I was born on September 7, 1915, on a farm three miles east of Chatham, Illinois. My dad rented this farm from Sam Stout and farmed by the bushel. He furnished the horses and the implements and my dad did the work. When I was four years of age, we moved to a four hundred acre farm 2-3 miles northeast of Divernon. All this land was farmed with horses for several years. Brush Creek ran from the southwest to the northeast corner of the farm. I spent a lot of my time playing on the creek. I had some home made boats that I used to cross the creek and I set traps along the creek bank. Farther back along the creek there was a bridge to cross with machinery. The creek took about 40 acres of the farm including pasture for the cows and horses. All of the hogs were kept penned up in smaller lots. We had a stallion and a jackass that we bred the mares to raise colts to break for fieldwork. We had enough horses for four, four horse teams.
When I was 10 years old I got to help cultivate corn with horses on a one-row cultivator. Finally, dad bought a Wallace tractor for plowing. After two years he bought a 1020 IHC, which I soon started driving doing custom work for neighbors. The following year he bought a W30 IHC, a three-bottom tractor. We had a large headlight fastened on the front so we could see to plow at night. It seemed like we were always doing custom work for someone. I didn't know at the time my dad was trying to pay off a promissory note with Bank of Virden.
In 1930, I was a freshman in high school and started going out on dates. I got to drive the family car, which was a two-door Chevrolet sedan. I met Claris at the Methodist Church in Glenarm. She was a beautiful young gal who had recently moved here from Mt. Vernon. She was living with her dad and three sisters and a brother in a little house in Glenarm. Her dad worked on the railroad. In the summer they helped local farmers for $1.00 a day. We started dating and going everywhere. After a few dates I knew she was the one I wanted to marry. We were together two to three times a week. On Feb. 14, 1937, Rev. Ishmael married us at the Baptist Church in Girard. For our honeymoon we drove to Peoria and stayed over night with Geraldine and Bill Wall. Claris' sister, Mary, came to live with us. Brother Glen also stayed with us for a while. Claris was ten years old when her mother died in childbirth with Lena Fay. They were unable to care for the baby so a neighbor couple adopted her. Ada, the oldest daughter, was sent to live with her cousin Opal. That left Claris to keep the family together. Mary had an operation for cancer at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis. She died a few days later and was buried in Cumberland Cemetery.
We rented a 119-acre farm west of Thayer and two miles southwest of Auburn from Bob Floney. I borrowed $400 from the Big 4 Loan Co. in Springfield and bought enough furniture to set up housekeeping. My dad loaned me six heads of horses and some old machinery consisting of a seven-foot disk, two-section harrow and a two row Hayes corn planter. This is what I farmed with for several years. All work was done with horses. After six years I bought a F-12 IHC tractor to help work the ground. One spring we planted some new seed corn and it produced almost twice as much as we had been raising. Every year we plowed under some sweet clover so the land was good and productive. While I was trying to grow more crops, Claris was dressing fryers to sell. We got acquainted with nice people in our neighborhood. Mile and Nellie Machino were our best friends.
After picking corn and scooping it into cribs all over the area, we wore out the corn picker. We then bought a 123 self-propelled IHC combine with a 12-foot grain head and started doing custom work combining soybeans and wheat and oats. I would get up at 3 o'clock in the morning so I could grease the machinery and be ready to start in the field by daylight. I covered thousands of acres doing custom work. After wearing out the IHC 123, we traded it for a 26' pull-type combine. By then I had also bought an IHC "M" tractor with a nine foot disk, two row cultivator, three bottom plow and four section harrow. All of the machinery cost $1,725 brand new.
In 1947, we rented a 190-acre farm located one mile northwest of Pawnee from Frank Stout. There was a five-room home on it. The house was much more modern than the house we moved from. The house, however, needed a lot of work, i.e., painting inside and out, water system and electric wiring. We erected a white board fence around the house. Everyone in the neighborhood talked about how nice the farm looked.
David W. Dickey, Sr.