Herman H. Behrens has been a resident of Champaign County for forty-four years. During all that time his home has been in section 18 of Ogden Township. In his immediate community he has witnessed changes and developments that would have been regarded as impossible in such a short time when he was a boy. In some of the more substantial items of progress Mr. Behrens has borne a most influential and worthy part himself.
Mr. Behrens is all but a native of Illinois. He was born February 31, 1857, and six months later he was carried, an infant in arms, by his parents, Harm G. and Anna (Lichtsin) Behrens, accompanied by the ten older children, on the way to America. The Behrens family landed from a boat at New Orleans, came up the Mississippi River and first located in Adams County, Illinois, not far from Quincy. They remained there until 1873, when they came to Champaign County, where the father bought forty-eight acres in section 18 of Ogden Township. For that raw land he paid $18 an acre. The children who were then of school age attended the Pleasant Valley schoolhouse in the southwest corner of that section.
Herman Behrens was sixteen years old when he came to Champaign County, and he remained at home for ten years after that, attending school and assisting his father in the work of the farm.
At the age of twenty-six he married Eliza Park. She was born in Illinois, daughter of John and Tina (Duis) Park. The Park family were also natives of Germany. Mrs. Behrens was one of a family of nine children.
After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Behrens located on his father’s homestead in section 18 and that has been continuously their home ever since. Mr. Behrens has shown himself to be a progressive and industrious farmer, and with the aid of his good wife has materially increased his estate until it now comprises 334 acres.
Into their home were born five children: John H., Anna, Tina, Harm and Catherine. These children were educated in the old home school of Pleasant Valley, where Mr. Behrens himself had received some of his instruction. They were also students in the German parochial school and were there taught the religious faith of their ancestors.
The son Harm fitted himself for pedagogical work and as a successful teacher of Champaign County taught in the Morning Star School and also had the honor of being employed by the board of the home district, the Pleasant Valley. The son John H. Behrens lives on land owned by his father and by his marriage to Anna Buhr has two children, Herman and John. The daughter Anna Behrens is the wife of John Osterbur, an Ogden Township farmer, their six children being Lizzie, Thea, Catherine, Herman, Anna and Helen. Tina Behrens married Henry Osterbur, who is also identified with the agricultural enterprise of Ogden Township. Their two children are named Louisa and Frank. The son Harm now lives at the old homestead and manages his father’s farm. He married Nancy Loschen. Catherine Behrens is the wife of George Frenches, an Ogden Township farmer. Their two children are Eleanor and John.
June 5, 1898, the death angel came to the Behrens home and took away the good wife and mother. Mrs. Behrens was a woman of exceptional Christian character and was much beloved both in her family and by a large circle of friends. Since his wife’s death Mr. Behrens has continued to live at the old homestead and has been devotedly cared for by his son Harm and wife.
The public spirit of Mr. Behrens has always been a strong point in his favor. He was elected and served twenty years as school director, nine years as road commissioner and eight years as drainage commissioner. Judge Roth appointed him drainage commissioner. The drainage system of Ogden Township was greatly advanced by Mr. Behrens’ work as a commissioner and he is one of the men who can appreciate the value of this improvement. The Behrens home was surrounded by a vista of slough grass, prairie grass and in the summer season life was made almost unbearable for human beings and animals by the presence of the green-headed flies and mosquitoes which propagated and flourished in the undrained district. Thus the drainage system has not only contributed to the welfare of all the people living therein but has made the land more profitable for cultivation and has added hundreds of thousands of dollars to the value of Champaign County. Mr. Behrens is one of the directors of the Farmers Grain Elevator at Royal. In politics he votes as a Republican and altogether is a man of admirable integrity of character, never makes a promise that he cannot fulfill, and has reared a family who do credit to him. Mr. Behrens is now found in a comfortable home where he spent part of his boyhood and enjoys the shade of many grand old trees which were set out by the hand of his father more than forty years ago.