Baumgard roots run deep in Jackson Co.ROUND LAKE — When the offering plates are passed on Sundays, parishioners are moved to give widely varying amounts to support their places of worship.
By: Jane Turpin Moore, Worthington Daily Globe
ROUND LAKE — When the offering plates are passed on Sundays, parishioners are moved to give widely varying amounts to support their places of worship.
But Jann Janssen proved his commitment in a big way when he gave four acres of his recently purchased land to build Grace Lutheran Church in 1894.
Now, the 142 remaining acres of Jann’s original property have been recognized as a Century Farm.
“The farm itself is on old Highway 16, seven miles east of Worthington,” said Gayle Baumgard, a great-great-granddaughter-in-law of the devout German immigrant Jann Janssen. “Jann bought the land in 1891, and within three years he had given away four acres for the church.”
“Jann is credited with founding Grace Lutheran Church,” said Eunice Janssen Baumgard, Jann’s great-granddaughter.
A strong and devoted Christian, Gayle said Jann also willed $100 to a Lutheran church in his native Germany and left money for an older sister who was never married.
Eunice carried on the family tradition of faith and service as Grace Lutheran’s organist for about 55 years. She retired from the job not too long ago but remains active in the church where she was baptized, confirmed and married.
“Jann and his wife, Johanna Rud Schmidt, came to the United States on the S.S. Oder in 1875,” Eunice said. “They lived in Illinois until coming to Ewington Township in 1891.”
There, the Janssens raised five children, as well as flax, corn, beans and “always alfalfa for the animals,” Eunice assured. Today, corn and soybeans are the crops of choice.
Eunice Baumgard’s father and mother, John and Evelyn Janssen, bought the home place from Jann Janssen’s children, and while Eunice’s brother Terry Janssen (and Terry’s wife Dianne) live on the farm and owned it for 10 years before Merle and Eunice Baumgard bought it, the land is now rented and worked by Eunice and Merle’s six sons, including Gayle Baumgard’s husband, Court.
“They call it ‘Six Sons Farm,’” noted Gayle. “Court works at New Vision Co-op, and all five of his brothers also have other jobs and live elsewhere — in Mankato, Rochester, Redwood Falls, Iowa and one in California — but they all come home to farm.
“They take turns doing things — it is a joint effort — and they have farmed together since 1997,” Gayle said. “It is amazing, but each brother has his own cup of tea — one is more mechanical, one is an agronomist, one manages the checkbooks, etc. — and they get along great.
“It’s worked out good for them.”
According to Gayle Baumgard, the family’s Century Farm land is very flat and fairly indistinguishable from most other farmland in the surrounding area.
“But with the church at the property’s edge, there are lots of relatives buried in the cemetery there,” said Gayle, who graduated from Round Lake High School as Gayle Holle, a local farmer’s daughter.
“Court and I have two children — Lance, who is an animal scientist and researcher at Iowa State University, and Holle Spessard, who lives in St. Peter with her husband Nathan and their two children, Noah and Courtlynn.”
Lance is also married. His wife is a native of Ireland; she, too, holds a Ph.D. in animal science and met Lance at a conference in New York.
“They have a two-and-a-half-year-old boy named Cian, and they were married in Ireland,” Gayle shared.
Besides being involved with the day-to-day operations of the family’s Century Farm, Gayle and Court have another small claim to fame — they have been non-stop subscribers to the Daily Globe for 39 years.
“My parents gave us a subscription for our first-year anniversary, and we’ve maintained it ever since,” Gayle recounted. “And we’ve been married 40 years.”
With Merle and Eunice Baumgard’s six sons, who range in age from 45 to 60, not planning to suspend their “Six Sons Farm” operation any time in the near future, Eunice is pleased Jann Janssen’s farming legacy endures for at least the time being.
“I like knowing the farm is still in the family — I feel really proud of that,” said Eunice. “In fact, my two sisters moved away from the farm long ago, with their husbands in different types of professions, and I’m glad we had a chance to buy the farm.”
Eunice has many fond memories of growing up on the farm, having made the most of her close family and the surrounding topography.
“I remember being in the haymow, playing with the cousins when they came over, swimming in Round Lake — it was great,” said Eunice. “It was probably the happiest childhood a person could have.”