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William & Joseph Irving

Joseph Cameron Irving (1873 - 1936) was sent to Illinois in 1883, along with a brother, William. Like many boys, William was restless and did not stay with the family he was first bound to. Joseph stayed, seeking out further education at a college. This was not unheard of among farmers in Illinois. Farming was a scientific business and our colleges and universities addressed the needs of farmers through formal college education as well as local farm bureau "continuing" education programs. However, the Effingham Collegiate Institute and Conservatory of Music, established 1890, may not have included agriculture in its offerings. The college changed its name in 1893 to "Austin College" in honor of two men who were instrumental in saving the college that year. The college had a full curriculum with three dedicated laboratories for physical and chemical biology, a reference library of 4000 books, and equipment for the study of astronomy and surveying. Although the college had graduated hundreds of students with bachelor and advanced degrees by 1905, the college became the Bissell College of Photography in that year. Joseph Irving attended the College sometime around 1894 (the date of his letter).

Joseph's wife's family was part of a tightly knit German Lutheran community that included the family that raised Joseph after he came to Illinois -- the Weise family. Although Joseph's family was from England, he probably learned German as a boy to be part of the German community he had joined.

The only known event known from Joseph's life after he wrote his letter to the asylum in 1894 comes from the a Mattoon newspaper. In February, 1935 Joseph sold off his farm, stock and equipment to begin life as a chicken rancher. He died July 9, 1936.

William Henry Irving married Julia Walpole in Iowa on June 25, 1907. At that time the names of his parents were recorded: William Irving and Mary Jane Cameron. They had two sons, William Walpole and Richard Cameron Irving. In 1920 William worked as a boilermaker in Nebraska and in 1930 he lived in Atlantic, Iowa working as a roadman for the Highway Commission. William died July 31, 1960.

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