Land remains in the family 150 years after it was first purchased by a Civil War veteran
By KRISS NELSON
BUFFALO CENTER – For Duane and Beth Feldick, a trip to the Iowa State Fair this summer was extra special.
That’s because it was where they became recipients of the Heritage Farm award for their farm, which has been in Beth Feldick’s family since 1868.
Feldick said her great uncle, E.B. Chaffee, purchased a quarter section of land located west of Union in Hardin County on Feb. 22, 1868 for $300.
E.B. Chaffee was a Civil War veteran, enlisting with the 141st Regiment Pennsylvania Infantry Volunteers on Aug. 28, 1862, when he was 25 years old.
According to information provided by Feldick, the Regiment was assigned to the First Brigade, First Division, third and second Corps A.P. to serve with the Union Army from Pennsylvania.
During the war, Chaffee participated in more than 18 battles and fought alongside the Union Army Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant, and fought against Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his army. Chaffee continued to fight until he was hospitalized three weeks at the end of the war prior to his discharge at Bailey’s Cross Roads, Pennsylvania on May 29, 1865.
About a year and a half later, on Oct. 15, 1866, Feldick said Chaffee married her great-aunt, Antoinette Beecher, and they eventually settled in Iowa in 1867 before purchasing and settling on the farm.
Feldick admires her great-uncle’s tenacity.
“He had to have been a tough man to fight in the Civil War and to move and settle and start a life in an unfamiliar place,” she said.
The Chaffees had no children, but Feldick said they adopted Antoinette Chaffee’s 10-year-old brother, Ernest Beecher, who would become Feldick’s grandfather.
Ernest Beecher grew up helping on the farm, eventually taking over the operation after Chaffee died on Aug. 27, 1909 at 72 years of age.
On July 18, 1919, Beecher purchased the farm from his sister, Antoinette Chaffee, for $9,000. She later passed away on March 29, 1928.
After losing his first wife during childbirth, Beecher married Jennie Maffitt, and together they had two sons. One of which was Feldick’s father, Loyd Beecher.
After her father graduated from Iowa State College in Ames with a degree in agriculture education in 1939, Feldick said he went on to organize the Eldora High School vocational agriculture department and taught there while helping out on the farm.
Her family moved onto the family farm in the spring of 1942 and her father took over the farming operation, eventually purchasing the farm from his mother in June of 1947.
Loyd Beecher continued to farm until the late 1980s, when the family rented the farm to Davy Petty, who has been farming the land ever since.
During her father’s time on the farm, Feldick said he raised cattle in addition to crop-farming.
“He developed an excellent Purebred Polled Shorthorn cattle herd,” she said, adding that they were recognized in 1971 for their contribution to the breed.
Feldick has many memories of growing up on the farm and tending to their cattle. In fact, it was her desire to show at the Iowa State Fair that helped to grow their operation, It was after a successful show day that made her father realize it was great publicity for his herd.
“I was determined to show and said I was going to show at the Iowa State Fair and that I was going to get a blue ribbon,” she said. “My dad and I each took a calf and I got my blue ribbon.”
Feldick said one of her main duties was not only helping with the cattle, but to help out training them.
The family continued to raise Purebred Polled Shorthorn Cattle until they had their dispersion sale of the herd in 1976.
Feldick said her father also became known for his extensive soil conservation practices, which happen to still be carried out on the farm today. He was also recognized in 1995 for 50 years of conservation.
Beecher lived on the family’s farm for nearly 90 years with the exception of the time he spent teaching. Feldick inherited the farm in 2009.
The Feldicks farmed north of Buffalo Center until their retirement in 2012.
She becomes emotional when talking about her family’s farm receiving its Heritage Farm award.
“I didn’t think I would live this long,” she said. “But I made it.”
The Heritage and Century Farm awards are presented in the livestock pavilion on the Iowa State Fairgrounds; a building Feldick can attribute a lot of great memories to.
“I had three great things happen to me in the pavilion,” she said. “A blue ribbon, I was named Shorthorn Iowa Lassie Queen and it’s where we received our Heritage Farm award.”
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