Andersons mark Century Farm milestone

Posted September 5, 2019 at 5:00 am

*Century Farm artists painting.tif

By Julie Ann Madden

The Stanley and Janet Anderson family, of rural Akron, are celebrating their farm’s Century Milestone of Ownership.

Last month, the family was one of 485 Century or Heritage Farms honored at the Iowa State Fair through a program which celebrates farms that have been owned by the same families for 100 and 150 years respectively.

Of the past 100 years, Stan has lived on his family’s farm 90 years.

In fact, he and his wife, Janet, live 60 feet from the house where he was born. They live in a home that was originally built for the hired hand who took Stanley’s place while he served in the U.S. Marines as a bookkeeper in Cherry Point, N.C. from 1952-1954.

His father, Ernest Anderson, purchased the farm in 1919. Ernest was born in Limared, South Asarp Forsamling, Elfborg Lan, Sweden, on Nov. 8, 1887. He emigrated to America in April 1906, and came almost immediately to the Akron community. At first, he secured employment on farms, then went into farming himself.

“My dad bought this farm (at 17394 Concord Ave.) just a few days before the Big Depression hit,” said Stan. “He’d already signed his name and he went back to the First National Bank and told them, ‘I might as well give it back.’ They told him to ‘stay there because no one else wants it.’ It was that bad — everybody was broke, had no money.”

Ernest and his wife, Anna, raised five children on the farm: LaVerne, Henry, Russell, Milton and Stanley.

His dad eventually owned four farms, including one in South Dakota which he later sold.

“Dad operated a lot of farms,” said Stan. “He was a hard worker.”

“It was very hard times,” said Stan, noting during those hard times, the family went to Akron, which is just a jaunt of three miles, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. They had no money to spend but they enjoyed visiting with friends as they walked up one side of Reed Street and down the other. “We didn’t have money to spend so we didn’t have to go into stores — we couldn’t pay for nothing.”

When times got better, Stan remembers his dad gave him a dime.

“I thought I could buy the whole world with that,” Stan said, reminiscing about seeing a big bag of horehound candy on Thorson Drug’s counter. That purchase was a mistake he’s never forgotten as he said it tasted horrible — Stan recommended The Akron Hometowner never buy any. “My whole dime was gone on a mistake.”

Things got better as the years went on, he said, noting the farm is 160 acres and is currently custom farmed by another Akron farmer.

Stan was born Dec. 11, 1928, in the original farm house — he imagines his mother was probably attended by his Aunt Ida — they didn’t go to the hospital back then.

Stan attended country school, just a mile from his home. He had three teachers Miss Borchers, Miss Schmidt and Dorothy Sargent. The students carried water in buckets from Arvin Finzen’s mother’s farm, a distance of just less than one-half mile.

Stan remembers helping his dad who originally farmed with horses. They fed cattle and grew corn, oats and alfalfa in a rotation schedule.

Stan remembers driving the tractor while his father operated the oat binder and eventually he graduated to the binder.

“I like farming,” said Stan, noting in his Norka high school yearbook, it said, “There’s a farm in his future.”

Under their ownership in addition to crops, Stan and Janet made annual trips to Winner, S.D., to purchase cattle — 350 head at a time to fill the cattle yard. They fed them out over winter, then had a few months off during the summer before getting another herd.

They have added several additions on to the original hired hand’s home, all designed by Janet, who in addition to being a homemaker and mother, enjoys interior designing, sewing and knitting. She also belonged to several service clubs.

The couple raised three children: Bradley and his wife, Mary of Dakota Dunes, S.D.; Warren who is deceased; and Chace and his wife, Barbara of Maple Grove, Minn. They have two grandchildren, Paul and Emily; and two great-step-grandchildren, James and Jacob Lictenburg. They are also close to their nephew, Morey Anderson of Akron, and niece, Missy Utesch.

“Our kitchen was a busy place,” said Janet, who didn’t help Stan with field work or chores.

Janet kept her farm family happy with her gifts from the kitchen — coffee morning, noon and night with cookies or cake and a great noon meal of roast beef and the trimmings.

“We really enjoy the farm,” said Stan, and Janet agrees. They are grateful for the two years they spent in North Carolina where they had fun and even experienced a hurricane but their roots are deeply planted in the Iowa soil.

While fully retired from farming Stan still loves his John Deere “green” tractors — now “green” lawn mowers and toy models.

“I never wanted to live anywhere else,” said Stan.

“Having a Century Farm is a marvelous thing,” said Janet, “because not too many families accomplish that. Especially in this era, the farms are so big and one owner owns so many farms that would have been Century Farms if the families had stayed on them.”

“I’m very proud of the fact we’ve been able to stay here that long, too,” she added.

“We’ve had a very happy marriage,” said Janet,” and our children have done well so we are proud of what they’ve accomplished.”

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