“Rebecca Johnson was married in 1870 at the age of 17. Six years later her husband died, leaving her a single mother of three small children. For a time she took in.sewing, but she found she couldn’t make a good living. So she used all her savings and bought an eight-acre farm near Maxell, Iowa, and with no previous experience with chickens decided to invest in thq poultry business. She sold eggs, meat, and feathers, and for several years she had a contract to supply broilers for the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad.
“Her biggest success lay in patenting an incubator with a temperature alarm along with a special formula to cure bowel trouble in chicks. She published a book titled How to Hatch, Brood, Feed, and Prevent Chicks From Dying in the Shell . Rebecca became a speaker in great demand around Iowa, and as the business grew, she eventually bought a much larger farm, hired help, and contracted out the manufacture of her incubators.”
Sharp eyes will note that there are ducks in this photo. Ms. Combellick tells us that they belonged to a flock raised by Rebecca’s eight- and eleven-year-old daughters, “who earned enough from this enterprise to buy a piano and pay for their lessons.” As their illustrious mother noted in her book, “Labor rarely becomes irksome to children when they are personally interested in it, knowing they will receive the profits derived therefrom.”