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Harvey Z. O'Hair


Harvey Z. O'Hair was born in Paris, Edgar County, Illinois on March 18, 1864. His parents Michael E. and Rebekah C. (Zink) O'Hair had bought 800 acres of land seven miles North of Charleston in Seven Hickory Township and had constructed the necessary dwelling and other buildings and in 1865 they moved to the farm in Coles County.


Harvey Z. O'Hair was educated in Coles County's common schools and at Lee's Academy at Loza, Illinois, graduating in 1886 with the highest honors possible. After graduating he taught school for five years. On November 21, 1889, he married Ida M. Craig and at this time started farming one mile North of Bushton, and he operated from 200 to 700 acres in Coles County, specializing in Broom Corn. He became one of the largest Broom Corn growers in the nation, operating 1,000 acres near Kit Carson, Colorado. He served as superintendent of the Broom Corn department of the Charles P. Taft Ranch of 125,000 acres in Texas. In 1907 he took a course in the Jones School of Auctioneering at Chicago and for many years was a successful auctioneer.

As a sideline he sold Reo automobiles and trucks from 1912 to 1924. Also, he sold threshing machines, steam engines, tractors and silos. One of the first advocates of good roads in Seven Hickory Township, he gave untiring efforts to this cause. In 1904 he was Supervisor of Seven Hickory Township and was elected chairman of the Coles County Board of Supervisors and was a member of the Board of Review. During all this time he carried on farming operations and in 1909 established what was to become known internationally as Grand Prairie Seed Farm. In this year he published his first annual seed catalog, and every year since one has been issued.

The business was carried on locally and by mail order. At the present time it extends into the various sections of the Broom Corn growing districts of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America and other foreign countries, largely through the leadership of his son Zollie P. O'Hair.

Harvey Z. O'Hair served three terms in the Illinois State Legislature, as Representative from the 34th Senatorial district, which comprises Coles, Douglas and Clark counties. He served on agricultural and educational committees, and sponsored several urgent bills. He was affiliated with the Elks, Red Men, Woodmen and held the 32 degree in Masonry. On August 31, 1939 he died at the Oakwood Hospital, Charleston. Illinois and burial followed at Union (Greasy Point) Cemetery Northeast of Bushton. The entire state agreed that he was one of its great men.