1860 photo taken 4 days after Mr.
Lincoln visited Lincoln, Illinois, for the last time. Info at 3 below.
His town does too.
Link to Lincoln:
Lincoln & Logan County Development Partnership
Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission of Lincoln, IL
Abraham Lincoln and the Historic Postville
including a William Maxwell connection to the Postville Courthouse
About Henry Ford and the Postville Courthouse,
the Story of the Postville Courthouse Replica,
Tantivy, & the Postville Park
Neighborhood in the
Route 66 Era
The Rise of Abraham Lincoln and His History and
Heritage in His First Namesake Town,
also the founding of Lincoln College, the plot to steal Lincoln's
body, and memories of Lincoln College and the Rustic Tavern-Inn
Introduction to the Social & Economic History of
including poetry by William Childress & commentary by Federal Judge
Bob Goebel & Illinois Appellate Court Judge Jim Knecht
"Social Consciousness in William Maxwell's
Writings Based on Lincoln, Illinois" (an article published in the
Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, winter 2005-06)
Peeking Behind the Wizard's Screen: William
Maxwell's Literary Art as Revealed by a Study of the Black Characters in
Billie Dyer and Other Stories
Introduction to the Railroad & Route 66 Heritage
of Lincoln, Illinois
The Living Railroad Heritage of Lincoln, Illinois:
on Track as a Symbol of the "Usable Past"
Route 66 Overview Map of Lincoln with 42 Sites,
Descriptions, & Photos
The Hensons of Business Route 66
The Wilsons of Business
Route 66, including the Wilson Grocery & Shell
Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Lincoln Memorial
(former Chautauqua site),
the Historic Cemeteries, & Nearby Sites
Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Salt Creek &
the highway bridges, GM&O bridge, Madigan State Park, the old dam (with
photos & Leigh's memoir of "shooting the rapids" over the old dam), &
the Ernie Edwards' Pig-Hip Restaurant Museum in Broadwell
The Historic Logan County Courthouse, Past &
Route 66 Map with 51 Sites in the Business &
Courthouse Square Historic District,
including locations of historical markers
(on the National Register of Historic Places)
Vintage Scenes of the Business & Courthouse Square
The Foley House: A
Monument to Civic Leadership
(on the National Register of
the Route 66 Era
Arts & Entertainment Heritage,
the Lincoln Theatre Roy Rogers' Riders Club of the
Cars, Trucks & Gas Stations of the Route 66 Era
Churches, including the hometown
churches of Author William Maxwell & Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr
Factories, Past and Present
Food Stores of
the Route 66 Era
Hospitals, Past and Present
Hotels & Restaurants of the Railroad & Route 66
Lincoln Developmental Center
(Lincoln State School & Colony in
the Route 66 era), plus
debunking the myth of
Lincoln, Illinois, choosing the Asylum over the University of Illinois
Mining Coal, Limestone, & Sand & Gravel; Lincoln Lakes; & Utilities
Museums & Parks, including the Lincoln College
Museum and its Abraham Lincoln Collection, plus the Heritage-in-Flight
News Media in the Route 66 Era
The Odd Fellows' Children's Home
Memories of the 1900 Lincoln Community High School,
including Fred Blanford's dramatic account of the lost marble
fountain of youth
A Tribute to the Historians and Advocates of
Watering Holes of the Route 66 Era
The Historic 1953 Centennial Celebration of
The Festive 2003 Sesqui-centennial Celebration of
Lincoln, Illinois, including photos of LCHS Class of 1960
dignitaries & the Blanfords
Why Did the State Police Raid Lincoln, Illinois,
on October 11, 1950?
The Gambling Raids in Lincoln and Logan County,
During the Late Route 66 Era (1950-1960)
in this section tell about Leigh Henson's Lincoln years, moving away,
revisits, and career:
About Lincoln, Illinois;
This Web Site; & Me
A Tribute to Lincolnite Edward Darold
Henson: World War II U.S. Army Veteran of the Battles for Normandy and
the Hedgerows; Brittany and Brest; and the Ardennes (Battle of the
For Remembrance, Understanding, & Fun: Lincoln
Community High School Mid-20th-Century Alums' Internet Community
(a Web site and
email exchange devoted to collaborative memoir and the sharing of photos
related to Lincoln, Illinois)
Leigh Henson's Pilgrimage to Lincoln, Illinois, on
July 12, 2001
Review of Dr. Burkhardt's William Maxwell Biography
Leigh Henson's Review of Ernie Edwards' biography,
Pig-Hips on Route 66, by William Kaszynski
Leigh Henson's Review of Jan Schumacher's
Glimpses of Lincoln, Illinois
Teach Local Authors: Considering the Literature of
Web Site About
Leigh Henson's Professional Life
in this section are about the writing, memorabilia, and Web sites of
A Tribute to Bill and Phyllis Stigall:
Exemplary Faculty of Lincoln College at Mid-Twentieth Century
A Tribute to the Krotzes of Lincoln, Illinois
A Tribute to Robert Wilson (LCHS '46): Author of
Young in Illinois, Movies Editor of December Magazine,
Friend and Colleague of December Press Publisher Curt Johnson, and
Correspondent with William Maxwell
Brad Dye (LCHS '60): His Lincoln, Illinois, Web
including photos of many churches
Dave Armbrust's Memorabilia of Lincoln, Illinois
Fikuarts of Lincoln, Illinois, including their
connections to the William Maxwell family and three generations of
family fun at Lincoln Lakes
Jerry Gibson (LCHS '60): Lincoln, Illinois,
Memoirs & Other Stories
Dave Johnson (LCHS '56): His Web Site for the
Lincoln Community High School Class of 1956
Sportswriter David Kindred: Memoir of His
Grandmother Lena & Her West Side Tavern on Sangamon Street in the Route
Judge Jim Knecht
(LCHS '62): Memoir and Short Story, "Other People's Money," Set in
Hickey's Billiards on Chicago Street in the Route 66 Era
William A. "Bill" Krueger (LCHS '52): Information
for His Books About Murders in Lincoln
Norm Schroeder (LCHS '60): Short Stories
Stan Stringer Writes About His Family, Mark
Holland, and Lincoln, Illinois
Thomas Walsh: Anecdotes Relating to This Legendary
Attorney from Lincoln by Attorney Fred Blanford & Judge Jim Knecht
Leon Zeter (LCHS '53): His Web Site for the
Lincoln Community High School Class of 1953,
including announcements of LCHS class reunions
(Post yours there.)
Highway Sign of
The Route 66
Association of Illinois
State Historical Society
Internet Explorer is the only browser that shows this page the way it was
designed. Your computer's settings may alter the display.
April 24, 2004: Awarded "Best Web Site of the Year" by the Illinois State Historical
achievement: serves as a model for the profession and reaches a greater
Marquee Lights of the Lincoln Theater, est. 1923, Lincoln, Illinois
You can go
again. Email Leigh
Henson at email@example.com.
Agriculture in the Route 66 Era
"Lincoln itself was
farming community, and owed its prosperity to the rich farmland that lay all
around it. It was also a place that successful farmers retired to when
they were ready to give up farming and spend their declining years at the
Elks Club, playing rummy. And there were a certain number of men
in Lincoln who, like my father, owned land which they kept a careful eye on
and from which they derived a substantial part of or even all of their
William Maxwell, Ancestors (1971),
The topics on this page are
▪ Introduction to agriculture in
Logan County, Illinois
▪ Farming procedures in the Route 66 Era
▪ Agricultural education and outreach
▪ 19th-century bridges in Logan County: connecting town and
▪ Grain elevators
▪ The Logan County Farm Bureau
▪ Logan Farm Service
▪ Meat processing
▪ Poultry operations
▪ Real estate
▪ Seeds and feeds
▪ Memoir of farms and farm work
Maturing Corn Crop Along Route 66 Beltline at Lincoln, Illinois
(Photo by Leigh Henson, 7-02)
Introduction to Agriculture in Logan County, Illinois
Illinois, contains some of the most fertile land in the world. Thus, farming has shaped Lincoln's growth from the
earliest times to the present. Row crop farming, first of corn then of
corn and soybeans, emerged as more important than raising livestock. A
history of farming in the Lincoln area, including memoirs of 20th-Centuy
farmers, appears in Nancy Lawrence Gehlbach's "Farm Life in Logan County,
Our Times. She explains how farming
changed over the decades, for example, how
hedgerows of Osage orange trees were used to help mark boundaries as the
land became well populated. Then, hedgerows got in the way of
tractors, so the hedgerows were taken out, drastically changing the prairie landscape
and destroying the habitat of many species (p. 1).
Another excellent history of agriculture in Logan
County is found in Paul Gleason and Paul Beaver's Logan County Pictorial
History (pp. 1-22). The photos there depict farmers at work and
the changing technology of farming, farm houses and farm buildings, the
crops, as well the variety and importance of livestock.
To me, agriculture means not only farming and supplying materials and
services that support farming, but also processing and marketing farm products.
The vital relationship of
agriculture to the social fabric of this community is described in
4. Introduction to
Social & Economic History of Lincoln, Illinois.
The following highway map also shows the townships and
smaller communities that depended on agriculture. After the map, this
page presents farming activities of Logan County and then a sampling of
various businesses associated with agriculture. These businesses
either supported or depended on farming, and some of them were located in or
near the city of Lincoln.
Route 66 Was the Main Artery in the Heart
of Farming Country in Logan County
Highway Map of Logan County, Illinois, in the Route 66 Era
(Map from Official County Plat Book and Farmers' Directory of
Logan County, Illinois, 1962, p. 3. Click on thumbnail for full
Farming Procedures in the Route 66 Era
Discing to Prepare the Soil
Photo from Paul E. Gleason and Paul J. Beaver, Logan County Pictorial
History, p. 182.
publications on the history of Lincoln and Logan County, I could not find a
photo of corn planting in central Illinois, so on the Web I located the
following photo, which shows a corn planting attachment and tractor from mid
John Deere JDL Tractor (1937-1946) and Corn Planter
http://johnnypopper.com/cgi-bin/jdstatsf.cgi?L. Link worked on
Cultivating Soybeans and Great Farmer Story in Caption of the Photo
(From Gleason and Beaver, Logan County Pictorial
History, p. 182)
Picking Corn in 1960 Was the Same in Illinois as Iowa
http://www.lib.iastate.edu/ -- accessed 4-12-03)
Harvest Scene in Logan County, Illinois
from Lincoln/Logan County Illinois Chamber of Commerce Community Profile
& Membership Directory, p. 29. Photo courtesy of
VillageProfile.com, Elgin, IL.)
Removing Corn from Crib to
Automated Corn Rake
(Photo from Gleason and Beaver, Logan County Pictorial
History, p. 184)
Shelling and Loading Corn
Corn Moves from Conveyor to Sheller to Truck
(Photo from Gleason and Beaver, Logan County Pictorial History,
caption for 17.9 says "The 1964 photo illustrates corn shelling on the
Harlan and Anne Brown farm in the days before metal storage bins and corn
the corn was harvested from the field, the ears were put into a corn crib,
which was made of wood with gaps between each board, to finish drying.
Most of the corn destined to be sold was usually dispersed of during the
winter months when prices 'were up.'
At sale-time, a custom corn-shelling crew would come out to the farm, open
the crib, shell the ear corn, and take it to the elevator. Usually the
crew was farmers from the neighborhood. The wives would prepare a
bounteous noon meal as part of the spirit of 'neighbors helping neighbors'"
Threshing Time on the Bernard May Farm Near Lawndale and Route 66
(Photo and caption from Gleason and Beaver, Logan County Pictorial
History, p. 127)
Progressive Farming in the Route 66 Era
Official County Plat Book and Farmers' Directory of
Logan County, Illinois, 1962, p. 43.
Bridges in Logan County: Connecting Town and Country
Foreground Bridge over Gully and Background 1898 Bridge over Sugar Creek
Profile of 1898 Bridge Shown in 17.12
The photos above and below show
rare 19th-century Logan County bridges still in operation as of March, 2004.
The bridges above are located about a mile north of the present bridge on
old Route 121 between Lincoln and Hartsburg near Tom's Lodge (bar and grill
previously known first as Hutton's Lodge and then Lonnie and Mae's in the Route 66 era.
Hutton's Lodge was allegedly frequented by the Al Capone crowd, but that's
another story). The photo below left shows evidence of a serious accident,
but apparently not enough structural damage was done to close the bridge. On
both ends of the bridge, metal plates are mounted high in the center of the top cross bars--
plates mounted too high for vandals and thieves to reach. The identical metal plates
George B. Crawford
M M Kendrick
Indiana Bridge Co.
The bridge shown below at
the right is just east of Camp Griesheim, a Girl Scout camp in the Route 66
era that was located a couple of miles east of Nicholson Road north of
Lincoln (the camp is still there but no longer used as a Girl Scout camp). A
sign on the narrow gravel road leading to this bridge from the west says the
road is not maintained by the county. The bridge is still being used, but I
am unsure how it is maintained if the county does not keep up the road. This bridge has no
identifying information on it. I took these photos in the third week of
in Bridge Shown in 17.13
Sugar Creek Bridge
Just East of Camp Griesheim
20th-century scene below occurred in the area of the bridge in 17.15. Fred
Blanford emailed the photo, provided by Larry "Jughead" Malerich, and Fred
offers the following account:
is another in the JugScan series. It was described to him as being of a
camp town summer retreat by relatives or friends of relatives--and his
memory was that he was told the campground was north of town just off
Nicholson Road. When he mentioned this--I had a couple of glimmers of such
a place from very distant youth--and at least one of a more modern time. I
went to a 'black powder meet' at a similar place out north in Eminence
Township in the mid-60's. Many of the participants were "camping" then. I
am not able to recall a specific location for this particular campground but
do recall it to have been some of the less flat (crop-able) ground in Logan
County--which means pretty much--Eminence Township. Camp Griesheim and Gold
Springs are located in Eminence Township--as is Union--from whence the Union
Street (nee Road) name.
Even though the pic is dated (on the back) as being
August 15, 1915--the only mode of transportation visible is the horse-drawn
wagon. Tents are up--the people are planning to stay for a while--the
County Fair is probably over and this was a last HooHaw before Labor
Day--had it been invented yet? Soon crops would be ripened and the
agricultural workers would be hard at it. But--these were the Dog
Days--stifling--especially in the city--did the city have waste treatment
yet or did the prevailing winds waft aromas from the neighbors' outhouses,
carriage houses or stock pens into your open windows?" (Fred's email to
Leigh of 3-30-04).
note: Nicholson Road runs north of Lincoln toward Union, Illinois,
and Route 136, which is just a couple of miles north of Union. Route 136
runs east/west between Havana and McLean. The old interurban (electric
railroad) alignment parallels Nicholson Road. The rail alignment ran north
toward Union and Mackinaw, Illinois, then on toward Peoria. Gold Springs, a
19th-century spring located in this part of Logan County, was noted for its
pure waters, attracting many from near and far. A small hotel accommodated
Gold Springs patrons.
northwest of Gold Springs are several acres of heavy brush and woods donated
by the late Brewster Parker to the state of Illinois for exclusive use as a
game preserve. As Fred notes, folks must have retreated to this cool
forested canopy to escape the burning summer sun, just as they escaped to
the wooded Chautauqua grounds west of Lincoln. Of course, "fire and
brimstone" preachers sometimes worked up audiences into a feverish frenzy.
Town of August, 1915, North of Lincoln Near Nicholson Road
(Photo provided by Larry
"Jughead" Malerich and emailed by Fred Blanford, both LCHS Class of 1959)
Display Ad in Official County Plat Book and Farmers' Directory, 1962,
Display Ad in Official County Plat Book, p. 16.
The East Lincoln Farmers Grain Company Kruger Elevator was located just
north of Lincoln on Route 66. A large photo of the Kruger Elevator,
provided by Fred Blanford, appears at the bottom of the page on
Route 66 Overview Map of Lincoln with 42 Sites, Descriptions, & Photos.
County Farm Bureau
Logan County Farm Bureau Building on the Courthouse Square
(Photo from Lincoln Evening Courier, Centennial
Edition, Section Six, August 26, 1953, p. 14)
17.20: Display Ad from
Official County Plat Book, p. 12.
Display Ad from Official Plat Book, p. 26.
Poultry operations were important to the economy of Lincoln and
Logan County, Illinois, in the 20th Century. Several of these
businesses are describe below. Another poultry operation was the Mapleside Poultry Farm and Hatchery.
17.22: Drawing from Armour's Full-Page
Ad in the
Lincoln Evening Courier, centennial edition, section five, August 26, 1953,
The ad says
the drawing shows how the facility would look after remodeling and the
addition of a second story. Armour's provided chickens, eggs, butter,
and cream to food suppliers. "The new Armour Creameries will have the
facilities to process completely between 18,000 and 20,000 chickens a day.
Back in 1924, when Armour opened its first plant in Lincoln [purchased from
Les Atlass, founder of WBBM], about 4,000
chickens a day were processed." The ad says "chickens we process now
are table dressed, fresh iced and rushed to food stores the very same day."
Sieb's Hatchery (1914-1972) grew from Albert Sieb's basement into
a major Lincoln industry, including a "chicken ranch" on partner Frank
Dumser's farm on Primm Road. Dumser was in charge of marketing four
million chicks per year. Junior partner John Schrauf was in charge of
"directing scientific feeding of two to three thousand White Leghorn layers
and the raising of twice that number of chickens in order to keep the laying
flock replenished" (Beaver, p. 56).
17.23: Sieb's Hatchery Shipping Box
Each laying hen had a leg band showing it met state requirements.
"Hens failing to come up to the standard had their tail feathers clipped and
were sold before the next culling" (Beaver, p. 56).
Sieb's shipped baby
chicks to every state, but Wisconsin and Illinois were the main markets.
"The baby chicks were carefully packed in well made pasteboard containers to
suit size of shipment and distances they were to travel.
17.24: Sieb's Catalog, 1943
Sieb's paid "upwards of $50,000 to the farmer for eggs alone during one
season" (Beaver, p. 56)
None but good strong, healthy certified chicks,
guaranteed to be true to name, full count, free from diseases and 100
percent live on delivery were shipped in advance" (Beaver, p. 56).
Merritt Stoll with 1935 Tractor-Trailer
(Photo from Paul Beaver, Logan County History 1982,
17.26: Ad from Official
Plat Book, p. 16
Bersch & Son
Ad from Official Plat Book, p. 18
According to Paul Beaver's Logan County History 1982,
"the Fuller Seed Company was founded in Lincoln, Illinois, in 1936 by Frank
Fuller" (p. 615). Mr. Fuller (1889-1957) had been a farm advisor in
Marshall and Putnam Counties before beginning first business in Bloomington and
then moving to Lincoln.
Mr. Fuller anticipated that corn hybrids would boost
profitability. Friends in this business, including Lester Pfister, advised
him to begin operations in Logan County, and Mr. Fuller knew the farming
conditions in this area well.
Around 1940, the Fuller Seed Company moved a few blocks
north of where it had begun on Limit Street. "In the 1950s, as the use of
fertilizers and chemicals began to gain general acceptance, Fuller Seed became
one of the first major retailers of these products in Logan County (Beaver, p.
17.28: Fuller Seed
(Photo from ad in Lincoln Courier,
Centennial Edition, Section 8, August 25, 1953, p. 15)
The company continued to build a tradition of
helping farmers achieve more return on their investment. In 1952, Ken
Fuller and Ben Courtwright teamed up to produce a world record corn yield at the State
School Farm and few miles southwest of Lincoln.
The photo of the Fuller Seed plant above appeared in a Courier ad
in the 1953 centennial edition. This ad emphasizes that Pfister
hybrid corn seed produced the "all-time yield record of
Highest yield in Illinois 10-acre contest.
Genuine Pfister hybrids are the only hybrids that have won this Corn King title
twice. Genuine Pfister Hybrids hold the world record of 256.9 bushels per
acre from one acre (alternate planting). The record was made by Ben
Courtwright, Manager, Lincoln State School and Colony Farm, Lincoln, Illinois."
Ad from Official Plat Book, p. 1.
Spellman & Company (grain,
feed, seeds, and lumber)
17.30: Undated photo from
Beaver, Logan County History 1982, p. 139.
identified items in the photo above from memory, except for the garage and
warehouse no. 2; that information comes from Fish's Illustrated Lincoln,
1916. The elevator was demolished in 1965, and the ground was sold
(Beaver, p. 532).
An ad for
Spellman's in the 1953 Centennial Edition of the Lincoln Evening Courier
mentions the sale of "pig and hog supplement, pig meal, chick starter,
laying mash, and dairy feed" (section two, p. 14).
Spellman, Sr. (1846-1901) and his younger brother, Edward F. Spellman, had
come to Lincoln from Lockport, Illinois, in 1866. For several years,
John went to school and worked in various agricultural-related jobs,
including the Elliott Flouring Mills and the Milans, Booth & Co. in Beason,
where he was a grain buyer (Beaver, p. 532).
Jeremiah M. Moloney and John W. Spellman, Sr., established the firm of
Spellman and Company in Lincoln. The business deals in grain, feed,
lumber and building material. There are 29 employees ("Spellman
Company Organized in 1884," Lincoln Evening Courier, centennial
edition, section four, August 26, 1953, p. 12).
until 1890 the firm was known as Moloney and Spellman. After Mr. Moloney's
death, Mr. Spellman carried on under the same name. Then in 1891 it
became Spellman and Orton. Still another change took place in 1893
[when] it became Spellman and Orton, and Spitly" (Courier).
afterward, in 1900 and 1901, Mr. Orton and then Mr. Spellman died.
Spellman's widow, Ella J. Spellman and Spitly carried on business as
partners until 1909 at which time Spitly sold out and John W. Spellman, Jr.,
took over management, remaining in that capacity until his death in 1950.
(The firm was incorporated as Spellman and Company in 1916.)"
("Spellman Company Organized in 1884," Lincoln Evening Courier,
centennial edition, section four, August 26, 1953, p. 12).
Spellman Company "prospered over the years and branched out into building
materials. At one time the company operated nineteen elevators and
five lumber yards in central Illinois. . . . Following John's death,
the business was continued by Caroline [his wife] and then sold by daughter
Jane following Caroline's death in 1961" (Beaver, p. 532).
From a Display Ad for Westen Trucking Livestock & Grain
Official County Plat Book and
Farmers' Directory of Logan County, Illinois, 1962, p. 6.
above shows a grain truck in the foreground and a livestock truck in the
17.32: Ad from Official
Plat Book, p. 26
Memoir of Farms and Farm Work
I'm sure the first time I ever
set foot on farm land I was following my dad as he walked along a creek bank
to fish, as he did a couple of times a week in the late 1940s and
early 1950s. I remember walking along all the creeks in Logan County
with him: Salt Creek and its tributary, Lake Fork; Sugar Creek; and Kickapoo Creek. Sometimes as we were walking along he would stop when
a snake was lying in our path. He liked to tease snakes by slowly
touching them on their heads with his fishing rod tip until they bolted.
At those times, I stood close behind him.
other people who lived in town, some in my family knew farm folks or were
related to them (only "one degree of separation," not six). When I was
about six or seven, my Uncle Marvin Leesman and Aunt Lois took me on a
couple of visits to the farm of his parents, Joseph and Frances Leesman, who
lived a few miles east of Hartsburg. Marvin and his brothers--Raymond,
Wilbur, and Lawrence-- had grown up on this family farm, and I was excited
by each visit there. I was impressed by the largeness of everything I saw:
the house, its kitchen, and especially the barn, where for the first time I
saw how cows were milked.
years, Joseph and Frances Leesman had farmed a Scully lease (Beaver,
History of Logan County 1982, p. 394). A couple of years ago
Marvin told me that nothing of his parents' home remains: the exact
location has disappeared into fields of crops.
When I was
about 9 and 10 (approximately 1951), I visited the farm of the Bernard Mays,
who lived near Lawndale, located on Route 66 north of Lincoln. The
Mays' daughter, Mary, had wed my Uncle Gib Wilson. At the Mays' farm I
got a close look at tractors and other machines that seemed strange and complicated (for example, see
some of the Mays' farm equipment in 17.10 above). I was
also impressed with the Mays' large farmhouse. I was pleasantly
surprised to see a photo of it in Gleason and Beaver's Logan County
Pictorial History (2000) on page 128:
17.33: The Bernard Mays'
Farmhouse Near Lawndale, Illinois
I can never
think of my Uncle Gib without recalling the time when I was with him, my
mother, and some others in the family as we took a drive in the
country. I was only about six or seven. For some
reason, we stopped, and Gib climbed over a fence and walked toward a tree in
a pasture. A bull appeared and became belligerent. I was very
much afraid that Uncle Gib was not going to make it back to the car.
teen guys, I sometimes earned spending money during the summer with
occasional farm work. Many of my contemporaries, including gals,
detasseled corn, although I never did. My farm work was mainly baling
hay and "shelling corn." For anecdotes about teen townies
detasseling and doing other farm work, see Cousin Jerry Gibson's Web site at
Jerry Gibson's Lincoln, Illinois, Memoirs & Other Stories.
I got jobs on the farm through the guys I ran around with. My pals'
favorite hangout was Dial's Texaco Station, located on Business Route 66
(Fifth and Union Streets). A farmer might drop in there or call to
available work, or one of the guys might otherwise get word of work and
recruit the necessary number of "hands" from whoever might be hanging out
and willing. I got several baling jobs east of Lincoln through friend
Jim McCubbin and his dad.
Another one of our gang was Ronnie Miller, and his uncle and father, J. Fred
Miller, farmed west of Lincoln and did custom baling. Most of the
baling jobs I got were from the Millers.
was convenient work because it did not begin until mid-day, so there was no
need for early rising. By late a.m., several guys had gathered at
Dial's, eagerly waiting for word of work.
sun was required to dry the hay, which was often cut the day before.
Baling wet hay was carefully avoided. Somehow if hay were stored in a
barn, months later it could result in spontaneous combustion. I used
to hear the Millers explain that old-time farmers would sometimes sprinkle
salt on hay to absorb moisture, trying to prevent disastrous fires.
in those days meant guys stood on the hay wagon behind the baler pulled by a
tractor. Often, two guys "rode the rack": one was experienced
taught a newbie. When a bale came off the shoot, a guy would snag it
with a baling hook, drag the bale onto the wagon, and quickly stack it in place
(working from back of the wagon to front). Usually the pace was
quick, requiring someone to stack fast and return to the front of the wagon
just in time to grab the next bale. Guys on the wagon would be humiliated if
a bale fell off and halted the operation. The pace had to be
maintained even when a guy encountered a writhing snake caught in the bale.
Bales were positioned and stacked in certain patterns to keep them in place
as the wagon bounced and lurched over the rolling field. I cannot
recall exactly how many rows high the bales were stacked -- about 7 or 8 rows
high or more --; the rows were high enough that bales had to be thrown a couple of
feet overhead to form the top rows. As the rows grew higher and higher and close
to the front of the wagon, there was room for only one guy, so the other
guy climbed on top, stabbing and placing bales to "tie" the rick. The
bales were about 4 feet long and could weigh more than 40 pounds, so
handling them was strenuous, especially in the blistering heat and wilting
humidity of central Illinois. Like others who became experienced
enough, I sometimes "rode the rack" alone.
Usually a separate crew consisting of two, three, or four guys worked at the
barn where the hay was stored. Once a full wagon was taken to the barn,
hay would be lifted to the loft either several at a time by ropes and
pulleys or sent one by one on a conveyor. Stacking in the barn often
required more than two guys because the distances were greater and the rows
much higher than on the hay wagon.
hay did not pay a lot, but there were other rewards. I remember
earning one cent per bale, and I was happy with days that saw 1,000 bales
because that meant I had earned $10.00! Guys who baled hay were very
tired at the end of the day, feeling relief and a sense of physical
accomplishment that made us think we were men. The work was hard, but
the experience was fun because we could banter and inflict practical jokes on one
another (again, see Cousin Jerry's stories at
Jerry Gibson's Lincoln, Illinois, Memoirs & Other Stories).
Sometimes the refreshments were great. When I worked for the Millers,
the end of the work day was truly "Miller time." When I worked for
George White, the women of the family prepared lavish picnic lunches set out
on tables with tablecloths. Nothing stronger than lemonade was ever
served there, but no one ever left thirsty, either.
In July of 2003, the landmark vintage barn of the George and John White
families fell victim to progress. See the Courier story at
Shelling corn was the only other farm work I ever did, and I did not do very
much of it. I remember working on the Donald Werth farm east of
Lincoln on Route 121 toward Mt. Pulaski (Don Werth's oldest son, Tom, was a
fellow member of the LCHS Class of 1960, and I also knew Frank and Fred, but
Mark then was too young a kid to work with us). This work was a bit
easier than baling hay and usually involved climbing into a corn crib to
rake and push the corn down to the bottom.
Ancient Corn Crib Gradually Being Reclaimed by Nature in West Lincoln
Sources Cited and Suggested
Beaver, Paul J. History of Logan County
Illinois 1982. Published by the Logan County Heritage Foundation. Dallas, TX: Taylor
Publishing Company, 1982. The following are found in Mr. Beaver's
A brief history of the Logan County Fair
Association and the Logan County 4-H Clubs, pp. 43-44.
"History of Logan County Homemakers Extension
Association," p. 45.
Black and white photos titled "Logan County
Agriculture," including photos of combining, butchering, threshing,
mules and wagon, pp. 48-49.
Biographical and autobiographical sketches of
many farm families and photos of farms Histories of farm-related companies:
Beaver, Paul J. William Scully and the
Scully Estates of Logan County, Illinois. Normal, IL:
master's thesis, 1964.
Gehlbach, Nancy Lawrence. "Farm Life in
Logan County." Our Times. vol. 2, no. 2, summer, 1997. Prairie Years Press. 121 N. Kickapoo Street, Lincoln,
Articles on the coming of electricity to farms
in the area, the Scully Estates, Harold Apel's and Rosemary Apel's
recollections, and the Logan County Fair
Gehlbach, Nancy Lawrence. "Tough Times for
Farmers. . . Miners." Our Times. vol. 4, no. 1, spring, 1999.
Prairie Years Press. 121 N. Kickapoo Street, Lincoln, IL 62656.
Personal recollections of the challenges faced
by farmers and miners during the Depression
Gehlbach, Nancy Lawrence. "Down on the (Dairy)
Farm. Our Times. vol. 5, no. 2. summer, 2000, pp. 6-7. Prairie
Years Press. 121 N. Kickapoo Street, Lincoln, IL 62656.
Personal recollections of three farm couples:
the Irwins, the Rankins, and the Stolls
Gleason, Paul E. Lincoln: A Pictorial
History. St. Louis, MO: G. Bradley Publishing, 1998.
"Agriculture 1850-1900": statistics about
acres farmed and crop yields; the role of poultry on the family farm;
history of Irvin Schroeder family farm; eight black-and-white photos,
including work horses, pp. 44-46.
· "William Scully," p. 47.
· "Logan County Fair," pp. 156-161
Material from Mr. Gleason's books is copyrighted with all rights
Gleason's material used in this Web site is with permission from the G. Bradley Publishing Company, 461 Des
Peres Road, St. Louis, MO 63131. Call 1-800-966-5120 to inquire about purchasing Lincoln:
A Pictorial History (1998) (200 pages of rare photos and text) or Logan County Pictorial History
(2000) (also 200 pages of rare photos and text). Visit
Gleason, Paul E., and Paul J. Beaver, Logan
County, Illinois: A Pictorial History. St. Louis, MO: G. Bradley Publishing, 2000.
"Agriculture in 1850," pp. 10-22.
· Summaries of farming
communities' histories throughout Logan County, with photos and captions describing many farms,
farm families, schools, businesses, and churches
"Landlordism." History of Logan County,
Illinois. Chicago, IL: Inter-State Publishing Co., 1886. This material cites the tenant-farming practices of
John D. Gillett, father-in-law of Governor Richard J. Oglesby, and of William Scully. This
account praises Gillett and criticizes Scully for the terms required of their tenants. (Bob
Goebel acquainted me with this information.)
Chamber of Commerce
Community Profile & Membership Directory, 1998. Photo courtesy of Village Profile.com,
Inc., 33 N. Geneva Street, Elgin, IL 60120. Please visit the Web site
of this remarkable company at
Lincoln Evening Courier, Centennial Edition, Wednesday, August 27, 1953.
Brief article on the founding of the Logan
County Fair, p. 6
"William Scully Was Land Baron of Midwest
States," section 5, p. 2.
· Article titled "Tall Grain Elevators Add to
Architecture of State," section 2, p. 15.
· Full page titled "Logan County Soil Is Rated
Among Nation's Finest," Section 6, p. 6
· Full page titled "Farming Plays Key Role in
Community Economy," Section 6, p. 7
· Various full page ads of creameries and farm
Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce Community Profile & Membership
Directory, published by Village Profile, Inc., Elgin, IL.
Official County Plat Book and Farmers' Directory of Logan County,
Illinois, 1962. Mankato, MN: no publisher given, 1962.
Stringer, Lawrence B. History of Logan
County, Illinois, 1911. Evansville, IN: UNIGRAPHIC, INC.,
Chapter 30: "Agricultural," pp. 528-537.
A brief chapter with crop statistics from 1840 to 1910. Also
information about farmer's organizations and fairs.
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Also please email me if this Web site helps you decide to visit Lincoln,
"The Past Is But the