I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb
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each week and be added to the archives.
The Articles started December 2007.
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Kirkland farmer preserves agricultural history
By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................September 12, 2012
Kirkland farmer Denny Rehn stands in his private museum
where he showcases agricultural memorabilia. The collection is
housed in a 60 feet by 80 feet metal farm building and includes
a second-floor mezzanine. (Provided photo)
Denny Rehn comes from three generations of Kirkland farmers.
His grandfather Art purchased a 130-acre farm on McNeal Road
in 1933 and it has been in the family since.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to meet Denny and see
some of his collection of agricultural memorabilia he has amassed
in just the past decade. It is housed in a 60-feet-by-80-feet
metal farm building and includes a second-floor mezzanine. Some
eight years ago he moved the bulk of his collectibles to a second
farm he also owns north of Kirkland, this one over the border
in Boone County on Stone Quarry Road.
Entering his private museum, one finds he has organized
and categorized the artifacts so they can be easily viewed.
Some people just like to collect, but I like to display
my collection so it can be shared with others, Rehn said.
Denny Rehn stands among some of his agricultural artifacts
at his farm on Stone Quarry Road north of Kirkland.
To that end, he holds an occasional open house and hosts groups
at the farm, the next one being the fall meeting of the Kirkland
Historical Society on Sept. 19. He also has invited the national
Corn Items Collectors Association to hold its gathering there
Hanging on the walls are almost 300 metal signs that come from
all areas of agribusiness. These are genuine articles, not the
reproductions that are so prevalent today.
Then there is a section devoted to seed and feed sacks, representing
some 600 different companies spanning the past century. Dozens
of hand corn shellers also are evident. But Denny said his rarest
sheller is on loan to the DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association
(DAAHA) for use in the Nehring Gallery exhibit in DeKalb. That
one dates to the mid-1800s.
I was intrigued by a device called a hemp stripper, which Rehn
told me came from the former hemp plant west of Kirkland on Route
There are stories about its operation during World War II, when
German prisoners of war were used as laborers. My own boyhood
memories of hemp date back to those war years when my father
raised hemp (for making rope) on a Babson farm near Hinckley.
Spotting an asparagus bundling tool also brought back memories
of the times we walked the fence rows picking wild asparagus
Rehns collection includes cast-iron seats from horse-drawn
farm machinery, tools for use on cattle and hogs, wrenches of
all sizes and shapes, advertising specialties from the Kirkland
area with the business name imprinted on them, and calendars
and manuals. One that caught my eye was an 1871 county plat book
that included my ancestors farms in Victor Township.
This accumulation, combined with DAAHAs vast collection,
could someday make the finest agricultural museum in the Midwest.
Lets hope that is being thought about today.
Note to readers: I have decided to retire from column writing,
so a wrapup column will be my final one next week.
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115