1842-1899 | Artist: Robert Wadsworth Grafton (1876-1936)
Impact & Accomplishments
Mark Wentworth Dunham’s Oaklawn Farm, in Wayne, Illinois, was at one time considered the largest horse breeding farm in the world.
In 1870, Dunham purchased the Percheron stallion, Success, the first of hundreds of Percherons he would import from France. He had the ability to select the finest draft horses, and contributed much to the development of the breed. Dunham promoted Oaklawn—which grew to 2,000 acres, with barns for up to 800 horses—with a catalogue that featured illustrations by the famous French horse painter, Rosa Bonheur.
During the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, Oaklawn became a popular destination for world’s fair visitors. Dunham’s promotion of fine draft horses contributed to the development of the American prairie, in the decades prior to the engine-driven plow.
Did You Know?
By 1888 an estimated one-fifth of all imported French horses lived at Oaklawn.
Wayne, Illinois - It was on one of his stock buying trips to France in the late 1870's that he and his wife, Carrie, started dreaming of building a new home. Making a drawing based off of some of the chateaus they saw on their trip, Mark hired Smith Hoag from Elgin to oversee the building of their home. "Dunham Castle", as it became known, was completed in 1883 and became a destination for dignitaries in the years to come.