You are here:Farm Stories from Manchester, Michigan / Chapter I - Our Beginnings

Chapter I - Our Beginnings


By dhowell - Posted on 01 December 2012

Mom and Dad were married in January, l915 and rented their first farm in March of the same year. Adam and Amelia Schaible owned the farm and then lived in Manchester. The buildings and dooryard area were in Section l0 and the workland, pasture and woods were in section 3 of Manchester Township.

Farm house and barn, c. 1915

The farm was rented on shares—that is the owner furnished the land and half of such items as seed corn/grain, etc. In return the operator furnished the other half and all of the labor and equipment to carry on the work necessary for operations. All products that came from the farm were divided 50-50. (Another rental arrangement sometimes used was one calling for the operator to furnish everything but the land in which case the owner received one third of the products and the operator two thirds.) The Folks always spoke very highly of the Schaibles as landlords. They asked Dad if he wanted a silo—which was new then—and put it up when Dad said he did. They also were willing to put in electricity but the light fixtures used were discards from their house in town, since they had decided to install better ones. In most rooms there was only a single light bulb dropped on a wire from the center of the room. One convenience outlet was installed in the kitchen for the iron and the washing machine. When it came to products from the farm, we used eggs and milk as we needed from the farm and divided the rest. Schaibles were kind and generous.

The Schaibles lost their only daughter, Omah, while we rented from them. They attached themselves to our family as it came along and the story goes that they amended their will to include me after I was born in order to leave each of the first three of us $l00.00.

Mr. and Mrs. Adam Schaible

These were the kind of people who started the folks off on their lifetime of farming. The folks rented from the Schaibles until their death in l92l. Attempts by Dad to buy the farm from their heirs were unsuccessful and the agreement to rent was canceled in the Spring of l921. The farm was closed down and a public auction held to dispose of what was on hand. The last item sold at the auction was the farm itself and Hiram Parr bought it when his $6500 bid was not raised by anyone else there. Many thought Dad would simply stay on now that his dad owned the farm. But he had agreed to rent another farm and kept his word to report there for business on March l, 1922.

The Dewey Farm

William Dewey of Clinton owned a farm located near the junction of today's Hogan and Logan Roads in Bridgewater Township. It was a much bigger farm with larger barns. Dad hired a full time man to work it with him—Jim Palmer. Mr. Dewey concentrated on feeding western lambs. They were bought by the railroad carload twice during the winter season and were finished up for market with lots of hay and grain, raised on the farm. It was profitable business when everything went well and no disease or other calamity killed some of them. It was not unusual to double the lamb investment in 90 days.

Dad and Mom rented the Dewey Farm for two years—1922–24. But the Deweys were different landlords from the Schaibles. The 50-50 share crop rules were rigorously applied. For example, when the milk was brought in from the barn, it was divided first and we had to live out of our half. The same applied to the eggs. When the potatoes were dug in the fall they were divided in two equal shares in the field. Mr. Dewey would come and pick his half which then had to be hauled into town and sold on his behalf. The same thing applied to wood cut for heat each season. Twice as much as we needed was cut in the farm woodlot. As it came off the buzz saw table it was alternately pitched into two piles which were later corded into two equal stacks of firewood. After Mr. Dewey chose the one he wanted, his share was hauled away (free, by us) to be sold and ours was used for the season's fuel. The Dewey experience reinforced the love my Folks had for the Schaibles. The Dewey years were successful financially but were stressed when Scarlet Fever struck us there. (See "We Had Scarlet Fever.")