When Rex Siebert, 89, of Marion married in 1943, his father, Floyd, gave him a team of mules, Bess and Jane, and a high-sided wooden wagon that was used to hold husked corn. Siebert used the wagon to feed silage and grain to feeder lambs.
Many years later, in 1970, when he and his wife, Vernolis, were planning to build a new house on their farm, Siebert told contractor Steve Jost to put a “good strong spot” in the middle of the living room because a wheel from that wagon was going to be hung there.
The wheel is made of hickory wood with a steel rim and a steel-clad hub.
Siebert’s son-in-law, Bob Campbell, sandblasted, stained, and varnished the wheel and installed lights on it. Siebert helped him hang it with heavy chains from an overhead beam.
“We are so proud of it,” he said. “It reminds me of a lot of cold mornings when I was husking corn in the bottom. Frost covered the husks and ears, and my hands got so cold that I wanted to stop and warm them under the flanks of the mules.”
As for that team of mules, they weren’t evenly matched. Bess was fast and Jane was slow. Siebert had to pull on Bess’s lines to hold her back and “gee-haw!” Jane to do her share.
Siebert was born in 1923, when the first cars were Model T Fords, and farming was still done with horse and mule power. He cultivated a lot of corn with a one-row John Deere cultivator his father purchased from Siebert Bros. at Canada.
“I always like to tell that I was 21 years old before I ever knew that the sun didn’t always come up between a mule’s ears,” he said.
The wagon wheel light fixture is a constant reminder of “the good old days.”