- By Dana Sparks
#ThrowbackThursday: Visitor Recalls Early Mayowood Days
George B. Storey is in the insurance business in Washington, Illinois. He visits the Clinic every few years and sometimes (though not so often any more) he meets old friends.
The old friends are fewer now because Mr. Storey is 87 and the years he spent in Rochester were between 1908 and 1913 when he was farm manager for Dr. C. H. Mayo.
“Dr. Charlie owned about 600 acres when I came and he bought several more farms while I was here,” Mr. Storey recalls. “He used to say ‘I’m going to own enough land so that when I take a walk I won’t have to walk on anybody else’s property.’”
Each farm had a foreman but Mr. Storey had overall charge. He remembers a Kentucky-bred horse he used to ride over the acres to keep an eye on things.
Mayowood was built he thinks about 1909. Storey himself had a house by the creek and two of his five children were born there. He built a dam on the creek to improve the fishing.
“Dr. Charlie had a free day a week and he always spent it on the farm. He’d say, ‘Storey, let’s take a walk,’ and we’d visit as many of the farms as we could and talk to the men working there.
“You never had to explain things to him, or wait for him to decide. He’d look you right in the eye and make up his mind on the spot.
“I handled a lot of money and I’d keep saying he should have somebody check over the books, but he never did. When I needed money to buy something for the farm all I had to do was ask Harry Harwick.
“We raised cattle, Guernseys and Holstein, and hogs too and showed them at fairs and they often won prizes. This pleased Dr. Charlie.
“We also did some experimental work with the University of Minnesota to find a way to combat quack grass. I know Dr. Charlie bought one farm just because the quack grass was bad on it. We found a way to get rid of it, too. You turned it over with a plow so the roots were exposed and froze it out.”
If more money was spent than was earned on the farms this was of no great concern to Dr. Charlie. It was, however, a worry to his farm manager (“I was raised not to spend money’) and was his main reason for leaving Mayowood to try his luck in Canada. He continued in farm management in Pennsylvania, New York and Illinois for most of the past 50 years.