when leaving so I am not one of the millionaires or
lucky heirs who inherited money from the sale of stock when DeKalb
(Ag) Genetics was bought by Monsanto around 1998.
There are many stories to tell about the DeKalb Agricultural
Association and its people.
Those who didnt
work there but know all about the winged ear will
enjoy the historical exhibit now on display through April at
the Nehring Gallery in downtown DeKalb. I sure learned a lot
more talking with the alumni who were present when I visited.
My father was an Ag employee in the late 1940s and
wired some of the new Ag plants in Iowa, Ontario, Canada, and
Redwood Falls, Minn. My mother and I joined him for the summer
in Redwood Falls, living in a cabin near the water where I fished
every day and learned how to ride a bike. And I remember his
boss, Charlie Blackman, and their lifelong friendship after my
father left the Ag. Of course dad sold his stock
Two of the many versions of the famous winged ear are
shown in this photo (Barry Schrader Photo)
sidebar story that ties into the current exhibit: The Burt Oderkirk
family that bought the house at 217 Annie Glidden Road, where
Annie Glidden had lived for many years, included three daughters.
One of them, Ellen, married Dean Froelich, who spent most of
his career working for the Ag in the poultry and seed divisions.
The Froelichs are coming to DeKalb in April to see the exhibit
and probably the old family home, as well as the playhouse now
on the grounds of the Ellwood House and Museum. I am told that
Dean proposed to Ellen on the front porch of that playhouse when
it was owned by the Oderkirks and kept in their yard.
is much discussion and concern over the future of the DeKalb
Ag historical collection, now being managed by the members of
the DEKALB Alumni Association, a group of former employees who
are active in preserving the heritage of this agricultural icon.
Only about 1 or 2 percent of the entire collection is on display
at the gallery, so there needs to be a museum established to
exhibit the artifacts on a permanent basis. There should be sufficient
interest since it would attract more tourism to this area, just
like the barbed wire barons homes do.
Northern Illinois University, which now owns the old Glidden/Oderkirk
house, could offer it for a museum to the Ag alumni group. Or
could space be found at the Engh farm outside Sycamore, or the
Glidden Homestead after they have acquired the greenhouse building,
which is a fundraising project currently under way.
wish the Ag alums well in their efforts to find a museum or home
for the artifacts and not just remain in a storage building where
they cant be enjoyed by the public.
Another topic: I got several e-mails from
Genoa folks commenting on the history of the towns founding
column. Pat (Johnson) Smith from the Genoa-Kingston Class of
1960 recalls a history project in school when she and the late
Lynn Pflaum collaborated on researching Genoa history and they
interviewed the late Cassie Burrows who had lived there a long
time. Mrs. Burrows told them how Genoa got its name when the
first settler Thomas Madison (aka Matteson) chose the name from
Genoa, New York. So it must be he was not an Italian, or it would
have been pronounced GEN-owa after the historic city
Another e-mailer, Dolores Gallagher,
worked on the Rural School Journeys book and found
some family history sources to be incorrect when
matched with more official records. And another question arose:
When is a town founded when it is platted, a post office
established or when a village is incorporated? I leave all these
issues to Tom Oestreicher and his G-K history students, if they
decide to take the challenge.