The Anderson Family Story
By Matt and Julia Anderson, August 2023 at Pioneer Bluffs
Note: This is a computer generated transcription and will have some errors in names, spelling, etc.
I’m a 6th generation Flint Hills farmer and rancher. It all started with my great, great, great grandfather Gotthelf, John Nehring, who came from Prussia and exercised a 120-acre claim along what is now known as the Nearing branch of Mill Creek in Waubonsee County in 1860, a year before Kansas became a state. Gotthelf, along with his wife, Anna, and children, Dorothy and God health, built a house along Nearing branch. Their oldest daughter, Louise, was my great grandmother. That’s where our story really begins when Savan Anderson and his two brothers, Manly and Oak, came from Sweden in 1868 and settled right there next to the Nearing family, mostly on the grassland. They didn’t get down on the good Creek bottoms like the Marines did, and it was a lot harder for them to make a go of it in the early years.
This is a plat map that goes back. The blue is the Nearing homestead, and my great-great-grandfather is the one down below here, which is about a mile and a half or two south of his two brothers settled up there. So that kind of shows right where they started out. Starting out with the Andersons, Savan was born in 1837 in Stone, Sweden, and he homesteaded in Hessdalen in 1867. He went back and came back with his brothers Oak and Manley in 1868. In 1870, he sent for his betrothed wife, Christina Nelson of Vernand, Sweden. They met in Topeka, and I guess then they got married and they walked from Topeka out to Hessdale and spent their honeymoon, not on the prairie. They had five children: Selma, Andrew (my great-grandfather), Amal, Emma, and Edwin (John EJ).
John EJ was the most prosperous in that family. He had a lot of cattle and expanded his properties. He was also on the Mill Creek Township trustee and the Halifax or Hess Dale School Board. He later became a Wawasee County commissioner. Savan spent his entire married life on the same farm and died on April 11th, 1907, having spent his whole married life on that same place.
The second generation, Andrew, was born in 1873 at Hess Dale and had five children: Robert Oliver (my grandfather), Leona, Elmer, and Norman. Andrew was also a trustee of the Swedish Lutheran Church in Hessdalen in 1926. Eventually, Andrew moved into town when he retired but continued working for Waubonsee County and the state of Kansas Highway Department. He died in 1950.
The third generation was my grandfather, Oliver. He was born in 1902 in the Nearing Branch community and grew up on the family farm, spending all of his time helping on the farm. He went to school until the eighth grade, then worked for neighbors and other farms. Eventually, he found a job on the Burns Ranch in Marion County, Kansas, where he met my grandmother, Minnie Webber. They got married in 1922 in Florence, KS. My grandpa said after they were married, he moved back to Alma, rented a farm, and started farming back next to his farm. He told me they took a box wagon and horses, 70 miles from Burns back up to Alma, and started farming. It was a rough time in the 30s, but they managed with their milk cow, chickens, and a few hogs. By 1940, things were starting to improve, and he bought a farm 3 miles west of where we live today, on the main branch of South Branch of Mill Creek. It was better ground, and they did well there.
My dad was also born in 1940 on the old Wawasee County poor farm, the first piece of land that really stayed in our family. From then on, the others before then never got to hang on to their land. My dad was a hard worker and loved the farm. He milked cows, helped his folks, and raised pigs. In 1962, he married my mom, Nancy Hubert, and in 1963, he bought a farm of his own about two miles west of Alma. It was an old stone house, and they made renovations. My older brother, Andrew, was born in 1963, followed by me in 1965, my other brother in 1967, and my sister in 1971. The 30s were tough, and my dad relied on their milk cow and chickens to get through. In 1940, he started to do better and bought a farm that we still have today. The others before then never got to hang on to their land.
The fourth generation was my dad. He was a hard worker who loved the farm. He milked cows, helped his folks, and raised pigs. In 1962, he married my mom, Nancy Hubert, and in 1963, he bought a farm of his own about two miles west of Alma. It was an old stone house, and they made renovations. In 1963, my older brother Andrew was born, followed by me in 1965, my other brother in 1967, and my sister in 1971. In the 30s, it was tough, and my dad relied on their milk cow and chickens to get through. In 1940, he started to do better and bought a farm that we still have today, the first piece of land that really stayed in our family. The others before then never got to hang on to their land.
When they asked us to do this Prairie talk, we were like, oh, yeah, that’d be good to get the history down and everything. And then when it came time to doing it, we were pretty busy, and luckily had a rainy day last Sunday to start working on it. But we should have been practicing a little more and like to thank a cousin Mark, Fighting for, helping us with some maps and photos.
As you probably will find out, we’re not public speakers, but we love what we do and we’re. But we’ve been very blessed by God on our operations. So thank you to the Pioneer Bluffs for their ranching heritage. We love visiting here and we love to hear and other talks, so it just inspired us to do it. But we’ll admit the last couple of days we’ve been going, what were we thinking when we did that but anyway.
But we’ll admit the last couple of days we’ve been going, what were we thinking when we did that but anyway.
I’ll kind of give you on my background. When I married Matt, we got married in 1991, but my story began back in Stafford and Reno County, Kansas. I’ve always lived in Kansas, which I can’t say for my family. I have a. Sister in Texas and my folks retired there and a brother in Colorado. But anyway, my folks were Edwin and Barbara Barr. And my maiden name for my mother was Slade, and I still have a. Cousin McClure, out of the Slade family that still farms in Stafford County.
We ended up moving from Stafford County to a farm north of Sylvia when I was Pretty Little and that’s where I got my love for the Country Life and everything. We had horses, so we were riding horses and the garden and the fruit trees and all the fun things. I thought at the farm and then you grow up as an adult. And think oh man. But anyway.
After that, my dad had become a manager of the Zenith Co-op. Out in there had just kind of supplementing farm income and stuff, worked at them, and worked his way up to manager. So that’s when we moved off the farm into the coop had a home there in Zenith. Little bitty town. So it wasn’t any big.
And then I. Went to school at Fairfield High School. And then a couple of years at Kansas State and that’s where I had a previous marriage and that marriage was born. One son, Brad Holiday, in the first picture, we’ll go back and kind of identify people maybe. And he’s on that side. So when I met Matt, I was an office manager for a bridge. Contractor in Topeka. And when I got married, I’d been involved in some women in construction groups and different things. And they were like. You’re quitting your job and you’re just gonna be a farm wife and I go. Yeah, it’s gonna be great. And you know, city people don’t understand that, you know.
So, anyway, I’ve been blessed that I’ve made it back to the farm. And another benefit, when I was with Brad and the I couldn’t, I was working you know with Mark, I was able to stay home while he was young and stuff and drag him around quite a bit with the farming and stuff like that. So as as he does now with his kids and stuff, you know, riding tractors or whatever we’re doing whatever we’re doing, that’s where the kids are so.
I know Matt would have been successful at whatever he did. He has a work ethic that’s pretty amazing. I’m blessed in that way, but I hopefully I’ve helped him to succeed in some ways by feeding him. Doing the book work. Seems like with farming you never realize you know some of that stuff. He’s very good at what he does, but sometimes then you got to remember when and that do some. Things so try to. Do that and then help whenever needed.
Recently some of the help I had I think Mark was busy bailing and stuff when we were going to sell our fall calves. So Matt and I, we bring our fall herds closer to home. So the day of the sale we can just walk them a little way and grab the calves and go and. I guess we’ll have pictures of that. Maybe we’ll do the. Pictures later or something, we’ll see. And Ivy was with me that day. We were doing one of the pastures. We got him and put him down on the broom and was missing about 1020 head. And when we went back up, we found 10. So oh, that’s part. Even so, that’s good and. Decided. Well, you go look the east. There’s a big draw and stuff. See if you see them down there, I’ll go West and then we’ll kind of meet back in the middle. And stuff. So anyway.
OK. Needless to say, we didn’t find him, but he found them later down where they were on the fields and stuff, but we were sure glad it all worked out. But that’s one unique thing about with it being where we are that we don’t have a lot of traffic and stuff. We can move them down the roads and stuff like that so. We do know we’re lucky in that way.
I’m doing the book work, my office. It’s things have changed quite a bit over the years. I remember when we were first married, I did. Our books by hand and that would probably prefer it that way. This to this day, you know, but I gradually got a spreadsheet on the computer was easy for me to tally up income and expense and stuff like that. And in the last few years I’ve got it, most of everything on QuickBooks and. I try to just get the totals and then we give them to the professionals to do our tax work and stuff like that. Another thing I do is keep spreadsheets for different things that we need on our breeding stock and bowls, and we don’t buy very many cows. I know there’s been time when we were expanding, we bought Heffers and stuff where you got to keep track of and stuff so.
Also on the. Rent. We try to keep track and I’m kind of old fashioned. I have a folder on each landlord and stuff to keep track in a sheet that when we started and stuff sometimes you need to look back or you know something. It’s it’s just kind of old fashioned. I’m sure I could be doing it on computer now but anyway. So that things and then we don’t spray our crops ourselves. We hire OJ with JB Pearl does that for us. So I keep some of that stuff on to keep track when we. Pay and different things on the different fields and stuff. It just helps to know the size.
We work with the FSA and that office and that’s changed over the years. It used to be open five days in Elma and as they had to cut back, we were fortunate they still kept one in Alma, but it’s just one day a week on Wednesdays and. Our banking, we’ve kept it local for quite a few years and then when we started buying land and needing financing and stuff different things we worked with our locals. But then now we’ve gotten where we have both, but we also work with Frontier Farm Credit. We’ve just been very fortunate to have good people helping us in our operation that we couldn’t do what we do if we didn’t have others that are professional and helping us out.
Even working in this presentation, my granddaughter Brian had helped showed me one time Google Docs and stuff, so that helped me to kind of get our outline and different things done for today that I had never done, and even the PowerPoint, you know, hadn’t really done that before. So I’m. Never too old to learn is our philosophy, I guess so.
Some of the things I’ve done to supplement our income, I we sold hockemeyer seed and bigger toned mineral for several years. And then when Mark got older, I worked part time at the library and now I get to take my granddaughters to story time or different things that I was involved with there, and someone had mentioned they were from Onega and the Elma Library is part of the Pottawatomie Wabaunsee Regional Library, and Onega, Eskridge, Elma St. Mary’s. Is all part of that regional library, so it’s a. Thing we all like.
After that, I think Mark was in high school. I went to to work at the extension office in Elma there for a couple of years in the office and they have a lot of good programs that our families involved with the 4H. And I know my mom way back had EHU and stuff like that that they did so. A lot of good programs and the 4H is something I did in Stafford County, but Mark and Matt have both done it here in Wabaunsee County and same club members and. Been leaders and stuff like with it within that. UM.
So as I said, I try to. Help where needed. UM. Getting parts. Pulling calves, one of our favorite time of the years is that you know when the new calves are coming, but once in a while they’ll need help. And mostly night holding the flashlight is my expertise, you know, but that’s pretty good and. Taken care of and mark two now so I don’t have to do quite as much. In there. But we did. I was thinking of back. Our spring calves are born February, when it’s cold and stuff.
And we were. Had some cows, I think, on the Finney down there and he went to check them at night, which a lot of. Times we don’t have to, but. For some reason what he just happened to that? Night and the Coyotes were dragging the calf away from its mom. But he got it and brought it home, but it was one of the most frozen calves I’ve ever seen. You know that that can live that lived anyway. It couldn’t even suck, you know. It was just so frozen and everything. But we warmed it up with blow dryers and we get rough rags and rub on them and things. So it had a success story. They’re able to return it to its mother.
In the summer time I help with the, they put up a lot of round bales. Now we do a few square bales, mainly for coaxing and stuff. But we have the big round bales so I drive the truck around the fields for that when they’re loading and unloading. One thing I want to say that I’ve had to not do quite as much as the cooking. Is our most of our operation is up where Mark and Hannah leaves and Hannah is an excellent cook, so we sure appreciate when she’s able to do meals for us and get to see the grandkids too. So that’s always a plus.
One thing, maybe it might seem interesting, I didn’t get any pictures of it, but there was a house on the place that Matt got from his dad and it just was too poor to fix up. So we ended up getting a ward craft home in Clay Center and have it moved in which. It’s proved real well for us, it’s efficient and stuff and not having to do repairs, we were able to spend more time working on the fence and corrals and stuff like that. And that was a picture I could show. You maybe I can find it. That was back. There it is. That was some of our corals. And Mark, when he was little so. And then pasture this north of our house, we ended up putting a dividing fence in. And that’s pretty nice as we can have two herds there now and we developed, there was a spring in each one side. So we’re able to. Do that when we develop that another thing we’ve added is our brand, the bar a on the right hip of our cattle, his dad, they did a you notch in the ears so that what we still do that plus we do the brand on the older calves. Just wanted to thank all our wonderful landlords that have worked with us and appreciate all of them. Thank them all.
Currently, his brother Andrew lives out West on their home place and our nephew Zach Nathan’s son, lives at the poor farm that his Grandpa Ollie and Minnie had. And if anybody was starting out and ranching and think, what do I need to do to prepare myself for ranching? I was trying to think back of some of the things I did that. Help me and believe it or not, basketball was one I really liked basketball. But when we’re sorting cattle or pairing up cattle, you know, you do your little defense moves and stuff. So that was something that I really didn’t think I’d ever get to do. I don’t play much basketball now, but. Classes I’ve taken in high school. I took some business typing and office management, then home, etc. And I think now it’s facts, family and consumer, so those. All were very good. And I’d worked at a Ben Franklin store and savings and loan and some banks. So it just gives you kind of.
You can see where I’m at now? I’m very happy to be on the farm. We’ll let Matt continue.
Sure, I’ll divide the text into paragraphs for you:
Before I forget again, I want to introduce my son Mark and his wife Hannah. And Brent and Ivy, our two oldest granddaughters, are here today, and Hannah’s friend Maddie, that she’s helped us out quite a bit around working cattle and doing things for the family too. And my stepson Brad Holiday and his wife Emily. And Daphne their daughter. And then we just had a new granddaughter 3 weeks ago. And this is a picture of us. At the Little Lutheran Church at Lake Labonte, where we go quite a bit.
OK, now I’m going to start on the 5th generation, which is myself, and I learned an awful lot around my folks and grandparents on my farm. But when I got in high school, I was lucky enough to have a really good AG teacher by the name of Larry Hubler. And he taught me a lot about shop work with using a welder and a cutting torch and fixing machinery that way, and also how to judge livestock. And we went to a lot of contests and we’re. I really enjoyed that part of it and when I got out of high school, I moved out to the poor farm to live with my grandparents and by that time they were needing some help and my grandpa lost both of his legs below the knee from diabetes and poor circulation. So I had to help get him in and out of bed. Different times of the night and. So it worked out good. I was right there to help them. Plus to be right there to do the. Work. Farm work. My Aunt Mary came over on weekends and she was also a big help for us. She cleaned and did laundry and cooked, but she also went with me to feed cattle. She’d drive the truck when I fed the bales off the back, and then she even used a corn knife and help walk her. Milo and Bean fields her and I would go out and. Got the cane and pig weeds out of the fields and even later on she did that clear up till she was in her 80s and she really got mad at me when I went to round up ready crops because then she didn’t have that to do anymore. I can’t believe she enjoyed that that much.
But anyway, after high school my two brothers went to work off the farm. So then I had a lot more work to do. Then I continued helping my dad and growing our cow herd. And then, like Julie said, in 89, I got married and we moved over to Nearing branch where we lived today. And then that’s when her and I really took off on our own operation. And I kind of quit working with my dad at that time and. He didn’t want to spend any money on equipment or buying really good bulls, and he knew I did. So we just kind of went our separate ways at that point. And you have a bull picture. Yeah, this is a picture. One of the first bowls that I. Bought with the first one we ever purchased was from the Rock Hill Ranch at in the. Paul and Nancy Miller, South of Alma, and they were very helpful to us and they found a pasture for us to rent, also a pretty good-sized one South of Wamego. And they also. Told us about her dad, George Crenshaw. That had some really good Angus Bulls and we purchased quite a few of them over the years. And he also was took an interest in mark during 4H and he’d come to the fair and and. Watch Mark show our home raised cattle because they were out of the Bulls. That he had sold. And also Mark was born in 92 and then when he got old enough to help, he started helping me chore quite a bit. And his first tractor job was raking hay and heroin copies down on the broman alfalfa in the spring of the year. And then later on, he could drive the field cultivator. The tractor ahead of me when I was planting our crops. And we gradually rented more ground right along pasture and farm ground. And in 2004 we bought a 765 acre farm east of us on nearing branch. And that’s where Mark and Hannah lived today. It had some really good farm ground along the Creek and we planted alfalfa in it the first year we bought it. Yeah, that’s our land that we own today up there and the right in the middle of it is the nearing place and Julie and I just were able to buy it three years ago. And then those tracks up there. Well, we actually own part of what my great, great uncles. Settled on clear back in the very beginning and we feel so we didn’t really set out to do all that. We just wanted to expand our operation so we could run a big cow herd, but we ended up getting a lot of the land back that our forefathers settled on in the very start. Of our being there in Mill Creek Township.
In 1998, we bought a half section of grassland West of Alma. I guess I said that already. Didn’t I in? In 2011, we sold that half section and did a 1031 exchange to buy 610 acres. Next to that 765 acres, which is Mark’s place now. And in 2014, we bought the old bandle place. It was 100 and acre farm that joined our home place. It was timber and Broome and Creek. And it really made a nice place to winter cows and to raise more corn and alfalfa for feed. And also in our earlier. Part of this career we had a lot of help from friends. Ron Mike. He helped me. He sold me a six-row planter and a two-ton truck to haul grain with. And then later on. Go to the hay shed. We had a hay shed fire and lost a hay shed. Well, a friend of mine, Bill Hoffstein, found a big pile of 60-foot trusses at Silver Lake. So my brother Nathan and I went over there and we looked at them and we bought the whole pile for $35 a Truss and the next year. Mark and I and A neighbor, Greg Capone, went to work and we and my brother Nathan, and we built a 60 by 100 foot hay shed there. We can stack the bales 10 wide and four high. And then the next spring, we had enough material. We build another 60 by 100 up. At Mark’s place. And when we set the trusses and put the 10 on these big buildings, we also had a bunch of friends come out and it made short work of doing those jobs too that Dwayne Erickson and his brothers helped us a lot too. In the earlier years repairing equipment. And when we sold calves then we had them scattered out and rented. And they’d come with little horse trailers. We’d grab one bunch and send them to the sail barn while we’d go to the next pasture and catch them. And when they got back, we’d load them up. Again and. It was kind of a lot of fun, and those buddies, they really enjoyed helping us do that too.
In 2013, Mark and Hannah moved to that E place, and he’s they’ve been working with us full time in the last 10 years. We grew our cowherd to where it is today. We have 275 fall pairs and 280 spring. There’s this is really nice to where we can use our bulls twice a year. We in about Thanksgiving, we turn the Bulls in with the fall pairs and they run with them all winter. And then in the summer we run them with our spring pairs. And we also keep back 70 heffers out of our fall calves every year and 70 in our of our spring calves too. That this also varies quite a bit on how much feed we get to put up and how much grass we get to rent because it changes from year to year with the landlords either dying or selling land and you never know when you might lose a pasture.
One of our main goals in all this time was to get more centrally located on Nering branch and then currently we rent about 5000 acres within 2 to 4 miles of Mark’s House. And it’s really works well. We can walk our cattle down the roads. We pair up so many that go in a certain pasture and just walk them down the road when we get ready to go. To grass. And for feed for all these cattle, we have about 140 acres, alfalfa and. 300 acres of brome and 700 acres of native Prairie hay. And then after we pick our corn in the fall, we plant rye on those corn stalks. And if we get some rains, that really makes a lot of good fall pasture. In October and November, we wean all these spring calves and give them all their shots, and then we background them till about February and when we sell the steers and then we usually keep the heffers and pick out our replacements and then sell the rest of those. And I I have a grinder mixer I’ve had for almost 30 years and I grind and mix all the grain for these calves and then for our fall. Cows, when we bring them off grass, we work all their baby calves. And then we put them out on pastures that we leave idle of our own to for a while till the fields are ready and then we put them down on our fields and they get to graze the best fall pasture of the rye and corn stalks and alfalfa and broom. And then we also put creep feeders out in about December for the calves. And we keep those going till April. And when spring comes, we work. All these big calves and leave them on their mothers and turn them back out to grass. And we sell those calves right off the cow about the 1st of August. And they really wean easy in August with the heffers we keep back. They just wean so easy and we really like the. Fall calves seems to work the best.
One of our challenges today, though, is all the invasive species of our pastures. We have a lot of brush and sarisa and thistles and. On a typical spring day, I load up my 60-gallon sprayer on my Polaris with brush spray and throw a lot of salt and mineral in there and I’ll go check a different pasture every morning, check the cattle and put out the salt, and then I’ll spray that 60-gallon out in that pasture on thistles first and then brush. Until I’m empty and then I go back home. And we also have a blaster, Mr. that we use on our little Kubota tractor. And and I’ll usually go home and mix up 100 gallons there and go around our home places and do that too then.
One other topic I’d bring up is the beef fest that’s going on this weekend that Emporia. I thought that was a good idea to ride that cow till I got on. It was a real tame one till I sit down on it and then it took off. I’ve. That was one of Mark’s old 4H calves that he we kept back for a cow and when I got done I had the crotch split out of my pants. When I hit the ground. This is our beef fest crew from last year. But we’ve had a lot of fun there and we’ve entered cattle almost every year since it started and we’ve met a lot of friends there at Emporia and we really have to hand it to the committee and the people of Emporia that started the beef fest because it’s sure been a nice deal. It really highlights the grass cattle. And we just have a lot of friends that we still see now every year look forward to that and the awards for that are tonight. We’re going after this afternoon.
When the pandemic started, Mark and Hannah started selling some of their calves directly to consumers that there was quite a shortage of beef. For reasons and that’s worked pretty well for them. And they also sell some ground meat to the Lutheran school there in Alma. And they got a a grant, I guess to. Buy local so. That’s helped them, and Mark and Hannah, they’re. Girls Brian and Ivy are going to school there, and Mark’s also on the school board there at Saint John’s. And I also was on the board when Mark went to school there. Yeah. Yeah, I went to school there too, for it’s 1st through 8th grade.
And back to my stepson, Brad Holiday. He comes out in the fall and helps us put up electric fence and work cattle. And also he gets out there cuz he enjoys deer hunting so much. He and Mark really love to deer Hunt and to fish. How are we doing for time? I guess a few other things I’ve done in the last 30 years I’ve been on the Mill Creek Township trustee for going on 30 years. And I was on secretary for the Alma Co-op Board for about 11 years. And the we’ve been pretty proud of our little Alma Co-op. It’s never merged with any of these. Big co-ops and we sell a lot of propane and we keep a an elevator going there in town, so anybody needs feed. They can call and order feed and they’ll deliver it with their truck. And they still do service and changed fixed flat tires. And we’re really proud of the fact that they haven’t. We were afraid if they merged, they’d move most of those services or shut them down so we wouldn’t even have them there. They just wanted our propane customers. That’s why they were after us for a long time. Right. Do you want to put them up?
I know another nice thing that’s for us is the family cemeteries. We own the ground now where the our great, great, great grandfather Nearings and his wife and them are buried. In this cemetery. And then also the Swede cemetery where my dad and. Grandfather and great great grandfathers are all laid to rest here. This is where all over and Minnie’s grave is and my dad’s is right back over there and you can see. 2 cedar trees there. That’s where the Lutheran Church used to stand there. And I don’t know those hills were just full of people back in, like in 1920, there was 21,000 people in, well, bouncy county. And today there’s only 7000. So there was. 14,000 people and most of them are out in the hills and farming, but I, you know, in the 30s most of them couldn’t make it and.
Here’s a picture of our crew to sell calves. The man on the side over here is Ronald Naring. He was the last of the man male Marines to live out there on the place and he still would come out and help us there. And then a friend of mine, Dwayne Swanwick, and Bradt Buddy Brad Heiney in the middle there. And the other guys are driving the semis and. This is this year’s crew of Cousin, first cousin Greg and Julie, and then the trucker and me. And Mark and a cousin, son and Wyatt. And then Maddie, which is who she’s here today. And we we sold 295 calves that day. We had four. Pot loads and. Here’s a picture of the landmarks at the Junction City Sale Barn, and we’ve been working with them for five generations selling our cattle. With those folks and. Carl is about my age and the auctioneer. They’re my age, but their dad’s gone and and they had a grandfather that started that sale barn and my grandfather started selling cattle with them. That’s been a real nice relationship with those folks.
Let me see…. I guess that’s about all I. Have is there any questions? I know that’s a lot to get over for six or seven generations and then 45 minutes.