Between 1969 and 1973, Jeff McGuiness spent four years in the U.S. Air Force as a photographer stationed at Scott AFB in Southern Illinois, living in nearby Belleville. The land east of Belleville near Shiloh and Mascoutah makes a gentle depression called Shiloh Valley containing rich farmland. It is in the state's oldest county, St. Clair, established in 1790 by Arthur St. Clair who was the Governor of the Northwest Territory which, at the time, was an area a third of what Illinois is today.  

During those four years, McGuiness befriended many of the local farmers who were third, fourth, and fifth generation descendants of immigrants from a region of Germany south of Stuttgart. During all seasons of the year, he spent hours with them riding their tractors, walking alongside them through their fields, joining their lunch tables, and otherwise becoming a part of their lives. The photographic images he made during those years of a people at one with the land are intended to be evocative of the quiet, often isolated, lives they led contending with nature’s vagaries to operate successful farming enterprises.

In 2016, McGuiness created a set of thirty of the photographs made during that period for a private collector. In 2023, a limited edition boxed set of his work will be published that will include a coffee table sized book signed by the author along with three of the images printed on archival photographic paper.