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June 12, 2013

Death of Peter Rabbit

Angel of Death

Free in the Shire

Twomey Company

Individuals in Business

The American Dream


Sites of Interest

Twomey Company

Opening Little York

Purchase by Consolidated Grain & Barge

Citizen of the Year Award

Profile John Twomey


West Central HS

Buchanan Center for the Arts

Monmouth Illinois

Monmouth College

Roseville Illinois

Roseville High School

Smithshire Illinois


email: The Steve

1945 one employee 1995 over one hundred employees.

Smithshire IL

Smithshire fields Flooded

Smithshire IL Tillage

Gleaner Smithshire IL

Smithshire IL

Smithshire Harvest

Smithshire IL

Smithshire IL

Smithsire IL

Smithshire IL

Twomey Elevator

Santa Fe Rail Trestle

River Otter Gladstone IL

Ellison Valley

Smithshire Aerial


Smithshire IL

Deer Forgottonia

Foxes Western Illinois



Wood Ducks

Blue bells

Angus Pasture

Hawk Forgottonia

Fall Trees

Il River





My Father was a Farmer

A Tale from the Shire

Davis Davis Wedding

Kenneth E Davis married B. Gertrude Davis in Kirkwood IL on August 13, 1950

Soon after my father died I got a fortune cookie with the aphorism “meet strangers with kindness for you do not know their battle.” I thought this was true of my father when meeting strangers. The saying may be a rephrasing of a quote attributed to Plato. My father wouldn’t have known much about Plato.

My father grew up a child of the depression. All generations of our family have been farmers. The real type of farmer whose living depends on the ability to make enough money to survive to farm the next year. In a long line of American ancestors my sons will be the first not to actually farm for a living at some point in their lives.  During the tough times of the 1920’s and 1930’s all my great-grandfathers were farmers. All my ancestors struggled to be farmers, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing due to flooding rivers, dry weather, or economic crashes. Doing the Ancestry.com thing reveals, immigrants who came to farm from the 20th century to the 17th century in American history. I always find farmers.  

Harry Davis Trailer

Trailer took family to California in1936 and back to Illinois 1939

My father had what must have been considered a more exotic childhood than many of our neighboring farmers in Smithshire. His father had started out as a farmer, but he moved to a new farm just as the post WWI financial crash occurred. This farm panic forced him to sell out. Being a good mechanic he worked at the state highway garage keeping those Liberty trucks running in the 1920’s. He worked there until well after an election. Eventually the political honchos found out they still had a man from the wrong party employed, so he was fired. In the 1930’s my Dad went with his family to California. An uncle and great-uncle had moved to California in the 1920’s, so in a car pulling a big trailer my Dad’s family moved to California. He had great experiences in California during the 1930’s. He and his siblings raised rabbits while my grandfather worked construction with his brother. They scrambled to make a living but the family was fed. A farm accident killed my great grandfather in 1939; this tragedy brought them back to Smithshire. Dad grew up as a member of the Warren and Henderson County farming community during 1940’s. He graduated in 1947 from Media High School.

Davis Davis Union

Glen M. and Helen B. Davis -- B. Gertrude Davis, Kenneth E Davis-- Anna and Harry Davis

Dad’s older brother was a bookkeeper by the time Dad was out of high school. He would buy cases of .22’s. They then spent Sundays shooting targets for fun. My father always spent a lot of time hunting and fishing. What you could bring back made it a little easier to get by, whether food for the table or furs for some cash. When he was growing up you didn’t waste ammunition times were tough. He always patiently hunted with a bolt loading .22. He carefully selected young squirrels. When they were still he would shoot them in the head so as not to ruin the meat. Fish, squirrels and rabbits were staples in our family in addition to chicken, pork, and beef. 

Korean War Memorial Snow

Korean War Memorial Washington DC

The Army requested his presence in 1950; my Dad was a very good shot at that time. My parents got married knowing he would be inducted the next month. He wanted to farm, but Uncle Sam had other ideas. In training he never tried to hit targets with accuracy; he just shot. He was not seeking a marksman rating; he was not a soldier. The army made him a cook and baker. He served his two years and came home in spite of pressure to re-enlist.  He had a farm rented, and a newborn son.

My father didn’t have the static normalcy of most farm kids on a standard Forgottonia farm. I do not know if it was his moving so often, his many varied experiences growing up, the observations learned as troops came through a mess hall, or just his personality. He wasn’t uptight and stoically reserved like many farmers. He was a real farmer, but he didn’t always seem to fit the narrow image people had of farmers.

Do you know how to start a JD 730 diesel with a pony engine? I did.

As I got to spend time with him I learned so many wonderful stories of the experiences he had had. My father was always open to people. When reading the title of my story My Father was a Farmer. I suspect your image didn’t quite capture my father. He worked hard at farming, but also at fishing and hunting. He was never possessed by the work; he always knew the joy in life was in living it.  He knew hard working people of good character didn’t always find life an easy road.  My father didn’t naively trust people, but he was always willing to give a stranger a chance. Yes my father was a farmer, but he was so much more. 

Photo show in memory of my Dad. Thank you again to Closer to Free for coming to Smithshire.

Thank you to my parents, and all the wonderful people of the Smithshire community.

All I am; I truly owe to them.

I went back to Smithshire United Methodist on Fathers Day - June 19, 2016

Sang Holly Dunn song Daddy's Hands

Video of my practice --


Chevy 1948 2 Ton


Smithshire Park Smithshire IL

Smithshire Bell Sign

Smithshire Methodist Smithshire IL

Liberty Hall and Smithshire United Methodist Church in Smithshire IL

Smithshire Methodist Church 1950's