Skip to main content

1943: Spease's life history includes 'working steadily'

Bits By Betty
Betty Mann, Rock County Historian

The following article is part of the Diamond Club Member group that began in the January 7, 1943, issue of the Rock County Star Herald. Members of this group consist of persons of age 75 and older.
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on Dec. 2, 1943.
William John Spease, Luverne, now 75, is of the opinion that a man is just as old at 50, or young at 80, and it is the latter goal that he is trying to reach.
Since he was 11 years old, he’s been working steadily, and to this work and exercises he attributes the fact that he has reached the three-quarter century mark, and is still going.
Speaking of work, Mr. Spease says the hardest work he believes he has ever done is wood chopping. The odd part of it is, he is still at the job. “Come over and take a look for yourself,” he said. Anyone who accepts will usually find logs neatly piled, ready for sawing, or will find them sawed into smaller pieces and already in his basement. In the summer time, he always has a big garden.
Mr. Spease was born at Spitzer, Wis., November 6, 1868, the son of George and Ellen Spease. His father died when he was 11 years of age, and his mother sold out the farm property, thinking that he was too young to do the work alone.
After their sale, Mr. Spease was employed by one of their neighbors to herd cattle for two months. “I received $5 for the two months,” Mr. Spease said, “and it certainly was a very lonesome job, and I became very homesick. The neighbor was unable to keep me over night, so every evening at milking time, I would sneak away and run for home.
As I was training for foot racing, I wore no shoes. One evening, after it had become dark, I happened to be on my way home, when I rounded a high bluff and heard the screech of two hoot owls. Mistaking them for wolves, of which I was very much afraid, I fairly flew the rest of the way home, unmindful of the flint rocks which cut my feet.”
The following year he obtained a job on a farm for eight months, for which he received $25 or approximately $3 per month. After corn picking was completed that fall, he came home and went to school until March 1, when he again left school to go to work. “I never had much chance to get an education,” he said. “When I was 21, my uncle suggested that I go to school to get more education, but then I felt it was too late to start anything, so I never did it.
As he became older, he was able to do a man’s work, and then received $15 a month. He recalls that at the age of 12 he bound grain behind an old-fashioned reaper with a self-rake. Before that, he and his grandmother had bound grain that his grandfather had cut with a scythe.
When he was 20, he left Wisconsin and moved to Odebolt, Iowa, where he worked on a farm for four years at $20 per month. He was 24 years old when on February 14, 1893, he was married at Sioux City to Anna Winkler. That spring, they began farming at Shaller, Iowa. The next year, they moved to Lyon county, where for 15 years, they farmed near Rock Rapids.
(William Speases' story continues next week.)

You must log in to continue reading. Log in or subscribe today.