Jackson County farm is home to Miranowski family for 126 yearsHERON LAKE — In front of Cleo Miranowski’s house stands a rustic road grader with an unknown history. But if the history is unknown, does that mean there isn’t a history?
HERON LAKE — In front of Cleo Miranowski’s house stands a rustic road grader with an unknown history. But if the history is unknown, does that mean there isn’t a history?
Not at all. Bought from Amelia Fabra, the grain farm has been in the Miranowski family for 126 years and, like the road grader, it has a history that hasn’t been recorded.
“They weren’t people that took pictures or wanted any fanfare,” said Cleo, as she looked through the small box of pictures and papers from her husbands’ ancestors. “They were just humble, quiet people.”
Stephen Miranowski came to the United States from Prussia at the age of 33 with his wife and children. From there, they went to Wisconsin, and eventually, Minnesota.
“There’s never really been a lot of livestock,” said Cleo. “There were sheep at one point, but it’s mainly been a grain farm.”
Stephen owned the farm for three years — it was then sold to his son, Bernard, who owned it for 66 years.
“In 1902, a tornado came through and took some of the buildings,” said Cleo. “Lots of tornadoes have hit the area, but this was the only one that hit the farm.”
Despite the loss of buildings, the original house still stands, though it has been added on to twice.
“The house was originally built by Bernard, and was fairly small,” said Cleo.
Bernard married Louise and had five children. His son, A.P. Miranowski, took over the farm in 1955.
In the 1970’s, a hog barn burned down, possibly due to a heat lamp.
A.P. had five kids, one being Rodney, Cleo’s husband.
“Back then they had dances,” she said. “That’s where we met, at a wedding dance.”
They were married on May 28, 1960, in Dundee, at the St. Mary’s Church that used to stand there.
“Rod loved the farm,” said Cleo. “We lived in the cities for a couple of years, but he didn’t like that, so we moved back and have been on the farm since.”
While Rodney worked the farm, Cleo was a housewife, a church secretary at Sacred Heart and an active member of the Heron Lake community.
“I love to garden and quilt, and I still work with the church, decorating and cleaning. I love to bake. There’s never a dull day,” she said.
On the front lawn lies a rock, which has been on the property for longer than anyone knows.
“I had always wanted to have one up by the house,” said Cleo. “Rod said there was one out in the field, so they brought it up for me. It’s not exactly where I’d wanted it, but by the time they got it there, three or four chains had broken, and Rod just said ‘This is where it’s gonna stay!’ and so there it is.”
Originally 160 acres, the farm now consists of 240 acres. Over the 126 years the land has been rented out by the family and custom farmed.
Rodney and Cleo have four children, all of whom currently live in the metro area and have been a part of the National Guard. Whether any of them would come back to take over the farm, Cleo isn’t sure.
“They may own the property, but I doubt they’ll farm on it,” she said. “Things are so much more different now than it was back then.”
Growing up, the kids were involved in 4-H and went to Heron Lake-Okabena school.
“There was a time where we had three kids in three different schools — one in high school, one in middle school and one in elementary school,” said Cleo.
Mark drives truck and has four boys. Troy owns a composting business and has three children. Tori Ann is in the Minnesota National Guard and has two kids. Luke, who has a 16-year gap between himself and Tori Ann, is currently going to school.
Altogether, Rodney and Cleo have been blessed with nine grandchildren.
“We’re just common, ordinary, little run-of-the-mill farmers,” said Cleo. “I still do a lot of things. I tell people that I’m a jack-of-all-trades and master of none.”