In January 2003, upon completion of a winter restoration project of a 1935 Oliver two-row, wire-check corn planter, I stumbled upon several old cloth, seed-corn sacks that my grandfather, Joe Kenkel, and my father, George Kenkel, had accumulated in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Three of these sacks were from Shelby County companies. This intrigued me since Shelby County has been my home for my entire life. The sacks in question included one from Altman’s Hybrids, one from Best’s Hybrids, and one from Koesters Brothers Hybrid. The rest were from nationally known companies.
I thought it would be great to exhibit the Shelby County sacks alongside my vintage planter at fairs and area antique shows. As I gave it further thought, it occurred to me that an even better idea would be to exhibit all the sacks from any other Shelby County seed-corn companies that had existed throughout the years. At the time, I thought that might include an additional five or six sacks. I never imagined there would be eighteen corn companies and thirty-four different sacks from Shelby County.
Since 2003, I have continued to research and put together a great collection of Shelby County Seed Cloth Sacks' history. I display memorabilia at fairs and other Ag-related shows all over the area. I have put together a book called The Hybrid Corn Pioneers, which is a brief history of the men who made Shelby county the Hybrid Corn Capital of Iowa from the 1920s through the 1960s.