The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
Compiled and Edited by Virginia Ross
Registrar for Daniel McMillan Chapter, N.S.D.A.R.1919
Stronghurst Graphic, Nov.20, 1919
BREAKING UP THE BIGGEST FARM-PART 2 (Originally printed in Country Gentleman by Donald Angus)
Before David Rankin died he incorporated all his property under the name of "The Rankin Farms," and then made a will which divided the shares into four equal parts and gave one part to each of his four children. He thought this plan would hold the big land areas together in one farm, centrally managed as he had managed it.
William F. Rankin, a son, succeeded his father as manager of the estate but he died a little over a year ago, leaving three heirs; and now the one living son of David Rankin and his two married daughters and the three heirs of William F. Rankin have agreed upon a division of the lands into four equal parts as nearly as that can be done, and they are waiting only upon the carrying out of certain income tax formalities, when the division will be ratified. With the multiplication of heirs and conflict of interests it will not be long, of course, until these four subdivisions of the estate will be broken up into smaller tracts and these in turn into farms of normal size and the vast Rankin Farms will then be only a memory.
On the daylong drive which I took years ago with David Rankin we went into a feedlot and stopped, while one of the men stood by the buggy talking and trying to light his pipe in a strong wind. He scratched match after match, and as the wind blew them out, he threw them away until he had wasted twenty or more. This irritated Rankin, and as we drove on he said, " Did you se that man wasting matches?Ê He will never have much; he is too wasteful. I never waste anything. I early learned the lesson of saving the small things. I was sixteen years old before I saw a match, and it was long after that before we could afford to have them. I often saw my father start a fire with a little hand grain sickle, by putting powder on a Dutch oven lid and striking the lid with the sickle. This made a spark which touched off the powder, and this flash set fire to some dry tow. I have carried fire a mile from a neighbor's house when our fire went out, and even after matches became common we were very sparing of them. Now this man stands and deliberately wastes twenty matches. It is typical of our waste of everything."
"The average man of ordinary means used to put in the most of his time with his family or with his business. Today it seems like he tries to see how little he can put in with his business so that he can spend the most of his time with his family in an automobile."
"As for the extravagance of the rich, that is always proverbial and not worth discussion. But extravagance on any man's part, rich or poor, is always waste."
He said on that drive, "I was brought up in poverty and privation." And he told about his early life. His father was a poor farmer is what is now Henderson County, Ill. on the banks of the Mississippi River. They lived in a log cabin with greased paper for windows. Rankin went barefooted each summer until he was 28 years old, long after he was married.
When he was 11 years old, he had to go to work to help support the family, and he was never in school after that. While he was yet a boy, his father owed a store debt, and the constable was about to put him out of his home and young Davie agreed to pay the debt. He plowed up a big piece of prairie, using a plow with a wooden moldboard, stopping every twenty rods to clean the mud off the plow with a paddle. He planted corn, fattened hogs and hauled the dressed hogs forty miles and sold them for $1 a hundred.
In 1846 when he was 21 years old, Rankin started in for himself as a farmer. Good land in Illinois was very cheap them.
"I knew of as good a quarter section as there was in the state that was valued at $30; not $30 an acre, but $30 for the whole 160 acres and a man traded a yoke of oxen for it," Rankin said. "I learned in early boyhood that farming was one best business in the world. Everything depends on farming. It is the most independent business and the most healthy."
All Rankin had when he decided to be a farmer was one ox. He bought another ox for $8, agreeing to pay for it in work. He made himself a wooden plow, and got trusted for an iron plow point, and then went in debt for 80 acres of prairie land with a shanty on it and began farming.
Soon afterward he decided that he ought to get married. The story is told that he went about this with characteristic foresight and good judgment. He observed all the eligible young women in the neighborhood, made his choice and one day went to her and told her all about it and asked her to marry him. It turned out that she had been watching him, too, and she agreed. He told me this story of his marriage.
"When the preacher got through tying the knot I turned my pocket wrong side out and fished up five dollars. I handed it to him and said, "I have got just five dollars to my name; take it all."
As my bride and I walked away from the preacher's house, I said to her, "Now we will have an ever start with the world."
"Money was scarce then and I had to trade for everything. I couldn't get the best flour without paying cash for it so had to take second-rate flour. We were so poor we hadn't a dish to mix bread in, but that flour was so hard in the barrel that my wife scooped out a hollow place in one end of it and mixed the bread in that until cucumber time next summer when a tinner came around and I traded lumber to him for a big dishpan. Then we mixed bread in that."
On the day we drove fifty miles together over his place Rankin told me may things about corn and corn lands and corn farming and their relations to cattle and hogs.
"I deliberately decided to be a corn grower and to combine with that the livestock business," he said. "I had watched a neighbor who did that and I saw that the right thing was to feed all the corn grown. I have always done that. In that way I get full value out of it. I gain the manure that comes from feeding my corn on my land and having cattle and hogs there to fertilize it as they feed and graze. My farm is a beef and pork factory. I sell the finished product.
Too many farmers haul their corn out and sell it. Then they have to gather the corn, which is a big cost. I turn cattle and hogs right in among the standing corn and let them gather it as they eat and fatten. The corn shelling farmer has to pay the cost of hauling the corn to market and he loses the profit he could make in fattening cattle and hogs on it, and he loses the fertilizer. The eleventh commandment of the farmer in the Corn Belt should be: 'Thou shalt not sell corn.'
My fortune has been made by buying unimproved land at small price and improving it and by good farming. That includes, of course, buying big bunches of cattle when they were low in price and putting them in good market condition on my own feeds and holding them until the market is right to sell.
Early in my farming experience I made up; my mind that there was a great future in corn, and I decided to own only such land as would grow corn or clover at will, so that I could rotate my crops, growing corn on a piece of land for four or five years, or so long as it produced corn well and then changing to clover until that crop had put back into the soil the elements that corn had robbed it of and then planting it in corn again. I saw that the time would never come when corn would not be in demand, for it takes corn to make the best beef and pork. Corn is the basis of meat production. No other grain, no other feed can take the place of it.
I paid $5 and $10 an acre for most of this land and there is no better corn land. I selected it for that reason. In the bottoms here the black soil goes away down. I have seen good corn growing on soil that was dug from the bottom of a well forty feet deep. This land is worth $100 an acre now, and it is cheap at that price. It will go to $200 before many years."
It did not seem so then and there were few who agreed with Rankin. But he was right. His lands which were worth an average of $100 an acre when he died, are worth an average of $200 an acre now and some have sold for $250 an acre. Some bottom lands, which are so rich that they produce good corn each year without rotation, could not be bought for $300 an acre.
LOCAL AND AREA NEWS: Nat Curry has an up-to-date barber chair and also reads the Graphic. Mrs. Hattie Pendry was taken to the Burlington Hospital. Dr. I.F.Harter treated the roof of his office building to a new coat of paint. Mrs. Anna Turner, a former resident of this place, was married Nov.12 at Browning, Mo. to Mr. Wm. Warner. Miss Evelyn Fort was home from Monmouth College over the weekend. T.C.Knutstrom drove a new Dodge touring car home from Chicago. Miss Ruth Staley is teaching the winter term at Fitz District. Mrs. J. F. Gilliland, Mrs. Helen Burrell and P.E.Drain left on the train to attend the I.O.O.F Grand Lodge in Springfield. Mrs. Gilliland and P.E.Drain are delegates.
For Sale: Barred Plymouth Rock cockerels; inquire of Mrs. W.A. Spears. W.J.McElhinney left for Des Moines, Iowa to attend a meeting of the National Association of Farmers' Mutual Fire Insurance Companies. Col. J.W.Decker was at Little York where he conducted a sale of milch cows for McMillan and Mathers; one of the cows sold for $188. C.E.Peasley left for Lee County, Indiana to assist the local farm bureau association there in a campaign for membership. A case of small pox developed in the girl's dormitory at Monmouth College and the institution closed down for the remainder of the week. O.J.Sanderson visited a few days with his sisters, Mrs. Cassie Yeast, Mrs. Ella Crowder and Mrs. Francis Graham at Hamilton, Ill. Ed Myers of the M.L. Myers Grocery Co.of this place moved his family here from Biggsville into the rooms over the store which the firm operates. Mrs. Chas. Lukens entertained her father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. L.D.Colyer and her sister, Mrs. W.J.McKeown and children at dinner at their home in honor of the 61st anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Colyer's marriage.
The Blandinsville Star Gazette says: " Hancock County has 77 people in the insane asylum. They sent 11 in 1917, 10 in 1918 and 22 so far this year. This remarkable increase is probably the result of people trying to talk over the telephone to somebody in Carthage." (Did this mean 1. poor telephone service to Carthage was driving people crazy, 2.talking on the phone led to mental illness, or 3.Carthage people drove one insane?) Clem Jarvis of Carman neighborhood has bought a 90 acre tract of land within the city limits of Crandon, Wis. and intends moving his family there shortly. An organization to be known as the Dallas City Community Club has been formed at Dallas City, the object being to finance and assume responsibility for any matter of general good in the city. Mrs. Elizabeth Cortleyou, who makes her home with her daughter, Mrs. Bailey west of Raritan, is suffering from a fractured hip resulting from falling in her room one night when moving about in the dark after getting out of bed. Mrs. Cortleyou is in her 89th year.
Alvah Martin of the Biggsville neighborhood while in the village last week examined the Johnson Oil Heater for which Tom Morgan and H.N.Vaughn have the agency in this county. He found the heater to be as represented and made arrangements to have one installed in his residence. Mr. Morgan says that they are getting orders by mail, phone and personal call for this new heating device and it is giving satisfaction wherever tried. R.W.Upton is recovering from a severe attack of pleurisy which has kept him confined to the house for a number of days. An enormous pumpkin raised on the Conrad Eckhart farm near Dallas City is on exhibition at the office of County Farm Advisor Miner.
HIGH SCHOOL NOTES: English IV class had an exciting time when during the terrific wind storm when one of the large windows in the freshman room gave a loud crash and glass flew high and low. There was a wild rush and scramble of pupils and the teacher until the professor came to the rescue. There was then a wild scramble for order. The French class which has been struggling with many hard words the last quarter has been promoted to the first reader. The will begin reading "The Country Mouse's Visit to the City Mouse" on Monday.
1894 Graphic: Geo. Dixson fell a distance of 25 ft. from the roof of the barn on his mother's farm south of town on Nov.18th breaking his right leg half way between the knee and hip.(barn is still there-south of town on left side of highway) The Boston Store, one of the largest dry goods houses in Burlington, Iowa, burned on Nov.16th, entailing a loss of about $60,000. A dance in the old stone hall in Gladstone on the night of Nov.15th wound up in a bloody battle between some Olena and Gladstone boys in which Arthur Roberts was carved up with a knife and so terribly injured that his life was despaired of for several days.
A man from Gladstone by the name of McMullen also had his scalp laid open and was rendered unconscious for some time by being struck with a pair of brass knuckles. Bruce Kirkpatrick of Good Hope had just taken a position as assistant in the Lee Hamilton Drugstore in Stronghurst. A women's suffrage amendment to the Kansas state constitution was defeated at the November election. Grandma Hart, mother of Mrs. J.F. Murphy, was presented with a nice wheel chair by her neighbors and friends in the village. Evangelist Bell was conducting revival meetings at Biggsville.
Back to 1919-MEDIA MEANDERINGS: Miss NeVeil resigned her position as teacher at the Academy. The box supper and entertainment held Friday night at the public school was a decided success both financially and in a social way. The prize for the prettiest girl was received by Anna Frye and the prize for the ugliest man was received by Mr. Smith. The sum of $114 was cleared for the school. C.R.Pendarvis accompanied a shipment of hogs to market. Miss Mary Elizabeth Alexander left for Urbana where she will spend a few days attending a teachers' meeting. Mr. and Mrs. Emery Evehhearst moved into the house they purchased recently from Mr. John Gibson. An oyster supper and Bazaar will be held under the auspices of the ladies' Community Club.in the United Presbyterian church basement. Later in the evening at eight p.m. a home talent play, "Aunt Maggie's Will," will be given at the Academy.
OLENA OBSERVATIONS: A Recruiting Station in the church parlors opened in Olena wanting recruits for both Army and Navy. If interested, come and bring some one with you; don't be a slacker, but "boost!" Mrs. James Pendry was taken to one of the Burlington hospitals for treatment of a bad case of blood poisoning. Mrs. Joel Marsden is reported as quite indisposed and is expected she will be taken to the hospital within a few days. Miss Agnes Dalton, who has been preparing herself for a trained nurse in the Burlington hospital, has resigned her position there and taken a school near the city. Mr. Ed Carlson and Mr. Herman Burrell have each purchased a player piano while Will Hick's family is trying out a new Edison phonograph. (Good times must have been rolling along as these would be classed as luxuries.) Elbridge Fort shipped out a load of fat cattle and Harvey Lant 3 cars of sheep. Quite a few of the farmers are delivering fat porkers on the Stronghurst market. Charles Lyons who got badly hurt a short time ago while trying to lead an unruly cow is getting along as well as could be expected, but will probably be incapacitated for work for some time. Jesse Hicks purchased what was formerly the James Pendry farm in the Carman neighborhood.
Mrs. Gibb and children of near Biggsville are spending a few weeks with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Herman Burrell while Mr. Gibb is in Burlington taking treatment for blood poisoning. Corn husking and hauling wood seem to be the order of the day. Corn yield is reported good and also a good quality.
GLADSTONE GLEANINGS: Mrs. John Magee returned from Fairfield, Iowa after spending several days with her father, Mr. Jessie Tate. A goodly number of high school pupils gave quite a surprise to Miss Ruth Mears Wednesday evening at her home where they met to celebrate her 17th birthday.
Mr. and Mrs. Len Ditto took their daughter Edith to the Burlington hospital and had her tonsils removed. Dr. Hills of South Dakota is here and will commence taking care of Dr. B.L. Ditto's patients. The latter is quitting the practice for a much needed rest. The many friends of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Knutstrom gave them a utility shower at Bryan's hall where their friends met and prepared a fine lunch and presented them with two fine rocking chairs and other things of utility. They all made merry with music and Mrs. Alva Martin gave several readings which were highly enjoyed. Songs and dancing occupied the time until a late hour when all departed to their homes having spent a most delightful evening.
CARMAN CONCERNS: Mrs. Gus Rehling has the whooping cough; the children who have had it for the past two weeks are improving nicely. School opened after being closed for two weeks on account of scarlet fever. Floyd and Edna Vaughan are the latest victims. John Lant and wife of Olena and brother Will Lant and family of California and Mrs. Sarah Patridge of Olena visited the Wm. Coffman home. Paul Marsden and Miss Faye Vaughn, who have been sick with fever, are both better, but the homes are still under quarantine. A dance will be held at the M.W.A.hall Wednesday night. Hassels orchestra from Burlington will furnish the music.
BIG REDUCTION AT HAT SHOP: Commencing Friday morning and continuing for one week hats will sell at 1/3 off and a few at off except those with metal lace. This is a cash sale only. I have a larger selection of hats than usual at this time of the season but my loss is your gain. Mrs. N.P.Hollingsworth (Stronghurst and surrounding area ladies did not have to go to the big city to be stylish; Mrs. Hollingsworth brought stock from the Chicago market.)