The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Meet Your Neighbor

by Joyce Wolf, The Quill

Meet Your Neighbor Matt Defenbaugh.

Matt lives at rural route Biggsville with his wife of almost 17 years, Tonya (Peel) and their three children.

Nicholas 8, is a third grader at West Central grade school, Isabel 4, attends Monmouth Early Learning Center, and Noah, will be 2 in March and everyone is looking forward to that!

Matt was born in 1973 in Monmouth to Raymond and Alice Defenbaugh, also of rural route Biggsville. When Matt was born, his parents lived where he and his family live now and he had a big brother named Daniel.

When Matt was a few years old his first sister, Jennifer, was born and they moved to another farm a few miles away. (until he was married and he moved back) Soon another sister, Deborah, came into the family.

Daniel (Johanna Adair) lives at rural route Kirkwood and has two children: Nathan and Ella. Jennifer (Mark) Kinneer lives in Kirkwood and has three boys: Luke, Caleb and Zack. Deborah (John) Green lives at rural route Little York and has two boys: Dylan and Justin. Their first son, Carl, is in heaven.

Matt attended Union school (now West Central Community School District) and graduated in 1992.

Matt and Tonya were married March 16th, 1996 at the Kirkwood United Methodist Church.

Matt’s grandparents are all deceased. They were John and Esther Defenbaugh and John and Ardith Norris, all from Streator and they were all farmers.

Matt has always loved farming and most enjoys being outside. He raises haired sheep (they have hair not wool) and on their farm have a llama, a pony, a pygmy goat and ducks and chickens. (and a neigh neigh here and a baa baa there and a quack quack …….)

There are several barn cats and three dogs and the two Great Pyrenees dogs have a big job protecting the sheep from the many predators in the neighborhood - coyotes, foxes and even large birds are attracted to the new lambs born every spring. Their other dog, Sadie, a miniature Australian shepherd is a member of the family.

Matt and his brother also have a large herd of Angus and Angus cross cattle and they farm together.

It takes a lot of hard work and cooperation to get the crop planted in the spring so it will be ready to harvest in the fall. Matt does the planting, brother, Dan does the spraying and they both keep the family elevator in operation.

Throughout the year Matt can be found in his semi on the road to Big River Resources to deliver corn from their elevator. There’s always mowing and hay baling and machinery maintenance to do in between planting and harvest.

Matt also has a bulldozer and excavating machine and is available for hire on a limited basis to do demolition and digging and clean-up jobs. His own jobs keep him pretty busy.

As long as he can remember, Matt has always been interested in flying. Yes flying ! He purchased a power parachute in 1997, and really had fun flying over the neighborhood.

Through the publication of Rotorcraft Pro Association magazine Matt met a fellow flying enthusiast, Carl Schneider who introduced him to the gyrocopter world- Matt put his very own gyrocopter together and after F.A.A. inspections and several instructional hours, he flew it!

For those who don’t know the difference between these two flying machines – the power parachute has a big fan on it and a very large parachute, which makes it seem very safe.

The gyrocopter is a very small helicopter with the rotors on top and ‘something’ that makes it go forward a lot faster than the paraplane.

Matt is a member of the National Gyrocopter Association and attends their convention in Mintone, Indiana every year with another friend Joe Swanton, from Clinton, Iowa. A group flies from Clinton to Mintone and it is quite a sight to see.

The largest Experimental Aircraft Association show in the country is in Oshkosh, Wisconsin every year at the end of July. Matt takes his whole family camping that week at Oshkosh and there is something going on all the time.

Matt is also licensed by the F.A.A. to fly two and four seater aircraft and has taken friends and family to the Quad City and Burlington airports and several other places within a fifty mile radius from here. He went to a Florida flight school and also received instructions at the Monmouth airport.

He always has a project lined up to fill his time and is always ready to help a friend. While I was writing his story, he was busy cutting up a tree for firewood for a friend. The cold weather has made it necessary to burn more to keep warm.

At Matt’s house, however, they do not burn wood to heat, they burn corn. He installed a corn burner a few years ago and it is very efficient at keeping their house warm.

Matt enjoys his family, friends, farming, flying and faith.

Matt and his family attend the Rozetta Baptist Church and the men’s bible study group has been a source of spiritual growth.

Last fall, Matt traveled with the Rozetta Mission Team to a South Chicago Mission for a three day blitz of feeding people – “kitchen food” and The Word from the Bible. He wants to do more short term mission work as the need is very great.

Right now he is looking forward to spring and is glad we are getting some rain. Every year is different in farming because of the weather, but just accepting that and knowing Who is in charge, makes everything all right.