How John Shooks Made a Farm out of a Forest

Left Ottawa County to Take Chance in Northern wilderness----Refused to Be Beat and He Won

Central Lake, Nov. 6, 1922----Not far from this place is one of those fine farms carved from the hardwood forest. On it lives one of those sturdy, old, determined-jawed men whom you immediately put down as of Holland descent. He is the pioneer on this farm. It was his axe which retrieved it from the forest and made it productive.

The pioneer is John Shooks ...John Shooks came up from Jamestown in Ottawa County some 20 years ago and scattered around Ottawa County and in the Grand Rapids (area) are many other members of the family.

When John Shooks came upon the place---came because other Hollanders from the southern part of the state had come first and settled around there---He had no money at all, bought 90 acres on contract, paying nothing down. But he had the will and the thrift and the energy of the Holland people and he had a vision of a real farm one of these days.

The forest was hard to cut off, but it had its value. Lumber, to be sure, was cheap in those days as compared with present prices, but the value of it kept on increasing and John Shooks was not the man to cut it and burn it nor yet the man to cut it all and sell it at any old price. He knew it would become valuable.---As the price for the lumber rose it brought in sufficient money to pay for the place.

But John Shooks didn't intend to be a lumberman. He wanted a farm. ----Being a Hollander, one would guess quickly that he would have a Holstein herd and he did. Some of them are pure-breds and some are high grade cattle, but their milk and cream, along with heavy potato growing, produced the cash he must have.

Tony Shooks, as present owner of the farm, has not changed the policy, except to improve upon it through more modern methods he has learned. For instance, he has this year five acres of certified seed potatoes and he has worked over them with the greatest diligence in order that they may pass the inspections and so demand the price which the certified seed brings. Twelve acres of corn, five of alfalfa and a whole lot of medium clover, because the land is quite heavy and grows the clover quite as well as alfalfa, go to feed the Holsteins.---There are always around 150 White Leghorns, for their eggs bring a neat sum toward meeting the expense of raising a large family. And that family is one of the particular prides of sire and grandsire. Six girls and three boys, all rugged and healthy and bright-eyed make up this typical Holland farm home.

The above is an excerpt from an article written by Frank M. Sparks in 1922. Newspaper unknown.