Wild West in the Midwest


George Washington Harper

George Washington Harper

The picture above could have been taken in Dodge City or Tombstone, but it was taken in one of the farming communities along the Spoon River in Central Illinois.  In the late 1800’s, the Illinois prairie was the wild west.

The young buck in the striped overalls in the center is my husband’s maternal grandfather, George Washington Harper.  We do not know who the other gentlemen are.  It is one of those questions in every family tree–an intriguing picture without all the names.  Grandpa Harper’s striped outfit and boots seem fairly spiffy for a farm boy.  His friends on either side are barefoot and wearing blue jean overalls and denim shirts.  The hand of the older gentleman placed fondly on the shoulder of George and one of his companions seems to indicate a closeness.  But we may never know.

Perhaps offering this nostalgic picture of life on “the Spoon” will jog someone’s memory or records and fill in the blanks for us…



About Sharon L. Clemens

Sharon and husband Merle and their children owned and operated a specialty shop and restaurant in a restored dairy barn for thirteen years in a village in Illinois. After closing their restaurant, they converted the barn into the family home and moved their shop to the garden level. They operated a collectable shop as a home-based business for another thirteen years before retiring to the country life. Sharon has been a special feature guest on the local NBC telelvision affiliate and has spoken professionally on topics relating to herb gardening and cottage lifestyle. In addition to conducting workshops and programs, Sharon writes a weekly cottage lifestyle e-newsletter called “Cottage Chat” and a Word Press blog: Seasons of Farm Grove. She has written five novels, The Younger Girl, Door County Cottage, Timeless-A Door County Love Story, Door County Cabin and Door County Escape, love stories with traditional values set in Door County, Wisconsin.
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