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Keeping it in the family
Sept. 10, 2012

Swanson family farm recognized as a Century Farm

By Kristen Miller
News Editor

DASSEL, MN – The Kermit and Aileen Swanson family farm of Dassel was one of the 144 farms recognized as a 2012 Century Farm at the Minnesota State Fair.

The farm is now in the name of Paul Pearson, a 1996 Dassel-Cokato graduate and grandson to the Swansons. Pearson purchased the home where his grandparents still live in 2005, and the 115 acres of farmland in 2011.

The original 80 acres in Section 16 of Collinwood Township was settled by Paul’s great-great-grandfather, Israel Haglund, in 1868, after coming to America from Sweden the year prior in search of religious freedom.

He worked for one year on the Great Northern Railroad, and met his wife, Karin, at a church meeting.

The couple was told of some railroad property that was for sale south of Dassel – a part of the Big Woods – which is where they settled in 1868, later purchasing the property in 1887.

The remains from the foundation of the original log cabin can still be seen on the property.

The couple had five children – Charlie, Willie, John, Victor, and Kristine.

They raised cattle and sheep, wheat for bread, and sold firewood as they cleared the land.

Then, in 1908, Carl Swanson came to America from Sweden in search of better opportunities.

He was told there was work in Dassel, so he took the train there and began working for Charlie Haglund, who lived next door to Israel.

Soon after, Carl married Kristine (Israel’s daughter) and farmed her parent’s land for corn and wheat, along with general livestock. They had six children – Ahlert, Clarine, Vernal, Fern, Kermit, and Doris.

When Kermit became a young man, he went off to serve in World War II in the US Air Force. When he came back, he married Aileen Nelson in 1947.

She lived south of Litchfield at the time and although Kermit didn’t have a car, he had a plane and would fly there, landing in a nearby field. They have been married 65 years this past June.

Kermit and Aileen continued farming, mainly soybeans and general farming. “We tried lots of stuff,” Aileen said.

Then, they started raising pullets (young, domestic hens) to sell to egg-laying operations like Sparboe.

This became the Swansons’ livelihood, and Dennis Alberts was attributed to helping start-up the business.

The Swansons had two children, Bev and Brad, and in 1969, when Bev married Dave, they joined the family poultry business.

Kermit, who is now 93, retired from the business in 1995, and the Pearsons ran it for just a few years after until the “market dried up,” Paul explained.

Though they had 65,000 chickens, it became a small operation compared to others in the market. Paul continues to farm his 115 acres of land for corn and soybeans.

Paul has also been renting the land he purchased from his grandparents to his father, though he plans to run the operation himself in the near future. He would eventually like to have a few animals, as well.

Currently, Paul is in construction management for an excavation company in Little Canada.

Since Paul couldn’t make it, Kermit and Aileen accepted the Century Farm sign on his behalf at the Meeker County Fair this past August.

“They deserve to get it more than I do,” Paul said.

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