WAHOO – Three Saunders County families were honored last Friday evening for their tradition of farming the land.
Marvin Brainard of Fremont, Deborah (Princ) Machovec of Wahoo and Bernard and Emily Sladky all received the Pioneer Farm Family Award. The award that recognizes land that stays in the same family ownership for more than 100 was presented by AkSarBen Foundation, Farm Bureau and the Saunders County Agricultural Society.
Marvin Brainard’s great-great grandfather came to this country from Germany and started the farm in Saunders County. Frederick and Emily Baltz moved to a homestead in the Pohocco Township in 1870.
They purchased 80 acres just to the south of that farm on Jan. 17, 1881 and moved there. That piece of land is the one that has survived the generations.
“Then, he passed it onto Frank, my grandfather, and his wife and they lived there all their life,” Brainard said. “When I was growing up, I helped him on the farm.”
When both of his grandparents passed away, an aunt lived on the farm. But, Brainard was never too far away.
He and his wife were living in Cedar Bluffs then, but he still went to the farm to tend to the animals and the land.
When his aunt passed away, Brainard became the proud owner of the 80 acres.
“She left it to me,” he said.
He not only farms there, he lives there too.
“It’s the original house,” he said. “My wife and I remodeled it and repainted it.”
Brainard said the farmland has been very prosperous over the years, with crops of corns and beans mainly being harvested.
There was good pastureland over the years too. He recalled his grandfather won some prizes for his milk cows.
The Pioneer Award is one Braianrd will cherish.
“It’s rather special because I remember growing up here,” he said. “I was able to help my grandfather. And my grandmother, she had a big garden.”
Brainard said he learned to drive tractors on this farm and has spent much time working the land.
“I can pretty much vouch that every foot of the land I’ve been on,” he added.
Bernie Sladky has had the pleasure of working the land that his grandfather, Jakub Sladky, purchased in 1916.
Sladky said it was a different time back then.
“He bought it on a handshake,” he said about his grandfather’s purchase of 40 acres in the Stocking Precinct south of Wahoo.
Sladky said he was “very, very proud” to still own those 40 acres and still see them being farmed. His father, Matthew Sladky farmed the land and then passed it onto him.
There were tough times on the farm, especially in the 1930s and 1940s.
“But, they kept it somehow and we are lucky to have it yet,” he said.
The 40 acres once had buildings on it, built by Sladky’s father.
“He had to be a carpenter,” he said.
Those have been taken down and the land is farmed.
Sladky said he has many good memories of working the land. Although he has retired and turned the operation over to the next generation, he still keeps an eye on the fields.
He is glad, he added, that his next generation is interesting in preserving the heritage of the farm.
Deb (Princ) Machovec of Wahoo said she unfortunately doesn’t know a lot about her family farm purchased by her great-grandfather, Anton J. Princ, in 1919.
Princ and his wife, Frantiska, originally purchased 214.79 acres in the Chapman Precinct west of Weston. The record of deeds shows he bought it from Olof and Sophia Nelson for $48,327.
The land was then passed down to William and Irene Princ, who then passed onto the next generation.
Because her grandparents died young, Machovec said she never had the opportunity to learn much about the early days on the farm.
Still, it means a lot to preserve the lineage of ownership. She said her husband, Patrick, received the same award several years ago for land that had been in the Machovec family for 100 years.
She filed that away and wanted to do the same for the remaining 80 acres of the Princ farmland.
“They were just ordinary people. They just kept going and were able to pass done the land,” she added.