Cornhusking and Boss

There was a time when Midwestern farmers were national heroes. They achieved that acclaim by winning corn husking contests and the Kewanee area played a major role in the highly popular competitions that were held from 1924 to 1941.

The 1932 National Contest was held on the Peterson farm between Kewanee and Galva with an estimated 50,000 in attendance. Carl Seiler of nearby Knox County claimed the championship.

Kewanee’s own Bill Rose was a champion husker. He won the Illinois championship in 1937 and finished second twice. As a result he competed in the National Contest three times--with 4th place his best finish.

Two other area men were national champions—Elmer Williams of Stark County and Walter Olson of Knox County.

The husker in the mural is representative of all the area farmers who one time husked corn for a living, as well as competing in contests.

Another Kewanee connection to corn husking was the fact most of the champions used husking hooks made in Kewanee by Boss Manufacturing. The company’s origin in 1889 was based on making the husking devices. During the 1890s the company began producing cotton gloves also and soon became one of Kewanee’s major industries.
 

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