By Starrla Cray
CARVER COUNTY, MN It’s been a good 117 years since the Kassulker family took possession of a plot of land northwest of Mayer, and this summer, their Century Farm is being honored by the Minnesota State Fair and the Minnesota Farm Bureau.
“We’ve been living here all our lives,” said Larry Kassulker, who shares the farm with his brother, Ron.
The Kassulkers can trace the farm’s roots back to 1864, when it was owned by William Long. A fellow named William Hesse bought the land in 1873, and sold it to Frederick Schaumberg seven years later. It later went to William and Emma Lange.
The original 160-acre spread had been split by the time Herman and Caroline Kassulker (the great-grandparents of Ron and Larry) came along, and they became the owners of 110 acres in 1895.
After Herman passed away, he left the farm to Caroline, who later divided ownership between her four children Dorothea Stolp, William Kassulker, Edward Kassulker, and Amanda Kassulker.
The other children sold their shares to William Kassulker and his wife, Alma.
Years later, in 1951, William and Alma’s son, Norman, and his wife, Lorraine, purchased the property for $15,000.
Their boys, Ron and Larry, decided to keep up with the family tradition.
When Larry got married in 1975, he and his wife, Marilyn (who had grown up on a nearby dairy farm), built a new house on the property.
The couple raised three daughters, Shari Kassulker, Laura Pike, and Dawn Schultz. They now have four grandchildren, as well.
Ron and Debbie got married in 1991. Their family includes three daughters Olivia, Amanda, and Emily as well as a son, Mark Steffens. Their first grandchild is due in September.
Ron and Debbie live on the family farm, as well, in the house Norman and Lorraine built in 1955.
Lorraine passed away from liver cancer in 1989, and Norman built a house in New Germany and moved to town three years later.
Larry and Ron quit milking cows in 1997, and have been cash cropping ever since. In addition to growing corn, wheat, hay, and soybeans, they raise a few beef cows, calves, and steers.
“Whatever we don’t use we sell to a couple horse farms in the area,” Larry said.
When Norman passed away in 2006, he willed the farm to his children. The boys bought out their two sisters, and Ron now owns the building site and Larry owns the land.
“We still farm it half and half,” Larry said.
Because they found that the farm wasn’t large enough to support their families on its own, the Kassulkers have other jobs, as well.
Larry is a machinist, while Marilyn is employed at Medallion Cabinetry.
Ron, who considers himself partially retired, drives school bus in Watertown. His wife, Debbie, is a cook at The Legacy of Delano.
Ron and Larry both said they wish farming could be full-time, but are thankful for any opportunity to be involved in agriculture.
“In another 100 years, these Century Farms will be a thing of the past,” Larry said.