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Traditionally, Century Farms honorees have been recognized during Clark County’s annual Farm/City Night coordinated by the Clark County Extension Council. With Farm/City Night cancelled for this year, we would still like to celebrate this achievement on a slightly different stage. We have been recognizing farms in the Missouri Century Farms program since 1976. This program has been sustained as an annual event with over 100 famrs being recognized each year. In 2008, the Missouri Farm Bureau became a co-sponsor along with University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources and Univeristy of Missouri Extension.
The Century Farm program recognizes farms with at least 40 acres of land that have been owned by the same family for over 100 years, and still make a financial contribution to the overall farm income. The line of ownership from the original settler or buyer to may be through children, grandchildren, siblings and nephews and nieces, including through marriage or adoption. Applications are available in February, through a new online application process, and must be received by May 1st. A fee of $120 is required to cover processing costs, one certificate, a booklet, and one two-sided, 2-foot by 2-foot metal sign for each approved farm. For more information on the award, process, and application, visit https://extension.missouri.edu/programs/century-farms/cf-apply.
The Clark County Extension Council is proud to share with the 2020 Missouri Century Farm recipients Milton and Doris Krueger, and John and Brenda Steele. Both recipients have been gracious enough to share with us not only the history of the farms which have received the distinction of being Century Farms, but also the stories of their family’s ownership and commitment to production agriculture.
Milton and Doris Krueger
Milton and Doris Krueger received the Century Farm award for the farm known as the ‘Lyle 80’, which is located south of Wayland. The land was originally owned by H.C. and Elizabeth A. Lyle. In 1898 they sold 80 acres to Frederick J. and Elizabeth Neumann, at $55/acre, for a total of $4,400. The land stayed in their possession until Frederick died.Then in 1944 his widow Elizabeth, along with their children Eda Acklie and her husband Johnny; Frederick G. Neumann and his wife Lelia; and Bertha Sheffler and her husband Oscar, transferred 40 acres of the original 80, to the other child, Elsa Krueger, who was married to Clester Krueger, for a fee of $1.00.
Clester and Elsa were the parents of one child, Milton N. Krueger, who grew up helping his father farm that forty acres, along with other land they owned which was located west of Kahoka. In order to get the equipment to the ‘Lyle 80’, they loaded their Allis Chalmers C tractor on a Dodge single axle, hoist bed truck, and pulled the implements behind the truck all the way to the field. After Clester died in 1978 and Elsa passed away in 1989, the forty acres was willed to Milton and Doris Krueger. Milton and Doris are the parents of Susan (Dale) Nutt of Nebraska; Steven (Becki) Krueger of Kahoka; Charles (Shelly) Krueger of Kahoka; and Sondra (Stuart) Feldstein, of Iowa. Milton and his sons, Steven and Charles continued to raise crops on this farm.
The ‘Lyle 80’ is still being farmed by Milton and Doris’ son, Steven. A few interesting facts that Milton shared: There were a lot of Walnut stumps on the farm. His mother, Elsa, told him, that as a little girl she helped her father plant crops on that land, using a ‘check planter’. Her job was to walk along and raise the check-wire over all of the stumps as he planted. He remembers the house that stood there, and at one time Frank Bartels, (father of Roscoe Bartels) lived in it. There was also a rather large Hackberry tree that stood there, and it was removed just a few years ago, due to decay.
Milton remembers that no soybeans were planted there before 1950, and they were not put into the crop rotation until 1973. The Flood of ’73 caused a delay in getting the field ready, and since it was late in the planting season, they decided to plant beans, instead of corn, and beans have been in the rotation since that time. In the early years that Milton and Doris farmed, they would hire one of the local livestock haulers, Verne Fry, to transport cattle from the home farm, west of Kahoka, to the ‘Lyle 80’, where they allowed the cows to glean the field after harvest. The farm had a good permanent fence around it, but the neighbors, Paul and Delores Tramel, who lived in the tenant house on the Neumann family farm, would call Milton whenever any of the cows got out.
John Arthur and Brenda Steele
The Missouri Century Farm Award was a 2020 Christmas gift to John Arthur and Brenda Steele from their children and John was gracious enough to share the story of the farm from his perspective.
My great grandfather, Theodore Steele, was born on February 11, 1835 in Hesse-Cassel, Germany and died on Febuary 27, 1888 in Clark County, Missouri. He came to America with his family at 11 years of age. His parents were Henry and Elizabeth Brown Steele, settled in the Chicago, Illinois area. As an adult, Theodore worked his way from Illinois to Missouri. In 1858 he purchased the North ½ of the SEQ of Sec. 34, T.65, R9 in Clark County, MO. Consisting of 80 acres. At that time his address was Luray, Missouri.
There was a two story wooden framed house and a large barn on the property. The barn was built with wooden dowel pegs and was struck by lightning and burned down. In the early 1900’s, the barn was rebuilt close to the original one with the addition of a basement and also framed with the wooden dowels. Unfortunately, this barn was also struck by lightning and burnt as well. All that remains now is the basement foundation.
During the Civil War in June, 1861, Theodore Steele enlisted in the Homegaurd to serve his country. He was the father of nine children. My grandfather, John Arthur Steele, was the 5th child. In 1880, Theodore and his wife Hannah Johnson Steele continued to purchase additional acres in Sec. 35 to increase the farm.Tragedy struck in 1888 after Theodore drove a heard of hogs to the stock pens near where the Santa Fe Railroad would develop the town on Wyaconda, Missouri. Due to the ice and snow on his trip home he got pneumonia and died on February 27, 1888. His wife and children continued to work on the farm and added a few more acres to the farm, plus houses in Wyaconda, Luray, and Kahoka, Missouri.
After Hannah Steele died, the land was divided between their children. My grandfather, John Arthur Steele, purchased the land in Sec. 34 and 35 from his siblings in the early 1900’s and also continued to add acreage to the farm. John Arthur Steele was born March 13, 1876 and died March 19, 1959. He was married twice; first to Bessie Billings in 1903 who died unexpectedly in 1908 and later married Sarah Daisy Found. Sarah was a Scotland County, MO school teacher and they wed on June 9, 1912. Five children were born into from that union and my father Arthur Orville Steele, was their 4th child.
There is large branch between the Sec. 34 and 35 land. It has been a blessing and at times and a curse at others, when the livestock would get stuck in the branch. My grandmother, Daisy Steele, entertained us grandchildren by taking us down to the branch to fish. Our poles were a long stick with a string and a hook and bobber. What fun we all had.
Hospitality was a given at their home. Friends and relatives loved to come and stay at the farm. Neighbors have said that “when summer came, the Steele Hotel opened and didn’t close until the roads got too bad for travel in the winter.” If unexpected company came, they would go out to the hen house, grab a couple of hens and chicken and noodles as well as raisin cake would be on the table for lunch.
On the Sec. 35 part of the farm, John Arthur and Daisy Steele lived in the one-story wooden framed house. There was a big barn near the house where my grandfather died doing his morning chores. The old barn met it’s demise and my father, Arthur and I built a replacement barn near by. This property also had a large orchard behind the house. There was also a log house out close to the now State Rd W. They rented this house out until it caught on fire and was torn down.
Part of the lumber from the original 1858 home was used to build a grainery and tractor shed close to the barn in Sec. 35. The oil pipeline crosses the north part of the farm and my grandfather, John Arthur, helped lay the lines from their farm to Medill, MO with his team of horses. My father, Arthur Steele helped his father John Arthur, secure and work the farm. After Dad bought his farm south of Wyaconda, he continued farming with my grandfather. In 1959, when John Arthur died, Dad farmed the land and went there everyday to care for his mother and the livestock. When my grandmother Daisy passed, the farm was divided between the four siblings. That is when Brenda and I purchased the farm from dad and my sisters.
My father, Arthur Orville Steele was born December 20, 1919 and married Letha Belle Lawson on June 10, 1939. He died October 27th, 2000 after living his entire life in Clark County, MO. He served on the Wyaconda School Board, promoting education and was a member of the Christian Church and other community organizations. Dad loved farming and raising livestock on the above mentioned farms, planting row crops of corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, and hay. The livestock raised on the farm consisted of horses, cattle, hogs, sheep, chickens, and turkeys. There was also abundant wildlife on the farm in the early days. My parents and grandparents choice of tractors were Allis Chalmers brand and they were purchased from Wiss and Wiss in Kahoka, MO.
I, John Arthur Steele, named after my grandfather, was born November 24, 1958 and I am the 5th child of Arthur and Letha Belle Steele and have four sisters. I graduated from the Wyaconda School in 1976 and have been farming ever since. Brenda Elder and I were married on December 30, 1980 and have two children. Jennifer (Steele) Folker and her husband Doug and Jason Steele and his wife Olivia (Brunk). We also have three grandchildren, Luke Brown, Jackson and Hannah Steele.
Brenda and I lived on the Sec. 35 part of the farm for several years and continue to own and farm the Sec. 34 and Sec. 35 land. Currently we live on my father’s farm, that we purchased from my siblings about a mile south of Wyaconda. Like my father, I was a school board member for the Wyacaonda C-1 School and other organizations to include the MFA Coop., MO State Fair Antique Tractor Pullers Two Cylinder Club, and the Wyaconda Fire Department. Besides farming and raising livestock,, our family enjoys Antique Tractor Pulling. Together with other family members we host the annual Wyaconda Tractor Pull. It has become one of the largest pulls in the area.
We have come a long way, from farming with horse, horsepower, to tractor and truck horsepower. Bigger equipment is constantly increasing to keep up with the demands of farming. We strive to farm with conservation in mind and crop rotation so this century farm will be here for future generations. I am the 4th generation care taker of this land and intend to farm as long as we can. We are hopeful our son and daughter and their families will carry on this Steele Family Tradition.