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Glenn L. Foust

Submitted by: JP Smith
Madison County

Glenn L. Foust, born on November 1st, 1894, was only a little over 5', 7" tall in stature and about 140 pounds, but he was big in other things: integrity, industriousness, reliability, and sociability. This is the admittedly biased view of his son, but an assessment shared by others who knew him. He worked on the farm with his father until an adjacent parcel of 80 acres could be bought; later purchases over the years would increase his farm to 231 acres.

He married (Lela) Vivien Smith in 1917. Her family lived just two miles north of him, a short buggy ride to go courting in his Sunday best of celluloid collar, wide tie, fitted coat and peg-bottom trousers. Adversity was their companion during the first years of their marriage: a late frost destroyed their crops the first year; a hailstorm did the same the year after; and the third year their only child was born by ceasarian section, after which Vivien experienced serious complications and almost died. It was the beginning of fifteen years of burdensome medical costs that saw the family of three undergo 10 operations, many of them major in nature. In those days before medical insurance, the money expended could have bought a lot more land. Despite the adversity, Glenn and Vivien prevailed and held onto the farm through the Great Depression when many of the country's farmers lost theirs. During that terrible time, the milk they produced brought only a nickel a gallon, and a 225 pound hog sold for just five dollars. The economy was in collapse and a quarter of the nation's workers were unemployed.

For most of his life the Glenn Foust's farm was diversified, or what was known as a general farm. He raised both livestock and grain. During the peak years, over 200 acres of corn, wheat, oats and soybeans were grown along with 3000 broiler chickens, 800-1000 laying hens, about 200 hogs and 15-20 milking cows. Occasionally, beef cattle and sheep were added to the mix. All this required long hours to handle; the work day was generally from 4am to 8pm, except during a few months in the winter when it was somewhat shorter. In his retirement years, the farm was rented out and turned exclusively to grain production as most others in the area were doing. Winters during the next couple of decades were spent on the west coast of Florida, or the Rio Grande valley of Texas, where he actively participated in the many events of "snowbird" organizations, and won several trophies in shuffle board tournaments.

Glenn had only an eighth grade education, but posessed an uncanny ability to "figure" in his head. He was neat in his personal habits and in the way the farm was maintained. The buildings were always painted, weeds kept down, implements properly housed and the corn rows were always planted straight. Uncompromisingly honest, his life exemplified the value of a good reputation, an example of which was conclusively demonstrated once when his son was on an errand to pick up some items at the local grocery. It was before the arrival of supermarkets when grocers pulled articles from the shelves of a small store. After the grocer had assembled all of the items on the counter, the young man discovered that he had forgotten to bring the money for the order. When the grocer was told of this and asked to return the items to the shelves, the man asked his name. When given it, he inquired " Are you Glenn Foust's boy?" Assured that was so, the grocer said, " In that case son, you go ahead and take the groceries and bring in the money the next time you're in town". A small episode, but a great lesson.

Glenn and Vivien lived to celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary, almost duplicating her parents 67 years together. His 95 years encompassed a period of perhaps the greatest progress the country has ever experienced. When he started farming, horsepower was just that- horses. A walking plow pulled by horses could only turn an acre of ground a day; by his later years, giant tractors pulling multiple-furrow plows could do that much in an hour. Large combines, corn pickers and improvements in other farm implements, brought equivalent gains and made the farmers life easier as well as more productive. Corn production per acre was doubled with heavy fertilization, different planting methods and the use of herbicides to control weeds. As fewer farmers could produce more, the farm population dropped to only 2% of the country's total.

Progress in other areas brought on momentous changes in everyday living. From the horse and buggy, wagons and gravel roads of his youth, Glenn would live to drive automobiles and trucks on paved roads, take airplane flights and see man travel into space. The advent of electric power replaced the kerosene lamp with electric lights and introduced a multitude of other appliances and equipment. Cooking advanced from wood-burning stoves to electric ranges and food preservation from root cellars, canning and salt curing to refrigerators and freezers. The telephone came into general use. The coal burning base burner was replaced by central heating and the outhouse by indoor plumbing. And he would see the development of radio, then television and finally, the computer. All in one lifetime!

From A Family History: The Ancestors of Thomas Wilson Faust, by Don Faust, 1997.

*When Glenn had something to do that was onerous to him, he would often say, "Sometimes you have to step up to the trough and take a drink." Related by aunt Elizabeth, 9/2000.
Glenn L. Foust
Birth: November 1, 1894
Death: July 13, 1990