Commercial seed corn production

Seed experts they were! The McGreer brothers, Joe, John, and Frank, owned the 1200-acre Sunny Side Seed Farm in Montgomery County near Coburg. Corn was one of their specialties and high quality seed was essential. In the above photo, we see men who were hired to harvest corn on four separate farms. This enabled a number of varieties to be grown without a concern for cross-pollination.

Here is a brief description of the harvesting process as written in their seed catalog:“Between September 15 and October 15 we take a big bunch of men and go down the corn rows, pulling open the husks, looking at the ears and stalks to see if the ear will do to carry to the seed house. We only examine the large ears in the field, of course, and only bring in about 1/3 of those we examine.” 

The corn was then loaded on wagons and hauled to the seed house. Imagine the work required for drying. “Our picked in a sack and dried on a rack” describes the corn seen in the postcard below. 

Based on dates in customer reviews printed in the 1913-1923 catalogs, the company probably was in existence at the turn of the century. A farm of this size with so many products for sale in this time period is an amazing feat. They sold a number of varieties of seed corn, with yields from 60 to 100 bushels per acre, as well as oats, barley, maize, red clover, timothy, many garden vegetable seeds, baby chicks, and more. 

In 1900 Coburg was a thriving town of 164 persons. A CB&Q branch line passed through the town, and was known for shipping of grain. The crates of corn shown below probably were shipped by rail. 

(Note: A man who lives in the area saw my barn book and offered to copy several McGreer seed corn booklets he owned. I am grateful for his offer, as it enabled me to write a more complete story than what is found in my book.)

On a smaller scale, a Union County farmer impaled ears of corn on nails for drying, but would have needed a ladder to accomplish this feat. Not many ears remained in the barn in this 1980 photo but maybe he had removed enough for spring planting. Since the kernels were not yellow, but white and varying shades of red, it appears to be popcorn. 

Stone City barn/house

This IS a barn! This massive Jones County limestone barn was built by J. A. Green in 1889, who was the owner and founder of Champion quarry. Here he housed his draft horses and workers who worked at the quarry, and later race horses (2015 photo). For more about the barn and its history, see page 54 of Iowa Barns yesterday and today.

The Green mansion, located on a nearby hill, is gone. Green’s quarry office, pictured below, also built in 1889, is now a residence. (2021 photo)

In 2001 Stan and Debra Berberich purchased this massive barn near Stone City and converted it to their home. However, the family has continued to share it with thousands of visitors over the last twenty years. Below are two rooms inside used to entertain various groups as well as provide for their family of seven children and  twenty-four grandchildren. Their generosity of sharing this treasure is commendable. (2015 photos below)