By Norman Nabholz
Mooseheart, Elmwood, Hickory Creek and Hawthorne Mellody and Ravenglen were located just a short distance from Chicago and along with Curtiss Candy and others formed one of the strongest Holstein areas ever known. The impact on the National Dairy Cattle Congress and on the Holstein breed would be felt forever, from the cattle that these great breeding establishments would promote and exhibit and also the great cowmen that would be involved with the farms.
Mooseheart was started as a home for children in need by the Loyal Order of Moose and the Women of Moose. The self sustaining village started in 1913 and up to 1960 was home to only children of Moose members who had died.
Mooseheart has since expanded to include any relatives of Moose member either orphans or from broken families. In its early days, the farm taught trades and agriculture to the young people that lived within the Mooseheart complex. Food was grown on the large farm and processed for use in the Mooseheart community.
In 1944, Mooseheart was the home to a herd of Holstein cattle both registered and grades when a young gentleman by the name of Merle Howard would take a job as herd manager
Nobody could have predicted the heights Howard would take the herd to culminating in 1958 with a Premier Breeder award at the National Holstein Show at Waterloo. Howard’s Klussendorf would be awarded to him in 1954 at Waterloo. Aside from the Klussendorf, Howard would win overall champion herdsman at Waterloo in 1950 (Gold Watch) and the coveted Herdsman cane on occasion as well. Dick Howard, Merle’s son would tell that the show cattle would be tied up in an old horse barn to begin the fitting process with the heifers and younger bulls being tied in one section and the mature bulls being tied on the other end. Like all the well traveled herds of the day mature bulls were a big part of the string.
One of Dick’s favorites was Mooseheart Supreme who would have a great show ring career while competing with the nearly unstoppable Pabst Fobes Burke and Cash Mar Ormsby Jerry. Supreme would sire Mooseheart Supreme Beauty the 1st Junior Yearling and Junior Champion at Waterloo in 1955 that along with her sire helped Mooseheart win the Breeder Banner at Waterloo. Unlike the herd’s which they were competing there was not a unlimited budget for buying cows, so every purchase was well thought out and sometimes cows were brought in as a trade for a young herd bull or a couple springing heifers. But most of Mooseheart’s showherd was homebred.
Dick Howard tells of two box cars being brought directly to Mooseheart in the late spring and the carpentry would begin building the decks and sleeping quarters and the stalls for the Mooseheart show cattle to “hit the road.” A Mooseheart show circuit could vary from year to year but most of the time included the local Black & White show, the Kane County Fair, the State Black & White, which on occasion was held right at the Mooseheart Farm, Illinois & Wisconsin State Fairs, Waterloo and Chicago.
Always in the hunt, the farm would bring out well fitted, well prepared cattle, the bulk of them homebred. At Waterloo in 1958 Mooseheart’s 22 head string had one of those days. Of 405 head shown, they were the only herd to win three blues, competing with Carnation, Gray View, Sunny Lea, Crescent Beauty and Bottema’s.
Mooseheart Roburke Ivy ………..1st Heifer Calf
Mooseheart Snow Martha……….1st Junior Yearling and Junior Champion
Mooseheart Anna Roburke……....1st Dry 3 & 4 Yr. Old
Mooseheart Pioneer…………… 1st Sr. Yrlg. Bull (owned by Wisconsin State Reformatory)
Premier Breeder National Holstein Show, Waterloo 1958
Mooseheart Farm display
Merle Howard would go on to be one of the greatest Holstein Classifiers in history with travels throughout the U.S. and overseas. In his later years Merle would be in the center of the ring at the World Dairy Expo, during the Holstein shows as a ring man and like everything he would do in his life, he was the best at his job.
Dunloggin Mistress LaPrincess
Elmwood Farm, the Rasmussen Family, had a long history in the Holstein business with their first National champion female in 1931 and their most famous National Champion being Dunloggin Mistress LaPrincess, the first grand champion after the war in 1946. During the glory years of Waterloo, the Elmwood show herd was always to be reckoned with their large and mostly homebred strings they were especially strong in the group classes. The backing for the great farm came from the owner’s involvement with the National Tea Food Company. The herd was started in 1922 and sold out in 1986.
Skokie Return Princess
Skokie Willowdale Vikery
In their heyday Elmwood traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada with stops along the way at the Illinois State Fair and others and like every big string, Waterloo was the ultimate prize. The year 1957 was one of Elmwood’s better years at Waterloo garnering the Junior Champion heifer on the homebred. Skokie Return Princess, and the first two year old with Skokie Willowdale Vikery, winning her class of 38 head under judge Hepburn. Elmwood would also win the Junior Get that year and bred the 1st place Senior Yearling Bull & Reserve Junior Champion Bull, Skokie Creation Woodmaster. Together with Mooseheart and Hathorn Mellody and Hickory Creek the Illinois state herd was never too far out of contention.
Hickory Creek Farm was a division of the Howard Foundry Company at McHenry, Illinois and at one time sported two superstars on staff in their farm Manager, A.C. “Whitie Thomson” and their herdsman Dave Houck who would later be the very successful manager of Romandale Farms, Ontario.
A.C. “Whitie Thomson”
It would not be a understatement to say the Hickory Creek show herd was well traveled with the box car going to Springfield, Illinois, Milwaukee, Columbus, Indianapolis, Chicago and of course, Waterloo. A familiar show circuit to Pabst, Bottema, Franlo and others. It was tough sledding to say the least but Hickory Creek was always competitive with these heavyweights.
Hawthorn Mellody Farms, Libertyville, Illinois also logged some miles during the glory days with stops at Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Kentucky & Ohio State Fairs as well as Chicago and Waterloo.
Golden Dairy King Wayne
Golden Dairy King Wayne was a two time All American and a Res. Champion Bull at Waterloo as just a two year old in 1950 which was almost unheard of when competing with Chip of Nettie and Aggie and Smithland Supreme Champion as mature bulls.
Golden Dairy Wayne King
Golden Dairy Wayne King full brother to King Wayne was 1st Bull calf and Junior Champion at Waterloo that year and with his big brother as a partner the two bulls won the produce several times in 1950 and were 2nd at Waterloo.
Ravenglen Farms, Antioch Illinois box car would be included when the train would land at a major state fair on the Mid-Western circuit during the 1940s and ‘50s with stops at Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Wisconsin state fairs and of course Chicago and Waterloo. In the later years Ravenglen was owned by Bob Hunter a prominent Chicago lawyer. Of interest to current students of the Holstein breed, the current World Dairy Expo Champion Harvue Roy Frosty traces to Ravenglen Farm through the 11th dam.
Blue Ribbons, banners and trophies from the National Dairy Cattle Congress would find their way east to the Chicago area in all breeds and for sure would create some great bragging rights at the Chicago Farmers club throughout the ‘40s, ‘50s and early ‘60s. The wealth of the owners, the quality of their stock and the ability of the caretakers and the proximity to Waterloo made for some of the greatest exhibits in the history of dairy cattle showing.