Naomi Nelson cherishes the memories of her time on the farm south of Burdick.
“I grew up very poor, and we moved around a lot,” she said. “It was wonderful to be in a more stable situation. I was blessed to have a good husband. I experienced living in a new home, something I never thought I’d have.”
Nelson sold the farm earlier this year and moved to Herington, but not before it had been in the family for 100 years and had earned the Kansas Farm Bureau Century Award.
The 86-year-old woman was stoic about leaving her country home after 65 years. She had been experiencing health problems, and when she fractured her back and took a fall earlier this year, she decided it was time for a change.
“I just thought it would be good to get away from that rocky road,” she said.
She hasn’t been back to the farm since she moved and doesn’t plan to go back until her back is healed.
Gus and Ann Nelson, the parents of Naomi’s late husband, Gene, bought the 320-acre farm in 1914. Just inside the Marion County line, the little house had held the Bethel Post Office, located on the Kaw Indian Trail that ran through the county from the northeast to the southwest.
“We could see the trail ruts,” Naomi said.
The Nelsons built a substantial farmstead, but in 1941, a tornado blew it all away.
“It took everything,” Naomi said.
Gene was 17 then. The family moved to Burdick but continued to farm the land.
Gene and Naomi were married in 1950 and built a new house on the foundation that remained when the former farmhouse was blown away.
They took ownership of the farm in the early 1960s and raised two sons, Tom and David. Both eventually left the farm to pursue other interests.
Naomi said she never helped outside.
“I think the only time I helped Gene, a cattle gate came down on my finger, and he had to take me to the doctor,” she said. “I didn’t have to help him anymore.”
She kept busy cooking for hired hands, mowing grass, and canning garden produce.
Gene rented the land when he decided to pursue his furniture restoration business.
In 1989, Tom returned to the farm to live with his parents. Gene died in 2000, and Tom continued to take care of his mother.
He said the decision to leave the farm was a mutual one.
“Our quality of life on the farm wasn’t so good, and it was time to change,” he said. “At 62, my oomph was going, and we decided we had to do something else.”
Naomi was resolute.
“It was time to go,” she said.