"Our Friends on the Acres"
A farmer well versed in his work is Henry Gericke, who is located five miles northeast of Postville. Mr. Gericke qualifies for the Herald's "half-a-century" club as he will round out his 50th year of residence on his farm next March.
He was born July 30, 1886, one mile north of Gunder, the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Gericke. His birthplace is now the farm of Ray Jacobia. When he was 5 1/2 years old he came to Post township with his parents and has lived continuously on the same property northeast of town. His early education was obtained in the West Grove school with is first teacher being Emma Owen. Another of his early teachers was Alice Owen. The Owen sisters were well known in this vicinity and many people will recall them today.
Mr. Gericke wasn't the only child in the Gericke family as he had three brothers and six sisters. One sister, Mrs. Wendell Wegner, has passed away. The other members of the Gericke family are living today in this vicinity. They are: Wm. Gericke, John H. Gericke, Fred Gericke, all of Postville and vicinity; Mrs. Will Sebastian of near Luana, Mrs. Otto Sander, Mathilda Gericke, Mrs. Christ Meier, Mrs. Ben Morch, all of Postville and vicinity.
The farm now owned by Mr. Gericke was purchased by his father on March 1, 1891, from George Lull. It was formerly part of the large Dave Jameson property, which was split up into a number of farms. At one time the Jameson estate consisted of 800 acres. Mr. Gericke's farm is one of 180 acres, but one mile northeast of the property is located 40 acres of timber, which Mr. Gericke's father purchased from the Ziegler estate in 1908, so Henry Gericke's holdings in that vicinity total 220 acres.
In 1914, when Mr. Gericke's father decided to retire from active work because of ill health and advanced age, Henry bought the farm and has worked it diligently ever since. His parents have long since passed away, his father in 1916 and his mother in 1932. "When we first moved to the property back in 1891, 100 of the 180 acres were heavily timbered," Mr. Gericke reminisced. "It was a difficult task to cut down all the trees and grub out the stumps and I can faintly remember watching Dad and other men at that work. It was all heavy timber on the east and north sides of the farm at that time, but today there isn't a native tree on the farm, with the exception, of course, of trees around the house for a windbreak. Dad was confronted with another problem which sounds kind of silly. After the trees were cut down he didn't know what to do with the timber. He couldn't even give it away. So to get it out of the way he hitched horses to the big logs and snaked them into a ditch. In recent years I have pulled the logs out of the ditch and burned them up because the ditch was washing badly. With the logs out of the ditch grass gets a chance to grow and prevents erosion." Next year Mr. Gericke will plant 200 Chinese elms and evergreens around the house to provide a better windbreak. "In 1934 the drouth seemed to kill off the evergreens and they aren't much good any more to keep the cold winter winds away from the house," he explained.
When farmers in the Postville territory speak of corn they almost always mention the Henry Gericke farm. The reason is simple, as Mr. Gericke has some of the finest corn in Iowa. when the Herald reporter called at the Gerick farm he found Mr. Gericke husking corn in the field to the north of the house. As Mr. Gericke husked, he told about the field he was working in. "This is the first time in 18 years that I've had corn on this field of 15 acres," he stated, "so the corn ought to be good. When I plowed the sod under it was quite a job, but disking it was a harder job as the sod was hard and didn't rot away as it should. As a result of having 'new' soil, the corn is running over 100 bushels to the acre. That's about the same yield I got last year."
Mr. Gericke doesn't husk much corn by hand as he owns a picker. He was finishing the job of husking four rows by hand, which is necessary before putting the picker into operation. "Tomorrow morning, if the weather is nice, I'll start using the picker an dit won't take very long to finish the task," he added. Judging by the height of the corn stalks, it's a good thing that Mr. Gericke doesn't have to husk the field by hand. If he attempted to do it by hand he would have to carry a step ladder with him to reach some of the ears as they are wlll above his head. Other crops on the Gericke farm this year were oats and hay. "The hay was just a fair crop," Mr. Gericke explained, "but I would say I got about a ton and a half to the acre on 30 acres. Oats were good this year, but as I haven't threshed for 18 years I don't know what the field yielded. I had 27 acres of oats and after shocking it, hauled it to the barn. I also put some in the silo."
Mr. Gericke works the farm alone and it keeps him busy. "It's almost too much for me," he said, "and I don't get to town very often. But I like farming and have always managed to make a little money. Farming is a lot easier now than it used to be when Dad worked the land. Machinery has improved and one man can take care of a big farm today - where in the old days it took three or four men. I use a tractor for most of the work and as a result the horses get unruly from lack of exercise. "Take this team, for instance," he said, pointing to the team he had hitched to a agon filled with corn. "They aren't worked enough and it makes them hard to handle when you do hitch them up." Mr. Gericke has 17 head of fat cattle, Sorthorn steers and heifers, and 48 head of Shorthorn cows and calves. He also has 23 hogs. "I had 53 hogs but a month ago sold 20 of them," he stated. In addition to four horses, he owns 50 Plymouth Rock chickens.
Buildings on the farm are in good repair. The year 1912 was "carpenter" year on the property as three buildings went up during that season. "The first thing we did in 1912 was to tear down the old bar, which was falling apart," he said. "In its place we put up the barn you see today. It is 38X100 feet. Next we built a machine shed, 26X56 feet, and then a single corn crib, 72 feet long. The other buildings on the farm were here when we came. We having t done any building since 1912, but of course there has been plenty of repairing. The house has had considerable attention and so have some of the other buildings.
Mr. Gericke has a half interest in another farm with his brother, John Gericke. it is a tract of 263 acres at Lybrand, now tenanted by Ed Voelker. Mr. Gericke's sister, Mathilda, makes her home with him, taking care of the housework.
~Postville Herald, Oct 16, 1940
Friends on the Acres' index