Still Farms With Horses!

One-row cultivator

George Crook with his team and the one-row cultivator he uses in his farming operations. Courtesy of Mr. Walter Bieritz, R. 2, Box 168, Yorkville, Illinois

Mr. Walter Bieritz

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There has been a bunch of crooks living on this farm ever since 1857. Such was the statement of George Crook, patron of Kendall Farmers Oil Company. And 1857 was the year in which his grandfather traveled from England and settled on this farm. A bunch of Crooks has lived there ever since.

George Crook is a colorful and fascinating gentleman who has been farming all his life . . . and that is a considerable length of time. George will celebrate his ninety-first birthday December 11. He is the only living charter member of the Kendall County Farm Bureau.

His farm consists of 160 acres, and George and his hired-man, John Rusk who is 73, handle the complete farming operation themselves.

When asked why he still farmed, George answered, 'Statistics tell us that the average life expectancy of those who retire is two years . . . so I don't think I'll retire just yet.'

This is only part of what makes George Crook a colorful individual . . . another is that he still uses horses in planting his crops. The only type of tractor he ever tried to use was the crank-type . . . he maintained that they were harder to start than his horses . . . so he stuck to his horses.

George explained that he is always happy when he has a pair of reins in his hands. Horses have been his hobby since he was a small boy. He has had numerous matched teams and delights in buying and trading horses. He explained it this way, 'I like horses and horses like me.'

The team that he now uses are named Kate and Charlie. George has been using Kate and Charlie for three years. He stated that they are one of the best teams that he has ever owned.

Until two years ago, he was still using a threshing machine. George said that he had worked around the old-time threshers for about 70 years.

George Crook's grandfather bought the first 80 acres of what is now the Crook farm in 1857. He paid the fantastically high price of $10 per acre.

The additional acreage was bought in 1885 by George's father. The price of land in Kendall County had risen by this date to $35 an acre.

George married Grace Noble in 1902. Grace died May 5, 1964 after they had had 62 years of happy married life.

Watching George Crook hitch Charlie and Kate to the one-row cultivator was both nostalgic and a little sad. It was as if you had suddenly stepped into the past to watch a part of the American scene that has all but vanished. In the barn were rows of horse collars and worn harnass And in the field the only sounds . . . who a Kate . . . giddap Charlie.