erected a barn one hundred and fifty-four by thirty-six feet with an L thirty-six by forty-two, two stories, cement floors, drainage canals, with three lines of iron track for suspended feeding car, and with a mow capacity of one hundred and twenty-five tons of hay for his eighty cows.
This building is the chief of its kind in the county, and is supplemented by two silos eighteen by thirty feet, with an aggregate capacity of one hundred and fifty tons of ensilage each. The results achieved after four years of experience with this modern equipment are ample justification for the necessary outlay for its construction, and the entire plant, now rapidly becoming known as an exclusive Holstein dairy, is a fitting monument to the efforts of its proprietor, ably assisted by his companion in life during a period of twenty years.
Mr. Britton was born in Knox county, Ohio, January 5, 1862. His father, John Britton, was born at Barnstable, Devonshire, England, in 1823. He came to the United States as a young man in 1849, stopping in Knox county, Ohio. There he married and engaged in farming. In the spring of 1862 he came to Effingham county, Illinois, where he pursued the same vocation until 1883, when he made his final move to Pulaski county. He located near Villa Ridge, where he was known as a modest, unassuming, straight-forward citizen. His wife was Hannah Beeny, a daughter of Joseph Beeny, also from Devonshire, England. In 1897 Mr. Britton died, and his widow is passing her remaining years with her various children. Of their issue there were Rev. Joseph W., pastor of the Methodist church at Mount Vernon, Illinois; Sarah C., the wife of Albert Gould, of Weston, West Virginia; Ida Sophia, the wife of George Bride, of Pulaski county; Edward G., the subject; Charles Samuel, ex-circuit clerk of Pulaski county, head of a mercantile house in Cairo and another in Mound City; Richmond Lee, a farmer near Pulaski, Illinois; and Benson Irving, well known as a business man of Mounds, and now a resident of Urbana, Illinois.
As already intimated, the early environment of Edward G. Britton was of a rural nature. The country schools gave him a limited education, and the parental roof sheltered him until he had reached his twenty-eighth year. In April, 1890, he married Miss Alta A. Gould, a daughter of Solon Gould, of Bone Gap, Edwards county, Illinois, Mrs. Britton being the eldest of four children, the others being Edith, Virgil and Alice Flora. Following his marriage in 1890 Mr. Britton rented a small farm near Pulaski, and the following year came to the vicinity of Mounds, where he was a tenant farmer for seven years, and while he was preparing to launch out into the dairy business, of which he has made such a signal success, he was engaged in the producing of grain.
Mr. and Mrs. Britton are the parents of two children, Ethel, aged eighteen, and Ernest, aged eight. "The family are of the Methodist faith, and are identified with all departments in the labors of the church.
Extracted from A History of Southern Illinois, 1912, Volume 2, page 656-658