Heritage farm brings pride and honor to a family
By KRISS NELSON
IOWA FALLS – The long legacy of a family’s farm started back in 1856 with a $400 purchase of 40 acres in Etna Township, Hardin County.
Luann VanLengen and Linda Patrick are the fifth generation owners of the land, which was first purchased by their great-great-grandparents, Samuel and Mary Jane Stotser Wilson.
Richard Vroman, VanLengen and Patrick’s father, said it is believed Samuel Wilson was born in Pennsylvania and later moved with his family to Illinois, eventually coming to Iowa in 1855.
Just one year later, he purchased his farm.
“He kept adding to the farm, buying more land until he had 160 acres,” said Vroman.
Those farms were eventually split up among the couple’s children.
Fast-forward to 2018 and what is now considered a Heritage Farm; there are 122 acres that remain in the family, including the original home place.
The farm was passed down to the Wilson’s son, Winthrop Wilson, and his wife, Artie. Later, their daughter – and Patrick and VanLengen’s grandmother – Winifred Wilson Wolf, and her husband, George, took over the farm.
Winifred Wilson was the youngest of Winthrop and Artie Wilson’s four children. Her main duties were to help her mother cook and help on the farm when needed.
Her other siblings, all who were quite older than her, left the farm, which didn’t allow her the same opportunities, Vroman and VanLengen said.
“She was needed on the farm,” Vroman said.
At that time, the family wasn’t living on what is now considered a Heritage Farm, though they lived nearby.
Vroman said Winifred Wilson met George Wolf on her family’s farm, where he was the family’s hired hand.
After they were married, the Wilsons moved to the original home place and farm.
When George and Winifred Wolf retired from farming, the farmland was rented out and has been ever since.
The couple’s two daughters, Georgene and Mary Ann, were next in line for farm ownership.
Mary Ann is the mother of Patrick and VanLengen.
Vroman said he helped his in-laws farm some early on after he married Mary Ann, but decided to stop when they retired, and he went on to seek other opportunities.
After his wife passed away, Vroman made the decision to pass it to his daughters, so they could reap the benefits of their family farm.
The passing of the farm meant “financial security” to those in the family, VanLengen said of all of the previous generations.
The old days
Vroman said the Wilsons raised milk cows, fed cattle, chickens and pigs, and farmed with horses.
“It was your typical farm,” he said.
Vroman added they had a rather unique barn that was built into a side hill and was a split level structure. The barn was believed to be built in the later 1800s.
“They used to drive right into the barn to unload hay in the hay mow,” he said.
The barn featured a limestone rock foundation and that is the only evidence of the barn today.
The family has a love of being on their Heritage Farm.
“It is a sense of pride,” Vroman said. “It’s an honor to be able to say that. We would like to keep it going, and I am glad I have passed it to my two daughters.”
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