Martin Orlando Stover. Farmers are the uncrowned kings of America today, and if they do not hold the political destiny of the country in their hands they are at least the custodians of the resources which are the most vital and necessary to the welfare and existence of the millions who live in the great cities and industrial centers. Champaign County has a wealth of men who are doing their part in the development of American agriculture, and it is no disparagement of what others are doing and have done to name Martin Orlando Stover as a recognized leader among them all.
Mr. Stover has been identified with this county since 1883. His beautiful country home, known as Evergreen View, is located two and a half miles northwest of Mahomet on the Bloomington Road and it is one of the farms which might be selected as an example of what scientific and systematic management can accomplish.
Mr. Stover was born in Edgar County, Illinois, March 31, 1861. His parents were Ptollman and Mary E. (Earhart) Stover. He was the second of their three children, and his two sisters are both deceased. His father was born in West Alexandria, Preble County, Ohio, in 1833, and is still living at the venerable age of eighty-four, his home being in California. He was reared and educated in his native state and was for years a successful farmer and horticulturist. After his marriage in Ohio he moved to Wayne County, Indiana, lived there three years, and about 1860 settled in Edgar County, Illinois. A short time after the birth of his son Martin O. he went to Charleston, Illinois, and his first wife died there. He afterwards married Mrs. Mary Harris Billing, and of the five children of that union three are living. Some time prior to the Civil War P. Stover invented a corn planter, and it was one of the first successful devices of the kind ever introduced. From Illinois he returned to Wayne County, Indiana, where he married his second wife and where he bought eighty acres of land. In 1871 he removed to Missouri, lived about twenty-five years there as a farmer and fruit grower, and about 1896 went west to California, where he is still living. He began voting as a Whig and for sixty years has supported the Republican candidates and principles. He is a Master Mason and in religion is liberal. His first wife was a native of Ohio, was reared and educated there, and was a member of the German Reformed Church.
Martin Orlando Stover lived with his father in Missouri from 1871 until 1883, but otherwise his experience has been chiefly in Illinois. After the common school course he entered the Versailles High School in Morgan County, Missouri, graduated in 1880, and also took a normal training summer school course at Versailles. From 1879 to 1889 he was successfully engaged in teaching. Four years of that work were done in Missouri and six years in Champaign County, partly near his present home and partly near Fisher.
In 1885 he and his wife located on the eighty acres in Newcomb Township which Mrs. Stover inherited. Their present home farm is 209 acres in Mahomet Township, and they still own forty acres in Newcomb Township. Some years ago Mr. Stover remodeled a beautiful residence and has made it one of the most attractive country homes in the county. Since giving up school teaching he has devoted his life to farming and on the scientific plan. He has judiciously combined experience and the theories taught in books and by professors of agriculture, and has reduced farming to a strict business principle. He keeps books on his farm and at any time he knows exactly where he stands in matters of assets and liabilities. For years he has practiced the principle of crop rotation, and all his fields in his farms in Newcomb and Mahomet townships are numbered and strict count is kept of each field. He has adopted the system advocated by the United States Department of Agriculture and the State University Agricultural Department, known as the Farmers Account Book. Mr. Stover is authority for the statement that about 125 farmers in Champaign County follow the same plan.
On December 24, 1885, Mr. Stover married Miss Laura B. Lyons. They are the parents of a son and daughter. Nellie E., the older, was educated in the common schools and for a short time attended the University of Illinois. She is now the wife of Ernest Mitchell, and they live on a farm in Newcomb Township. They have one daughter, Louise, now eight years of age and a student in the second grade. Nellie is a member of the Baptist Church. Orville O., the son, is still at home and is active manager of his father’s farming enterprise. He was educated in the common schools, graduated from the Mahomet High School, and spent one year in the agricultural course of the University of Illinois. He is a member of the Masonic Lodge at Mahomet.
Mrs. Stover was born in Champaign County February 13, 1861, a daughter of Samuel and Martha (Newell) Lyons. She is the second of three living children. Her older brother, William B., has shown great ability as a business farmer and stock raiser and in Michigan is handling a farm for the breeding and raising of Hereford cattle. Her younger brother, Dwight, is a farmer in Condit Township of Champaign County.
Samuel Lyons was a native of Kentucky, and came to Champaign County in 1856, when a young man. He made his start here with little capital, though he was a member of a well to do family in Kentucky, and at the time of his death, which occurred about 1888, he left his children a goodly estate and also an untarnished name and a reputation for square dealing. Mrs. Stover was educated in the common schools and for years has been an active member of the Baptist Church at Mahomet.
The Stover home possesses one of the best private libraries found in that part of Champaign County. The 500 volumes range from the Encyclopedia Britannica to the classic works of literature, and all the books show wise and careful handling and study. Mr. Stover has always been a student, has kept in close touch with life and affairs and there is hardly a doubt that his well trained mind has had a great deal to do with his success as a farmer.
In past years he figured somewhat prominently in local politics as a member of the Democratic party. He represented his party in various county and state conventions and served six years as supervisor of Mahomet Township, as clerk of Newcomb Township, as a director of the schools and being an old teacher he has performed his greatest pleasure in sustaining and keeping up good educational institutions in his community. He has steadily advocated the hiring of the best talent and the securing of modern equipment for school use. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Mahomet Lodge of Masons, with Chapter No. 50, E. A. M., and Commandery No. 68, Knights Templar, at Champaign, and he is also a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows at Mahomet.