Four area farms being recognized as century farms

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 8/19/97.

The Minnesota State Fair and the Minnesota Farm Bureau have recognized 260 Minnesota farms as 1997 Century Farms. Qualifying families own farms that have been in continuous family ownership for at least 100 years and are at least 50 acres in size. Century Farm families receive an aluminum building sign and a commemorative certificate signed by the president of the State Fair and the governor. Since the program began in 1976, a total of 6,627 farms in Minnesota have been recognized.

Four Paynesville area farms have achieved that recognition this year. They are: Duane and Rosella Lieser, rural Belgrade, in Stearns County; Robert and Susan Pederson, Paynesville, in Meeker County; Charles Chesness, Paynesville, and Blair and Anita Hagen, Hawick, in Kandiyohi County.

Chesness family settles in Cape Bad Luck Valley
Kathy and Charles Chesness recall their parents telling them of how their ancestors settled the farm in Cape Bad Luck Valley in 1878. Mathias and Ellen (Johanneson) Johnson came to Minnesota from northern Norway.

Mathias and Ellen Johnson purchased 160 acres of school land from the government. They stayed with the John Kelly family until they could build a log cabin dugout in the hillside. They lived in the log cabin dugout until building a house in 1895. After the house was completed, the dugout was turned into a chicken coop.

The house still stands today. It has seen a few changes over the years, but it still has four bedrooms upstairs and one downstairs. The front and back porch have both been enclosed.

Charles Chesness, the fifth generation on the farm, purchased the place from his father in 1983 and still resides there. His sister, Kathy, moves back to the farm each summer from Arizona.

Kathy recalls stories of how her grandfather would save money to bring young women over from Norway. He would teach them English, then they would head off to the Twin Cities to get work.

Charles Chesness recalls as a kid, ice skating on the creek from Cape Bad Luck Valley to the third island on Lake Koronis and back. The area is spring fed. In the summer months, they would swim in the creek. However, with tiling and change in farm practices, the creek has turned into a wide marsh.

In 1937, electricity was installed in the home. After Christian died, Carl and Esther Chesness moved in with Ellerine. Kathy recalls that at one time, there were three generations living in the house.

Hagen family homesteaded in 1867
The Hagen farm was first homesteaded in 1867 by Johann and Beret Hagen who immigrated to the United States from Jamtlia Mo, Nordland, Norway. They came to America in 1864 arriving at Quebec, Wis. Two years later, they moved to Irving Township. After Johannís death in 1873, Beret married Peder Williamsen and moved to northern Minnesota with her 13 children.

The Hagen family regained the homestead in 1897 when Martin and Minnie Hanson purchased the farm in Irving Township. They were fishermen from northern Norway.

Other owners of the farm have been Alvin and Myrtle Hagen, 1924 to 1957; Myron and Marilyn Hagen, 1957 to 1995; and Blair and Anita Hagen, 1995 to present.

The original homestead consisted of 80 acres. Today they own 330 acres tillable and farm a total of 500 acres owned and rented. The old barn held 13 cows while todayís modern barn houses 70 dairy cows.

The main part of the homestead house is still in use today. Over the years the house has been added onto several times. The lean-to was turned into the kitchen and the roof was raised, enlarging the second story. The parlor was turned into a bedroom. ďAs more kids were born, more rooms were needed,Ē Myron added.

Myron tells how his great-grandfather built the barn. It was torn down in 1950 to make way for a larger barn. ďThe granary was the last building to leave, about 10 years ago. When we tore down the granary, we found the scaffolding which Martin Hanson used to build the wooden silo. His name was stamped on the sides of the scaffolding,Ē Myron said.

In June, the Blair Hagen family hosted a 100-year celebration party for the Hagen/Hanson family. They invited all the relatives to an open house, so they could see how the homestead has changed over the years. Great-grandmother Myrtle Hagen, 93, a resident of the Good Samaritan Care Center was also in attendance.

Lieser family homesteaded farm in 1892
Duane Lieser is the third generation Lieser to live on the homestead started by German immigrant Quirin Fuchs in 1892. Duane and Rosella Lieser live three miles northwest of Regal and farm about 600 acres compared to the 152 acres started by his ancestors.

The land was originally owned by the railroad in 1875 and later sold to Anna Christina Peopping. Quirin Fuchs purchased the land in 1892 and in 1904 sold it to his brother John.

Michael Fuchs purchased another section of land in 1897 from Joseph Lenner and after losing his wife in 1914, sold 152 acres to John Fuchs. From the Fuchs estate, Charles and Margaret Lieser purchased the land in 1946 from Charlesí father. Duane and Rosella were married in 1965 and in 1970 they purchased the farm from father, Charles.

The family has no early farm pictures to document the history of the place as on Dec. 20, 1979 a fire destroyed everything they had.

A machine shed is now located on the site where the old farm house once stood. The only picture they have of the old house was found in Easterdayís in a collection of photos a few years following the fire.


Two brothers homestead Pederson farm
Two brothers, Hans and Thomas Pederson, immigrated from Norway in 1882 and purchased a 160-acre farm from Abner Marshall, south of Lake Koronis in Meeker County. Marshall had homesteaded the farm in 1873.

The two brothers split the acreage and purchased another 80 acres to the north. Today, Robert and Susan Pederson, Paynesville, still have 120 acres of the original farm. Today, the other half is owned by Ben and Lydia Olson.

The present house was built in 1894. ďDad (Dewey) was born in this house,Ē Robert said. Dewey and Bernice Pederson purchased the farm when they married in 1924.

Robert purchased the farm from his father in 1977 but didnít move onto the farm until 1986. ďDad lived in this house 88 years before moving to town,Ē Robert said.

The original house stood west of the present house site. As the family grew, six boys and two girls, the house became too small.

Robert recalls his grandmother was responsible for having the bay window installed in the house in 1916. He and his wife, Susan, had a fireplace mantel made from a butternut tree which had blown down on the farm. At one time there was a summer kitchen near the house, but that was removed and turned into a garage when a more convenient kitchen was added to the house.

ďThe old house has become a very comfortable home for us as we have brought it up-to-date,Ē Robert said. ďNow is a good time to be living in the country. We have a lot of space around us but we arenít as isolated as our ancestors.Ē

The Pederson family has a long history of involvement in the area south of Lake Koronis. Dewey took an active role in helping develop the Regional Park. The land was once owned by the Pederson family.

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