Farm names live on long after owners


(After we bought Ira and Monta Stanger’s farm, which touches this one on the east, with the Maple Grove road running between two fields, we continued to refer to it as “Iry’s farm and “Montie’s house.”

Ira had lived in that house all his 65 years. He had inherited the farm from his father, who had inherited it as his half of his mother’s farm. Montie, in her neighborly way, was glad when we bought it.

“It’ll be kinda like keeping it in the family,” she said, and they moved closer to their married daughter.

We were glad to have the 139 acres to add to our 130, but I missed Montie … always generous and warm-hearted, and knew community history and folklore.) — Rachel Peden, Speak to the Earth

When I think of all the different sections of land, some that my parents purchased over the years in order to have contiguous farm ground, others that Dad rented as cropland only, it is interesting to think how long those old family names have been gone.

Family names

Where my mother now lives, on the land we still refer to as “the Springer place,” no one by that last name has lived there in my lifetime. In fact, I don’t think I have ever met anyone by that name, though I can tell you they were good, solid, kind, neighborly folks who were like family to my father and his siblings.

I could take you to their monument in the little cemetery where my parents paid their respects by laying flowers there each Memorial Day. I have often wished I could sit and talk with them about what the community was like when they bought that farm 100 years ago.

The Stake farm, a place Dad rented for cash crop corn, was the longest drive with farm equipment that he was willing to make, and he often joked that when it was planting time or harvest time, he got a little homesick when he spent long days working there.

It involved driving equipment on some mighty busy state routes, and he worried about our safety when we helped him move wagons or other equipment. This concern ran so deep that he ended up giving up that farm after a few years.

Keeping the name

No Stakes have lived there for awhile, but in our geographical vocabulary, we still refer to it as the Stake farm.

Grandpa’s place, the home ground that our ancestors purchased in the 1800s, is now just beautifully open fields with a stream running through it.

The barn which my father took such pride in restoring one summer now sits alone and fading, as the old Victorian house, in which so many Young babies were born, is now gone.

“A farm is a place of opportunity simultaneous with obligation,” columnist Rachel Peden wrote 50 years ago. It is this line of thought that my father instilled in us as he urged us to respect the land and the buildings and even the farmers who had walked this ground before us.

I wish I had a nickel for every time Dad asked one of us, “Did you remember to close the dairy barn doors?” or “Are you sure everything is turned off in the far barn?”

We were expected to help pull weeds, scrub walls, white-wash outbuildings, and generally keep things clean, not only out of self-respect but as a nod of respect to those who had built these old farmsteads long before us.

It is a lesson carried on through life, and it runs deep in the veins of most every respectful farm-raised person I know.


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