Farm Horizons, August 2013

Five generations span Doering farm’s 150-year history

By Starrla Cray

Robert Doering and his brothers, Ronald, Al, and John, are the fifth generation on their family farm in rural Waverly, which recently received a Sesquicentennial Farm award from the Minnesota Farm Bureau.

It all started with their “double great” grandfather, Fred Doering, who was born in Bavaria, Germany Jan. 9, 1835, one of 17 children in his family. According to a History of Wright County book printed in 1915, Fred grew up with his grandparents (Nicholas and Margaret Engelhart), who brought him to the United States when he was 13. The trip took nine weeks, and the first place they settled was Cook County, IL.

Years later, Fred married Mary Brabec, and they had a son named Henry. In 1857, the family traveled to St. Paul, and then went with Mary’s father, Mathias, to what is now Woodland Township. Back then, the area had no official name, but most people called it “Morning.”

Fred bought 160 acres of land, and according to the history book, became a “respected and highly esteemed farmer of Woodland Township.” In addition to farming, Fred served for eight years as a director of school district 37.

His son, Henry, who later took over the home place, was also involved in the community. He served on the school board, and also became a Woodland Township supervisor. Henry’s wife, Anna Cech, died at age 29, leaving four children.

Their oldest son, Arnold, was the next heir to the farm. Arnold married Ida Pavlik, and they had two sons, Irving and Clarence. Irving was an employee of Woodland Township, and Clarence served on the township board. Both brothers drove school bus in Howard Lake.

Clarence’s sons – Robert, Ronald, Al, and John – are the farm’s current owners.

Their sister, Rosemary Doering, worked at Pete’s Grocery in Waverly for many years before it closed in 2012.

“We quit milking cows in 2009,” Robert said. The original barn had 20 stanchions, but was remodeled to make room for 42.

Much of the land is now rented out, but 30 acres is still used for corn, alfalfa, and pasture. The brothers also raise steers.

Robert graduated from high school in Howard Lake in 1969, and started his career at Dura Supreme. He then switched to Winsted Creamery, and spent 30 years there until it closed. His most recent job before retirement was at Landscape Structures in Delano.

Although he worked off the farm, Robert never considered moving away.

“That wasn’t even a thought,” he said.

Other sesquicentennial farms

The farm of Arlo Kellerman of rural New Germany/Mayer was also recognized as a Sesquicentennial Farm this year. Look for the story elsewhere in this Farm Horizons magazine, along with a full list of the 2013 award winners.

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