Deer Creek Sodbusters

Deer Creek Sodbusters

Preserving America's Agricultural Heritage


Show Grounds and Museum

In October of 1989, Deer Creek Sodbusters entered into a lease agreement with Bob Wolff to set aside 5 acres of farm land for the purpose of an expanded show grounds area where buildings and other items of historical value could be placed, preserved, and then exhibited annually as part of the show.  The show ground museum now Windmill and Buildingsincludes an elevator scale house, utility barn with display of antique tools and household items in the mow, windmill, chapel, print shop, post office, railroad depot, black smith shop, jail, sawmill, and rusty iron museum, a collection of old equipment, some unique, but mostly too worn out and broken down to be operable any more.

The depot came from the nearby town of St. Mary (also know as Smartville at the time the railroad was first run through the town).  It belonged to Burlington Northern and was sold to St. Mary Coop Elevator at time rail service was abandoned.  The elevator used it for many years for storage of fertilizer and ag chemicals before donating it to the Sodbusters.

The brick building converted to a pioneer post office by the Sodbusters was originally used by the railroad as well in Tecumseh, the county seat of Johnson County.  It was a pump house where chemicals were stored and added to the water supply used by steam locomotives to keep from freezing in the winter.  The building was donated to the Sodbusters by the Ellen Holden family of Tecumseh.

The jail is a two-cell unit which once made up the “pokey” for the town of Sterling.  The cells were once housed in a brick building just large enough for the cells, plus room for a desk and heating stove for the jailer.  The original jail building is long gone. However, the Sodbusters have plans to rebuild a building from bricks salvaged when the old High School building in Sterling was torn down in 2005 to make way for a new High School.

The chapel is made up of the narthex or front entry way from the St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Church just 2 ½ miles north of the show grounds.  Because the church was located south of the town of Sterling, it was also known as the “South Church”.  This is the church that the Wolff family attended when the brothers, Bob and John, grew up, Chapeland in fact the founder and first pastor of the church was Julius Wolff, their great grand father.  The church closed in 1983, the year of the first Wolff Brothers Plowing Bee.  The main building has since been torn down.  But in addition to preserving the narthex as a chapel, many of the artifacts of the church have been recovered and are on display including the alter, lectern, stuffed preacher chairs and other miscellaneous small items.  The Sodbusters have also acquired and have on display at their show grounds, the bell that was the Sunday School bell at the South Church.

In addition to the permanent buildings and structures we have acquired for our grounds, we have also compiled a collection of more mobile items of historical value to the community which we have preserved and maintain on our grounds and put on display or demonstrate during the show.  This includes both a horse powered and an engine driven stationary baler, a McCormick-Deering harvester thresher (an early version of the Fire Truckcombine), and a 6 hole Joliet wooden corn sheller.  One of our prize possessions in the 1941 Ford fire truck with American  LeFrance pumper that was at one time the main fire fighting unit for the town of Sterling.  When it was retired by the Sterling Fire Department and put up for sale, we purchased it.  A few years after acquiring the fire truck, we restored and repainted it.  When restoring the truck, it was important to us to have it re-lettered with the original Sterling Fire Department inscription – same as it was before we repainted it.  Every year, the Sodbusters loan the truck back to the Sterling Fire Department to drive it through the parade at the Sterling Picnic.

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