Monday, 16 August 2010 14:55

50 Years Ago Late Spring/Early Summer 1957

Written by  Maurice Telleen
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(From general news sources and the 1958 Belgian Review)

One piece of news that I'm sure brought back memories to thousands of ex-GI's was word that the American occupation of Japan was being wound down. The war had, by then, been over for 12 years and I imagine many small occupation outposts had been vacated bit by bit. It was time to leave.

Senator Joseph McCarthy from Wisconsin died at the age of 48. He was considered a true patriot by his followers and completely despised by his critics. It was impossible to be indifferent to the junior senator from Wisconsin ... you either admired him or hated his guts. Count me in the latter group. Eventually his colleagues in the Senate must have been in group 2 as well. Acting on a motion to censure, the Senate voted 67 to 22 to condemn him. I don't know exactly what that means but shortly after his sudden death they held the proper rites for him in the Senate ... sticklers for form and ceremony, I suppose. This time with smiles on their faces.

Over in Britain a world famous painter had made one of Winston Churchill. Churchill hated it ... said it made him look half-witted. Lady Churchill must have been in agreement for she burned it. The fellow with the paints and the reputation called the incineration of his canvas "an act of vandalism unequalled in the history of art." I've looked at it and think Lady Churchill was right to burn it. It did make him look half-witted.

For the first time in 22 years, the prime minister of Canada was a member of the Conservative party. His name was John Diefenbaker. It was sort of a muddle in that the Conservatives did not have the majority. They were, however, the holders of the biggest single block in the House of Commons. The majority of the liberal cabinet deemed it unwise to remain in power with nine of their members defeated in the recent election. So, they more or less, stepped aside. How Canadian–how very civil. I'm not sure we could have done it down here without a lot of noise.

I note that our government had agreed to give Poland almost 50 million dollars worth of farm machinery! Poland had a lot of horses. What were we trying to do–hook them on diesel fuel? Improve them? Instruct them? There was a lot of strangeness going on. There usually is.

Here in the U.S. the draft horse business appeared to have sort of bottomed out. The 1958 Belgian Review, reporting on the fiscal year that ended in December 1957, reported the registration of 113 stallions and 225 mares for a total of 338 for the year. On the transfer side, 124 stallions and 343 mares showed up for a total of 467. Maybe the most encouraging thing was that 46 new memberships were issued. Was it the light at the end of the tunnel? Maybe, at least the slide was over. The Percherons and Clydesdales were also hanging in there. The Suffolks and Shires were, I'd say, either on life support or the endangered species list. Take your choice, but they were not totally defeated either.

What is impressive to me is the number of sons of those breeders who, in the face of ridicule from agricultural advisors and the indifference of their peers, went on and became breeders themselves. That was quite impressive. The McMain and Schneckloth families here in Iowa and the House and Eller families in Indiana come quickly to mind. There are many others elsewhere and in other breeds.


The 1958 Belgian Review carried an extended eulogy for one of their giants who had passed on during the previous year. I'm going to close this barn door with a few photos and comments from that tribute to Grant Good.

Charles Grant Good, better known as C.G. or Grant, died on April 15, 1957. His parents had pioneered in Boone County, Iowa, from Pennsylvania. He was born in a log cabin in the Ogden vicinity on August 15, 1872. After graduation from the local schools and Capital City College of Des Moines, he entered the teaching profession. Now that, in itself, is quite unusual for those times.

Farming and breeding draft horses were of keen interest to him as a young man. That story in the Review states that he swapped a draft stallion for a 200-acre farm in Missouri in 1896. Now, Missourians–hold your fire. That is what the story in the Belgian Review said. It did not go into detail on either the land or the horse. It did state that draft horses were as valuable as real estate at that time. The point is, Grant Good was keen on draft horses and dealing even as a very young man.

Interestingly enough, his first breed memberships were in the Percheron and French Draft Associations. That is not surprising. They were the early arrivals. The Belgians showed up later. Grant later became interested in dealing in Belgians, Shires and commercial horses. He was a man of quick decisions and when he became convinced that the Belgian was the breed of the future for Iowa farmers, that was where he invested his loyalties.

He made numerous importations of both Belgian and Percheron horses in the early 1900s. As a matter of fact, he and Charles Irvine (another Belgian giant located in Ankeny, Iowa) left Belgium just as the ports closed, with the last importation of Belgians to come to America before World War I.

Among Good's first registered Belgians were Black Bessie #132 and Honorine du Fosteau #203, registered in Volume 9 of the American Belgian stud book. Grant, himself, held membership number 190, issued in 1901. So you might say he was almost a charter member.

I know you could say that the big turning point in his life as a breeder was when he purchased the stallion Farceur from the Wm. Crownover Dispersal Sale in 1917. The horse had gone undefeated for Crownover in 1913, 1914 and 1915. He was a little pricey at the sale ... he sold for $47,500.

I am not going into detail on Farceur. He was to the Belgians what Moses was to the Israelites ... and his accomplishments have been saluted 10,000 times.

As for Grant Good, his livelihood, his career and his passion were found in the draft horse business. Elected as a director of the Belgian Draft Horse Corporation in 1916, he served on the board for 30 years, in two separate stretches. He was Vice President at the time of his death. He also served several terms in the Iowa legislature. His son, Lester, carried on filling his father's term and remained on the board for a good many years.

Both Lester and his two daughters, Dorlis and Deloris, were very helpful to us when we established this magazine. Good people make good friends ... the Goods have been both to us.
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