Where Were Illinois’ First Soybeans Planted?
Did You Know?
Alton has a new claim to fame. A historical marker recently commemorated the home garden on Prospect Street where the first soybeans grew in Illinois almost 150 years ago. According to historical accounts, former Alton resident Dr. Benjamin Franklin Edwards was in San Francisco when he helped shipwreck survivors from Japan in 1849. They showed their gratitude by giving him “Japanese Peas,” or what we know today as soybeans. When Edwards returned to Alton in 1851, he gifted the peas to his friend, James Henry Lea, who then planted them in his own garden. The plaque now sits on that ground at 417 Prospect Street.
See more: Farm Focus: Soybeans