Magazine Index

Submitted by Alma Ray Ison

Charles Stewart Ison was born September 18, 1868 in Mercer County, Kentucky, the second son of Zachariah Taylor and Ann Eliza ( Jenkins ) Ison. His father, born 1842 in Washington County Kentucky, was the son of Charles Stewart and Cynthia Ann (Ison ) Isham. After his mother died in 1851, the young Zachariah lived with his mother’s relatives in Garrard County, Kentucky, and thus - possibly unintentionally - his name spelling as changed from Isham to Ison.

Ann Eliza ( Jenkins ) Ison, wife of Z. T. Ison, and mother of the subject, was born in 1850 to Greenup and Amanda ( Beagle ) Jenkins. She and Z. T. Ison were married in 1864, and both lived to celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary. They were parents of eleven children: John, Charles, Frank, Henry, James, Emma, Joshua, Anna Lee, Samuel, Sallie, and Hugh. Anna Lee died in childhood and the other ten were reared to adulthood on a farm near Shakertown in Mercer County. Each of them married, established homes, most reared families, lived highly respectable and useful lives, and died in old age with descendants scattered throughout our country.

Charles Stewart Ison had very few opportunities to get an education, but was able to attend school a few months each year until he was sixteen. Because of his keen mind and natural ability, his meager schooling was used to advantage. Achievements in his adult life reflected both earnest, steady physical labor and an active, intelligent application of mental ability

He worked on the farm with his father until the age of twenty, then was employed by the "Shakers" ( a religious communal group in the neighborhood ) to help care for their horses. He was paid $10.00 a month and board, and by careful planning and frugal living, he was able to save $8.00 out of each months pay.

About 1892, at the age if 23, Charles gave up working for others to join his brother Frank in a partnership which continued until the middle of the 1930s. At first they rented land from the "Shakers" on the shares, the owners furnishing tools and stock. Later, the brothers were able to acquire their own equipment and livestock, and remained renters on one farm for fourteen years. In the meantime, they purchased a farm of 232 acres near Shakertown for $6000. They were able to pay $2000 at the time of purchase and the remainder in the next four years - - an unbelievable accomplishment for that era.

Through solid and substantial enterprise, Charles and Frank Ison continued to engage in land transactions, increasing their holdings and making profits on sales of property. By the early part of the 1930s their hard work, good management and wise investments had paid off. They were

 

the owners of some 800 acres of good farm land in the vicinity of Harrodsburg and Shakertown.

Besides accumulating a great deal of valuable property, Ison Brothers became prominent as traders and dealers in livestock, especially in horses and mules. Partly due to his experiences at Shakertown, Charles Ison became an outstanding judge of horses and mules and their value for work or pleasure. He made numerous trips to North Carolina and other states in the South to make purchases which were shipped back to Kentucky by railroad car.

In order to accommodate their growing trade, Charles and Frank filled their own barns with animals and often rented additional stalls from neighbors.

By mutual consent, Charles and Frank Ison dissolved partnership about 1935 - - a partnership which had been a profitable experience for each of them for about 40 years. Charles Ison’s share of the division included two farms, the Drake Farm on the Burgin Pike and his homestead on the Lexington Pike. He continued operation of both farms until his retirement. In 1940, at which time he moved to Harrodsburg and left his son in charge of farm affairs.

On December 14, 1910, Charles Stewart was married to Eleanor McFatridge, daughter of Edgar and Fannie (Talbott ) McFatridge. Born to this marriage were two sons, Charles Stewart Ison, Jr., on April 8, 1912 and Louis F. Ison on November 27, 1914. The first son died in childhood on September 30, 1913.

Following his graduation from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture in 1936, Louis F. Ison returned to the farm on Lexington Road where he and his wife continued to live. Even though he received a formal education, Louis never ceases ti remember and use lessons his father taught him about farming. In addition to his vocation, he has found time and energy to serve for 25 years as director of the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation, eight of those years as its president.

Charles Stewart Ison departed from this world on October 1, 1943, after having experienced a rich and rewarding life. He attained the distinction of being one of the most responsible and successful farmers of Mercer County. He was a devoted father and husband, providing leadership interspersed with love, kindness and discipline. Even though he was quiet and retiring by nature, he was a dependable neighbor and always ready to lend a helping hand in time of need. He was a consecrated church member and deacon of the Harrodsburg Baptist Church. His habits of industry, sobriety, uprightness and integrity provided him with the characteristics that make a notable person.