Farm Horizons, August 2008

Farm Horizons honors historic farms

Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

In honor of Minnesota’s sesquicentennial celebration, Farm Horizons is featuring some of the earliest farms founded in the area.

One of McLeod County’s oldest farms is the Jim Keenan farm a half-mile west of Glencoe along Highway 212. The 400-acre farm was founded in 1857 by James Keenan’s great grandfather, Francis Cummings of Nova Scotia. The crop and feeder cattle farm is now owned and operated by the father and son duo, Jim Keenan and Mike Keenan. The farm is at 9062 95th St. Mike Keenan lives there with his wife, Sue, and children Stephanie, Jeffrey and Mitchell.

Jim Keenan and his wife, Eugenia, live in a house a half-mile from the original farmstead. They have the tombstone of Eliza Cummings, the founder’s wife, who died in 1858 at age 27. She was the first white woman to be buried in McLeod County, Jim Keenan said.

Other very old McLeod County farms belong to Olive and Glen Anderson, 1856; Curtis Halvorson, 1856, M. Austin Otto, 1857; and Casten Proehl, 1857.

The Gagnon family of rural Buffalo has another very old farm in Wright County. Lawrence Gagnon, who died about three years ago, had a great-grandfather, Joseph Gagnon, who came from Canada, and founded the 100-acre farm in 1863 about 10 miles southwest of Buffalo, along Dempsey Avenue, according to Lawrence Gagnon’s wife, Beatrice.

At the time of its founding, the land for farm was bought from the railroad, and was near a village of Native Americans along the North Fork of the Crow River, she said.

Beatrice was an Antil from Maple Lake before she married Lawrence Gagnon. Eventually the couple sold off the land, so there are only 39 acres of the original farmstead left. Lawrence Gagnon was the third generation to farm there, she added.

Other very old farmsteads in Wright County belong to kenneth Schmidt, 1857; William Sutton, 1858, Wallace Barthel, 1861; Judy Bauman, 1861; Earl Dixon, 1861; Richard Lindenfelser, 1860; Guy Petersen, 1861; John T. Delano Peterson, 1862; and the Mike Niesen estate, 1861.

Eugene Barrick’s Cedar Lake farm in Meeker County is another very old farmstead. It was founded in 1861 by Nimrod Barrick III about 10 miles southwest of Darwin. Nimrod Barrick is Eugene Barrick’s grandfather. The farm was an 80-acre dairy farm. Eugene Barrick rents it out now. He currently lives by Lake Manuella. Barrick and his wife, Lorraine, have five children, Candace, Cynthia, Susan, Gregory and Jeffrey.

Other historic Meeker County farms are owned by Rueben Lund, 1857; Kenneth Ness, 1859; Norbert Riley, 1859; and Robert Dougherty, 1861.

The Sauter farm just south of Cologne was founded in 1858 by Jacob Sauter, Russell Sauter’s great-great-great grandfather. The farm at Highway 212 and Carver County Road 33 was designated a century farm when Harold Sauter, Russell’s father was running it.

Now, Russell milks 35 to 40 cows on the 195-acre farm, which is still in the same family.

Other very old Carver County farms belong to Charles Boyle, 1855; Charles Ittel, 1858; Walter C. Wagner, 1858; and Donald Wallace, 1858; and Mr. Mausehund, 1852.

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