Thursday, January 7, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Dad's Farm Notebooks

Just before we left for our holiday trip, to see the grandchildren in Texas, I was going through a box of photos, only roughly sorted into big envelopes, trying to find a photo of my Mother. I did find it, see last week's Treasure Chest. However, as I was going through the envelopes, I also found one that did not hold photos - it had nine of my Dad's farm notebooks!

These notebooks may be just a bunch of scribbles to some folks, but to me, they are filled with memories. My Dad was a FARMER! He never wanted to do anything else, and he never did. He was a good farmer; from the late 1930s until his untimely death in 1977 after a three battle with a complex cancer, he was always an Iowa farmer. He was never without his little "seed corn" notebook and a pen or pencil. To this day, as my three daughters will attest, I always carry a pen or pencil... very likely a carry-over from his obsession.

This particular set of notebooks dates from 1968-1973, when he was farming the largest acreages of his career - near 800 acres at one time. Corn and beans, primarily, on prime Iowa topsoil... using mostly Pioneer seed and some Dekalb, as you can note from the photo. The blue book, top center, was to record Grain Trucking and Shelling, from the local Farmers Cooperative Association - which he did. Each entry brings to my mind images of the pieces of ground to which he refers, where he notes, for the date, even to morning or afternoon, where particular bags of seed, with the variety, were planted. Here is a brief sample, from one page, in his distinctive handwriting:

June 5, 1972
Started on 90A at North Place
14 sacks of Marshall Beans
3 sack Amiben
1 sack Amiben
6 sacks Marshall Beans
4 sack Amiben
8 sack Ameben
16 s
Finish Planting beans on June 9
20 bu Marshall beans on south
rest of field my own seed Wayne

This does also reinforce my desire to do some more work on occupational photos, that I have mentioned before. To me, these notebooks are Treasures related to Dad's farming occupation.

Families are Forever! ;-)


  1. What a treasure trove of family information you have again uncovered. That happens to me, too. Maybe it is my age ;-) I gather, put back and forget about it until it is rediscovered...which is always such a gigantic pleasure! As to the occupational photos...there was a Smile for the Camera that featured that prompt this year. NICE FIND, Bill.

  2. Those are wonderful treasures - not only for you, but for your grandchildren and their children someday too! My favorite treasures are most often those that open a window into a better understanding of what my ancestors life was like. What a wonderful tool you have to be able to paint a picture of his life to other generations - a treasure chest of stories! Awesome!

  3. How wonderful! And kind of eerie too! See, today I blogged for my Treasure Chest Thursday about my Grandfather's farm journals, too! [See my post here:

    Just too strange!!!

    Love your blog and your work! Look forward to reading your posts daily.

  4. How wonderful! Your father never knew when he was going about his normal work just how much those journals would mean to you. What an insight into the work involved in being a farmer as well! These truly are a treasure!

  5. Your Dad's notebooks are wonderful Bill, sure wish all of our ancestor's left us journals such as your Dad's.

    Thanks for sharing them with us.

  6. Excellent discovery! I love to hear about farmers who love(d) farming. My friend's husband is like that - he's never happier than when he's out in the field with this huge grin on his face.

  7. Very cool especially with his dintinctive handwritten notes.

  8. Seems I struck a positive nerve! Thanks, so much, for each of the comments. They mean a lot to me. Now the challenge is to use the information in the notebooks in a positive way to highlight Dad's farming experience! To Tell His Story! ;-)

  9. Thanks for sharing about these notebooks. I wish you could scan a page (or several) to post. It would be interesting to see your dad's handwriting.
    My father owned a house he rented and he kept a notebook of repairs and costs for those repairs. No one else in the family wanted them. I thought them a treasure -- and had forgotten about them until I read this post.
    Thanks for the reminder and again for your post.
    Nancy from My Ancestors and Me at

  10. Nancy,

    I'll like feature them again, with more details. I'll scan some pages, at that time.
    Happy to have been able to jog your memory.