Harvest Heritage: McGrew Belgian Horses

Agriculture

MCDONOUGH COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — Members of the McGrew family make up a good percentage of the population in Good Hope and Prairie City in McDonough County where their ancestors settled in the 1860’s. But many of them were at the Illinois State Fair where Stu Ellis caught up with them for our Harvest Heritage Report.

Brothers Bill, Thomas, and Ken are the senior members of the McGrew clan and shared the threads that hold their very large family together.

“I didn’t get them all counted up but I think there may be 45 family members are here today,” said Bill McGrew

People are going to wonder why there are 45 members of the McGrew family at the Illinois State Fair. But there is something they have in common.

“It’s Belgian Horses,” said Thomas McGrew. “My Dad began started showing Belgian horses in 1942, in that area anyway and all three of us here own Belgian Horses and we breed them and sell them.”

“But you wanted to know when we started, my grandfather was showing here in 1907,” said Bill.

Youngest brother Ken is showing 7 of his 40 head of Belgians.

Ken McGrew

“It’s a family thing, they’re here having fun, and you know, its all family,” said Ken McGrew.

I think our whole family likes good livestock,” Bill said. “Nephews raise pigs and had the champion barrow here about 5 years ago. Maybe 20years ago we showed the champion steer here. Had a grandson who had a champion and reserve champion in the goats yesterday. Tom has been premier breeder in duroc hogs many times and has had a lot of champions.”

Ken McGrew says they stick together. “You know we’ve lost our parents, but we’re still family.”

And that is what Ken’s wife, Ruth Ann, learned from her mother-in-law when she married into the McGrew family

Ruth Ann McGrew

“She was a saint and you could tell it by the 150 or 60 people that you can say are related to the McGrew family and she definitely, hands down, taught me unconditional love, and family, and horses,” said Ruth Ann.

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