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Meet John H. Culver

John H. Culver was born on December 26, 1858 in Christian County, Illinois to Edward and Mary (Scott) Culver.  His parents were from Ohio, and moved to Central Illinois in 1854 with their three children, James, Margaret and Nancy.  They settled in Christian County where, in 1858, Edward purchased property.  By 1860 he owned 320 acres and farmed wheat and corn. He also had cattle, milk cows and swine. 

John Culver had more formal training than most, as he attended Taylorville High School where he took business classes.  Upon completion of his classes, he went to work for his older brother James, who had founded a stone business in Taylorville in 1871.  The company was known as James S. Culver and Company and also as Culver Marble and Granite Works. Not long after he began working there, John became Superintendent of the company.  However, he left the company in 1880 to teach at Peru School in Macon County.  John Culver lived Southeast of Macon where he owned a farm.  His father, Edward, had moved to Macon County in 1863 and owned 120 acres near Macon. 

John H. Culver - The Early Years

On March 11, 1886 John H. Culver married Miss Florence Hight at her parents home in Macon.  They moved to Springfield and John went back to work for his brother James to run the monument portion of the business as James had begun supplying stone for building projects.  In 1887 James turned over the principal control of the monument works to John. 

John felt that Decatur was a good place to do business and he opened a shop on Franklin Street at the Southeast corner of the park in December of 1889.  The company was quite successful and outgrew their shop in less than a year.  They moved in to the Perl building and continued to grow. 

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John H. and Florence Culver

Central Park

Decatur, IL


Changes bring a bright future for the Culver's

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John and Florence Culver welcomed their daughter Elizabeth on May 28, 1891.  In June of 1891 they moved into their new home on N. Edward St.

In January of 1892 John Culver, along with E.T. Colelan and E.E. Gibson organized a new electric light company, The Decatur Manufacturing Company. John Culver also began building another new house on N. Edward St.  The monument company continued to grow, and the electric company saw success as well.  He sold his new residence on N. Edward St. in July of 1892 for cash and a lot at the corner of College and King Streets. 

By October of 1892 it was discovered that a business partner, R.F. Piatt, was in financial trouble caused by his drinking and gambling. In January of 1893 they incorporated under the name Municipal Electric Company.  As the electric company grew, Culver found he did not have the time to manage both businesses and he resigned from active management of the marble company in July of 1893. 

Their second daughter, Ruth, was born on August 8, 1894.  In 1895 John Culver began buying and remodeling buildings.  His brother James was the general contractor on many of them.  They also built a new power plant on W. Cerro Gordo St.

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Elizabeth Culver

Born May 28, 1891

Ruth Culver

Born August 9, 1894

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A New Home for the Culver's

The Culver’s purchased the house at 412 W. Prairie Ave. in August of 1898 and moved into the home in  September.  They did extensive remodeling to the residence in 1899. 

On the back of the picture to the left, it has written:


Home Decatur


Sullivan Burgess house in background


Notice the stairs/entrance on the East side of the house? 

The room to the left of the front entrance (from Prairie Ave.) was John Culver's library.  He was known to have the most extensive collection of books for a private library, having approximately 3,000 books. He also had another library in the 3rd floor attic next to the billiard room, and he also had what he called his "half-way" library in his bedroom on the 2nd floor. 

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