On Friday, July 16, at the Lincoln County Fair, on behalf of the Merrill Historical Society, President Bea Lebal and Century Farm chairman Bob Gruling presented a Century Farm Certificate to Dirk and Jessica Heidemann recognizing and honoring them for the family’s continuous ownership of their property.
The 104-year-old farm owned by Dirk and Jessica since July 24, 2009 is located at N1243 Range Line Rd., in Pine River. This 40 acre parcel was purchased by Dirk’s great grandfather, August Heidemann, in 1906 and became part of a larger tract of land he had purchased earlier.
The Heidemann family history begins with the August Heidemann Family’s emigration to America.
Generation 1 – August and Fredericke Heidemann
August Heidemann told his grandson, Victor, that while living in Germany, he purchased land in Pine River Township “site unseen.” In about 1888, August, his wife, Fredericke, and their six month old daughter, Bertha, left Germany from the Port of Bremerhaven and sailed to the New World. From the U.S. East Coast, they boarded a train which took them to the Pine River station near Merrill.
After their arrival, they walked four miles into Merrill where they bought a wagon and a team of horses, and traveled east (present day Hwy. 64) toward the Pine River property they had purchased prior to their emigration. Range Line Road had not as yet been blazed. Thus, the horses had to be led through the trees and brush for a couple of miles until they reached their property. It was months later they began taking the wagon apart so they could move it to where they had begun to clear land.
Within two weeks after their arrival, August built a one room log house for his family. Land was needed to grow crops so much time was spent in logging and clearing the land of brush.
In addition to the original land acquisition, August purchased other acreage in Pine River. On May 23, 1906 August purchased the “Century Farm” property which is now owned by Dirk and Jessica Heidemann. According to Victor, both the present house and barn were built within the first year.
According to census reports, August and Fredericke had six children ??¢???????? Bertha, Martha, Anna, Robert, Amelia, Frederick (Fred).
Generation 2 ??¢???????? Fred and Ella Heidemann (1921- 1951)
Fred and Ella Heidemann took ownership of the farm in February, 1921. Fred was about 29 years old at the time. As was often the custom in those days, Fred’s parents (August and Fredericke) lived with them in the same household for nine years.
While working on the field, Fred would have his son, Victor, bring a bucket of apples for a snack. Oftentimes, after he finished eating the apples, he planted the apple cores along fence lines. As a result, there are apple trees in straight lines next to the fence or in straight lines where fences once stood.
Fred’s first combine was a used Allis Chalmers. Later, Vic and Fred replaced the combine with a newer one. (In 1954, Vic purchased a brand new self-propelled combine for $800.
Fred was a gifted musician. He could not read music but was able to “play by ear.” He could play the mandolin, guitar, concertina, and accordion. He often played for neighborhood get-togethers and barn dances. He also played at home in the evenings – just for enjoyment.
In 1935, a machine shed was built into the side of a hill west of the house. Now there was a place to store farm machinery. The upper level was also used for neighborhood dances during the summer months before the grain was harvested and stored there. In addition, a workshop was built into the lower level of the building. This was an ideal spot where Fred could pursue his woodworking hobby. He especially enjoyed woodworking during the winter months. Oftentimes Vic would do barn chores so Fred could work in the shop. Before his death, he made card tables with wooden block tops and gifted one to each of his grandchildren.
Fred and Ella had three children ??¢???????? Dorothy, Mildred, and Victor.
Generation 3 ??¢???????? Victor and Marjorie Heidemann
The third generation Heidemann couple, Victor and Marjorie, took over this “Century Farm” in 1951. Vic was born in the farm house July 20, 1926 and lived there until he and Marjorie sold the farm to Dirk and Jessica in 2009.
Before Vic and Marjorie were married, Vic promised Marge that she would not have to milk cows. According to Marge, that did not last for much more than a week. They also raised chickens the first year or so but eventually Marjorie got rid of them.
Vic and Marge had two children ??¢???????? Scott and Tim. They had about 23 milk cows at the time. Marge did chores such as drive the tractor and drag the fields.
Vic enjoyed farming. Vic says that he is a “tractor nut” meaning that he loves tractors and can easily repair and overhaul them. In addition to farming, he made extra spending money by doing small electrical jobs. Vic was also a supervisor for the Town of Pine River for several years.
Vic and Marge retired from farming on July 1, 1988 when Scott and his wife, Laurie, purchased their herd of dairy cows and rented the “Century Farm.” They later also purchased the machinery and then decided to expand the dairy operation by moving the milking cows to another location, using the “Century Farm” as a heifer facility. At their new facility, they milked cows for 11 years with the help of their two sons, Ross and Dirk. Six years ago, Scott and Laurie sold the milking herd and currently