Doherty Family Farm Submitted by Mike Doherty, Normal, IL 61761 Our family farmed at the corner of Towanda-Barnes and Ft. Jesse Road. We rented the acreage from a convent in Chicago (It was part of the convent's land holdings). My Mom and Dad, John and Virginia Doherty, had taken the lease on the farm in their mid-20's, which would put it around 1948 or so, following my Dad's completion of a degree from Bradley under the G.I. Bill. Our farm was 1 mile long and about a 1/4-mile wide. We raised pigs and cattle, and grew corn and soybeans. Back in those days, raising livestock was a common way to "add value" to the corn by feeding it 'through' the livestock. We also grew some oats and alfalfa, as feed for an ornery pair of Shetland ponies, an occasional horse kept for a relative, and the 2 dairy cows that provided us with our milk. Yes, that's right. Like many farm families, we milked a few cows for our own consumption and we also had chickens for eggs. One of my first jobs was to help gather eggs in the morning with my older brother. Our farm house was small, but it was plenty big for the 5 of us kids and my parents, as long as 'us boys' stayed outdoors, which we did most of the time - playing in the barn during the winters and climbing the towering cottonwoods and box elders during the summer. The thing I remember best was how quiet Towanda-Barnes road was. During the summers, a long time would pass between cars, and all one would hear was the sound of the warm wind rustling across the fields of knee-high corn and soybeans, a few birds singing, or, in the evenings, the crickets calling, and always, the low 'moo' of a few of the cattle. One of my favorite Towanda memories when I was just old enough to join a friend or one of my siblings, was riding our bicycles into Towanda during the summer. It was 3 miles to Towanda from our farm house and we were always hot and tired by the time we arrived. It was a wonderful relaxing place to ride around, stopping at the service station at the end of Main Street to check our tire pressure and to splurge on a cold Coke. I was also, later on, in the Boy Scouts Troop 56 in Towanda - a great organization that instilled in me a life-long love of the outdoors and wildlife, with Scoutmasters George Womack, another farmer, and of course, the esteemed Lyle Merritt, who mesmerized us with his knowledge of Indian lore and artifacts.
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Illinois State University, Milner Library, Normal, IL, 61790 - for the Towanda Area Historical Society/Towanda District Library
Towanda Area Historical Society/Towanda District Library
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