I had heard about Harold Steele’s open house from a friend, but I was unable to make it that day. Max Armstrong was speaking and Harold’s amazing collection was to be open to the public along with live demonstrations of his equipment. Max worked for Harold when Harold was serving as the President of the Illinois Farm Bureau. Max said, “Harold has not only been an outstanding leader for farmers in Illinois, he has inspired and guided others behind him. The list of those who worked with him or for him reads like a “who’s who” of Illinois Agriculture.”
Harold Steele truly does read like a who’s who whether you are talking about his World War II service where he served under Patton, found MIA soldiers, and his late wife was a cryptographer, or whether talking about his Farm Bureau service or the days he served under both Reagan and Bush administrations. Harold Steele is a man that could be the subject of a novel or two and would make a movie to boot.
Although not able to go the day of the event, Keith and I were honored to meet with Harold and hear his stories and see his amazing collection. Harold who is 92 and still lives on the farm that his grandparents built at the turn of the century has three buildings that house his farm and home museum. “I started collecting household goods everything from an old time method apple peeler to victrolas, to a rope bed, to a broom of corn husks. This was what I was doing. I wanted something that was real,” Harold said.
After his house filled up, Harold had set his sights to collecting agricultural items. “After the house was full, I built another building,” Harold said. “I think that was 1978. The little house was full and Margery made it clear I didn’t need anymore.”
Harold’s collection is comprised of anything from planters to wood working equipment to a beautiful wooden plow built in the 1700’s. He opens up his collection each year on Armed Services Day. Visitors may come at other times although he said machinery will remain in the museum.
Thank you Dave Carton for letting me know about this amazing man, I will be back!