• Combining corn

    McLean County Historical Society, Bloomington, Ill

    In a John Deere 4400 combine, Darrell Beehn harvests corn near Shirley, Illinois, in September 1995. Today, with combines, farmers can expect to harvest 100 acres of corn a day. Darrell Beehn harvesti…

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  • Cultivating Corn

    McLean County Historical Society, Bloomington, Ill

    A farmer cultivates his field behind two horses in this drawing. Cultivation was essential to growing corn because it helped with weed control. American Communities in History Communities and Geograph…

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  • Corn Knife

    McLean County Historical Society, Bloomington, Ill

    The corn knife, about 18 inches long, was often hammered from available scrap metal. The corn knife was essential for the cutting of ears from the stalk. The corn knife was one of the most widely used…

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  • Funk Inbreds

    McLean County Historical Society, Bloomington, Ill

    Two men stand by stalks of inbred Funk's corn. Inbreds were to prove the key to the eventual development of hybrid corn. Isolation of some corn was necessary to prevent random pollination. Inbreds wer…

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  • Giant Ear of Corn from 1915 Festival

    McLean County Historical Society, Bloomington, Ill

    This giant ear of corn made for the 1915 Bloomington Cornfest is comprised of hundreds of smaller ears of corn. Kernels, ear, stalks, and leaves were many of the decorative choices for items at the an…

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  • Grassed Waterway

    McLean County Historical Society, Bloomington, Ill

    The development of grassed waterways in the late 1930s revolutionized the appearance of the Cornbelt. Grassed waterways not only acted as barriers between fields, but they also allowed for drainage of…

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  • Adlai E. Stevenson Farm 46 Report

    McLean County Historical Society, Bloomington, Ill

    The report from the Adlai E. Stevenson Farm 46 in Heyworth in 1932 shows the number of acres devoted to each crop and their growing condition. Adlai E. Stevenson was a Democratic Party politician and…

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  • Corn Mortar

    McLean County Historical Society, Bloomington, Ill

    This corn mortar was used by early McLean County settler John Moore for pounding corn. Early tools for making practical use of corn were primitive. This corn mortar allowed users to ground up corn so…

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  • Adjusting belt on combine in October 1995

    McLean County Historical Society, Bloomington, Ill

    Darrell Beehn, Jr. adjusts a belt on a John Deere 4400 combine in October 1995. Today with combines, farmers can expect to harvest 100 acres of corn a day. Absolute mechanical reliability of harvest e…

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  • Horses harvesting cornfield

    Walters, William D, Jr., 1942, McLean County Historical Society, Bloomington, Ill

    A team of horses stands at the end of a row of harvested corn and the rest of the unharvested field is on the left. Two horses stand opposite on the other side of a fence. Before combines came into us…

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  • Farmer's Elevator

    Walters, William D, Jr., 1942, McLean County Historical Society, Bloomington, Ill

    A farmer's elevator in Cooksville, Illinois, has siding on all sides. A fence leads to the elevator, which has a shingled roof. Grain elevators were often located near railroads for easy loading into…

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  • Murphy Farms in winter

    McLean County Historical Society, Bloomington, Ill

    During the winter months, snow covers the topsoil of cornfields with dead cornstalks, exposed here at Murphy Farms near Shirley. Fields sit unattended during the winter. Farmers often brush up on new…

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  • Mole Ditcher

    McLean County Historical Society, Bloomington, Ill

    The mole ditcher was an iron-tipped log, series of logs, or round iron blade (such as seen here) about four inches in diameter, which was pulled through the soil a few inches under the surface. The mo…

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  • Youngsters with corn

    Walters, William D, Jr., 1942, McLean County Historical Society, Bloomington, Ill

    Three young children sit amongst corn piled on the sidewalk, spilling out of a basket, and housed in two crates. For farming families, the yearly crop was their livelihood. Bad weather and a poor crop…

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  • Checking corn

    Walters, William D, Jr., 1942, McLean County Historical Society, Bloomington, Ill

    A farmer wearing a blue shirt and khaki pants checks a stalk of corn in a field. Farmers often would dig up random stalks of corn to check the root system and the nature of the plant to gauge how thei…

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  • Display of Corn and Signs

    McLean County Historical Society, Bloomington, Ill

    This display of corn and McLean County's growing methods informs visitors of the many techniques used by farmers. During annual corn festivals, many exhibits showed what and how farmers were bringing…

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  • Archaeologists at Noble-Wieting, Illinois

    McLean County Historical Society, Bloomington, Ill

    Illinois State University students study the remains at the Noble-Wieting archaeological site in 1972, a former Indian mound in McLean County. The site is in Heyworth, Illinois. Many findings at the N…

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  • William D. Walters, Jr.

    Walters, William D, Jr., 1942, McLean County Historical Society, Bloomington, Ill

    William D. Walters, Jr., a professor of geography at Illinois State University, researched and wrote 'The Heart of the Cornbelt: An Illustrated History of Corn Farming in McLean County,' published in…

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  • Sommer Bros. Float in 1947 Corn Bowl Parade

    McLean County Historical Society, Bloomington, Ill

    A Sommer Bros. Seed Co. float travels in the 1947 Corn Bowl parade. A parade was held in anticipation of the Corn Bowl, a football game held on Thanksgiving between North Central College and Southern…

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  • Cornbelt Bank Building, Bloomington, Illinois (detail)

    McLean County Historical Society, Bloomington, Ill

    After the great Bloomington fire of 1900, the Cornbelt Bank was rebuilt and featured corn ears on the pilaster capitals. Corn was so ingrained into society that it became a part of decorative architec…

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