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A century of farming: Micheel family holds reunion to mark 100th

Modified: Monday, Jun 24th, 2013

Jerry and Marlene Micheel, left, are shown with Matt and Kathy Micheel and their children, Tucker and Kaitlyn, around the remains of the wooden wagon brought to the farm 100 years ago by Jerry’s grandparents, August and Lizzie Micheel. The family celebrated the 100th birthday of the farm with a family reunion and balloon launch. Jerry, the third generation to farm the land, recently turned the operation over to his nephew, Matt. In the next photo, helium balloons decorated tables during a meal. Names of recently lost family members were written on seven of the balloons, and the rest commemorated the farms centennial. These were released during a ceremony June 15. PHOTOS BY CRYSTAL PUGSLEY/PLAINSMAN

August and Lizzie Micheel stepped from the train in Cavour in 1913 with high hopes for the 160-acres they planned to homestead south of town.

Today that simple plot of ground has grown into a successful farming operation that marked its 100th year with a family reunion June 13-15.

More than 125 family members gathered for the event on the Micheel farm, which included a program recognizing the fourth generation of the family to take the reins.

Jerry Micheel, who was born and raised on the farm, is moving to Huron this week with his wife, Marlene; and his nephew, Matt Micheel and his wife, Kathy, and children, Tucker and Kaitlyn, who now live 3/4 mile east, will move into the main farm home.

“Life just evolves,” Jerry said. “Things are so different today than when I took over from my dad in the mid-1970s. I farmed with my dad and Matt’s dad, — farming is kind of a family tradition.

“I’m kind of looking forward to a change in lifestyle, yes,” he added. “I’ll still go back to the farm. Once a farmer, always a farmer is the old adage.”

He still has beef cows that need his attention, he said.

“We’re strictly a beef cow operation and crops,” Jerry said. “Thirty years ago everybody had a few milk cows, a few pigs and a few chickens. Now you either have a lot of something or nothing.”

Matt, who has worked on the farm for the past 18 years, said his earliest memories are of working the land.

“I used to ride around in the cab with my grandpa, asleep on the floor in the cab,” Matt said. “This is all I’ve ever done.”

Dorene Eckmann of Iroquois, who helped plan the celebration, said she can remember the steadfast faith of her grandparents.

“He (August) was always great for saying, ‘Prayer and faith in a higher power has guided me most of the way,” she said. “He said to succeed in life you must keep trying — stick to it and never give up. That was always kind of his saying.”

August and Lizzie Micheel arrived with seven children, and three more were born on the farm.

They stepped off the train in 1913 with nothing but a few personal and household belongings, which they packed in a wooden wagon brought on the train along with a few head of livestock.

The remains of that old wagon with its wooden wheels holds a place of honor on the farmstead. It’s a reminder of the steadfast determination and faith the farm was built on.

Their son, Arthur, took over when August and Lizzie left the farm in the 1940s, and it was passed on to Jerry in the mid-1970s.

As the reunion wrapped up and family groups gathered for pictures around the old wagon, Eckmann said it marks a new transition.

They’ve been holding reunions every two to three years, and it’s a huge undertaking.

“I’m afraid this will be the last one (reunion) for awhile, we’re getting older,” she added, “unless some of the younger ones take it up.”

For the complete article see the 06-23-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 06-23-2013 paper.

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