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Grayson County TXGenWeb

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 wonderful thing."
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."


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