Diedrich Wessels left Germany in 1881 with a vision to
America offered. In 1905, he moved to York County. Twelve
years later, on
September 15, the union of his son Dick Wessels and Marie
brought David George into the rural home. Nearly 100 years
later, a gift
from the couple's third son introduces the story of
the American farmer to
There were six children in the Wessels family. David was
in the middle between older brothers Dick Herman
and Edward Lewis. His younger siblings
were Fannie Marie, Maxine Ruth, and Ralph Alfred. Maxine is the only
surviving member of the family. Though she is nearly a decade younger than
her brother, Maxine had fond memories of the relationships that began on
farm south of York, Nebraska.
"The family was close," she said recalling her brother walking her
from school after a blizzard, "We had such a fun time."
There was fun to be had on the farm, but plenty of work to be done.
"You did your best in the Wessels family, my brothers and father never
did anything half way. Dave carried that on throughout his life," she
After his parents retired in 1946, David and his brothers carried on
their legacy of hard work and commitment. Those who remembered him spoke
about a man who was a friend to all he met. He was proud of his heritage,
most often seen wearing the humble suit of a dirt farmer with seed corn cap
and bib overalls.
|David Wessels and Holly Miller
Photos of Wessels show a calm, determined demeanor that
a broad smile in some scenes. Wessels kept up with the farming practices
the day. He is shown with Holly Miller setting up fertilizer demonstrations
in conjunction with Miller Seed and Supply Company.
David as a "straight shooter" who "loved to have
fun", but who also was "a hard worker and honest above-board. He had a heart of
Wessels is also pictured with his strong arm leaning against
upholding the sturdy shelter over an irrigation pump. Photos of his
portray a lush, emerald green stand of corn with the gift of clear
of irrigation water running between the solid stalks. When it came
equipment, Wessels was known to be conservative but progressive,
what he owned well cared for from season to season. He enjoyed modernizing
as well through the years. And, he was committed to doing things
photo shows him planting seed riding over the Nebraska prairie on
air tractor, with straight rows pressed into the black topsoil behind
He is also depicted as a devoted brother and friend as he holds his nieces and visits with neighbors on the farm. Maxine said he always had time for everyone, "He was enthused to share the farm with people. He could always take time to stop and visit. People were important to him."
York implement dealer Jim Ermer (left) counted Dave as a friend. "Dave Wessels is probably one of the first guys that I ever met when I came to York back in 1976," Jim remembers in this video oral history. "Neat guy, real neat guy! He learned a lot from what was going on. He would be very truthful with you. Farmers sometimes have a tendency to maybe stretch or BS as somebody would say it. But if you wanted information from Dave, you would get the factual. He knew what was going on. Good farmer. Did a good job."
During World War II, Dave was drafted and sent to fight in the North African campaign. When he returned home, Maxine said he was silent about his service and simply returned to work in the fields.
Wessels felt strongly about agriculture. He spoke about that commitment most through actions, not words. He left his final gift in that silent style but with a firm vision, to leave behind a "living story" about the importance of the American Farmer. He left the opportunity to tell a broader story too, reminding the world what the planting of those first pioneer seeds meant for the human race in the past, present, and beyond.
York Area Agriculture Hall of Fame
In August, 2003, David Wessels was inducted into the York Area Agriculture Hall of Fame for his contributions to the business of agriculture. He was recognized for his roles as both a progressive farmer and a philanthropist.
The York Area Agriculture Hall of Fame was established in 1999 and has inducted 50 men and women into the Hall. Plaques with the name of each honoree are mounted in the York County Courthouse.
Drawing on the philosophy of leaders like Thomas Jefferson, the directors of the Hall of Fame recognize individuals who have made a significant contribution to the growth, development and prosperity of agriculture as a producer, operator, innovator or leader in a related agri-business.