Bob St. George

My Life Growing Up On A Farm

By Bob St.George

I grew up in the county 8 miles northwest of Galesburg Illinois, half way between Alexis
and Galesburg in the northeast corner of Kelly township., Warren county. My dad farmed
104 acres and drilled wells on the side. From 1900 till 1930 he drilled 164  2" wells,
anywhere from 80ft. to 200 ft. deep and kept a record of all them.

My dad died in l930 right at the beginning of the depression and left my mother and three
boys. My oldest brother was l8, I was l2, and my younger brother was l0.  Because of my
fathers death we had to give up farming and sell the livestock. We still lived on the little
five acres we owned. The next  four years. were tough going. We ate a lot of navy beans
and baking powder biscuits.

We lived within forty rods of one of the wealthiest and biggest land owners in Warren
county.  At the time they owned around 2000 acres and it is still in the family. They had
four married men the year around that worked for them, and lived within three miles of
each other. They had a private phone line to each of these houses. At six' clock every
morning they would call them and give them their orders for the day.  The names of these
people were J. J. Bullman & Sons, William and Theodore.

As my bothers and I were growing up we all started out working for them, pulling the hay
fork, carrying water at oat cutting and threshing time.  We worked our way up the ladder on
the hay rack driving a team to a hay loader, for 50 cents a day.

My oldest brother, Alex, started  working for them as a hired man in l953.  After fifteen
years they gave him 360 acres to farm on halves.  He then sold out and retired in l979, after
working the land for 46 years.  I started working for them as a extra hired man in l934 at
$33.00 a month.  All horses, no tractors.  Three horses on a one bottom sulky plow, then
five horses on a two bottom gang plow.  I planted my first corn that year.  When corn
picking time came in the fall they hired two more men to help.  As I didn't work the year
around I was one of the two, which made six of us.

Every day was a contest to see who could pick the most.  We had an elevator with horse
power to unload with.  In the Spring of l935 a Funk's salesman sold the Bullman's two
bushels of Hybrid Seed Corn. It was planted on one side of a field of Reed's Yellow Dent .
That fall they gave us all a chance to pick the Funks corn.  The Reed's Yellow Dent was
down and tangled up, while the Funk's never had a stalk down.  It yielded 20 bushels more
an acre than the Reed's Yellow Dent.  An average yield then was 50 to 60 bushels. Funk's
made 70 bushels,. it also increased my picking from 70 to 90 bushels a day.  Needless to
say that was the last of open pollinated corn.

In l937 I went to work for another farmer 3 miles from home by the name of Robert
Adcock.  I worked there for six years.  I started at $35.00 a month and when I quit I was
getting $70.00 a month.  The reason I enjoyed picking corn by hand was I could more than
double the money I was making by the month. I started out in l934  at one cent bushel and
finished in l94l at 7 cents a bushel.  By then I could pick l20 bushel a day and scoop it into
the crib.

In the Spring of l94l, Bob Adcock who I was working for traded in farm horses for a new
Oliver "70" tractor, three bottom plow, tandem disc, and cultivator. "Wow, what a
change"!  No more stopping under the hedge rows to let the horses cool off.

From l943 to l946 I worked for the Yarde Brothers near Alexis. The last year I worked on
the farm I was making $ll0.00 dollars a month and l00 bushels of corn to feed some hog's I
was raising.

In January, l946 my younger brother John came home from the service and asked if I was
going to work by the month for the rest of my life.  I said "No ", we hoped someone would
set us up in farming for ourselves ,( which didn't happen.)

That Spring we both got a job with the Warren County Highway Department. He stayed for
8 years, he then got married and started working for the Intra State Telephone Company. ,
He retired after working for them for 32 years. My wife, Mary Helen and I were married
August 4, l946.  I stayed with the  Highway Department for 35 years retiring July 24th l98l.
I was a foreman 25 years.  We have two children, Gary and Kenny and six grandchildren.

Bob St.George picking at the 1995 National Contest.