Putting down roots: Vosberg family celebrates farm's 100 years
DOVRAY -- When Gordon and Linda Vosberg's farm in rural Dovray received Century Farm recognition, the couple decided not to let the milestone go by without a celebration.
"This isn't so much about us as the people who started it," Linda said. "We want to take time out from our busy lives and celebrate and honor the day."
The Vosbergs' farm site was originally homesteaded in 1888 and was bordered to the south by a railway line that ran parallel to today's Minnesota 30. According to the abstract, the land was originally purchased from the government for $8 an acre.
The farm was bought 100 years ago by Gordon's grandparents, Edward and Anna Cohrs. Edward and Anna were born in the area and had been married a few years when they moved onto the property.
"They bought 160 acres, or a quarter section, and they paid $8,640 for the entire parcel of land," Linda explained. "Can you imagine? That wouldn't buy an acre today."
Shortly after the property was bought, the Cohrses sold a portion of the 160 acres to Edward's sister and brother-in-law, who lived on an adjoining homestead.
"I think they probably decided ahead of time to buy it and split it," Gordon said.
Two generations after Edward and Anna bought the family farm, details about their lives have been lost.
"They had quite a family, but as far as what we know about them, we don't know a lot," Linda said.
The Cohrs' daughter and son-in-law, George and Rosa Vosberg, bought the land in 1947. The couple had been living on another farm site to the southwest of the property.
"They proceeded to replace all the buildings," Linda explained. "By 1948, the buildings didn't come up to the demands of the day and were basically falling down."
One of the first buildings to be replaced on the farm site was the house.
"They had a 1950s-style chicken house that every farm had back then that they double-walled and insulated and that they lived in while the house was built," Linda said. "They strung some wire and hung some blankets and divided it into rooms."
Eventually, the family moved into the house where Gordon grew up with his three brothers.
Over the years, George and Rosa continued to replace the buildings from the original homestead.
Gordon and Linda still have the original estimate from the lumber yard for materials to build a new barn for the farm.
"It was a little over $2,000 for the materials," Gordon said.
The family hired a laborer to help with the rafters of the building, but the rest of the construction was done by Gordon's father, brothers and extended family members.
The cement for the barn was poured on a 105-degree day in July -- a day that is still talked about by the family.
"It was all manual labor with a little cement mixer, so they worked hard -- but I guess that was their life," Linda said.
When Gordon and Linda got married, they moved onto the family farm.
"We lived here after we got married," Linda explained. "We moved a trailer home onto the site to the west of the barn and lived in that for a few years."
When Gordon's father -- George -- died, Gordon and Linda bought the farm from Gordon's mother and moved into the main house on the farm.
"We've been here over 40 years, and when we bought it, we turned around and changed it again," Linda said with a laugh. "Gordy grew up on a dairy farm, but we had a hog-to-finish operation."
Today, none of the original buildings are left on the site, and the barn that Gordon's parents built was taken down last summer.
"As farming changed, the farm changed, too -- grain bins came and the machine shed had to get bigger and bigger," Linda said.
During the 40 years since they bought the farm, Gordon and Linda raised four children: Jean and her husband Tom live in Goodhue; Jim lives in Brookings, S.D.; Julie and husband Joe live in East Bethel; and Jill and husband John live in Brookings.
Growing up on a farm, the Vosberg children spent many hours helping out.
"They learned how to work and were in the hog barns or driving tractor," Linda said. "They were always picking rocks or riding beans. That was their summers."
"We had one daughter that did a lot of field work," Gordon added. "She'd rather do that than work in the house."
Son Jim, owner of Vosberg Trucking in Brookings, comes home often to help and plans to take over the farm when Gordon retires.
"We're trying to work him into the business," Linda said. "He's here for planting and harvest, and whenever we're ready, he'll move onto the farm."
After spending most of his life on the family farm, Gordon is still amazed at the progress that has been made in the farming industry.
"We used to work so hard farming a few acres compared to farming quite a few acres today," Gordon said. "Now you can do 100 acres in a few hours. It's basically a hobby."
"Well, it's not quite that easy," Linda corrected with a laugh.
Linda and Gordon said they are thankful to have lived their life on the family farm.
"We've made a living. We raised and educated a family. We put down roots -- you're permanent and part of the community," Linda said. "It's a good thing."
To commemorate their century farm, the Vosbergs bought a large stone from the Jasper quarry that they had engraved with the family name and the farm's dates. It now sits near the entrance to the yard.
In August, the Vosbergs will have a large celebration and family reunion to recognize the century farm.
"This is something that doesn't happen very often, and a lot of people don't get to see something like that," Linda said. "I guess we just feel blessed that we've been fortunate enough to live here and to make a living and have a life, and we just want to mark the day."
Daily Globe Reporter Alyson Buschena may be reached at 376-7322.