Family farm continues to 6th generation
The well-preserved deed to a 160-acre homestead just east of Lincolnville is dated May 1880, but Mary Kaiser and her two sons had come to America five years earlier and traveled to Salina to stake a claim to the quarter-section just east of the fledgling town of Lincolnville near Clear Creek.
Mary paid a $1 filing fee and promised to improve the land within five years.
After spending those years proving up the property, as required by the Homestead Act of 1862, Kaiser received a deed to the land, signed by President Rutherford B. Hayes. Now, after 145 years, the farm, expanded by another 320 acres, remains in the Kaiser family.
Fifteen-year-old Blake Kaiser of Marion is the sixth generation to work on the farm. He is interested in keeping it going after his grandfather, Lee, and father, David, are gone.
The original Kaiser family came to Kansas from Germany by way of the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi River, and St. Louis.
Mary Kaiser and her young sons worked hard to construct a house, horse barn, and smoke house, all out of limestone. They built rock fences around 40 acres surrounding the farmyard and planted hedge trees along the boundary.
The small house had an upstairs, a rocked cellar, two doors, and several windows. The 16-inch-thick slabs of stone kept heat in during the winter and kept the house cool during the summer. Open ceiling beams provided a convenient way for storing items and keeping things out of the way.
A hand-dug well, lined with rock, provided an abundance of cold, clear water.
In 1887, Mary paid 85 cents in personal property taxes.
Mary was a charter member of St. John’s Lutheran Church at Lincolnville. It was a country church at first and later moved into town.
A new house was built on the homestead in 1901. Mary died a year later, and Henry and his family of four children took over the farm. His son, Louis, kept the farm going after Henry died in 1912. In 1938, Louis married Johanna Brunner of Ramona. They farmed together until his death in 1979. Johanna lived to be 107 years old. Her only son, Louis Lee Jr., and wife, Ruth, built a new house for her on the farm that year.
Lee’s son, David, has taken over management of the farm. He plans to retire from his job as a firefighter at Fort Riley in two years and devote full-time to the farm.
The whole family helps at harvest. David’s wife, Shelley, runs the combine, step-daughter Hayleigh Mendoza operates the tractor that pulls the grain cart, and Lee hauls grain to the elevator. Grandson Blake is learning how to repair and operate equipment. Ruth feeds the family and helps to move equipment. Everyone pitches in to work cattle.
It’s probably safe to say that Kaiser Family Farms will be in operation for many years to come.
Last modified June 3, 2020