Kossuth County farm family earns Heritage Farm distinction
By KRISS NELSON
ALGONA – 160 acres in Section 27 of Plum Creek Township in Kossuth County has remained in the same farm family since 1857.
Mike and Rosanne Schmit’s family farm was first settled by Mike Schmit’s grandfather, Michael Schmit, those 160 years ago.
Rosanne Schmit said they officially have to go by 1860 because that is when Kossuth County first started keeping written records.
Mike Schmit said his grandfather, Michael Schmit and his brother, who was also named Michael Schmit, came to the United States from England, first settling in St. Joseph where they worked for a large cattleman.
Some time later, Mike Schmit said his grandfather made his way north to Algona and homesteaded what remains in the Schmit family.
Mike Schmit said his grandfather built a log cabin for this family – which is still standing on the Schmit family farm today. Schmit, says he has restored the log cabin several times in order to preserve it. Most recently, he said he took advantage of some help and a product called “Log Jam” mortar to hopefully extend the life of the log cabin before it will need renovations done to it again.
“I wanted to preserve the cabin,” he said.
In fact, family members agree it is a good thing Mike and Rosanne Schmit are the family members to have taken over the Heritage Farm, as some of them might have went ahead and torn down the old log home because it was in a dilapidated state.
Mike Schmit said he has held on to a lot of his ancestor’s things including their horse-drawn machinery that they homesteaded with in addition to several other tools.
Machinery and tools aren’t the only thing that Schmit has preserved.
“I have 10 acres of prairie ground that was once pasture, but it’s never been tilled,” he said.
The area where the Schmit’s Heritage Farm is located, Mike Schmit said, was once all slew ground and his grandfather only farmed very few of the 160 acres until dredge ditches and tile was installed.
Indians in the late 1850s were still a large part of Iowa’s countryside.
Mike Schmit said his grandparents never had any issues with them, but was told his grandfather kept a horse saddled in the barn at all times in case they were invaded and they needed a quick get away.
Michael Schmit passed away in 1896. Prior to his death, he and his family moved back to the St. Joe area in order to put his wife, Barbara, closer to her church.
Their farm was rented out for several years starting in the late 1800s to 1951 when the Schmit family came back to their farm.
Mike Schmit said his mother and two of his sisters moved back to the farm. Just three days after moving, his mother passed away.
“We live in the best country here because neighbors that we didn’t even know came to help,” he said.
Schmit said he has many memories of milking cows on his family’s farm.
“I always had to sit right beside them on my stool,” he added.
He said being the third- generation owners of his family’s Heritage Farm means a lot.
“It means a whole bunch,” he said. “I would not care to live anywhere else and I plan to stay here until I’m gone,” he said.
Please Enter Your Facebook App ID. Required for FB Comments. Click here for FB Comments Settings page