Merle G. and Blanche (Messer) Sutter Farm
This farm was located as the Southeast 1/4 of Section 21 of Township 24 North (Towanda), Range 3 East of the Third Principal Meridian - containing 160 acres. In 2007 the current day address is: 1600 North and 20510 East Road. The simple way to locate the farm is that it is 2 /2 miles west of Merna on the Fort Jesse Road. Merle G. Sutter was born in 1903 on the Philip Sutter family farm which was located down what is now known as Sutter's Lane. The lane ran east from the Frog Alley School. The family was to consist of 6 boys and 2 girls. In those days everyone helped to work the farm and the Sutter kids all learned to do their part. The lessons they learned on the farm shaped their futures. Seven of the eight children were active farmers and the eighth ran farm related businesses. Merle attended high school in Towanda where he met Blanche Messer. They were married in 1926 and began as tenant farmers on a parcel of land located on Sutter's Lane. After a few years they moved to a farm about 1 V2 miles north of Towanda known as the "Edwards Place". Merle's Uncle Johnny Geiger helped them get started farming there. They farmed this land until 1935. During the summer of 1934 Merle and Blanche made an offer to purchase 80 acres of farmland. This was the west 80 acres of the present farm. It had be foreclosed on by the Federal Land Bank of St. Louis and was offered for sale by them. The economic depression of the late 20's and early 30's had caused many farmers to encounter failure. The offer was accepted and the purchase was completed in November of 1934. They moved, with their son Dale, to the farm house located on the property in the spring of 1935. Early in the year 1937 the 80 acres that adjoined their property on the east became available. The Corn Belt Bank had foreclosed on this land and was offering it for sale. Merle and Blanche once again made an offer which was accepted. The ownership was transferred to them in June of 1937. Their 160 farm was now one parcel. They lived there with their two sons, Dale and Duane, and owned this farm until their deaths - Merle in 1986 and Blanche in 1999. The farm was operated as a grain and livestock farm for many years. In addition to the 160 acres they owned additional acreage was rented nearby. Oats, corn, soybeans and hay were the crops that were produced. The livestock they kept consisted of horses, milk cows beef cows, pigs and chickens. Many of these were utilized for home consumption. As the years passed farming continued to evolve. Mechanization was a contributing factor. By the end of the 1960s the animals were gone from the farm. The pastures were plowed and planted with grain crops. With the animals gone the need for oats and hay were almost eliminated. The two main farm crops became corn and soybeans. Chemicals and fertilizer applications helped to significantly increase yields. Larger equipment enabled the farmer to farm more acres in less time. The farm units became large. The small farmers, such as Merle and Blanche, would no longer be able to compete.
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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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