We’re on week 3 of 52 for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge, and tonight’s post is about my favorite photo.
My family has a long tradition of farming. My Great-Great-Grandpa Johann Frederick came to America from Prussia in 1869 and settled on 80 acres of land in Sugar Island, Wisconsin. He farmed until his death in 1910. My Great-Grandpa Arthur Frederick inherited the farm and worked it for many years before turning it over to his eldest son–my Grand Uncle Melvin Frederick. My line did not inherit this property, but the original homestead remains in the Frederick family after 150 years. Great-Grandpa Arthur helped his other sons by purchasing their farms to get them started. He did, however, make them pay him back. I know…because I have Grandpa’s receipt books.
My Grandpa Kenneth Frederick farmed in Juneau, Wisconsin, beginning in the early 1950s. My dad bought that farm from him in the late 1970s and farmed there until a fire destroyed his dairy barn in the late 1980s. Rather than rebuilding, my folks and older siblings moved to Markesan, Wisconsin, to a new farm. Dad retired from full-time farming in 1993, but we milked cows a couple more years while my brother was in high school. We even milked goats for several months. Dad also did some cash cropping a few years before leasing the land out to local farmers. My brother and I are the first to break tradition in our line of the family tree and not go into farming.
This brings me to my favorite photo. This is a photograph of my Grandpa Kenneth Frederick with his Cockshutt 50 tractor and Dad by his Murray pedal tractor. I actually have a list Grandpa wrote up of all of the tractors and cars he ever owned.
There are a few reasons I really enjoy this picture. To me, this is a snapshot of the family trade being passed on to the next generation. What they didn’t know was that this was the last time–so sort of a bitter-sweet moment in our family history.
It is also a testament to what farming used to be in Wisconsin–a family business. It wasn’t a factory with thousands of animals, millions of dollars in equipment, nor hundreds of acres of land to manage. It was a small-scale, diversified operation where everyone in the family had a part to play. As more and more small farms disappear in our state, these photographs serve as a reminder of the way things used to be.
Lastly, I am a huge antique farm equipment fanatic. If you have not caught on to the color scheme and orange tractors I blog about, I am a super-huge fan of Allis-Chalmers farm equipment. Why that brand?! Well, it used to be made right here in Wisconsin, and it was what we used to collect, restore, and use on our farm. Dad said Grandpa traded this tractor in for an Allis-Chalmers D-19 a year or two after this photo was taken. I have a photo of that tractor, too!
I encourage you to join this awesome family history writing exercise! Check out the Generations Cafe Facebook group and join the challenge! Get out there and discover your past! #52ancestors