The Collinsville Times
February 18, 1932
contributed by Lisa Kight
By Sim Nitcholas
"I planted my first corn and cotton crop by hand and used oxen and
a span of old mules to break the ground. The oxen were put in the
lead because they were faster than the mules, and could do more work than
the mules," so stated Sim F. Sitcholas, when asked about the early methods
of farming as compared to the modern methods of the present day.
Mr. Nitcholas is another old timer in this country, having been
born and reared here. He was born Feb. 11, 1879. Mr. Nitcholas
married about 30 years ago and is the father of three children, namely,
Mrs. Annie Mae Madison, of Coleman, Oklahoma, Mrs. Ethel Harp, Collinsville,
and Miss Mazie Nitchols.
Mr. Nitcholas was a restaurateur here for a number of years, and
has been engaged in buying and selling stock in and around Collinsville
for quite some time.
Mr. Nitcholas first farmed in this community with his uncle.
In breaking the sod, they used a team of oxen and a span of mules, and
as Mr. Nitcholas stated, "We broke the sod so deep that my uncle had to
take a hand ax and chop holes in the clods, and I would come along and
drop a couple of grains of corn in the holes and cover them up. We
didn't have any of the modern implements for planting, and it was after
some studying and discussion that we hit upon this plan of planting.
We planted cotton the next year, and used an old keg with holes in it for
a planter. The cotton would come out in great bunches and I would
have to go along and scatter it and cover it up."
In those times there was never a crop failure, according to Mr.
Nitcholas. "If a man planted a crop he was sure to get a good stand
for the ground then was rich and there was plenty of moisture. A
man planted just so much then by hand. Some few years later the grain
was cut with a cradle, which was used by hand, and piled it in bundles.
Then came the dropper which was nothing more than an attachment that was
put on the mowing machine. This was a machine that cut the grain
and a man had to stand up on top and tie the bundles by hand and throw
them off. Then the binder was put into use; this was a machine that
cut the grain and tied it with a wire. Some few years later the binder
that tied with string was perfected and put on the market."
In describing the first cultivator that he ever used, Mr. Nitcholas
said that it was called a "muley" cultivator. It didn't have a tongue
in it and when the team reached the end, the cultivator would fall down,
or when the team slacked up a bit, it would also fall down.
"At that time a ten acre farm was a mighty big piece of ground even
for a whole family to work," stated Mr. Nichols. If a man had that
much land in cultivation, he could count on losing about half of it, for
he would not be able to gather that much crop. "We used to have to
take our produce and feed and cotton to Sherman to market it. We
would make the trip about once a year and anticipated the even with keenest
delight. It was while on one of these annual trips to Sherman that
I saw my first electric light. In amazement, I sat up and looked
at it, and could hardly be made to go to bed for wanting to look at that
In speaking of the horses of that time, Mr. Nitchols said, "All
horses then counted as race horses no matter how slow they were.
They would be used all week in the field and brought to town on Saturday
and run in a race. I remember an old horse that was called "Sleepy
Jim"; he was used all one morning in the field laying a corn field by and
brought to town that afternoon to be used in limbering up one of the race
horses, and when the race was run, "Old Sleepy Jim" just ran off and left
the race horse. "Sleepy Jim" was then 11 years old and this was his
first race, but he beat one of the fastest horses in this part of the country
at that time. He was later trained for the track and won several
races and placed in the big money. He later was sold for $1000.00,
a lot of money."
"There was lots of wild game here then and the whole country was
stocked with cattle. A fence wasn't heard of them, and when people
started anywhere, they just angled off across the prairie."
In recalling among the first mortgages in this county, Mr. Nitchols
said, "My uncle then had been in business here for some time, and he would
lend the people money, and take their stock as security. The first
fall some of them were not able to pay off the notes, and rather than my
uncle get their stock, they would shoot them. One man even cut the
throats of two fine horses to keep my uncle from getting them."
The first banking that Mr. Nitchols remembers was done by "Uncle
Billy" Welch. Mr. Welch was considered to be a very rich man at that
time. He had $300.00 and served as a banker for a number of people
in this community. If a man borrowed as much as $25.00 then, he was
getting a large fortune for those times."