Plains Farmer
The Diary of William G. DeLoach, 1914-1964
Texas History - Agricultural History
7 x 10, 400 pp.
35 b&w drawings., 1 map.
Pub Date: 06/01/2000
Clayton Wheat Williams Texas Life Series
  paper
Price:        $34.95

978-1-58544-044-3

Published by Texas A&M University Press

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1992 Publication Award, presented by the San Antonio Conservation Society

Plains Farmer

The Diary of William G. DeLoach, 1914-1964

Edited by Janet M. Neugebauer
Illustrations by Charles Shaw

Gathering eggs, planting crops, feeding hogs: firsthand experience of these grows more distant with each new generation. From 1914 to 1964, however, a West Texas farmer named William G. DeLoach quietly recorded this life-style. He described weather, plantings, harvests, births, and deaths in his diary. In doing so, he not only chronicled the life changes that everyone experiences but also kept a record of the developments taking place across the country and around the world.

The diary's editor, Janet Neugebauer, supplies interweaves explanations to round out the picture that DeLoach offers in his personal descriptions. Her history is a book unto itself that gives the context of the farming experience on the Great Plains. She explains the frustration farmers felt from overproduction, the price-cost squeeze, the exodus of young people into the cities, and the increasingly strong role the government played in what was shifting from a family's way of life to a corporate industry. Graceful and accurately detailed sketches by Charles Shaw provide the visual backdrop for DeLoach's story.

This work provides an overview of fifty years of national and international history as well as an intimate account of the life of an ordinary man in a changing world. Few farmers had time or inclination to keep a record of their day-to-day lives, but William DeLoach's perseverance has left us with a rich history of one family's triumphs and failures during half a century. For anyone who ever lived on a farm or visited relatives' farms, as well as for those interested in this aspect of our national history, this book will prove a real treasure.

Janet Neugebauer is the assistant archivist for the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, where DeLoach's diary is located. She lived on a farm within eighty miles of DeLoach's for sixteen years. She is the author of several publications on farm and ranch life.

What Readers Are Saying:

" . . . an excellent source of primary material, documenting the life of one family as it struggles to come to terms with the harsh demands of farming on the West Texas plain . . . This is a rich example of personal writing that will be greatly appreciated by students in a variety of disciplines.” --School Library Journal

"William G. DeLoach was a thinking man, and what he lacked in literary style, he made up with understanding, perspective and candor. . . . This book, with its insightful and thorough editing by Janet M. Neugebauer, helped me understand my father better. . . . In Plains Farmer readers will find a first-hand account of the ground-level effects of changes in culture and agricultural markets, developments in technology, and the explosive growth of government. More, they'll find a unique perspective on the changes that brought us modern West Texas and American agribusiness." --Richard Mize

" . . . a delight to read. . . . [Neugebauer's] simple, lucid style enables the reader to understand complicated forces at work in Texas agriculture during a 50-year period. Pleasure readers, as well as historians, will be interested in this fine book." --Beaumont Enterprise

" . . . a superb job of scholarship in editing the diaries, selecting typical and telling entries, and interlacing well-researched and informative comments between the quoted passages. . . . Plains Farmer must also be praised as an extraordinarily handsome book . . . irreplaceable as social and agricultural history. --True West

"Pen-and-ink drawings by Charles Shaw augment Mrs. Neugebauer's excellent background commentary and DeLoach's sometimes witty, sometimes sad, sometimes angry daily writings. Without really intending to, perhaps, he penned a running history not only of his own life but that of South Plains agriculture." --Elmer Kelton

" . . . an expansive, intricate, and fascinating picture of a half-century of Texas farming and American history.” --Americana

"Sensitively illustrated with sketches by Charles Shaw and accompanied by Neugebauer's historical narrative, DeLoach's diary provides an overview of fifty years of national and international history as well as an intimate account of the life of an ordinary man in a changing world.” --American History Illustrated

"For older farmers, it is a book they will identify with. Here's a farmer who saw drought, disease, insects and two world wars. To younger farmers, DeLoach is everyone's `grandfather'—there's `much learning to be had' from reading this diary, and some fun, too." --Abilene Reporter-News

"Charles Shaw's lovely drawings embody the spirit of the book making a most satisfying combination of text and illustrations. Neugebauer's bibliography is impressive ans shows the depth of her research in interpreting te diary notes. Her simple, lucid style enables the reader to understand complicated forces at work in Texas agriculture during this fifty-year period." --Review of Texas Books

"In 367 pages, beautifully designed and graced with the splendid sketches of Texas artist Charles Shaw, DeLoach takes the reader through that time of upheaval with his observations about the frustrations and pleasures of farming. . . . DeLoach's running commentary never fails to hold the reader's interest." --Lone Star Library

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